Mennonites and Long-Haired Hippies
Get yourself a mug of coffee and curl up in your favorite chair, because I'm going to tell you about one of my favorite places in the whole world.
It's a little Mennonite bookstore on the outskirts of Amish country. It sells everything from office supplies to old National Geographic magazines.
Let's start at the new book section, shall we?
Since you're English (which is Amish for "not Amish") you'll probably need this book. "Amish" in this context actually refers to Pennsylvania Dutch, which is just a mispronunciation of Deutsch (German), because the Pennsylvania Dutch emigrated from Germany. Still with me? Good.
Interesting trivia: According to Amazon, this book ranks #313 in unpopped popcorn.
I see old Aunt Lydia's published a book, so I guess there's hope for me yet. I'm assuming Aunt Lydia is long gone from this earth, so I hope she won't mind me saying that her diaries are really, really boring.
Sat June 9. They all went to Groffsdale Meeting. Ella Hoover, Elizabeth Wenger, and Israel Shirks came a while. John came a while.
Tues June 21 They all went to Billy Sellers' funeral at New Holland, his age was 64 years 5 months.
Sat June 25 Benjs went to Conestoga Meeting and came home. Elmer Weavers came a while.
The unexpurgated version is probably better.
Let's take a walk to the used book section.
You'll know we're getting close by the aroma of musty old paper and crumbling book glue. Breathe in. Can you smell it? There's nothing better. But first we have to pass the religious pamphlets.
Here's one that looks particularly relevant to today's day and age: Did Jesus Wear Long Hair?
Cliffs Notes version: NO. NO HE DID NOT. AND YOU SHOULDN'T EITHER, YOU DIRTY HIPPIE.
Ah, here we go. Aren't they beauts? There's something so delicious about a bunch of vintage hardcover spines, lined up all neat and pretty, the colors gone dull with age. A few water spots here and there. An ex libris or two. Nothing over $5.
Some have scribbles in every margin. Others have hundred-year-old flowers pressed between the pages. And because they're so well-loved, I'll feel no guilt whatsoever when I break the spines to tuck blank paper inside for a homemade journal, or tear the pages out and cut them up to use in a collage. They are history, and they are the raw material for art, and they are heartbreakingly lovely, every single one.
And sometimes, they are just plain weird. And that works too.
The hour is growing late, my friend, and I see you've finished your coffee, so I'll end our tour here. But don't despair. As a wise book once said: