Angels along My Way — Olin Clara, Part II

The tribute that I wrote back in August actually fits nicely after the one I posted yesterday, which puts this next excerpt from my book in context:
I continued to go to Olin Clara’s house on Saturdays for several years. I learned her methods of baking pies and cookies, and I learned through her appreciation of my mother’s homemade bread that Mem made the best bread in the community. I had assumed every mem in the community made bread like hers, but once when I brought a fresh loaf to Clara, she praised Mem’s bread so highly and in such a sincere way that I began to realize Mem’s bread was indeed a specialty. That day when I got home and told Mem how much Clara liked her bread, her face turned pink, and she said, “Oh, she is just saying that to make you feel good.” But I could tell she was pleased as she tried to suppress a smile.
Mem did not often get compliments from other Amish people. First of all, compliments were not given as freely as in mainstream American culture, because the belief in the community is that people should be humble. But Mem’s situation was more complicated than that. I came to understand later that somehow she was a threat to many other women in the community, especially the bishop’s wife. They did not want Mem, who was married to “Sim” after all, to be better respected than they were. Olin Clara did not seem to be motivated by these same sentiments. Later in life, she became Mem’s one true friend in the church district, after all her daughters had left the community.

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6 thoughts on “Angels along My Way — Olin Clara, Part II”

  1. Hi Saloma –
    I just ordered your book yesterday (1/31/11) I was hoping you could e-mail me with “yes I got it” when you receive it. Also, I have a PO Box(first choice) and wasn’t sure if you send to them so I included my Elem. School address just in case. The weather is so scary up there I didn’t realize how so until I saw it on the news;I’m in FL.
    After reading about Olin’s Clara, I knew I had to have your book!
    Many Blessings,
    Michelle V

  2. I have loved getting to know you a little bit which will make reading your book just that much more special! Now I can smell bread baking … I’ll be ordering my book very soon!

  3. Saloma, I have read your book in a matter of hours and I want to give you a big hug! I keep typing more but the comment turns into a book so I will leave it at that, LOL.

    Thank you for this story. I plan to share it with anyone who will listen. I hope to someday come to one of your appearances. Give me an excuse to get out of Wisconsin (but I’ll wait for nicer weather, ha ha!).

    PS. Where in WI is this very conservative Amish community? Is it still Cashton?

    Sincerely, Christine

  4. Michelle, I received your order… it will be sent out via USPS first thing Monday morning, so it’ll go to your PO Box. Yes, the weather has been very difficult here in Mass. My talk at my local library was postponed for the third time today. Yikes!

    Peggy, I look forward to getting your book order. And I don’t smell the bread baking very often these days… life does seem to get in the way.

    Christine, thank you kindly for all your compliments. They are some of the highest compliments a writer can get. If you ever care to email me the comments, I would love to read your “book.”

    Yes, my cousins live in the Cashton/Westby area. Do you know any of the Amish in that area?

    Thanks, all, for your comments. It is always a pleasure.

    Stay warm!

  5. Saloma- Yea,:) Thank You-I just can’t wait. Things last week were a little tuff so I’m in need of some sweet inspiration.
    Sorry about your cancellations Spring is (has to be!) on its way.
    Take Care,
    Michelle V

  6. Hi Saloma,
    I have a penpal that joined the Amish church from an english backgroun at 18 who lived in Cashton. Since then I think her and her husband (and family) have moved to a new WI Amish community if I remember right, or maybe they moved TO cashton. Do you have relatives there? They seem like a good group there but maybe they aren’t in all ways.

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