Who are considered elders? Is it just the ministers/deacon/bishop?
Courtney, you are correct: teach church district usually has one bishop, two ministers, and a deacon. Together, they are the elders of the church.
And I'm curious about different styles of buggies. Meaning are there different ones that seat different number of people or have a different function, like used for picking up supplies from town?
Yes, there are different styles of buggies and this varies from one community to another. Most have buggies with tops on them, but not all. As far as I know, every community has the single buggy and a "surry," has more than one seat for transporting a family. Most communities need a "bench wagon" that transports the church benches from house to house. (The exception to this is Somerset, Pennsylvania, where they have a church building and therefore don't rotate church services from one house to another.) Some communities also have "hackney wagons" that I think you are referring to, which are used to transport supplies from town. These are probably the more conservative groups, because I think most Amish find it easier to hire an English van driver to transport their supplies, rather than have a wagon for just that purpose.
Do you have any memory of work frolics when you were younger?
Yes, I have a chapter in my book called "A Frolic." I was five years old when we had a frolic to build a foundation under the old house we had moved from up the road.
You talked about hating ironing since it was gas, but what about the actual doing the laundry part? I read somewhere, and I can't remember where, about the process for doing laundry. The laundry was washed in the washer, wrung with a wringer, rinsed in plain water, wrung out again, rinsed in water with fabric softener, wrung out, and finally hung to dry. But that shirts, pants, and dresses are not wrung out since they wrinkle terribly. It makes me so thankful for my electric washer and dryer. I'm one of those people that hates cleaning lol. I would be a terrible Amish woman! I only clean because I can't stand filth.
Your description of doing the laundry is very accurate. The process we used of not putting the dresses through the wringer was called "drip drying." It saved a lot of ironing, especially when we changed over to polyester fabrics (oh how I hate polyester to this day… I can remember in the hot summer it was like wearing plastic bags). For us, there was another step involved, before we could do all the above. We had to heat our water in a big iron pot in the basement. And on wash days when there was no water left in the rain water tank, we had to haul it in from the pump by the barn before we could heat it. Other people in our community had hot and cold running water by then, but we could not afford it.
Some of the more restrictive Amish communities still haul and heat their water, but by far the majority of the Amish have used their ingenuity to alter equipment to fit into what is allowed in their communities, and so it makes washing clothes a lot easier than what we had to do.
When I was visiting Amish friends in Kentucky recently, I found out that they use solar panels to power their washing machine. That means they don't have to have that noisy and smelly gasoline engine in their basement or washhouse. Wow — this I could never have imagined as a child!
Courtney, thank you very much for your questions. Many of these things I take for granted because I grew up in this lifestyle. Therefore, I would miss writing about such things unless someone asked. It makes me look at the Amish part of my life with fresh eyes.