On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. It is getting so that in the early morning it is necessary to have the car’s headlights on. The comfort of driving early without the use of the headlights is gone for this year. Darn.

It is also that time of year again when the OFs have to watch out for kids waiting for the school bus, and those yellow carriages hauling the little darlings off to the institutes of learning. Now all the army of teachers has to do is get them to pay attention and learn. That is the hard part.


Feline frustrations

Cats! Many people have cats and love it or them and some people have a cat and don’t want the animal or the animals, and there are some that love cats and can’t have them due to allergies.

One OF said there is a shot for that (he meant the allergies). Another OF mentioned that he had a friend that had a cat and loved it but put up with quite an allergy because of it. The OF said he coughed, snorted, and itched all the while they had the animal.

The cat eventually died, and the allergies went away. The OF did not mention if they took in another cat or not.

Others have cats, and these OFs say they did not go out and get a cat; the cat was either willed to them or in one case a stray cat wandered into the family of the OF. The OF said it was not a stray but a set of cats were dropped off on the country road the OF lived on.

Unfortunately, this was a common occurrence. They were now stuck with one of those cats, as were neighbors up the road. This particular animal was long-haired, high maintenance, and eventually grew into quite a big cat. 

The OF said they have now had this ball of fur for at least 10 years. When it showed up, the OF took it to the vet, and, at the vet’s, they asked what its name was and the OFs said Nuisance, because that is what he was.

So this OF is still hobbled with Nuisance, and this ball of fur has cost a small fortune to keep it fed, groomed, and maintained. The OF asked: Does anybody want a cat?


Thinning the herd

Pretty soon it will be deer season and, from all the deer the OFs have had to dodge this year, which were spotted in the most unusual places, it is probably a good thing to thin down the herd.

The OFs started talking about bow hunting and what a challenge that is. One OF mentioned that he thinks it does cause many wounded deer, which have been hit with arrows that don’t do the job.

Another OF, who lives in the country,and owns some land and there is considerable farmland around him, said there are quite a few who hunt the area. What this OF can’t understand (because he does not hunt) is why it takes so many shots to bring down a deer.

This OF says it must be guys just shooting to shoot. Quite often, it sounds like they are using machine guns and this is shotgun territory.

One OF mentioned a neighbor who posts his property. His reasoning, the OF said, is not to protect the deer but he just wants to know who is back there in case anything happens. All anyone has to do is ask and the OF said the neighbor will say OK.

An OF said that posted land is where all the deer go to hide. The OF asked the question that required no answer: Did you ever wonder why during hunting season it is hard to find the deer, then after the season is over deer are back all over the place?

Well, they have gone and hidden on posted land, the deer are not dumb; they obviously can read.


A sticky wicket

Then came up a hard discussion the OFs had to report on and that was water — where it is and its importance. The OFs think that, no matter what, an animal or human requires water or liquid to live. Whether an elephant or a germ, it needs water.

If anyone is going to build a house in the country, one OF mentioned, they had better be pretty sure they can get water. One OF said there can be beautiful areas, and beautiful views, but no water so building a place would make no sense.

The OF continued with how municipalities have to be very careful with development so that they have enough water to sustain the added growth. This is a very sticky wicket, because right now it is not practical to make water, one OF thought.

Every drop of water there is now was made when this ball of dirt was formed; we had better not waste it because there ain’t gonna be no mo.

“Can’t prove it by me,” an OF said. “The land in our area is so darn wet this is the first time I ever got my zero-turn lawn mower stuck. It made a real mess pulling it out of there with another tractor.”

An OF mentioned how often he noticed all the ruts from tractors that maintain the grass on the edge of the highways. It has been so wet the farmer OMOTMs say, a lot of their hay is just junk because they can’t get it in between showers and storms. Hey, there is always next year.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and only had to stop for one school bus, were: Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Rick LaGrange, Pete Whitbeck, Mike Kruzinski, George Washburn, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Frank Fuss, Doug Marshall, Ed Goff, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Jake Herzog, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Paul Guiton, Rev. Jay Francis, Duncan Bellinger, with guest Mike Wilson, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, John Dab, and me.

Aug. 8 was a Tuesday and the Old Men of the Mountain met at Hillbelly’s in Westerlo. There was some fog and a menacing sky, but at least in the area the OMOTM traveled, nothing happened.

Last week, the column mentioned it’s a small world. Well, during the week it got even smaller.

One OF reported, after hearing the story about how a college friend’s daughter, not niece, worked at the Chuck Wagon when it was in Champaign, Illinois, another OF said he went to college in Urbana, Illinois, which is part of Champaign.

And, after the story of the Chuck Wagon was told, he said he met his wife at college there, so he too is part of this group of OMOTM and has spent some of his time in Champaign, Illinois. The world just becomes smaller and smaller.

Many of us have stories of how small the world is; this scribe sure has some very strange and unusual ones.

Frustrated fans

In this nefarious group are a contingent of Yankee fans who are completely frustrated with the Yankees waddling around in last place of the Eastern Division in the American League. Many are just fans as fans, but some are radical enough that they think they should be managing the Yankees, and the rest of us are sure they might do a better job.

There are fans of other clubs in the OMOTM, and others who don’t give a darn about any of that. They would just as soon fuss with their cars, trucks, and tractors; however, some do both.

The Yankees are, in some instances when brought up at the breakfast, a team that brings certain consternation and frustration because these guys are not playing up to the quality of ball all that money was supposed to have bought. Some of the OFs say they could play (and did play) better than these high paid professionals who are right now no better than a team of little leaguers.

One OF in an off-handed remark to defend the Yankees said that all the teams in the Eastern Division could be a division leader in any other division. To which the other OFs say, “So what”; these are the Yankees.

Foiling Google geniuses

Somehow one of the OFs mentioned the word “typewriter” in a sentence that was part of a normal statement and was not meant to mean much other than an adjective describing whatever — this scribe forgot what — but it started a conversation on today’s technology and how fast the OFs, at least this group of them, was falling out of the loop. One OF said “he was never in it.”

Most people, including many of the OFs, carry around in their pocket the instrument we called in the last column a phone, and many of these are connected to the search engine Google. This makes those from ages 5 to 105 automatic geniuses; all they need to know is what question to ask that device and click, there is the answer.

“But,” one OF said, “those of us over maybe 65 or 70 have it over them and we could have our own secret society and communicate back and forth and they would not have a clue what we were talking about, or for that matter planning.

“All we would have to do is reinstate a secure dial-phone service and the dial phone with letters and numbers like the forties and fifties. Re-introduce the typewriter, and carbon paper, and include the mimeograph as part of the hard-copy system, and the bonus would be all our written communications would be written in cursive. Any 16-year-old would be so befuddled, they wouldn’t know what was going on.”

The other OFs said, “Hey, this guy has a point. Now the question is: How do we start this retro-techno-revolution?”

Most important

job on this Earth

Last column, the discussion was on the weather and farming and basically how related the two are. One OF, who is still farming, spoke for many OFs who did farm.

Farming is hard work, both physically and mentally, plus the pay is low. Another aspect of this endeavor is that it is a blood job.

Blood on the outside and on the inside; farming gets in your blood with the realization that, if the farmer did not do his job, everyone would die. It takes a farmer so you and everyone else can live. There is no more important job on this Earth than being a farmer.

Then the OFs discussed farming back when it was done with horses. The OFs mentioned how intelligent these animals are.

The horse seems to know what they are here for. They are here to serve and today people seem to be losing that insight.

No better lesson to show this, as one OF put it, is to hear him tell his 7-year-old to go and get the horses. (This is not a statement to illustrate a story but an actual sentence told to one of the OFs more than once.) The little tyke would trot off and come back leading two huge draft horses with a couple of ropes and for the most part these ropes would be slack.

Here you have a 50-pound kid leading 2 tons of horse with  ½-inch ropes and the horses are going to be leathered up to go to work, and the horses actually seem to be smiling.

Child labor baloney, respect and love from adult to child to animal.

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it from horse to three-hundred horse-powered cars used to get to Hillbelly’s Restaurant in Westerlo for breakfast were: Miner Stevens, Rich LaGrange, Ed Goff, John Muller, Frank Fuss, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter (with guests Daniel Lichliter and Elissa Lichliter, here getting away from the heat; they actually called it like winter), Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Pete Whitbeck, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Frank Dees, Paul Whitbeck, David Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Rich Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rev. Jay Francis, Henry Whipple, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Herb Bahrmann, Paul Guiton, and me.

Well, it is the end of July and the beginning of August and the Old Men of the Mountain met on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. As most patrons of the Chuck Wagon know, this is an original dining-car diner that was originally located in Champaign, Illinois. Eventually it was moved to its current location in Princetown, New York by the Ketchums.

It is necessary to know this for the following part of the story. One of the OFs went to college with a bunch of other now OFs and a few who now reside in Florida. This OF received a phone call from one of these college buddies this Monday evening.

The college buddy was inquiring if the OMOTM wanted to come to Florida and take care of his place in Sarasota for a while. In the process of the conversation, the OMOTM told his buddy where he was going the next day and told him it was the Chuck Wagon.

The buddy then related to the OF that, when they were younger, they lived in Illinois, and that his niece worked at the Chuck Wagon when it was in Champaign, Illinois. 

If you have ever been to Disney World in Florida, you know that one of the most obnoxious theme rides is the one with the song, “It’s a Small World After All,” which is sung over, and over, and over, and over, to the point where anyone going through wants to get out of the boat and find another world, any world, because really this is a small world after all.


More than a phone

Then the OFs started talking about their phones. Some have phones that do everything while others have phones that just flip open and are phones.

To call the current phone a phone is OK, but it is a lot more than a phone. Some of the OFs rarely make calls on their phone.

The phone is now a tool, and is used like a tool. It is a still and video camera, a flashlight, a Kindle, a file cabinet, a calendar, a calculator, a text messenger machine, and maybe much more. Somewhere along the line, it may get used as a phone. 

One OF reported that he uses his phone when he can’t see behind whatever. The OF said in getting information for replacing a special white-wall tire the information was on the backside of the tire.

The OF said all he did was take his phone, hold it in back of the tire and take a picture and then read all the information like a book. No taking the wheel off or anything like that, it's just so simple to use the phone.

Another OF mentioned working in the sump of an elevator, which had a broken part that needed to be replaced. Not only was he using the messaging part of the phone to the parts people to order the part, but they wanted the make and model and the year the elevator was installed.

This information was on a plate in the dark, and in back of many moving parts that operated the elevator. All the OF did is the same as the tire OF did — he stuck his phone through all these wires to take a picture of the plate, forward it to the parts company along with the order for the parts, and was all done. No papers, no going to the office, nothing like that, all done from the pit, and on the spot.

All some people do is use phones to play games either individually, or with someone else, or even multiple players. According to the OFs, it seems there should be some other name for this device than phone.


Hay ruined in rain

At one time, most of the OFs were farmers; however, not so much anymore. One major reason is that the government forced the small farmer out of business and in the Hilltowns many of the small farms gave up farming at the same time.

This is visible now with all the fallow and brush land that is developing because this land is not being worked. However, there are still a few OFs who till the land.

This July, or even this whole haying season, has been a tough one. Dry in the beginning, and the hay was thin, so there were much fewer bales per acre than usual.

Now it has been so dang wet to cut hay, and get it dry and in, before it is rained on, that this is tough to do. Many fields have been cut and the farmer has thought he could make it and didn’t. Now he has many acres mowed and the hay is useless; in some cases, it won’t even make good mulch, or bedding. 

Now the farmer is left with a dilemma. Does he use all that fuel, devote all that time, put the wear and tear on the equipment to bale that stuff and get it off the field?

No one ever said farming was easy. However, once it gets in your blood, generally the farmer is more than willing to do all this so the rest of us can eat. 

The Old Men of the Mountain who are glad the Ketchums dragged that diner all the way from midwest and planted it in Princetown so they can chow down at the Chuck Wagon are happy. So this Tuesday morning the group of OFs that made it to the Wagon were: Miner Stevens and his grandson Brad McLaughlin, Frank Fuss, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Jake Herzog, Frank Dees, Russ Pokorny, Marty Herzog, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, John Dab, Paul Guiton, Lou Schenck, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Rich Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Jeremiah Donnelly, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

One of the Old Men of the Mountain, Frank Dees of Knox, took this photo while visiting family in Illinois. Blake Durbin inspects a drone used to spray farmers’ fields, replacing large wheel tractor sprayers, airplanes, and helicopters that used to do the spraying. Durbin has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Illinois, Dees reports, adding, “Today no such thing as a dumb farmer, they work long hours.” John R. Williams responded, “Take it from an old farmer’s kid. Farmers have always worked long hours whether it was behind a horse, or with a drone.”

Tuesday, July 25, it’s almost time to pay the rent again. So far, it has not been a nice summer, according to the Old Men of the Mountain, as they met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie. 

The Old Men of the Mountain gathered at the outside of the restaurant, waiting for it to open like bees gathering on a flower. Then they all go in as a group to harvest the nectar but the OFs are not going to share it. It is all going to be used for energy to keep the OFs going until lunch when it is time to gather more nectar.

The OGs discussed how much rain was dumped on the Hill, while some who live off the Hill received only a squirt. According to the weather guys on the TV, Knox and that area received 3.4 inches of heavenly liquid in a short period of time.

This deluge prompted the OFs to talk about pollution and how years ago only a few paid any attention to this problem. How we treated our trash, what we used to make paint, and insulation, plus how we did a lot of things that was ruining our atmosphere, and not only that but our bodies too, the worst of which was smoking.

Some of the OFs told of how we paid no attention to how batteries were disposed of in the forties and fifties, even the sixties. The product of lead was used for many things; now we are much more careful on how and what lead is used for.

Batteries are used more today than they were back in the day and, with the advent of electric-powered cars, tools, computers, watches, and since just about everything else nowadays has a battery in it someplace, we hope people are more aware of how to dispose of them.


Droning on

And speaking of drones (from last week), the size of these things is getting to the point where soon they will be able to carry a human, or humans. One OF said that in Illinois some of the large farms use drones to spread pesticides instead of using crop-dusting airplanes.

These drones are powered by batteries, but this scribe bets a small engine could power a drone to get the operator off the ground. This scribe also thought, “Darn, why am I so old that I am going to miss all this and not have a drone of my own?”


Sleep intrusions

The OFs had a discussion on dreams and nightmares. It seems everyone is subjected to these sleep-time mental intrusions.

It was found that some OFs think that it could be a result of work-related stress that causes sleep disturbances. Some thought that current experiences that were out of the norm, frightening or pleasant, caused a number of these occurrences

For some people, dreams are gone in the morning; the OFs knew they dreamed but are unable to recall the dream. On the other hand, others can remember dreams so vividly they are able to recount the dream almost word for word.

One OF said his nightmares got so bad he did not want to go to sleep at night, or even take his naps during the day. This OF said that, at a visit to his cardiologist, he off-handily mentioned this situation to the doctor.

The doctor mentioned a med that he had put the OF on and told him not to take another pill, and then the doctor replaced that med with something else and the nightmares went away immediately.

Another OF said that sometimes his dreams are so real and the dreams have gone on through the night that when he wakes up in the morning it is like he never slept at all and the OF is not rested one bit.


Reading the signs

The OFs are, in a way, restaurant connoisseurs and in many restaurants they have cutesy signs and decorations throughout the restaurant. One OF thought that the more signs and collectibles they have throughout the place, the slower the service.

This OF thinks the signs are there to keep the customers amused because there are only a couple of cooks in the kitchen.

However, one of the signs that come to mind is in the Your Way Café, which by the way does not have a slew of them around, and it reads: We guarantee quick service no matter how long it takes! 

A second sign in another restaurant reads: Today has been canceled — go back to bed!

This must be a common theme because another OF said the way the sign read in the restaurant he was in was: Today has been canceled due to lack of interest!

So many of these clever bits of useless (and maybe not-so-useless) information and knowledge on bumper stickers and signs generally have no relationship to trying to sell something or impart any bit of information on the establishment displaying it. Apparently the signs are just there to fill up wall space except the ones that have a political or specific point of view to express.

Then there are ones that make no sense at all like the one stuck in many car windows: Baby on Board. What does that mean; is it OK to whack other cars in the rear end but not that one because there is a Baby on Board? Duh.

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Your Way Café and made it a point not to hit any car whether there was a sign or not were: Pete Whitbeck, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Otis Lawyer, Miner Stevens, Marty Herzog, Jimmy Darrah, Rick LaGrange, Ed Goff, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Frank Fuss, Frank Dees, Russ Pokorny, Jake Herzog, Rev. Jay Francis, Paul Guiton, John Dab, Roger Shafer, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Herb Bahrmann, Dan Pelitier, and me.

July 18, The Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. Quite often the OMOTM discuss the ride to the eating place of that Tuesday.

This past Tuesday morning, it was a little unusual. Not too often do the OFs say the ride over was at times miserable because of the drizzle, fog, and smoke — smoke; that is new.

Some said they could smell the smoke inside the car. This is not unusual because during the fall and winter when the air is heavy it is possible to smell the smoke from the homes that burn wood, or have outdoor furnaces and the smoke from these heating devices waft across the road and can be noticed in the car. This, though, is short and sometimes is nostalgic or at times will make the OF hungry.

One OF thought the smell of burning leaves in the fall is also very nostalgic and the OF really enjoyed burning them; now we are not supposed to burn our leaves. Now we are supposed to mulch them someplace, and in the towns put lawn rakings in bags or rake them to the curb, and city or town will pick them up.

Now raking leaves is nothing but work, all the fun is gone. One OF said we pay more taxes so the municipalities can pick up the leaves and now we can live longer with more aches and pains and pay more taxes.


Feline focus

Many (and that is a good word) of the OMOTM have or have had cats, or at least one cat. Some mentioned just one or two to others with dozens.

Cats, according to some of the OFs, can be friends or just a plain ole pain in the butt. The range of a cat’s affections can go from super friendly to don’t mess with me, and feral.

One OF asked questions and told of an experience at the same time. The question was: Why do cats love boxes? That question just got a bunch of shrugged shoulders for an answer.

The other question was how to use boxes to catch feral cats without them running away or clawing the catcher to pieces.

The OFs said to just place boxes out, it was not said when but the OFs feel it is safe to say when the cats are visible and around (and it was not said whether a little food was placed in each box or not) and watch the cats. They will examine the box and eventually jump in, curl up and lay down.

Then the OF should stealthily amble up to the box and close the lid. Bingo, the scrappy feline is caught. 

This may or may not work. Cats are not the easiest animal to catch if they do not want to be caught. Quite often, if something is really hard to do, it is referred to as “trying to herd cats.”


Longer lives

Our aging society is beginning to show up in groups like the Old Men of the Mountain. One OF thought that is why there is such a concern with nursing homes and homes for the elderly.

The OFs thought that in previous years people died off at an earlier age before they were all crippled up with arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and other ailments that require a ton of care which homeowners can’t provide even if they wanted to and could.

This scribe checked out that the average age for a male in 1950 was 65; in 2022, it was 79.5 or almost 80. That gives the OFs 15 more years to get all the ailments that used to put the OFs in the “home.”

On the flip side, that is 15 more years of beautiful sunrises and sunsets, watching the kids grow, contributing your accrued knowledge not only from education, but life itself, on to society so the average end of life can become still older and better.

It may be smart to invest at both ends of living: Manufacture items for babies and toddlers like strollers, and car seats and then, at the other end, manufacture items like rollators, wheelchairs, and hospital beds.


Lake picnic

For some years, one OF has offered the use of his camp as a location for an OMOTM picnic. This has turned into an annual event.

On July 19, the OFs had their “annual” picnic at this OF’s place. This outing includes the OMOTM and their wives or significant others.

This camp on Warner Lake sits right on the water and is very private. Close to the camp is a huge cedar tree where many of the OFs circled in the shade of this tree told stories and passed on misinformation, or maybe the real stuff, who knows, it all has to be sifted out.

A few of the OFs gathered in the shade of the porch, close to the goodies. Mentioned often was how lucky the group was with the weather. It was a beautiful day; considering the summer so far, this day was one of the rare ones.

The host, who is very gracious in lending the use of his home on the lake, took the OFs out in small groups on his pontoon boat for a leisurely lap around the lake.

As we reported many times before, some of the OMOTM have antique or restored later model vehicles. One OMOTM arrived in his Model-T, which ran better than some newer cars. Others showed up in restored vehicles that would be the envy of any car show.

The whole event went very well; now it is wait until next year.

This scribe is going to tattle on himself here (here-hear); a good example of what happened is in typing “who knows” in this column, when re-reading that section, this scribe saw he had typed “who nose” — ah-hah.

Finding their way to Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh on a smoky, foggy, morning, the Old Men of the Mountain were: Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Rick LaGrange, Ed Goff, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Frank Fuss, Dan Pellitier, Ken Parks, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, George Washburn, Russ Pokorny, Frank Dees, Gerry Chartier, Rev. Jay Francis, Jake Herzog, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Bob Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Paul Guiton, John Dab, and me.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, the Old Men of the Mountain appeared in a mysterious communiqué that arrived at the Middleburgh Diner. This letter was current but the year mentioned was not.

The year was 1998, and as the letter requested it was passed to the current names listed in the CC at the bottom of the letter. So this July 11, 2023 quickly was transported back in time.

This scribe proceeded, just out of curiosity, to see who would have been in attendance at the breakfast in 1998. A phone call was made to the editor of The Enterprise, requesting if she had any records of the OMOTM at that time. She did, and the editor graciously forwarded to this scribe the names of those in attendance.

This scribe found 16 Old Men of the Mountain at breakfast at that time. Of those 16, only two are still currently regular attendees, and two are still taking nourishment but are in their nineties. One does not hear very well and has trouble getting ready until later in the day; the other is 97 and has basically the same problems.

This makes four who are still taking up space on this planet, and the other 12 have passed and are having breakfast every Tuesday with all the other OFs on some cloud in the sky.


Rare beauty

The OMOTM quite often report on the weather in our area — sometimes good and other times not so good. This can be true of most any part of this sphere that anyone happens to be in at any particular time.

After all the miserable weather the area has been having, the morning of Tuesday, July 11, was an exception. The air was crisp and clear and, looking across the hills, it seemed as if one could see forever.

Around 6 or so in the morning, some fog popped up here and there, and the sun lit up the hills. Some OFs stopped and pulled to the side of the road to take it all in on their way to the Middleburgh Diner.


Drones evolve

In conjunction with the beauty of the day, the discussion of drones came up and how many people that have these new toys can take unusual pictures from perspectives they never could before. Some of the OFs have these machines and noted the early ones were driven by radio-controlled airplane engines, which are pretty touchy to start and run.

Now most of the drones are battery operated; the controls are the same but all that is necessary to get the drone started is to flick a switch and the operator with his machine is underway. 

A couple of OFs discussed how there is quite a learning curve on flying a drone, similar to a radio-controlled airplane. Once they are in the air and a distance from the operator, it is tough to know which way the drone is going. Is it away from the operator or towards the operator?

The other similarity is, once the drone passes the centerline of the operator, many of the controls reverse. Right now becomes left, and left is right.

At this time, the drone is quite a tool for the search-and-rescue teams dealing with all the flooding going on now, or when people are lost in the woods. But as one OF thought, once AI gets cranked up, and these things become more sophisticated, society is getting set up for George Orwell’s Big Brother warning in the book “1984” big time.


Precious stuff

The OFs, as they age and now have time and money, have a tendency to accrue stuff — just stuff. What happens to this stuff when the OFs get to the point they are no longer able to enjoy the stuff or get out and about like they used to?

All this stuff does is collect dust, rot, or rust away. Because of the letter mentioned at the start of this column, the OFs talked about passing all this junk, stuff, antiques, etc., on. However, the odd thing is, nobody wants it; it is only interesting to the OF.

Who do you give it to most of the time? Your kids, nah. They don’t want it; they already have their own stuff so they don’t want yours.

Quite often, when the OFs eventually get to be OFs, their kids are beginning to approach their own OF age. The OF’s trinkets are theirs — not the kids’.

However, this does not hold true especially if the trinkets and stuff are true antiques. Now may be the time for an auction, or sale but this is tough. One OF said he has become really attached to a lot of his stuff and would rather die while it was still in the barn.

The Old Men of the Mountain that attended the breakfast in 1998 were: Steve Kelly, Ivan Baker, Walt Coulter, Frank Ostrander, Herbie Wolford, Myron Filkins, Carl Slater, Keith Saddlemire, Gerd Remmers, Harold Murphy, George Washburn, and Warren Willsey who was brought as a guest because he was just a young-un at that time, and me (and those who were very active but have had to retire: Robie Osterman, 91, and Mike Willsey, 97). 

Now those who were at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh 25 years later were: Wally Guest, Ed Goff, Miner Stevens, Russ Pokorny, Harold Guest, Frank Fuss, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn again, Pete Whitbeck, Otis Lawyer, Gerry Chartier, Jake Herzog, Rev. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Herzog, Herb Bahrmann, and me again.

Another Tuesday, this one was on the Fourth of July, 2023 and the Old Men of the Mountain’s breakfast was at Hillbelly’s in Westerlo. Google finally changed the name of the restaurant to Hillbelly’s ─ before it kept referring to it as Hillbilly’s.

Many of the restaurants are some distances from where the folks who are members live. Hillbelly’s is one of these for those who live almost due north of Westerlo. Normal time for these OMOTM to make it to Hillbelly’s would be about an hour.

This was their first trip and this scribe does not know if they used GPS or not but they arrived just as some of the OFs were leaving. This carload said it took two hours to get there. They claimed they wound up in Greenville.

One of the OFs said someone there, or at least on the way, gave them directions that were pretty good so they could get to Hillbelly’s. At least once in Westerlo there is not too much there: a deli, some churches, a post office, bank, library, fire department, Hannay Hose Reel, and Hillbelly’s. That’s about it.


Wrong group

This is an after-the-fact communiqué. This happened during the breakfast, but this scribe did not know about it until afterwards.

A new member was invited to attend the breakfast to see if he liked the crowd. This new member arrived rather late and most of the OMOTM were already there. Apparently, arriving late, he noticed there was no place to sit in the back room where the OMOTM were.

Tuesday morning at Hillbelly’s there was another group of 12 meeting at the same time and in the front section, which is part restaurant and part store and there was space there. According to the fellow reporting the incident, the new guy-to-be thought they were the OMOTM and sat with them — until they started their Bible lesson.

The apparent new member told the OMOTM who invited him he knew now that was the wrong group. Well duh.


Stuck key

One of the OFs mentioned how he was having trouble turning a key in a lock and became rather irritated so he proceeded to go get a vise grip to give extra leverage on turning that key. No lock was going to outwit this OF, but it did. The key snapped off, leaving the OF with a piece of the key in the vise grip, and the other in the lock.

As luck would have it, this OF was sitting directly across from an OF who is a locksmith; the locksmith said this was one of the most common problems he runs into. He proceeded to explain how to handle this type of situation.

The locksmith OF said: Do not try and twist the key; instead spray WD-40 or an oil that the OF recommended (this scribe did not catch that), which was something like 3-in-One oil, in the lock and insert the key in and out several times, do not twist, just in and out; the key will become freer as this is done.

When the key is working in and out freely, try and twist, doing it very easy; the lock should then open. The OF said do not use graphite, or grease; all this does is collect grime and dust, which makes matters worse.

This OF began giving a lesson on locks and how they were made and worked. The OF also said most all locks are made the same: The top moves and the bottom is stationary.

Just like flush toilets, keyed locks, or a form thereof, go back to Roman times. My goodness, some things have not changed in thousands of years.

The way the OF explained it, the Roman locks were more like combination locks. As mentioned before with Roman engineering, using Roman numerals, and now combination locks, those lettered numbers somehow worked well.


Legal costs

The OFs then talked a bit about the attorney ads on TV. One OF thought attorneys charged about $200 to $400 an hour, more or less.

So, as one OG thought, the insurance company offers a grand, the lawyers say they can get more, they do, they get you $1,500 hundred dollars — big whoop! They charged $800 maybe, or more, to get it.

That is a quickie two hours of work — maybe. Whoops $1,500 minus 800 bucks; let’s see, now you get $700. Hmmm. This is just lay people talking; it might not work this way.

This is nothing against lawyers because, when the OFs are in trouble, or selling a home, or planning a will, who is the first person the OF will run to? A lawyer.

Who knows the ins and outs and makes things run smoothly in routine daily life? A lawyer. But just wait until one gets into politics, which is another story.


Mourning Bob Giebitz

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to send our condolences and prayers for the passing of an OMOTM, Bob Giebitz, known for his gardening abilities.

The Old Men of the Mountain that traveled to Hillbelly’s and solved all the world’s problems using the best lessons learned, passing the test with high marks in the lessons of common sense taught by the school of hard knocks were: Wally Guest, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Harold Guest, Doug Marshall, Russ Pokorny, Frank Fuss, Ed Goff, Roland Tozer, Rick LaGrange, Pete Whitbeck, Paul Whitbeck, Pete Parisi, Jake Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, John Dab, Paul Guiton, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.

June is almost gone, and the last Old Man of the Mountain breakfast for June was on Tuesday, the 27th of the month, at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. The longest daylight day has come and gone; Christmas and snow is just ahead, better get your shopping done.

According to some of the OMOTM, one would think that the most important item on the planet was not the almost civil war in Russia, or interplanetary finding of possible space-travel wormholes, but the sore toe on the right foot of Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees.

This is a disaster, as one OF put it; it should be in all the papers in the United States and then some. Doctors from all over the world should be consulted to find out how to heal this toe, have it healed and get Judge back on the field. These OFs think the world would be a better place if Judge were back out there.

Glutton’s punishment

To get to the Chuck Wagon, OFs come from some distance; eventually, they have to get on Route 20 either from Duanesburg and go east, or from points east from Princetown and head west. Those who were heading west on Route 20 encountered a very large bird, dead in the road about 1,500 to 2,000 feet from the Chuck Wagon.

Some thought it was an owl, some a hawk, and some a vulture. All thought it had found something dead in the road and was using it as a meal and was so intent on eating that it failed to notice an oncoming vehicle and met its demise right there in the middle of the road.

This scribe thinks it was a vulture because hawks, kestrels, and owls are not scavengers and don’t eat dead animals — vultures do. If there were a live bunny hopping across the road and some large hawk spotted it, and car/truck, bunny, and bird all met at the same time, then it could happen. Probably not.

Waning creatures

Previously, the OFs have mentioned, and this scribe has commented on, the absence of many insects or at least if spotted how few there seem to be. Bees, dragonflies, lightning bugs, butterflies, etc., they all seem to be disappearing.

On Tuesday morning, an OF mentioned how his garden had something eating his vegetables so he set some traps and found it was woodchucks. This is a rodent that has seemingly been on the wane along with the insects and snakes.

There used to be woodchuck mounds all over in the fields and they could be seen scurrying across the road quite often. This OF said he caught three of them and thinks that is the lot. The OF said they were living under a shed on the farm, not in the fields like they used to, and those were the only chucks he had seen in quite awhile.

One OF piped up saying, “With all these creatures disappearing, are we next?”

Old connections

As usual, there was a discussion on, “Where are they now?” This time, it was not necessarily on OFs but on those the OFs knew in high school, or when they were young.

This is a study in concentration and memory. First, the person or persons has to be someone other OFs knew so that part of the search starts, “Do you remember XYZ?” And, if no one remembers, then that hunt stops.

Quite often, these are sad trips when one is found, because of the ages of those in this inquiry find so many of those being inquired about are either sick or dead. Another rather common find is that they now live in Florida, or Georgia, or the Carolinas.

One OF commented, “What are we chopped liver? We are still here.”

Another OF retorted, “There is no place I would rather be than right here.”

Again this reminded this scribe of a song sung by Johnny Russell, “Red Necks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer” — great song.

All of sudden, people in the OFs’ high school, or not-too-often college yearbooks, or classes, or even neighbors that the OFs only knew on the edges back then, and rarely if ever spoke to, are now lost friends that the OFs somehow want to contact, or really know how they are doing.

One OF commented that, even though they seem to be missing quite a few, and the group at the class reunions is getting smaller, we seem to be living longer. We do have our aches and pains but seem to be in better shape.

One OF said, “You can’t prove it by me. Every morning when I wake up I say, ‘Oh darn, I woke up again; now I’ve got another day to get through.’” Talk about a downer OF.

A second OF said just the opposite; the OG used a cliché that is heard often. The OF said, when he wakes up, he rushes to the bathroom to look in the mirror and see how much better looking he’s gotten since the day before. 

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and all better looking than the day before were: Miner Stevens, Rick LaGrange, Paul Whitbeck, Doug Marshall, Frank Fuss, Roland Tozer, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Marty Herzog, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Duncan Bellinger, Paul Guiton, John Dab, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Lou Schenck, and me.

It was Tuesday, June 20, when the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie. The original Old Men (by the way those who are still here are really OMOTM now) used to meet after the crowds left the restaurants (hmm, crowds?) around 9 or 9:30 in the morning; now the OMOTM are the crowd and are standing at the door waiting for the restaurants to open up at 7 a.m.

This past Tuesday, six or eight OFs gathered in front of the restaurant waiting for it to open at 7 and watched two young girls set the tables and get the place ready for all the OGs to attack a little later on before they had to run off to school.

As some of the OFs age, the later time makes more sense, but the younger OFs have things planned and better things to do than have breakfast all morning. One OF commented that he moves so slowly now that he couldn’t even get out of the way of a train if it was standing still. Doesn’t make any sense but the intent is right on.

Still around

There was some discussion on who was still around, and doing what — if anything. This is a frequent topic at the breakfasts when something happens to an OMOTM, or an acquaintance of one or many of the other OFs.

Discussion about the OMOTM’s, friends and relatives, and people the OFs grew up with is not uncommon. The OFs who have the most aches and pains point to the fact they are beginning to outlive many of these people, and it is a little disconcerting. Belonging to a group like the Old Men of the Mountain helps a lot.

On the water

Our mountains have a number of lakes and good-sized ponds scattered about and the OFs discussed these for a bit and how they have changed from 70 or so years ago. The talk of the local lakes carried over from last week so it must be getting close to summer.

The talk of boats and the motors the OFs as YFs used to propel them was interesting, as the names of the motors are rarely heard today, names like Neptune and Evinrude.

The OFs were talking about what they did as kids, or maybe very young adults, especially around water. If some of this “horseplay” was done today they would all be arrested.

It seems back then the dumb things that were done by the young-uns were dumb things. Not the violent, dangerous, and destructive activities of today that seem so way out of hand and harmful.

“Then and now”

The OFs talked about White Sulphur Springs on Route 443 and how many of the OFs and their friends would go there generally as members of a church group or club of some sort. Today that very large building with its spacious grounds is all gone.

Driving on Route 443 in that area now, one would never know it was there. On June 7, 2017, by 2:43 in the afternoon, the resort was all gone. Some of the OFs who knew it was there and even spent time at the resort could now drive right by and not know it was ever there.

It was a time to discuss the Hilltowns to a certain extent. Just like OFs (whether OMOTM or just OFs), many times the conversation is just about “then and now.” In a way, discussing “then and now” is fun; sometimes it is what keeps OFs young.

Historic cabin

One OMOTM is a direct descendant of one of the original settlers of the area around Warner Lake. These settlers built a log cabin at the north end of the lake in the mid-1700s.

This OF has been trying to locate where this cabin was for quite some time to no avail — until recently. This past Tuesday morning, the OF related some of what he went through in his search for the log cabin.

The OF discovered that, as time went on, the family built another home because the saw mill apparently did very well and leaving the log cabin appeared to be a good idea. Recently, according to the OF, there was discussion on restoring the original home but that seemed to be unreasonable so they decided to tear it down.

In tearing down the homestead, the OF said he finally found the log cabin he was trying to locate for years. The home was built right where the log cabin stood.

The OF said the foundation was still there and so were parts of the cabin that were used in construction of the new home. The OF also said that, after taking the cabin down, what was not used, like the foundation, was packed in blue clay. (On the Hill, that is not hard to find.)

The OF said it is in perfect condition. So now he can cross that off his list of things to do. He has found the cabin.

The Old Men who arrived early at the Your Way Café in Schoharie watched the youngsters through the windows (like a play) setting things up in time for the café to open. When done, the smallest went to the door and opened it up for oldsters to enter the establishment. The door holder was no taller than three feet, and offered a little smile with the, “You’re Welcome” as many OFs said “Thank You” to the little waif holding the door. This was beyond cute and those OFs were: Doug Lonnstrom, Doug Marshall, Roland Tozer, Ed Goff, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Pete Whitbeck, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, John Dab, Paul Guiton, Lou Schenck, Dick Dexter, Jack Norray, Duncan Bellinger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, and me.

We are in the middle of June, and on June 13, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. 

The OMOTM who are falling off the Schoharie side of the mountain are finding prices less expensive (for the most part) than falling off the Albany side. Not 100-percent of the time — but enough so it is noticeable.

However, with the current price of gas (as one OF put it) when that is figured in, it is best to shop close to home for small amounts and small things. For big-ticket items ,shop around, but one OF said he uses the ’net more than he thought he would. 

The way inflation is, and apparently is going, things are much more expensive for just routine items necessary for living. One OG thought somebody is making big bucks off this. It is either pay the price or do without.

This will all come out in the wash was a thought, we’ve been through it before, tain’t new Magee. Of course, these OFs have 70 or 80 years of living to draw on with a lot of comin’ and goin’ in between so the thought was well put.


Too fast to photograph

Getting to the restaurants, or getting to anyplace, or just sitting on the back porch, there are many events in life that are interesting, scary, or just plain, “what the heck!” that happen in an instant and, even if the OF wanted to capture it on camera, it is so fast that time does not allow the viewer to gather up anything to save the experience.

At  breakfast on Tuesday morning, one OF mentioned such an experience traveling to the restaurant, and another OF mentioned having the same thing happen to him and, by the time he could record it ,the scene was gone.

How many of these blips in life happen to everybody and all we have is the oral record of them and then some seem so far-fetched that no one believes them.


Pondering pills

The OMOTM have covered this topic before and maybe more than once; it is the number of pills some of the OFs take in the course of a day. One OF went through a new experience last week and that was having a stent put in his heart.

Today, this is so common it is like having the tonsils removed. However, with this OF, some pills were added to his already bouquet of pills.

On Tuesday morning, the OF took a handful of pills before eating, which was commented on, and the OF said he takes more pills than this at night. The pharmaceutical companies must love this OG. 

Now the question came up: How do the pills know where to go? How does a pill for the prostate know to go just to the prostate?

One OF said that he thinks some of the time it doesn’t and that is why we have all these awful side effects. The listing of the side effects is scary, some get to the final side of the medicine as even death. Now that is a side effect!

Many of the OFs claim they do the same thing they do a lot of in the hospital: They plop the whole wad of pills in their mouths at the same time. What in blazes must your body think is going on when this whole concoction of medicines hits the stomach at the same time? Somehow the body has to figure out what medicine goes where.


What should schools teach?

It is graduation time, and some of the schools have poster-sized photos of the graduating class members on the lawn of the schools. This is a neat touch but was not around when the OMOTM graduated. We were lucky to have Brownie cameras to record the event.

Some of the OFs are glad they are some distance from school because the OFs say they don’t think they could learn what kids have to learn today. Talking in numbers is something the OFs do not understand.

One OF said everything today is just zeros, and ones. That’s all there is. Another OF thought that is how we are going to talk to aliens — zeros and ones, along with do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti, do.

One OF commented the other way. This OF said shop and metalworking should be brought back into school. This OF said that many kids graduating today do not know how to work, or even what work is.

We need carpenters, plumbers, electricians, truck drivers, yes and even more farmers. This OF said that, even with all the disasters going on, the population of the world is increasing and we are going to have to take care of each other.

This OF doesn’t believe it is going to be done with everyone dealing in zeros and ones. Someone is going to have to know how to drive a nail, and measure a board.

Those OFs who drove to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and got there in vehicles designed by kids with their zeros, and ones put together by kids who took shop, or attended BOCES were: Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Ed Goff, Doug Marshall, Frank Fuss, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Roland Tozer, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, George Washburn, Ken Parks, Jake Herzog, Gerry Chartier, John Dab, Paul Guiton, Rev. Jay Francis, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Dick Dexter, Jack Norray, and me, who says it take all kinds, and don’t do away with shop, metalworking, art, or music.