Friday, October 7, 2011

Word for "Train"


Murray is an enterprising Mennonite farmer and young father. He supplies our factory with steel drums for shipping purposes. His father Cleeson did also for years before him. I have enjoyed many a talk with them. Cleeson died of cancer about seven years ago. Over a thousand Mennonite people from around the county attended his funeral. How they "chip in", one for the other!

Murray has taken to bringing his four year old son Jeffrey in the truck for an outing and in order "to do some work". Never too early to start. The little fellow gets a real kick out of rolling barrels off the back of the truck. Of course I clown around with him. He usually speaks Old German to his Dad.

Today Jeff stopped in his tracks because a freight train was going by on the industrial spur line to the east of our steel yard. Lots of rumbling and groaning and squeaking steel. I asked what was the Old German word for "train". He stood silent and baffled. His father piped up, "I don't think we have one, Doug."

And that's the way it goes for the Old Order Mennonites. They have picked an arbitrary year of the past and will not move beyond it with respect to technology, convenience, luxuries or social custom. Hence the horses and buggies, the parochial schools, the abstinence from insurance schemes, the black and blue clothing, the industrious market gardening by the women, the "No Sunday sales" signs etc.

I do find that the men are weakening when it comes to fancy farm equipment, small metal shop equipment and hydro-electric conveniences in the barn.

I remember once sharing a bus ride with a Mennonite elder from Mount Forest who had just taken over leadership of a church. By custom he was required as pastor to remove all hydro from his home. He had spent a lot of time and money converting to propane. 'The local Home Hardware proprietor thought that he had become unhinged', he told me with a chuckle.

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