July 18, 2008


Category: News — Ira @ 7:00 pm


“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel
until he comes home and rests his head on
his old, familiar pillow.”

—Lin Yutang

I can’t take it like I used to. Getting old, I guess. Road trips used to be a lark. A great rolling never-ending adventure, stretching into limitless horizons. This trip was all of that. But it was also a bit more or a bit less, depending on how one looks at it.

I’m home. And exhausted to the core of my bones. Just dog tired. So tired that I’m not even tired, if that makes any sense.

It wasn’t like that twenty years ago. Back then, I could throw together a couple pairs of jeans, half a dozen shirts, some underwear and socks, stuff everything in a duffle bag, scrape together a few bucks, gas up, and head out for weeks. Stop awhile here, stop a few days there, work some odd jobs for cash flow. Sleep on hard beds or soft, or in the car. It was all the same.

Not anymore. Now I’ve got gray hair, as one of my old Bloomfield buddies was quick to point out on this trip. (I don’t have a problem with gray hair; that looks distingu-ished. I would have a serious problem with having no hair. May that day never come.) I’ve got creaky bones. I get fussy about my motel rooms. And after a good night’s sleep, I’m still tired.

I arrived home Tuesday evening a bit after six o’clock. After driving 1350 miles in two days, from Kansas to home. The first day, from Arlington, KS to Indianapolis. 750 miles. The next day, from Indy to home. I was in the zone, stopping only for restroom breaks and Superfood. Didn’t get tired at all.

I logged almost exactly three thousand four hundred miles in thirteen days. Dodged through all the road construction without losing much time. Got stuck in a traffic jam only once, for fifteen minutes. No speeding tickets. Road conditions were generally ideal.

Little Blue performed perfectly. And traveled quite comfortably. I wouldn’t mind owning a little car like that. The car averaged an astonishing thirty-five plus miles per gallon, even with the air conditioner blasting almost full time (Doing my bit for global warming there). Probably more than twice what Big Blue would have gotten.

Guess I owe the Demoncrats an apology from last week’s tirade. Because of them, I got to experience Little Blue. On second thought, I’m still quite irritated at their obsti-nate lunacy. So forget the apology.

I listened to a lot of talk radio, mostly Rush and Glenn Beck. And a lot of music, coun-try and otherwise. All mixed in with some extremely irritating commercials. Of all such commercials, Aflac takes the cake, hands down, for the most annoying. (Olga Mendez from Verizon Wireless came in a close second, her sappy, oh-so-condescending voice cooing like a wannabe Deity lecturing the unwashed.) Aflac must have launched a new ad blitz, because I heard them on almost every station. Their ad agency should be fired. Someone should do us all a favor and just decapitate that miserable duck. I got so annoyed that I vowed never to purchase anything from Aflac. Ever. Wouldn’t take anything from them for free, even.

On the other hand, maybe all that petty annoyance stems from the stress of thirteen days on the road. Whatever.

From the beginning, I took the rain with me. All through the trip. It rained on Dominic’s July 4th party in WV. It had just rained when I arrived in Mays Lick, and I was there for only five hours. Bloomfield got pounded with six inches in one night, the first night I was there. It rained while Chris and I were fishing on the farm pond in MO.

So when I arrived in Kansas, I solemnly informed my friends it would rain sometime in the next two days. Take it to the bank, I said. Trust me. They smiled patronizingly. How cute and childish, they thought. What amusing drivel. Obviously I didn’t know anything about Kansas in July. It don’t rain. Period. Besides, there was no rain in the forecast.

You know what happened. On Saturday afternoon, while a bunch of us were walking about, drifting through the old shops in South Hutch, the skies darkened and the windows of heaven opened and the rain poured forth in torrents. Sheets and sheets of it. And a cold wind. I hadn’t packed a jacket, who would in Kansas in July? Big mistake. Huge. That afternoon, I popped into a men’s clothing store and bought yet another zippered fleece, which I needed about as much as another hole in my head. I have about ten at home. It was COLD. In July. In Kansas.

Of course, everyone there was ecstatic about the rain. I guess they needed it.

“Take me to your drought areas,” I told them. “I’ll make it rain. For a fee, of course.” By then, they half believed me.

Kansas was superb experience. My siblings and their families (Lester and Rachel Yutzy and Marvin and Rhoda Yutzy) were outstandingly hospitable. I hadn’t been in the area for twenty-two years (see May 25, 2007 Post). A vast flat landscape with many thou-sands of acres of wheat fields. People are generally pretty laid back. Serious about things.

On Saturday morning we ate breakfast at the local Essenhaus café in Arlington. Orpha Miller and Phillip Wagler also joined us. I very much enjoyed visiting with them both.

Phillip Wagler, Ira, Orpha Miller

Orpha is the daughter of Peter Wagler, my great uncle. A senior citizen, she knows a lot of history from my family lineage. She gave me many details about Christian Wagler, my great grandfather, who suffered from severe depression and took his own life at age 36 in Daviess County. The following generations did not speak at all of that stain on the family name. I knew nothing of it until I was an adult. There aren’t many left who know the real concrete details of what actually happened. So I especially appreciated Orpha’s openness in describing what she knew. Someday I plan to write a blog on the subject.

Later, Marvin and I attended a community consignment auction. Lots of people milled about. It was COLD. I met my third cousin, Harley Wagler, who teaches literature at a University in Russia. Got reacquainted with him. Very interesting man who asks a lot of thoughtful probing questions.

Ira and Harley Wagler

On Sunday, I attended church with Marvins. They (and Lesters, who left for a funeral Sunday morning) are members of Center Beachy Amish church. The old, blue blood original in the area, I understand. It’s been many, many years since I’ve attended a Beachy church service. The usual plain but sturdy church building with many rows of benches. Men with little chopped beards, sitting on one side, women with veils and coverings on the other. Hymn singing, Sunday school, exhortation/discussion, more hymn singing, then the main sermon. Delivered by Bishop Paul Miller, who I met once previously, in the early 1990s. He claimed to remember me. Everyone was quite friendly and welcoming; I introduced myself about fifty times. It reminded me of when I used to attend good old Pequea Beachy church right here in Lancaster County a lifetime ago.

Otherwise, we mostly hung out at Lesters and Marvins, just being lazy and catching up on the latest. Gossip and all. My sisters went all out with their cooking. I enjoyed goodies that I probably won’t see again for quite awhile. Of course, during the entire trip, my stringent exercise program went right out the window. My jump rope stayed in my suitcase, unused. Other than a couple of pleasant walks here and there, I didn’t exercise at all.

Ira (wearing new fleece jacket), Rhoda, Rachel

Ira and Jessica, Rhoda’s youngest
(I’m starting to look a little fried.)

I didn’t gain that much weight, even with my blown diet. I think the stress of traveling keeps the body from gaining much, even though I ate a lot of good rich cooking.

Now I’m home. In my humble little abode in New Holland. With now-quiet tenants treading softly in the apartment above my head. Catching up on my sleep, on my own bed. Back at my desk at work, where things are still humming. And back at the gym, retraining flabby muscles. It’s all good.

It was a great trip. In every repect. Not a single negative experience. I’m glad I went. I’d do it all again.

But it’s good to be home. It’s good to rest.

Thanks to Linda Clark from West Grove, Iowa for emailing me the picture below. From her archives, taken in 1983. An extremely rare photo, for which I’m grateful. Yes, that’s my brother Titus about a year after his diving accident that left him paralyzed for life. Sitting in Chuck’s café in West Grove. And yes, that glowering young Amish thug with the black hat is me. I was 22 years old. What can I say? That’s how young, tough Amish thugs looked back then. Wish I were that lean and fit now.

Ira, Linda, and Titus; 1983

Finally, thanks to all who have mailed, emailed and phoned me with information about their memories of Elmo Stoll. (Those who haven’t and wish to still have time.) I’ve got a lot to sift through. The second post should be ready in about a month.



  1. I used to LOVE driving through the night but not anymore. Aflac…. they live next door to my dearest’s job. Yes, there are droppings all over but thanks to Canadian Geese who claimed little pond as their home right there.

    Comment by Jean — July 18, 2008 @ 9:01 pm

  2. Aflac will be pleased with an ad agency that produced an ad campaign that leaves consumers remembering the Aflac name. “Oh yeah I’ve heard of them before.”

    Thanks to Linda for an interesting picture. You truly looked like a thug. I would’ve been four years old at the time. You were the large burly uncle who was feared and respected.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — July 18, 2008 @ 11:02 pm

  3. interesting
    i’m planning a trip to arlington early in august
    am planning on driving out in 2 days, and then back again in 2.
    i’ve done it in the past, but with other drivers
    this time i will be the only driver
    not just quite sure what to think.

    i enjoy your writings.
    thanks for posting them for all to read

    Comment by jm — July 18, 2008 @ 11:43 pm

  4. That ’83 picture of you in hat explains for me a little bit why the photo on the current blog masthead. When we get grey we start to reminisce.

    Comment by LeRoy Whitman — July 19, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

  5. There is quite a resemblance, I must agree. Although the masthead may look more like a thug with a few years experience. It is what life will do to you. Your writings are showing some signs of experience as well. Keep it up. Bear

    Comment by Bear — July 20, 2008 @ 6:38 pm

  6. Enjoyable read. I had to laugh at your goofy comments about the commercials and that the pastor claimed to remember you. Claimed you said. Ira, do you not trust anyone? Snip.

    “Take me to your drought areas.” Funny! Rain is awesome when your inside looking out at it. Same thing with thunderstorms. I was wishing just the other day for a gray, rainy day. But drats! when I raised the shade the sun was out again. Being busy, that’s what the sun demands.

    When you mentioned Christian Wagler I thought about your father’s comment regarding Hemmingway. What must your grandfather have felt knowing his dad killed himself? What would a boy feel? Anger, really rage, betrayal, shame, embarrassment. Did he think he had something to do with it? Or that he could have stopped it? And what about Christian? Why was he so depressed? What happened to him? Or did he do something that he couldn’t forgive himself for? Many people are clinically depressed but they don’t end their lives. There had to have been something more. Poor dear man, the heartbreak he felt and the heartbreak he caused. No wonder your dad had no interest in Hemmingway.

    Twenty-two. I don’t even remember when I was 22. Well, I wasn’t saved yet so I guess I was attending college, hitting the local pubs with friends, and wondering, “Is this all there is?” You looked much younger in your photo. And Titus looks precious with his smiling face. You boys sure looked wholesome in spite of your claim at being a thug.

    Thanks for your many stories, pictures, just for putting yourself out there. You’re a peach. Oh, and I really like your new zip-up fleece…and the expression on your face.

    Comment by Francine — October 13, 2013 @ 8:18 pm

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