You can’t go ‘Holmes’ again

Published 7:05 pm Friday, February 10, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Thomas Wolfe was wrong, I thought.

You can go home again.

I’ve gone home many times, not physically, but in vivid memory.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Mama came by yesterday when I was pulling weeds from around the mailbox. I heard her car. But I didn’t turn around. I just knew she was there. There, in my memory, Mama came by yesterday.

And, there have been times when I walked into the modest plank house where I grew up and, for a moment, I was back home again.

The sight of an old pickup truck or a station wagon with wood panels can take me home.  Or so can a wood walking stick leaning against the door facing or the sweet smell of teacakes baking. And, I’m right back home again.

Recently, I was excited to be going back home again to the Amish community of Holmes County, Ohio, the largest Amish settlement in the United States.

We lived in nearby Medina for several years and I took every opportunity to go to the Amish country, weekends or when company from down home came for visits. Sometimes, when the children got off to school, I would go down to the Amish country for a short while. Being there was like being back in my childhood.

After moving back home to Alabama, I revisited Holmes County several times those first years. I stayed with an Old Order Amish family I had known and attended church with Mennonite friends. We rode on the buggy with Susanna to the market, fed the hogs and used head lanterns to guide us to the milking barn long before dawn.  We went to the horse auction at Mount Hope and shared the wonder of Old Christmas with an old gentleman on a cold, rainy day. We shopped by lantern-light at Amish (store)houses, enjoyed snickerdoodles and goat-milk chocolates in warm Amish home kitchens and apple cider from the barrel.  We bid on quilts at Amish Aide Day and devoured stew from outdoor cooking pots.

At last, I was back in historic Medina and looking forward to being back home in Holmes County.

We drove in from the countryside and, there in a wide spot in the road, “Mercy Me! “was a Dollar General with Amish buggies parked alongside.

Things had changed, most everything. A Yankee invasion?

The Amish are still there… off the beaten paths. Gift shops are jammed with items “made somewhere”  but no handmade Amish dolls, no Amish-carved sheep, horses or handmade buggies, No handstitched aprons, bonnets or hot pads, no hand drawings

Well, you were right Thomas Wolfe. “You can’t go Holmes again.