Saloma Miller Furlong
Author and Speaker

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An Unusual Family (and Amish?) Trait

Tattytiara wrote:

“Given so many Amish (my family and myself included) hate the sound of someone crunching”

Now there’s something I’d never thought of as a cultural trait!

Very astute observation, Tatty! That did have to slip out, didn’t it? I don’t know how widespread the dislike for crunching is among the Amish, but I can tell you it was almost universal on my mother’s side of the family. And try becoming insensitive to it if it bothers you! I don’t think any of us have been “reformed.” I hate myself when I cringe or gripe at David for crunching, because it’s seems so petty. It’s not that he should stop crunching, it’s that I should stop hating it so much… but then I think about how deep the roots and branches of this go, and I have to throw up my hands. 

I often heard my mother tell the story of her grandmother’s reaction to crunching. Her grandmother “Mose Katie” was not very well educated and so she didn’t speak English very well. On this particular Sunday afternoon, they were sitting around eating popcorn. (This is a very Amish custom, to have popcorn on Sunday afternoons and evenings, along with juice and pie or some other baked goods, rather than having a full meal.) They had a gnecht (hired man) to help on the farm, and for some reason he had stayed over the weekend. He apparently was pretty enthusiastic about eating the popcorn. My great-grandmother kept fidgeting in her chair for a long time, not wanting to ask him to stop crunching, and then she suddenly got up out of her rocking chair and said, “Oh, I go to de udder end of da HOUSE!”as she stomped away for emphasis.

Subsequently, my grandfather and my mother hated crunching, and now me. I find as I get older, it gets worse. And I’m not the only one. I have nearly 100 cousins on my mother’s side of the family, plus six siblings. I don’t know any who are not afflicted with this “dis ease.” 

And it didn’t stop at our generation, though now that I think about it, my sons don’t seem to mind it. (Perhaps because they vowed not to be like me.) When I was visiting my Mennonite cousins in Missouri, I met my cousins’ sons. One of them was talking about the subject, and he said that he had a friend who “Could really destroy your peace…” and then he paused and continued…”With an apple.”

When we were talking about the topic of crunching, my cousin Mary said that in her family, whenever they had corn on the cob for dinner, they had a rule that everyone had to start at the same time, so they wouldn’t hear each other crunching. That would have been something to behold — Mary grew up with 14 siblings. She was a twin with her brother, Melvin, and there were three other sets of twins in the family. That must have been quite a crunching fest — one I was glad to have missed, thank you.


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