With the nice sleeping weather, this scribe is finding it harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning.   The scribe is still awake but wants to just lie there — nothing hurts, and the day looks fine, and there are no disasters (yet).

However, duty calls because it is Tuesday, Aug. 13, and it is time for the Old Men of the Mountain to gather at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg.

In order to find our way to Duanesburg, almost all of the OMOTM have to travel west on either Route 88, or Route 7, or the Schoharie Turnpike. Those of us who traveled on the Schoharie Turnpike noticed the bright red sun; it looked like you could reach out and touch it, or drive right into it. The OMOTM noticed this because on routes 7 or 88, the red sun appeared in the heavens like it should. This was quite an optical illusion that caught the attention of the OFs on the turnpike.

The OFs also noticed that this year the sides of the roads are like bouquets with asters, trefoil, Queen Anne’s lace, and whatever other weeds are mixed in, and the OFs wonder if it is the salt on the highway that produced this proliferation of splendor because most fields are not like this. There was a very wet spring this year and some of the OFs thought that might have brought forth the beautiful flora, and also hastened the growth of the trees.

Watching the OFs order their breakfast was interesting on Tuesday morning. For some reason, this scribe tuned into a few of the OFs as they ordered breakfast. Not all the OFs, because pretty soon the collection of OGs becomes rather noisy as more and more show up.

But this clan is a fussy bunch of old guys. Each breakfast had its own little twist. The waitress must have her own style of shorthand to get all this down and get it right.

Pent-up energy was released through work

The OFs’ talk drifted back to the forties and fifties and early mornings on the farm, and the radio playing in the barn. Most of the farmers back then found that cows enjoyed listening to music and produced better.

This scribe has mentioned before WGY and the early morning farm show with the Chanticleer, John Charles Stevenson. The OFs were drifting back into a quieter, more peaceful time.

This brought up all that is going on currently with the young people and how they are behaving. The OFs pinned it down to basically two things:

— The advent of the internet with constant news and constant shoot-em-ups; and,

— Pent-up energy that has to go someplace.

In the locale of the mountains, the OFs said, we were no different. We had the pent-up energy, only it had a release and it was called work. The OFs got into farm-boy trouble but it was nothing like today. An OF said we all had guns, many had more than one, but would never think about shooting another person.

What’s wrong with this picture?

An OF who lives on the water and has a few boats said that, over the weekend, he had house company. The OF said he was having breakfast and the OF kept looking out the window and finally said to his company, “Something is not right out there.”

There was a deer on the lawn but that wasn’t the problem; deer appear quite often. The more the OF looked, it finally occurred to him! A boat was missing.

He went out to check and, sure enough, a boat was missing. Well, that would dampen your day. Now what? The OF didn’t say.

Smart fish

Speaking of boats, the OFs queried another OF who is a fisherman, and wanted to know how he was doing. The reply was “not well” because he was fishing for a particular type of fish.

The OFs said the fish are there; the OF should be catching them. The  OF (who fishes) said the fish are smarter than he is and know what is going on.

Then the OFs started talking about different lures; the OF said he has tried them but claimed the fish are not that dumb. This OF says, as soon as his boat is in the water, the word gets out among the fish that he is on the water trying to catch them.

Another OF said it is not only fish but he thinks rabbits and deer do the same thing. This OF says he can walk in the woods by his place with a stick and the deer come so close he could tap them on the butt with the stick.

“Let me go in the woods with a gun,” the OF continued, “and I think there is not a deer within miles.”

One more OF then advised the fisherman to leave his poles and tackle box on the dock and the fish might just jump in the boat.

No one will ever accuse the OFs of having deep, tedious, meaningful discussions.

Canine companions

The animal vein chit chat continued but this time it was all about dogs some of the OFs had. Combining all the conversations, one would think some dogs were people and part of the family. Sleeping on the bed. Special diets.

Nothing happens for the start of the day until the mutt is taken care of, nothing even for the kids — the dog comes first. This scribe wonders if the dogs know all this.

The OFs insist that dogs, and even cats, can tell the weather before the weatherman comes on the radio or TV and tells listeners the area where the weather is going to happen. One OF said his dog heads to the bedroom before there is even a sound of thunder off in the distance.

A few of the OFs said their animals act peculiarly before a thunderstorm and the OFs say they have learned the dog’s signals.  Who is training whom?

Those OFs who made it to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg, and all their animals were behaving normally, were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Art Williams, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Roger Shafer, Marty Herzog, Peter Whitbeck, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Gerry Chartier, Rev. Jay Francis, Mike Willsey, Jamie Dairah, Gerry Irwin, Ted Feurer, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

Location:

Again, a morning mist greeted the Old Men of the Mountain as they left the comfort of their beds on Tuesday, Aug. 6, and headed to the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

The opening conversation was a little unusual. A couple of the OFs were talking about comments the minister made in church Sunday.

The OFs were surprised the minister mentioned downsizing because he has been retired for some years, but one of the items he has to downsize (and is having trouble doing) is the five motorcycles he has in his garage. Now that is downsizing, and with that kind of hobby this minister would fit right in with the OMOTM.

Our Texas traveler is back. However, this time he didn’t ride his motorcycle all the way from San Antonio, Texas to upstate New York in the rain like he did last time.

This time he flew, and took the train.

Discussing motorcycles with the OFs is a diverse issue. The OMOTM motorcycle riders are like artists, meaning they are a slightly different breed of people and are dedicated to their passion for riding the road on these machines.

Self-care, the old-fashioned way

Again, the OFs had a conversation that took us back to when the OFs were young. The topic was the most common way of taking care of yourself on the farm.

Showers were not on the country farm. For the most part, it was the clawfoot tub, or a round tub purchased along with the same tub used for watering cattle.

Water was boiled on the stove, and lye soap was plentiful and used frequently. Lye soap. Yikes! Needless to say with scalding hot water, and soap made from lye, the OFs were clean.

The rest of the duties that today we perform in the bathroom were found elsewhere. On a number of farms, there was no special room for this routine — it was done in the kitchen although some farms did have a laundry room where the bath was taken.

The bodily function that was extremely necessary did have its own room, and its name was “The Outhouse.”

Stories were told of using this detached room from the house. One story told of cows poking their heads through the door when it was in use to see what was going on, to a night-time visit to the house in the woods at 12 midnight by another curious animal.

Only this wasn’t an OF, but a person on the distaff side of the OF, and the animal was a bear. This outhouse experience did not happen on a particular farm but a cabin on a log pond with the name “The Goodnow Flow” in Newcomb, New York.

All the screaming in the world did not reach any ears but the ears of the bear. It is assumed that this noise startled the bear, and the bear decided it was best to get out of there. The OF did not relate if the business intended for the outhouse was accomplished or not, but one OF was greeted by a frightened, exasperated lady tumbling through the door, out of breath and at a loss for words.

The buzz

Time-jumping to the present, one OF said he had a bunch, swarm, or definitely a mess of bees going into his house through a small hole at the end of the house’s soffit vent. The OF is perplexed by this because everything is aluminum, and this is a very small space where the edge of the soffit and the flashing meet.

These are honey bees and the OF does not want to kill them so he went to the bee man of the group. (This OF has been mentioned before in this column because he is an expert.)

The advice from this expert OMOTM follows: Because it is so late in the season that the bees started building the hive in the soffit, you have to leave them be. The bees will never make enough honey to carry them through the winter and they will all die. In the spring, plug up the hole. The bees will eat all the honey they have made during the winter, and the dry crumbs won’t cause any problems.

Better than Abby

As this scribe keeps reporting: If an OF has a question or needs advice, just ask around the table — you got it. This is not saying all the advice is good advice but it is advice anyway.

Do not ask about politics or your love-life because you are likely to get in really big trouble. This advice is generally always wrong.

Hole in the universe

As anyone becomes older (not only the OFs), there are some things that happen that are not pleasant. One example is: A lot of times, the OFs outlive many of their friends and even family members.

When the OF finally passes on, there are not many left to go to his funeral, or even plan it, or even know much about the old goat.

The OFs were talking about doing a family history and having someone know your wishes and where your paperwork is, and this someone should be the family member you can trust to pass that information along.

Even though some of the OFs think that doing this paperwork might not mean much in the scheme of things, one OF said, “We really do mean a lot. If we weren’t who we are or where we are, there would be one heck of a hole in the universe, and believe it or not the universe would collapse in on itself if we were not here.”

Maybe it is who the OFs hang out with, but the OFs seem to think there is more white hair around now than there used to be. Some of the OFs said they haven’t noticed.

One OF thought it was the stress of living now that has people getting gray hair earlier, so even though we see white hair, the ones running around with the crop of white on the top of their heads are not that old.

The OFs who arrived at the Your Way Café in Schoharie at one time or another, and left full and ready to go home and take a nap were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Roger Shafer, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Rich Donnelly, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazio, Ray Kennedy, Harold Grippen, and me.

— Photo by John R. Williams

Early morning in Schoharie: “Around 6:30, the sun was shining through a light mist. It was quiet, calm, and the aroma was clear. Small-town atmosphere all around,” writes John R. Williams of this scene. “Some of the OMOTM were outside of the Country Café, watching what was a sample of the old lamplighter putting out the lights coming up the walk, only this was the workman that waters the plants coming with his wagon of water, watering the plants as he drove along.”

The Old Men of the Mountain made the trek to the Country Café in Schoharie on a beautiful Tuesday morning on July 30. The Farmers Almanac has our area down for a cool summer. Can’t prove it by the OMOTM and the 90-degree days.

As usual, the OMOTM talked about their health, and the health of others. Tuesday morning, the chatter was on one very bad habit — that of smoking.

There is one OF who is going through the process of trying to get rid of lung cancer. Tuesday morning, he and a few others admitted, at one time, they were heavy smokers. This brought about OFs who had family members or friends who were heavy smokers and how many of them have managed to quit. 

The OFs discussed some who had passed away from the habit. 

The problem is that, when the OFs were YFs, there was no stigma attached to smoking. The Army used to pass cigarettes out for free and even, to some extent, encouraged smoking

At the age the OFs started smoking, it wasn’t but a few years of puffing on these white nails and the OFs, along with everyone else, were hooked on the nicotine. The OFs did not know what we know today and how dangerous the cigarettes, or cigars, or pipes were.

The OFs were unsuspecting guinea pigs, because, as suggested, the OFs think tobacco companies knew from Day One that nicotine was addictive.

One OF said he thought the medical profession also had hints, but the doctors themselves kept on smoking, especially cigars. Another OF said his doctor scolded him about smoking while he was smoking a cigar.

Duh! The message here, the OFs guess, is, if you smoke — quit! Throw those things away! They know it is hard but some have done it that way.

One OF said his father woke up one morning, hacking and coughing his head off. The OF said his dad stared at that pack of cigarettes for awhile, walked out on the front porch, and heaved that pack of cigarettes as far as he could; it landed on the edge of a hay field

The OF said his father never lit another cigarette, but he was a miserable old coot for some time. He still died young, but maybe he lived longer than if he had kept on smoking. The best thing, the OFs say, is never start.

Applejack is potent

The OFs went from smoking to drinking; this time it was the making of a special brew called applejack.

This was made right in the farmer’s basement or outdoors in a wooden keg. This stuff was lethal. 

Applejack was clear as water, smooth as silk, and was easy going down. Some OFs reported the inexperienced would not know what was happening to them because it appeared nothing was.

About three-eights to half of an inch in the bottom of a water glass was all you wanted of this stuff. The uninitiated would fill the glass half full.

The OFs said they warned them beforehand that was way too much but, being as the applejack was so smooth, the drinkers had no idea, until they went to stand up and found they couldn’t. A great “I told you so” event for the OFs. 

Smoking and drinking were great topics for the OFs from the school of hard knocks because they have found neither one is worth the effort.

The trials of meds

Another rehash the OFs talked about was what it was like when they were in school. This time, the discussion disclosed how little we knew about medicine, and what few medicines we had.

After World War II, the medical profession took off as all kinds of antibiotics were coming out, all kinds of procedures were being done, and new medicines were being developed.

According to one OF, that might not have been a good thing. This OF said that he has to take a medicine that tastes so awful that he studies the glass for a long time before he gathers the courage to bring it to his mouth and drink it.

Another OF added that one of the pills he takes (which is like a horse pill) sometimes becomes stuck crosswise in his esophagus and doesn’t go down but starts to dissolve; the taste is horrendous.

The OF says he drinks another gulp of water as quick as he can, but it doesn’t help, and that awful taste hangs around for a good half hour.

Another OF questioned, “What is in this stuff?”

Bygone diseases

When the OFs were in school, there was such a thing as a quarantine (isolation of people or animals out of a certain area to prevent the spread of disease).

These diseases are rare now and, because of vaccinations, many people have never heard of them. A couple of OFs said they missed a whole year of school because of the mumps.

If mumps was in your household, none of the other kids in the house could go to school until they had them. Measles was the same way; whooping cough was another winner. Measles, when the OFs were young, could develop into rheumatic fever, and from there it was singing in the angel choir. 

It is much different today. Polio now is almost extinct, and the OMOTM are very familiar with that one. When the OFs were in school some of these diseases, when caught, put the OF back one whole grade.

Escaped bison

The OFs started singing: 

“Oh give me a home

where the Buffalo roam,

Where the dee

and the antelope play.

Where seldom is heard

 a discouraging word, 

And the skies

are not cloudy all day.” 

The Old Men of the Mountain who were at the Country Café in Schoharie, discussed the escaped bison roaming somewhere in the hills of Schoharie and Otsego counties. The members of the Old Men of the Mountain choir singing about the buffalo were: Dave Williams, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Otis Lawyer, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Pete Whitbeck, Wally Guest, Bill Bartholomew, John Rossmann, Paul Nelson, Jim Heiser, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Rich Donnelly, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Marty Herzog, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Rich Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

This choir was as flat as a pancake.

Location:

Many of the Old Men of the Mountain took advantage of the weather break and slept in a tad; however, they dressed in a hurry, putting on some of the clothes they wore yesterday, but they made it by about 6:30 a.m. to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh.

As usual, the restaurant was ready for the OMOTM, so on a rainy Tuesday morning, July 23, the OMOTM were set for another normal day. They were full of stories that didn’t amount to a hill of beans; nonetheless, the OFs were ready for whatever came their way during the day.

Old news first. In a recent OMOTM column, there was a picture of a 1932 Model A hotrod owned by one of the OMOTM. This vehicle was taken to the large car show at Lansing Manor at the Gilboa power station where it won another trophy. This vehicle has to be seen to be appreciated. Congratulations are in order!

Overtaxed

An early conversation was on taxes, and how they are getting out of hand in New York State. This, coupled with the salaries that our elected officials make in New York, have the OFs thinking that both taxes and the amount the legislators make are becoming disparagingly large in comparison to all the other states in the country.

One OF suggested that a smaller portion of the population of the state is taking care of a larger portion of the state that does nothing to support them, and that includes those that sit in those fancy buildings in Albany.

One OF said that he does not know what they are thinking; they are killing the farmer in New York with regulations and taxes. This OF said, “Just look at all the fallow land in our area from farms that have gone under due to the weight of all the laws and taxes piled on by the State of New York.”

Another OF suggested the big farms might prosper because they can hire people to navigate the system. But yet another OF added that he knows farms that were large to him, for instance, two- to five-hundred head of cattle, having problems, and these farms are also going under.

Those who fly away during the winter commented on what it is like in other states, not only taxes but power bills, the price of gas, and things like that. One OF asked why don’t those who fly away just stay where they fly to.

The reasons were many; after sorting it out, it came down to basically doctors, family, and friends — not dollars and cents.

Enhanced license is tough to get

Somehow, tied in to traveling to other places, the talk centered on getting the new enhanced licenses. Not one OF had the right information when he first went to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

One OF said he went with a wad of papers to prove he was who he said he was, and he was still missing one bit of information. Another OF said he did the same thing, and had the same situation, only his problem was that he had the wrong copy.

Still another OF showed up and he said he knew the girl waiting on him and his paperwork was still not right. He commented that the person waiting on him knew who he was, but according to the DMV he couldn’t prove it.

One OF said he didn’t know why he was getting one of those fancy licenses because he is not planning on going anywhere. Right now a trip to Cobleskill or Catskill is a trip for him, but who knows?

The OF said, “Maybe an opportunity might pop up and I will get a chance to go to a ballgame in Montreal. Still,” the OF continued, “I’m 87, and the license is good until I’m 95, if I make it to that number. I doubt I will still be driving … then again, there is that ‘maybe’ word, and I have the money now, so why not go for it? I get my picture taken to boot!”

“You, in front of a camera and having your picture taken voluntarily, are a hoot. You should have 40 or 50 copies made and give one to each of us,” an OF interjected, “We could pin it on our OMOTM hats and it would scare all the fleas, flies, mosquitoes, and ticks away.”

With friends like this, the OF certainly does not need any enemies.

Small cars

As usual, the topic of vehicles came up; this can be counted on by this scribe as a Tuesday-morning conversation every Tuesday. This past Tuesday morning, the talk was about vehicles so small that they approach the size of upholstered roller skates.

The OFs at our end of the table said they would not feel safe in one of those cars that are the size of one tire on a tractor trailer. 

One OF used this as an analogy. Just imagine sitting at a red light with a semi trailer truck right next to you, and, when you look out the side window, all you see is valve stem. The OF said, “If the tractor was bob-tailing and took off in a hurry, it would suck your little car right under it.”

“Not for me,” the OF said.

For those lacking knowledge of the term “valve stem,” Wikipedia tells us that it is a self-contained  valve that opens to admit gas to a chamber (such as air to inflate a tire), and is then automatically closed and kept sealed by the pressure in the chamber, or a spring, or both, to prevent the gas from escaping. You’re welcome.

However, that does not preclude that some of the OFs do own electric cars, but these vehicles are regular cars, not salesman samples.

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh in vehicles of their choice were: Roger Chapman, Paul Nelson, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Don Guest, (Don is headed overseas to compete in a triathlon) (many of the OMOTM’s total exercise is getting out of bed, and getting dressed, so the reader can tell Don Guest is a guest), Bill Bartholomew, David Williams, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Shafer, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Art Frament, Rich Donnelly, Ken Parks, Marty Herzog, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier,  Ray Kennedy, Harold Grippen, and me. 

Location:

On Tuesday, July 16, the Old Men of the Mountain shook out of bed and high-tailed it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. Middleburgh is a beautiful village along the Schoharie Creek in the county of Schoharie.

If you take Route 88 to the Central Bridge exit, you might head towards Middleburgh then branch out up Route 30 into the hills, or down Route 145 and take some of the side roads into the hills or even go in a different direction from 88 (maybe northwest to Sharon Springs) then go up into the hills. The rides will all be leisurely, picturesque drives.

One of the OFs’ first conversations of the morning was how red the sky was about 5:30 a.m. The old adage “red sky in the morning, sailors take warning” was brought up by some, but the Navy guys in the group said that was a lot of hooey, and Tuesday bore that out; it was — at least in our area — a nice day.

Maybe someplace else it wasn’t so nice, but here it was. The OFs supposed that the reverse was a lot of hooey too; “red sky at night, sailors’ delight” doesn’t mean much either. The sailor OFs confirmed that with a yes.

Show and tell

One OF obtained a bag full of rust-encrusted old tools from whoever (this scribe missed who donated these tools to the OF). The OF said he cleaned some of them up and brought one to the breakfast for another show and tell.

One OF brings a car; another a tool. No one could identify the tool and there were a few supposed experts at the breakfast but they could not ascertain what it was. What everyone agreed on is that it was from a tool box, or bag, that used to come with different pieces of basically farm equipment when purchased new, way back when the OFs were young farmers.

One OF said it wasn’t only farm equipment but older cars too, which came with their own set of tools. An OF said that his family’s Hupmobile came with quite a nice tool set so the owner was able to do his own basic maintenance. Hupmobiles were built from 1909 through 1939 by the Hupp Motor Car Company. 

Another OF said, with today’s vehicles, even a mechanic can’t fuss with his own car if it isn’t in a garage with all the special tools and diagnostic equipment required to work on the car at hand.

“Heck,” one OF said, “we used to have two spare tires with some cars, one in each front fender. Today, the owner gets a sample tire hidden under the floorboards.” The OF continues, “Sometimes it is necessary to take half the car apart just to get at the spare tire, which looks like it belongs on a wheelbarrow instead of on a car anyway.” 

Working — the system

An OF then brought up the subject of working. This is brought up quite often because it is the major portion of the OF’s life and much goes on during that time.

However, one OF made this observation: Why work? What does it get you?

This OF said he is finding out that, the longer he lives, those who were on the dole and did no work at all are getting along better than he is and they were on government money. This OF claims there must have been a school somewhere that taught kids how to do this.

He thinks that, when they graduated from this school, all were handed a teacher’s degree and they went on to either teach other kids in groups or in an individual home-school atmosphere how to work the system. This OF wondered what he worked for.

Obviously, he was having a bad day.

Racey talk

The OFs started a conversation about NASCAR, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. This was a little unusual because rarely do they discuss racing even though the OFs talk cars, trucks, tractors, and equipment of all sorts, but rarely racing.

This scribe thinks they were combining NASCAR with all racing because they were talking about racing in the forties, fifties, and sixties and NASCAR like we know NASCAR today was not operating like that back then.

The OFs were talking about a bunch of guys getting together, getting a rule book, and building a car. It certainly is not like that today. Back then, it was called Stock Car Racing, which implied it was a stock car bought at a dealership, or off a buddy, and then they fixed up the car and went racing.

One OF suggested he thinks there are still tracks like that around the country but these tracks are not sanctioned by NASCAR. The OFs agreed there may be some like that.

Some of the OFs enjoyed going to the local tracks and watching friends and neighbors race. Many of these tracks are still racing and the thrill is still there for those who go. Back in the forties, fifties, and sixties, some of the OFs were buddies of those who raced the stock-car circuit and even worked on the cars.

Tick alert

Just as a public service, the OFs want to warn all about the influx of the tick population this year, especially in the Hilltowns and in Columbia and Greene counties.

One member of our group is going through a Lyme disease treatment right now for two tick bites. This OF thinks he picked up the ticks in Greene County.

It is a good practice if you are out and about in high grass or brush that you have someone check you over for ticks. They should be checking the back of your neck and the places on your body that you can’t see. At the very least, check the best you can by yourself with a mirror.

Condolences

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their condolences and prayers for the Wolford family and friends on the death of Barbara Wolford, the wife of the founding father, Herb Wolford, of the Old Men of the Mountain.

Those OMOTM that were at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh were: Pete Whitbeck, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Jake Lederman, Duncan Bellinger, Mike Willsey, Winnie Chartier, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Thank goodness the Old Men of the Mountain had some really nice weather when they went to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow on July 9. The ride over the mountain in the early morning crisp air, with low humidity, made for a pleasant, unhurried drive.

The OFs who drove over the mountain to Pop’s Place were treated to spectacular views. The fields and houses and barns on the Catskills off in the distance were visible, and appeared like they were just around the next turn.

OFs in each carload had their own stories to tell. One OF mentioned that coming down from the high spot on Route 360 there is a place that is kestrel heaven. 

A little research revealed that the kestrel is our smallest and most common falcon. The male American falcon is very colorful and one of the most beautiful hawks in North America. Generally, the OFs are able to see six to eight of those birds in that area. They have been dwindling in number.

The OF who was relating this observation said that on his trip over the mountain Tuesday morning he was able to spot only one. The OF inquired as a comment, not a question, “Where have all these birds gone?”

OFs in another car reported having an interesting deer encounter (just about in the same spot). The OFs told of having two deer run in front of the car. These deer were spotted by the driver in plenty of time to slow down and let them do their thing.

However, when they got closer, they saw two fawns, which appeared to be twins, running along with the two adults. The fawns became startled and started running down the middle of the road in oncoming traffic just ahead of the OF’s car.

This went on for at least a quarter of a mile or more. Finally, the two fawns decided to cut across the road in front of the car and then disappeared into the woods.

The OFs said those two fawns were no bigger than a good-sized cocker spaniel. One OF thought that momma deer would have a fun time rounding up those two.

Rainy Virginia

One OF’s father has recently passed away in Virginia and the OF had to go to Virginia right after July 4th to take care of business down there.

The OF gave us a weather report of what it was like in Virginia. It was not pretty. The OF said that rain came down in buckets, creeks over-flowed — everything was a mess.

1932 hot rod is hot stuff

Then along came show and tell.

One OF showed up driving his newly, or semi-newly, 1932 Ford Street hot rod with only 600 miles on it. This little beauty has over $100,000 of work in it and is some vehicle. Fire-engine red with a black convertible top, and no windows, this is a fair weather vehicle for sure.

All the shiny parts are stainless steel, not chrome. Its rumble seat  brought back memories of rides in the rumble seats of the Model A’s in the OFs’ day. The vehicle had dignified hand striping, with a cowl stripe that went all the way from cowling to the back.

Vehicles like this don’t cost a buck-eighty. The 175 horsepower engine had a nice rumble to it, not one of those raucous loud noises so whoever is around can’t speak to someone else because of the din.

Some of the OFs said they would be so nervous driving a car like this it would be parked in the living room just so they could look at it and not drive it.

Pondering eternity

The OFs talk at times about death and dying and, at the ages of some of the OFs, this situation could be close at hand. The OFs are at the short end of the ruler.

The OFs don’t dwell on it, although the subject does come up from time to time. Tuesday morning, the subject was: It is a good thing we are old when we die!

Some pass on in their sleep (the OFs think that is a nice way to go). Others have hurt for so long they can’t wait to leave. One OF thought the newer medicines, and technology in the medical field gives many OFs a better quality of life until they are called up yonder.

How do we meet those who have gone on before the OFs wondered? What age are they? Are they the same as they were when they passed on, or are they young and vital?

Do they remember only the good stuff, and none of the bad? How far back do we go with friends and relatives?

One OF suggested we have eternity to figure it out so what’s the rush. Then another OF asked what do we do for eternity? An OF said maybe we come back as somebody else on another planet, and maybe we have already been on the other planet and Earth is just one stop for us in eternity.

No one knows.

The next question that came up was what about those who are born and live for only a few weeks or months: What is it like for them? How about my dog, do I get to see her again? If we are talking eternity here, we know it can’t be linear, or a circle, or a sphere, or a box because they all have edges, and with edges we can’t have eternity.

It has to be something else. Boy, this is getting weird.

The OMOTM who crossed the mountain or traveled the flats to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow and had plenty to eat were: Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Rich Donnelly, David Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Ken Parks, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.

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On Tuesday, the second day of July, we ask the question, “Again, what happened to June?”

This Tuesday, the Old Men of the Mountain met at a new eating establishment in Voorheesville, Gracie’s Kitchen. Gracie’s sits right where the old Voorheesville Diner used to be. Gracie’s physical building is a lot different; at least some of the OMOTM’s taller members can stand up straight in Gracie’s.

The OFs commented on how the trains rolling by in Voorheesville are the same as they always have been, and one OF said they haven’t slowed down any either.

Years ago, the OMOTM stood in the middle of these Voorheesville tracks one sunny morning and had their picture taken. That picture has popped up recently in a couple of places. The OFs mentioned how many of those in the picture are now dead. It is an old picture, and we are the OFs.

It is easy to imagine all the OMOTM who have passed on are gathering on a cloud and having breakfast just like down on our planet. One OF wondered if we eat in heaven. No one there really knew. There are references but no one really knows how to interpret them.

The OFs started talking about trains as they rolled by. Most of the trains were carrying trailers.

This scribe does not remember actually how many went by during the short time we were there, but he is guessing six going toward Rochester and Syracuse and one going down toward New York City and all seemed to have trailers on them.

The trains going by the restaurant appear to be going at a good rate so UPS, Schneider, and all those other trucking companies should have their shipments by 11 a.m. or sooner.

Foul fowl

The OFs next discussed (from their farming days) nasty turkeys and roosters. Chicken are cute and hens make great pets, but sometimes roosters develop a real mean streak.

One OF had a rooster named Herbie and he was the best watch dog, acting similar to guinea hens. Anyone who showed up — Herbie went after them. It got so that Herbie would roost on the hood of the visitor’s car and defy whoever it was to get out.

If a visitor did get out, and Herbie knew it, this rooster would half-fly and half-run down the drive. The rooster would fly up on the long railing leading to the house and challenge the guest to go any further. 

Herbie became so protective of his surroundings that he began to go after the owners. That was the end for poor Herbie.

The other bird that was talked about was from another farmer OF who said they had chickens and turkeys on the farm mainly for supplying the dinner table with eggs and foul. The OF said they also had rabbits but they were just for fun.

The OF said his dad liked these rabbits and fussed with the few they had, but if he wanted to see rabbits all he had to do was look in the yard and watch the rabbits trying to figure out a way to get in the garden.

Mentioning turkeys, it was declared that generally the toms would be OK. However, once in a batch of turkeys they received, one OF said, he and his brother got one tom which was really miserable.

This turkey would drop his wings and flutter after the cats. The OF said it got so that this bird would do the same thing and then he would strut for the clothes on the clothesline. The OF said his mom had him go into the woodlot and cut a large sapling so she could raise the line. After that, the turkey couldn’t reach the clothes.

The OF said he thinks the turkey got mad because after his mom did this, the bedeviled bird started going after her. The strange thing about the bird, the OF said, is that he never went after men, or dogs, just cats, the clothesline, and women.

The OF said, “One day, my brother and I were in the yard when Mom came to hang out clothes, and she asked us where the turkey was.”

The OF told her, “We don’t see him (and we didn’t) but he actually was around the corner of the house.” No sooner did his mom start to hang clothes than the turkey came like a shot from around the corner of the house.

The OF said his brother ran in the house and came out with the woodchuck gun and with one shot that bird was in bird heaven.

To shorten the story, he was plucked, cooked, and served that evening — only not eaten. He was so tough, the OF said, that even after honing the knife three times that hide was like steel. The OF said the bird should have been parboiled for three days before attempting to cook it.

Making it through

One OF was talking about a mutual acquaintance from way back when. The acquaintance wanted to be in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This never happened because the Army caught up with him and he soon found himself as a “Dogface.”

The Army shipped him all over the place, hither and yon. He finally found himself in Hawaii. The second day he was there, he was playing baseball with a team that was newly formed, when all Hell broke loose; it was the day of infamy.

He made it through all of World War II and wound up a mail carrier.

Those OFs who made it through all kinds of adventures and misadventures and even found their way to Gracie’s Kitchen in Voorheesville were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Bartholomew, Art Williams, David Williams, Pete Whitbeck, John Rossmann, Bob Benac, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Art Frament, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Gerry Irwin, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Rev. Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazio, Jerry Willsey, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, and me.

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Guess what? The Old Men of the Mountain’s weather report was for three days of reasonably nice weather. Then comes Tuesday, June 25, 2019, and you, dear readers, know the answer.

This scribe will divulge the first clue. There was rain in the morning. One OF showed up on his motorcycle. This OF had to don his slicker for the ride home.

The OF who rode his motorcycle Tuesday morning prompted conversation on these machines. Also, there was mention of the horrendous motorcycle accident in New Hampshire where cyclists were hit by a truck hauling an empty trailer — seven died, and three were injured. 

None of the OFs seemed to know the reason behind this. One OF suggested could it be like the limo accident in Schoharie where something failed on the truck and the driver couldn’t stop. Another OF thought that the driver of this truck might have freaked out; he just wanted to run over these bikers. No one knows yet.

Then the OMOTM brought up the 11 skydivers who were killed in the airplane that went down in Hawaii on June 22. One OF thought that there sure are a lot of screwy accidents happening. The OF mentioned he thinks it might be like the Schoharie accident and the plane should not have been flying, or was overloaded.

The OFs further talked about the building that collapsed in Cambodia while it was being built, which resulted in seven dead and 21 injured. The OFs say they wouldn’t want to hire the engineers who designed that structure.

After rehashing all this depressing talk, the OFs attempted to cheer up.

Creepy

Sometimes the OMOTM surprisingly leave the past and talk about current events. This particular discussion concerned Facebook and Google. Some of the OFs use these two computer tools sparingly, but they do use them. This scribe is guilty as charged.

The comments on Tuesday morning were that Facebook was becoming so laden with junk it was not the tool it once was. The OFs were also becoming scared of both of these features.

One OF said he researched a tool, and another OF a particular car part, and another OF wanted information on some special adjustable beds for seniors on Google. The latter OF mentioned that no sooner did he do the research on Google then there were ads on Facebook for the same thing.

This is creepy. The other two said it was the same with them only they did not go to Facebook right away. They, too, said this isn’t right. They are afraid now to do anything on either one of them. However, not to worry, the government will handle these complaints.

Groundhog dilemma

One OF is having problems with groundhogs, and the column has mentioned this before. This OF obtained a Havahart trap and he trapped one. Many times, an OF plays a tough guy, but here this OF has a groundhog in a trap and doesn’t want to shoot it; the OF wants to have it hauled away.

Where to haul it?  Should the OF lug it someplace else and let it be a pest there?

One OF advised, “Shoot it and eat it like we used to do on the farm.”

The OF that has the groundhog in the trap said they used to eat them also. This OF even knew how to prepare them for cooking by doing something to a couple of their glands.

This has to be done when getting ready to gut the groundhog for storing the meat so the meat is not spoiled. The OF who knew all this still couldn’t shoot it. Final score: Groundhog: 1 – OF: 0.

Small farms like small towns disappear

The OFs started talking about auctions and smaller farms. One OF said, over the last 20 or 30 years ,the small farms folding have grown from a 150-to-200 hundred acre, 25-to-30-cow farm to now failing 100-to-200-cow farms on many acres, or rented land, not being able to cut the mustard

One OF said New York State is not a farming state. The OF thinks that people living in New York City have no idea where food comes from, and New York wants to turn the whole state into building lots, or parks for the people from the big city to play in, but farming?  Not on your life.

This led to talking about the demise of small towns. Just in the OMOTM’s geographic area, we can see how many of the small towns are having problems. Small towns survive that are close to larger populated areas, the OFs say, where farms may have some support (but not much) from people who move in and start turning the small farm-town into bedroom communities.

Those towns that are too far for this to happen will continue to turn into ghost towns. The farms are gone; the land is turning to brush. An OF mentioned this has been going on for years and the scars are just now really beginning to show.

Autos improve

As always, somewhere along the line, conversations with the OFs turn to tractors, machinery, cars, and trucks. This week, this scribe picked out one piece of the conversation and that was how much better (the OFs have to admit) new cars are than the old automobiles they remember from their youth.

What the OFs were talking about was how the floorboards on the old cars would rot out and the driver and the passengers would see the lines in the road flash by, by looking down, as the YFs drove along in their old Model A, or Plymouth coupe. This was easily fixed with just putting down another board.

Nowadays, one OF said, windows in new cars fog up with temperature inversions, but the older cars were so drafty this never happened. One OF said the reason that the floor boards rotted out was because of all the holes through these boards for the steering wheel, clutch, brake, shifting lever, gas pedal, and dimmer switch.

Dimmer switch? Those were the days all right!

Those Old Men of the Mountain that made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown in really air ight vehicles (except the OF that came by motorcycle) were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, Roger Shafer, Ken Parks, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Jake Lederman, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Pete Whitbeck, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jim Rissacher, Wayne Gaul, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, and me.

Condolences

 It is with saddened hearts that the Old Men of the Mountain offer their condolences to the friends and family of one of the earliest members of the OMOTM, Mr. Ted Willisey who passed away this morning after a long and well fought illness.

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Fortunately (or unfortunately) most people, so we are told, are creatures of habit. On Tuesdays, a certain group known as “The Old Men of the Mountain” are called to various diners, and restaurants.

This Tuesday, June 18, the OMOTM were called to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg. Monday, June 17, was a pretty nice day, and guess what! On Tuesday, the OMOTM traveled in the drizzle and fog, again to their appointed eating establishment.

The weather has been so wet, so far this year, that it was almost the lone topic of conversation at one end of the table. It is beginning to affect the OFs’ attitude towards many daily projects. The one thing the OFs agree on is that they look out at the gray sky and want to go back to sleep. Some do. One OF says all he does is drag around from project to project and ultimately does nothing.

Others say that many of their plants and gardens are doing nothing. One OF was going to paint his deck and stairs. This OF claims it is going to take all summer for the wood to dry out so he can do it.

“We have nothing to complain about,” was a comment made because of the situations in the southern and central part of the country. This has been brought up before. There is no doubt about the OF being right.

Rescue at Thacher Park

The OFs covered the topic of young people messing around in Thacher Park and the one young lad going over the edge. That was quite a tumble and required the use of many people and much equipment to rescue him.

These responders put themselves in harm’s way to do this. One OF said the responders practice for these situations and the safest way to do them, yet there is always an element of risk involved no matter how much they train.

It was brought out by the OFs (who were once young) who lived on the Hill. They, quite often, were part of the crowd that partied in the park when they were not supposed to. It was called an attractive nuisance by some, a dare by some, and a challenge by others.

First responders in the fifties were not trained as well, nor did they have equipment like we have today — helicopters for instance. Helicopters were around in the fifties but not equipped with technology like they have now. The OFs are lucky that none of them went over the ledge.

Many parties were held at Thacher Park, even way back when the Indians were still running up and down the cliffs 400 years ago. Many of the OFs had their high school graduation parties there. Only a few of the OFs are old enough to remember seeing the Indians there.

“The Eagle has landed”

The OFs have some birthdays coming up, one on July 20. The significance of this birthday, beyond that of being one of the OMOTM, is that it’s the day this country put a man on the moon.

July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong announced, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”  By referring to “Tranquility Base” to Houston emphasized to listeners that the landing was complete and successful.

When stepping onto the moon’s surface Neil Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for [A] man, one giant leap for mankind.”  Somehow, that [A] was lost in the communication thus changing the meaning of that sentence and starting a lot of debate.

Finally, in 2006, a computer analyst in Australia, using new technology designed to help handicapped people, was able to hear the recording that Armstrong had made in 1969 and this proved that he did indeed use the [A] before the word “man.”

Neil requested that, when people used this quote, they should put brackets around the A.  Neil Armstrong died on Aug. 25, 2012, but he will always be remembered for being the first man to step on the moon’s surface.   

Some have birthdays that will always be remembered just for what happened on that day. In the case of July 20, there will always be skeptics of the event. These skeptics maintain it was only someplace like in a barn somewhere, or in Texas or Arizona.

Sometime this scribe will go back to the internet and find out what became of all these skeptics. One last note of interest: Today’s cell phones are far more powerful than the computers on the Apollo  Command Module and Lunar Module that were used to navigate to the moon and operate all the spacecraft control systems. Who said Google is just for youngsters?

Odds and ends

 Other birthdays hard to forget if yours falls on one of these days are Dec. 25, Jan. 1, July 4, or your Uncle Harry’s on May 3.

Many of the topics discussed at this morning’s breakfast were carryovers from last week — especially on animals. This gets to be redundant; just how much can be covered on animals?  However, the OFs continue to find something interesting but this week not so much — it was just animals. 

The OFs started to rehash computers and how they will soon be running everything (see the previous Neil Armstrong story) and many OFs are not ready for this. One OF said the young people will be controlled by these machines and not know the difference, but we OFs know what independence is and how to think for ourselves. One OF thought this was a little harsh on the younger generation, because we know little about it and maybe are afraid of what is coming.

Where have all the bugs gone?

The OFs ask where all the bugs have gone. The stink bugs, the elder beetle, the earwigs, etc.; the OFs were not complaining, just wondering.

One OF said, “Wait until it warms up, then watch out, they don’t like this weather either; the bugs are just holing up waiting to attack.”

The Old Men of the Mountain are not waiting for the attack of the bugs. The OMOTM are hiding in one of their selected hide-outs; those hiding in the Duanesburg Diner this week were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Paul Nelson, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Dave Williams, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Art Frament, Ray Gaul, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Russ Pokorny, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Mace Porter, Gerry Chartier, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Harold Grippen, and me.

Condolences

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their condolences and prayers to the family of Garry Porter, a good and loyal member of the OMOTM, on his passing on Tuesday.

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 Three days of decent weather and then comes Tuesday morning, June 11. There was a half-inch of rain overnight, nasty drizzle in the morning, and wind blowing 20 to 30 miles per  hour. Hello!

It is time for the Old Men of the Mountain to gather at the Your Way Café in Schoharie for breakfast; it is hard for the OMOTM to catch a break. Two or three nice days a year for driving to the various restaurants really takes dedication.

It is only about 10 days until the longest day of the year. This date means the OFs who have their boats in the water (as noted in a previous report) do not have much “summer” time to use them. Still, the OFs say summer is short and winter is long.

One OF said that is true only if you like water and swimming. Winter is short, if you like skiing and snowboarding.

By the way, the pirate ship and crew is in the pond at the end of Old Stage Road, and the Thompson’s Lake Road (Route 157).  Bring your camera, or if you are keeping up with technology, your cellphone.

For some reason (ha!) the OFs were talking about feeling old, which is different than getting old. The one thing that makes the OFs feel old is how old their children are now.

When your kids are retiring, it makes the OFs feel old; when the OFs are attending their grandkids’ weddings, the OFs feel old.

Getting old is when the OFs start to slow down and realize they can’t do what they used to do, or it takes them a very long time to do what they used to do, which makes them feel sometimes that what they used to do isn’t worth the effort.

Downsizing

Downsizing is a frequent topic for the OFs. This time the chatter was on how large the home is.

Some OFs with their better halves (and that all depends on which one is being spoken to) are still in the old farmhouse. Or they have a home with four bedrooms, and back then it was only the one bathroom, but still, the home is too large.

Now there are only two of them rattling around in the place. In the instance of the big old farmhouse, which kids don’t want to inherit, the OFs have loaded it up with 80 or 85 years of collected stuff — because the OFs did not throw anything out; the home becomes quite a white elephant to sell.

One OF brought up the fact that many of the OFs started life during the Great Depression, or soon after, and throwing anything away was a sin. Clothes were held on to, to pass on to others in the family, or those who had none.

Holding on to the clothes became a syndrome even when times changed and it wasn’t necessary. No one wanted their old clothes anyway. One OF suggested that, depending on what kind of clothing they have, donating them to an animal shelter.

Many of the OFs have lifelong friends and family that their hearts would break if they had to leave them. So begins the quandary of what to do. The OFs talk it over and over and very few do anything.

One OF had a thought that the young ones should not snicker at this problem because they too will become old and have the same problem, even if they say they won’t.

Perturbing opossums

The one-time animal control officer for the Hilltowns was telling stories of some of his adventures in trapping unwanted varmints and animals that were not supposed to be where they were. One thing the OF mentioned was that opossums are one of the dumbest animals on four feet.

Opossums don’t know where to call home. The OFs think that those things go as far as they can go and eat whatever along the way and when they tire out that’s home. It can be under the porch, or under the dog house, they just don’t seem to care.

One OF said he had them on his porch like they wanted to come in with the cat. In another instance, three opossums holed up in the wall of his garage. The OF tried to get them out with a broom but it was raining out.

As soon as the opossums’ feet hit the wet ground, they all ran right back into the garage. The OF said one ran up the handle of the broom, hissing all the way. No way were they going out in the rain.

In defense of the “dumb” opossum, they eat ticks, help prevent Lyme disease, and kill venomous snakes. Opossums do their human friends many favors. It’s too bad they aren’t cute.

Old engines

The Gas-Up is running; it is that time of the year.

Some of the OFs leave the wife at home and make their annual trip to the two-weekend event in a field off Murphy Road, which is off Drebitko Road, which is just southwest of Gallupville on Route 443.

The OFs who go to this event just go to reminisce. The OFs mutter, “I had one of those (tractors), or one of these (hit-and-miss engines) etc.,” and a few OFs still have one of those and one of these.

Those OFs who left the wild animals behind so they themselves could scurry to the “Your Way Café” in Schoharie for their first cup of coffee were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Marty Herzog, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Paul Nelson, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, guest of Bill’s who rode his motorcycle all the way from Dallas Texas, in mostly rain, Roger Shafer, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Karl Remmers, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Pete Whitbeck, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Duncan Bellinger, Harold Grippen, Ted Willsey with Denise Schanz, and me.

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