We called both of our grandmas "Mommi" to their faces, but Dad's mom was Kansas Mommi when we spoke of her, and Mom's was Iowa Mommi.
This story is about Iowa Mommi, Anna on legal documents but always known by the Germanized "Ennie," and when she married Adam she was Adam-Ennie til she died, and long after, too--just a few months ago someone "placed" me by being told I was Adam-Ennie's granddaughter.
The family lived in Oregon from 1909 to 1912. Oregon is a long way from other Anabaptist population centers now, and back then it must have seemed as far off as the moon.
Three years wasn't that long, but certainly long enough to equate Oregon with the Garden of Eden in Mommi's mind, for ever after.
She would have been about 19 when they came to Oregon, and 22 when they left.
I remember trying to imagine mountains in general and Mt. Hood in particular, picturing numerous upended cones, all snow-capped. But truthfully, we couldn't comprehend Oregon or its wonders or its iconic status in Grandma's memories.
Oh wait, I was going to tell you about Mommi's adventure with the train. This is what happens when I get started with family stories--my train of thought gets derailed and I go off over the countryside like Tootle the Train, chasing butterflies.
Mommi was the third oldest of the family. She used to reel off their names--Noy, Ketty, Ennie, Sussann, Dafe, Vina, all the way to the end. In English, those six were Noah, Katie, Anna, Susan, David, and Lovina.
The three oldest girls were apparently best friends and workmates and partners in crime and at times the determined and resourceful lifeboat that kept the family afloat, such as when they picked cherries in the back yard and took them to Portland to sell. They wouldn't sell, though, because the housewives wanted to know what kind they were, and the girls didn't know. So they had a little consultation and decided to call them Black Pippins. After that they sold them all.
|I love this picture of Katie, Susan, and Dave's wife. Unfortunately, my grandma isn't on this shot.|
I'm amazed at how different these girls look from the Amish today. Those oddly-shaped kapps, and big bows!
So they didn't, but their zest for life never diminished, which is why Mommi would go out by the pig shed and hoe thistles when she was 86 years old.
Then someone gave me a little booklet called The Amish of Amity. It tells the history of the Amish community and includes maps and directions on driving to and through the 4-mile-square area where the Amish lived, and which of their houses are still standing, and so on.
Unfortunately, it doesn't say a word about where the Schlabachs lived.
The little booklet, as I said, told me the general area but not the specifics of their farm.
So with Paul driving, me reading directions, and Phil in the back seat, we headed south on 99W near McMinnville, headed for Whiteson. Our first stop was supposed to be Trestle View Lane, which would give us a good view of the old railroad trestle. This seemed like a Clue. Surely it couldn't be far away.
Shortly before we got there, we passed a golf course! What? Was it the same one, and how could it be so easy that we'd find it first, without even trying?
So we nosed around the countryside, stopping at the golf course and Trestle View Lane, where we could see the railroad bridge over the deep ravine of the Yamhill River, and the long wooden trestle sloping to the south. Then we took a back lane through the field across from the golf course, hoping to get closer to the tracks to verify the geography there.
|If this was the view that my grandma saw every day, minus the pickup trucks, it's no wonder|
she thought Oregon was next thing to Heaven.
We looked south, and yes, there was a slight curve, but it didn't seem like enough to make a train slow down enough to jump off.
|Me and my brother Phil, with the curve in the tracks behind us.|
|You really don't want to fall off that edge.|
|Some of the ties looked like they could be a hundred years old.|
It was a Special Moment. Not quite as amazing as seeing Mt. Hood for the first time, but still very special.
Of course, there were absolutely no doubts that Mt. Hood was the same mountain Mommi had seen, and I wasn't so positive about the tracks.
But never mind. It was somewhere close, if not right here.
We moseyed on, down Hook and Eye Lane, past lush farmland that once belonged to Amish families, and on to the little town of Whiteson, where the two railroad tracks still come together, and where the girls probably boarded the train on many dark, rainy Monday mornings.
|A--the golf course and probably the original Schlabach place. B--the site of the Leap Off the Train C--the railroad junction at Whiteson|
|The Amish cemetery.|
|The long trestle in the distance. And I have no idea what kind of trees those are.|
|The Weirich house.|
|Whiteson, where two tracks merged and where the girls got off the train, except for that one time.|
Me: This post is taking me a long time.
Jenny: And you just want to make all these motions with your hands and put them into the blog post and you can't and it's so annoying!