Markipedia 2010-008 Tacky Lights and Pennsylvania Facts

Side note: Aaron always tells me that I need to separate my posts … one post for each fact. Apparently this would impact my hit count… But I say this site is not twitter… and I am not really trying to optimize anything;  if I really wanted to increase my blog popularity I would post more than once every three months. Also, I argue that a selling point of Markipedia blog style is  how each post has facts that are loosely but not necessarily related.

Ok the setup: This week a couple people  met at Shockoe Espresso and had interesting conversation while waiting for everyone to arrive look at Christmas Tacky Lights in Downtown Richmond.  We ended up going to Cafe Caturra (Libbie and Grove) to sit around and talk some more.

There was a guy there (Barrett) who knew a lot about the Lancaster Pennsylvania area. There were also a bunch of musicky people there. So the facts definitely have a PA/music/Amish skew to them.

* Mennonites vs Amish — The Amish are a subgroup of Mennonites.

* What are Mennonites?  Wikipedia says “The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons (1496–1561), who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders.” Anabaptist just means they believed in adult baptism. Frisian is an ethnic group of western Germany and the Netherlands area.

* Black Bumper Mennonites–  Due to schisms over specific doctrines, there are lots of different kinds of Mennonites in the world.  In PA there is an order of mennnonites who are ok with driving cars, but only if car’s bumper is black. They are known as “Black Bumper Mennonites” … as wikipedia puts it…   “Black Bumper Mennonites, also known as Weaverland Conference Mennonites, also evolved from the main series of Old Order schisms from 1872-1901.” The rule is, if you drive a car with a black bumper then you are living simply versus living  flashy.

* Salvation Army — it is a church as well as a place to donate thrift items. Founded in the UK in 1865, it has a quasi-military structure: The leader of the international church is known as the “General” and  its ministers are known as “officers.” They dress in military clothes at some church functions.

* Raisin Nut Bran. Anyone can use the term “Raisin Bran” nowadays… it is not copywrited… nobody owns that phrase. General Mills makes “Raisin Nut Bran” … what more do you want to know? Here are some nutrition facts and other data:

* American Apparel. If you are on a fashion makeover but you don’t want to buy anything made in China, where should you shop? I suggested American Apparel, and we got into a discussion about their controversial ad campaigns involving teenagers dressed provocatively. But the fun fact here is that American Apparel (in agreement with their name) only sells apparel made in the USA. They pride themselves on not making their clothes in sweat shops, which might be one reason their stuff is more expensive.

* Sufjan Stevens. People have acquaintances  who know Sufjan… but where is he from? What’s his story? Wikipedia says “Stevens was born in Detroit and lived there until the age of nine, whean his family moved to Petoskey, Michigan. In Petoskey he attended Harbor Light Christian School as well as the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy. He went on to attend Hope College in Holland, Michigan and earned a Master of Fine Arts from The New School in New York City” … my fun fact is that Petoskey and Interlochen are both in Northern Michigan where I grew up, and he was a frosh at Hope College when my sis was a frosh at Hope College. Maybe they dated? I dunno.

* Macadam. Macadam is one of those words that Pennsylvania people use that nobody else knows. It is a kind of gravel road, but PA people use it to refer to roads in general. The short etymology is that governments used to spend alot of time builing roads with gigantic stones, but then John Macadam came along (in the UK in the 1820s) and suggested a better way to use different sizes of gravel to make roads  very efficiently.

* Tarmac — When fast cars came around in the 1920s, they kicked up  dust. To solve the dust problem, builders sprayed *tar* on the macadam surface. Eventually a form of this construction technique became known as “TARMAC” = tar + macadam. this is probably the funnest fact of this blog.

* Beverly Lewis — Apparently Pennsylvania Dutch fiction is all the rage. And the who is the queen of Pennsylvania Dutch fiction? No Not James Michener. It’s Beverley Lewis! According to Wikipedia, “Much of her writing focuses on the Anabaptist heritage and the Old Order Amish. Her maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, was born into an Old Order Mennonite Church, which interested Mrs. Lewis in her own “plain heritage.” Her father was a pastor in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch community), where she was born and grew up.”

* James Michener was apparently from Pennsylvania though. He wrote a novel about it, sort of. … set in the ficitonal “Grenzler” region of Pennsylvania Dutch country.

* German Reformed church.  Back in the day, the main German Reformed Seminary in the US was Mercersburg PA, but then the seminary moved to Lancaster.  In 1853,  Franklin College (founded 1787 in in Lancaster) also merged with Marshall College( founded in Mercersburg in 1836), to become Franklin and Marshall College, led by Mercersburg theologian  John Williamson Nevin. (My dad is sort of obsessed with the Mercersburg Theology.)

* John Marshall. As you may know, Marshall College was named after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, was a resident of Richmond, Virginia for much of his adult life.

* Shakers vs. Amish… what’s the difference?

–> Shakers … Well the Wikipedia article on shakers breaks it down pretty well “The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, known as the Shakers or Shaking Quakers, is a religious sect originally thought to be a development of the [late 1700s English, and later US] protestant Quakers. Founded upon the teachings of Ann Lee,  the group was known for their emphasis on social equality and rejection of sexual relations, which led to their precipitous decline in numbers after their heavy involvement in the running of orphanages was curtailed.”  Apparently the group reached maximum size of about 6,000 full members in 1840. Today there are like 3 remaining Shakers. So basically they made furniture and the song “The gift to be simple.

–> Amish … “The Amish or Amish Mennonites are a group of Christian church fellowships that form a subgroup of the Mennonite churches. The Amish are known for simple living, plain dress, and a reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology. The history of the Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists in 1693 led by Jakob Ammann. Those who followed Ammann became known as Amish. These followers were originally from three main places: the German-speaking parts of Switzerland, Alsace (now part of France), and the Palatinate of Germany. In the early 18th century, many Amish and Mennonites emigrated to Pennsylvania for a variety of reasons”

* Did you read this whole entry? Wow, I should buy you a cup of coffee or something. Maybe we should go to a Pennsylvania Dutch theme park!


This post currently has 4 responses

  • – Yes, I read this whole entry. You may treat me to “coffee or something” soon.
    – There is a presidential home in Lancaster County, James Buchanan’s home “Wheatland.” I tried to go there last December and wanted to get a gift for something there for Christmas, but the trip got snowed out.
    – I’m pretty sure most of the pretzels sold in the US (ones in bags in stores) come from PA Dutch country, mainly Hanover, PA.
    – Lititz, PA (in Lancaster County) has a wonderful little pretzel factory and chocolate factory there. Wilbur Buds, IMO, are superior to Hershey’s Kisses (similar type of product)
    – Many people pronounce “Lancaster” incorrectly. Imagine you’re saying “lanky” but change the “y” to “aster” – the first syllable is the emphasis. Other localities called Lancaster are usually different (Lancaster, England)
    – Some Mennonites don’t have any instruments in their churches, for simplicity. All music is a capella. Strange to me at first yet then invigorating to hear (and participate in) an entire congregation get out hymnals and sight-read 4-part harmony like they’re all the choir.
    – Above information drawn from experience, mostly of living in south-east and south-central PA for 8 years in total.

  • Very informative, Marko! Here’s another entry for your blog:

    -If you want to know the best-kept secret about Pennsylvania, might I suggest driving up to Rachel’s Roadhouse outside of Grove City and ordering their deep-fried soft pretzels with hot fudge sauce? (It’s never too late to start working on that “Freshman 15.”)

    -I’m only including this line because bulleted points are never supposed to be used alone. It would be like writing an outline that only featured A).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *