The Amish Cook from Oasis Newsfeatures

Amish Youth and Braces

I recently moved from Southern Maryland where there is a mixed Amish and Mennonite community to New Jersey.  The Southern Maryland Amish tend to be very conservative.  In fact, they moved there from the Lancaster PA area in the early 1940s because they felt the Lancaster Amish were getting too liberal.  We often saw and talked with Amish of all ages at the two local Amish markets there.  All were polite, but fairly reserved, mostly like the Amish I have met in other places. 

There is a large Amish market in an old grocery store several miles from my new home in New Jersey with many small stalls and shops, as well as a restaurant run by an Amish couple.  The busboy is always a male Amish teen, but not always the same one and the servers are a mix of Amish girls and young women ranging from early teens to late 20s and a couple of non-Amish young women in their early twenties.  The cooking is all done by a couple of Amish women and one Amish man.  The hostess is usually an Amish girl of about 12, daughter of the owners of the restaurant, I presume. 

Yesterday, though, the hostess was an older Amish teen, maybe 16 or 17 and she was wearing braces on her teeth.  I have researched the Amish extensively since I have written about them in one of my books and the Amish will appear in another book I am working on.  I have to know what I am talking about before I put it in a book, so I research extensively.  However, I have never run across an Amish teen with braces on their teeth before, nor have I ever seen a reference to having braces in any of my research. 

Has anyone else run across Amish teens with braces before?  I've never seen this before in any of the Amish communities I have visited.  I've seen lots of liberalness with everday clothing, especially among those actively involved in Rumspringa, but the braces were a complete surprise.  I would appreciate hearing from others who may have seen Amish youth with braces.  As a researcher, I am interested in knowing if this a new trend or one that has been around for a while and one I may simply have missed since the Amish I saw most often in Southern Maryland were so conservative.

I leave the readers with a small anecdote.  One day at this market in New Jersey, a small Amish boy of maybe four or five years old wandered from his family's stall across the aisle to the shop selling bulk candy, pasta, nuts, etc.  He stool in front of one of the candy displays and alternately looked at the display and then back at his father in the stall across the aisle with what could only be called a pleading look.  There was no question he was imploring his father or mother to buy him some candy.  His father finally noticed and came over to buy the boy a few pieces of candy.  A half an hour later, the boy was still wandering around the market relishing those candies.  He had only one or two left by then, but he clearly had been having a good time. Children are children in any culture.

Peace, Frank