Two families, two time frames

After hours on the interstate, I guided our station wagon along the two-lane roads of central Pennsylvania. I looked over at my son Alex, slouched in the passenger seat.

He was the image of adolescence: headphones straddling his dark blond hair, T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of his favorite punk band, baggy black pants. He had stashed his duffel bag and custom-built skateboard in the back seat.

Alex was going to "extreme camp," where he would hone his skateboarding.

I turned my attention back to the road, but smiled to myself at this image of modern American life.

Up ahead, a horse-drawn buggy traveled in the opposite direction - a familiar sight in central Pennsylvania, where Amish farms are common. Slowing the car as we passed, I glanced at the husband and wife with a toddler tucked between them. Behind the buggy were three more children on bicycles.

One was a boy about 13 years old. His dark blond hair poked out from a black-brimmed hat, and he wore a crisp white shirt tucked into black trousers. He vigorously pedaled his bike to keep pace with the buggy.

Safely past, I resumed my normal speed and continued on to Alex's camp. For a moment, though, I glanced into the rearview mirror at the horse and buggy and the kids on bicycles - at another American family.

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