Seth and Abigail were a young couple who had run away from their
Amish community in Ohio. They wanted to get married and start a new life. After
stopping in a number of cities, some big and some small, they found themselves
in San Francisco on a Sunday morning in July after riding many a Greyhound bus.
Seth and Abigail had some legitimate concerns about starting a
new life among the English, as the Amish call Americans who are not Amish. They
both were still very spiritual but they had decided they would like to strike
out on their own. They wouldn't be the first Amish couple to leave the
community. Some Amish leave and do very well among the English and others have
to turn around and go back home.
Down deep, the young couple thought they could make it once they
solved a couple of immediate needs--namely, find jobs and a place to live
because otherwise their money would run out soon. Once they had jobs and an
apartment they could get married. At least that was their plan.
San Francisco, they agreed, was a beautiful city, much nicer
than some of the other cities they had seen between Greyhound bus stops. And it
was especially bright and sunny on this particular Sunday morning. It looked
like the kind of place they'd like to live.
Walking around, trying to figure out what to do next, they came
upon a large park and noticed the start of what appeared to be a big
celebration. They saw maybe 200 people, young and old, in tuxedoes and wedding
gowns gathered on the grass as if they were waiting for something to happen.
There was a big stage in front of the people but no one was on the stage.
"Looks like a big wedding," Seth said. "If we were dressed the
right way, we might be able to join in." But that was not the case. Although
Seth had left his black hat at home in Ohio and Abigail her bonnet, they still
looked very much like a rural couple, not at all like anyone seen very often in
San Francisco. But they had heard the city was open to everyone. It would be
expensive to live there but they hoped they would eventually become part of the
Then Seth noticed something about the big gathering in the park.
The men in tuxedoes were holding hands with each other and the women in wedding
gowns were also holding hands with each other. Seth didn't understand exactly
what was going on but he realized it was something different, probably, even
for the English, many of whose customs confused the Amish back home.
"Abigail, even if we were all dressed up, I don't think we'd fit
Abigail, however, was truly entranced by the gathering. She knew
less than Seth about how the English lived but she knew the people in the park
were in a very good mood. She smiled and waved to them a couple of times and
they all waved back. She even waved to the minister who walked onto the big
stage. He was wearing a dark suit and tie and appeared to be holding a bible.
Seth was getting antsy. He figured they ought to be moving on so
they could find a place to stay for the night and then get ready to look for
work on Monday morning. He figured he could handle the grill in a diner and
Abigail would make a good waitress, what with all her experience feeding long
tables of Amish men after their day in the fields harvesting crops.
"C'mon, Abigail. Let's get going. We've got things to do."
Abigail started walking with Seth, even though she really wanted
to stay and watch the people in the park get married if that indeed was what
they were going to do. She and Seth had walked about half a block when Abigail
stopped and let go of Seth's hand. She turned around and looked back at the
people in the park. She had never seen anything like it. She just stood there,
immobile and mesmerized.
Seth figured if he kept walking eventually Abigail would catch
up with him. She knew less about life in a big city than he did and he didn't
know all that much. But Abigail never caught up with him. At the end of the
block Seth turned around and saw that she was still in the same spot, with her
back turned, watching the ceremonies in the park. She looked frozen in time.
It's a long story, all that happened that day and afterwards,
with Abigail and Seth. And some people have a hard time believing how it all
About a week later Seth got on a Greyhound bus and went back to
Ohio alone. He hadn't been able to find a job and ran out of money. He had
never talked to Abigail again after she had stayed to watch the people in the
park. Eventually, two men and two women had come out of the park and had
carried Abigail back with them into the park so she could be part of the fun.
Unlike Seth, Abigail never went back to Ohio. In fact, she is
still in San Francisco and can be found every day in that park. There is no
question she is now a pillar of the community, albeit of salt.