A few weeks ago when I went to Pennsylvania we stayed in the town of Intercourse. It is a name that often causes snickers or raised eyebrows. It seems incongruous for a town that is in the heart of  Amish country. Apparently in the 1700s the town was called Cross Key after a tavern by that name, or perhaps because two main roads intersected there or maybe because intercourse was a term used in those days to signify social interaction and support in the community. There seems to be some haziness about the origin of the name. For some reason, the name was changed to Intercourse in 1814. Some time in the 1900s there was an attempt to change the name back to Cross Key, but people in the village didn’t want it changed.

The countryside around the town is farmland with rolling green hills and neat farms every few miles. The farmhouses are large but dwarfed by the bigger barns and silos. The remarkable thing is that many don’t have electricity. I saw farmers plowing their fields with teams of five or six horses and clothes hanging to dry from long clothes lines.

Farms with buggy and car on the same road.

Farms with buggy and car on the same road.

In the village the enclosed black, horse drawn buggies are seen everywhere. They drive the busy highways seemingly undaunted by the cars and trucks speeding along. Scary! The Amish are Christians and believe in living very simply. They are a sect of Anabaptists who came from Germany to avoid discrimination following the Reformation. They eshue modern technology like electricity, tractors and cars although there are some who do use some things like tractors. The Amish dress is simple, the men we saw wore belt-less pants with suspenders and had untrimmed beards. The women were wearing white bonnets and calf length dresses. We saw men, women and children riding kick bikes, sort of like a bicycle without a seat and propelled by kicking.

Village parking lot

Village parking lot

Buggy in Town

Buggy in Town

 

The town itself is comprised of shops selling quilts and food items and rustic furnishings. It is self-described as “quaint”. Friday and Saturday there were hordes of people wandering in and out of the shops. The parking lots were full.

Sunday morning we awoke to a silent town. Every shop and restaurant closed, parking lots empty and the only people we sighted were Amish families, in black suits and dresses, walking to church.

Kick Bike

Kick Bike