On July 13, 2021, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh. The OMOTM thought “here we go again” as the streets of Middleburgh were cleared from the latest go-round with high water.

If anyone has dealt with the mud after a flood, they know how slippery it is. The OFs who helped with the clean-up after Tropical Storm Irene are familiar with this slippery condition; the mud is more slippery than wet ice.

Fortunately, Mrs. K’s was open and the OFs who showed up tread very carefully getting out of their vehicles on the street side; otherwise the other OFs would be dragging the OFs from under the car after they slipped on the mud.

Once the OFs were inside the restaurant, guess what they talked about? You are right: It was the weather!

In this discussion, the OFs at this scribe’s end of the table shared a lot of their experiences of living on the Hill and in the valleys of either side of the mountain. Together the OFs arrived at a good reason for the weather in our area, quite often defeating the weather people.

The hills! Therein lies the problem. Many times, the hills change the direction of the low winds and alter the directions of many storms. This latest storm was one of those storms. One OF said a lot has to do with the altitude and the winds bumping into these hills that makes a big difference.

 

Fulminating over phones

The OFs then started talking about these new phones. To the young people, even though these phones are new they can understand them, while to us OFs much of the phone technology is a mystery.

The OFs don’t have a clue as to what is going on. All the OFs want it to do is have it ring and the OFs answer, dial a number, and someone on the other end answers. That is all a phone has to do.

It does not have to deliver our kids, shine our shoes, start our cars, wash our faces, or pick our noses! Just ring and be answered

The OFs say they have complained about this before, but the problem is getting worse. It is like carrying a TV in the OF’s pocket.

As one OF put it, “The next thing you know these phones will come with a lanyard so they can be carried around our necks.”

 

Canes are no joke

This Tuesday, we almost had the battle of the canes. The OFs were in a quandary of where to put their canes when they sat down.

These assisted walking devices can be a nuisance at times when trying to park them. Such was the case on Tuesday morning.

The challenge: Finding a place where the canes could be placed and not fall to the floor, causing the waitress to trip over them, or worse yet, the OF would have to bend over and pick it up. At a certain age, bending over is not the easiest maneuver the OFs can make.

These assistants to walking are not really a joke; they are very necessary for some of the OFs to get around and not be a burden to anybody. They take some time to get used to for those who wield these walking sticks, and they have to be rugged.

Some OFs (and also other people) require the cane to support all their weight at times and that cane had better not snap or fold or it will take 10 OFs to pick the one OF up from the ground and get his legs under him.

 

Belly of the beast

We all think we have belly buttons and for some reason that bit of information was discussed at the breakfast table, eh-wot?

(The scribe did not make this term up; it was checked out on Google (phew). This term was typically uttered by pompous, posh men; “eh, wot?” was the Regency-era equivalent to “you know” or “right?")

One OF commented that all the paintings of Adam and Eve are wrong because they show Adam and Eve with belly buttons. Of course why would they? Adam and Eve did not need belly buttons, but the rest of us do.

Except one OF piped up, “I don’t have a belly button.”

That got a lot of attention. Come to find out, the OF doesn’t have a belly button. So the conversation continued.

One OF said his belly button is so large, it is possible to park a Mack truck in there. The question arose: What kind of tube must that have been?

Another OF commented that his belly button is shaped like a question mark. Goodness

It is a good thing the OFs were not talking about noses or ears; the column would fill up a whole page.

One OF muttered, “Boy, we are sure made up from a lot of parts.”

 

Lazy lakeside picnic

An OF offered the use of his place for a picnic on July 15, and this OF will provide the hot dogs, hamburgers, rolls, and that type of extras so the OFs could have a summer gathering with their better halves (and that’s not hard to do). Originally the date was July 14 but that date was changed to the following day due to the weather reports.

Smart move! The weather was perfect and there was a good crowd of OFs with their wives and lady friends. The OFs all sat around under a big cedar tree, had musical interludes, laughed, ate, and talked. A breeze came in off the lake, and the host took those who wanted out for a ride around the lake in his pontoon boat.

It did not seem like a Thursday afternoon. Then again most were old (a word not an age) and retired so every day can be a Sunday afternoon.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it through the mud and mire to Mrs. K’s Restaurant and were lucky enough not to need a boat were: Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Kenny Parks, Rich LaGrange, Jake Lederman, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Russ Pokorny, Gerry Chartier, Otis Lawyer, Jake Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Marty Herzog, John Dabravalskas, Duncan Bellinger, and me.

The summer (to the OFs) just goes by, and this summer seems to have the pedal to the metal. This week, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in, of course, Middleburgh, New York.

This breakfast had a very young server, serving the coffee. It is interesting to observe the customers who frequent these local restaurants. Most are of the silver-hair varieties who are up and about at that time of day. However, the young ones are probably on the job already. The OFs guess that, in the long run, this doesn’t mean much.

Getting up early and getting out of the house brought up an interesting point. This scribe has always maintained the making up of the bed may make the bedroom look pretty, but it is not good science.

The scribe this a.m. asked the question of the OFs. Making the bed is a morning ritual.

This scribe argues that making up the bed traps all the night’s body smells, skin scales, mites, and night farts underneath a layer of sheets, blankets, and quilts. There they lie in wait for the coming night’s collection of the same things, only to be trapped in the dark and damp of the coverings along with the others.

This scribe mentioned to the OFs that the covers should not be returned to covering the bed but left at the foot of the bed. The science does not match the action. Looking nice and proper seems to better the practical.

Doing this would allow the bed to air out (so to speak) and the sunlight would do in some of the little buggers. One OF mentioned, if we are going this far, the foot of the bed should be made like a long clothes rack so the bed covers could also be aired out so those who sleep on the tummy could have their night farts aired out also. Not to mention the new industry that would be created in manufacturing the new type of beds.

How about those people who pile pillow on top of pillow on the bed? “Yeah,” an OF commented, “there are more pillows than bed. I think I would be more comfortable sleeping on the pillows.”

My wife (who makes the bed every day) insists I inject her thoughts on this subject for the ladies.

She asked me, “What does it mean when a man is in your bed, calling your name and gasping for breath?”

The answer: “You didn’t hold down the pillow long enough.”

She thinks she’s funny.

 

Inflation

The OFs started talking about inflation and, for lack of a better word, deflation. Most of the time, either one of these economic situations crept up on us, but now, as one OF put it, it is darn easy to spend money.

The OFs have complained about this before, but, as another OF put it, in the recent past, our wallets are either much thicker to carry around so much more cash, or we are carrying larger denomination bills. One OG said some of these ATMs now let us draw out 50-dollar bills. Is this a sign of the times or what?

The OFs remember when it was a big deal to have a fifty in the wallet. Now it is possible to have a fifty in the wallet just to pay for a meal in a restaurant, and that fifty won’t even be enough to cover paying for a pair of jeans. One fellow suggested hundred-dollar bills will have to make a comeback.

 

Fashion or common sense?

After last week’s gathering at the Chuck Wagon, a few of the OFs were planning on leaving the restaurant and taking one of the OF’s boats out on the Hudson and going for a boat ride. This sounds like fun and, according to the OFs who went for the ride, they had a good time, but finding a place to pull in and have something to eat was a chore.

Apparently, they did not plan this trip for very long — it was more a spur-of-the-moment trip. If those who still have memories that can remember last Tuesday, it was sunny and hot, so these were courageous OGs to be out on the open water with conditions like that.

Sunscreen must have been at a premium or at least wide-brimmed hats and long sleeves. The skin on the ages of OFs is prime for skin cancers of all sorts.

Remembering back when the OFs were throwing hay, no matter how hot it was, is not like what it is today when the OFs are in their late seventies or eighties, and have lots to drink. Around 1960 is when sunscreen was beginning to be used regularly; before that, in the fifties, it was suntan lotion used by lifeguards with white noses.

It is OFs like us keeping dermatologists busy with skin cancer today because the OFs really didn’t know the sun was so harmful. The OFs actually thought that sun was good for us; only our parents somehow knew it wasn’t. The OFs noticed but paid no attention to their parents in long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats when they were out in the summer.

Look at old pictures: All the men had on hats, and so did the ladies. Was it a fashion statement, or common sense?

Those Old Men of the Mountain who were at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh didn’t just wander in; they were there by design, and they were: Miner Stevens, and guest Bradley McLaughlin, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Jake Herzog, Rev. Jay Francis, Russ Pokorny, Otis Lawyer, Lou Schenck, Gerry Chartier, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

Well, we tumbled outta bed and stumbled to the Your Way Café in Schoharie to get a cup of ambition along with a bunch of other Old Men of the Mountain on June 22. Ole Dolly wasn’t there to sing to us, just a group of OMOTMs gathering to discuss their aches and pains as a greeting.

However, misery enjoys company, and for some reason the talk seems to lessen the aches and pains. Nothing like sharing misery, 9 to 5. Great movie, by the way.

Young people at some time have to admit that they will grow old. Right now, as that happens, many parts of the body have a tendency to let us down as we become OFs.

The OFs discussed at breakfast how it now takes two people to make one. Just going for a ride, it is a good idea to have two people in the front seat, not as radical as Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet, from the British sitcom, “Keeping Up Appearances”) but similar. We need someone to advise when traffic is ready on the right, even though both the driver and the passenger looked that way.

Someone to spot deer, or pedestrians, always helps too. Even at a party, four sets of eyes are better than two.

Going to the doctor is another good example of two going in for one ailment. This time it is for the ears.

The OFs talked about how much help it is to have that extra pair of ears when the doctor is talking. The doctors at times will explain how to take certain meds. Quite often, to the OF with the affliction, it sounds like so much gobbledygook.

Even though the patient hears the words, the words don’t seem to make sense. The person going in with the OF hears the same words and part of the conversation sounds the same to her, but in a different way, so when the couple get home the two of them can make sense about the outcome of the visit.

“Still,” one OF said, “they might call the pharmacist and the little girl at the pharmacy makes more sense about what the meds do, and how to take them, than the physician.”

Names! The OFs commented on what appears to be a common occurrence as the OF gets older and older. The OF bumps into old people the OF used to know 40 or 50 years ago but circumstances caused these friends to leave the area.

For some reason, they have returned and for the life of the OF he knows the face and can’t remember the name. This will especially happen at reunions, weddings, or funerals; that is when it is best to have the better half close at hand.

Quite often though, that does not help because both minds might draw a blank. The worst part is when the party you are trying to identify has called you by name from behind your back.

One OF suggested that he thinks that, at some reunions, the ones who pull this stunt have taken the yearbook and studied it so that they would be able to recall everyone’s name.

It is fun to watch OFs in a gathering like this breakfast with the OMOTM and one OF is trying to remember a name from some chance meeting or tad of gossip and is unable to put a name with a face that they all know. The wrinkled brow and smell of acrid smoke as OFs’ brains try to work to come up with someone we should all know.

The OFs have been told over and over not to worry about this lack of memory because it is quite common. The reasoning is: As we get older, our brains store up a lot more information, so it takes longer to retrieve it because it has more to sort through.

One OF said that is not the case with him. This OF claims his brain is, and he always had, what is now called a “trash” section. And, if he thinks something is a bunch of bologna, it goes into the trash section and every now and then he dumps it.

Another OF doesn’t have that trash section, but he always has been told he uses “selective hearing.” He said, “My wife tells me I have that turned on every time she speaks.”

All this talk never solved the problem of the guy’s name we were previously mentioning, or who he was married to.

As Will Rogers once said, “When you are dissatisfied and want to go back to your youth, think of algebra.”

 

Knock on wood

Like most conversations among the OFs at this time of year, we hear dialogue like: “How is your garden coming, is it all in, or are you taking any trips this year?” This is typical banter heard at any gathering, like the Legion, or church, or the local book club.

At the OMOTM breakfasts, there is one topic that crops up this time of year that may be a little different. We say things like, “Have you got all your wood cut or in for next year?”

And in Tuesday morning’s conversation on having wood in, for some reason, the north side of the hill came up. One OF came up with a piece of useless information that pertained to nothing at all.

That was, “Did you guys know wood for wooden ladders is harvested only on the north side of the hill”?

Whatever that had to do with anything made no sense at all to the conversation.

Those Old Men of the Mountain (who could remember each other) met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie and they were, as the scribe can remember: Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Duncan Bellinger, Gerry Chartier, Otis Lawyer, Russ Pokorny, Jake Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Rich LaGrange, and me.

Tuesday, June 15, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. The OMOTM start arriving early enough in the morning to wake the chickens, because some OFs still wake up for milking although they haven’t washed an udder in years. This causes one to think, what time do those who work in the restaurant get up to be ready for these OFs?

If it weren’t for the weather, how would the OFs start a conversation? With the OMOTM, the weather requires somewhat of an honest answer.

“How ya doin’?” doesn’t cut it because most of the OFs lie to that one with the answer, “Hey, I’m doin’ great; how you doin’?” Then comes another fib.

On Tuesday morning, many of the OFs listened to the radio, or TV, or read news reports on their phones about how some really wicked storms were coming through. These reports mentioned towns they lived in — including the times these storms were expected to arrive.

The OFs talked about how they prepared for the storms, by moving outdoor furniture, turning outdoor tables over and anchoring them in place — all this stuff. What did the OFs get for all this effort? Sunshine — not a lick of a storm. Where did it go?

One OF complained he dumped a good set of hot charcoal just ready for the hot dogs and burgers. Well, at least the OFs had the weather to talk about (or lack of it) as promised.

Speaking about the weather, the next OMOTM’s breakfast will be a couple of days after the longest day of the year. Father’s Day, and the Gas Up will be on the longest day.

That longest day, Sunday, should not be here already, according to the OFs. It is too soon. The scribe thinks somehow we should be able to put an anchor on time and slow it down some, or at least stop it for a while.

 

Old times

Get a group of old farmers together and, just like a group of old soldiers, they talk about old times; old farmers talk about old farms and what it was like in the “good old days.” Those who keep up add current information to the old talk, and there seems to be a common thread.

Though most of those in the group do not participate in farming anymore, the OFs claim they miss it. The smell of the barn when sliding back the manger door and stepping inside on an early brisk fall morning — there’s nothing like it.

Hearing the cows stir, the cats getting down from their favorite cow and scurrying to the old milk can lid, waiting for their first batch of warm milk and all the activity of the early morning. Going to the milk house to get the cans ready, and feeding grain to the cows — all this is missed and the barn smelled so great.

The Chanticleer (John Charles Stevenson) was on the radio, and at that moment everything was at peace. Such was the typical small farm from the early 1900s until the state mandated bulk tanks in the 1950s. Many of the small farms could not afford these tanks, causing the small dairy farms to fold.

Of course now, as the OFs reminisced and talked about dairy farming, they are of an age that their kids (or grandkids) would be doing it because the OFs have too many aches and pains to continue. One OF added that, the way things are now, the kids have too much else going on to be interested, or even consider a 365-day-a-year job.

 

Best Gas Up

To go along with the farming conversation, the Gas Up came up, which might have prompted the above conversation in the first place. The Gas Up (located on Route 443 just north of Gallupville) is a collection of hit-and-miss engines that are still running (just like the OMOTM) and old trucks, tractors, cars, farm equipment, homemade ice cream, and lots more.

This new topic was history, and how historical events that happened and were recorded are now trying to be changed. Some of the OFs were uttering, “Say what?”

The OFs think that history, good or bad, happened. Those facts cannot be denied. To try and sweep the bad under the rug does not make sense to the OFs. That conversation was getting a little too deep, and didn’t last long before it returned to the Gas Up.

The OFs at the table of the scribe thought this year’s show was one of the best they have seen, and along with that, the crowd was one of the largest the OFs have noticed at the event.

A couple of the OFs had pieces of equipment at the Gas Up, which always makes something like the Gas Up more interesting when a little piece of personal attention is there. This is similar to something like personally knowing a race car driver, or owner, or some particular athlete or musician.

The personal touch really adds to the fan base. Speaking about a personal touch, my friend’s girlfriend left him for a tractor salesman. She sent him a John Deere letter.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh in modern conveniences and not by horseback, were: Rich LaGrange, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, Duncan Bellinger, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Ken Parkes, Pete Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Russ Pokorny, Wayne Gaul, Otis Lawyer, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Warren Willsey, and me.

On June 8, the Old Men of the Mountain woke up to a hot and humid day, but according to the weather people on TV it is not unusual to have such a day on June 8.

The body sure changes as people age. The OMOTM said, when they were 19, they would be out in the fields haying in this heat and think nothing of it. Now, at 80, it is a different story.

The weather on this day, however, did not keep the Old Men of the Mountain from meeting at the Middleburgh Diner, in Middleburgh.

During this time of COVID, many of the OMOTM are becoming accustomed to wearing masks. Not only does this help in preventing the spread of the disease, but on the old folks the mask hides a lot of facial blemishes. If an OF loses a tooth in front, the mask can hide it until it is fixed.

One OF said, “I kinda like this thing; people don’t know if I am smiling or sticking my tongue out at them.”

Another OF said he doesn’t like masks at all.

“They are a pain in the butt,” the OF complained.

This OF wears hearing aids (as many of the OFs do) and most of these OFs say, when taking the mask off, either the hearing aids go flying, or they dangle from the OF’s ears like earrings.

The OF who started the complaining said that one time, when he took the mask off, a hearing aid went flying and broke in two pieces. That is an expensive mask removal.

Another OF said, “Try wearing hearing aids, mask, and glasses.”

This OF is afraid eventually his ears will look like Dumbo’s. The OF said his ears are big enough already; they don’t need any help.

 

Why are prices up?

The OFs keep bringing up how much prices on everything have jumped. Not only food, but lumber, nails, gas — everything. The OFs cannot understand why.

Did all of a sudden the trees stop growing so there isn’t as much lumber? The OFs don’t think so.

One OF said he thinks that the big lumber companies pulled the same stunt the coffee companies did. They create their own shortage (or at least make believe there is one) and then jack up the prices, but lower the increased prices somewhat (at least back maybe one half) and their profits will still be greater than before.

One OF asked, “Isn’t that what is taught to the number crunchers at Harvard Business School?”

 

Purchasing practices

A week or so ago, the OGs were discussing buying habits of the sexes. This week, the purchasing of the OFs was not so much about habits, but opportunities, and quirks.

One OF mentioned he had, in the past, made quite a purchase of shirts. This OF claimed he had a ton of shirts and when he spotted a shirt he liked he bought it. The OF didn’t know why, but he said he was happy it wasn’t shoes.

To which another OF said he could relate to that because his wife has more shoes than a shoe store. This OF claims his wife still has shoes (never worn) in their boxes.

One OF questioned the OG with the shirts if he had pants to match the shirts. The OF claimed he didn’t — most of his pants were jeans for work, and he would wear one of the shirts with the jeans. The OFs thought that was cool.

Another OMOTM said he purchased mostly on opportunity. One such purchase was when a friend of his passed away and this friend had a good supply of shirts with logos on them. The OF had such a shirt on at Tuesday morning’s breakfast, and one OF commented that he was familiar with the area shown on the logos.

The OF said he had nothing to do with the logo, but the friend did and the OF purchased a complete box of them. The shirts were a perfect fit, and the OFs must say the shirts looked good on the OF and fit him well.

The OFs continued in this vein with yet another OF saying he had the same opportunity with neckties. He received a complete box of ties, all different, and if anyone has priced halfway decent ties lately, they would know this was quite a find for two bucks.

Now that the OF is not working, the OF does not need ties, so he is in the process of giving them away. Ties are something that rarely require a fit, unless the wearer needs one as a bib, like the Donald.

 

Mystifying meds

Medicine, aches, and pains are common among the OFs; sometimes the OFs have trouble understanding how and when to take certain medicines.

There are many examples: One is a pill that says, “Take with food,” and another pill says, “Take on an empty stomach.” How empty, and how much food comes into play.

Other instructions are, “Take twice a day, once with breakfast and once with dinner.” Whoops, now how is the one to be taken on an empty stomach work?

If breakfast is at 7 a.m., the medicine is taken. The no-food advice at 6 a.m. is OK, for one hour before eating. Now is two slices of toast and a banana enough food? This goes on and on.

Just think of all the combinations with such brief instructions. How much food is enough, how empty should the stomach be, no dairy (how long “no dairy” after the pill is taken)?

Just like instruction on many items, the manufacturers assume everybody knows how the medicine was made and should know how it works. It seems laughter is the best medicine — except for treating diarrhea.

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Middleburgh Diner and all the world’s problems, if not solved, were at least discussed and the OFs ironing out most of the creases were: Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Roger Chapman, Jake Herzog, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Russ Pokorny, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Gerry Chartier, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.

The Old Men of the Mountain met at the “Your Way Café” on Tuesday  morning, June 2, and the OMOTM are still glad to be out doing a few things more on the normal side.

The question comes up, “What is normal?”

Normal is such an ambiguous word, like sane. Who is really sane? And who decides what is normal, and who is sane? It sure tain’t this scribe. Someone once said it’s the guy with the biggest or most guns who decides.

As the farmers cut hay and the grass grows taller, the OFs are saying summer goes fast, and it isn’t even here yet.

Some of the radio and TV stations offer an allergy report, and they are correct, but the OFs say you can tell it is allergy season by the number and loudness of the sneezes. Some of the OFs complain about being continually stuffed up, and others can attest to that for they are just as stuffed up.

The pine trees are generating their pollen so there can be more pine trees — especially the white and red pines. When leaving the car to go for a walk in the woods, you find, upon returning, that you have to look all over the parking lot for your car because all the vehicles are yellow. They are now covered with pine pollen, and this pollen does not dust off easily.

The OFs were again talking about traveling but there was quite a conversation on streams and waterways. The OGs wonder where some of the local streams start and what some of these streams eventually run into or become.

One creek or (crick, as some people call it), is listed as being completely not where it actually is, according to Google maps. According to these maps, the Cobleskill Creek is running from West Berne, through Gallupville, and Google names the same creek (Cobleskill) as going from Richmondville through Cobleskill and Central Bridge.

What just happened to Fox Creek? Both creeks run into the Schoharie Creek only miles apart but there is no Fox Creek listed in Berne. There is a Fox Creek Market, but it is on the Cobleskill Creek. (Say what!) The OFs were quite intrigued with that bit of information; no wonder trucks get caught under bridges.

Relating to the area around Richmondville, the OFs asked each other if they ever noticed, when driving down the hill on Route 88, heading west, it is necessary to continually keep depressing the accelerator to maintain speed even though it looks and feels like the highway is going downhill. The OFs commented that this phenomenon is very strange to them because the traveler is actually going uphill.

 

Trees down

This is a “not so funny Magee” event. Two of the OMOTM have had large trees blow over on their homes; one is an actual OF and the other is the mother-in-law of another one of the OFs.

The OF had the tree blow over in the very high winds of late winter. The OF said the weather people were saying how the gusts in places were 60 to 70 miles per hour. It was during this time that a perfectly good poplar uprooted and blew out of the ground (the ground, of course, was quite wet) right into the back of the OF’s home.

The other OF said it was a willow that blew over on top of his mother-in-law’s home. Both OFs said it was something to watch the professional tree people work, how they had chainsaws that were sharp; the saws didn’t ever seem to bind up, and the saws started on one pull.

How anyone started in this business is hard to tell. No fear of heights must be at the top of the list, and not being afraid of birds that are ticked off because their nests are now gone. Cardinals are one thing, but condors would give this scribe time to pause and think about it.

 

The good die young

One other procedure that has come up recently is needles in the eyes for macular degeneration. This scribe cannot remember this as a subject for discussion in all the years of attending these breakfasts.

Now all of a sudden here are a bunch of OFs shuddering just to hear the process of needles in the eyes, but some of the OFs, themselves, or their wives are going through the process just like going to the doctor’s for a flu shot.

Like the OFs keep saying: It is tough to get old, yet it is necessary to be tough to get old. The other saying about age is: The good die young; that may be a blessing to keep them from putting up with getting old.

 

Warranty warning

The OFs are beginning to wonder a lot about warranties, or guarantees. The OFs say they can remember when the best guarantee was a good, firm, handshake.

Now they are given a folder of paper weighing about five pounds, stipulating the guarantee; how good it is and long it is etc., isn’t worth all that paper it is written on. One OF said for each paragraph that explains what the guarantee grants, there are 10 just below it that explains how the company or companies can get out of it.

In other words, most are not worth the paper they are written on. On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call. Moments later, he learned his auto warranty had expired.

Those OFs who attended the breakfast at the Your Way Café in Schoharie, and can guarantee that, for them, old age is better than viewing grass from the roots, were: Robie Osterman, Rick LaGrange, Roger Chapman, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Russ Pokerny, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Jake Herzog, Peter Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Henry Whipple, Otis Lawyer, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, and me.

On Tuesday, May 25, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. Memorial Day is coming up shortly, so short it will have come and gone by the time this hits the road, and the garden planting should begin, but according to the OMOTM many seeds and plants are already in the ground.

It appears that old or young people are getting anxious to get outdoors and back to some kind of normal routine. So the OFs were glad to be back at Mrs. K’s to fill in one little crack of the routine.

Shopping is not a favorite pastime of the OMOTM unless it is at a swap meet, or for sporting equipment, or an old plow. Pants, shirts, shoes and socks, and things like that do not fit in the category of shopping items the OFs like to shop for.

One OF’s wife said, “Going shopping for clothes for the old goat is not on my favorite things-to-do list either. The OG goes to the pants rack, sees something he might wear, looks at it, if the size is close, he takes it off the rack and to the check-out counter and we are done. This whole event takes about 10 minutes. The Old Goat doesn’t even try them on, and the old pair the OG has on looks just like the new pair he just bought.”

Another wife (by the way, this was at a picnic where the OMOTM were there with their wives) commented that, if her husband (OF) heard she was going shopping with the ladies, he would holler, “Hon, would-cha pick me up a couple pair of jeans while you are out? Mine are getting kinda ratty.”

“Ratty?” the wife said, “They are so ratty the washing machine refuses to wash them.”

“My husband has it down even better,” a wife added. “When he goes or finally has to go shoe shopping (and that is about every eight to 10 years or so) he finds shoes that fit and are comfortable to him. He buys them and one or two more pairs of the same thing. That is shoe shopping for him for another eight or 10 years.”

Shopping for a lawn mower is another story. One of the same ladies added the OF uses 20 gallons of gas going to every place that sells lawn mowers, trying to save two bucks, and he examines each mower to the nth degree, even if the hardware store just up the road is selling the exact same mower.

One lady summed it all by saying in an exasperated voice, “Lordy, Lordy, men! Save me from men. It is too bad we can’t procreate without them.”

 

Year of the Lilacs

This is the Year of the Lilacs. One OF said their whole backyard is purple; another OF had thought his lilacs were dead. There were only a few on the bush last year; however, this year the same bush is loaded and has more flowers than leaves.

Traveling on Route 443, en route to Schoharie and then Middleburgh, almost to Route 30, some noticed there is a beautifully maintained older home and this is the first year the OFs who travel that way to Mrs. Ks said there is almost a hedge of lilacs about 10 feet tall in alternating colors; purple, deep dark purple, and white. Quite impressive.

One OF mentioned that cutting them and bringing them inside, the whole house smells like lilacs, but unfortunately, they don’t last very long — only a day or so. This year, however, with the bushes being so prolific, it is not much effort to bring in a new batch every other day. That way, the smell of lilacs will cover up the smell of fish for supper, or the un-emptied cat box.

 

Easy winter

Last winter apparently was an easy winter for some of the wildlife because this year the OFs seem to have deer and wild turkeys all over the place, and even bears are making visits to the city and they don’t look scrawny.

One OF said most of the deer he has seen lately from small ones to pretty good-sized ones seem to be quite black, and not as orangey brown as they used to be. The turkeys seem to be in groups of eight to 10, sometimes even more, instead of just a few.

 

Better sleep

Most OFs don’t know what is causing this either but quite a few of the OGs at our end of the table said they have been sleeping better. What that has to do with anything this scribe does not know, but he had to add to the group that for some reason he is sleeping somewhat better and the dreams are not all nightmares.

Sleep is an elusive natural phenomenon just like going to the bathroom. We all do it, only with some it is more comfortable than others. The same goes for sleep; the more restful the sleep, generally the better the day.

One OF mentioned that all any of the OFs can do is talk about the weather in our little area of the globe while other areas are having earthquakes, Louisiana is having floods, and the Midwest is having tornadoes. As the OFs have said before, the Northeast may have its cloudy weather and is loaded with what we consider miserable weather but, for the most part at least, our weather is consistent.

 

A putt in their jitney

One OF talked about taking his wife out for a ride in their Model “T.” They stopped someplace for a while and, when the OF went to start it to continue on, the car wouldn’t start. Now there is something the owner had better know, how to not only run that vehicle, but what makes that vehicle tick, and how to fix it.

The OF is not going to call triple-A and have them come out and get it going. In this case, the OF knew what was going on, fixed it, and they were on their way. This scribe wonders if they have period costumes they don when out for a putt in their jitney?

 

No job? No problem

The OFs briefly discussed the jobs that are going without workers, and why no one seems to want these jobs. The OFs came up with a few theories why this is so; collectively most seemed correct.

The question was asked, “Do any of you OFs want to go back to work and fill in this need? There are jobs out there just waiting.”

The answers were, “No! Not on your life. No way. You can’t drag me back!”

This scribe guesses the answer is NO.

 “Yay! It’s the weekend!” said nobody who works in a restaurant.

Those OF who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and who do not have to scurry off to work were: Rick LaGrange, Roger Chapman, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Pete Whitbeck, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Jake Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, and me.

On May 18, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner, in Middleburgh. It was a beautiful day to go for a ride, but as the OMOTM keep saying, anytime the OFs go for a ride, it is a ride in the country, so Tuesday the OFs went for a ride in the country — to eat.

Eating is a favorite topic of some of the OMOTM, along with old stuff, jobs, cars, trucks, gardens, etc. The group at our end of the table was talking about places to take a ride to have some good eats.

The OFs gave a plug to Saltsman’s Inn (Hotel). The OFs say this is a historic hotel, which is out by Ephratah, on Route 10, north of Canajoharie. This is another OMOTM day trip of not much traffic and into real country. Take Route 20 west to Sharon Springs; at Sharon Springs go north on Route 10 until reaching the inn. The restaurant is not open regular days so the OFs recommend getting the inn’s phone number or using the net to obtain the hours.

Why this place came up was because the OFs were talking about eating plants and flowers and, when milkweed is in season, the OFs who have eaten milkweed at Saltsman’s Inn say this dish is to die for. This is just a suggestion from the more sophisticated connoisseurs of the OMOTM who used to eat dandelion greens that their moms would show the OGs how to pick from the dandelions growing in the yard.

There was even dandelion wine, and people call these things weeds. The OMOTM know better.

 

For the birds

Another one of the early conversations was that this year some of the OFs have seen birds they have not seen in some time. One was the Baltimore oriole, and the other was a yellow-throated warbler.

One OF was telling about getting orioles to come to his feeders. The OG said he takes a regular hummingbird feeder and drills out a couple of the holes to make them larger. The OF said these birds love the stuff he puts in his feeder.

He said he takes half a cup of sugar to one-and-one-half cups of water (which the other OFs thought was really sweet) and the OF says that is what he uses, and the orioles love it. The other thing he does is hang the feeder close to a branch, which the birds can hang on to because the regular little hummingbird perches are too small for the orioles.

A couple of the OFs commented on not seeing certain species in years and they still haven’t seen them this year.  A particular bird they miss is the Bobolink.

One OF mentioned that his father would not start haying until the bobolinks left because they nested in the grass, especially the timothy. The OFs feel that so many family farms are disappearing and the fields are just turning to brush so the bobolinks have fewer places to nest. The scribe’s dad used to say the bobolinks left the fields in plenty of time for him to get the first cutting in while it was still good hay.

 

Voting confusion

Voting on the school budget was another subject discussed — especially concerning Berne-Knox-Westerlo. However, not the weather, or if the taxes were high, it wasn’t anything like that, but where to vote.

The OFs are OFs and are so used to going to the auditorium that they didn’t even know where the elementary school cafeteria was. One OF asked if anyone knew if they were going to take our temperatures. None of the OFs knew.

This scribe assumes this is all moot now because when this is being typed the elections have come and gone, and this scribe hopes no one got lost. That’s all we need — some OG wandering around the school in a daze with an OMOTM hat on.

 

On track

The OFs also discussed the eventual coming of the trains through Altamont and Voorheesville. That will be like old times, when there were more trains traveling the tracks headed towards Delanson.

However, the more the OFs talked, the more the issue drifted to the electric railroad that once was supposedly coming this way. Lots of noise, no action — that railroad never came. Some of the OFs think this might be the case also with all the chatter being bantered about the mile-long train (or so) supposedly coming to the villages.

I’ve been meaning to make a list of bad railroad puns — but I’ve been getting side-tracked.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh for a great coffee, and came by car and trucks, not trains, because the Schoharie Railway has been out of service for quite awhile, were: Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Glenn Patterson, Peter Whitbeck, Joe Rack, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Otis Lawyer, Jake Herzog, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Paul Whitbeck,  and me.

On May 11, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon in Princetown. It seems that, not only when the OMOTM meet, but most any group that meets on a weekly basis, the opening conversations, other than the weather, are a continuation of conversations from the previous week. The OMOTM are no different.

Some of the talk is the same as the week before; this time it was on motorcycles only with most continuations it covers topics that were not covered previously. This week, the dialogue was on trips and riding. This is an unusual fact because these are OMOTM and they were discussing trips for the coming year on motorcycles.

One OF said that, for he and his friends, plopping their butts on the seat and just taking off is not the way it happens. The OF said, after about an hour, they stop and stretch because the old legs begin to cramp up. Well that is understandable.

Many OFs have this happen just doing nothing. The OF bikers who also have a few outsiders join them plan very carefully, because these trips may take weeks, and in that time not too much distance is covered. The OF said one trip coming up will be into Maine and will cover about 800 miles.

One OF said, with his physical condition, he couldn’t ride a motorcycle to the end of the block. “Heck,” the OF said, “I couldn’t even swing my leg over the thing; I even have to pull my feet up by my pants leg to get my feet on the bench to tie my shoes.”

The rest of the OFs wish the bikers well.

 

Old goats

discuss real goats

Another continuation of one of our previous discussions was on goats. This scribe does not know how the OFs picked up the conversation on goats but it did come up and this time the stories were completely different.

An OF mentioned that he had goats, and he made a lot of money from goats. That perked up the other OFs’ ears — the words “money” and “goats”; only later on it was found that there was a chain being slightly yanked on this one.

It was not many goats; it was one goat that the OF said cost him a buck seventy-five. He had the goat for just a little time and, goats being goats, the goat caused a little trouble. One such bit of normal goat activity is butting heads or just butting.

Anyhow, this goat decided to butt the butt of a lady friend and that was not the thing to do. The OF decided he had enough of the goat and his shenanigans so the OF decided to sell it and he did — for seventy-five cents.

Hey, the goat was just being a goat — did anyone ever hear of putting a goat on a diet?

“Goats will even eat meat though it does not agree with them and they are not supposed to,” one OF added.

Another OF wondered if goats see the world in wide-angle because of their rectangular eyes.

A different OF said that a neighbor of his purchased some goats and penned them in the yard. In a short time, he had no yard. The OF said the neighbor apparently did not research goats. They are cute and fun but they do eat everything in sight.

 

Antique planes

The OFs who live on the Hill have an event that happens quite often and can happen day or night. It is the routine flight of the Hercules C-130 passing over their homes.

This scribe has mentioned these planes before in his little report but, as we were discussing them at Tuesday’s breakfast, it was mentioned that, because of the heavy weather, these four-engine aircraft were louder than normal and rattled the windows as they rumbled by.

For many of the OFs, these things seem so low that one OF said he could hit them if he threw a rock, and this was an effort because of the OF’s arthritis. Chucking a rock is nothing he would want to do but, if he did and it hit the plane, it might fall out of the sky.

At Tuesday’s breakfast, the OFs discussed how old these planes were, and it was found out the C-130 first started splitting the sky with its wings in 1954. These mechanical birds can be 660-year-old airframes with upgrades to keep them in the air.

One OF said, “Hey! They need antique plates.”

One OF said ,when looking at pictures of World War II planes of the early forties, compared to the cars and trucks of the same period, the planes look like they are from the future. Except for the Gooney bird, which was named after the albatross, a seabird known for its endurance and ability to fly great distances. They don’t look like they can get off the ground yet some of those planes are still flying.

Will invisible airplanes ever be a thing? I just can’t see them taking off.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who traveled to the Chuck Wagon in Princetown, and who never left the ground, were: Miner Stevens, Rick LaGrange, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Pete Whitbeck, Duncan Bellinger, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgett, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Otis Lawyer, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.

On Tuesday, May 4, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie, where the proprietor covered what has been going on in her life and the life of the restaurant during the pandemic. It is amazing how strong and resilient so many people are.

This scribe suspects that ailments and sickness will go on and on as the group is composed of OFs. That can become boring and depressing. The only up-side will be unusual cases and what is being done about them.

This may bring encouragement to those who read the column regularly (and who may be mostly old people anyway) or maybe just one or two young-uns (who read for laughs and giggles) that have a malady and are glad to see they are not alone.

Like other organizations that have regular meetings, as people arrive the greeting chatter is generally about the weather; so it is with the OFs. This time the chatter has been about the rain, drizzle, and general nastiness of what the skies have been offering us in the Northeast the last couple of weeks.

In our area, many eyes are on the creeks and streams of the Hilltowns as they race to the valley. The word at the meeting on Tuesday morning is these channels of running water are becoming full, and powerful.

The report on the little Schoharie creek, and the creeks around Huntersland, is the fullness and the power of the rushing water. This water is beginning to move some of the rocks placed there to prevent flooding from the storm that occurred in 2011, and these rocks are now being shoved around. Some of the rocks are the size of a Volkswagen. Oops.

One OF mentioned hydrologists may be great engineers, and study fluids day in and day out, but trying to outguess Mother Nature is quite a challenge. Of course Mom Nature has millions and millions of years of practice, and her drawing board is just trial and error, and this ole planet is still in the trial period, or so the OFs think.

Hardest hardship

The OFs began a discussion on “Old People.” Well, duh!

Who could be better to have this discussion than the Old Men of the Mountain? The basis for this talk was when to stop driving and give up the licenses.

For most OFs, this is the hardest hardship of all. As one OF put it, it is just like being put in prison.

This OF said he has a relative who lives with another OF for economic reasons but they both were still able to drive and the two OGs went everywhere together. Eventually his relative had to stop driving, but since the other OF still could drive his relative’s coming and going didn’t change much.

 

What is “old?”

This brought up when, and what is old. The OF said the old adage of age not being a number is only half true.

Some people become old when they are in their late fifties or early sixties, and others know when they are old in their late eighties or early nineties, and a darn few never seem to get old.

One OF said, “All the books in the world that tell you to do this and that, or take this or that so anyone can stave off getting old is a bunch of bologna. All of a sudden your body will tell when it has had enough. More often than not ,the mind won’t agree, but it is best to listen to the body and adjust mentally and physically.”

One OF said that there is something about the people who try to help fend off the age bit by eating right and exercising; it does work. The OF said eating chips and rocking in the rocking chair just gaining pounds, moaning and groaning about life and living is the easiest way to getting old in a hurry that he knows of.

This particular OF is going to push himself as much as his body will let him. The mind is another thing; however, this OF doesn’t know much about that. Maybe that is a good thing.

Sometimes the mind (as discussed above) has nothing wrong with it, but one little part of the body limits the OF’s mobility. That event is very discouraging. The OFs try to correct this problem so they can catch up, and again sometimes that is difficult.  

Getting off on a little side track, one OF mentioned “Bones them bones, them dry bones.”

“Well,” as another OF said, “Dem dry bones can be one h--- of lot of trouble.”

Another OF commented, “The doctor that works on our shoulders doesn’t have much to worry about. The bones are big and the only weight these bones have to carry is your head. Down where the foot is located, it is loaded with a bunch of little bones and they have to carry all two hundred pounds of the OF.”

Then the discussion started. What about push-ups, pull-ups, throwing balls, footballs, basketballs, etc., how about swinging a tennis racket, a ball bat? Hey! The shoulders get a workout.

“Nah,” one OF said. “You are talking all muscle here.”

As scribe, I would like to have the last word on this conversation. If you boil a funny bone, it becomes a laughing stock. Now that’s pretty humerus. (The humerus is the upper arm bone — get it?)

What this group needs is a good physical therapist to sort it out for the OFs who are interested in this issue, but in a few hours the OFs won’t remember they even had the conversation.

Those attending the Your Way Café in Schoharie and who are still arriving at the establishments by car (and at least not yet canoes) were: Glenn Patterson, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Rick LaGrange, Roger Shafer, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Jake Herzog, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, John Muller, Pete Whitbeck, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgett, Rev. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

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