The Old Men of the Mountain met this on Tuesday, Jan. 14. We are halfway through the month and most of the OMOTM can take the weather we have had so far this January for the rest of the year.

However, we either need lots of rain, or more snow, for water in the coming summer. Most of the OFs (after 70 or 80 years of trodding these hills and valleys) say, regardless of what the weather does, it all comes out in the wash.

There’s no sense worrying about it: Take what comes, put on galoshes, or a heavier coat, or take off more clothes. Whatcha got is whatcha got — you ain’t gonna change it.

The OFs started talking about what they received as presents when they were kids, either at Christmas time or on their birthdays. It was surprising how many received train sets. The OFs began talking about what kind of trains they had, and how old they were. Some received Lionel; some American Flyer.

One OF said that his train set is still in its original packaging. A few dragged them out for their kids (when their kids were young) at Christmastime and put them around the tree. A few even purchased train sets for their own kids.

Most all the OFs say their interest is not there anymore, and they thought that kids today are not interested in them at all. With some adults, the interest grew and as adults they now have quite the train layouts.

One OF said he has a friend where the layout takes up the whole cellar and another OF said he had a friend where his train layout did the same thing. This particular set was on cables and came down from the ceiling of the cellar.

This column keeps mentioning that it is good to develop hobbies and interests when young. This means the type of interests that would be able to be maintained into adulthood.

One OF thought the electronics craze is not one that could be carried on. Then again, another OF thought it is not a strenuous hobby or interest and as long as you keep the mind active, and the body healthy, this OF feels that it would be a good hobby or interest.

There are many ways to look at everything; that is why it’s tough to get anything done by committee.

New truck conundrum

One OF purchased a new truck and, just like a new car, the new trucks are as confusing to run because of so much new technology installed. At the breakfast on Tuesday morning, there was quite a discussion between the OFs to try to help out this perplexed OF.

The OFs who have newer trucks and have been through the learning curve spoke up on what button to push when, why the truck won’t start when the door is open, and when to use all-wheel drive as opposed to four-wheel drive — stuff like that

One OF said, “Whatever happened to a switch that said ‘on’ and ‘off,’ or ‘run’ and ‘stop?’ That is all we used to need.”

This OF said, “The more crap (technical term) they put on these trucks, cars, and appliances, the more that can go wrong, and does.” The OF added, “Memory seats, clutch, brake, and gas pedals that move up and down depending on the length of legs of the driver — next thing you know, they will have these pedals anticipate the weight of the driver.”

Another OF added the fact that now it is not necessary to start the vehicle with a key, and the OFs covered this feature too. In the old days, if you lost your keys, at least you could have someone jump start the car to get it going. 

Now, the OFs say, if this is an electronic “start,” you are screwed (another technical term). This scribe is sure the manufacturers wouldn’t leave the customer in such a situation and there must be a way to overcome this problem but apparently they keep it a secret because none of the OFs at the scribe’s end of the table knew it, and some had these types of vehicles.

One OF mentioned that some vehicles are equipped with remote starters that will start from a distance. When the remote starting device is used, the driver does not have to be in the vehicle.

Now no one is there to have his foot on the brake to start it. How does that work? One OF said these remote starters don’t work if the doors are not closed and locked. How about the brake thing? The other OF didn’t know.

As we keep reporting, this electronic stuff is flying right by the OFs. Next thing you know, when we meet the grim reaper, there will be wings on coffins and we’ll just be shot toward the sun and that’ll be it. The OFs will be on their way to heaven anyway so why not meet them halfway?

The stress of getting dressed

The OFs discovered another facet of their lives that most of the OFs have in common and that is getting dressed.

It was found what happens after the wife does the laundry, folds it, and in some cases puts it away (and in a few cases it was told the OF puts it away, and in rare cases the OF does the whole thing). Anyway, what most of the OFs do is, when they get dressed, they put on whatever garment is on top of the pile, no matter what!

If these garments go together, great! If not, so what? The body is covered apropos to what the weather is. This causes, in more cases than the married OFs would like to admit, the wife going bananas.

One OF said his wife keeps throwing up the argument that he is wearing the same thing over and over. The OF said this is how he works.

First, he puts his clothes away by moving the clothes in the closet out and then he puts the clean clothes in. Then he puts the clothes he has taken out and places them on top of the clean clothes so he is always wearing the older clothes first.

The wife always answers if it is screwed up (yes, wives use technical terms) when you start, it is going to be always screwed up. To which the answer is, “Who the h--- cares? I am only going out to the barn, or out with the OMOTM.”

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh and, according to this scribe, did not look like clowns but he must admit he is a top dresser, (snicker) were: John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Rick LaGrange, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Jim Heiser, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Rev. Jay Francis, Marty Herzog, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Ted Feurer, Herb Bahrmann, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Wayne Gaul, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Donnelly, Fred Crounse, and me.

It is becoming so redundant to report about Tuesday mornings being the time Mother Nature shakes out her bad weather for the day or week for those of us on the Hill. This past Tuesday was no different.

On Jan. 7, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh and the drivers for the OMOTM had to be a little careful at 6 or 6:30 a.m. in getting off the Hill.

Some went over the mountain because they didn’t want to meet those white and blue blinding headlights, and some went over the flats and they had to put up with those very dangerous headlights. Why these headlights are legal, many drivers, not only the OMOTM, don’t know.

The OFs discussed change, not that the OGs are against change; they have lived with change for many years — and here comes the “but.” BUT, it should be for the better and not worse.

So much technology moves so fast, and much of this technology is changing right in the middle of getting used to technology that is already in use. So we OFs generally feel the old way was better. Not always but many times.

“If it works,” one OF said, “why mess with it? If the change makes it easier, go for it, but if the change just adds confusion to get to the same point, why bother?”

Disasters

The OFs discussed Puerto Rico and the earthquakes on top of the recent hurricane — what a mess. We go back to Irene and what havoc that storm did to our area, and these poor people seem to be going through the same type of event on a routine basis. This earthquake was the worst to hit Puerto Rico since 1918.

Then the people in Australia have been having record-breaking bushfires since September. One OF said we have problems with California burning up but even though the California fires are bad they are nowhere near what Australia is going through.

To add to this, the western coast of Canada is having its own problem with fires. The business to be in is building fire trucks.

One OF thought of all the animals that are burning up. Another OF said the ones that live in the treetops may have problems but he thinks some of the ones on the ground may make it, and the burrowing animals and snakes might be better off.

This OF’s reasoning was that the fires move so fast, and they are roaring through the brush and trees so that those critters that live underground might be spared. Anyway it is looked at, it is not nice.

Then one OF said, “Once the fire goes through, the land should repair itself quickly, even the trees.”

This OF used, as a point of reference, something that happened locally about seven or eight years ago. It was then that the gypsy moth cleared the whole side of the hills looking west going down Route 145 from Middleburgh to Livingstonville and beyond. Not a leaf left on a tree. Then came the next year and the whole hillside appeared like nothing happened.

Square-dance fashionistas

We then managed to segue into a happier discussion. Some of the OFs were square dancers and line dancers in their younger years — say in their sixties to seventies, maybe some in their fifties. 

To take part in this hobby (not rigidly applied), it was kind of expected to wear certain apparel and most of the time the partner’s outfits matched. Of course the ladies would not like to be seen in the same outfit from one dance to another so square-dance-outfit shopping trips were common, and the guys had to match their cohort.

Quite often, it was an event and some couples would get together, plan a date and go shopping. As one OF said, “Don’t forget finding a place to eat; it was an outing.”

This little adjunct to the dancing had the OFs taking part accrue quite a collection of square-dance clothes. Some of the OFs still have them and claim these outfits take up two and three closets, or a big section of their basement. Others have given them away, and others managed to have the Salvation Army take them, especially the men’s stuff.

Feeling taxed

Around this time of year, most of the OFs get their tax bills. This prompted a discussion on taxes and New York State.

One OF suggested that one of the reasons for New York being the highest taxed state are the sponges. The OFs talk about this topic a lot but the sponges as a reason had not come up. The sponges are New York City and its five boroughs, Buffalo, and Rochester.

This OF thinks these cities just suck up tax dollars because a large portion of the population in each city does not contribute. The other factor may be that the New York State Legislature is made up mostly of lawyers and money to them is not a problem.

They think everybody makes a hundred-thousand dollars a year, so they just go ahead and make another tax, create another fee, or generate another mandate and for all of this just utter a whole bunch of words that don’t mean anything.

They say that they are thinking of us, when in essence all they think about is how to get re-elected, because, if they don’t, they will get caught in some of their own hair-brained schemes.

If there was anything that the OMOTM agreed with, it was this OF’s thinking, although one OF said that not everyone fits in the Albany cesspool, they just got caught when the toilet flushed. Wow! Some of the OGs can get wound up.

The Old Men of the Mountain who (we must say it —again) made it to the next restaurant in order, and this time it was the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, were: Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, Rich LaGrange, Russ Pokorny, (this scribe thought he was being clever and placed all the “Rs” together), John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Marty Herzog, Harold Guest, Jim Heiser, Ken Parks, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Jack Norray, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Tuesday! Oh,Tuesday!

The Hill this time had an ice, sleet (in some cases) and snow storm all at the same time on last Monday night into Tuesday morning. Off the Hill, in many places, it was just wet. In some areas on the Hill, the ice was ¼- to ½-inch thick, and branches were down all over the place.

Late Tuesday morning into the afternoon, it was possible to hear the branches snapping — one right after another. Once off the Hill, it was definitely a ride to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow over the flats.

The Albany Times Union had pictures of what it was like just a short distance from this scribe’s home and the homes of a few of the OMOTM. However, from the direction listed by the photos, it would be hard to spot these spots.

These places are not in Altamont! The shots that were shown are in the town of Knox. Barbers Corners is at the junction of the Knox Cave road (County Route 252) and Pleasant Valley Road (County Route 254) and Pleasant Valley Equisetum (Gallery) is just a few hundred feet south down Pleasant Valley Road from this corner.

The unfortunate part of this is that the town of Knox does not have a post office. It is serviced by Altamont, East Berne, and Berne — and they are all miles away from Knox.

None of these post-office mailing addresses are anywhere near Barbers Corners, or the Pleasant Valley Exquisitum. However, regardless of the address, the ice found us, and so does the rest of the weather.

OMOTM Hilltown local geography lesson for today supplied to keep visitors from getting lost and wandering all over these hills trying to find this or that.

Living wages

When the OFs who were not on the farm started working, the average hourly wage was 75 cents per hour; in 1956, it went up to a buck an hour.

One OF mentioned he made 88 dollars every two weeks, and everything was taken out of that, and the OF purchased a nice home on that money and at one time even owned a Jaguar. Pensions were based on figures like that.

After working 30 or 40 years, this brings the OFs into the 1990s with the hourly wage somewhere in the range of $6 to $7 per hour. The OFs had worked their way into better positions by then, but the pension programs still did not offer that much, nor did they have to based on projections.

At that time, no one dreamed gas would be $2.50 a gallon and a pound of coffee would be about an hour’s wage.

Schools in the 1940s and early ’50s did not teach much about money, only saving a portion of what the OFs made in a savings plan at the bank. What a difference it is today when there are even classes on just money and investing.

Yet many of the OFs did well and it was basically on hard work and catching on to personally investing in one project or another.

Another advantage, or disadvantage in some cases, was the time when the OFs first started working. Then companies were in the game for the long haul.

One OF mentioned, when working in our area, we had our choice of what company we would work for.  There was the railroad, American Locomotive, General Electric, the state, or a number of large companies we could choose from.

Working for these companies was for the duration of how long anyone was going to work. It was a career more or less. Then along came World War II and everything changed. Now companies come and go, loyalty of company to employee or employee to company is long gone.

One OF blamed it on Harvard, and the numbers guys who turned employees into numbers themselves. No longer did employers consider employees as people, but as numbers.

Today, one OF said his son told him the number employee/employer relationship has a formula that goes something along the line of skill required and years. If someone is a new hire, four years in a skilled position is reasonable by the employee.

This gives them a year or so to learn the job, and two to three years to pay back to the company. From then on, the employee owes the company nothing. It is hard for the OFs to understand this.

Some OFs say they are glad they are out of the work pool now.

Another OF said, “Hey, let alone the work pool, I am glad I don’t have to go to school. Everyone kept telling me I had 10 fingers and I kept telling them I had 11. They kept telling me I was wrong, so I would count them. I counted my left hand, I would go with their system, pinky, 10; ring, 9; index, 8; pointer, 7; thumb, 6, and the five on my right hand and tell them 5 plus 6 is 11. So I am really glad I am not back in school.”

We bet the teachers are glad this wise guy doesn’t have to go back to school now either.

To those Old Men of the Mountain who were low enough in elevation to miss all the ice and made it to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow, we say congratulations, and they were: Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Rick LaGrange, Joe Rack, Russ Pokorny, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Fred Crounse, Harold Grippen, and not me.

Location:

— Photo by Marty Herzog 

Last breakfast: The Old Men of the Mountain ate at the Knox Market & Cafe for the last time on Christmas Eve. The café is closing in Knox and reopening in Clarksville, John R. Williams reports.

Last Tuesday’s breakfast was on Christmas Eve 2019, and it was the last breakfast at the Knox Market & Café because they are closing and moving to Clarksville.

This was the major discussion among the Old Men of the Mountain this morning. It took awhile to sort out all the ins and outs to arrive at the whys and wherefores as to why.

It was almost an immediate decision of the OMOTM to follow Mike to Clarksville. Mike assured the OFs that, at the new location, we would all fit because the place is larger.  The OFs follow the food, and not the quarters.

It is interesting to note the OFs are not diner connoisseurs. The OFs just have a couple of criteria, i.e., the food has to be good, reasonable, and plenty of it. We also have a second requirement — the coffee also has to be good.

The OFs must admit that in the Knox location the space was limited and 30 guys wrangling their way into the café made it a little chummy.

Mind-boggling

One of the creative OFs who had his yard decorated in a unique style (each decorated area tells a story) found that someone took photos and placed them on Facebook.

Some of the other OFs said, “What do you expect when your artwork is displayed in such a fashion? Surely people are going to be intrigued and take pictures if they can.”

The OF who displayed his art in such a background is not upset — just surprised. Many of the OFs are not up on the technology that most phones have now. The phones take better pictures than many cameras; the one taking the picture can post it on the net immediately, and then the whole world can view what the camera operator has just captured in real time.

To many OFs, this technology is mind-boggling.

Sticky wicket

On a note not quite so cheery, the OFs at one table discussed the recent news reports involving the suicides of farmers. The OFs could relate to that because some of the OFs could remember how regulations began to cause so much undo pressure on farmers.

Many small family farms gave up their cows when bulk tanks were a requirement. The small farmer could not afford these tanks and their installation. Then one rule after another came about by do-gooders (according to some of the former farmers), causing them to go under because they could not afford these new rulings.

Apparently, it has gotten worse instead of better. One OF believed that producing farms will soon become fallow land like hundreds of acres in the Hilltowns. Farmers will sell their land as building lots, piece by piece, until the productive land will all be paved over.

One other OF put it this way: A box of cereal will cost ten bucks; then only the rich can eat. The poor people won’t be able to afford to eat. It is a sticky wicket.

Diets

Talking about food and eating, the OFs began talking about what they eat, and how much they now eat. Some just eat what they want and nothing happens, while other OFs strictly watch their diets and others just so-so.

Some OFs said they watch their sugar intake because they have a tendency to be diabetic. As they talked about what they could and couldn’t eat, it made sense for most of the OFs to be on the same kind of diet.

One OF said he does not like to call it a diet but a sensible plan for eating. A few others said they watch their carbs, like breads, bagels, and noodle food. One OF said he watches everything he eats — he watches it go in his mouth and not slide off the fork.

Old soldiers

A couple of the OFs use walkers, and some others really should use walkers because they would be more comfortable. The OFs started a conversation on the design and use of walkers.

One OF complained they are a menace in the mall and the grocery store. The OF said that, when some little old lady wants to push her way through to condiments, those darn walkers are designed to clip us about five inches up in the back of the leg.

“That hurts,” the OF said. “And the little old lady doesn’t care. If we don’t get out of her way, she can whip her cane off the handlebar in an instant and give us a whack across the shoulders.”

“Like I said,” another OF chimed in, “we fight wars with the wrong group of people in the Army. It shouldn’t be kids who are in the Army. It should be cranky OFs like us, and little old ladies in their walkers. We have lived our lives, and we don’t give a hoot, just don’t get in our way. After we have thumped your butt, we won’t even cheer, even though you held us up from our early dinner special.”

All the OFs who were able to come and who managed to fit into the Knox Market & Café for its last day of operation were: Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, George Washburn, Jake Lederman, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, (guest Greg Holmes), Russ Pokorny, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Fred Crounse, Rich Donnelly, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Rev. Jay Francis, Rick LaGrange, Jamey Darrah, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Another Tuesday, another dose of bad weather; this time though, many Old Men of the Mountain made it to the restaurant.

This time, it was Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh for the OMOTM to partake of their annual Christmas party. Patty at Mrs. K’s does it up round with cookies, cakes, and hors d’oeuvres.

The spread is rather lavish and, if an OF fills up on the cheese and crackers, veggie dips, and some kind of little pizza-like thingies (some of these things were pretty spicy), cookies and sweets, they would not have to eat breakfast. However, none of the OFs are so cheap they would pull a stunt like that.

The OFs found the weather to Middleburgh was really lousy, and many schools were closed. This meant the plows did not have to get out early to really clear the roads for the buses or so the OFs thought.

This may not be the case but most of the roads were a mess, and some of the roads the OFs traveled looked like they had not been touched yet. At least by six, seven, or seven-thirty in the morning, they weren’t.

But the OFs are seasoned winter drivers, and if the OFs did not think they were Barney Oldfield when starting out on the snow-covered roads they would arrive at Mrs. K’s in fine fashion.

Glad wishes were then handed out to all the OFs who made it to Mrs. K’s. (Getting home was another matter. This scribe hopes they all arrived home safely. If something happened with car and ditch meeting, most of the OFs are in no condition to push.)

During the holiday season, when friends and families get together, the discussion of the OFs on Tuesday morning was on who is related to whom, and what they are called. Cousins, nephews, first cousins, first cousins once removed, second cousins (some even brought up kissing cousins; this scribe doesn’t know if that counts), and cousins so far convoluted in the family tree do they even count anymore?

None of the OFs could make much sense of it, and the one that might really know was playing the guitar and singing Christmas songs along with other ditties so that he was not part of the conversation. (Two of the OMOTM were adding music to the festivities by playing guitar and bass guitar, which was a touch of the season that was great.)

One of the OFs who has passed on was fondly mentioned. This OMOTM would come to our December breakfasts in a complete Santa outfit, and he did not require a beard. This OF looked and played the part perfectly because that is what he did during the holiday season.

A story told by one OF about this OF who looked like Santa took place on Sanibel Island in Florida. These two OFs and their wives rented a double house together in Florida and were visiting Sanibel Island. While they waited to board a trolley to take them around the island, a little girl ran up to the Santa-looking OMOTM and asked if he were Santa.

Without skipping a beat, this OMOTM squatted down to her level because he was very tall, and he said “Yes sweetheart, I am Santa,” and he put a finger to his mouth, meaning shush, and he continued, “Don’t tell anyone you saw me. I am on vacation from the North Pole, and all the elves are up in the North Pole, busy making presents for next year. So don’t let anyone know I am down here, OK.”

The OF said that the little girl’s eyes lit up, and she went running to her parents, telling them she saw Santa. The parents, with great big smiles, flashed a high sign to the OMOTM who looked like Santa. The spontaneity of the OF’s response indicated to the OF telling the story that this OMOTM had been through this before.

A new kind of

doctor-patient relationship

The OFs have many continuing topics of discussions that include truck, tractors, cars, work, eating habits and food, trips, farms, and many others that are redundant. One that crops up so often that this scribe can almost sense it coming and that is — wait for it — doctors and health.

Many of the OFs have gotten to the point that they know and respectively call their doctors by their first name; they also know the wife or husband and kids of their doctors.

One OF was telling how a friend of his (and he gave his friend’s first name) had just invested in an antique car to fix up. This OF is also interested in antique anything, like many of the OFs, including cars.

As the OF went along with the dialogue, everyone assumed it was either a friend or relative. The banter back and forth and the topic of exchanging car parts led the OFs to think it was a friend.

Not until near the end did the OFs even realize it was the OF’s doctor. That is what one would call getting to know your physician, and why not?

These doctors are people, too, and hobbies and interests break down class and position, and even education. A Rhodes Scholar can play French horn, right alongside your plumber in the local band; the doctor can play the fiddle shoulder-to-shoulder with a good fiddler from the high school band; and both might play together in the local band.

For a miserable winter’s day, with some of the lucky OFs basking in their winter climes, the Old Men of the Mountain who did make it to Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh were goodly in number, and they were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Roger Shafer on Guitar, Paul Nelson, Rick LaGrange, John Dabravalskas, Bill Lichliter, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Ken Parks, Otis Lawyer, Marty Herzog, Pastor Jay Francis, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin on Bass, Elwood Vanderbilt, Fred Crounse, Roger Chapman, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Tuesday, Dec. 10, was a rare day in December. As some of the Old Men of the Mountain began arriving at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown around 6:30 a.m. in the morning, it was dark, warm, and foggy.

The air smelled and felt like spring. A few OFs stood outside of the diner’s door and chatted a bit — soaking it all in before going into the diner. Then stepping into the light and warmth of the diner, they were greeted by the staff and a few patrons, saying good morning, and all starting idle chatter, and the feeling continued. What a great way to start the day.

A spoiler alert: There was a goodly group at the breakfast this Tuesday, unlike last Tuesday when only the brave showed up during the snowstorm. A few of the OFs who were at this breakfast (but not the last one) had to admit they were wrong on their guess of the amount of snow that would fall last week.

These OFs guessed 10 inches would be about it. Wrong!

For many, it was more like 24 inches and a few more inches could even be added for some. These OFs were not plowed out until later in the day, and some were working on snowblowing or plowing their own property out.

Those who made it to Duanesburg came from areas that had a little less snow than those on the mountain, but still it was a great effort for those OMOTM who did their own plowing and the road crews who worked through the night and kept the main roads open.

One OF mentioned that we don’t give enough credit to the workmen and women who are first responders. This includes those who keep our highways open and safe in all kinds of weather; also the power-line crews who are out in all kinds of weather to keep the power flowing for those who are invalids, and trapped in their homes.

These laudable people do their best to keep residents supplied with power no matter what. Many of the OMOTM fall into these categories. A few still are keeping up with these hardy workers while others have performed their duty for years and now age, coupled with health problems, keep them from participating.

Yacht or kayak?

On Tuesday morning, health, again, was one of the topics and how the OFs feel good health is better than money. This scribe has to go along with that wholeheartedly.

This scribe interjected into the conversation that these OFs thinks it is better to be able to travel someplace, or participate in some event on a hundred bucks, than to be able to go around the world with a million bucks and be sick and in the care of nurses. What kind of fun is that? 

One OF commented it depends on how young and good-looking the nurses are. There were a few who agreed with that. These OFs thought they could have a lot of fun on a yacht in the ocean with a couple of nurses.

Once they have seen a tree, they have seen a tree. A tree in East Berne, New York is the same as a tree in Japan, China, Italy, or France. A road with a tractor on it in South Berne, is the same as a road with a tractor on it in England, but on a big yacht, on the ocean, with a couple of young nurses — that is different.

“This OF is missing the point here,” another OF said. “You are sick, you OG, you hurt, you are drugged out, you don’t know what’s going on. There could be 100 nurses, you don’t care, you are sick. You might just as well be on the porch of a nursing home; you are out of it.

“I would rather have a couple-hundred bucks in my pocket headed towards a little cabin in Wells, Maine, in a car that is paid for, with a simple kayak on the roof, than on any big yacht where I have to be pushed in a wheelchair to the bathroom, and then helped into the stall.”

Uh-oh. Most could see where this topic was headed so the subject was quickly changed.

Cost of phones

The OFs then progressed into quite a discussion of cell phones, or iPhones, or whatever they are correctly called. Some of the OFs consider them pocket-sized computers.

It was noticed that some people (and some of the OFs are really into these things and know the ins and outs more than the others) don’t give a hoot; they feel they got along without them before, and they can get along without them now.

That is not completely true in this day and age. Most all the pay phones that used to be at every corner, and banks of them at every Dunkin’ Donuts, are now gone. Now it is necessary to pay hundreds of bucks for a cell phone either for the phone, or for the service.

Back in the day, when using a pay phone, it was only necessary to pay for the call that was being made. At the end of the year, the OFs’ phone expenses for this kind of service might only have been 40 bucks. Now the phone companies have got you for hundreds.

The OFs have to admit that the super-duper phones do a lot more than make phone calls now and someone has to pay for all this technology, and the people who develop it. It is hard for the average OF to comprehend how so much information can be stored on something no bigger than a small spiral-bound notepad, and it will also take beautiful pictures.

Not only does the cell phone do all this but the operator can punch in a few numbers and then can speak almost anywhere in the world. Kids today don’t give it a second thought.

It was good to see all the Old Men of the Mountain make it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown where this Tuesday we were entertained by a young lady playing the guitar and singing Christmas music. The OFs were also treated to a tray of cookies that was passed around to go along with the music.

The OMOTM who partook of all this, were: Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Rick LaGrange, Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, Fred Crounse, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Most people in our area know what the weather was like on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Dec. 1 and 2 dropped a little bit of snow in the circle of the Old Men of the Mountain. Some had as much as 30 inches, and some 27.5 inches. That is a collection of little white flakes to pile on top of one another.

The breakfast for Tuesday, Dec. 3, was at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg; for some of the OMOTM that is their furthest diner west and they were the ones who were there.

Now let us recall how the eighth worst storm in the area (since records started to be kept) affected the OMOTM.

On the second of December, there were 10 to 12 inches of pristine white stuff in my driveway. The plow arrived at 8:30 a.m. and made it disappear into banks of pristine white stuff.

So — on Dec. 3, this scribe arose, checked his driveway at 5:30, 6:30, and 7:30 a.m. It was noted that there were about 8 to 10 more inches, which had managed to find the driveway in the night. At 8:30 a.m., the plow still hadn’t arrived and so a phone call was made.

However, it seems that this scribe wasn’t the only one who needed a plow and it wasn’t until 11:30 a.m. or so that the driveway was cleared enough to use.

This scribe then received a phone call around 6 p.m. Tuesday night, and the caller said he had gone to the restaurant in Duanesburg and thought he was going to be the only OF there. Eventually, a couple more OFs came through the door and these three thought they would be the only ones there; then three more showed up and it began to feel like a group.

That made six hardy souls out of 25 to 30 who usually attend the breakfasts.

These six brave, hardy, fearless, valiant individuals have kept the reputation of the OMOTM intact.  Neither rain, sleet, snow nor things that go bump in the night will keep these OFs from having their breakfast and social gathering ruined.

They deserve a Huzzah! From all the others who were unable to be at the Duanesburg Diner on Dec. 3. 

However, not all is lost, because in the future this will give us something to discuss and complain about. The good part is that our record of 30 years of meetings is intact.

The column will be short this week because this scribe did not want to use conversation not used from previous breakfasts. Give the credit to the brave souls who did make it and they were: Glen Patterson, Joe Rack, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Elwood Vanderbilt, and not me.

Location:

This scribe is beginning to wonder how many times he can write where and when the Old Men of the Mountain meet. It has always been on Tuesday, but where varies, and also comes and goes.

This past week, it was the Your Way Café in Schoharie. With some of the OMOTM, “your” way can mean just that — which turns out to mean “my” way. So on Tuesday, Nov. 26, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

The next item is strange — but true. Two of the OMOTM had all their teeth extracted and new ones installed at the same time. Their conversation over many weeks has been basically the same: “Have your teeth come in yet?”

For many of those weeks, the answer was no. Lo and behold, within a couple of weeks, they both got their teeth. At the breakfast Tuesday morning, the usual discussion was replaced with, “How are you making out with your teeth?”

This question followed a conversation on what were the best kinds of pies to eat because one of the OFs ordered blackberry pie with whipped cream as a dessert for breakfast. The OFs then started talking about berry pies, seeds, and teeth.

One OF with the new teeth said that seeds don’t bother him since his teeth fit really tight. So tight, in fact, that at times he has trouble getting them out.

A third OF sitting next to him (who also has installed teeth) told him to put some water in his mouth and they will come out easily. This third OF said he needs duct tape to keep his teeth in.

Problems with GPS

Another OF talked about a huge Schneider tractor trailer stopped along side of the road just past the circle at Price Chopper in Slingerlands and the post office, heading south on Route 85. If anyone knows this area, he knows there is a bridge just down Route 85 and it is low

Backing this rig up at this circle and getting his rig onto Cherry Avenue, in Delmar, then Kenwood, then back into New Scotland was going to take a few cops. This circle does not lack for traffic.

One OF said this particular truck must be following GPS (Global Positioning System). This OF said there are two things with GPS. Those things don’t tell you about low bridges, or sharp turns that big rigs can’t navigate.

The other problem with GPS is that it’s necessary to know how to spell. If anyone is a lousy speller there is no telling where he is going to wind up.

One OF piped up that even fold-out road maps didn’t give you information on low bridges and sharp turns and, if you can’t spell with a regular road map, finding where you’re heading may be impossible.

This segued into discussion on how there should be some kind of GPS that tracks you and your car and guides you to your car in a parking lot or garage. The OFs started telling stories about losing their cars in parking lots. This scribe is beginning to assume this is a routine problem with everybody — young or old.

Mall mysteries

Most of the tales told on Tuesday morning were about going in one door and coming out another door of large malls, then wandering all over, looking for the car in the wrong parking lot. One OF said he and his wife did this at a mall.

They did what the OFs were talking about, in one door and out another. The OF said they went up and down each aisle and, seeing no car, they finally decided to go to security and report the car stolen. The OF said, “Not until we pulled the door open to go back into the mall did we realize this was not the door we came in.”

Another OF said they (he and his wife) were in the same position, wandering all over to look for their car. The OF said he was just about at the end of his rope and beginning to panic when a stranger asked them, “Are you guys in trouble?”

The OF said to him, “Yes, we can’t find our car.” The fellow asked him, “What kind of car is it?” and said he would help them find it.

The OF described the car to him, and the helpful stranger said, “Oh that car! That gray Saturn is right over there.”

“Sure enough,” the OF said, “There it was.” The guy pointed right to it.

It is getting so that the OFs should notify their next of kin when they are going to be in large parking lots. Just in case.

Natural foods lead to long lives

The OFs began talking about diets, and how many are on diets because their doctors told them to go on them. It was gathered that these are not fad diets but diets geared to specific problems.

All of the diets seemed to make sense, and as these diets were discussed it was found the diets all had something in common. Apparently certain foods are not too good for anyone, but maybe a little bit might be permitted once in awhile.

Salt was one of the biggies, and breads and pastas were another. French fries with salt? That was a no-no.

It was found that many of the foods are well known that should not be eaten, but they are the ones that are so good. Looking up and down the table made it clear that most of the OFs were eating stuff that is on the bad list.

One OF mentioned, “Hey, I am 85 years old; I am going to eat what I want.”

This is true. The OFs got to be OFs by doing what they did all their lives in the way of exercise and eating. Maybe we should write our own book on how we got to where we are.

One OF thought it was because we ate what we ate when were 5 years old to our teen years and most of it was natural. All the chemicals that are found in food now were not around when we were growing up so we got a good start.

Maybe we should all forget what not to eat and go back to natural foods without all the additives. There was a big “Hear! Hear!” to that.

Those OFs who made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie and ate what they wanted, whether it was healthy or not, were: Robie Osterman, Roger Shafer, Rick LaGrange, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Bill Rice, Wally Guest, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Ken Parks, Jim Heiser, Otis Lawyer, Lou Schenk, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Rev. Jay Francis, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Henry Whipple, John Dabrvalskas, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

The Country Café in Schoharie sits in the middle of the village. This restaurant shows signs of life and is decorated nicely for the season of Thanksgiving. 

This is the restaurant the Old Men of the Mountain funneled to on Tuesday, Nov. 19. This scribe and rider, along with other OFs who travel to the various eating establishments, take note of the weather early in the morning on the way to these places.

The 19th was slippery, with large snowflakes falling and sticking to everything — dangerous but beautiful. The snow was sticking to the road, roofs, and trees, turning everything white. It was like driving through a beautiful winter painting.

The OFs started talking about old friends and acquaintances. Bringing up these names brought little stories of each, and their personalities. One problem with this conversation was that many of these past friends are now dead.

It was mentioned that getting old is OK, but the older we get, the more of our former friends have passed on, and family becomes that much more important.

It was a common thread that groups like the OMOTM, church, veterans’ organizations, senior groups, and even hand and foot clubs are what keep the OFs from becoming loners and despondent as they age and their old friends are gone. Friends are what keep the OFs from becoming cranky OFs.

Old friends, familiar smells

An interesting topic that came out of the old friends-discussion is how some of the old friends’ homes had a special odor. This, however, was not necessarily a bad thing.

One OF mentioned a name and some other OFs knew the same person and, whenever these OFs went to his home, they immediately became hungry. The house always smelled of fresh-baked cookies or pies. The reason for this was because there were always fresh-baked cookies or pies.

This brought up the exchange that every home has its own aroma, and one OF said, “Especially if you have cats.” This OF maintained it is impossible to hide the odor of a cat (to him anyway).

This was added to by someone else, “How about dogs?”

Then another OF chimed in, “How about where there is a smoker in the house?” Almost all agreed that one was the worst. It covers up the smell of cats, dogs, wood smoke, and dead rats.

One OF mentioned that on the farm the farmhouse had its own aroma, and because most of the visitors were farmers themselves it was really not noticed. This OF said that they had to wear coveralls, and they were hung out in a little addition to the milk house. That helped the farmhouse from smelling like the barn.

Many of the farmers put their barn clothes in the woodshed although either way there were different odors to each home. One OF thought it was because there was always cooking going on over the wood stove.

Another OF said that, in some of the farms, the cooking wood stove was going winter and summer. This added its own pleasant smell.

One OF mentioned that he still misses the smell of the barn, the warmth of the kitchen, food in the oven, and homemade bread rising in the warming side of the woodstove.

One OF mentioned that, in the wintertime, there was no need for a humidifier because of clothes drying on racks around the stoves; even that added a pleasant perfume to the air in the home.

An OF pointed out that, along with missing old friends, and family members, he misses that period of time also. Another OF added “You know, I think we lived through the best of times,” and another OF added he thinks the best of times is yet to come, but it sure isn’t right now.

Free advice

There is something else that comes along with old age, and that is old bladders. Old bladders do not hold as much liquid as young bladders so calls to the restroom are more frequent.

To accommodate the OMOTM, some restaurants place all the tables in a long row with an opening in the center. This places half the group with their backs against the wall. A room like this is quite narrow but cozy.

However, if an OF is in the center of the table in the back and the old bladder has had enough, getting out to go to the restroom is a trick. If the OF knows he has a controllable bladder, he should sit with his back against the wall; if not, just like leaving the house to go on a long trip, we tell everyone they should first make a bathroom visit. The OFs should do the same thing. Remember, our medical advice is free.

Flying garbage

A weird topic came up (weirder than bladder control?) and that is garbage trucks picking up the garbage and then not closing the gate and spreading this rubbish back on the road. What an odd topic to rise to the surface, but many OFs shook their head in agreement.

What prompted this discussion this scribe does not know but he, too, sometimes has had papers and some debris coming from a garbage truck land on his property, but this does not happen too often. Then again this scribe does not live in a suburban area where it may be more of a problem.

Those OFs who made it through the snow and fog off the hill to the Country Café in Schoharie and were greeted by a good cup of hot coffee were: Rich LaGrange, Harold Guest, Mark Traver, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, Otis Lawyer, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Robie Osterman, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Mike Willsey, Rev. Jay Francis, (Winnie Chartier gracious chauffeur), and me.

Location:

Nov. 12, and it is Tuesday, and not much has happened, except the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. The weather was a little tough, but so are the OMOTM and they managed to be tougher as they made it to the restaurant.

Speaking about getting tougher, the OMOTM who cleanly shave are tougher than the OFs with beards. A weathered, cranky old face of an OF is tough and to shave it is a challenge.

Along with the leathered skin full of wrinkles (some of those wrinkles are bordering on actual crevices), the beard itself becomes tough as trees. Cutting these trees down, and getting them out of wrinkles and crevices is hard work, takes time, and in some cases, when done, it feels like these trees were taken down with a flamethrower.

The facial contortions an OF makes trying to work into these ravines is exercise for every face and neck muscle the OFs have, and even that is getting awkward.

Those with beards are wimps; all they have to do is wash their face with shampoo, and trim their beards up every now and then. Some guys and some OFs look good in a beard while others should go the clean-shaven route.

Licked clean

At the table Tuesday morning, some of the early birds already had their breakfast, and some of these meals looked better than others. There was a considerable amount of “I will have what that OG is having” bantered about.

Some of the meals were so concocted by the OF that it was hard to tell what was underneath what was on top — especially the creamed chipped beef. Was it toast, potatoes, biscuits, or mystery veggies? Whatever it was, it must have been good because those OFs who had a plate full of “whatever” liked it and licked the platter clean.

Great escape: Bees on the loose

One OF told a story about how he spent one day of the weekend, and to the rest of the OFs he had an adventure. The OF said he was spending a quiet morning at home when the phone rang and it was the sheriff.

Usually that means trouble but this time they were asking for his help at an accident. The OF said he would be glad to assist them. Then the phone rang again and it was the State Police and they asked the same question, “Would he help at an accident?”

What happened was an accident with a truckload of bees going from Canada to Georgia. Just past Cobleskill, heading south, there is a railroad bridge that is a little low and this trucker ran into the bridge knocking the top row of hives off the truck.

The hives were on pallets and stacked three high. Millions upon millions of groggy bees are now let loose.

So this OF and his son played the Lone Ranger and went to round up the bees. The OF said they spent the whole day there, gathering the bees and placing them back in the hives.

The OF also said they lost a least a million of the bees but due to the weather he does not think they are going to make it. The OF’s only problem, he said, was that the bees kept crawling up his pant leg and he got stung about five times, which was rare for him.

The OF said the owner of the bees was very appreciative of the OF’s action and asked the OF and his son how much would the charges be, but like most of the men in the OMOTM they replied there would be no charge.

It was just an accident and they were glad they could help.

Hometown Heroes

There was also talk about how nice the town of Knox’s tribute to the veterans was at the Knox Town Hall. It was apparently quite memorable.

The OF mentioned that one portion of the ceremony was how each veteran was introduced along with some mention of how they were connected to the Hilltowns and what they achieved in the military.

Winter predictions

It is noted that the following time-activated discussion (if this scribe’s memory is working) happens each year about this time. What kind of winter are we are going to have?

Over the years, it comes down to pessimists against optimists.

The pessimists claim it is going to be a tough winter with really cold weather and snow. In the pessimist corner, there were guys who said it is going to be open and freezing. (Interjection: If this weather in November, right now, is any indication, the pessimists are on top).

However, there are the optimists who say this is just a few days of anomalies that will pass and the winter is going to be above average in temperature, and average or maybe a little less in snowfall. We shall know soon enough who has to get the long underwear out.

Those OMOTM who were at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and will just have to wait until April to find out who is right were: George Washburn, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Mark Traver, Ken Parks, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Wally Guest, Rick LaGrange, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Mike Willsey, Rev. Jay Francis, John Dabrvlskas, Fred Crounse, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

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