Happy as the Grass Was Green (1973) - full transcript

A Mennonite boy is beaten to death at an unnamed NY university protesting the Vietnam War. His best friend and another college student, Eric Mills, attends his funeral in the Mennonite country in Pennsylvania.

When did they ship his body?


[Man] Hotdog, something
to drink, sandwiches?

No thank you.

(train whistle tooting)

(train engine whirring)

How come you weren't with
us for one confrontation man?

You know why, I've told you.

Well tell me again

I didn't think most of those
demonstrations were helping,

besides I was busy studying.

You were studying while some
pig was killing your brother?

John and I went to
New York to study Eric,

that was the whole
idea, now cool it.

I know how much you love
John, I loved him too.

You're mad and you wanna fight,
you won't get it with me.

(train bells ringing)

North Philadelphia,
North Philadelphia.

North Philadelphia.

Half an hour 'til Lancaster.

♪ Life is like the seasons,
quickly changing to the years ♪

♪ Youth is like the springtime
when the flowers first appear ♪

♪ When trees are
green in summer ♪

♪ Mans in his prime

♪ Then the autumn winds announce
the snow and winter time ♪

♪ So little time, a year
has gone, a lifetime ♪

♪ So man must learn
while he is young ♪

♪ Seeking answers and a
wisdom for beyond his years ♪

♪ For too soon
his time is done ♪

♪ And he finds he's in
the wintertime of life. ♪

Are all your folks Mennonite?


Do they drive horse and buggies?

No, some do but
it's usually Amish.

They're not the same?

♪ The tiny little baby soon
leaves his mothers knee ♪

♪ A child of today will
tomorrow find us free ♪

♪ To face the worldly problems
that he must face alone ♪

♪ Seeking answers to the
questions of his summertime ♪

♪ For all too soon
the summer's gone ♪

♪ It's wintertime.

♪ So man must learn,
while he is young ♪

♪ Seeking answers and a
wisdom for beyond his years ♪

♪ For all too soon,
his time is done ♪

♪ And he finds he's in
the wintertime of life ♪

♪ So man must learn,
while he is young ♪

♪ Seeking answers and a
wisdom far beyond his years ♪

♪ For all too soon,
his time is done ♪

♪ And he finds he's in in
the wintertime of life. ♪



Eli, Eli.

It's good your home
Jim, good your home.

Eli, I want you
to meet Eric Mills.

He was a good friend of Johns.

Eric, welcome.


Let's get you home.

- Everyone all right?
- Yes, they're all right,

they're waiting for you.

How's Hazel?

Fine, asking about you.

It's been hard, since
the news of John,

nobody really understands.

But it's corn picking time,
there's lots of work to be done.

They Amish?

[Jim] Wenger Mennonites,
a lot like the Amish.

Thanks for meeting
us Eli, take care.

[Eli] See you tomorrow,
glad you're home.

Goodnight Eric.

What's out there?

Simon, the family graveyard.


He was the oldest,
then John, then me.

He was killed in a tractor
accident a few years ago.

I've never been up there
since we buried him.

Welcome home son.

Hi dad.

Hi Jim, how are
you? How was the trip?

[Jim] Okay, where's mom?

How are ya?

- Fine momma, fine.
Glad to be home.

I forgot Eric.

Sorry Eric.

This is Eric Mills, he was
a close friend of Johns.

Pleased to meet you Eric.

There's something to
eat, you must be hungry.

No thanks mom, we had
a sandwich on the train.

Just tired, Eric?

No, I just wanna crash.

I didn't make up the
extra room, I didn't know.

It's okay, I'll
take care of him.

No need to help with the
chores tomorrow morning,

meetings at 12, to
settle on the funeral.

I'll be up anyway.


[Eric] Who's the little
guy with the bald head?

Ben, he works on the farm,

sort of a member of the family.

Never seen one of
them close up before.

(gentle guitar music)

(machinery whirring)

Good morning Mr. Mills,
did you sleep well?

I did thanks.

Jim's out in the
field with his dad.

I'll fix you something to eat.

(chickens clucking)

Did he have many friends
besides yourself?


He had a lot of friends.

We loved him.

Used to sing a lot.

Yeah, he had a
good singing voice,

he and his brothers used
to sing much together.

Did he have a girlfriend?

Yeah, well he had
a lot of friends,

both chicks and guys.

But no one girl?


No one.

Well once I thought
he'd marry a girl here.

There was one.


You know her?

Oh I heard Jim talking
to Eli about some girl,

and I thought it was probably-

- Yes er, she's Eli's daughter.

She's a good girl, smart,

Jim liked her too.

Do you want some more coffee?

Yes please.

In New York where did John eat?

Oh mostly round
the campus, you know,

small restaurants, dumps.

Why is there so much
trouble in the cities,

and with the army?

Well it's very complicated.

You'd have to er be
there to understand.

It should be
simple, shouldn't it?

The simple life
is best isn't it?

Well that's what we want.

Simple things like
you've got here.

(whispered conversation)

They're good people Eric,
they don't mean to be rude,

but you're-

- But I'm a freak
from the big city.

In a way yes, you're
something different.

The way outsiders feel about
them, something different.

But they're good people,
they just feel betrayed.

Betrayed, by what?

They knew John,
and they loved him.

They can't understand
what happened.

Well I can tell 'em, if
they really wanna know.

Politics and violence, they
wouldn't understand that Eric.

Jim, I'm sorry but I'm concerned

about what some of
them are saying.

I hope we can have the
service in the church.

Thanks Uncle Jacob.

What's that all about?

[Jim] Because of
the circumstances,

the way John died, some
don't think he should have

a service set in the church.

Oh for Christ's sake.

[Jim] Eric, please
try and understand.

Who the hell do
they think they are?

[Jim] His people Eric.

Yeah, well they didn't
know him, I knew him.

They didn't know him.

I'm going outside, I
gotta get some air.

(door clattering)

Too many Mennonites
all at once huh?

I guess.

We're just people Eric.

Judge us slow,
this is a sad time.

Leaves are falling fast now.

Hey is Eli some
kind of a holy man?

A holy what?

A holy man, a prophet.

You know that isn't
such a dumb question.

Eli is a holy man, a man of God.

He's a good preacher,
he's my best friend too.

Well I guess that puts
you pretty close to God

yourself then Ben huh?

Do you like looking like a girl?

Your hair, your hair?

You don't mind
looking like a girl?

Know a lot of girls
with mustaches Ben?

Hey Ben!

Look I'm sorry Ben,
I'm putting you on.

I don't think I
look like a girl.

But if I do so what, I
mean I just don't care

what people think.

What's the matter?

Menno mustn't see this,
he knows enough already.

This is awful.

Oh what garbage!

How could John do
a thing like this,

he was a Mennonite, a good boy.

He worked on the farm with
me, never hurt anyone.

Now he's a criminal.

Hey wait a minute
John wasn't a criminal.

He was killed by these goons

because he wouldn't let them
persecute another human being.

John loved people.

He was killed because he
tried to help someone.

He was violent.

He was beautiful
man, they were violent.

He wasn't willing to
sit back on his ass

while people are being
humiliated and thrown in jail.

Oh man, what,

what the hell do you
know living out in this.

God damn wilderness.

You've got no right
to judge anyone.

No one.

Know who the criminals are?

They're the ones who
sit back and do nothing.

I don't believe the service
should be held in the church.

I don't think John
should be buried

in the family graveyard.

Under the circumstances I think
there would be more suitable

burial grounds, and I
say this with sadness,

with due deference to my sister.

Rufus, we had all
agreed before you arrived.

But I did not agree Eli,

and I'm part of this family.

We do not dispute
your position Rufus.

I've got no thoughts of
vengeance, that's the Lords.

But neither must we permit
unbelief to be tolerated.

John believed in God.

There must be no weakness
on the part of the church

simply because the violator is
a dear member of the family.

John was, was violent
towards people,

and he destroyed property.

We're talking here
about God's word,

and we must not condone
those that violate it.

I want the service
held in the church.

It is for all of us to agree,

not just Anna and Me.

Rufus, to avoid further
discussion and pain,

would you agree to this?

A simple service
beside the grave,

but in the family plot.

I'll agree to that.

It is agreed then?

It is agreed then.

I guess you belong to
the people who bury you.

Uncle Rufus sounds
like a real sweet guy.

Yeah, we don't see him
much, Christmas and Easter,

important times like that.

We'll fix John up real
good Jim, he'll look fine.

Thank you.

That's Daniel Wenner,
the undertaker.

Wonder who they are?

I'll go check it
out, wanna come?

(zipper rasping)


What are you doin'?

We're gonna take some pictures.

You got permission?

We're just gonna
take some pictures.

Yeah I know but, but,
you should get permission.

Look Mac, we're not
bothering anyone are we?

I don't know, but you
should get permission

before you take any pictures.

- You live here?
- No.

No I don't live here.

(photographer grunts)

Okay buster, that's
enough, now beat it.

(man groans)

(photographer screams)

(fists connecting)
(man groaning)

(dramatic guitar music)

(distant preaching)

For all flesh is as grass,

and all the glory of man
as the flower of grass.

The grass withereth, and the
flower thereof falleth away.

But the word of the
Lord, endureth forever.

Eight year ago, when
I first came here,

there were three Witmer
boys, Simon, Jim and John.

We called them Peter,
James and John.

And I came to love them as
though they were my own sons.

Four year ago we buried Simon,

we came here then as we do now,

and we wept and prayed,
and tried to understand.

Today, most of us have
not wept nor prayed,

neither have we
tried to understand.

(somber music)

Hello Eli, you disappointed me.

Why that boy doesn't even
believe in the Risen Lord,

and you spoke about him as
though he were a Christian.

You had a chance to
speak out, you didn't.

I do not believe we can
judge Rufus, any of us.

Surely you must understand this?

I don't go along with a lot
of this traditional mish-mash,

wearing plain clothes
and such like, but,

but when it comes to
the word of God Eli,

the word of God, there
must be no backing off.

That boy was not saved,
and he should not

have had those
words said over him.

Poor Rufus, God was
here and Rufus missed him.

I wanna thank you,
for what you said.

For John.

He would have appreciated that.

Is that why you came here Eric?

To make sure we
buried him properly?

We loved him too Eric, even
if we didn't understand.

I'm gonna stay here
with Jim right now,

I hope I see you again soon.

I hope so.

(somber music)

Oh Eric,

this is my daughter Hazel.

Hazel, this is Eric, I've
been telling you about.

- Hello Eric.
- Hi.

Sort of stuck up isn't he?

Well he is.

Coming down to the house?

No, not yet.

You meet Hazel?


John really liked her,

they'd have been married
if he had stayed here.

She couldn't go with him?

You don't know us,
he didn't ask her.

She'd never have gone.

What about you?

Me and Hazel?

Oh I don't think so.

She comes on a
little strong for me.

He used to like to walk here,

they were always together
when we were home.

I often wondered what
that would be like John.

To be so sure I would
know what I should do.

He loved people so much,
I mean, really loved them,

more then anyone I ever knew.

And still he hated them.

[Eric] He didn't hate people,

he hated things that
were done to people.

[Jim] I wish I'd have
been with him more,

I wish I'd have talked
with him more then I did.

I remember one day,
Simon and John and I,

were up here fixing the fence.

Simon said something
about it was strange

to love life so much, and
yet be so close to the dead.

John said, were as happy
as the grass was green.

Doesn't look very green now.

(chickens clucking)

[Eric] Hey Ben.

Hey that's no way to
walk in on 500 chickens,

you'll scare 'em half to death.

Well how else do
you get in there?

You knock, that's how.

Oh yeah, you knock,
then what do you do?

Wait for one of
them to say come in?

Oh you're really funny,
why don't you just watch,

maybe you'll learn something.

(knocking on door)

I don't believe that.

I bet there's a lot of
things you don't believe.

I do not believe it.

Where you been anyway?


Where's Jim?

Oh he's up on
the hill somewhere.

Is that Eli's car?

Yeah, meet his daughter yet?


[Ben] What do you think of her?

I don't know, I
couldn't see her,

I had something in my eye.

How you doing man?


You know what Hazel asked
me before the funeral.

She wanted to know
if John had to die,

that's what she said, did
John really have to die?

What'd you say?

Told her I don't know.

Told her John wanted to
change the world today,

not tomorrow or next
year, but today,

and that's dangerous.

She's here.

[Jim] Who Hazel?

Yeah, with Eli.

Where's Dad?

Oh he went for a
walk with Eli, maybe.

How's your eyes now Eric?

Something wrong with your eyes?


You really a hippy?

No I'm a hippopotamus.


You don't have to act smart,

can't you give a straight
answer to a straight question?

I'm sorry, there's
nothing straight about me.


Stop teasing that girl now
and get on with your dinner.

Hazel was really giving it
to you, but she can't take it.

She likes things her own way.


Just like she's got a bonnie.

She's just testing you.

What's she testing me for?

For strength or weakness,
it's a game she plays,

she likes the challenge.

Yeah well, I
wouldn't try anything

under these
circumstances anyway.

I know Eric, I'm
not worried about her.

(metal clattering) I thought
you should see one barn raising

before we go back
to the big town.

[Eric] All right, just tell
me what you want me to do,

and where I go.

[Jim] Here, right up the ladder.

(hammers banging)

This is fantastic huh.

[Man] Yeah.

Yeah, this whole thing, I
mean it's just, just wild.

It's fantastic.

All you neighbors coming out
to help another neighbor,

it's incredible.

I heard you the first time.

What do you want me to do?

You can um,

put a row of nails up
here, nail this facing into

the back post there, about
one every six inches,

and put another row over there.

You got some nails?

- You Amish?
- Hmm.

(hammers banging)

Hey, what's that?


What you're chewing, what
you just spat out there.

Oh tobacco.

- Yeah?
- Uh-huh.

Can I have some?




It's pretty strong stuff.

You like it?


My names Bart Byler.

How are you, my
name's Eric Mills.

Yeah. (Car horn blaring)

Well, it's about lunch
time huh, you ready to eat?

I just got here.

[Bart] Oh, well
that's good timing.

(people chattering)

Hey I don't wanna sound stupid,

but what exactly
is the difference

between the Amish
and the Mennonites?

Well they both came
from the same roots,

ever hear of the Anabaptists?

Yeah, 14th-15th century Europe.

Girls getting burnt at
the stake, all that jazz.

Yeah well basically they,
we are non-conformists.

Rejecting the worldly
world for the simple life.

Yeah, what about
your uncle Rufus?

Well he doesn't reject
things as much as he should.

(Jim laughs)

But the simple
things are important.

Follow the teaching of Christ,
non-violence, brotherhood.

But the Amish go a
lot further don't they?

I mean no cars, no electricity,

what's that got to
do with brotherhood?

The further you get
from simple things,

the further you
get from Godliness.


Sarah, don't just stand there,
there's plenty to wait on.

Look out won't
yah, the mans waiting

for that stuff over there.

Why'd they give
her such a hard time?


- Her?
- Who?

She's had trouble in the
family, she's a little strange.

Oh that's logical.

Both the Mennonites and
Amish keep breaking up

and forming new churches.

As if they were always searching
for the right things to do,

they get caught in the
middle of wealthy America.

Some reach out,
grasp new things,

some hold on the,
the old traditions.

Some, most of the people,
are somewhere inbetween.

Some groups are afraid of
falling behind the times,

and another group is afraid
of falling in with the times,

make sense?

Well it makes
about as much sense

as anything else in this world.

But there's still
something that unifies

the whole thing, isn't there?

I mean-

- Hi.

I didn't know you
were leaving tomorrow.

Yeah, I'm leaving
tomorrow morning.

My father would like you to
come over for supper tonight,

could you?

I'll drive him over.

Uh yeah, I guess so.

Okay, have him there at six.

(Eric laughs)

What were you preparing
yourself for in college?

English Major.

But I'm more
interested in politics.

That's how I first met
John at a political rally.

What made you so angry?

It's hard, being out here,

where everything's so
peaceful, everyone loves you,

to know what it's
like in the city.

Like when I first met John,

we were doing a
demonstration to put pressure

on the university
and the city agencies

to clean up this slum
area near the campus.

A little baby had been bitten
by a rat the week before,

and it died, and nobody cared.

We moved in with
the anti-war people,

I mean it's the same thing.

I mean killing is wrong,
whether it's done with a gun

or through neglect.

The war went right up.

A week later another
baby was bitten,

nobody did a thing.

But why the violence?

Our people weren't
into any violence,

not at the beginning.

All we did was march
and demonstrate,

and circulate petitions
for those guys

who refused to be
inducted into the army.

The guys who had to go
to Canada or wherever.

But there was violence?

Yeah, there was violence.

See the whole anti-war
movement began to fall apart

once the draft ended.

John couldn't understand that.

I mean, we were
still killing people,

the cause was still there.

Well we'd call a rally, and
instead of 1000 kids showing up,

maybe 50 or 60 would.

See they hadn't really cared,

about the killing.

They just didn't
wanna get drafted

because they were
afraid of being killed.

Around about a month ago,
John brought this guy in

who'd gone AWOL about
three years ago.

Been on the run ever since then.

He was really in bad shape.

So we vowed to protect him.

(people shouting)
(people screaming)

And then last Friday,

last Friday I came home,
(sirens wailing)

And found the apartment
house surrounded by cops,

and the gang from the FBI.

They're yelling for
John to come out.

No way.

(gun firing)

So the cops started pumping
tear gas into the apartment.

They broke in through
the back door.

And the next thing I heard,
(gun firing)


They claimed that John
had fired at them first.

Maybe he had.

Anyway, John was dead.

Are you ready for
family worship father?

Let's sing "Spirit of God" okay.

♪ Spirit of God

♪ Descend upon my heart

♪ Wean it from Earth

♪ Through all it's pulses move

♪ Stoop to my weakness

♪ Mighty as thou art

♪ And make me love thee

♪ As I ought to love

That which is born
of the flesh, is flesh.

And that which is born
of the spirit, is spirit.

Marvel not that
I said unto thee,

thee must be born again.

The wind bloweth
where it listeth,

and thou can'st hear
the sound thereof.

Thou can'st not tell
whence it cometh

and wither it goeth.

Dear Lord, bless Eric,
and show him your love.

And may he find you,
and come to love you.

(gentle music)

Never heard anybody ever

mention my name in
a prayer before.

Will you come back again ever?


Safe journey tomorrow.

God bless ya Eric,

thank you for spending
the evening with us.

And remember, God loves
you, don't settle for less.


Hey give me the keys?

- What for?
- Give me the keys, come on,

- come on.
- What for?

I've gotta go.

Where you going?

I'm going to Eli's.

[Eli] The wind
bloweth where it listeth

and thou hearest
the sound there of.

Thou can'st not tell
whence it cometh,

and wither it goeth.

(car engine revving)

Do you know what time it is?

[Eric] I don't
care what time it is.

(car horn blaring)
(dramatic music)

(knocking on door)

What are you doing here?

I don't know.

I thought I came to see
you, but that's not it.

And what would you have
done if I hadn't waked up?

Honest Hazel, I
want you, really bad,

but that's not why I'm here.

I have to see your father.

Earlier tonight,
when I was here,

love and hate were so
mixed up inside of me

that I just wanted to get up
and run out of this house.

But you didn't.

And later on Eli, I kept
hearing your children singing.

I thought I was going nuts.

I believe God is
calling you son.

(Eric laughs)

I've found him.

You're right, I found him Eli.

I found him.

(gentle music)

You sure you wanna stay?

Yeah, I'm sure I wanna
stay, for a while anyway.

Hazel got to you?

Yeah, maybe she got
to me, that's not all.

Well I hope it's
what you think it is.

Just remember you're
still a rare bird here

with the Mennonites, but
you're not one of them.

I'm not sure you ever can be.

Yeah, well I think
you're jealous.

(Jim laughs)

Maybe I am, it's
supposed to be my home.

Take care friend.

I'm glad he
decided to stay here.


How long do you
think he'll stay?

Until the novelty wears off.

What if the novelty
doesn't wear off?

(upbeat music)

Come on.

He's sort of a
funny looking goof

to have following you around.

Well he's a nice boy
I think, works hard now.

Yeah, I guess.

I wonder how long his
conversion will last?

I, I, I just meant with his
peculiar background and all,

I, we'll give him a chance.

(stone scraping)

Maybe he could cut
his hair a little.


But I guess hair's
his own business.

Well I didn't mean real short.

(hammer banging)
(bright bouncy music)

Hey, hold this sack.

Open it.

It's open.

Your hair's still too long.

Yeah, but I got
rid of my mustache

so you wouldn't mistake me
for one of your girlfriends.

(Ben laughs)

This is the life my buddies in
New York keep dreaming about,

the simple life.

Yeah, this is what
it's all about.

[Ben] Then why'd they go around

blowing up all those buildings?

Ben I've told you, they're
angry because they see

so much human misery around 'em.

Shouldn't make 'em violent,

but you gotta try and understand
why they get that way.

When you see a wrong,
and you can't see any way

how to right that wrong,
then it makes you frustrated.

I mean, how would you feel
if one of your neighbors

was hungry and you didn't
have anything to give him?

And no one else
seemed to give a sh...

Seemed to care.

Now that's what you
might call mighty fine

bunch of cattle.


Oh come on Menno, you know
good stock when you see it.

Sure do.

And a too high price for me,

can't afford more then 35 cents.

Menno look, you
can't do this to me.

Now I'm an honest man,
now what have you got

against those cattle?

The price?

(Ben laughs)

41 and a half, now
that's the best I can do,

even for you.

Menno look, I paid
39 and a half cents

for this cattle myself.

Now what am I supposed to do?

39, that's my last offer.

40 and a half.


- 39 and a half.
- 39.

All right, 39.

Pleasure doing business
with yah, Shorley.

(Ben laughs)

Well that was a good boy,
Shorley's fit to be tied.

Hey, how much
would you have paid?

One cent more, it's
worth 40 cents a pound.

[Man] Hi Menno.

[Hazel] I heard you stayed.

I thought most girls didn't
come to the stock yards.

I'm not most girls.

How'd you know I
was still around?

Why do you always
ask so many questions?


First time we met you
asked me if I was a hippy.

Are you?

What do you mean by hippy?

All questions, no answers.

I came with my father,
he's doing some buying.

I have to meet him soon.

You wanna take a walk?


(bright gentle music)

That's John's coat.

Yeah, Mrs. Witmer gave it
to me, it's a good old jacket.

I didn't ask you
if you were a hippy

the first time we met.


No the first time we
met I said hello Eric,

and you said hi, I thought
you were pretty stuck up.

Second time we met I asked
you if you were a hippy.

Oh yeah, I remember.

(gate creaking)

Ah there you are.

I figured you'd
found each other.

Time to get home,
see you Sunday.

Bye Eli.


I've been thinking about you,

I'd like for you
to say a few words

at harvest service on Saturday.

What about?

Oh about the way you feel,
your new walk with God.

It would mean a lot
to them and to me.

Thank you Eric.

♪ Praise to God,
immortal praise ♪

♪ For the love that
crowns our days ♪

♪ Bounteous source
of every joy ♪

♪ Let thy praise
our tongues employ ♪

♪ For the blessings
of the fields ♪

♪ For the stores
the garden yields ♪

♪ And for these our
souls shall raise ♪

♪ Grateful vows and
solemn praise. ♪

We have a stranger
among us today

who is no longer a stranger.

He comes to us from New York,

and I have come to love him.

And in this young man, I
think all of us will discover

a new meaning in our own faith.



I forgot what I
was gonna say, um,

I, I didn't make any notes
because I wanted the words

just to come.

And they're not coming.

You see when I first came here,

I thought I knew everything
there was to know

about Mennonites.

I, I even thought all of
you drove horse and buggies,

and that some of you
lived in monasteries.

I want you to accept me.

I found God here, because
of the simple things

I've found here.

I've felt a peace.

See before in my life,

there was darkness,

and now there's light.

There was despair,

and now there's hope.

There was hatred,

and now there's love.

My name is Noah Dunbar,
glad to have you here.

Thank you.

I'm Isaac Frederick,
I liked what you said.

(baby cries)

I'm Mrs. William Stodder,
and I just wanted you to know

how please we are that
you found the Lord.

I was telling my
husband at home,

it must be so difficult-

(drowned out by baby crying)

We'll be praying for you.

Hi, we're having a hayride
tonight, will you come?

Sure, where?

Roger Martins,
here's the address.

(tractor whirring)
(jaunty music)

[Hazel] Here he is.

Hey Hazel.

Broke my leg.

I started out 10
years ago with a little

roadside fruit stand,
and built it into this.

The Puerto Ricans
gave me some trouble,

they don't like to work.

You probably know what I
mean, being from New York.

As Christians we must
help the unfortunate,

even if they don't
appreciate it.

Carolyn, have Stanley
come in will you.

You know my sister
speaks highly of yah,

Anna's a good woman, and
I respect her opinion.

I'll be glad to
give you a job here,

most of the employees
are Christians,

except for a few, some
that do the cleaning,

people like that, but
the Christian atmosphere

pervades the whole business.

This is Stanley,
Stanley's our foreman.

This is Eric Mills, we're
gonna give Eric a job here.

Help us with the
Thanksgiving rush.

It'll do you good
to work with him.

Glad to meet you Eric,

I'm sure we'll get along
just fine, follow me.

I'll take care of him sir.

10 years ago this
was little more

then a roadside fruit
stand, now look at it,

built into this,
fruits, and vegetables.

We grow 'em out
back, always fresh.

I'm not a Mennonite
myself, but I'm a Christian

and Rufus and I get
along very well.

Here, fill these forms out

and bring 'em in
with you tomorrow.

Er, what's a Christian hippy?


Rufus said you were
a Christian hippy,

I was just wondering, that's
sort of a contradiction

in terms, wouldn't you say.

Um no, not really.

It all depends what
you mean by it.

I mean a lot of people
appreciate nature.

Nature, oh right yes.

I like to go hunting
myself now and then.

Rufus never did well at school

but he was always a go-getter.

Not like a lot of us Mennonites,

never did learn to be obedient.

He was sort of
wild in his teens,

went to movies, and dances.

Then one day he straightened up,

he got changed at the
Shepherd Hill Church.

They're real liberal up there,

and it's a sin some of
the things they allow.

Dress and things.

They helped Rufus.

Where's Ben and Menno?

They're up the road
visiting a sick neighbor

they'll be late, so we'll eat.

Now, go ahead and eat,
you've worked hard all day.

Were you born in New York Eric?

No, Michigan, a little
town near Pontiac.


People travel far
from home these days,

makes it hard to come back.

My grandmother
moved across the road

from one farm to another.

And my mother and father
lived 13 miles down the road

from here.

I moved into this house
when I was married.

Furthest away I've ever
been is Washington,

and Philadelphia.

It was a few years ago, but
today people travel far away.

(bright guitar music)

♪ A lot of things
are hard to say ♪

♪ It takes a lot of time

♪ To get to know
your fellow man ♪

♪ To get your
thoughts to rhyme ♪

♪ Different folks have
different dreams ♪

♪ And live a different way

♪ So reach out to
your fellow man ♪

♪ And hear what he was to say

♪ Sometimes you won't
agree with them ♪

♪ And other times you may

♪ For different thoughts
and different dreams ♪

♪ Make our world this way

♪ So reach out for
your fellow man ♪

♪ And hear what he has to say

(people shouting
over each other)

We wanna do a good
job for the Garmens,

so's things are ready when
they get out of the hospital.

- Right on Mac.
- Oh shut up.

All right now quiet, now listen.

This room needs a
complete paint job,

I want Dimp here to
get two other guys

and make this your
project, okay Dimp?

Where's Dimp?

He's in the bathroom.

- No I wasn't, I'm here.
(all cheering)

All right, okay, now Johnny,

you get the rest of the guys,

and start cleaning
out the garage.

Everyone got mops?

[All] Yeah.

Well I haven't, well
someone took mine.

(all talking over each other)

Hey, great to have you.

Okay, look why don't you
two guys start in here,

and I'll send someone
else in to help you.

- You ready?
- Ready.

Great, let's get going.

(people chattering)

Find your broom yet Sarah?

Hey Sarah, why don't you
go out front and help Hazel.

Or better yet Sarah, why don't
you start on those toilets,

they really need a going over.

Do you mind if I
have a drink first,

I've been working too you know.

Sure Sarah, that's all right,

the toilets can wait.

(all giggling)

(Sarah sobs)

It's hard to look that pretty
after you've been crying,

how do you do that?


I'm sorry, they're stupid,

people are stupid.

They hurt other people and
they don't even know it.

You're Sarah?

I remember you, you
were at John Silks barn.

It was nice of you not
to laugh at me just now.

I like you, I hope
I see you again.

And whatever they tell you
about my father, it's not true,

he was not a bad man.

(thunder rumbling)

[Hazel] It was nice
of you to take her side,

they're very mean to her.

But why?

Her father took
his life last winter,

she's been sort of
strange ever since.

So they laugh at her?

I know, it's awful.

Why'd her father kill himself?

That's none of
anyone's business,

we don't talk about
things like that.

If you want to be
accepted around here

you'll have to understand that.

(girls screaming)

(people chattering)

Hey come on, don't
just sit there.

I told yah, I only
skated once before,

I'll be out in my own good time.

Are you afraid of falling?

Of course I'm afraid of falling.

Look why don't you go back
and join your boyfriends.

Oh haven't you met
Marv or his brother.

No I haven't met
Marv or his brother,

and I don't want too.

Suit yourself.

It's easier to skate
fast then it is to stand.

Right, skate fast.

No standing.

(Eric yells)


(dramatic comical music)

Coming through!


(Hazel laughs)

I want you to be
one of the speakers

at my church next Sunday.

We're gonna put on
a program that'll

knock some people on their ears.

I'm having three
other hippy types,

converted ones of course.

They're gonna come tell
us like it was really was

in hippy land, and I
want you to do the same.

(singing in foreign language)
(baby crying)

(dog barking)

(dramatic music)


Oh my hippy friend,
I've been looking-

- What are those people
doing out in those sheds?

Eric, shush for heavens
sake, not so loud.

Well why not?

Puerto Ricans work
for us in the summer,

out on the fields in back.

In the winter Rufus
let's some of them

who have no place to
go, stay in those huts.

You mean they stay
out there all winter,

Stanley it's 35 degrees outside.

Eric shush, we can't talk here.

Look, I was out
there, I saw kids,

it's reeking damp,
the place is a dump.

Puerto Ricans used to
give us a lot of trouble,

drinking and all
that sort of stuff.

Last summer Rufus got a hold of
a Spanish speaking Evangelist

and since then we've
hardly had any trouble.

They're very simply people,

and Rufus charges them
practically no rent.


Only 40 dollars a month,
you can't give these people

something for nothing you know,

they'll just take
advantage of you.

What's the matter with you?

Are you all right?

Yeah, I'm all right, I'm
just trying to fight down

a terrible urge to knock
you flat on your arse.

(banging on door)


Hi, may I come in?

Oh sure, come in, come in.

Want some coffee?

Um no.

Take your coat off, sit down.

I feel like everything's
falling apart.


I guess I just won't
accept not being accepted.

Are you sure
you're not accepted.

Oh I know you accept
me, you accept everybody

that's just the way you are.

But I don't think Hazel
accepts me, or Ben or Menno.

I don't know maybe
Mrs. Witmer does.

Is it so important
to you to be accepted?

I found something here
that I don't wanna lose.

I don't know, myself I guess,

and I just feel it
all slipping away.

Have our people changed?

No I guess not.

But, I'm losing the feeling
of peace that I had,

something's gone.

Eli, did you know
that Rufus had a bunch

of Puerto Ricans living
in some run down sheds

behind his store?


I know.

It's a bad thing.

Is that why you're angry?

Shouldn't everybody be angry?

We do not do so many
things that need to be done.

Rufus has not changed
since you came here,

Rufus is the same as
he has always been,

and so am I Eric.

It's you who have changed.

You cannot expect everyone
else to change too.

You've found a refuge
here, not a home perhaps,

but a refuge.

You expect too much of us Eric.

We disappoint you.

(gentle music)

You're not going to work today?

Yeah, I'm just gonna
arrive a little late.

I'm all right.

Just don't feel like
seeing some of those people

this early in the morning.

Rufus has been fair to you?


I've got no complaints
about the way he treats me.

But something's wrong?

Rufus has done or
said something bad.

It's hard to love someone
when you don't like them,

poor Rufus, he
needs to be loved.

But he's too proud to accept.

Don't let Rufus make
you angry again Eric,

you can do so much good
if you don't get angry.

Dear friends in Christ,

I promised you a rare
experience today.

Four persons, former hippies,

who's lives have been spent
in degradation and unholiness,

have come here to tell yah
how they were lifted from

the clutches of the devil.

Of their journey from
the depths of depravity

to this platform in
the house of God.

You can bring them in.

(upbeat jaunty music)

My mother began to drink.

Right here ladies and gentlemen,

you can see the
marks of the needles.

It was here, in this book.

There was a God who loved me.

Praise the Lord.

A cloud was pulled away
from the face of the sun.

I was transformed.

I was saved.

Why do you people put
other people in cages?

You put us up here so
you could sit down there

and stare at us
and feel superior.

Now it's getting near Christmas,

the message of Christmas
is supposed to be peace

and love, and brotherhood.

Let's not build anymore cages

for our brothers and sisters.

No more Mennonite cages,
no more Amish cages,

no more hippy cages, no
more Puerto Rican cages.

Let's find the keys to those
cages we've already built,

lets open all those doors
and throw the keys away.

(gentle guitar music)

You're going away
aren't you Eric?

I don't know, what
are you doing here?

I wanna go with you.


Look we can't stay here.

I know a place, I'll show you.

All right, but get down.

Aren't you gonna come
back and sit with me?

I think it's better if I don't.

I love you Eric, I really do.

I know you think
that's silly but I do.

I don't think it's silly,

but I don't think you love
me like you think you do.

Look Sarah, you've been
hurt by your own people,

and because you and
I like each other,

you turned from them, and
you think you love me.

I didn't turn from
them, they turned from me,

just like they turned
from my father.

One night about a year ago I,

I had this terrible dream.

I dreamed that my father was
running through the streets

shouting that no one loved him.

The dream woke me
up, I was scared,

I guess I knew
that papa was sad.

He never could talk
much to anybody,

he was very gentle.

But he could never
say much to anyone.

I went into my parents room and,

my mother was there
sleeping alone,

and then I really knew
why I was scared and I,

I ran up the steps and I saw
him hanging from the rafters.

(Sarah sobs)

(somber music)

You're in love with
Hazel aren't you?

I'm not sure.

Look Sarah, you wouldn't
be happy away from here,

and they need you.

The people here need you.

I know you might not
believe that, but it's true.

They need your strength,
they need your honesty.

I'll stay.

But I'll write you okay, and
let you know how I'm doing.

I think if I can do
that I'll be all right.

Sure, I'd like that.

(door slamming)

(somber string music)

Anna, I just got word from Jim,

he'll be home for Christmas.

Mum really needs a radio.

She was really excited
about you coming home.

Yeah, she doesn't show much,

but I knew she'd want me here.

Hi Jim, it's great having
you home at Christmas time.

Hi Joe, thank you.

Ma'am this boy was here first.

I was here this
morning, and that's first.

You gave me the wrong plug.

We don't have plugs
at this counter ma'am.

Oh yes you do, I bought it here.

No we don't ma'am, plugs
and that stuff's over there.

Where's the manager?

Over there.

Some Christmas spirit huh?

Yeah, everyone goes
mad this time of year.

Can you wrap this?

Are you kidding?

(bright tinkling music)

Merry Christmas Eric.

Merry Christmas Noah.

- Welcome home Jim.
- Thank you. Merry Christmas.

(people chattering)

What was that all about?

Merry Christmas Eli.

Merry Christmas Eric.

Merry Christmas Jim.

Merry Christmas.

Did you hear about Eli
and your old employer?

No what?

I guess Rufus had
some poor people

living in his brooder
houses, old chicken huts

at the back of his store.

Now everyone's known about it,

but no one ever did anything.

I guess Eli went over and
confronted Rufus in his office.

What happened?

Well I don't know for sure,

but the brooder houses
have all been knocked down,

and I hear Eli has
found jobs for the men.

He must have scared the
daylights outta Rufus.

♪ Oh come all ye faithful

♪ Joyful and triumphant

♪ Oh come ye, oh come ye

♪ To Bethlehem

♪ Come and behold him

♪ Born the King of angels

♪ Oh come let us adore him

♪ Oh come let us adore him

♪ Oh come let us adore him

♪ Christ the Lord

♪ Sing choirs of angels

♪ Sing in exultation

I've gotta talk to you.

I've gotta see you
tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow's Christmas.

I know tomorrow's Christmas.

But I gotta talk to you,
I'm leaving tomorrow night.

[Woman] Hazel, Hazel.

Pick me up at three o'clock.

(somber music)

No, not here.

Three o'clock tomorrow.

Eric I want you to
meet my cousins,

Marv and Merv Berkholder.


I thought I was seeing double.

(bright festive music)

Dad, can you give me a
hand with the boxes of gifts,

they're in the attic.

You all right mom.

Boxes of gifts, I hope
everyone didn't go spending

a lot of money.

Oh I don't think so.

(knocking on window)

[Ben] That's our
signal, let's go.

How is it possible for
a boy not to have one?

What's wrong?

Merry Christmas Menno.

My, my, for me mom?

Sit down now, that's
what it's for you know.

Eric picked it up
for me at a sale,

I made the afghan myself.

It makes me sleepy.


He'd want you to have this.

Where'd you get it?

When I picked up his
stuff at the morgue.

He was wearing this
when he was killed.

I know.

Thanks a lot Jim, I'll
take good care of it.

You know it's
funny, not long ago

seeing this would have made me
so mad, I would have gone out

and done God knows what.

I've changed too.

I think I've come home this
time, I do belong here.

Why don't you stay,
you belong too,

just give 'em a little time.

No, no I belong back
where this came from.

I think I can do some good now.

(Jingle Bells)

We're ready, I'll
get the turkey.

You get the children
into the kitchen.

- Menno gave me these.
- What?

Menno gave me these.

He gave me a cap too.

(people chattering)

Jim, good to have you home.

Hi Uncle Dan, this is Eric.

I remember, merry
Christmas Eric.

I think Jim'll stay
a while this time.

I can put him to work.

♪ All is calm, all is bright

♪ Round yon virgin
mother and child ♪

♪ Holy infant so
tender and mild ♪

♪ Sleep in heavenly peace

♪ Sleep in heavenly peace

Turkey time everybody.

Willis would you
ask the blessing.

Dear God, we're
thankful for Christmas,

we're thankful for
parents and for children.

Lord we thank you for this food.

Continue to bless us
with healthy bodies,

we pray in Jesus name Amen.


(all chattering)

What exactly is the difference

between a hippy and a yippy?

A yippy?

Yeah you know, you read
about hippies and yippies

all the time, what's
the difference?


I guess it's sort of the same

as the difference between an
Amish man and a Mennonite.

(Jim laughs)

Boy Eric, you sure
give good presents,

those tools are all right.

I'm glad you liked them
Ben, have you seen Jim?

Yeah, he's over by the door.

Excuse me.

(all chattering)

Hi Eric.

Eric this is Barbara
Metzler, Barbara this is Eric

I was telling you about.


Look Jim, I've gotta duck
out for about an hour

is that all right?

Sure, anyone I know?

Could be.

(bright gentle music)

[Hazel] But you know all
about me, about all of us,

and we know nothing about you.

That's not so.

I, I bared my soul
to your people.

I came here a stranger, and
now you know all about me.

You're the one who
never lets go Hazel.

I know your father
and your family,

and I know what you look like,

what you need and how you laugh,

but I don't know you.

I don't think I ever will.

You're too private,
you're too jealous,

you're too sure of yourself,
you're invulnerable Hazel,

that's the way you are.

No Eric you're wrong,
I'm not sure of myself,

not really, but I know
who I am, where I belong.

I don't think I'll ever leave,

and I don't think
you'll ever come back.


Eric has come to
say goodbye papa.

I'm sorry you're leaving.

So am I.

You've been an
inspiration to me Eric,

it's meant a lot to me
having you here this long.

Thank you.

God go with yah.

And remember he loves you,
never settle for less.

I was born here Eli.

I heard about the brooder huts.

Bye Eric, have a good trip.

Appreciate your hospitality.

You've been welcome,
come back and see us again.

Just some sandwiches
for the train.

Take care of yourself now.

I will.

All set, let's go.

I'll be back shortly.

It will be green
again in spring.

(car engine revving)

(gentle upbeat music)

♪ So man must learn

♪ And he must grow

♪ With his knowledge
he must try to change ♪

♪ The wrongs in life

♪ Though winter comes
and he must go ♪

♪ Other eyes will see the
green again in spring ♪

♪ So man must learn

♪ And he must grow

♪ With his knowledge
he must try to change ♪

♪ The wrongs in life

♪ The winter comes
and he must go ♪

♪ Other eyes will see the
green again in spring ♪