What’s Wrong with a Storm Front?

Peggy wrote: Hi Saloma! I’m saving most of my questions for your appearance in S. Hadley :-) However, I do have one from this last post: What reason is there for not having storm fronts on buggies? I know there are some communities that don’t allow them and that makes no sense at all, especially in the winter time. I can’t figure where pride could get in the way but safety can sure be compromised. Happily, the 3 separate communites around here have them, even the most conservative one.

Hello Peggy, I cannot wait to meet you at the Odyssey! If you don’t mind, perhaps you could do the drawing for the buildings for my giveaway? That would be so cool!

Now the question of storm fronts: I have no idea why in some communities storm fronts are not allowed. Most of the time, even we were not given the reasons why. And it varies widely which communities allow them and which ones do not. 

When I was growing up, storm fronts were just beginning to come into being in my community. There were those who refused to have them, such as my father. These were usually the holdouts, trying to hang on to the old ways. My father and my older brother had some of their bitterest fights over my brother’s horse and buggy, and the storm front was often the focal point. At the time, storm fronts were allowed in the winter months, but they had to be removed in the summer. My brother didn’t always take his off in the summer, and my father would sometimes “punish” my brother by removing it in winter. Once Dad had thrown it into a creek not far away. 

Along with storm fronts, the young boys would spiff up the harnesses on their horses with little plastic, colorful doo-dads and have all kinds of “fancies” hanging from their buggies. When I was a teenager, the young men liked to rein in the horses heads, so that the horses’ postures would make them look spirited. All of these things were considered “Hochmut” or prideful. I had never thought of it quite like this, which fits into my last post about individuality. It seemed that very often when someone wanted to express their individuality, it was considered prideful. 

So, this is a long answer to you question, Peggy. The only reason I know of to disallow storm fronts is to adhere to the old ways. And if you are a “good” Amish person, you don’t ask why — you just accept the rules because “that’s just the way it is.”
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12 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with a Storm Front?”

  1. I am ashamed to admit it,but what is a storm front? I had to smile where you talked about the boy’s reining in the horse’s head,to make it appear spirited! I think young people are alike the world over. Blessings jane

  2. Actually, Jane, it’s good that you asked… I am sure there are others who are wondering. Sorry, I didn’t think about explaining it. A storm front is a “windshield” for a buggy, basically a plexiglass window framed in wood that you can open or close, depending on the weather… when I think about it, it’s rather like having a sun roof on a car, except it’s on the front instead of the top.

    Thanks for asking, Jane.


  3. Another storm front question….

    If you have a storm front, but no battery-powered windshield wipers to keep it clear, doesn’t that pose another safety concern if it’s raining or snowing?…or was that part of the whole controversy?

    I bet you didn’t know the floodgates would open when told us all we could ask questions!

  4. Hello Karen,

    I believe there was a wiper for the storm front, and it was battery operated, the same as the lights on the buggy. But I don’t remember whether that was true with the first storm fronts or not. I also don’t remember whether it was an issue about being able to see when it was raining or snowing. I think because the storm front was vertical and because there was a bit of an overhang above it, this wasn’t that much of an issue, unless one was traveling into a direct wind.

    I love all the questions, so this is great fun!

  5. There are no Amish near S. Hadley that I am aware of. I do believe there are Mennonites living here in Western Mass, but I don’t know what town they live in.


  6. I came from a non-storm-front variety of Amish. The reason given was we would look like those “sod leut”. This was Holmes County in the 50’s and the split of 1913 put a long lasting animosity into relations between “fine” and low class Amish. Sod, meaning South in PA Dutch was used to describe how far departed from original Amishness the people of the south had become. They had little glass windows, wide dashes, mirrors, electric lights and storm fronts that were as worldly to us as cars. No other reason was needed.

  7. Anon, thank you for this perspective. I love hearing from other former Amish about perspectives from their original communities.

    The split of 1913 — can you tell me more? Is this the one that also affected the Geauga Amish?

    If you’d like to email me, I would love to hear from you… salomafurlong[at]gmail[dot]com.


  8. The sod leit were the ones living in the Sugarcreek area. Some liberal movement swept through and defiled many Amish. I am just quoting Amish old-time thinking.

    About the storm fronts, even the Swartzentruber Amish who live in Canada may not have storm fronts, regardless of the harsh winters. Years ago a group in Canada used plywood with just a slit or a few holes in it to see out, instead of plexaglass. Well, they had a funeral in the dead of winter and the main Bishop from Ohio or Tennessee was there and saw their make shift storm front and they had to get rid of the plywood.

    It is the same down here in Florida concerning the Eastern Mennonites and their black panty hoses. The Eastern Mennonites in the north set the rules and pace and everybody else has to follow. so down here the rule stands that as soon as a woman gets out of bed she has to put on her black panty hose and shoes for modestly’s sake. It doesn’t matter if they stay at home all day and the temperature is 100 degrees, and the humitiy is 90 degree. But my Eastern Mennonite doesn’t obey those rules.

  9. My officemate rents a market garden plot from one of the local horse-and-buggy Mennonite farmers (we have at least two sects of them in the area, (Waterloo, Ontario) and I’m not sure which one the landlord is). He says that there’s a lot of resistance to roll bars on tractors. I’m wondering if there’s a similar “we don’t need this, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a little more dangerous without it” attitude at play with the storm fronts.

  10. I really think that sometimes it comes down to power that the bishop/elders have in setting the rules. That getting so nitpicky about such things as not having wood floors but linoleum (which is odd to me – seems it’d more likely be the other way!) or having to wear polyester instead of cotton dresses (again odd, since polyester is man-made) is simply because they have the power to make such rules. I think sometimes this power goes to their heads just as it does to many people of position.

  11. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking to design my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. kudos

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