Part II

Last July, while visiting Pennsylvania, my sister Judy took me to view our grandfather’s farmhouse. It had been torn down.

Grandpa’s Amish neighbor Mr. Lapp, had purchased Grandpa’s home and was building a new home for his daughter.

A few weeks prior to my visit, I had phoned Mr. Lapp.

Normally, Amish do not have phones but this Amish man put a phone in the barn, so he could sell the bricks. I had asked Mr. Lapp to save me some bricks, from Grandpa’s house. He promised to do so.

Anyway, after Judy and I reminisced about our life on the farm, we drove to Mr. Lapp’s home.

Neither Judy, nor I, had ever been to the Lapp home, although, Judy had been inside many Amish homes.

When Judy married, she and her husband built a home in the Amish country.

I often told her that she needed to own a buggy, because her minivan just didn’t fit.

Truthfully, you cannot have better neighbors than the Amish. In case you don’t know, the Amish are extraordinary, wholesome, honest people. They are first, and foremost, strongly devoted to their families.

The Amish have high Christian standards, a healthy lifestyle, and a strong work ethic, and they give generously to their neighbors. I witnessed their giving nature when I was young.

Well, we headed back to Grandpa’s property, with Mr. Lapp’s son. He allowed me to choose whatever bricks I wanted, as he had quite a few.

It was at this time, when I asked the Amish teen if there was a hidden room in Grandpa’s basement. We had heard the story for years.

You see, this area of Pennsylvania was reported to be part of the Underground Railroad.

According to History.com, the Underground Railroad was a “network of people, African American as well as white, offering shelter and aid to escaped slaves from the South.”

The exact dates are not known, but it was formed during the late 1700s, reaching its height between 1850 and 1860. One estimate suggests that by 1850, 100,000 slaves had escaped via the railroad.

In fact, the Pennsylvania Quakers are considered the first organized group to actively help escaped slaves.

At any rate, the Amish boy didn’t know much, other then there was a “broken” (perhaps, dilapidated, in Amish talk) room, in the far corner of the basement.

My grandfather has been deceased for 44 years. I loved Grandpa, his cooking, vegetable garden, and homemade ice cream, along with each and every trip to the farm.

However, today, I have an even greater admiration for my grandfather.

Good for him to stand up, protect and aid any person trying to escape from slavery.

There is another reason I am so proud of my grandfather.

Sadly, he died before he had the privilege on meeting my special-needs’ daughter Kelsey.

I am a fighter, a bold aggressive advocate for those with disabilities. Kelsey would not have the rights to an education, employment, medical care, where she lives, how she lives, or honestly, any choices in life.

The civil rights movement ran from 1954 through 1968. The civil rights movement was the precursor to the rights for those with disabilities.

I am very grateful for many reasons, that grandpa stood up for what was right.

Yes, grandpa’s farm was a haven for me, and so many others.

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at jacksoncountyfamilyweek@yahoo.com or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.