Archive » November 2022 » Columns

Tuesday, Nov. 15, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie and as usual some of the OMOTM were there to open up the place.

On the rides to the restaurants, the OFs can’t help but notice kids out waiting for the bus. This brings back memories of the OFs doing the same thing.

Many of the OFs were up, in the barn doing chores, rushing in having breakfast, cleaning up so they did not smell like the barn, hurrying out to catch the bus to school, and then, when school was out, getting on the bus, going home, and doing the same thing all over.

At that time, about the only buses hauling the little darlings to school were the International K9s. Couldn’t kill these things and they were like tanks.

The roads were not taken care of like today, not for lack of trying, but the particular equipment to clear the roads was not around at that time. But, as one OF said, we did have our snow days; most of the OMOTM remember listening to Don Weeks read the school closings over the air.

In most cases, many of the OFs would rather be in school because good ole Dad had plenty of winter chores to do if the OFs were stuck at home. Most of the OFs remember their bus drivers but have forgotten many of their teachers.


Prices are

out of sight

The OFs generally in the morning greet one and all with civil greetings of good morning etc. However, the early-bird OFs on Tuesday morning were boisterous and demonstrative.

What is causing all this commotion is the price of everything! Gas, food, clothes, restaurants; everything is going out of sight. That is everything!

There was even the occasional fist-whacking the table to emphasize a point. This is one discussion the OMOTM did not fight about; there were no opposite opinions.

It is tough to have a good boisterous discussion last long when everyone is in agreement.


Competition would

be welcomed

This was followed by another conversation where there was basically total agreement and that being how useless Spectrum is. The problem here is, according to the OFs, there is no competition for Spectrum — it is either Spectrum or no one else.

One OF said the company knows it is in the driver’s seat and does not pay much attention to complaints.

Another OF said that he had to watch his bills all the time because they would sneak it a little bit higher every now and then for apparently no reason at all. Eventually, the OF said, he was paying 40 bucks a month more for the same service.

One OF said it is not the service guys because they seem to work their butts off. It is the office and business practices of the company with ads and sales pitches that are nothing like the services offered.

Another OF said, as much as we complain about government, this is one case where government is all we have to fall back on.

Then one OF commented that Spectrum is so entrenched the company is not afraid of government, just like National Grid. Both companies have a lock on it.

If one or the other screws up, who ya gonna call? It sure ain’t Ghostbusters.


Counting cars,

trucks, and tires

Here we go with OMOTM-type observations.

One OF reported that, while he was waiting in his vehicle for someone and he had nothing to do, he just started watching cars go by. The OF said he understands that white is the most common color on trucks or cars and he can attest to that now.

The OF said three cars and one pickup truck went by on the road in front of the parking lot and they were all white. This piqued his attention and the next seven vehicles that went by were all white, then a gray SUV, and one red pickup went by and spoiled the situation. He will try the observation another time.

Seven seems to be the number because another OF on a recent trip to Chicago said that he was on the Thruway and moving right along, but he found that at times on these interstates moving right along is not quick enough.

However, the OF said, a Volkswagen zipped right on by, then another vehicle passed and it too was a Volkswagen, and he was passed by yet another and it was a VW, then another. The OF said seven vehicles passed him — all VWs. The OF thought it was a delivery of some sort traveling together, but it wasn’t. Some had different plates, and he noticed some were even different years.

Then another OF said that, on Tuesday morning, just in front of the restaurant, he noticed that five multi-axled large trucks went by all in the same space. Two were headed north, and three were headed south, all from the same company.

The OF assumed that at that moment rolling in either direction, in the little town of Schoharie was one-half to three-quarters of a million dollars worth of truck almost in the same spot at the same time.

Multiply that by the whole world and just in trucks the zeros behind the figure one would make a heck of a lot of dollars just in trucks.

Then one typical wise guy OF piped up, “Yeah, how about all the tires in the world going around and around right now?”

The OFs were getting into numbers they couldn’t even say.

The Old Men of the Mountain who were approaching the point of serious blood-pressure numbers due to rising prices, and Spectrum’s dictator-type policies and who attended the breakfast at the Your Way Café in Schoharie were: Doug Marshall, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Roger Shafer, Rick LaGrange, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Rev. Jay Francis, Frank Dees, Russ Pokorny, Jake Herzog, Gerry Chartier, John Dap., Paul Guiton, Paul Whitbeck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, and me.

A zebra walks into a bar:

“Hey, can I get beer, please?” says the zebra.

“Are you joking, mate? We don’t serve animals in here!” brays the clearly perturbed bartender.

“But the name of this bar is The Wild Bunch. Says so right on the sign,” retorts the zebra.

“Yes, the name of the bar is indeed The Wild Bunch, but that doesn’t mean we serve animals. It’s just a clever, fun kind of name, something to make the customers feel good when they come in here.”

“Oh, I understand now,” says the zebra. “I was taking the name The Wild Bunch literally. I thought it meant this was a place where wild animals would be welcome. You see, I needed a place to tell my friend the antelope to meet me today. So I thought this would be a great place.”

“Sorry for the confusion, mate” says the genuinely apologetic bartender.

“No, it’s totally my fault,” says the zebra. “Clearly, the name of your bar — The Wild Bunch — is allegorical in nature. I should never have taken it literally. Obviously, a nice place like this wouldn’t be this nice if you allowed wild animals in here. The symbolism in the name — the fun and playfulness, in fact — is just to make your hard-working customers feel better about paying vastly marked-up prices for quite ordinary food and drink.”

“Now you just wait a minute!” shouts the bartender.

“No, I was wrong,” says the zebra, “and I want to make it up to you.”

“Oh yeah?” says the bartender, throwing his towel over his shoulder and folding his arms defiantly. “How are you, a zebra, going to make anything up to me?”

“I have an idea. Come outside with me and let me give you a ride around the block.”

“A ride around the block!” snorts the bartender. “Why in the name of all that is good and green on this fine rock would I ever want to ride around the block on a zebra?”

“It’s like this,” replies the zebra, confidently. “It’s generally understood that zebras are not tamable, correct?”

“Well, not that I’ve given it much thought, but now that you mention it, I’ve never seen a cowboy in a movie riding a zebra.”

“Of course not. So when I’m riding you around the block, folks will take pictures and videos on their phones.”

“So?” says the bartender.

“Then those folks will post those pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like.”

“You’re wasting my time. Now get outta here, for Pete’s sake!”

“No, wait. Once they post those pictures and videos of me giving you a ride, their friends will quickly share them. Think about it — a picture of a bartender riding around on a zebra in the middle of downtown is a pretty rare thing.”

“Again, why should I care about any of this?”

“Because then their friends will share those posts, and then those friends will share, and then bang, it will go viral!”

“Go viral?”

“Yeah, just like that, you and The Wild Bunch will be all over the news.”

“We will?”

“Sure. You’ll be known as The Zebra Whisperer, and The Wild Bunch will become the new trendy place to go. Then you’ll get interview requests from all the news shows.”

“Come on!”

“I’m not kidding. The news shows love content, the crazier the better.”

“You’ve got a point there.”

“Then you’ll get a book deal, go on a speaking tour, and retire from this job so you can make being The Zebra Whisperer your new fun and exciting career.”

“Look mate, stop blowing smoke up my butt. How likely is all that to really happen?”

“Does a bear do his business in the woods, as they say?”

“Yes, of course, but —”

“Listen, people don’t want to deal with serious issues like climate change, overpopulation, and impending nuclear doom. They just want to scroll on their phones and tablets to get their dopamine fix by sharing odd or funny pictures and videos with their friends.”

“Dopamine fix? How do you know about dopamine, of all things?”

“I read it in The New York Times.”

“Ha, The New York Times! I knew you were a lousy leftist liberal loser the minute you walked in here!” bellowed the bartender.

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful,” says the zebra, in his most sarcastic and flippant voice.

“Still, you may have a point about these pictures and videos going viral.”

“Of course I do. That’s the way the world works these days. It’s not about facts any more; it’s about content, and the crazier and stupider the content, the hotter it is.”

“To tell you the truth, I pretty much thought I’d have to slop suds behind this damn bar until I’m pushing up daisies. So if there’s any chance of what you say might happen could be true —”

“Look, would I lie to you?” says the zebra, with a clearly discernible wink-wink.

A regular customer, Mr. Osaka, who happened to be a corporate lawyer, was sitting at the bar while all this was going on.

“Mr. Osaka, what do you think about all this drivel from the zebra here?” asks the bartender.

“Zebra-san very wise,” says Mr. Osaka. “Zebra-san show great insight into realities of new youth-driven business environment. Clearly, zebra-san know which side of the bread is buttered.”

“Hmm. OK, then. Nancy?” yells the bartender to the quite fetching waitress, who’s been listening to all this while wiping down tables the entire time.

“What is it, luv?” she replies.

“Cover the bar, I have to go outside for a few minutes.”

“Riiiight,” says Nancy, in her best what-could-possibly-go-wrong-with-this-idea voice.

The zebra and the bartender go outside, and the zebra crouches down until his belly hits the ground. The bartender carefully gets on. Then the zebra rears up on his hind legs and flips over backwards, crushing the bartender, who winds up unconscious on the sidewalk, with a broken nose and several broken ribs. The zebra then rubs his back on a lamp post to get rid of the blood, and goes back into the bar.

“Hey, Nancy,” says the zebra, “now can I get a damn beer, please?”

Nancy serves the zebra, and then shares the video of the zebra tossing the bartender to her social media feeds. The video goes viral, and Nancy uses her newfound fame to become a social-media influencer, allowing her to quit the bar and buy a huge house on the water. The bartender goes on disability and is forced to close The Wild Bunch.

And the zebra? Mr. Osaka convinces him and the antelope to open a chain of pubs where animals are allowed in called The White Stripes. This works out great at first, until they get sued for copyright infringement by the band of the same name, bankrupting them, and forcing them to live out their remaining years on a farm for abandoned endangered animals.

The moral of the story? You might think zebras can’t talk or walk into bars and order beers, but in the world we now live in, which is the world of “alternative facts,” they most certainly can, for better or worse. So if a zebra happens to come into your bar, just grab him a nice, cold beer. He’ll appreciate it very much.

Tuesday, Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022, was a day for the Old Men of the Mountain going to the polls to exercise their right to vote. For the OMOTM, they considered it really exercise.

Exercise to the OFs generally is just taking a shower and getting dressed. When the OFs were younger, voting wasn’t so much exercise as it was a very important civic duty.

A couple of OFs mentioned that voting now means we have to sign our name with a stylus on some kind of screen. When the OFs said they write on one of those devices their signatures are no more like the way they really write than the man in the moon. (There is a common phrase that this scribe has no idea what it means.)

However, it is true. This scribe thinks if you just draw a straight line the electronic device will accept it.

Based on the wording, not showing up to vote is either a vote for or against; at the polls — to some — there is no such thing as a “no” vote. The only satisfaction is that, if things go wrong, the OF who didn’t vote can say he didn’t vote for it, him, or her.

That doesn’t help much was the reply. However, sometimes in the OF’s heart neither one running is worth the effort so the OFs say neither one is worth his vote. Now the OFs said they are stuck with voting in their mind for the person, or idea, that is the best of the worst and hope somehow it or they can be changed.

Then one OF said, “Once in office, always in.”

Whether good or bad, occasionally scandals or criminal acts can get the bad apple out, yet sometimes the rotten ones are the best for the country. Some guys are number-one womanizers, and get their exercise by chasing the ladies but still are great organizers and leaders.

One OF said, “Why is it always attributed to men? There are really smart ladies who do the same thing, and have the same leading qualities, and chase the guys the same way the guys chase the ladies.”

What a mess! At our ages, the OFs have seen this young country change over and over. The market goes up and down, depressions and recessions come and go, the years are hot and cold, the world is going to end in a few days — the OFs have seen it all but somehow nothing over all these years seems to change.

Things are just different every now and then, but change? The OFs think not.


Leaf conundrum

Along with the above talk about change, the OFs remember as kids, and even as adults, the pleasant aroma of burning leaves in the fall. Dad and the family would rake leaves along the yard to the edge of the driveway, or to the road, and on a relatively calm, dry day touch them off.

Some would rake up the ashes when they were cool and take them to the compost. Burn leaves now in many places and the neighbors rat on you, or the burn police spot the smoke and the OF gets a ticket for burning leaves.

Now in the suburbs they burn all that gas to come and suck these leaves up and haul them away. Then there is something that makes no sense at all.

“We cut down thousands of trees to make bags to put the leaves in,” one OF said. “Where in blazes do they think oxygen comes from?”

Maybe the OF has a lawn mower with a mulching gadget and mulches them. “Which,” one OF said, “is not a bad idea; it’s the only one that makes sense.”

One OF said he likes most of the seasons — even nice days in winter. This OF likes the end of the leaf season when the leaves are off the trees. The weather is still tolerable and he doesn’t mind being outside and with the leaves gone he can see deep into the woods.

The OF claims that, on some of his walks in the woods, he spots stone wall fences going nowhere. The OF said it is fun to try to imagine what was there to generate the building of these walls

 It is quite nice on a fall day to take a walk in the woods and smell the new-fallen leaves, and hear the rustle of the small animals scurrying under these leaves as they forage for something to eat.


Blood moon

A few of the OFs were up early enough to see the full moon bright red. One OF mentioned it is called the “blood moon” for a reason.

Another OF said that some of the cameras on the cell phones are good enough to capture this phenomenon. With the price of some of the phones, one OF added the camera should be able to capture the moon people that live in the center of the moon opening the big doors to let their spaceships out.

“They can,” the OF retorted. “Why, those cameras are so good they can see the moon people out walking their dogs, and even so good you can see the breed of the moon dog.”

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and had to leave their moon dogs in the car to guard their moon pies were: Roger Shafer, Rick LaGrange, Doug Marshall, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jake Herzog, Otis Lawyer, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Paul Whitbeck, Bob Donnelly, Allen Defazzo, Elwood Vanderbilt, John Muller, Paul Guiton, John Dap, Dave Hodgetts, Dick Dexter, Jack Norray, Frank Weber, and me.

The Old Men of the Mountain are starting a new month with breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner on Nov. 1, and it was unusually nice weather.

As most of the OFs said, we hope we can keep this up (nice weather) but deep down we know it isn’t going to happen. It is rare to see some people mowing their lawns in November.

This brought up conversations not only at this breakfast, but other recent breakfasts, about cold temperatures with snow flying and living in old houses. When the OMOTM speak of old houses, they are discussing homes 100 years old and older, none of these new residences.

The OFs speak of houses with histories and character that have proven the house can stand the test of time. The OFs are not too sure about some of the homes being built today.

One OF commented that he didn’t think it is the house as much as it is the people that live in them. The people that lived in the 100-year-old plus homes were tough, and they toughed out the winters. We can’t knock the houses of today unless we are here 100 to 150 years from now to check them out. To this OF, it seems that, if someone doesn’t take care of a mansion, it is going to fall down but, when someone takes care of a shack, it is going to last.

This brought up the construction of the new homes compared to the 100-plus-year-old homes. Insulation for homes 100 or 150 years ago was nothing like the homes of today. The OFs tied this in with the cold blast of winter. Back then, glass in the doors and windows were single-pane glass (double pane windows didn’t become popular until the 1970s) and still fluid, filled with bubbles and ripples.

One OF said storm windows weren’t even considered until much later when they were the type that hung on hooks and were taken down in spring, and put up in the fall.

What some of the OFs had were workable shutters that could be closed and heavy drapes that hung to the floor to keep out cold drafts. Sometimes the windows were so drafty on a windy day the OFs said the curtains and drapes would blow in the breeze.

Leaves and straw around the foundation was insulation. Of course mice and bugs liked this arrangement too.

The big farm house would shrink to just a few rooms during cold weather as other rooms were shut off. One OF mentioned that sleeping in one bedroom with his siblings at winter time was part of the shrinking process.

On many winter nights, there would be drifts of snow at some of the windows inside the bedroom. That did not bother us much because, even though the room wasn’t heated, we were all quite snug wrapped up in our feather ticks. In the morning though we did scurry downstairs to get dressed by the fire quickly, and then head out to the barn for chores.

“Today”, one OF said, “houses are so tight, the air inside is so unhealthy it is necessary to have air from the outside pumped in and purified.”

Another OF thought the OMOTM are the OMOTM because we had such a hard start early in life. This OF commented that these young whipper-snappers of today aren’t going to make it because they have not come into contact with germs like we used to, and they have not had the opportunity of building up natural antibodies to drive them off. These young-uns are too sterile.


Disappearing creatures?

The OFs had another observation of nature they talked about and that was the absence of snakes and a few other creatures that used to be common.

The OFs asked among themselves, “When was the last time you saw a snake?” and none could really put their finger on it. The consensus was years. Where did they all go, and why are they gone?

A few of the OFs attributed this transformation to hawks and other natural predators, while some said it was a change in the environment, like climate change. Some thought this was a bit radical but might be happening.

If the scribe remembers right, the OFs have gotten into a discussion like this before, only that time it was birds; however, birds entered this discussion too.

Another question was asked, “Does all this go together?” because one OF thought that even the nuisance insects seem to be fewer.

Some of the OFs never even thought about it; they claimed they don’t go out in the backyard looking for bugs and snakes. One OF said you can’t fool him; this OF says he has seen more stink bugs lately than he has ever seen. The OF also said a few years ago he never saw one.

“Well, with winter coming on,” he said, “all these critters are going to crawl into their holes, and hide in the cellars and attics until springtime. That will be the time to check it out. That is, if any of us with our great memories can remember to have this conversation again in April and May.”

This will give the OFs something to look forward to in the spring of 2023 — what is crawling in the grass and flying in our ears, nose, and eyes.

The OFs who are here because they were tough YFs in the thirties, forties, and fifties and who are now able to make it to the Middleburgh Diner were: Miner Stevens, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Jake Herzog, Frank Dees, Russ Pokorny, Gerry Chartier, Ed Goff, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Herb Bahrmann, John Dab, Paul Guiton, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.

— Photo from the Guilderland Historical Society

The scene of William Crounse’s Memorial Service was at the Helderberg Reformed Church at Osborn Corners, which stood on the Schoharie Turnpike (now Route 146) and Osborn Road.

William Crounse was among the numerous Guilderland volunteers who answered the call to fight for the Union during the Civil War.

Published in Albany in 1866 shortly after the war’s end was a volume entitled “The Heroes of Albany: A Memorial of the Patriot — Martyrs of The City and County of Albany.” Its author, the Reverend Rufus Clark, had written a series of brief sketches about local men who perished in the conflict, describing their early lives, their war experiences, and the circumstances of their deaths.

Sadly, Guilderland’s William Crounse was among the heroes he eulogized.

Clark characterized  Crounse as a typical country lad growing up on the farm owned by his father, Abraham Crounse, probably the “A. Crounse” appearing on the 1866 Beers Map in the vicinity of Gardner Road.

Born in 1830, one of four sons, he grew up on the family farm. William Crounse’s pious mother was influential in forming his character and he reciprocated by having great love for his parents. At 21, he married, continuing to help manage his father’s farm. In 1855, William Crounse moved to Albany, joining his brother in business.

With the outbreak of the rebellion, William Crounse was determined to serve his country. Mustering into the 177th Regiment New York State Volunteers in October 1862, he was one of several Guilderland men who had also joined this regiment, spending two months training with them at Albany.

In December 1862, Crounse departed with his regiment, sailing in an overcrowded ship to New Orleans. His health had been so poor that his friends attempted to persuade him to apply for a discharge before the regiment left Albany, but he persisted, replying to their concern, “My country needs every man she can get, and it is my duty to assist all I can.”

On their arrival at New Orleans, the soldiers in the 177th were assigned to help reinforce the defenses around the city. When he reached camp at Bonnet Carre up the Mississippi from New Orleans, Crounse’s health had improved enough for him to be promoted to the rank of orderly sergeant and detailed to duty as assistant provost marshall.

Although William Crounse did not profess any particular religious denomination, he regularly attended divine service in camp, keeping apart from “the vices and abuses, which from a social and lively temperament, he was particularly exposed.” Moralistic author Rev. Clark wanted the home folks to know that Crounse didn’t play cards, gamble, drink or worse as so many of the Civil War soldiers did.

Alas, in the humid, warm climate where malaria and dysentery was prevalent, Crounse became ill and grew weaker, eventually draining his strength. He was unable to campaign with his regiment when they left for Port Hudson and active duty. Instead, forced to remain behind at Camp Bonnet Carre, he entered the camp hospital.

Death came quietly and peacefully with Crounse relying “on the infinite mercy of his Redeemer and possessing a firm conviction of his acceptance.” He died June 28, 1863.

The next day, E.H. Merrihew, Captain of Co. B, wrote a letter of sympathy to Crounse’s brother, informing him of William’s death, which he claimed had cast a deep gloom over camp and that William would be missed. For some reason, Merrihew contacted William Crounse’s brother with this sad news, requesting that he tell “her” (Crounse’s wife?) of this tragic event instead of writing to her directly.

Burial was in the regimental cemetery at Bonnet Carre, Louisiana.

By mid-July, Albany newspapers carried notices of his death. The Albany Evening Journal reported on July 13 in its listing of Civil War deaths, “DIED” WM. CROUNSE, Orderly “Sergeant of Co. B, 177th Regiment, age 33 years at Camp Bonnet Carre, La. of fever, June 28th.” The Albany Argus carried a similar notice.


Controversial sermon

William Crounse’s death may have had no effect in the conflict between North and South, but it certainly resulted in major conflict in the town of Guilderland.

On Sunday, Oct. 25, 1863, the Reverend William P. Davis, long-time minister of the Helderberg Reformed Church at Osborn Corners, preached a lengthy sermon “occasioned by the death of William Crounse who died at Port Hudson in the service of his country.”

His words caused such a controversy that Reverend Davis commissioned Albany publisher J. Munsell to print his remarks in a pamphlet entitled “A Sermon Preached on the Fourth Sabbath of Oct., 25th,1863, occasioned by the DEATH OF WILLIAM CCROUNSE who Died at Port Hudson in The Service of His Country by Rev. William P. Davis, A.M., Pastor of the Ref. Prot. Dutch Church, Guilderland.”

A copy of Davis’s sermon pamphlet survives today in the files of the Guilderland Historical Society.

Modern Americans consider Lincoln one of our greatest presidents due to his political skill and patriotism as he led the war against Southern rebellion and issued the Emancipation Proclamation, forgetting that at the time not all Northerners supported the war aims of the administration.

While the Republican Party led by Lincoln gave its support to the conduct of the war, Democrats were split into two factions, the War Democrats who more or less supported the war effort and the Peace Democrats.

The Peace Democrats wished to negotiate a peaceful end to the war to restore the Union as it was. The Peace Democrats opposed the war, were outraged by the newly instituted military draft, and sought to elect a similar-minded Democrat as president in 1864.

They publicly proclaimed their feelings by wearing an emblem made from cutting the head of liberty from an old-style penny and pinning it in their lapel. They became known as “Copperheads,” both in reference to the penny and to the poisonous snake.

In the preface to his sermon, Reverend Davis claimed that he prepared his “discourse” at the request of William Crounse’s friends. What Davis claimed he was attempting to show was that Crounse died “in a noble cause; in defense of a divinely instituted government” and to “instruct” those “who were loud in their assertions of the unlawful acts and arbitrary power assumed by the administration, with threats of resistance.”

While not likely every Guilderland Democrat was a Copperhead, that Sunday there was at least one in attendance at William Crounse’s memorial service who did not take kindly to being lectured about Union politics in the guise of a sermon and eulogy. His infuriated reaction was chronicled by the late Town Historian Arthur Gregg.

Storming out of the church in the midst of Reverend Davis’s remarks, this man, prominent in the congregation, returned later that day. In an era when individual families paid rent for “their” church pews, this hot tempered church member entered the Helderberg Reformed Church carrying his tools with him, tearing out “his” pew to remove it from the building.

Later he bragged to friends, “It came out easy.”

Gregg quoted John D. Ogsbury, long ago editor of The Altamont Enterprise, who as a child attended that church the next Sunday, saying, “We all looked with consternation at the gaping hole made in the block of seats across from us.”

After later meetings of the church’s consistory, the man who was not named by Gregg, was found “guilty of public schism, of desecrating the house of God, and of contumacy, and that he be and hereby is suspended from communion of the church.”

Reverend Davis in the preface to his lengthy sermon admitted that some were deeply offended on hearing it. He mentioned “misrepresentations which are already afloat.”

For a time, this whole incident must have been the talk of Guilderland accompanied by the bitter feelings that can erupt from intense political opinions.

In the meantime, William Crounse’s grieving family had his body disinterred from the Bonnet Carre cemetery in December and brought home to be buried in Albany Cemetery. While others continued to fight political and military battles, William Crounse was at peace.

The Old Men of the Mountain meet every Tuesday at one restaurant or another. The Tuesday for this week, on Oct. 25, was at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. Usually the OMOTM do not concern themselves with the cost of breakfast; however, in a few short months, it has jumped up considerably.

The OFs can understand this because the restaurant is at the end of the product line; all their costs have gone up and they can’t stay in business selling their product at cost or below. Now the OFs have to add the price of fuel (or call it energy) so the breakfasts are not as inexpensive as they once were.

This puts a little nick in the fun factor of gathering to enjoy each others’ company at least once a week to leave some of the cares, aches, and pains behind for a little while.

One OF related the current upward spiral of pricing on one factor: energy.

Other OFs based it on supply and demand. Some said the Covid pandemic played quite a role in the whole thing by lack of workers to produce necessary products and that contributed to lack of supply to common demand.

One OF thought the catching up is slower than thought, while another OF said the pandemic is not over. Then one of the nonagenarians (now that this scribe is very close to becoming one himself, the scribe loves using that word) just muttered, “So what else is new? … Been through them before,” and took another bite of his omelet.


Death is a sneaky S.O.B.

Then the subject of nursing homes, and apartment living came up and not many of the OFs were happy with either one. Nursing homes were out, according to the OFs.

The Eskimo practice of putting the OFs on an ice floe and shoving them out to sea was not a bad idea. One OF said he thought this was just folklore and never really did happen, but he too agreed with the idea and thought it is better than a nursing home.

An OF wondered why, when we did what we were sent here to do, didn’t we just fall asleep and not wake up. Like one of the founders of this group did. His name was Herbie, and Herbie felt fine, went to bed, and never woke up.

This scribe could vouch for that because just a couple days earlier this scribe and Herbie were out in the shop, making a huge frame for a very large map. He was fine then and even the next day when checking to see if the frame was OK.

Another OF commented that, if that is the way it was going to be, it would be necessary to keep all your businesses in order all the time. Nah! This was the answer for any one of us because the OFs could leave here this morning and be squashed by a run-away bulldozer. None of us really knows when we will be called up yonder.

That ain’t exactly true came an answer. If you killed your mother-in-law because she ticked you off too many times and you got the death penalty for doing it and the day was a given, you definitely knew when and how. No matter how you look at it, Death is a sneaky S.O.B.


Winter winds

Now the subject of winter came up and the winds of winter became our apprehension. Insulation of our homes was the topic of concern.

Many of the OFs live in, or have lived in, older homes. By older, in our conversation, it meant older like over 100 years.

Insulation at that time was considered, but the technology of today was not even around to produce the products that insulate the homes in the year of 2022.

Back then, glass was still full of bubbles, and rippled. The use of only one pane of glass was used with old-fashioned putty that hardened.

As one OF said, storm windows weren’t considered until much later. On his home, there were workable shutters that could be closed during cold, wintry blasts. Included with this were heavy drapes that were pulled shut to keep out the cold drafts.

The OF said he piled straw and leaves around the foundation to keep out some of the cold. Though the house was large, in the wintertime many rooms were shut off until springtime.

One OF mentioned he used to sleep in the same bedroom along with his brothers in the winter. Again, as with the other OF, the house was large, but in the winter it shrunk.

On many winter nights, the OF said there were drifts of snow at some of the windows inside the house, but that did not seem to bother us because we were all quite snug, wrapped up in our feather ticks. In the morning though, we did scurry downstairs to get dressed by the fire rather quickly, because we had to get to the barn for chores.

“Today,” one OF said, “houses are so tight and the air inside is so unhealthy, it is necessary to have air from outside pumped in and purified.”

Another OF thought that the OMOTM are the OMOTM because we had the start that we had, and this OF didn’t think these young whipper-snappers are going to make it because they have not had the experience of contacting many germs and building up natural antibodies to drive them off. These young-uns are too sterile.

The Old Men of the Mountain who shook out of their cozy beds in their toasty homes and made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner through the fog so thick some drove beyond the place because they could not see it, were: Rick LaGrange, Wayne Gaul, Ted (the hat) Feurer, Miner Stevens, Doug Marshall, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Paul Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Marty Herzog, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Paul Guiton, Jeremiah Hebring, Bob Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazio, Dave Hodgetts, Dick Dexter, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Tim Norray, Herb Bohrmann, and me.