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A Traditional Life: The Amish of Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Jeri Watson, Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week…

We answer a question about the Amish people…

Play some new music by the group Pearl Jam…

And report about how modern medicine saved a horse’s life.

Prosthetic Pony


Last month, an American horse called Barbaro broke his leg during a race in Baltimore, Maryland. Animal doctors operated to save his life. Recently, we heard about another horse whose life was saved by modern medicine. Faith Lapidus has the story of a fifteen-year-old pony named Molly.


Animal rescuers first saw the pony walking in a grassy field in Louisiana last year following the huge ocean storm called Hurricane Katrina. They called Kaye Harris, a woman who owns a pony farm near New Orleans. Molly’s owners gave Miz Harris permission to take the pony to her farm where she cares for many homeless animals.

Molly did well there until a dog on the farm attacked her. The dog also had been rescued after the storm. It had never been aggressive. But Miz Harris saw the dog fiercely biting the pony.

Miz Harris separated the animals. Then she called a doctor who cares for animals. Allison Barca treated Molly for wounds to her jaw, stomach and all four legs. Miz Harris gave Molly special care for months. But the pony’s right front leg became infected. It seemed like the only answer was to destroy the pony.

Instead, Miz Harris and Doctor Barca took Molly to animal experts at Louisiana State University. They hoped she could receive a man-made leg called a prosthesis. Animal surgeon Rustin Moore finally decided that Molly might be able to wear one.

Dwayne Mara makes prostheses for a company called Bayou Orthotic and Prosthetic Center. He makes prostheses for people and had never made one for a horse. But he did not let that stop him.

After much planning, Doctor Moore and his expert team removed the affected leg at the knee. They gave Molly a temporary device to walk on. Five weeks later, she received the leg that Mister Mara had made for her. Soon she was standing and walking.

Now, Molly visits the prosthetic center often. Children who use the center’s services welcome her. She has become an unofficial ambassador to children with disabilities. And, a fund has been established in Molly’s name at Louisiana State University to help other animals like her.

The Amish People


Our VOA listener question this week is about the Amish people. It comes from Jing Ren, who was born in China but now lives in the United States.

Amish people came to the United States from Germany and Switzerland in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. They were expelled from their home countries or chose to leave because of religious oppression. Most settled in the eastern state of Pennsylvania. Other Amish people live in twenty-two American states and in Ontario, Canada.

Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County is known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country. About sixteen to eighteen thousand Old Order Amish live there. Dutch is a name for people from the Netherlands, yet many of the Amish came from Germany. Old stories say they were called Dutch because English colonists could not say the correct word, “Deutsch.” But language experts now say that people in England often used the term Dutch to mean German.

Amish families live as their ancestors did many years ago. They live in farmhouses heated with wood stoves. They get their water from wells. They do not drive cars. Instead, they travel in buggies pulled by horses. They do not have electricity or telephones. They do not want connections to the outside world.

Most Amish people are easy to recognize. The women wear long, dark-colored dresses. They cover their hair with white cloth hats. The men wear black clothing and dark hats. They grow long beards.

Most Amish families have seven or eight children who leave home only when they marry. Everyone in an Amish family works in the fields. The Amish are good farmers. They also keep farm animals. Each family takes care of its own farm of about twenty hectares. They plant and harvest crops without modern technology.

The Amish do not depend on people outside their own community. Every Amish man can build a house, make furniture and raise crops and animals. Every Amish woman can preserve food, make clothing and bed covers called quilts. Quilt-makers all over the world recognize the beauty of Amish quilts.

The Amish community works together to do big jobs like build houses for their people. They also gather for religious services. The Amish permit few differences among their own people. They continue to live separate from the people in the world around them.

Pearl Jam’s New Album


The band Pearl Jam has released its eighth album. The group’s sound has remained true to its roots in grunge music out of Seattle, Washington. Barbara Klein plays some songs from the new album.


The album called “Pearl Jam” was at number two on American record sales lists in the second week after its release. It is the group’s first recording in four years. The band’s music remains alternative and political. Here lead singer Eddie Vedder and his bandmates protest war in the song “Worldwide Suicide.”


The album took a year and a half to complete. Guitarist Mike McCready says the band members were only concerned about making a great record in their own time. Vedder says he wrote as many as thirteen early versions of several songs on the album.

Critics have noted the influence of the Beatles in one of the songs. Here is “Parachutes.”


Pearl Jam ended its fifteen-year relationship with Epic Records. The band has a long history of difficulty with the business side of making music. Pearl Jam recorded this album with J Records, as a one-album deal with the company. Its owner, music industry leader Clive Davis, is likely to want to continue making albums with Pearl Jam, considering the success of this one.

We leave you now with Pearl Jam performing the song “Comatose.”



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

Our show was written by Nancy Steinbach, Jerilyn Watson and Caty Weaver who was also our producer.

Send your questions about American life to Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.