When we first started serving our Amish neighbors we would overhear them talk of attending a ‘frolic’ at one or another’s house on a couple days almost every month. We were new to the area and hadn’t made many close friends so my wife and I would discuss how nice it would be to live amongst close friends who had these large gatherings called ‘frolics’. They spoke of them with great anticipation and joy. We didn’t want to seem nosy, or as if we were trying to invite ourselves to one of these ‘frolics’, so we didn’t ask any questions. We just secretly looked forward to a day when we might possibly be invited to one of these gatherings.
Two years passed and we sold our first house in Wisconsin because we found a nice set of farm buildings and house closer to the middle of the Amish settlement we served. Our buyer tried all sorts of tricks to knock down the price of the house we were selling. One of the techniques was to move the closing date up 3 different times! Finally we reached an agreement to vacate the house within 2 weeks. We found out very quickly that they had their attorney draft a 20+ page lease document that they hoped we would sign at the closing which would require us to pay $1,000 per week for each week that we didn’t have the 30’ x 60’ tool shed empty. When I told my Amish friend, David Mast, about the pinch we were in he got a grin on his face. I asked, “What's so funny?” He said, “It’s time for a frolic! They won’t have any idea how you and your wife moved 30 tons of iron in a day.” David had me drive around the settlement and stop at several farms that Friday evening with a closing looming less than a week away. The following Tuesday, twenty-five of his closest friends, their fathers, sisters, and mothers showed up at the home we were selling. They came with trailers and truck drivers, which had been lined up by calling up old favors… By 7 pm that evening my wife and I had experienced a ‘FROLIC’ first hand. There is no stopping an army of Amish when they are determined to help a neighbor. The most memorable part of the day was when we needed to load a 2 bottom McCormick plow, which weighed about 800 lbs. +. I turned to walk to the neighbor’s to borrow a tractor with a bucket and chain. Behind me I could hear them count to 3 in German. Before I could turn to see what was happening I heard a thud on the trailer deck as the plow was moved at the hands of 8 young men! Oh, and not only did they move everything we owned after 25 years of farm living, lock stock and barrel, (not so much as a bolt or nail left behind) but we finished the day with a huge feast cooked for us to “refresh and comfort us in the midst of the confusion and stress of a move”. Unbelievable...
The look on the faces of the buyer’s crooked realtor, attorney, and everyone else at the closing table when we politely refused to sign the lucrative lease, that favored only them, was worth a million! Oh, how David wished he could have seen them. He has asked many times and we have a good laugh each time I describe the scene. Since then, I have had the pleasure of helping at ‘frolics’ and it is so satisfying when you know the relief that you are giving someone who could not do it alone.
As a footnote:
In the end we found out from a ‘fly on the wall at the title company’ that the buyer’s realtor had bragged, before we arrived for the closing, about how he had sized up the “mess of antique iron” we had in that building and figured it would take us a minimum of 6-8 weeks to get it all moved. It was at his recommendation that the buyer had lied about having to move in at 5 weeks, then 3 weeks, and finally less than 2. He figured that by squeezing us for time and having them pay their attorney $500 to draw up a usurious lease, they would have us 'over a barrel' for at least another $5,000-8,000 in rent. He sat white as a ghost at the closing and when he asked me how we did it, I simply said, “We had a frolic!” (Silence...)