On this day 20 years ago, I stayed with friends in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Close by is a large valley populated primarily by Amish and Mennonites. We spent the day taking in the beauty of the area and its unique culture.
The valley is long and deep. Prosperous looking farms dot the landscape; along back roads were horse-drawn buggies, one room schoolhouses, farmers plowing fields with horses, barefoot Amish kids returning from school clutching lunch boxes, and tidy houses surrounded by flowers.
It was market day. In addition to a farmers’ market there was a produce auction. Farmers came with sacks of potatoes or carrots, or whatever else they wanted to sell. The auctioneer tried desperately to get people to raise their bids from 50 to 75 cents, 75 cents to a dollar, generally without much luck. There was an overabundance of the same items and little interest.
The livestock auction was much livelier. Buyers and sellers seemed to be having a great time socializing, chatting, smoking pipes and home rolled cigarettes. When I looked carefully, I would see someone bid by slightly flicking his hand. The whole transaction took a minute or two for the purchase of a cow worth $1200; this auctioneer didn’t have any trouble finding buyers or getting the price higher.