me and my wife in the picture imitating Grant Wood's famous old
painting "American Gothic" with a few modifications. Are we plain
or fancy? And, what's the difference? I suppose one who is
not plain is fancy. What I mean is that the minority of the
Pennsylvania Dutch (the Amish, Mennonites, Church of the Brethren and
Schwenkfelders for example) were concerned with the issue of "looking
plain," but the majority of the Pennsylvania Germans (mostly Lutheran,
Reformed, Moravian, and Quaker) didn't think as much about it one way
Why was anyone trying to be plain anyway? An
Amish friend of mine explained that his friends referred to "fancy" as
"hochmootich," or proud, because pride enters into trying to one-up
your neighbor. And one-ups-man-ship, or competition, divides the
group and turns one against the other. That's not the Amish way! The Amish didn't decorate
their barns, because they didn't want their members to try to outshine
one another. The tourist industry seems to have convinced people
that they used hex signs, which is false. If you want to see an example of a fancy Dutch
barn, click here. Also, if you want to learn more about hex
signs by reading a few paragraphs from my recent novel,
used to call the "fancy" Dutch, the "church
people," because we built big ostentatious church
buildings and tried to outdo one another by tacking on more
steeples or making the stone walls bigger. The Amish simply held
religious meetings in one another's homes. As I look back on it,
see that competition causes stress, and there is often value in minding
your own business and keeping a "low
profile." Perhaps we were indeed a bit too "fancy." There's
one other thing that I should add. I mentioned that the "fancy"
dutch are the one's that use hex signs. I should also mention
that the "fancy" Dutch are not pacificists. The Amish are.
If you want to read a bit about the Fancy
Dutch and the Revolutionary War, click here.
Anyway, I grew up as one of the fancy
Dutch near Reading Pennsylvania in Berks County. I
was Lutheran. I should add that, through it all, I've often felt
common with other Dutch, including Amish, than with the rest of
society. If the Amish want to regulate the way
they dress, and avoid decorations, that's their business, and I
reasoning. We dutchies all eat the same "wonderful good" food.
of food, if you
want to read some Fancy Dutch recipes from the people of Berks County
and Reading in their own words, then click
here. These recipes are quoted from two of my
novels about the Fancy Dutch in the Berks County area. They are
good to read and good to eat.
a little more about
by clicking here.