The first Tuesday in November is a very important day no matter what the year. Number One (and the most important) is that the Old Men of the Mountain meet to eat, and, Number Two, it is Election Day.

This Election Day the OMOTM met at the Country Café in Schoharie, and the Knox Reformed Church held its 100th continuous Election Day chicken supper. Someday someone should compute how many chickens met their demise to serve all those people for 100 years, and how many chickens had to lay how many eggs for the OMOTM to have at their breakfast for at least 22 years.

My goodness! The plight of a chicken is amazing. Just think how many chickens are needed every day since nearly all the people in the world use them in one form or another.

The OFs began talking about their purchasing power as they become older, and how the marketing people seem to think that, once anyone is over 25 years old, they don’t spend any money.

The OFs have news for them. There is a lot of money in the pockets of the OFs. However, over the years, the OFs are smarter about the way they spend it and how they spend it. The OFs (for the most part) buy what they like and to heck with labels.

The OFs know through experience what is junk and what will last, but they do have preferences. The OFs (again for the most part) have a few pairs of shoes — not a closet full — a couple of good dress shirts, a few ties, and maybe a suit.

The youngsters fall for all that marketing and pay astronomical prices for a pair of jeans, when all they are paying for is the name. The denim, buttons, zippers, and threads all come from the few suppliers that manufacture these items.

The same people in China or Indonesia sew the fancy name on those that are purchased at the high-end stores, and then sew the standard names on the same ones for Wal-Mart, Kohls, or Target. The same goes for sneakers.

The OFs purchase much smarter so the marketing people skip the old folks and go right to the airheads who will buy anything that is highly advertised and endorsed by some celebrity. The OFs have spoken.

Labors of love

Old mills that are still running were another topic the OFs jumped into. The OFs were impressed with how 200 years ago people managed to construct these mills with the tools and materials they had back then.

There are some old mills running that are within driving distance of the Capital District. These mills are located in Delaware County, Schoharie County, and there is even one mill in Rensselaerville in Albany County.  The Rensselaerville mill could be running but it is in need of a “penstock.” (The penstock is a sluice or pipe that carries water to the wheel from wherever the water source is.)

The mill in Rensselaerville is located right in the village. To reconstruct this waterway, the Rensselaerville mill has to garner around $50,000 to complete the final phase to make the mill completely functional

The work on the mill and the expense for this comes from donations, with the work being done by volunteers. It is good that there are OFs around who take an interest in keeping history alive and who work on projects like these old mills.

They also work on old trains — maintaining the tracks, and rolling stock. Labors of love.

High school reunions

The OFs covered some high school graduations and, going back to when the OFs graduated, it is a real step back in time. To some, it is the late forties, and early fifties.

The record books for those who have passed away are becoming larger than those in attendance. It is interesting to the OFs that most of the memories are of the good times; it seems many of the bad things that happened are tough to recall and they are few in number.

At these reunions, age and distance makes it hard for some to attend. As the OFs talked, one OF divulged that he went quite a distance to renew acquaintances from his high school days.

It is also interesting to find that, in most of the reunions, many of the students did not travel far from home, but now there are those that are all over the globe. The OFs did not get into the magnet that keeps most close to home, and even draws those that reside hither and yon back to these reunions just to check in and see if that part of their life was real.

The big contest is to see how many the OFs can recognize and recall their names without name tags.

Following this theme, and maybe a pickup from the talk of reunions, was a dialogue about traveling to other countries and spending enough time there to find how different their cultures are. As one OF put it, many things some of these countries do and practice are unsanitary, unhealthy, and unsafe. This was not in any way spoken about disrespectfully — just questioned.

Smart people

This led to a question that this scribe wrote in his little note book and, upon reading the note “smart people,” this scribe thinks he should get a larger notebook. The gist of the conversation was that the OFs think that smart people are not necessarily the most educated by schooling, or the best dressed, or the ones in bib overalls, or the ones with tons of money, or the ones just getting by.

The OFs think smart people are just smart people because they are smart people.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who are all smart people because they met at the Country Café in Schoharie were: Professor John Rossmann, Professor George Washburn, Professor Roger Chapman, Professor Bill Lichliter, Professor Robie Osterman, Professor Harold Guest, Professor Chuck Aelesio, Professor Richard Frank, Professor Glenn Patterson, Professor Mark Traver, Professor Jim Heiser, Professor Roger Shafer, Professor Mace Porter, Professor Jack Norray, Professor Gerry Irwin, Professor Marty Herzog, Professor Jim Rissacher, Professor Bob Fink, Professor Bob Benninger, Professor Mike Willsey, Professor Gerry Chartier, Professor Winnie Chartier, Professor Elwood Vanderbilt, Professor Harold Grippen, and student me.

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Oct. 31, All Saints Day 2017, was a Tuesday, and as the scribe looked around at the Old Men of the Mountain in Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, this scribe was hardpressed to find any saints.

There were many people there this scribe knew, but as for being saints — this scribe doesn’t think so. There may have been some saints in the form of other patrons in the room but this scribe is not even sure about that. Then again, they all may be saints. Who is this scribe to judge who is a saint and who is not?

Unwanted furniture heaven

Most people run into this following dilemma every now and then. That is trying to remove a large item from the house that no one wants, and it is too large, or heavy, or won’t go through the doorway to get it out of the house.

A couple of OFs have, and have had this problem. One OF had a player piano that was falling apart, and did not work at all. The rolls were all chewed up by squirrels and mice. The instrument was in such bad shape, it wouldn’t even make a good piece of furniture if the guts were removed and shelves were put inside it to turn it into a conversation piece, as well as another place to store chotskies.  

The OF managed to shove the piano to the patio doors because it was on wheels that really did not want to roll. With a little OF persuasion, the OF made it. The OF thought it was almost like the piano knew what was going to happen — that is why it refused to roll.

Lastly, he tied a rope around the piano and pulled it out with his tractor and the piano immediately broke into pieces when it hit the ground. The OF said eventually it made a nice bonfire.

The other OF has a pool table that no one wants. This is current; the table is resting in his heated basement as the column is being typed.

This OF asked at the breakfast if anyone wanted the table. He said it weighs about 800 pounds and has a felt-covered slate top. He also said it should be taken apart to move; otherwise it is going to meet the piano in the same way that the piano met its demise in the unwanted furniture heaven.

This OF is currently waiting to see if he has any takers on his offer. Anybody want a pool table?  

Gone like the Dodo

The OFs next discussed the Corvair automobile. One OF had owned one and he said it was a great vehicle. The OFs started a discussion on the design of the car and said that the addition of some sort of sway bar would prevent the propensity of the vehicle to roll over.

Another OF said the vehicle had another problem — the motor mounts would rot off and the engine would fall out. That is another whoop, but it seemed to other OFs that both problems would have been easy fixes.

Sadly, the Corvair is no longer around like many other car models and manufacturers. One OF said, “In a few years, people are going to say a Chevy, or Ford, or even a Chrysler will all be gone like the Dodo bird.”

Many of the OFs mentioned cars that they really liked and would like to have back. One OF said, “It isn’t only cars — it can be shoes, hats, jackets, and lots of other things.”

A second OF said, “Yeah, how about old girlfriends?”

“Thin ice,” some OF shouted!

Speaking of old things, the OFs thought the reason we wanted old things back is because they were made better. One of the reasons the OFs think that way is because they (whoever they are) are using plastic instead of metal where metal should be used.

Plastic is OK, one OF thought, but not in all circumstances.

Another OF offered some sage advice: “We are around to see that cars, trucks, tractors, planes, old tools, and appliances, made in the ’30s and ’40s are still around and functioning, but will we be around when something made in the years of 2000 to 2017 will be around 70 years later?”

“I think not,” the OF said.

Yet another OF added that some of the junk built today that is supposed to last that long craps out in five years.

At that rate, there isn’t going to be anything to check on in 70 years. The technology of today wasn’t around in the ’40s, and ’50s. Many of the components connected with this new equipment could last 100 years. However, we will never know because the technology behind this manufacturing changes from day to day and makes the products obsolete from day to day.

How are we going to tell how long these items will last when their usefulness lasts such a short period of time?

Costs go ever upward

As usual, the OFs talked about the cost of living now and back in the day when jeans were five bucks. This time, it was on the expected power hikes, and the projected increase in Social Security.

It was thought by the OFs that the Social Security increase was going to be about 2 percent. Then, the OFs think, there is going to be an increase by some government agency to negate that 2 percent. It always does.

One OF thought that the timing of the power hike and the Social Security increase is no coincidence. This scribe did a little research, (darn little) but interesting.

There are about 61 million people on Social Security. Using a figure of $1,000 at 2 percent is twenty bucks. Multiply that by 61 million and you have a whopping number coming out of the treasury.

Those OFs who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in the heart of downtown Middleburgh, and using the proposed Social Security increase to purchase half a tank of gas to get there, were: Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Jim Heiser, Roger Shafer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Jerry Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Marty Herzog, Jim Rissacher, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, and me.

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On Tuesday, Oct. 24, unfortunately, this scribe was unable to be at the Old Men of the Mountain’s breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner.

This scribe knows how strict the rules are for attendance; however, there does come a time when more pressing situations evolve. This scribe did check with the board of directors and received permission to be absent.

With this scribe being absent, a loyal OMOTM agreed to take the names of the OFs present, and, as always, this gives us protection from law enforcement and wives who want to know where the OFs are when out of their sight.

Fortunately, no OF has requested that this scribe report his being at the breakfast when he wasn’t there so, in court, the other OFs would be able to attest that Joe Blow was at the breakfast and it would be true. This is just in case some bimbo says that Joe Blow was with her at the time he was at the Middleburgh Diner.  Maybe later on in the day that may be true but not while the breakfast was in progress at the diner.

This column will be from notes taken at previous breakfasts that were not used in previous columns, but the names noted here will be of those at the breakfast on the 24th. There!  All the legal jargon is done. This scribe will now continue with all the news that is fit to print — fit being the appropriate word.

Where are the Fertile Myrtles?

Awhile back, the OFs were wondering what had happened to the Fertile Myrtles — if they are still around and still get together. The OFs have not seen any reports of their activities in the paper in quite awhile.

The OMOTM has open enrollment: As long as someone is ambulatory with at least one cane and thinks he can fit in with a bunch of OFs (and that is, in a sense, Old Farmers), he can belly up.

The Fertile Myrtles may be a closed organization and, as many FMs start viewing grass from the root side, it will eventually dwindle to just one. When the time comes, the waitress will have to be the one that turns that chair over.

Mansions on the Hill

The OFs discussed the large home on Old Stage Road in Knox and what a place that is — particularly at night when it is all lit up. Some of the OFs mentioned stopping and taking pictures to send friends and relatives.

Then they started talking about some of the other large homes on the Hill and there are a few. They specifically mentioned the one on Elm Avenue in East Berne, and the ones across from each other on Route 143, just off Route 85, heading towards Rensselaerville. These are a few of the obvious ones and there are many other nice homes tucked in these-har hills.

Making new memories

Often times — and as this scribe reads back in his notes, he sees it is quite often — it is cars, trucks, boats, and tractors that occupy much of the conversations of the OFs. One discussion was a combination of age and youth at the same time.

Many of the OFs when they were YFs spent their formative years on sports cars, muscle cars, and the like. If the vehicle had 400 horsepower, it was for them. Or, if it were no larger than an upholstered roller skate and only four inches off the ground, it was for them.

MGs, Austin Healeys, Jags, Triumphs, Cobras, they were for these YFs. Now all the OFs can do is look at them.

The number-one problem is that the OFs’ backs and legs won’t bend to let the OFs get into these sporty, youngish-designed vehicles, and, if they do get in them, it takes two men and a boy to get them out.

This is one area where many of the OFs live in memories. The good part about this is the OFs took the time to make the memories.

This is another one of the cases where the minds says, “Yeah, you OF, you can do this but the body says, ”Like h--- you can, you Old Goat.”

If an OF listens to the mind and heart, the body later on makes the OF pay for it, at the chiropractor’s, the doctor’s, or in physical therapy but the OF pays! It might only be a week with the Aleve. Anyway, if the OF does chance it, this OF had a few moments of making new memories by reliving the past.

Those OFs who were ambulatory and functionally literate, and made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh were: Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Sonny Mercer, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Ted Feurer, Wayne (and it is Wayne) Gaul, Lou Schenck, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Gerry Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Ken Parks, Harold Grippen, and Not Me.

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On Tuesday, Oct. 17 (the chilliest day in a long time), the Old Men of the Mountain met at Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow. In Huntersland, a couple of OFs reported temperatures of 25 degrees; some of the OFs had around 30 to 35 degrees.

At Kim’s place, there was about 1/16th of an inch of frost on the two picnic tables outside. One OF said, “Ah nuts,” while another said, “It’s about time.” The “ah nuts” OF was the one who was switching to coal.

Kim’s is a small place and the entrance is about in the middle of the front wall of the restaurant. There is a row of booths on either side of the door, and then Kim has the tables all lined up down what is basically the center, leaving room for a small counter at the back of the dining area in the restaurant.

This makes the OFs who come in right smack in the center of things. It is nostalgic and fun to hear the greetings back and forth as the OFs arrive. It is very similar to Archie’s barbershop on “Hee Haw,” or the greetings as people enter the bar on “Cheers.” It isn’t only Kim’s but some of the other restaurants also have the same tone about them.

The OFs started to talk about wild boars in New York. Most of the OFs had not heard of these pests being in New York.

An OF said they are a problem and, as far as he knows, it is illegal to own one, release one, or hunt or trap them. This OF thought they were brought in by hunt clubs and got out of hand because they bred so fast.

“They are around, and the DEC is trying to get rid of them,” he said of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Another thing to watch for during a walk in the woods,” a second OF commented.

Corn conundrum

Any ride in the country by the OFs (particularly the little portion of New York that the OFs call home), you will see there are acres and acres of corn. Corn to the right — corn to the left.

The OFs say there are not enough cows in New York State for this to be cow corn; grain or ethanol must be the reason for this outburst of corn everywhere. It has to be a cash crop.

“Corn and hops,” one OF said. ‘Why not corn for liquor, and hops for beer. Hey, that will keep everybody happy.”

A sticky wicket

Another problem that is nationwide hit one of the OFs and that is the “hacking scare.” He said his bank account was hacked and he did not know it.

The OF said his credit-card carrier caught it by telling him someone was trying to open an account using his name and Social Security number. The bank instructed the OF on what to do, and one of the steps was to immediately let the police know.

This opened a conversation about the flippant use of the Social Security number as identification where on the card it says not to be used for identification — Hmmm. Then why do so many places ask you for your Social Security number? What happens if an OF refuses to give it to them? What happens if a place says credit cards only?

One OF said they can’t do that because right on your money it states that it has to be accepted. What if someone does not believe in credit cards? Are they now being discriminated against was another question.

This scribe checked the internet on using the Social Security number for identification. Only 15 entities were listed; all were related to the government.

You should say no to all the others since by law they cannot ask for it. On credit cards, a business can specify credit cards only.

When dollars and coins were printed with their inscription of legal tender, etc. the electronic world was not even a gleam in the eye. The credit card is the acceptance of the same dollar only in electronic form; therefore it is OK to specify that only credit cards will be accepted.

The same goes for refusing to accept large bills — like 100 dollar bills. The argument goes that legal tender will be accepted, only not in large amounts, or something like that.

The discrimination thing is a sticky wicket. What if a person has poor credit or has gone bankrupt by a legitimate deal that unfortunately turned bad but he or she is still working and has money, but not allowed to get a credit card — now what? The OFs dug really deep this morning.

Buying a dead horse

The OFs keep saying they have lived in the best of times, and simpler times.

The OFs were wondering whatever happened to a handshake closing a deal, no money down, come back in a couple of days, hand the guy three-hundred bucks, and the horse was yours. Now it takes two Philadelphia lawyers, reams of paperwork, and your wife and firstborn as collateral just to begin a discussion on whether the OF is able to purchase the horse in the first place.

Then a vet is required, and the state asks for six 10-page forms to be filled out and notarized that the horse is healthy. Then the sheriff becomes involved to prove the horse wasn’t stolen.

Then the American society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has to check the living quarters to see if they are sufficient for the horse to live in once you get it home. The process takes so long that in the interim the horse has aged and died.

The OF is now out of his collateral of wife and firstborn, and still does not have the horse. Such are the times of today.

Those OFs who are afraid the days of the handshake deal is done and bemoaned the fact at Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow were: Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bob Snyder, Karl Remmers, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Ray Gaul, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, and me.

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The days are noticeably shorter, which has the Old Men of the Mountain heading out in the dark, and sometimes catching the sunrise on their way to the restaurants.

This past week, the OMOTM traveled to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. The trip in the early morning mist was slow because at that time of the morning the deer and the antelope play. To these critters, woods and roads are the same so the OFs, wary of this situation, take care.

Tuesday morning, there were reports of Santa’s sleigh propulsion system cavorting along the sides of the road.

The OFs keep advising people that, at whatever age you want to start, it is a good idea to develop at least one hobby that is interesting but does not take too much effort. Hobbies like writing, art, music, building models, wood carving, or even rug hooking, which are hobbies that can be done sitting down.

The more active hobbies like skiing, race-car driving, motorcycle motocross, skydiving, or rock climbing arrive at a point where the person is now like us, an OF, and he can’t take part in them anymore.

Travel is one thing that keeps the OFs going (pun intended); not only do the OFs have the experience of traveling but get to tell stories of their trips at the breakfasts.

One OF told of his trip to Lowell, Massachusetts and a World War II gathering. The trip was organized by the local World War II equipment collectors’ club and they traveled by bus.

Another told of his trip by bus to an event in Canada. Other OFs are in clubs that do things that are easy on the body, but active for the mind and at least get the OFs moving.

Bugged

Much conversation then ensued on a variety of topics. We are finding the stink bugs are only a pest in certain areas.

One OF asked some other OFs (who live off the Hill) how they are handling the stink-bug problem and they said that they never heard of the bug and they don’t have them. They said they have tons of lady bugs but no stink bugs.

One OF said the lady bugs were brought in a few years ago to eat the larva of the moth that was defoliating trees, and it worked but now we are left with the lady bugs.

Another OF said those little suckers can bite.

Yet another OF said they are thinking of doing the same thing with these darn stink bugs. The thought is to bring in some kind of wasp (the OF couldn’t remember what kind) and these wasps would do the same thing to the stink bug that the lady bug did to the moth — feed on the larva.

Then one OF asked, “Are we going to be stuck with another type of wasp?  We have enough of those already.”

Beautiful boats

The OFs talked about the beauty of the older wooden boat runabouts. An OF thought the plastic “boats” plying the waterways today can’t hold a candle to how beautiful the wooden boats were — and are because some are still on the water.

One OF thought the older boats even sounded different; they seem to have a nice rumble to them.

“Yeah,” an OF said. “You can have them to look at, but maintaining them is a different story. The newer ones, unless you hit a rock, will never leak, and they consume less fuel to run. Those older wooden boats were heavy and it took a lot of gas to push those things through the water.”

An OF answered back, “Yeah, you can have a good-looking chick on your arm and she is as cold as ice, or one a little on the heavy side, nice, but not model quality — yet hotter than a pistol.” This OF maintained he would take the pistol. The same thing goes for the boats.

Night mysteries

The OGs had a discussion on sleep apnea. It seems it is more prevalent than the OFs thought. This condition has potential fatal effects because, in one particular type, the person that has it actually stops breathing for short periods of time. When this occurs, the brain and other parts of the body receive no oxygen.

One OF mentioned that his wife has this problem and sleeps with a mask. The OF said, when she is sleeping, she will stop breathing 40 times a minute. With the mask she sleeps fine — just like normal.

Other OFs have this malady and it is good to know that it can be controlled and without pills. Looking around this group, it sometimes appears that most are asleep anyway so they may not be getting night sleep, but day sleep is taking care of it.

One OF says he does not like to go to sleep; because his dreams are so scary, he fights going to sleep. Another said his dreams are so real that the dreams seem like life, and life seems like a dream.

Still another OF said he doesn’t dream at all. He goes to bed at night and wakes up in the morning and that’s it.

Another OF said he dreams basically the same pattern of dreams over and over.

One OF said he can remember some of his dreams, but in some cases, when he would like to remember a particular dream and tell his wife about it, that usually turns out to be the one he can’t remember.

The Bible says, “Your old men will dream dreams” and that was 2,000 years ago; nothing seems to change.

Wouldn’t a psychiatrist like to get a hold of this group?

The OFs who made it through the deer, and over the back roads, and still maintain it is worth the trip to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville were: Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Glenn Patterson, Karl Remmers, Bob Snyder, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Jake Lederman, Ray Gaul, Ted Feurer, Rev. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Jack Norray, Marty Herzog, Jim Rissacher, Bill Rice, Henry Whipple, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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