Archive » July 2019 » Columns

Many of the Old Men of the Mountain took advantage of the weather break and slept in a tad; however, they dressed in a hurry, putting on some of the clothes they wore yesterday, but they made it by about 6:30 a.m. to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh.

As usual, the restaurant was ready for the OMOTM, so on a rainy Tuesday morning, July 23, the OMOTM were set for another normal day. They were full of stories that didn’t amount to a hill of beans; nonetheless, the OFs were ready for whatever came their way during the day.

Old news first. In a recent OMOTM column, there was a picture of a 1932 Model A hotrod owned by one of the OMOTM. This vehicle was taken to the large car show at Lansing Manor at the Gilboa power station where it won another trophy. This vehicle has to be seen to be appreciated. Congratulations are in order!


An early conversation was on taxes, and how they are getting out of hand in New York State. This, coupled with the salaries that our elected officials make in New York, have the OFs thinking that both taxes and the amount the legislators make are becoming disparagingly large in comparison to all the other states in the country.

One OF suggested that a smaller portion of the population of the state is taking care of a larger portion of the state that does nothing to support them, and that includes those that sit in those fancy buildings in Albany.

One OF said that he does not know what they are thinking; they are killing the farmer in New York with regulations and taxes. This OF said, “Just look at all the fallow land in our area from farms that have gone under due to the weight of all the laws and taxes piled on by the State of New York.”

Another OF suggested the big farms might prosper because they can hire people to navigate the system. But yet another OF added that he knows farms that were large to him, for instance, two- to five-hundred head of cattle, having problems, and these farms are also going under.

Those who fly away during the winter commented on what it is like in other states, not only taxes but power bills, the price of gas, and things like that. One OF asked why don’t those who fly away just stay where they fly to.

The reasons were many; after sorting it out, it came down to basically doctors, family, and friends — not dollars and cents.

Enhanced license is tough to get

Somehow, tied in to traveling to other places, the talk centered on getting the new enhanced licenses. Not one OF had the right information when he first went to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

One OF said he went with a wad of papers to prove he was who he said he was, and he was still missing one bit of information. Another OF said he did the same thing, and had the same situation, only his problem was that he had the wrong copy.

Still another OF showed up and he said he knew the girl waiting on him and his paperwork was still not right. He commented that the person waiting on him knew who he was, but according to the DMV he couldn’t prove it.

One OF said he didn’t know why he was getting one of those fancy licenses because he is not planning on going anywhere. Right now a trip to Cobleskill or Catskill is a trip for him, but who knows?

The OF said, “Maybe an opportunity might pop up and I will get a chance to go to a ballgame in Montreal. Still,” the OF continued, “I’m 87, and the license is good until I’m 95, if I make it to that number. I doubt I will still be driving … then again, there is that ‘maybe’ word, and I have the money now, so why not go for it? I get my picture taken to boot!”

“You, in front of a camera and having your picture taken voluntarily, are a hoot. You should have 40 or 50 copies made and give one to each of us,” an OF interjected, “We could pin it on our OMOTM hats and it would scare all the fleas, flies, mosquitoes, and ticks away.”

With friends like this, the OF certainly does not need any enemies.

Small cars

As usual, the topic of vehicles came up; this can be counted on by this scribe as a Tuesday-morning conversation every Tuesday. This past Tuesday morning, the talk was about vehicles so small that they approach the size of upholstered roller skates.

The OFs at our end of the table said they would not feel safe in one of those cars that are the size of one tire on a tractor trailer. 

One OF used this as an analogy. Just imagine sitting at a red light with a semi trailer truck right next to you, and, when you look out the side window, all you see is valve stem. The OF said, “If the tractor was bob-tailing and took off in a hurry, it would suck your little car right under it.”

“Not for me,” the OF said.

For those lacking knowledge of the term “valve stem,” Wikipedia tells us that it is a self-contained  valve that opens to admit gas to a chamber (such as air to inflate a tire), and is then automatically closed and kept sealed by the pressure in the chamber, or a spring, or both, to prevent the gas from escaping. You’re welcome.

However, that does not preclude that some of the OFs do own electric cars, but these vehicles are regular cars, not salesman samples.

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh in vehicles of their choice were: Roger Chapman, Paul Nelson, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Don Guest, (Don is headed overseas to compete in a triathlon) (many of the OMOTM’s total exercise is getting out of bed, and getting dressed, so the reader can tell Don Guest is a guest), Bill Bartholomew, David Williams, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Shafer, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Art Frament, Rich Donnelly, Ken Parks, Marty Herzog, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier,  Ray Kennedy, Harold Grippen, and me. 


When you think about it, a computer is a pretty dumb machine. As any programmer will tell you, it does exactly what you tell it to do — no more, no less — for better or worse.

Literally, a missed period can cause a program to fail or to mail out checks for $1,000 that were supposed to be $100. Heck, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration lost a $125,000,000 (that’s million, folks) Mars orbiter because one programming team used decimal measurements and the other used metric. Yes, this kind of thing really does happen.

So, because I’ve been working with computers nearly my whole life, I’ve become very pragmatic, to say the least. Any ambiguity in anything leaves me scratching my head, or worse. Let me give you a couple of examples.

A lady I know once told me she built a bed for her son. Now that’s impressive: Here’s an ordinary woman doing quality woodworking to build something useful and practical for her family. Great story. Of course, “inquiring minds want to know” more, so I had to ask her one specific question.

Building a bed is not especially complicated. All it is is an elevated platform with slats to hold a box spring and mattress. You can make the headboard and footboard all fancy, add in storage, etc, but it’s really just a raised platform.

The complexity comes in how you attach the long side board to the headboard and footboard. You can cut a hole in them (a mortise) and then stick the long sideboard right through them (a tenon). Or you can install some corner braces and lag bolt everything together.

They also make specialized hardware just for this application because it’s so common, consisting of metal fingers that go into a mating slot. I’m sure someone can dream up more ways to do it, but these are the most common.

So I asked my friend, the woman who built the bed for her son, how she handled that joint. Her response was this: “I don't know how I did it — I just did it!”

Er, um, what the blank are you talking about? I mean, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t lying about building the bed. Assuming that’s true, how can you not know what kind of joint you, yourself used when you made it?

Being a computer person, where I’ve been declaring everything down to the most miniscule command-line option painstakingly for decades, this kind of thing just drives me crazy.

Here’s another one. I have a friend who plays the guitar and sings. He’s also gotten pretty good on the harmonica, so much so that, when he goes to certain bars, the band will ask him to come on stage and join them with his harmonica. This happens so often now that he brings a bunch of “harps” with him, all in different keys, so he’ll have the right one to use depending on what tuning their music is in.

I’ve been trying to teach myself to play the harmonica for a long time. I hope to spend a lot of time practicing if and when I finally retire.

The good thing about a harmonica is anyone can just pick one up and blow into it and get sound out. When you do that, you’re going be blowing into more than one hole, which is usually not what you want. The hard thing is getting good enough so that you can get single notes consistently.

From my study of the harmonica (yes, I really do read everything), there are three ways to get single notes: 1) puckering your lips, 2) blocking extra holes with your tongue, and 3) making a u-shape out of your tongue.

Knowing this from my reading, I asked my buddy how he got single notes when he played the harmonica. Here’s what he said, and I’m not making this up: “I don’t know; I just do it.” Sigh.

Here I am with two friends who have done something extraordinary — building a bed from scratch and playing a harmonica on stage with a band — and they can’t even tell me how they did or do it. Can you believe that?

Let’s put it this way — I wrote a computer program to solve the daily Jumble puzzle that’s in the newspaper. I use it when I don’t have time to figure it out by hand or when it’s especially difficult.

If my friends asked me how I did it, I could simply give them the code and show it to them in black and white. No ambiguity at all. Why can’t the rest of life be like this?

The bed my lady friend made exists (I think); she must know how it’s built. My buddy is playing single notes on the harmonica; clearly he should know how he’s doing it. Yet good luck getting a straight answer from either of them.

I know, I know, everyone is different. Not everyone is as detail-oriented as it takes to program a computer, or to do open-heart surgery, or any one of another really technical things like that. Some people are more free-spirited, which is great, because we need all types of people in the world to keep things vibrant and interesting.

Still, as a detail-oriented person, I am frustrated by some things because they just can’t be learned or taught in sequence like the computer programs I’m used to.

Like learning how to swim: I’ve taken the Red Cross adult learn-to-swim program twice, and I’m still not good at it. I even suggested to them: Why don’t you teach treading water first? Treading water is a way to keep yourself from drowning.

If they taught me that first, I’d totally lose my fear of water, and that would make me much more confident. But it doesn't work that way — first you have to learn to put your head under water, then the front float, then the back float, etc.

That’s great for a lot of people I suppose, because they keep teaching it that way, but I just know that, for me, if they taught me how not to drown first, I’d feel much more comfortable in the water.

Let me finish with this: My father is famous far and wide for his delicious homemade real Italian meatballs. In fact, I’m telling my brothers that when he dies we should put “Here lies the Meatball Man” on his tombstone.

In the past, I’ve tried to get his meatball recipe, and it’s always like this: “Just put some ground beef and ground pork, some breadcrumbs, an egg …” and it goes on from there. No amounts, no measuring, no times, nothing.

I’m a professional programmer looking for step-by-step instructions so you can imagine how much this helps me (not at all). I suppose I should just go and watch him do it in person. Maybe some things are just better done that way. I'll let you know when I try that how it comes out.

Consider this quote by Thomas Reid, a religiously trained Scottish philosopher: “There is no greater impediment to the advancement of knowledge than the ambiguity of words.”

Maybe everything is not black and white the way that we detail-oriented programmers like it. If that’s the case, I better get over to my father’s house right now and watch him make some meatballs while he’s still around to do it.


On Tuesday, July 16, the Old Men of the Mountain shook out of bed and high-tailed it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. Middleburgh is a beautiful village along the Schoharie Creek in the county of Schoharie.

If you take Route 88 to the Central Bridge exit, you might head towards Middleburgh then branch out up Route 30 into the hills, or down Route 145 and take some of the side roads into the hills or even go in a different direction from 88 (maybe northwest to Sharon Springs) then go up into the hills. The rides will all be leisurely, picturesque drives.

One of the OFs’ first conversations of the morning was how red the sky was about 5:30 a.m. The old adage “red sky in the morning, sailors take warning” was brought up by some, but the Navy guys in the group said that was a lot of hooey, and Tuesday bore that out; it was — at least in our area — a nice day.

Maybe someplace else it wasn’t so nice, but here it was. The OFs supposed that the reverse was a lot of hooey too; “red sky at night, sailors’ delight” doesn’t mean much either. The sailor OFs confirmed that with a yes.

Show and tell

One OF obtained a bag full of rust-encrusted old tools from whoever (this scribe missed who donated these tools to the OF). The OF said he cleaned some of them up and brought one to the breakfast for another show and tell.

One OF brings a car; another a tool. No one could identify the tool and there were a few supposed experts at the breakfast but they could not ascertain what it was. What everyone agreed on is that it was from a tool box, or bag, that used to come with different pieces of basically farm equipment when purchased new, way back when the OFs were young farmers.

One OF said it wasn’t only farm equipment but older cars too, which came with their own set of tools. An OF said that his family’s Hupmobile came with quite a nice tool set so the owner was able to do his own basic maintenance. Hupmobiles were built from 1909 through 1939 by the Hupp Motor Car Company. 

Another OF said, with today’s vehicles, even a mechanic can’t fuss with his own car if it isn’t in a garage with all the special tools and diagnostic equipment required to work on the car at hand.

“Heck,” one OF said, “we used to have two spare tires with some cars, one in each front fender. Today, the owner gets a sample tire hidden under the floorboards.” The OF continues, “Sometimes it is necessary to take half the car apart just to get at the spare tire, which looks like it belongs on a wheelbarrow instead of on a car anyway.” 

Working — the system

An OF then brought up the subject of working. This is brought up quite often because it is the major portion of the OF’s life and much goes on during that time.

However, one OF made this observation: Why work? What does it get you?

This OF said he is finding out that, the longer he lives, those who were on the dole and did no work at all are getting along better than he is and they were on government money. This OF claims there must have been a school somewhere that taught kids how to do this.

He thinks that, when they graduated from this school, all were handed a teacher’s degree and they went on to either teach other kids in groups or in an individual home-school atmosphere how to work the system. This OF wondered what he worked for.

Obviously, he was having a bad day.

Racey talk

The OFs started a conversation about NASCAR, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. This was a little unusual because rarely do they discuss racing even though the OFs talk cars, trucks, tractors, and equipment of all sorts, but rarely racing.

This scribe thinks they were combining NASCAR with all racing because they were talking about racing in the forties, fifties, and sixties and NASCAR like we know NASCAR today was not operating like that back then.

The OFs were talking about a bunch of guys getting together, getting a rule book, and building a car. It certainly is not like that today. Back then, it was called Stock Car Racing, which implied it was a stock car bought at a dealership, or off a buddy, and then they fixed up the car and went racing.

One OF suggested he thinks there are still tracks like that around the country but these tracks are not sanctioned by NASCAR. The OFs agreed there may be some like that.

Some of the OFs enjoyed going to the local tracks and watching friends and neighbors race. Many of these tracks are still racing and the thrill is still there for those who go. Back in the forties, fifties, and sixties, some of the OFs were buddies of those who raced the stock-car circuit and even worked on the cars.

Tick alert

Just as a public service, the OFs want to warn all about the influx of the tick population this year, especially in the Hilltowns and in Columbia and Greene counties.

One member of our group is going through a Lyme disease treatment right now for two tick bites. This OF thinks he picked up the ticks in Greene County.

It is a good practice if you are out and about in high grass or brush that you have someone check you over for ticks. They should be checking the back of your neck and the places on your body that you can’t see. At the very least, check the best you can by yourself with a mirror.


The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their condolences and prayers for the Wolford family and friends on the death of Barbara Wolford, the wife of the founding father, Herb Wolford, of the Old Men of the Mountain.

Those OMOTM that were at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh were: Pete Whitbeck, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Jake Lederman, Duncan Bellinger, Mike Willsey, Winnie Chartier, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.


— Photo from the Guilderland Historical Society

Witbeck’s Hotel, originally the old McKown Tavern, stood on the Western Turnpike until it burned in 1917. The porches would probably have been added by William H. Witbeck. In the early 1970s, when King’s Service Station, which then stood on the site, was excavating for a new underground tank, part of the original foundation and burned timbers of the old tavern were found. Today, Burger King stands on the site.

— Photo from the Guilderland Historical Society

A deed to one of the houses erected on plots laid out for Country Club Hills has the owners’ names redacted. Note the first paragraph with Pitkins’s and Witbeck’s names.

— Photo from the Guilderland Historical Society

The Country Club Trolley Line reached out into Guilderland soon after the Albany Country Club opened, making McKownville easily accessible to the city, which probably helped to make McKown Grove a popular destination. The trolley also contributed to McKownville’s beginnings as an Albany suburb. Buses replaced the trolley line by the 1920s. 

GUILDERLAND — A century ago, it would have been a rare Guilderland resident who was unaware of the Witbecks. The Witbecks vied with the McKowns as McKownville’s best-known family and played a very active role in community life for several decades.

Today, there is no reminder in McKownville that the Witbecks ever lived there, except that their name appears on deeds to property on certain McKownville streets.

Originally from Rensselaer County, the Witbecks surfaced in McKownville when William H. Witbeck leased the old McKown Tavern and surrounding acreage in 1884. When William McKown built the tavern in the 1790s, he also acquired a parcel of 113 acres, all of this sometimes being referred to as the McKown Tavern and Farm. The tavern was well supplied with water brought from dams on the Krum Kill put in by William McKown.

After 1884, the McKown family was no longer actively involved, and the old tavern became known as Witbeck’s Hotel. William H. Witbeck was listed as “farmer and hotel” in an 1888 Guilderland directory. The Witbeck name began to be mentioned often in The Altamont Enterprise as the hotel keeper became involved with community affairs.

A baseball fan, Witbeck began to sponsor a team. An 1897 notice in the newspaper announced, “The Witbeck baseball club will give a picnic and field day at McKown’s Grove Saturday, August 14th. There will be dancing in the afternoon and evening. Joe Marone’s orchestra has been secured. In the afternoon there will be athletic sports including a ball game between Witbeck’s and Slingerlands. A good game may be expected.”

Witbeck’s sponsorship of a hometown ball team certainly added to social life in the hamlet for many years and brought much good will as well as thirsty players and spectators to his hotel.

Another sport that became popular in the 1890s was cycling. In 1898, Witbeck began to lay out a cycle path from his hotel to the Albany line and another from the Albany Country Club to his place, providing a service for the wheelmen as well as the potential of thirsty customers for his hotel bar.

Public events sometimes took place on the grounds around the hotel, attracting a crowd; some from the crowd surely imbibed at Witbeck’s. In August 1895, the Tenth Battalion left its Albany armory, marching as far as the field adjoining Witbeck’s Hotel where the soldiers camped overnight. That evening, they performed a drill followed by “a fine concert” played by the regimental band and “witnessed by a large crowd.”

Another occasion noted in The Enterprise was the jolly crowd of “nearly 200 persons” who assembled at the hotel before marching nearby to serenade a newly married couple just returned from their honeymoon, a common custom in those days.

Although considered an astute businessman and well known in Guilderland, Witbeck never ran for office. Instead, he worked behind the scenes being very involved in local Republican politics in a day when Guilderland was dominated by the Republican Party.

He used his influence to organize and chair the nominating caucus to choose local candidates who did run for office. His hotel was always one spot where the town’s tax collector would set up to collect taxes when they were due.

Another of his local activities for many years was to serve as president of the Town of Guilderland Protective Association. This group inserted notices in The Altamont Enterprise under his name, offering a reward of $25 for the arrest and conviction of anyone stealing personal property from a member of the Guilderland Mutual Protective Association.

After Witbeck’s death in 1935, William A. Brinkman, on behalf of the board of directors of the Guilderland Mutual Insurance Association of the Town of Guilderland, inserted a notice mourning his loss and referring to Witbeck as a “faithful and wise counselor who was always ready with his time and advice.”

Benjamin Witbeck

William H. Witbeck, who was the father of several children, became closely involved in business with his son Benjamin and Benjamin’s business partner, Arthur F. Pitkin. In 1907, William had purchased the hotel and, five years later, he gave title of the Witbeck Hotel and farm to his son Benjamin and his business partner, Pitkin.

Change had come to that area in the 1890s when the Albany Country Club purchased a large area of farmland near McKownville to create a posh country club where the uptown campus of the University at Albany is now located.

Soon after, a trolley line was run along the old turnpike approximately to the current entrance to the university, making it possible to commute back and forth from downtown Albany. Being adjacent to an exclusive country club, the Witbeck property had become much more valuable.

When they took over ownership, the first thing B. Witbeck and Pitkin did was to have the land surveyed by Leslie Allen and laid out in streets and lots. These streets became Norwood, Glenwood, Parkwood, and Elmwood Streets.

This proposed residential area was named “Country Club Highlands,” probably the first named development in Guilderland. A 1913 note in The Altamont Enterprise mentioned “two new houses are going up near the car line.” One of these was being built by Benjamin Witbeck.

Fire company forms

Around McKownville at this time, people began to discuss the need for fire protection. After holding an initial meeting at the two-room McKownville School, a petition was circulated, and with the resulting show of support, on April 18, 1916 a group of men met at the Witbeck Hotel to organize a volunteer fire department.

Within three weeks, Benjamin Witbeck was a member of a four-man committee to begin investigating the purchase of fire equipment. The next year, the McKownville Fire District was established, and by 1918 the department was incorporated. During the two-year period leading up to incorporation, William H. Witbeck had served as chief of an ad hoc fire company and was one of the signers of the original charter.

In 1918, Benjamin Witbeck supplied a Graham Paige car to tow the two-wheeled fire cart with its attached chemical tank. In the early days of the fire company, the department’s first apparatus was housed in a carriage house, part of the Witbeck Hotel complex, while a steel locomotive tire hanging in front of the hotel served as the community fire alarm.

Between 1918 and 1929, William H. Witbeck was a fire commissioner, and Arthur W. Witbeck, another of his sons, was a line officer. At the July 1918 Firemen’s Field Day at McKown Grove, Mrs. Arthur Witbeck took charge of the Ice Cream Booth.

Ironically, as a fire company was in the process of being organized, during the early hours of a night in the first week of October 1917, Witbeck’s Hotel went up in flames at a loss of $20,000. The three people asleep in the hotel escaped as the hotel “burned like tinder” and was quickly destroyed in spite of a bucket brigade of neighbors.

Another building on the property then substituted for meetings and tax collection and for many years operated as a small eatery after Prohibition went into effect.

Village of Witbeck?

With the numerous Witbecks so prominent in McKownville at this time, a petition circulated to drop the name McKownville, create a new identity for the hamlet, and rename it Incorporated Village of Witbeck. Opponents to the name and the establishment of village government hired lawyers to take the case to court in March 1917.

The case was known as “The Matter of the Incorporation of the Village of Witbeck, Out of Part of the Town of Guilderland.” Those opposed claimed that Benjamin Witbeck had circulated the petition for his father.

Initially a hearing was held before Town Supervisor F.J. Van Wormer with the opponents bringing along their attorneys Bookstein and Dugan. Described in The Altamont Enterprise as “a lively session,” Van Wormer declared the petition was a valid one in spite of the claims of the opposing attorney and comments by residents who were against the idea. At this, “the Witbeck clan was jubilant.”

Apparently, this whole idea had been hotly disputed in the McKownville area for months, becoming increasingly bitter as time went on. The matter didn’t end with Van Wormer’s decision.

Attorneys Dugan and Bookstein appealed to the County Court on the basis of failure to put down a $50 deposit at the time the petition was filed and furthermore had left out the word “adult” in the petition

The Witbecks had secured representation by hiring Attorney John J. Haggerty. The county judge’s verdict was to declare the petition invalid, stating a new petition must be circulated before incorporation could be considered.

The Altamont Enterprise commented that several of the original signers had now changed their minds, realizing that a village government would mean increased taxes, making it unlikely that the Witbecks would succeed. Even if they had managed to file another petition, the question would then have to be put to a vote and the opponents were not planning to give up without a fight.

This setback did not bring an end to their involvement with the community. William McKown had dammed the Krum Kill early in the 19th Century to provide water for his tavern. Beginning in 1910, William H. Witbeck set about improving the old McKown water supply, an effort that led in 1922 to the establishment of a private water company offering a steady water supply.

Using McKownville Reservoir, water lines were laid down to supply homes while the fire department paid to establish fire hydrants that remained in use until 1949.

In 1926, Pitkin and Benjamin Witbeck formally set up the Pitkin-Witbeck Realty Company to continue building houses on the streets they had laid out years before. The trolley line ended operations the year before, but had been replaced by a bus line that extended out as far as Fuller Road allowing residents to continue commuting to Albany

Houses in Country Club Hills were individually built, being of substantial construction and stylish architecture.

Early in March 1935, William H. Witbeck died at age 76 at his Western Avenue home, survived by his four sons. The Witbeck family, headed by William H., played a huge role in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in shaping McKownville into what The Altamont Enterprise described in an article at the time of his death as “one of the most attractive residential communities on the outskirts of Albany.”


Thank goodness the Old Men of the Mountain had some really nice weather when they went to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow on July 9. The ride over the mountain in the early morning crisp air, with low humidity, made for a pleasant, unhurried drive.

The OFs who drove over the mountain to Pop’s Place were treated to spectacular views. The fields and houses and barns on the Catskills off in the distance were visible, and appeared like they were just around the next turn.

OFs in each carload had their own stories to tell. One OF mentioned that coming down from the high spot on Route 360 there is a place that is kestrel heaven. 

A little research revealed that the kestrel is our smallest and most common falcon. The male American falcon is very colorful and one of the most beautiful hawks in North America. Generally, the OFs are able to see six to eight of those birds in that area. They have been dwindling in number.

The OF who was relating this observation said that on his trip over the mountain Tuesday morning he was able to spot only one. The OF inquired as a comment, not a question, “Where have all these birds gone?”

OFs in another car reported having an interesting deer encounter (just about in the same spot). The OFs told of having two deer run in front of the car. These deer were spotted by the driver in plenty of time to slow down and let them do their thing.

However, when they got closer, they saw two fawns, which appeared to be twins, running along with the two adults. The fawns became startled and started running down the middle of the road in oncoming traffic just ahead of the OF’s car.

This went on for at least a quarter of a mile or more. Finally, the two fawns decided to cut across the road in front of the car and then disappeared into the woods.

The OFs said those two fawns were no bigger than a good-sized cocker spaniel. One OF thought that momma deer would have a fun time rounding up those two.

Rainy Virginia

One OF’s father has recently passed away in Virginia and the OF had to go to Virginia right after July 4th to take care of business down there.

The OF gave us a weather report of what it was like in Virginia. It was not pretty. The OF said that rain came down in buckets, creeks over-flowed — everything was a mess.

1932 hot rod is hot stuff

Then along came show and tell.

One OF showed up driving his newly, or semi-newly, 1932 Ford Street hot rod with only 600 miles on it. This little beauty has over $100,000 of work in it and is some vehicle. Fire-engine red with a black convertible top, and no windows, this is a fair weather vehicle for sure.

All the shiny parts are stainless steel, not chrome. Its rumble seat  brought back memories of rides in the rumble seats of the Model A’s in the OFs’ day. The vehicle had dignified hand striping, with a cowl stripe that went all the way from cowling to the back.

Vehicles like this don’t cost a buck-eighty. The 175 horsepower engine had a nice rumble to it, not one of those raucous loud noises so whoever is around can’t speak to someone else because of the din.

Some of the OFs said they would be so nervous driving a car like this it would be parked in the living room just so they could look at it and not drive it.

Pondering eternity

The OFs talk at times about death and dying and, at the ages of some of the OFs, this situation could be close at hand. The OFs are at the short end of the ruler.

The OFs don’t dwell on it, although the subject does come up from time to time. Tuesday morning, the subject was: It is a good thing we are old when we die!

Some pass on in their sleep (the OFs think that is a nice way to go). Others have hurt for so long they can’t wait to leave. One OF thought the newer medicines, and technology in the medical field gives many OFs a better quality of life until they are called up yonder.

How do we meet those who have gone on before the OFs wondered? What age are they? Are they the same as they were when they passed on, or are they young and vital?

Do they remember only the good stuff, and none of the bad? How far back do we go with friends and relatives?

One OF suggested we have eternity to figure it out so what’s the rush. Then another OF asked what do we do for eternity? An OF said maybe we come back as somebody else on another planet, and maybe we have already been on the other planet and Earth is just one stop for us in eternity.

No one knows.

The next question that came up was what about those who are born and live for only a few weeks or months: What is it like for them? How about my dog, do I get to see her again? If we are talking eternity here, we know it can’t be linear, or a circle, or a sphere, or a box because they all have edges, and with edges we can’t have eternity.

It has to be something else. Boy, this is getting weird.

The OMOTM who crossed the mountain or traveled the flats to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow and had plenty to eat were: Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Rich Donnelly, David Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Ken Parks, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.


An engraving by an unknown artist is captioned “A medieval missionary tells that he has found the point where heaven and Earth meet … ”

To begin a discussion on the spiritual life in the middle of 2019 is to open up a can, no, a barrel of worms — and not for the reasons people think.

Maybe the great English writer on religion and mysticism, Evelyn Underhill, had it right when she began her short but classic treatise “The Spiritual Life” in 1936 with, “The spiritual life is a dangerously ambiguous term.”

I would never use “dangerous” but there are so many misconceptions about the “spiritual life” that I’m tempted to write a book to straighten them out. “What does a spiritual person look like?” “How do such people live?”

And the misconceptions have little to do with the SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious) and SBNA (Spiritual But Not Affiliated) movements today, which go back to the 1960s when people (in hordes) began challenging the foundations of “church” and “religion.” Monks and nuns fled their digs like fearful birds.

The Pew Research Center’s 2017 survey on “Religion” found that 27 percent of Americans now put themselves in the spiritual-but-not-religious category (up eight percent from five years earlier).

It’s part of the secular humanism movement going on in the country where believers no longer accept “God” as the only source of moral authority. You can understand why worship is down; it’s no longer seen as a binder.

Underhill and more recent writers on spirituality have also dispelled the notion that the spiritual life has something to do with an inner spirit, some kind of spiritual thing inside us. The problem with cultivating such “interiority” is that devotees too often divorce themselves from social life.

Underhill said, “Most of our difficulties come from trying to deal with the spiritual and practical aspects of our life separately instead of realizing them as parts of one whole.”

It’s also strange that some people still believe that a select few have a spiritual life and others not, and that the spiritualists chose it.

The truth is: There is no choice, there never was; every person who’s ever been born has, or has had, a spiritual life by virtue of their incarnation.

The spiritual life reflects a near-genetic consciousness that emerges from experiencing life as finite, a finity that manifests itself in bodily aches and pains and psychological suffering.

The spiritual person — the person who lives a spiritual life — accepts this fact equanimously, which at its best includes accepting all that comes one’s way: There are no pluses and minuses; no state of being is better than any other; living in and accepting a moment of pain is a joy.

Of course, achieving such a state requires great psychological depth, one that must be cultivated. And it’s hardly a consciousness where the person involved is divorced from the world. On the contrary, the deeper a person enters into the solitude of his being, the more he feels connected to every other self. It’s an axiomatic paradox.

The great American scholar of ancient Greek and Latin — who later became a student of what it takes to be happy — Norman O. Brown, describes living such a unified life as the expression of “love’s body.”

In his 1966 book called “Love’s Body,” he laid out the requirements for achieving this highest level of spiritual-life consciousness. At a minimum, he said, it requires the discipline of a Marine.

I do not recommend Brown’s book for everyone. It can provoke a level of reflective self-analysis that can be (disturbingly) transformative and thus disabling.

But those who meditate on, understand, and accept Brown’s use of metaphor, at some point come to see that the needs of others are equal to their own (which is the basis of identity politics). And the quality of a spiritual life is reflected in how well the person lives out the paradox.

The late insightful philosopher Mary Warnock said the connectedness we’re talking about does not emerge from an overarching deity but from an imagination-based sympathy where one person projects himself into the life of another and says: I am you, you are me.

This is the bedrock of good behavior, the basis of a spiritually-ethical-life lived without a god.

And it must be said that without inhabiting such a consciousness — religiously speaking — a person can go to church a hundred times a week and “om mani padme hum” till satori’s cows come home, and be nowhere close to being spiritual.

Neurotic racists go to church, sexist men believe in an all-powerful God then treat their wives as inferior beings. It’s the lived consciousness of the spirit that counts, repeat: lived consciousness.

And one does not have to be a monk or nun to achieve it, only live with the discipline it requires.

When the Beat poet and Trappist monk Thomas Merton finally reached Asia in the fall of 1968 — he had been enclosed in a monastery since 1941 — he scooted about unbeaten paths in a childlike frenzy asking every “holy” man he saw — in India, Ceylon, and Thailand — what the spiritual life was all about. Can a human being really embody love, show empathy and compassion when others tear him apart, cause him grave psychological harm?

In November, he came upon the mystical lama and poet Chobgye Thicchen who had been a teacher of the 14th Dalai Lama when Tenzin Gyatso was a boy.

The lama told Merton that the Buddhists have a word for living a spiritual life filled with love and compassion; he said it was born of an enlightened mind called “Bodhicitta.”

He clarified that there are three levels of such consciousness.

On the bottom rung, there are those called “kingly.” They are interested in the spiritual path but save themselves first, and then go back for others.

On the second level, the lama said, there’s the “Boatman.” They, too, ferry across the river of salvation but bring others with them.

He said the saints — I’ll call them that — on the highest rung are known as “shepherds.” They see the needs of others as equal to their own but go a step further by treating the needs of others as preceding their own. The Christians say it’s because the other person is seen as Christ.

At this level of consciousness, there is no failure because the devotee attends to each person, one at a time.

The lama also intimated that the Shepherd never seeks credit, never looks for anything in return, accepts no benefits or rewards or any other form of payoff. True believers believe that when people reach this level they become divine, the living embodiment of Love. 

And none of this, the Shepherds say, has to do with appearances, with amassing things, with getting into power so as to satisfy one’s self first. These are all defensive psychological fortifications which, paradoxically, wind up imprisoning the bearer.

And every spiritual writer, with any sense of proportion, will add that there is no spiritual life without solitude. Solitude is the crucible in which a person dispels illusions.

But go cold turkey and you’ll go nuts. You’ll soon see the need for the discipline of the Marine but a soldier who, as the embodiment of love, is never called upon, nor ever opts, to kill.


On Tuesday, the second day of July, we ask the question, “Again, what happened to June?”

This Tuesday, the Old Men of the Mountain met at a new eating establishment in Voorheesville, Gracie’s Kitchen. Gracie’s sits right where the old Voorheesville Diner used to be. Gracie’s physical building is a lot different; at least some of the OMOTM’s taller members can stand up straight in Gracie’s.

The OFs commented on how the trains rolling by in Voorheesville are the same as they always have been, and one OF said they haven’t slowed down any either.

Years ago, the OMOTM stood in the middle of these Voorheesville tracks one sunny morning and had their picture taken. That picture has popped up recently in a couple of places. The OFs mentioned how many of those in the picture are now dead. It is an old picture, and we are the OFs.

It is easy to imagine all the OMOTM who have passed on are gathering on a cloud and having breakfast just like down on our planet. One OF wondered if we eat in heaven. No one there really knew. There are references but no one really knows how to interpret them.

The OFs started talking about trains as they rolled by. Most of the trains were carrying trailers.

This scribe does not remember actually how many went by during the short time we were there, but he is guessing six going toward Rochester and Syracuse and one going down toward New York City and all seemed to have trailers on them.

The trains going by the restaurant appear to be going at a good rate so UPS, Schneider, and all those other trucking companies should have their shipments by 11 a.m. or sooner.

Foul fowl

The OFs next discussed (from their farming days) nasty turkeys and roosters. Chicken are cute and hens make great pets, but sometimes roosters develop a real mean streak.

One OF had a rooster named Herbie and he was the best watch dog, acting similar to guinea hens. Anyone who showed up — Herbie went after them. It got so that Herbie would roost on the hood of the visitor’s car and defy whoever it was to get out.

If a visitor did get out, and Herbie knew it, this rooster would half-fly and half-run down the drive. The rooster would fly up on the long railing leading to the house and challenge the guest to go any further. 

Herbie became so protective of his surroundings that he began to go after the owners. That was the end for poor Herbie.

The other bird that was talked about was from another farmer OF who said they had chickens and turkeys on the farm mainly for supplying the dinner table with eggs and foul. The OF said they also had rabbits but they were just for fun.

The OF said his dad liked these rabbits and fussed with the few they had, but if he wanted to see rabbits all he had to do was look in the yard and watch the rabbits trying to figure out a way to get in the garden.

Mentioning turkeys, it was declared that generally the toms would be OK. However, once in a batch of turkeys they received, one OF said, he and his brother got one tom which was really miserable.

This turkey would drop his wings and flutter after the cats. The OF said it got so that this bird would do the same thing and then he would strut for the clothes on the clothesline. The OF said his mom had him go into the woodlot and cut a large sapling so she could raise the line. After that, the turkey couldn’t reach the clothes.

The OF said he thinks the turkey got mad because after his mom did this, the bedeviled bird started going after her. The strange thing about the bird, the OF said, is that he never went after men, or dogs, just cats, the clothesline, and women.

The OF said, “One day, my brother and I were in the yard when Mom came to hang out clothes, and she asked us where the turkey was.”

The OF told her, “We don’t see him (and we didn’t) but he actually was around the corner of the house.” No sooner did his mom start to hang clothes than the turkey came like a shot from around the corner of the house.

The OF said his brother ran in the house and came out with the woodchuck gun and with one shot that bird was in bird heaven.

To shorten the story, he was plucked, cooked, and served that evening — only not eaten. He was so tough, the OF said, that even after honing the knife three times that hide was like steel. The OF said the bird should have been parboiled for three days before attempting to cook it.

Making it through

One OF was talking about a mutual acquaintance from way back when. The acquaintance wanted to be in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This never happened because the Army caught up with him and he soon found himself as a “Dogface.”

The Army shipped him all over the place, hither and yon. He finally found himself in Hawaii. The second day he was there, he was playing baseball with a team that was newly formed, when all Hell broke loose; it was the day of infamy.

He made it through all of World War II and wound up a mail carrier.

Those OFs who made it through all kinds of adventures and misadventures and even found their way to Gracie’s Kitchen in Voorheesville were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Bartholomew, Art Williams, David Williams, Pete Whitbeck, John Rossmann, Bob Benac, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Art Frament, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Gerry Irwin, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Rev. Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazio, Jerry Willsey, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, and me.


— Carol Coogan

Last month, a gray-haired clerk asked for identification when I tried to purchase a celebratory cigar.  Looking at him skeptically, I handed him a driver’s license reflecting 36 years of age. He glanced at it, raised his eyes to study me, peered back down at my ID, then looked back at me just as skeptically.

“Uh-huh,” he said, unconvinced but unwilling to press the point. “You must use sunscreen.”

In fact, I do. But I nonetheless doubt that anyone other than an older gentleman to whom all millennials look the same would have similarly mistaken me for the person I was half-a-life ago.

As I drove home in the very Jeep I’d dreamed of one day owning back in high school, I was struck by just how much he had overlooked. Suddenly cognizant of 2019’s significance, in that moment I realized that I’d been 18 when I graduated Clayton A. Bouton in 2001, and somehow — unnoticed and without much fanfare — another 18 years had deposited me at this current point in time and space.

I’d considered authoring a retrospective about the worlds on either side of those 18 years when, a few days later, Enterprise editor Melissa Hale-Spencer asked me to write a column for the Keepsake Graduation Edition. Like the name of the nursery school that first introduced the world to me, her email was pitch-perfect Serendipity.

So, despite knowing full well that I’m too young to be deemed wise by their parents, yet old enough to warrant disregard by the graduates, here goes.


Dear Graduates of the Class of 2019:

Congratulations! And buckle up: The authors of countless graduation speeches and op-eds across the country are mining their own personal experiences to advise you on how to navigate the next chapter of your lives.

But, even if they arrive at some valuable insight, there’s not much you’ll be able to do with it. It’s hard to implement advice concerning that which you’ve yet to experience, or which may no longer even be applicable. I certainly won’t presume qualification to give you any guidance.

After all, the world I encountered at 18 was far different than the one before you now. Eighteen years ago, we didn’t have cell phones. Instead, the coolest kids had box-shaped devices called “pagers” that beeped when receiving the exclusive transmission for which they were designed — i.e., a phone number — which then compelled finding the nearest payphone to return the call. Payphones? You wouldn’t believe me if I tried to describe them, so I’ll just refer you to Google.

Speaking of, Google wasn’t a thing. Nor was Facebook or Twitter, or — for that matter — the entire institutional construct of social media. In fact, though it was only two presidents ago, at age 18, I had to access the internet via dial-up, which I would otherwise explain if conjuring the memories weren’t so traumatic.

Also traumatic was 9/11, which was still three months away when I graduated. Back in June 2001, America had yet to enter the war that has defined the entirety of your American experience. The country had yet to invade Iraq, withdraw from Iraq, and invade Iraq again.

And there was yet half-a-decade hence before the planet would decide that the Kardashian family was something with which to keep up.

Still, as dramatically different as was the world 18 years ago, it pales in comparison to how different your world will be when you’re my age. Five years from now, Uber claims that customers will be able to hail on-demand single-person aerial drones for flights about town.

In 10 years, esteemed artificial intelligence technologists project that machines will evolve consciousness. In 12 years, politicians warn that the planet’s ecosystem will commence its irreversible collapse.

And in 18 years, you, too, may get carded in some random tobacco store and realize that the future has arrived without your notice or permission.

So what good would be my counsel? Besides, despite advanced education and a career and myriad relationships in my wake, I’m more lost now than I’ve ever been.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was only in realizing that I have no idea what I’m talking about that I finally started to make sense.

As such, while I can’t really dispense any advice, I can at least offer a forecast. Because no matter how different our worlds may be, there’s no better prophecy than the past.

Over the next 18 years, your weekends will become more sacred to you than they’ve ever been before, as the fight for survival settles into the workaday dreariness of “making a living.” If you’re lucky, someone will break your heart; if you’re not, you’ll break someone else’s heart and forever shoulder the weight of that crushing guilt.

Some of you will marry, and many of those marriages will end in divorce. There will be unwelcome news from doctors, and family vacations postponed in the face of unexpected bills. Your car will break down at the exact mathematical worst time, your heroes will be exposed on the front page, your rent and taxes and premiums will rise interminably every year.  And when that selfless saint among you steps up to organize your 10-year reunion, some of you may no longer be around to attend it….

But, if all that sounds grim, remember this: At all times, the path to fulfillment already lies within you.

With the right mindset, your job will be a source of pride and satisfaction — the financial means by which you make the most of your weekends. Your broken heart will signify a love for which you bravely took a risk, while your guilt will in time transform into self-awareness.

That terrifying prognosis will help you finally make the overdue lifestyle change, just as those unexpected bills will help clarify your budget so you can make the most of family time when the long-awaited vacation finally becomes tenable.

And, at your 10-year reunion, the people with whom you once roamed the halls between classes will assemble to memorialize the departed, and bask in the blessing of seeing each other’s weathered faces.

To paraphrase Glinda, you’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas — but that’s something you’ll have to learn for yourself.

Unlocking that epiphany entails acknowledging that nothing defines you so much as the outlook you choose to adopt. Doing what’s right will often be agonizingly hard, and will likely require courage that takes years or rock bottom to find.

But my forecast for you, Class of 2019, is that despite the obstacles ahead, you’ll figure it all out. I’m rooting for you with every fiber of my being.

At some point during these past 18 years, I dated a woman whose battle cry turned out to be the only truth I’ve ever encountered: “No one knows what they’re doing. Do whatever.”


Graduates of the Class of 2019, trust me on this: At first, you’ll likely be as horrified as I was when you discover that everyone’s faking it — that your boss, your parents, the politicians and pundits and professionals are all commuting to work every morning wondering if today’s the day they’ll be exposed.

But you’ll soon find in that awareness your path to freedom. As Nanea Hoffman famously noted, “None of us are getting out of here alive” — so don’t surrender to someone else’s expectations your only opportunity to discover what you want to be.

DO WHATEVER. Do it however, whenever, and forever. Do it unabashedly, unashamedly, uncompromisingly.

Rectify the mistakes you make, but don’t avoid the ones from which you need to learn. Apologize for the feelings you hurt, but never for the person you are.

Daydream as often as you can, but not so much that you run out of time to manifest your imagination. Embrace just enough of The System such that you can make room to discern yourself. 

No matter what: Do whatever.

At 36, it’s been twice a lifetime since I walked across that stage to receive my diploma; I feel a little sheepish that “do whatever” is all I’ve got. So, in an effort to give you guys something a bit more concrete, I’ll concede that there’s probably merit to Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich’s admonition — made further famous by Baz Luhrmann’s spoken-word musical adaptation — which was seemingly confirmed to me last month by a grizzled tobacco store clerk:

Wear sunscreen.

You’re going to experience a lot over the next 18 years, and sunscreen will keep much of the wear and tear hidden on the inside. But every now and then, take time to appreciate those invisible scars. Eighteen years from now, they’ll be among your most precious possessions — and proof of a life post-graduation.

Editor’s note: Captain Jesse Sommer is a paratrooper and Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army’s 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He is a lifelong resident of Albany County.



Guess what? The Old Men of the Mountain’s weather report was for three days of reasonably nice weather. Then comes Tuesday, June 25, 2019, and you, dear readers, know the answer.

This scribe will divulge the first clue. There was rain in the morning. One OF showed up on his motorcycle. This OF had to don his slicker for the ride home.

The OF who rode his motorcycle Tuesday morning prompted conversation on these machines. Also, there was mention of the horrendous motorcycle accident in New Hampshire where cyclists were hit by a truck hauling an empty trailer — seven died, and three were injured. 

None of the OFs seemed to know the reason behind this. One OF suggested could it be like the limo accident in Schoharie where something failed on the truck and the driver couldn’t stop. Another OF thought that the driver of this truck might have freaked out; he just wanted to run over these bikers. No one knows yet.

Then the OMOTM brought up the 11 skydivers who were killed in the airplane that went down in Hawaii on June 22. One OF thought that there sure are a lot of screwy accidents happening. The OF mentioned he thinks it might be like the Schoharie accident and the plane should not have been flying, or was overloaded.

The OFs further talked about the building that collapsed in Cambodia while it was being built, which resulted in seven dead and 21 injured. The OFs say they wouldn’t want to hire the engineers who designed that structure.

After rehashing all this depressing talk, the OFs attempted to cheer up.


Sometimes the OMOTM surprisingly leave the past and talk about current events. This particular discussion concerned Facebook and Google. Some of the OFs use these two computer tools sparingly, but they do use them. This scribe is guilty as charged.

The comments on Tuesday morning were that Facebook was becoming so laden with junk it was not the tool it once was. The OFs were also becoming scared of both of these features.

One OF said he researched a tool, and another OF a particular car part, and another OF wanted information on some special adjustable beds for seniors on Google. The latter OF mentioned that no sooner did he do the research on Google then there were ads on Facebook for the same thing.

This is creepy. The other two said it was the same with them only they did not go to Facebook right away. They, too, said this isn’t right. They are afraid now to do anything on either one of them. However, not to worry, the government will handle these complaints.

Groundhog dilemma

One OF is having problems with groundhogs, and the column has mentioned this before. This OF obtained a Havahart trap and he trapped one. Many times, an OF plays a tough guy, but here this OF has a groundhog in a trap and doesn’t want to shoot it; the OF wants to have it hauled away.

Where to haul it?  Should the OF lug it someplace else and let it be a pest there?

One OF advised, “Shoot it and eat it like we used to do on the farm.”

The OF that has the groundhog in the trap said they used to eat them also. This OF even knew how to prepare them for cooking by doing something to a couple of their glands.

This has to be done when getting ready to gut the groundhog for storing the meat so the meat is not spoiled. The OF who knew all this still couldn’t shoot it. Final score: Groundhog: 1 – OF: 0.

Small farms like small towns disappear

The OFs started talking about auctions and smaller farms. One OF said, over the last 20 or 30 years ,the small farms folding have grown from a 150-to-200 hundred acre, 25-to-30-cow farm to now failing 100-to-200-cow farms on many acres, or rented land, not being able to cut the mustard

One OF said New York State is not a farming state. The OF thinks that people living in New York City have no idea where food comes from, and New York wants to turn the whole state into building lots, or parks for the people from the big city to play in, but farming?  Not on your life.

This led to talking about the demise of small towns. Just in the OMOTM’s geographic area, we can see how many of the small towns are having problems. Small towns survive that are close to larger populated areas, the OFs say, where farms may have some support (but not much) from people who move in and start turning the small farm-town into bedroom communities.

Those towns that are too far for this to happen will continue to turn into ghost towns. The farms are gone; the land is turning to brush. An OF mentioned this has been going on for years and the scars are just now really beginning to show.

Autos improve

As always, somewhere along the line, conversations with the OFs turn to tractors, machinery, cars, and trucks. This week, this scribe picked out one piece of the conversation and that was how much better (the OFs have to admit) new cars are than the old automobiles they remember from their youth.

What the OFs were talking about was how the floorboards on the old cars would rot out and the driver and the passengers would see the lines in the road flash by, by looking down, as the YFs drove along in their old Model A, or Plymouth coupe. This was easily fixed with just putting down another board.

Nowadays, one OF said, windows in new cars fog up with temperature inversions, but the older cars were so drafty this never happened. One OF said the reason that the floor boards rotted out was because of all the holes through these boards for the steering wheel, clutch, brake, shifting lever, gas pedal, and dimmer switch.

Dimmer switch? Those were the days all right!

Those Old Men of the Mountain that made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown in really air ight vehicles (except the OF that came by motorcycle) were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, Roger Shafer, Ken Parks, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Jake Lederman, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Pete Whitbeck, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jim Rissacher, Wayne Gaul, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, and me.


 It is with saddened hearts that the Old Men of the Mountain offer their condolences to the friends and family of one of the earliest members of the OMOTM, Mr. Ted Willisey who passed away this morning after a long and well fought illness.