It was a really good Tuesday morning on June 5 with the Old Men of the Mountain meeting at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg.  All the morning welcomers acknowledged each group of OMOTM as they came into the restaurant.

This is similar to the opening of the old TV show “Cheers” — only the places the OMOTM visit on Tuesday mornings are not the type of places that promote “cirrhosis of the liver.”

(This scribe, after typing the morning opening, thought about the name of a large boat which was parked at a dock on the Route 5S side of the Mohawk River near a nice restaurant just south of the Fonda-Fultonville bridge. The boat was named “Cirrhosis of the River.”)

Now is the time for new birth. Eggs are hatching, young rabbits are scurrying, and the deer are having their young.

Two OFs mentioned spotting young fawns along the side of the road. One OF brought in a picture of a fawn (he took the picture with his phone) which had to be no more than a few hours old. This, too, was alongside the road.

The OFs thought that these young animals — being brought up right alongside the highway — are either going to be very road-wise and look in both directions before crossing, or they are not going to pay any attention to vehicles; they will just leisurely cross the road because the road sounds will be so familiar to them.  

Along with this new birthing time, the OFs mentioned how few of the little creatures we see now. Woodchucks were a prime example of this dialogue; raccoons were another, and even skunks were mentioned.

The OFs said that, when one of these youngsters is spotted, it is noted what, when, and where, and so can be brought up as conversation fodder at these breakfasts.  

However, there are always exceptions. Some exceptions that have been seen in abundance this year are carpenter bees. They seem to be all over the place.

A short discussion followed on what to do to get rid of these bees because of the damage they do. The consensus was: “There is not much we can do.”

The most positive solution was to get a tennis or badminton racket and swat them to the ground and step on them. This sounds cruel, but it’s necessary, if the OF doesn’t want his house or shed falling down.

OFs take their time

One OF uttered a very true statement that included all the OFs. The OF noted that, when the OFs were contemplating a project together with other OFs, it now takes three of us to craft something impressive, as well as four times the amount of time.

He continued, “You guys are talking like we will go and work on this job and it will be over in an hour or so. Not so; I better plan on having supper at your house.” Pretty clever, some of these OFs.

Going back in time

The OFs talked about back in time. Like this scribe says, the OFs are time-jumpers.

This time, they were talking about (way back) carrying with them baling twine or baling wire, friction tape, a hammer, a pair of pliers, and a screwdriver so it was possible to fix anything. Now the OFs say all that is needed is a roll of duct tape and wrap “it” up and “it” is good to go.

However, one OF said there are way too many products made now that are so complicated all the OFs can do is stand and stare at whatever it is no matter how many tools they have. One OF said it is impossible to find bailing wire now anyway and who knows what friction tape is.

Memorial Day

A couple of weeks ago, it was Memorial Day and the OFs were discussing what they did with parades and family get-togethers and visiting gravesites. The OFs who had been in the military did the same and some attended the ceremonies in the small town in which they lived that represented the meaning of the day.

But some of the OFs mentioned that the crowds that used to be in attendance at these occasions seemed to be getting smaller and some events were even canceled.

One OG’s family worked very hard on Memorial Day. The work they did made Memorial Day much more pleasant for others, and saved a lot of moms, and maybe dads, a ton of work.

This OF’s family put on a public chicken barbecue in front of the Knox Reformed Church. That is one way to celebrate the holiday, and help others celebrate it at the same time.

Then there were those who worked on and in parades, or participated at ceremonies that honored the veterans. Even the OFs who were physically unable to participate went to watch those who were marching, so the marchers are not parading just for the cows and horses.

The OFs who made it especially early to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg (it may be the sun that gets them up) were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Art Frament, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Wayne Gaul, Gerry Irwin, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Joe Rack, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Allen DeFazzo, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

On a rare pleasant day for the Old Men of the Mountain, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie on Tuesday, May 29, to discuss whatever happened the week before. Not much for some — yet lots for others.

One OF went with another older person to visit a younger person. The younger person who was visited brought up an unusual topic during the conversation, i.e., “Why don’t weeds grow on ant hills — only grass?” This actually required no answer and the two visiting had no reply because neither had a clue.

The one OF asked this same question at this morning’s breakfast and had the same response from the OFs that he had visiting the younger person. The question remains, “Why does only grass grow on ant hills and not weeds?”

This scribe went home and checked out the ant-hill question. This scribe mows about three acres and has lots of ant hills. Checking the ant hills, this scribe found that the foregoing statement was nearly correct.

In seven out of 10 ant hills, seven had only grass growing on them and three ant hills (and this was quite a colony so it may be considered just one) had a vine-like weed covering most of the ant colony, and a small section had nothing growing on it yet.

Cutlery question

Another OF had an observation that was in the form of a question and the OF asked this question at the breakfast. Question: “Does flatware seem to be getting thinner and smaller?”

This question did have a reply and the OFs seemed to agree with the OF now that they thought about it at the breakfast. One OF said he has had a fork bend trying to cut into the hard crust on the bottom of a piece of pie.

Another OF said he didn’t think it was the cutlery but the OF’s sense of touch has lessened and he was trying to cut through the plate.

“Well, it should have cut the plate anyhow,” the OF replied. “It was a paper plate.”

Yet another OF said, “Maybe, but it all depended on how much that OF wanted to spend on his flatware.” This OF said, “There is a happy medium.”

This OF also grumbled about some flatware that is big and clunky so that it is hard to use. This OF complained that the heavy fancy cutlery, especially spoons, does not scoop up the good stuff in a bowl of soup, and generally there is no depth to the spoon. When the OF arrives at the supposed bottom of the bowl with the big spoon, there is still so much soup left that the OF has to pick up the bowl and sip the rest out.

Hot topic

The OFs discussed the eruption of Mt. Kilauea in Hawaii. They discussed the fantastic photos of the lava pouring out of the cracks in the Earth.

What brought this up was the turnaround of people wanting to go to the island. The OFs mentioned that the tourists visiting Hawaii have dropped by 50 percent.

One OF said unless anyone is going to the area around where the volcano is mad because they have stopped offering up goodies to the volcano gods and the volcano is letting the inhabitants know who is boss. The rest of the island is pretty big and, if it weren’t for the news, most of the island people would not even know what was going on.

The OFs went from Hawaii to Alaska and that was because the discussion on the eruption led to talk of the geothermal electric plant that is in the way of the lava flow. One OF mentioned the geothermal power plants in Alaska and how efficient they are and they use no fuel whatsoever.

Another OF mentioned that, until the eruption, geothermal as source of power for running power plants was really not known by the general populace. This OF said it has been mostly solar, wind, and occasionally the tides that we hear about.

Trials of travel

This scribe reports on this occasionally and it is because, as stated before, the OFs are OFs; therefore, aging is a topic of discussion often. This time, it was what the OFs used to do physically and what the OFs are limited to now — not all but many of us.

One limitation is getting up and down; the other is: When did they start putting things up so high?  The OFs have trouble reaching things.

When did getting in and out of a vehicle become a project? When did getting out of a chair require pushing on the arms? When did sitting down mean looking for a hard chair instead of one of those chairs you sink into? When did just taking off on a two-day trip change from throwing your ditty bag and some clean underwear into the vehicle and taking off?

Now it is plan the pills, plan the route for rest areas with bathrooms, and where will the OF be in a couple hours of travel, is there a McDonald’s close by? This goes on until eventually the OFs says: The heck with it; let’s just stay home; tain’t worth the hassle.

Some of the OFs agreed with a lot of this, especially the McDonald’s being so strategically spaced. One OF said that, when on trips, they have purchased a lot of coffee at McDonald’s, even while they have full thermoses in the car.  

Those Old Men of the Mountain who found traveling was not much of a chore when making their way to the Your Way Café in Schoharie were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Pete Whitbeck, Joe Rack, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Gerry Irwin, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Duncan Bellinger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

On Tuesday, May 22, the Old Men of the Mountain met on Main Street in the Village of Schoharie. With their canes and OMOTM banner held high, the OMOTM attacked the Country Café, wedging themselves through the door, shouting their battle cry: “Feed Me! Feed Me!”

Tuesday, there was another discussion by the OFs that has not been broached before and that was about OFs and girlfriends once the OFs became widowers.

The OFs said that, when married for 40 or so years, basically the couple grows old together and becomes one person. When that person departs (and in the case of the OMOTM it would be his wife) and the OMOTM becomes a widower, he is pretty much set in his ways.

There comes a time when the OMOTM desires companionship to help with the lonely times. Most of the ladies are widows and they, too, are set in their ways just like the OMOTM.

One OMOTM mentioned that attractions at our age are not like when we were younger. When the OMOTM meets someone, new magnetism can come out of the blue but the attraction can cross class lines.

The OMOTM could have been a farmer, or machinist, and the one attracted to could have been a doctor or lawyer, yet they get along well and seem to enjoy each other’s company.

The problem is that to go any further than going to the movies, or on trips, or out to eat, the OFs were wondering if that is about it. The OFs were questioning if they went any further in their relationships, would their different ways and social lives spoil a good thing?

Boy! The OFs can dig into some real social problems that consume many people’s thinking time and deep understanding.

Flat-tire saga

When anyone wakes up, young or old, what the day has in store can change in an instant. The phone may ring and the news on the other end is not good, and requires the immediate attention of the person answering the phone. What prompted the phone call has nothing to do with what the person answering the phone had in mind for the day.

One OF ran into this type of situation at Tuesday’s breakfast. This OF showed up as usual, had his breakfast as usual, paid his bill as usual, left the Country Café as usual, then the OF went to enter his car and saw his left rear tire was flat.

It was flat-flat, not low, but flat! With that particular tire being the one that was flat meant the butt of the person fixing the flat was sticking into traffic right in the middle of downtown Schoharie.

In this case, one of the younger people at the breakfast was attempting to take the flat off and put on the doughnut spare so the OF could get to Lenny’s (Tire & Repair shop in Middleburg) to either purchase another tire, or have the flat repaired.

Many of the OFs leaving the Country Café gathered around to watch. Now we had the case of two workers and 12 or more chiefs.

The wheel would not come off. They even removed the jack and had the OF drive his car forward and back to try to break it free.

No dice; did not work. Then one OF brought his battery-operated pump to try to blow the tire up enough to get the OF to Lenny’s. No dice, not half a pound of air entered that tire. What now?

One OF said he would drive the OF with the flat up to Lenny’s and see if they could help him out. That was done, and at Lenny’s the OF said he was treated really great, and they would be down and see what they could do.  

This scribe checked with the OF to see how he made out.

The OF said that, after being brought back to his car by the OF that took him to Lenny’s, the service person was there in half a minute. The service tech came and looked at the tire, gave it a kick, and it fell off.

He put the doughnut tire on and the OF drove to Lenny’s and purchased two new tires, since the ones on the car were shot anyway.

A miracle

At Tuesday’s breakfast, some OFs who are also emergency medical technicians sat across from each other and began discussing, not specific cases, but what they have in their little black boxes when they come upon, or are called to, a particular situation. This scribe thought, from their conversation, that EMTs are well prepared to handle — as one of their titles, first responders, implies — most any situation.

One of the OFs who is an EMT told a story of how a lady was in her bedroom talking on the phone to a relative in New York City when she lapsed into a diabetic coma. The relative in New York City heard a thud and then no one talking to her on the other end of the line and so she knew something had happened.

The relative in the city immediately called the fire department, who in turn immediately contacted the ambulance squad up here in the Hilltowns.

The squad went in a hurry to the address supplied. When the squad members arrived, they were met by a large black Labrador retriever, and a young lady who asked what they were doing there.

The EMTs asked if there was anyone else in the home and were told yes, and they asked where and were told one person was in her bedroom. They ran to the bedroom and found the lady passed out between two beds in the bedroom.

They were there in time to revive the lady, and things worked out well. Nobody else in the house knew that anything had happened to her. Miracles, large and small, for whatever reason, do happen.

Those OFs who made it to the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie and formed an audience for the few who were attempting to change the tire were: Miner Stevens, Bill Bartholomew, Art Williams, Dave Williams, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Duncan Bellinger, Rev. Jay Francis, Bob Donnelly, Allen DeFazio, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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Another Tuesday, another breakfast, and another restaurant.

On Tuesday, May 15, The Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. Mrs. K’s is the only restaurant the OMOTM patronize that costs money to go to.

It is the only restaurant with on-street parking so, if the OMOTM want to park close to the restaurant, it will cost them 25 cents. There are municipal parking lots but they are across the street and the OFs that use this facility have to be quite ambulatory.

Most people in the realm of the OFs know of Howe Cave, or Howe Caverns, which is in the village of Howe Cave — duh. The village of Howe Cave is between the villages of Old Central Bridge and Cobleskill off Route 7.

The OFs discussed the upcoming event to be held at the caverns on July 14, “International Nude Day.” The caverns is going to hold a “Naked in the Cave” party.

As far as this scribe knows, none of the OFs have signed up. If any did and the news got out, that would put the kibosh on the whole event. No one wants to see a group of naked OFs in a group.

Oh dear, that brings tears to the eyes just imagining that sight; however, in the cave, it is not only so dark it is not possible to see your hand in front of your face, but it is also very, very cold 2,000 feet underground. The caverns are a constant 52 degrees no matter what the ambient temperature is.

Another thing to consider is this: If you ever want to get a bearing to stick to an axel, first you heat it and it expands, then it is chilled to shrink it on the shaft. Guess what that cave is going to do to everybody.

One OF said he understands that, as of now, there are over 100 people signed up to take the tour. This scribe does not know if that is right or not but the OFs think these people are not familiar with caving.

Many years ago, an OF worked for the cement plant that operated from a quarry at the original entrance of the cave. The office for the cement plant was in the Howe Caverns hotel. The original entrance to the cave was right along side of the hotel.

This OF said he did double duty and worked as a dispatcher for the cement trucks that hauled the cement under contract to the cement company. This OF worked a day shift for the cement plant, and third and sometimes second shift for the trucking company. At the cement plant, this OF held many supervisory positions basically because he could read and write so the OF could fill out the required forms.

This OF said the chief chemist at the plant was not too well liked, and was an arrogant individual. One day, while working a second shift to fill in for the trucking company, the OF went into the lab where they tested all the cement and opened all the windows in the lab.

In the evening, at dusk, millions of bats would come out of the cave right alongside of the hotel. The air would be black with bats, and the sound was like thunder. This phenomenon lasted less than a minute the OF said.

The lab was on the ground floor right above the cave entrance. On this particular day, the OF said, he took a piece of plywood about 2 feet by 4 feet and stood at the cave entrance and waited for the bats. The OF’s intention was to see if he could get some bats excited enough to go through the open windows into the lab.

Right on time, out the bats came, and the OF stood in the midst of them waving the piece of plywood slowly back and forth. After the bats had all dispersed to search out their bug meals, the OF said he quickly ran back into the lab, shut the windows, and closed the door. The OF said he did not see a bat and thought the whole thing was a waste of time.

This OF said at that time he was stores supervisor, yard foreman, and safety man for the plant. When he went to work at the plant the following morning at 7 a.m., things were just as normal as blueberry pie, but at 8 a.m., when the office help showed up for work, all misery broke loose.

The OF said he heard the siren of an ambulance speeding up the drive to the office. He then received a call from the plant manager to get up to the front office on the double.

The OF said he ran to the front office just as the ambulance people got there and there on the floor in front of the lab door lay the chief chemist out cold. The girls and the lab personnel were all out on the “front porch” milling around.

The OF said he looked into the lab and saw not only a few bats but hundreds, maybe thousands, of bats hanging from the light fixtures, from the back of doors, the tops of the windows, as many as 15 to 25 bats hanging like long black moving ropes all through the lab; bats were everywhere.

The plant manager pulled the OF aside and told him that he didn’t care what projects the OF had planned for the carpenters but to get every carpenter up to the office immediately and plug every hole they could find.

The OF said, “Yes, sir” and did send the carpenters to the office building, knowing they were not going to find any holes.

Those Old Men of the Mountain that were at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and, according to them, not planning on going to the “Naked in the Cave” event at Howe Caverns, were: John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Joe Rack, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jim Heiser, and it was great to see Ted Willsey at the breakfast, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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On Tuesday, May 8, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. As usual, the early morning is the best part of the day, and this Tuesday was no exception as most of the OMOTM made their way to the diner.

The OFs at this scribe’s end of the table were on a medical kick because one of the OFs there was to be at the hospital in Cooperstown for a physical and he said that, while there, they were going to repair one of his hearing aids. This started a conversation on blood pressure, heart rates, number of pills taken, creams, lotions, a whole litany on a health-related diet, and the OFs were not talking food.

It was found that the OFs at this end of the table were rather physically fit with the adjustment of pills to the diet of regular food. One OF who is over 80 years old, and like many of the older OFs, can work a much younger mildly OF-ish into the ground.

The OF complained about these younger ones telling him how to exercise and eat. The OF said he will do what his doctor tells him to do and take what the doctor tells him to take and go to the funerals of all these others who tell what he should be doing.

The OFs at this end of the table reported their blood pressure and all were on the money — just what it should be. One OF was wearing one of these new high-tech Fitbits, and it told him everything his body was doing.

The Fitbit gave his blood pressure, heart rate, and an oxygen level in real time as he sat at the table Tuesday morning. He, too, was right on the money.

The OFs at this end of the table reported when they were kids they were forced to take cod-liver oil by their moms. Some remembered (those raised on the farm) their mothers giving them spring tonics.

One remembered an awful mixture of what he thought was three ingredients. Two he remembered quite well — they were kerosene and sugar. The other ingredient, the OF thought, was black strap molasses.

If you took one tablespoon of that stuff in early spring, there would not be a bacteria, germ, mosquito, black fly, or hornet coming anywhere near you all year.

One OF said he left off ticks. Another OF said, when he was young, he noticed big wood ticks but not these nasty ones that are so small.

Adding to the conversation, it was noted that we now see earwigs, stink bugs, box elders, elm beetles, and other bugs with weird names  One more OF added what we did have then were fireflies, honeybees by the gazillion, butterflies, and Baltimore orioles. Now, however, lots of these “good” examples of wildlife seem to be less and less, and replaced by the previously mentioned malicious things.

It used to be, the OFs continued, that there were so many fireflies that on a nice early summer evening, or early nightfall, walking down a path, the fireflies would light the way.

Hilltown road repairs needed

The OFs discussed the Hilltowns and how they seem to be the forgotten people on road repairs. Many of the OFs go way out of their way to drive around the really bad roads and even some of the detours are not that great.

One of the OFs mentioned that it is just a matter of dollars and cents. The OF feels that we are not collectively  important enough to warrant the tax dollars required to repair the roads here on the Hill or even in the low-populated Schoharie County.

The other OFs said Hear! Hear! to that one.

The end of the world

When to be born was another topic.

Some of the OFs are of the age when they say they have had enough — it is time to get off this planet. Others think they would like to be born today, right now.

These OFs think that the future will be fantastic with all the new technology that’s coming along. These OFs would love to get aboard a spaceship and travel through the heavens to another universe and visit another planet.

That would be their way of getting off the planet. Some of the others thought this planet is on its way out and won’t be around much longer anyway.

It is interesting to see both sides, and both have good arguments. This scribe wonders what must the Indians have thought when the Spaniards came with their funny clothes, and weird hats, and what must the Spaniards have thought when they saw the Indians in their weird headdresses and clothes (or lack of). It was the end of the world.

New jobs

The OFs also discussed that many interesting jobs come up seemingly from out of nowhere. The OFs themselves are doing jobs that never existed when they were younger but many jobs have remained the same. One job the OFs mentioned that is unusual to them is a dog walker.

Whoever thought people would be paying other people to walk their dogs? There are many niches that develop that a bright person can latch onto, and, as new ways to do things develop, more specialized niches come up and even the OMOTM could fill some of them.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Middleburgh Diner, and were not too anxious to enter back into the labor pool, were: Bill Lichliter, already in that pool — the rest, not so much, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, David Williams, Ken Polks, Jim Heiser, Don Wood, Sonny Mercer, Wayne Gaul, Jake Lederman, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Warren Willsey, Allen Defazio, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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