As the scribe types this to the backlit screen it is Friday the 13th; however, when the Old Men of the Mountain met it was Tuesday, May 10, and the OMOTM were at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh.
It was noticed (and also discussed) that, when a group of OFs get together whether OMOTM or not, just older people, there seems to be a considerable amount of coughing and hacking going on. At the OMOTM’s breakfasts it is hardly noticed because the OFs have learned to control it to a degree.

At Tuesday’s breakfast, these morning noises were talked about. It was found many of the OF cougher/hackers were basically on the same meds. The OFs were not talking about the wake-up morning hack most people have when they greet the day, but the dry irritating cough that goes on all day. Sometimes this need to cough wakes the OF up at night or, worse yet, when the OF is having a good nap.

This brings the problem a little above a habit. Most complained about a dry tickle in the throat and oftentimes they have a few coughs and it goes away for awhile.

These coughs are very dry, according to a few of the OFs, and sometimes one OF said he doesn’t even have to open his mouth. Apparently this coughing doesn’t mean much to the doctors who just say “hmmm,” and go on about their business, and the meds stay the same. One OF said he didn’t think it was meds, it’s his throat muscles which are just giving out like the rest of him.

 

Adam’s task

The fishing season is apparently upon us and there was a discussion on fishing — especially bass. Adam had quite a job naming all the animals. How did this guy handle all the fish from the tiniest guppies to the massive whale, and what language was he using?

This is a cod, this is a flounder, this is a bass — aha this is a bass too. Well, one has a big mouth, yet this one has a small mouth, but this one has stripes, and this one hangs around rocks, so on and so on, and how about all the prehistoric creatures that roamed the seas?

Poor Adam must have had quite a time naming everything; however, time is all he had anyway so why not? He had the place to himself — no woman yet; boy, would that change everything when he gave up that rib.

Now poor Adam really had no time for anything, let alone naming any new living thing that came along, so if one showed up it went nameless. That is why even today we are left finding new species all over the planet that have to be named.

Well, if we are all descendants of Adam, it is a good guess, in a way, that Adam is still doing the job.

As the OFs talked about fishing, where the fish hung out, and how big some of these swimmers were, it must be when Adam was telling Eve about naming the fish where the first use of exaggeration of size came in.

It has been carried on ever since right down to the OMOTM.

 

The power of hypnotism

The OMOTM have discussed smoking many times and how people were able to overcome the habit. At Tuesday’s breakfast, it was reported that hypnotism was used successfully to cure the habit, not with one but two people.

This method has held for 40 years for these people. The OG relating the information said that the desire to stop was immediate, from the time he left the place till now and beyond — neither has had a cigarette.

For them, the hypnotism was great. No withdrawals, no chemicals, and the only expense was the charge of the hypnotist.

The OF telling of this happy event also said it does not work for everybody. It is necessary to really have the desire to quit the habit.

 

Name-calling

The question of the day was: When is it time to call seniors, “seniors,” or elderly, “elderly?” It came down to even calling old people, “old people.”

That did not sit well. “Senior citizen” seemed to come out on top, but when?

One OF said he was listening to the news (note: listening is the word used, not watching) and heard the newscaster give an age of 64 and then used the word “elderly.” The OF asked how old was that newscaster — 15?

Sixty-four years old is just a kid; the word “elderly,” and even giving an age like 64 indicating something was wrong and this person belonged in the home is way out of whack.

The OF continued, “If the person was 44, would the age even be mentioned?”

To the OMOTM, 64 is middle age, nowhere near elderly. “But,” one OF added, “Whoever it was can join AARP at 55 and be considered a senior citizen.”

“That’s a joke,” another OF said. This OF said he “might consider, maybe at age 70, to be a senior citizen.”

Then one more OF commented, “Hey, they should make it 45; then we could get all the discounts earlier. If it saves me money, they can call me a cranky old fart at any age — suits me fine.”  

It seems the word “elderly” is out, at least with the OMOTM. The OMOTM would rather use “senior citizen,” or “older person.”

The Old Men of the Mountain who are not elderly, or even senior, just a group of guys with many years under their belts, and years of smarts in their heads met for breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner and they were: Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Miner Stevens, Marty Herzog, Doug Marshall, Pete Whitbeck, Otis Lawyer, Paul Nelson, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Jake Herzog, Paul Whitbeck, John Muller, Duncan Bellinger, Lou Schenck, Bill Bremmer, Herb Bohrmann, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.

— Photo from United States Mint

The Old Man of the Mountain, depicted on a quarter, was made into a pin — one for each Helderberg OMOTM.

Tuesdays are beginning to be brighter and brighter as the sun decides to get up early. The Old Men of the Mountain now do not have to fight the white oncoming headlights when driving to the early morning breakfasts.

On Tuesday, May 3, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. The subject of farming continued and this time it was on robotic milking and how robots perform the milking duties on some large farm.

The OF relating the science behind this said that in the milking parlor there are no people, only cows and robots. This was hard to believe by most of the OFs, yet this OF insisted that the cows are milked three times a day and they get in line in order and are washed, milked, and go on their way to the barn/farm yard until it is their time again.

The cows then get in line and do the same thing over and over and over. What a life.

 

Deliberate costs

Inflation is an ongoing topic. Not only do the OMOTM know about it, but everyone else does too.

This scribe does not have enough space to report all that is said about the price of just about everything. Some of the price increases are related to the cost of what goes into whatever is going up, and the vendor is just relating the higher cost of goods onto us, the OFs, i.e. the average consumer.

The OFs started using their ages, and the common sense of farmers to figure out what is going on with the price of fuel and it is not what the big oil companies in cahoots with big government want us to believe. The OFs think the increasing higher cost of this product is deliberate, and for many reasons.

Number one, the government and environmentalists want the OFs to phase out combustion engines, which may be a good thing; however, electric vehicles are questionable. No matter, the big oil companies are going to make their bucks.

This is the way the OFs figure it. A thousand gallons of fuel at two bucks a gallon is $2,000; five-hundred gallons of fuel at four bucks a gallon is still $2,000.

The two biggies haven’t lost a cent, yet they have driven the prices of many other manufactured goods much higher because they rely on their product. Enough of that — it is not too hard to figure out the rest.

 

Recalling the rock OMOTM

Most people know that there was an outcropping of rock in Franconia, New Hampshire called the Old Man of the Mountain. Many of the OFs have traveled to New Hampshire to see this face in the hills. Those who have seen it say it was a very good likeness of an old man’s face peering out at the landscape from the side of that mountain.

Unfortunately, 19 years ago today, on May 3, 2003, that face, produced by nature and not man with chisels or jackhammers, tumbled to a pile of rubble at the base of the mountain.

This outcropping was so well known as a symbol for New Hampshire it was used on the “back” of the new (at that time) New Hampshire quarter.

Back when that quarter first came out, one of the OFs, Mike Willsey, purchased a quantity of these quarters and soldered pins to the “front” of the quarters so the OFs could pin them to their OMOTM hats. Which most of the OFs did. Along with the OMOTM hats, these pins proudly indicated the wearer was an Old Man of the Mountain.

 

The real stuff

The OFs talked about sapping (sapping being maple syrup) again this week, and next year at this time will probably talk about sapping again because that is what some of the OFs are into. Those who have had real maple syrup on their pancakes or waffles know what the OFs are talking about.

The real stuff is so much better than the flavored tar that carries the name syrup, but the comparison has a long way to go to equal the boiled-down sap from a tree.

Maple syrup is like honey — nothing added. The OFs just take the sap from the tree, add heat, bring to boil, and bingo! Maple syrup!

Honey is a thick, sweet, syrupy substance that bees make and store in honeycombs (which can be scraped off) and there you are: Honey! If you want to try this honey it is possible to eat comb and all; nothing of any kind added.

At one time it was suggested that, if you ate the honeycomb, it would help with migraine headaches. The OFs don’t know about that.

One OF thought that sugar and salt is literally the same thing. Nothing is added, the cane is just dried and ground for sugar, and salt is no more than evaporated sea water, or ground-up rock. At least that is what the OF thinks of the way salt is produced.

My goodness! It almost sounds like going back to school at breakfast with the OMOTM. When putting all the conversations together, the OFs do cover many topics, projects, and basic living from firsthand information, or experiences.

As it is said, the school of hard knocks has the best teachers. It is also said experience is the best teacher. Take your pick; the OMOTM have both.

Those OFs, who at the Chuck Wagon Diner picked up their higher education degrees, were: Miner Stevens, Paul Nelson, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Pete Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Rich LaGrange, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Paul Guiton, Duncan Bellinger, Paul Whitbeck, John Dapp, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Bill Bremmer, Heb Bahrmann, Paul Bahrmann, Doug Marshall,  and me.

The Old Men of the Mountain gave the Your Way Café another shot because the Chuck Wagon was closed. It seems the OMOTM wanted to get out — the number of OFs at the restaurant was ample, the conversations were loud and long, and the laughter was plentiful. It’s neat to see and hear OFs with all their ailments have really hearty laughs.

Much of the talk was a good form of gossip. Who, what, and sometimes when; where did not crop up too often.

The information was sad though because it was how the current times have caused many in small businesses, and those with farms, to go out of business and find something else. How often one business is associated with others and when one is having problems the old trickle-down effect passes to the others.

The OFs were discussing what was happening to Joe Blow or Jane Doe, so the conversations were very personal because many OFs knew, or did business, with those involved.

The OFs thought that it is getting too expensive to be in business, and only the big companies with deep pockets are going to make it. One OF thought there may be some young people out there who are going to give small entrepreneurial business a shot, but the OMOTM are out of that loop and only know what they hear on the news or read in the papers.

Many are so discouraged with those sources that the OFs don’t pay any attention to either. That’s odd, because this is going to be in the paper. This scribe is pretty sure local papers are not part of this exclusion group. (Too much interesting gossip and information in the pages of the local papers. Not nice to shoot the horse that brings one home.)

 

Missing person

The OFs discussed the school teacher from Delmar who is now missing in Massachusetts. The OFs admitted from the photographs in the paper she is very pretty, which prompted one OF to say there is an advantage to being ugly — it cuts down on the weirdos picking the pretty ones as a target.

The OFs think that her car was not driven by the victim to where it was found. Even though they do have to search the area, the OFs don’t think they will find anything there. Some of the OFs thought the police have already assumed this to be the case; however, what else are they going to do until they have checked the area thoroughly?

 

Gobbling ticks

Next topic reported on: Ticks were the usual spring discussion and one OF reported when his dog came in they took 17 ticks off of the animal.

A few of the other OFs reported they have not seen ticks, but then again they haven’t been in the woods either. It seems every year these nasty little insects seem to cause many problems.

Maybe someone will develop an animal and human one-shot vaccine to ward off the infectious bite of the tick. On the other hand, this is just an OMOTM thought.

One OF wondered why some birds like the guinea hen go around just gobbling those things up and nothing happens to them. What have they got that the rest of us don’t?

Guinea hens are fun to watch as they go around snacking on the ticks from the grass. Do the guinea hens have some sort of sensor that alerts the hen to what tick is loaded with Lyme, and the others are not?

This scribe thinks they just gobble them up and don’t give a hoot about what the tick has, the carrier for Lyme disease or not; the tick is just food to them.

 

Faith

No matter who the OF is, some may have faith as religion, and some not, but one thing they all have is faith ─ religion, or not. The OFs have certain things happening in their lives that require faith, and with some of the OFs that faith has to be really strong.

Think about how often any of us (OF or not) go to the doctor and then are referred to a surgeon and the surgeon recommends surgery to fix the problem. Bingo, as soon as the OF says, “OK let’s do it,” faith by the ton takes over.

It is often said that, as soon as the OF closes the door of his vehicle, faith takes the wheel, along with the hands of the OF. The OF now has faith in many people, and the OF needs it, so the faith the OF has in all the people that worked on the vehicle is rewarded when the OF arrives safely at his destination.

It takes faith by the bushel to drive a vehicle, weighing more or less 2,000 pounds and aiming it down the highway at 60 miles an hour not thinking once about all these people involved in building this big bullet. The OF is guiding the vehicle effortlessly with one hand and drinking a Gatoraid with the other so who knows what the OF may be thinking as the guardrails zip by.

This scribe bets the people who built the vehicle won’t be one of them. All of the OFs, and those who aren’t OFs, have their minds occupied by so much more not even realizing how much faith we put in people we don’t even know.

Then there are the doctors and surgeons we do know. The surgeon is going to wield a knife over our bodies and deliberately cut into them. Without faith that the surgeon is going to perform his job well, the OF wouldn’t even be on that table. The surgeon has to have faith in himself that he is going to do the job well.

Faith is inherent in all of us, whether we know it or not, so that is how the OFs get to be OMOTM. Bobby McFerrin had it right in his song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Faith is how the OFs get there. The way one OF put it, though, was: That is tough to do right now.

All the OFs who gathered at the Your Way Café in Schoharie and had a good time getting together were: Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Miner Stevens, Brian McLaughlin, Doug Marshall, Rich LaGrange, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Jake Herzog, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Gerry Chartier, John Dapp, Paul Guiton, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, and me.

On Tuesday, April 19, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie. A few brave souls were able to get out and make it to the restaurant.

This scribe was not one of them that made it. This OF was up early, dressed, and ready to go but found eight to nine inches of snow in the driveway. This OF was not the only one who had this predicament; in checking to see who was able to make it to the restaurant, this OF found many with similar problems.

Some had snow plus no power. That makes the situation more fun.

This scribe never did get plowed out; he was trapped in the house for two days. This is nothing new.

Now to have the OMOTM reports continue without a break, this scribe has to review the notes of previous breakfast and report on what was not reported on before. Also, it is necessary to protect the innocent few who were there from any legal hazards that may crop up.

This scribe contacted one of those who made it to the Your Way Café to see if he could remember anything that was discussed. One item discussed was “where the heck was everybody else?”

Duh — probably snowed in; or no power; or exhausted from shoveling wet, heavy snow (which OFs shouldn’t be doing anyway).

The other discussion was on how many deer one of the OFs saw on a trip to where the OF did not remember. This OF said it had to be about 300 deer. Now that is a lot of animals to spot and count even if they were cows, horses, or elephants. Suffice it to say the OF saw a lot of deer.

If the price of meat and fish becomes any higher, there might be a large number of hunters in the woods, thinning the deer herd out, or guys and gals fishing for the plate not for the fun of catch and release.

It used to take a little time to enter the names to protect but this time not so. The Old Men of the Mountain who ventured out and made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie and kept the OMOTM breakfast sequence intact were: Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt (one of the oldest OMOTM if not the oldest, made it), Rich Vanderbilt, Johnnie Dapp, but not me.

A quick bit of house cleaning. This column will report on some of the notes that were not used in earlier reports. This scribe wrote himself a note to excuse himself from the priorities list for attendance.

This scribe had a procedure done on his back that the scribe did not want to play games with and the earliest appointment the dermatologist had was early in the morning on a Tuesday so, as the Old Men of the Mountain met on Tuesday, April 12, this scribe had to miss the gathering at Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh. Darn! Now the scribe will miss all the gossip.

Many of the OFs are a traveling lot; members go hither and yon at the drop of a hat, but on fixed incomes and with really rising prices for fuel and food, and soon lodging, this may not be the case. The subject of travel as a note in the book appears many times.

The last couple of times though had the OFs discussing how they may be forced to cut back. COVID was a problem just a little while ago, and it appears to be raising its ugly head again, but this time the OFs are complaining not only about COVID but the prices of everything might park the OFs again. Well, it’s not hard to meet expenses — they’re everywhere.

Some of the OFs say: To heck with COVID. They complied with all the rules brought up last time and were cooped up like a flock of chickens, so now they are going to get out instead of going nuts. One OF mentioned he would go out and about even if he had to dip into his mad-money fund.

 

Vaccines

It seems we (and that means all of us, not only the OFs) have vaccinations now for many maladies that used to be disastrous and do many people in. The scribe has a note on one of the subjects in his notes written as “shingles.”

This note is not checked off but that does not mean much; many are not checked off. However, the comment was being vaccinated for shingles.

Yeah or nay is not mentioned either but, from experience, shingles are nasty. If the scribe remembers this discussion, it led to how many vaccines can we have roaming around in our bodies before we have the clash of the vaccines and need a vaccine to take care of all the other vaccines?

One OF mentioned maybe they will develop one vaccine with all the others combined and, when we are young, we can get one shot and that’s it.

Another OF said, “Remember when we were young and we got that shot for smallpox and it left a round ring on our shoulders for ages?”

Still another OF said he thought as soon as we get one disease under control another one pops up that requires all the kids that studied to be research doctors to work on coming up with new cures or new vaccines. Look how many shots we get now since the one for smallpox.

 

Bug season

These notes go way back and they all talk about bugs, snakes, and crawly things. Though the years go by, quickly or slowly depending on each individual’s situation, in many cases the years remain the same.

It will soon be bug season again with those little black no-see-ums, or maybe black flies. Some OFs don’t think they are the same insect, but now here they come out spoiling the OFs’ time outdoors.

All kinds of sprays and rub-ons are available to keep the flying pests away but are the sprays good for us? Maybe not, but the sprays and rub-ons do help.

Maybe some smart research doctor will come up with a vaccine that will thwart the flying pests from bothering humans and animals. The scribe decided to research the flying stingers and found out they are not all bad, with a big question mark. Google it, but the OFs still don’t want them biting us and they shouldn’t.

 

Eating lobster

There is another reminder on the note pad that this scribe cannot remember if it was reported on. Maybe a portion of eating was used but this scribe does not think it all was because a few of the notations are not ticked off.

Eating lobster is one that some of the OFs will not do because they know how they have to be cooked, and that is by boiling the lobster alive. These OFs don’t take kindly to that, just the thought of it, and the lobsters let people know they are not too happy about that either.

Being boiled alive just so humans can have a meal is not the best idea. Some OFs think it is pretty brutal.

 

Sensitive OGs

The other note is in the same vein. These OFs (not necessarily the ones with the lobster, although some could be) won’t eat lamb because they know where it comes from, and still see the little lamb eyes.

These OFs, though most were farmers, still have problems eating lamb, and don’t call these OFs wimps, just sensitive OGs.

The OFs who attended the breakfast at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and probably did not discuss any of the above this week were: George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jake Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, John Muller, Russ Pokorny, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Ken Parks, Joe Rack, Henry Whipple, John Dabrvalskes, Paul Nelson, Rick Lagrange, Jim Darra, Paul Guiton, Doug Marshall, and not me.

This Tuesday, the Old Men of the Mountain sauntered over to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh for their first cup of coffee. Not all the OMOTM start out with coffee, some take just water, with a few it is orange juice, but some type of liquid starts the day just as long it is not a “Bud” or a shot of this or that. The OF who starts out with those to start the day has a problem.

The OFs continued with their conversation on motorcycles like the OGs were in a type of soap opera. A few of the OFs missed the report from last week on the OF’s bike trip through New Zealand, and these OGs wanted to bring up the New Zealand discussion again only with different questions about the trip and the country.

However, this conversation turned to types of riders and ages and, like most hobbies or interests that started when the OFs were young and continued well into the OFs later years, motorcycle riding is one.

Years ago, there was an OF who, in his middle years, lost a leg. This OF continued to ride his bike with just one leg. The OF did have a prosthetic leg which he handled very well.

This OF also purchased a side car so he and the wife could travel about with the wind in their hair, the rain in their face, and the bugs on their teeth well into their senior years.

 

Anti-Rent Wars

The town of Knox on the hill is celebrating its bicentennial and some of the OFs are involved in this. A very interesting event that occurred in the 1800s that Knox and the other Hilltowns were very much a part of, is the Anti-Rent Wars.

The end of this disagreement settled the way we own property today throughout the country. “Very short version of the story.”

When traveling through the Hilltowns, the traveler may see a few state signs along the road mentioning the Anti-Rent Wars.

It is interesting to note that the building at the corner of routes 85 and 85A in New Salem that is now apartments was a tavern back then where the sheriff of Albany County massed an army to go after the anti-renters in Reidsville.

Reidsville is on Route 85, up the Letter S, two or three miles beyond Helderberg Lake. Altamont itself had quite a part in the settling of how landowners were to pay taxes and to whom.

Going back a few years into a bit of the local history, and listening to some of the names, the OFs commented that we are not too far removed from that period of time.

To which one OF said, “Because this group is growing a considerable amount of moss on our backside, and anyone can hear us coming by the creek of our canes, or the squeak of our un-oiled walker wheels, we should have a word added to the title of the OMOTM we should be GOMOTM, Grumpy Old Men of the Mountain.”

One other OF said, “That is not true; if anything, it should be COMOTM, Chipper Old Men of the Mountain because he is not a GOF, but COF.”

This scribe thinks any adjective could be slipped in because there are enough OFs to fit any inserted adjective. (How quickly the OFs get off the subject.)

 

The real stuff

There is an OF who produces a lot of maple sap, but not in this area. This is just the sap that comes from the tree, not the syrup that is oozed over your waffles, or pancakes, or French toast — only the sap.

The OF has been gone awhile while managing the sap run and some of the OFs were wondering how he was doing and when he will be back. This brought out some conversation on the syrup itself and nothing made from chemicals compares with the real stuff.

One OF had waffles for breakfast this morning, and he took the syrup supplied by the restaurant and meticulously filled each square of the waffle with syrup. This scribe often wondered why the waffle is a waffle, because it is only a pancake with squares in it — now the scribe knows. The squares are for either syrup or melted butter.

The stomach must be quite an organ to sort all of what goes in it, from foods, to drinks, to meds, and at times all at the same time. All being sorted out, this is good, this is bad, this is really good, and this is awful. Including some things that come along where the stomach says what the heck is this. This had better get passed as is, right away.

 

Floored

There was some conversation on the power generation plant in Gilboa where the generators are underground. The ground floor is not the first floor. The Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Station has their generators a few floors down. 

he OFs were discussing about times the fire company that covered this area was called to a fire. The OF relating the story said the fire company was told the fire was on the seventh floor

The company showed up and immediately went into action, one of which (other than laying hose) was getting the ladders ready. “Oops,” the OF said, “The seventh floor was down, not up. Ladders were not necessary.”

The OF did not say what the fire or emergency was, but it must have been minor because it did not make the papers.

Those Old men who made it to the Middleburgh Diner and chatted about everything under the sun including kilts, were: Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer (who has put the winter hat away), Jake Herzog, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

Where does the time go? At times this scribe would like to chase it, grab it by the tail, and get some of it back. It is already time to pen the Old Men of the Mountain report again.

The OMOTM met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown on March 29. Anyone in the Northeast would have thought the month was January instead of darn close to April.

Sometimes the column reports on the OFs who have motorcycles with many of them being considerable enthusiasts. One OF was enthusiastic enough to travel to New Zealand to go on a bike trip with about 10 other diehard bikers. The question was asked what New Zealand was like because (nothing about the motorcycles) the OFs were more interested in the country and the people with a firsthand report.

The traveling OF said the parts of New Zealand they saw were beautiful, and the people were really nice, but the OFs encountered thieves. The OF told how his wife had 20 dollars disappear right out of their room. Almost all of those who were on the bike ride had their wallets or their purses stolen from their hotel rooms, at night, right when they were in their rooms.

The wallets and purses were found in the bushes in the morning. The OFs said only money was taken, and the other stuff was left alone.

One OF piped up, “It’s not possible to trace money. They may be thieves, but they are not dumb.”

The OF said the thieves had to either have one tall guy push one short guy onto the balcony, or use ladders, because all those in the group were on the second floor and they kept the doors to their rooms locked.

The exception was that, in most cases, the balcony doors were unlocked. Some were even left open for the night air.

The OF did not mention if the police were even interested or not — the assumption is probably not. The OF said the New Zealander who organized the trip invited the group to come to his home at one time and showed the group how he had to maintain his stuff.

The house was completely fenced, there were locked heavy iron gates to the walk and the driveway, the garage doors were heavy-duty with large solid locks. Inside the garage there were large iron rings in the floor, and heavy chains used to chain down the motorcycles and other items inside the locked garage.

Wow! The OF said the group guessed thievery was a problem.

 

Rule breaker

At Tuesday morning’s breakfast, the OF who was telling about the trip to New Zealand had on his OMOTM cap with a screwy looking emoji attached. An emoji’s primary function is to fill in emotional cues otherwise missing from typed conversation.

These cues may come as illustrations of happy, angry, or sad faces, plus too many others to list here. The OF said he got that particular emoji for not paying attention to the rules of the ride. The contract had on the bottom a paragraph with small print, which in part stated the bikes were to stay on the main roads, and not go off-road.

The riders were all given maps of how to arrive at each stopping point. The OF said that on one leg of the ride he saw a dirt road that was just about parallel to the main road and arrived at the same stopping point, so he took that road.

The OF did not relate what the penalties were, but it did earn him the pin so everyone knew he was a bad boy and didn’t follow the rules. We guessed it’s a whole lot easier to get older than to get wiser.

 

OFs prefer to conserve

The OMOTM had a discussion on waste, and how much we throw away. One OF thought we have two factions pushing one against the other.

Some of the OFs thought Madison Avenue wants us to buy, buy, buy, while the conservation group wants the OFs to conserve. The OFs for the most part fall into the conservative group in many ways.

TV is loaded with restoring or renovating houses. The fixer-uppers start with a sledge hammer.

The OFs said perfectly good cabinetry is destroyed when it could be taken down carefully and reused. The same with doors and windows.

One OF said there are people not well off who could use this stuff either as a donation, or at reduced prices. In most cases, there is nothing wrong with it.

Madison Avenue pushes ads to purchase new stoves, new refrigerators, etc. when there is nothing wrong with the ones many people have. These appliances are just out of style — not worn out.

One OF said that he has an old hot-water heater that works fine, but his son purchased a new one that lasted only 11 years. This felt like it was built to wear out because the heater must have had an expiration date. Expired, Expired. Just like old milk with its use-by date.

The Avenue also works hard on installing a desire to purchase what is not necessary and the OFs definitely do not need. If the OF purchases a new couch, the furniture store tries to sell the OF a tractor-trailer load of cushions to go with it.

One OF commented that he has so many cushions it is impossible to see the couch and, in order to sit down, it is necessary to throw all these things on the floor. Golly, the OFs guess it does put people to work making these things.

The Old Men of the Mountain who live in areas where, in most cases, it is not necessary to even lock the doors and exited these same doors to go to the Chuck Wagon Diner were: Miner Stevens, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Matt Erschen, Jake Lederman, Jake Herzog, Rich LaGrange, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, John Muller, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Paul Whitbeck, Rev. Jay Francis, John Dabrvalskes, Paul Guicon, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt, Wayne Gaul, and me.

On March 22, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie. The café had all new table tops, made right here locally in the U.S. of A. Local, meaning local, meaning right here! Local wood with local hands and if the OFs had eggs, it was local chickens that laid the eggs and of course local hands that cooked ’em up.

Quite a few mentioned how clear Tuesday morning was on the ride in, and how high the moon was in the sky. It was not a full moon, but the air was so sharp and clear in this early morning that the moon craters were clearly visible.

One OF said that, with a good pair of binoculars, it could have been possible to see the moon people walking around. Another clever OF said, “What would they be called, Moonies?

The conversation was almost like the OFs never went home from the last breakfast; the talk was still about high prices. For the OMOTM, this is of a serious concern — none of us are affluent enough to not notice these increases. The OFs do their own shopping; no one does it for them so the OFs can see these increases.

One OF said that he went to one of these large building-supply stores to purchase some materials for a small project he was going to build. The OF related some of the prices and these prices were so out of line from what the OF had budgeted for it made the OF abandon the project.

The two-by-fours were 12 bucks, the OF said; a sheet of plywood was $35, and a sheet of Sheetrock was ridiculous for just some plaster sandwiched between a couple sheets of paper.

The OF said, “My goodness, what if anyone contracted last year to have a simple two-bedroom, two-bath house built? That domicile is going to cost a million dollars.”

Another OF said, “Not only do you have supplies to purchase, but operating expenses like fuel oil and all that, which would have to be factored in. Talk about things coming to a halt. What is it going to cost to use macadam to do a driveway? Holy cow! Concrete might make a comeback.”

One OF hollered across the table to another OF that, if they hear of anyone fitting his description robbing a bank, it will probably be him. The OF said he would have to do it because he needed a loaf of bread and gas for his car.

Another OF replied there probably would not be enough money in the bank to cover it.

 

Relative temperatures

The OMOTM don’t want to push the season, but a few are anxious to get out. A couple of OFs said they took their bikes out for a ride. The day appeared nice, but it was only nice in appearance; the air had a bite to it.

One OF mentioned that most of us should still have our winter blood, but this OF said for some reason he feels cold outdoors, just like the OFs summer blood in the fall, meaning he feels cold when it really is not that cold out yet.

Another OF picked up on this and mentioned 60 degrees in March feels like the OF can run around in shorts and a T-shirt; however, 60 degrees in June and the OF is shivering and wants his mad bomber hat, and a mackinaw.

One OF mentioned that the weather sometimes can be adjusted by those around you, and not how hot or cold it is. When this OF is out in the woods with a group of friends, at times he doesn’t even know he is standing in 12 inches of snow, and it is only 25 degrees out; however, if he is in the spot alone, he is cold and wants to get inside.

Another OF mentioned that this can happen sometimes when one feels ill, or hurts. If friends are around, the OF said he doesn’t feel as sick, or hurt as much, as he does when they are not.

Then one OF chirped up that, when he is sick, he wants to be left alone and just sleep. An OF added when he is hurting or ill, sleep is the best thing. This OF thinks that, no matter what malady your pills are prescribed for, they are just there to knock you out.

Another OF added that doctors say, time is the doctor’s best friend, but the OF didn’t really know that he just heard it. No doctor has ever said to him, “Here, take these pills, they will make you sleep, and time will do the healing.”

Then one other OG added that he heard it another way, “Time heals all wounds,” which some Greek poet first said around 300 B.C. (These OFs are older than they let on).

The conversation was continued by another OF who said, “Hey, given enough time, you’re dead anyway, then, you OF, you ain’t going to feel anything.”

OK, so an additional OF had to join the mix and said he hurts all the time and doesn’t know if it’s another pain come to call or just an old one that has become a little more noticeable. This OF said, when he wakes up in the morning, he looks around and says, “Oh darn! I woke up again.”

As Johnny Carson once said, “Happiness is having your dentist telling you it won’t hurt and then having him catch his hand in the drill.”

Those OFs who did wake up, and manage to get up, and get to the Your Way Café in Schoharie to take in some fuel for the beginning of the day and at least make it to lunch were: Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, John Muller, Miner Stevens, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Rich LaGrange, Jake Herzog, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, John Dabrvalskes, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Wally Guest, and me.

March 15, 2022 called the Old Men of the Mountain to breakfast at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. The 15th was shortly after the time change, which may be the reason for taking so long for the OFs to gather for breakfast.

The early risers were asking themselves, “Where is everybody?”

Slowly the OFs began to straggle in and the restaurant began to fill up with the OFs and others.

Almost as soon as the OFs arrived, the opening conversation was on the price of gas and prices in general. Just by the title of this little report, to keep the law off the backs of some of the members, the opening descriptive word is “old.”

That is a good indication of how the income of the group is arrived at; it is basically a fixed income that was fixed many years ago and adjusted somewhat for inflation, but nothing like what is being experienced now. This really causes some planning on living expenses by many old folks.

One OF mentioned that rising prices were expected, but in gradual increments, nothing like now. This OF used one quick example of how much it must cost to fill the tank of a tractor trailer and if we are talking a large fleet of trucks — wow! There is a chunk of change.

They (“Who are they?” one OF asked. The answer was, there is always one wise guy, whoever “they” are just fill in your own blank, you know who “they” are) say we can’t burn wood, we can’t burn coal, so what are we supposed to do, freeze? 

“Go electric,” one OF mentioned and arrive at that by wind, sun, hydro, but not by burning something.

Not only is it the shock of gas, but the price of the OFs latest power bill. One OF was wondering where this all began. It is not that some of these bills eased up by a few percentage points, but some seemed to go from high to ridiculously high in one billing period. One OF thought maybe all the big-wigs at the big power companies needed another mansion all at once.

An OF had a good suggestion concerning everyone living north of the Mason Dixon line. He felt those people should be moved south of the Mason Dixon line at government expense, then there would not be such a fuss about heating oil or gasoline; we would let the sun do it all.

“Too simple,” another OF said, and this OF thought it was slowly being done anyway. If you go south or southwest you find people there who have moved from New York, Canada, Michigan, etc.

 

Daylight Saving

This scribe knows there were other topics but in the scribe’s notes are eight entries: Prices, gas, travel, guessing (?), painting, fuel oil, waitress, Ukraine — that is it.

There is a note on time change, but that was quick. The basic thought was: Why mess with changing the time? Leave it alone.

A little research showed that Daylight Saving Time started in 1918. Apparently, it was originally considered by none other than Benjamin Franklin (in the 18th Century!) who thought sleeping late in the summer was a waste of productive time and the extra hour of sunlight in the evening would reduce candle consumption.

So the time was changed for farmers a long time ago, but the light bulb changed all that so let the cows and clocks be. One old farmer said, “We never changed the time; we went on cow time.”

 

Creatures of habit

The OMOTM are creatures of habit, the word “guessing” was brought on by the waitress saying to one OF just as the OF was about to order, “Don’t tell me, let me guess and see if I am right.”

She guessed and she was. There must be a competition in Middleburgh because the waitress in the Middleburgh Diner also does a pretty good guessing job.

However, at Mrs. K’s, many of the OFs don’t even have to open their mouths; the waitress will bring breakfast out, put it in front of the OFs and the OFs will start eating and never know they didn’t order anything but thought they did.

 

What is a patient portal?

Then there is another thing that has to do with the word “old” and “old folks,” which the OMOTM have mentioned before — computers and smartphones. So many people think that everyone has a smartphone or a computer but often they don’t.

One OF said, “Try calling a doctor’s office to just make an appointment.”

The menu first says, “If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 9-1-1.”

Then the robot on the phone directs the caller to the patient portal. Whoops! To many seniors, this is a big confusing issue.

What is a patient portal? Some of the OFs who have one feel the thing is so complicated that it doesn’t work, or the OF doesn’t understand it. All the OF wants to do is make a simple appointment.

The OFs say not all offices are like that. There are some offices with a way out so the OF can actually speak to a person after puzzling his way through a lengthy menu.

There has to be a better way that is not so complicated. One OF mentioned he was led to understand all this electronic stuff would make things better. Well, for him it is so confusing the OF hates to call his doctor. Talk about driving up the OF’s blood pressure — all the OF has to do is call his doctor’s office.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who are glad that it is not necessary to call the restaurants for an appointment are: Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Glenn Patterson, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Jake Herzog, Ken Parkes, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, John Dabrvalskes, Paul Guidon, and me.

The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown on Tuesday, the first day of March 2022, and we had no Caesar. Many times it isn’t worth clawing your way to the top because on the way up there are a whole gang of ladders with people on them who want to be there too.

This scribe listened to a conversation on the prices some pay to Spectrum for the privilege of watching TV, having a computer, and a phone. There are times (when comparing the times and what is on TV and the price of receiving this information) when this question comes up: Is it (the price of this information) worth it?

Apparently these OFs were discussing that exact same predicament. Are some of these categories even worth the money? From what this scribe could gather, the answer was no.

There was also quite a discussion on the environment and the use of electricity. The conversation kept revolving and the talk went along until the OGs were in areas they only had a little knowledge of. There were a few who said, “I think that” or “I think this.”

One OF mentioned that he thought he would wire his home with #6 wire so he could charge his vehicles. That did not work out so it wasn’t done. The way things are going, it appears the OFs are going to be forced into purchasing electric vehicles.

Indirectly, this is a continuation of the (to be continued) topic a couple of columns back when the discussion was on electric cars. The electric car is not commonplace yet, but at four bucks a gallon it will make some think about investing in one.

Again, some of the OFs think internal combustion engines, or electric motors is not the way to go. The way to go is magnetism. One OF thinks many scientists are working on that possibility today and in the near future it will be the new best thing.

 

Reflections on history

At one table, there were two OFs who knew something about the local history of the town of Knox, and Central Bridge, Old Central Bridge, and the environs of those two villages in Schoharie County. The town of Knox is celebrating its bicentennial this year; hence the discussion on the history of the area and what these towns were like years ago.

It is interesting to some as to why some of these small towns are even here, or where they are. How did they start? Why is Knox where it is? Why is Altamont where it is? The answers to these questions, one used to say, were in the library; now they say, go to the net and find out.

At one time, the OMOTM had three OFs in their high nineties; today, we still have three OFs in their nineties and they have memories of early times, but we are talking about OFs from the start of the OMOTM.

In some cases, that adds thirty years to the history. At that time, we were getting history lessons from when God had his angel crew making dirt.

The interesting part is that the really senior members still have good minds and memories and actually remembered what the town of Knox, along with the Bernes, Gallupville, and the surrounding areas looked like, and how much different the activity was in these small towns. From their remembrances, it was much different than today.

Then it was horses; now it is electric cars. Electricity and phones then were just toys. Now the OFs are talking about wiring their houses so they can have high voltage and charge their electric cars faster.

One OF suggested, look what we have seen and done in 70 or 80 years; what will a 10-year-old kid see in the year of 2082? Better yet, what will the music be like? To many OFs, today’s music is just noise. (Now the OMOTM have upset the younger crowd.)

Somehow into this conversation the subject of cemeteries came up; these plots of ground do have something to do with history. Along with the large, basically church-owned and church-run cemeteries, are many family plots.

So many have been forgotten and left to be covered by weeds, and woods, with stones fallen over and now covered up. The OFs wonder how much history is buried in these family plots.

How many journals have been thrown away of those who lived in these small towns? One OF queried if these journals or records were ever able to be resurrected, would the discovery of them change history?

The conversation even included the likes of Thomas Edison, and George Westinghouse. How this fits in is questionable, but at the time seemed relative. Westinghouse’s death was getting very close to when some of the older OFs were born. Thomas Edison passed away just two years before this scribe was born.

Sometimes it causes a few OFs to wonder why they were allowed to tread this planet for so long and make it to breakfast. It would be great if the eyes did not dim, the heart beat strong, the aches and pains were held at bay, and the mind functioned completely.

Those who are allowed to trod and are having breakfast Tuesday, but suffer from all the other maladies in one way or another and still made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner, were: Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Russ Pokorny, Roger Shafer, Marty Herzog, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Paul Guidon, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Rev. Jay Francis, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Jake Herzog, John Dabrvalskes, and me.

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