I own an Old Ford Ranger pickup truck. After all, what is an ole country boy to drive? From the time I had gotten it until now, the gas gauge had not worked. As I drive, I watch closely as to how many miles I log to determine when it is time to 'gas up'.
It was on a bright and sunny day on the 4th of September, 2009 that I went to visit my wife at work to have lunch. Afterwards, as I had done many times before, I took a side trip west on 322 (Horseshoe Pike) then south on route 10 to two of my favorite Amish stands. The first one, I picked up bakery items; the second, vegetables and freshly canned jams.
After some usual pleasantries with the young Amish folks at the stands, I was on my way home. Not paying as close attention as I should have, I ran my truck out of gas. Slowing, I was able to maneuver my sputtering Ranger off the road just clearing the driveway of a farm. I was just off the shoulder and had to watch the traffic of busy Horseshoe Pike when I had gotten out. Putting up my hood to signal that my truck had 'broken down'; I called my brother who lives in the area only to find he wasn't home.
Undaunted, I had decided to wait a short while before calling him again and thought I would settle myself on the tailgate. Lowering the tailgate, I noticed a buggy approaching; the same one that I had passed a short time before. After sitting down, that same buggy turned into the driveway in front of me. The solemn man and woman in the front had not made eye contact with me, choosing to enter the drive without interaction.
While I was thinking about how I needed to fix the gas gauge, the same Amish man who had turned into his drive came out and greeted me. He introduced himself as Samuel Hersberger. I introduced myself as Samuel took in the situation and commented on my truck. "Gut truck," he says as he then smiled and asked me what seemed to be the problem. I told him simply, "out of gas." In his Pennsylvania Dutch he told me "Kumme," motioning for me to follow.
Walking back the blacktopped drive I noticed how neat and orderly this farm was. I also noticed that it was not typical for a farm. There were no cows, hens, or pigs, just horses.
Arriving behind some stables we came upon; yes , a black Ford Ranger pickup. It was in good condition with a current inspection sticker. As I did a double take, I snickered and commented, "Good truck!" He looked and with a laugh said, "Jah." He reached in the back and pulled out a red five gallon plastic container filled with gasoline. We began to speak while bringing the filled plastic container up to the roadside. Arriving, Samuel stood behind the truck and in the grass as I began pouring in the gasoline.
I guess he was looking at the stickers on my back windows, as he continued speaking to me, asking if I knew the school. Looking up from what I was doing I asked, "Which one?" Pointing, he said "Gut school!" I shook my head affirmatively and told him my son was in his second year there. By this time, Samuel had caught my interest. I Suppose I caught his also. After putting in about a gallon of the fuel, I went around to the driver seat. Turning the key, the truck started right up. Getting out of the truck, I offered to pay him. He waved me off, taking the gasoline container which I laid in the grass. Samuel invited me in for coffee. Always looking to meet new people, and being a little curious, I accepted.
I pulled the truck into the drive and followed him to the back door of the kitchen and went in. Samuel pulled out a chair telling me to, "Sit, sit!" I did as he put two mugs down on the table, and continued to talk about the school. "Class of 1981, I went to that school," says Samuel then pausing before asking, "Are you shocked?" He was looking at the surprised look on my face.
We continued with more small talk as he spoke about things never being what they seem, when a young woman came through the back door wearing a black bonnet and a large heartfelt smile. She greeted her Uncle Samuel as she looked over at me. Samuel introduced Mary to me and she said, "Hello." Samuel continued. "Mary now is a gut example. She grew up English. She became Amish within the past decade." Mary smiled down again at her Uncle. "Uncle, I must go; Aunt Mary is visiting with my mom." Samuel answered her as she left, and continued, "The other Mary is my wife. Many Mary's; I keep them separated by calling her young Mary," says Samuel laughing. I continued to smile as I picked up and took another sip of the piping hot coffee in front of me.
Samuel, appearing to have the need to talk continued, "How I know that school!" He continued with his walk through his past and thanked me for bringing back, "gut memories" to him. Samuel continued with the small talk while seated to my left near the stove. "Things aren't always what they seem. Now you would not think that most of half my life up to now has been amongst the English? Ach! I was English for 25 years!" He looked over at me with his mug in hand and shook his head. "We all have our stories, I'm sure you have yours, Jah?" I nodded affirmatively while I looked at him. He said to me, "I have mine also."
With that, he began to tell me the most incredible story of one Amish man's journey.It's been nine months; in that time, Samuel and I have become good friends. After these many months of looking for something to write about, I find my story. It is Samuel's story. It is the story of a sensitive, but yet strong, faith-filled family man with many loves and many secrets. Many of his secrets have unfolded within his community but are largely unknown amongst the 'English". The words that I put down do him no justice as to the person that I have gotten to know; he is a person that I now call my friend.
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