Saloma Miller Furlong
Author and Speaker

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More Answers to Your Questions

Sara asked: If you could change one thing about your leaving, what would it be?


Sara, this is a difficult question, partly because I don't know if you mean the things I could have changed, or what circumstances I wish would have been different. So, I will answer this in two parts.

I don't think I would change anything about the manner in which I left. I knew I couldn't let anyone Amish know I was leaving, or else I would have been overwhelmed with people trying to pressure me to stay. I didn't actually lie to anyone, yet I quietly made my plans for leaving and carried them out. I don't think I could have done it much differently than the way I did and still pull it off.

If I could change one circumstance around my leaving, I would have wanted to know at least one person in Vermont who could help me with getting settled. It would have been less of a feeling of being perched over the abyss of the great unknown when I took that night train out of Cleveland.

As a rule, I don't spend much energy thinking about what I might have changed in my past. Instead, I try to learn from my mistakes and my hardships. Yes, it was hard to not know anyone in Vermont when I arrived there, but it also gave me a clean slate to determine who I wanted to be or become. I was open to making new friends, and that soon gave me a support base that sustained me then and some of those people are still my friends now (one is my husband). So, upon thinking about this twice, perhaps I would not change this circumstance, either. I guess this brings me full circle, sort of like a snake biting its own tail — I don't know that I would change anything.

Plaingrl asked: Why do some Amish people only take bath's once or twice a week?

Plaingirl, I don't think I can speak for those Amish people who bathe infrequently. To get an answer, you'd probably have to ask the people of whom you speak.

I will, however, try to give you some context for some possible reasons.

I tend to love my daily showers. Ahh, the luxury of the warm spray of water that comes out of the wall in the bathroom! It is something I give thanks for daily, partly because of what I had to do to "earn" a bath or homemade shower when I was growing up. If we had rain water in the tank in the basement, it wasn't quite as bad. During the times when that tank was dry, we had to carry water from the pump out by the barn. We heated it in the "cooker" in the basement, or on the burners of the oilstove or cookstove. Then we had to lug cold water to mix with the hot. In winter, the galvanized tub had to be brought up from the basement, cleaned out, and set in the living room, next to the stove. Now the hot water would get poured into the tub, then the cold to get it to the right temperature. Now we made sure our curtains were covering all the windows for privacy. Finally I could take a bath. But that was not the end. Now it was time to bail out the dirty bath water. And the tub was unwieldy enough that I couldn't carry out the last of it by myself. Now that process had to start all over for the next person.

In the summer, we had a different process. Instead of bathing in the living room, we had a corner of the basement set up with plastic curtains around the drain. After the water had been lugged and heated, I would separate it: I poured some of the warm, clean water into the garden sprinkling can and hung it from a hook on the ceiling in the basement and the rest went into a hand basin with a clean washcloth. I'd soap myself down, and then came the fun part. I'd hold the arm of the sprinkling can and guide the spray down over myself. We called this our "homemade shower." Needless to say, summer bathing was much easier than it was in winter.

I have a question for you: if you had to work this hard to "earn" your baths or showers, how often would you bathe?


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