West Farmington revisited

I had read a prepublication draft of the column (Oct. 6) I had written about the West Farmington farm experience to my sister, who had been there with me back then. We both wondered how that place would look after 70 years, although I had seen many changes when I had driven by about ten years ago. Why not drive out there and see? My sister wouldn’t be able to get out of the car when we got there, but we could probably see enough from the car.

I pulled into the driveway to look around, but I got out when I saw a figure in the backyard. I was followed by a friendly little beagle. I waved to what appeared to be a boy of about eight or nine. He disappeared inside an outbuilding.

From that building appeared what I assumed to be the boy’s dad. He was Amish with a full beard, and was very friendly and cordial. We shook hands. His name was Allen Miller and his son was Marcus. Another son about 12 named Matthew appeared. I explained to the dad that my sister and I had stayed at this very farm exactly 70 years ago, and that I had written a story about it.

He very proudly showed me around as I pointed out the changes. I showed him where the hay barn once was, where the chicken coop was, the pig sty, the pump for the well, and the fencing-among many other details. He invited me inside his home where I met his wife, Mary Ann. I explained to her who I was, and she immediately told me that she had read the column in the Trib (Sept. 22) that I had written about reaching 80. I gave her a copy of my draft about West Farmington.

She and Allen glowingly showed me about their neat-as-a-pin home. There were many changes, but many things had not changed. I felt goose bumps when I saw long forgotten features of their home. When Mary Ann found out that my sister was confined to the car, she and the two boys immediately went out to the car to visit with her.

Allen continued to show me around. The couple had done a beautiful job of remodeling their home. We joined his wife and kids who were talking animatedly to my sister.

My sister and I told the family about swimming in the Grand River, picnicking on the flood plain, winter tobogganing and sledding down the steep hill to the river, riding in a sledge on the back acreage pulled by a team of huge workhorses, and about picking wild strawberries, blackberries, and elderberries. They do many of those same activities now.

She enthusiastically told them about the “half canoe.” The Grand River twisted and turned so tightly that the canoe they had couldn’t negotiate most of it without hanging up. So “Mossie,” the dad of our host family back then, sawed it in two, closed up the back ends, and provided the kids with two short boats that they could use to paddle up and down the river.

We all had a grand time talking, and my sister was really enjoying the friendly exchange. How nice it was to be able to visit with an Amish family and to see how very much we had in common in spite of the cultural differences. How great it was for my sister and me to hark back to another time when we were both bursting with that energy that has somehow slipped away.

I had never before had the privilege of really relating to an Amish family. Meeting such a fine family will always remain a valued memory for me.

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday.com.