THE GREAT HALL
Little did I know that Hogwarts had a U.S. subsidiary in Gambier, Ohio. Then I met Kenyon College.
Built in 1824, the college’s stone-and-stained-glass dining room was only surprising in the fact that the chandeliers were hanging from the ceiling – not magically floating above students’ heads. Truly one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve visited, the school opened its doors to female students in 1969. It enjoys the Greek system with sororities and fraternities that cover a gamut of interests. Paul Newman and future president Rutherford B. Hayes went there. Rose and I departed after several happily-spent hours of walking the campus, meeting students, and dining in the elegant dining hall.
After visiting Hogwarts USA, Rose and I then went in search of the Amish in Ohio’s Coshocton area.
As we approached an Amish town I’d read about called Roscoe Village, we passed an Amish man driving his buggy on the highway. Then we passed another Amish man snoozing in his parked buggy in a farm driveway. It was kind of like spotting deer only much more exciting. “There’s one!” “Oh, quick quick quick, look over there. See the one sleeping in his buggy?” “I wish we could see a female one.”
So I was a little more than excited to see a herd of them when we got to the village and watch them in their natural habitat maybe kneading bread or plowing the land or darning socks. In fact, when we checked in with the visitors’ center and a woman in a long dress and bonnet greeted us, I could barely contain myself!
She approached Rose and me and asked if we had any questions.
I was more than a little surprised that she had bleached her hair blond and that she sported makeup. I thought to myself, this one’s a rebel!
“Well, yes,” I responded, “Please do tell me about your garments. They are Amish I presume?”
I endeavored to sound old-timey for the lady. Instead of saying something like, “What are you wearing?” or, “Are those Amish clothes as uncomfortable as they look?” or, “Do you sew your own stuff by hand?” because I didn’t want to sound too crass or modern.
“I’m not Amish!” she snapped back, acting as if perhaps I had deposited an accident on their hand-loomed rug. “This is Canal era wear.”
“Right!” I said, as if I’d just had a small stroke and she jogged my memory.
“From Erie Canal,” she continued. “You know about Erie Canal.”
“Oh yes! Erie Canal!“ I answered. "Um … what’s Erie Canal?”
“The canal that used to run under that freeway,” she said, pointing to a nearby road and looking as if I had just crawled out from under a log. “The canal cut across the length of Ohio in the 1800s and supported horse-drawn boats. Would you like to watch our video on the history of the canal?”
“Of course! Yes! We’d love to see it!”
So Rose and I went into the Visitor Center salon and turned on the documentary about the town’s history. Written blow – by – blow, the film provided an exhaustive account about the town’s founder who struck out with his bride after getting laid off in a nearby town and how they opened a glove factory and how …………………. OH! I’m sorry. Did I lose you?
Wait, did I nod off or did you?
Anyway, Rose and I conspired to sneak out, sheepishly looking down when the lady in the long dress caught us and asked us how we liked the film, which you could clearly hear still blaring in the other room.
“It was great!” we lied, “We can’t wait to hit the Amish – I mean Erie Canal – town! Thank you!”
So we hit the town. We bought homemade candy. We bought an old book. We took our picture in front of the curiously named N. Whitewoman St. After twenty minutes or so and too tuckered out to do anymore Amish watching, we beat it back to the sanitized-if-blasé comfort of electricity, clean sheets, sweat pants, microwave popcorn, Internet, and cable TV at our Hampton Inn suite in Elyria.
Our academic exploration is done here. Tomorrow, Rose and I head to Detroit for a day of adventuring before returning to the sunny climes of Seattle.
Pictured above: Kenyon dining hall; Rosemary standing on the corner with her mouth poke out; Rose – where her heart is; an Amish man in the modern town of Oberlin.