This Tuesday, March 5, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie where so much went on this scribe does not know where to start. The scribe guesses he will start at the beginning.

As a rule, the names at the end of this column are listed basically in the order of appearance at the restaurant. First on this list are two names of OMOTM who are generally in the lead.

Tuesday morning, the men with those two names were not there. As more of the OFs arrived, these OFs began to think something might have happened to the lead OFs and wondered if one of  them should go out and check if the lead OFs had broken down somewhere along the way.

While this was being discussed, one OF told this scribe that maybe it was the OF’s turn to drive who had a car that did not like cold weather. In cold weather, this particular car would just quit as it was going along.

This OF said he was told that it was necessary to sit and wait awhile in the car and then it could be restarted then it would go on. The car always seemed to restart; the OF continued, it always restarted.  

No sooner did the OF enlighten us about this cranky cold-weather vehicle than through the large front windows of the Your Way Café we saw them coming down the road. Just as the OFs were going to turn into the parking lot, the car quit running!

Right there in the middle of the road in front of the restaurant, the finicky car quit! Right behind these OFs was an empty Carvel stone truck on its way back to the quarry to get another load. Fortunately, the driver stopped the vehicle about eight feet in back of the OFs.

Some of the younger OFs were getting up to help push the persnickety car out of the road, but suddenly it restarted so the OFs in the car were able to drive into the parking lot. When the OFs came through the door into the restaurant, they were given a big hand for supplying the early morning’s entertainment.

The OF sitting on the right (next to this scribe) said that the car this certain OF has never did like cold weather and has acted up like that since it was new and they can’t find out what the problem is. This scribe thinks maybe it is a Florida car that was shipped to Northeast by mistake, and like people it is one of those that can’t take cold weather.

Chest pains

The next happening is considerably more crucial.

Toward the middle of the breakfast, while some of the OFs were still arriving and others had their meals, the OF sitting to the left of this scribe in a loud voice announced, “Can I have your attention please!”

At first, not much attention was given and this scribe asked, “What’s the problem?”

The OF answered, “I am having severe chest pains.”

Fortunately, in this group there are a couple of semi-retired emergency medical technicians. This scribe right away called these EMTs up to the table, and asked for the OFs to call 9-1-1.

This was done immediately by a regular patron in the restaurant who was familiar with the procedure and what to say to the dispatcher. By the time the ambulance arrived, the OF was feeling better but he had broken out in a sweat, and was quite dizzy, and he mentioned everything was blurry.

The EMTs put him in the ambulance, which took him to Cobleskill Hospital. This scribe called that evening to check on him and find out how he was doing.

To this scribe’s surprise, the OF answered the phone. He was home, and told to rest and not do anything. The pain was gone and he was resting comfortably.

This was rather an interesting and eventful morning.

X-rays displayed like family photos

Now to some to the regular chatter, which was interspersed between the two major events and it just happened to be in a medical vein. Many of the OFs (as has been reported) are familiar with doctors, doctor appointments, and procedures.

One of these is X-rays. Some of the OFs and their friends have taken to requesting the X-rays and displaying them as you would photographs of families and friends. The OFs circle the broken, or worn-out, part as indicated by the doctors as a point of interest.

Some doctors even supply photos of their work. One OF has X-rays and pictures of his shoulder repair and a picture of a common drill drilling a hole for the screw to hold the shoulder together, and then a picture of how it looks afterward with the screw doing its job.

The OFs say that it is now common to see the insides as well as the outside of a family member in the family album. This goes for many parts — knees, shoulders, hips, backs, and whatever part is being repaired.

In some cases, it even applies to internal organs. This goes beyond nude paintings.

However, you never hear anyone say, “Hey, Joe, want to see what my shoulder looks like on the inside?  I have a picture of it hanging in our den.”

It is lucky that the OFs make it to the restaurants on Tuesday mornings, like this Tuesday morning making it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie, and those that did were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Bob Giebitz, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Dave Williams, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Ken Parks, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen Defazzo, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Tuesday, Feb. 26, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie. At this restaurant, the staff places the tables in a long line and the OFs feed like cows at a trough.

When everybody is there, and the food is coming out, the conversations are at the loudest. The scene of many of the OFs putting their hands to their ears to adjust, or remove, their hearing aids is rather comical. It is apparent that none of these hearing aids work at places where there is noise or music.

The OFs began talking about the cost of owning animals. One OF told about a friend of his that had his taxes done and received a little more than he expected in his tax return — it was about $1,500.

The OF said he was really excited about receiving the $15,000. A few days after getting his tax refund, he came home from work and found that his dog was dragging itself by his front feet and his back legs were just dragging on the floor.

He took the dog to an animal hospital. The OF said they performed all kinds of tests and could find nothing wrong.

That was until the doctor picked the dog up by the hind quarters and something inside him “clicked” and the dog stood up and has been fine ever since. However, the amount of the vet service was almost equal to the tax return.

One OF said it seems anytime he gets a windfall something comes along and takes it all away, and occasionally a little more.

Another OF said he pays $125 just to get his cat’s hair cut twice a year. Then someone else said they used to feed the pets table scraps; now it is all special food and this OF thinks his pets eat better than he does.

One OF said a vet used to come to the farm on a regular basis and check the cows and horses, and other farm animals. If there was a cat or dog that was ill, he would look at them and the OF said there was never an item on the bill that he had taken care of them.

Another OF said that pets and their care has gotten out of hand so much that only rich people can have pets; poor people can’t begin to afford them with the way prices are.

One OF commented that it is not only pets and animals but it seems everything has gone up, i.e., housing, food, gas, services, medications, everything, so why not pets and their care?

“Yeah,” one OF said. “Jeans ain’t five bucks anymore.”

Some OFs gripe about prices all the time and well they should.

Cabin Fever rages on

The OFs who clear out of New York when winter comes quite often call and gloat over the weather conditions where they are now. This year, gloating was not so much; it either has been too hot, or all it does is rain.

It all depends on what section of the country the OFs are in. The OFs who hang out in the Northeast grumble that they are hampered by not being able to do much because they are trapped indoors. It is generally called Cabin Fever, and Cabin Fever is beginning to claim many of the OMOTM.

Unreal reality shows

It was found out at the breakfast Tuesday morning that some of the OFs watch the same TV shows, like building off the grid, Maine cabin masters, the show that restores old buildings with old building materials — shows like that. These shows stimulate the thought process and the OFs wish they were young enough to take on projects like these.

To the OFs, these shows are in the category of a reality show and there is a camera crew of sorts around all the time, but the shows themselves are good and do show some interesting points that the OFs can use later on.

One OF brought up this thought: Where does the money come from, and how did these young people get the money to purchase a hundred acres in a pristine section of a beautiful forest?

Most of the time their tools are number one, and completely up to date, and this OF said he uses tools with leads taped, and handles replaced. He has good tools but they are on the tired side.

Another OF thought that the people building the project seem to have friends that own a crane, or are master craftsmen in carpentry or roofing or electronics, and have worked with off-the-grid solar energy.

The OFs say our friends have broken-down pickup trucks, or a couple of ladders with a rung missing.  Many don’t even know how to use an iPhone, so electronics are ruled out as well as the solar system. These OFs are still using wood-burning stoves and wood-burning outside furnaces.

In one show, the home was being built where there were so many bears the builder installed a bear-proof fence around the perimeter of the property to keep the bears out. This scribe was surprised the OFs have heard of this and have seen one in practice. Well, that fence is an unusual expense that is imposed on the builder when building off the grid!

The OFs who appeared at the Country Café in Schoharie and did not have to open the gate on a bear-proof fence were: Wally Guest, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, Marty Herzog, Dave Williams, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray,  Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

An artist from Broome, Jody MacBlane, left, presents the OMOTM with a steel cutout of the Old Man of the Mountain symbol of the state of New Hampshire. At the bottom are the words Timeless-Wisdom-Insight. Patty, right, will hang the artwork in her restaurant, Mrs. K’s Kitchen in Middleburgh.

The date of this little report is no longer relevant because this scribe has been the guest of St. Peter’s Hotel for awhile. A “simple” procedure done thousands of times went awry.

This procedure was supposed to be in and out the same day; in many cases, you drive yourself there, and drive yourself home. The following day should be a day of recuperation then things are pretty much set to go.

Eventually (three days later after a second “procedure”) the scribe was sent home with a catheter. The scribe’s wife is not a nurse and doesn’t pretend to be one. This was a tough time for two senior citizens.

However, with the kindness, compassion, help, and consideration of neighbors on the Hill, this scribe got through it. It certainly was an experience, and one the scribe doesn’t ever want to repeat, so he will wait patiently until March 21 before the doctor sees him.

He hopes at that time he is fit to go back to living his normal life. This means the scribe has 28 days of not lifting or pushing anything more than 10 pounds, and then the doctor’s appointment. The scribe thought he had planned it so he would not miss an Old Man of the Mountain breakfast.

Well! That didn’t work out — so much for careful planning.

Pondering the question of who feels the cold

The first breakfast this scribe missed was at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. One considerate OMOTM made a list of those who attended the breakfast in Middleburgh, and this scribe said he would make a report from some notes made in the scribe’s little black book that were not used in other columns.

One of the items not covered, but was discussed, was the fact that during the winter the OFs don’t know how some people can take the cold to the point of wearing shorts when it is 20 degrees outside and the wind is blowing at 20 miles per hour.

The OF, on the other hand, has on his insulated bib overalls over a pair of jeans, his layered top with long johns, flannel shirt, insulated Carhartt coat, and a “mad bomber” hat on his head.

One OF thought it was a mental condition, but another OF said there are enough people who dress quite lightly for cold weather that he thinks their body does not recognize cold. Some OFs said they have friends who don’t wear gloves most of the time in real cold weather and one OF said some of them are also OFs.

The OFs questioned the problem of wind chill and frostbite. The OFs wondered if frostbite affects the people who have the ability to withstand real cold weather.

Artwork honors The Old Men of the Mountain

At Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh a real-time report is very interesting and this scribe is bummed that he missed it. An artist from Broome named Jody MacBlane presented the OMOTM with a steel cutout of the OMOTM symbol of the state of New Hampshire that was used on the New Hampshire quarter.

Over the top of the cutout are the words OMOTM, and at the bottom are the words Timeless-Wisdom-Insight. (Obviously, this fellow doesn’t know us all that well). Patty, at Mrs. K’s, is going to hang this piece of art work in her establishment in Middleburgh.

The Old Men of the Mountain are much appreciative of such recognition by a reader of the column who would take the time and effort to create such a piece of art, and Patty for giving space to hang and display Mr. MacBlane’s artwork.

When the OMOTM quarter of the state of New Hampshire first came out, Mike Willsey, one of our early founders of the OMOTM, mounted clasps to the back of enough of the quarters for each of the OMOTM, and the OFs pinned these quarters to their OMOTM hats, shirts, or jackets and wore them proudly.

This scribe would also like to thank Lou Schenck of the OFs for recording their names mainly for self-preservation from any process servers, or law-enforcement officials, also for the information on the artist, and his cutout of the OMOTM.

Those OFs who were at Mrs. Ks in Middleburgh were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Rev. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Ken Parks, and not me.

Those OFs that made it to the Middleburgh Diner for basically the same reasons as noted above were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Otis Lawyer, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, John Dab, Joe Rack, Ken Parks, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen and not me.

Location:

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, it was an unusual breakfast because it was out of order.

The breakfast was not unusual — the location was. The original restaurant had a scheduling change and would not be open on Tuesday.

This scribe did not know this and found out by accident, i.e., a quirk of faith, at least a few days ahead of time. So this scribe scrambled and contacted a few on the list who brought people, and called those who did not have email.

However, as is always the case, one driver did not get contacted and drove to the normally-scheduled restaurant and found it closed. With true dedication, the OMOTM drove back over two mountains to arrive almost in time at Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow where about a dozen OFs were still at the tables.

The OFs discussed taxes; it seems death and taxes are on the OFs’ minds lately. On taxes, the OFs discussed the state we are in and its truly outrageous taxes.

One OF said that those who live in New York have to support three sponges — New York City, Buffalo, and Rochester. Those places suck up all our money.

An OF countered with what he thinks — that New York city actually pays into the system more than it gets. None of the OFs are really sure if that is true, but a lot of our money is going someplace.

One OF said that he has a friend in Colorado Springs, and his taxes were $400 on his home (and it is a nice home) and that was it!  Imagine that — 400 bucks.

Another OF told a story regarding when he was working and a complete company was leaving New York (and this was years ago). The OF was given a pamphlet, which the company gave all employees, listing why they were leaving, and the pamphlet also gave all employees a chance to move with the company, and this company would pay their moving expenses.

The reasons for leaving were weather, taxes, and over-regulation. The pamphlet praised the employees. In two months, the company was gone.

As usual, tax season brings tax talk, and we all complain but when the OFs hear their friends talk about how little they pay in taxes, the OFs wonder: Where does all the money we pay in taxes go?

The OFs admit infrastructure is a big part, but Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois all have the same problem.

We used to have the best education system going; when we were in school, a New York State high school education was almost a college degree compared to some other states. Not so much now. A degree from the Carolinas seems to be better than the same one from New York State. The OFs are just confused.

The OFs have said many times that, if it weren’t for the politics, New York has average weather, and beautiful scenery, and they all feel great when coming home, but it is the politics that bothers them the most, and of course, the taxes.

One OF said, “We don’t live in the other states,” but that OF said he bets they have their problems too, and those who live there get as disgusted with one thing or another just as we New Yorkers do.

For the birds

The OFs discussed how the wild animals take care of themselves during the winter months. Some of the OFs say it is really not necessary to feed the wild birds. They can take care of themselves very well and have for eons.

Feeding birds is for our enjoyment only it will not preserve the species. One OF said he thinks it actually weakens them.

Another OF who is an  outdoorsman mentioned how the deer take care during the winter with cold weather and deep snow. The OF said the deer huddle under the hemlocks in holes they have dug in the snow. The OF said the holes are deep so only their heads can peek over the top.

“They are as snug as a bug in a rug,” he said.

All the little critters get under the snow, and even underground where the real cold weather can’t get to them, and the extra fur they start growing in late fall is also a big help. The self-made naturalists in the group, at times, make for some interesting conversations.

These OFs are good in regular table talk. It’s like going to school when listening to some of their conversations.

Talk of Tier One

A collection of OFs were sitting in proximity of each other and they all started talking about retiring. Well, duh, that conversation would include all the OMOTM. (We might have a couple of exceptions, but not many.)

This group all worked for the state in one fashion or another and all retired under “Tier One.” That left many of the other OFs wondering what kind of code they were talking; apparently “Tier One” is a good thing.

They then started talking the ins and outs of “Tier One” and this scribe was able to deduce that it was quite a favorable pension program offered by the state way back when.

Today, with all the ads for this program and that program, Medicare, Medicaid, and who knows what all, even Alex Trebek is spending more time selling insurance than he is on Jeopardy. That makes it easy to understand how this insurance topic would come up.

Condolences

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of a devoted and loyal member of this gathering, Steve Kelly, who passed away on Feb. 7 and is now with all the other OMOTM who are having their breakfast somewhere on a cloud in heaven.

Those who made it to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow, and the dedicated OMOTM who made it over hill and dale through an error on the scribe’s part, were: Marty Herzog, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, Bob Giebitz, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen Defazzo, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On Jan. 29, The Old Men of the Mountain traveled to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown.

The OMOTM are getting glad to see January go. There was a short discussion about the end of January.  Is the end of January still in the beginning of winter? According to Wikipedia, the start of winter in 2019 is Dec. 21, and the beginning of spring is March 20, so this scribe thinks we are smack-dab in the middle of the astrological winter.

So far the woolly bear caterpillar has been wrong. This little creature is the OFs’ gauge of winter — darn it, so far this one woolly bear has missed it! Maybe the OF who found the all-black caterpillar had the right critter.

The OMOTMs core base is getting older and older, driving is becoming a chore, and some have given it up completely. Some have had their kids take the car keys away, and some can’t twist their necks around to see what is coming.

Macular degeneration is also a problem. So far, these OFs are still able to make the breakfast because of those that still have their faculties (and may be younger) and they enjoy the friendship and knowledge of the older OFs, so they gather them up and bring them to the breakfast.

Tech savvy

Because we are the OMOTM, does not mean the OFs cannot keep up with at least a good part of the current technology. In the age group of 80 to 90 year olds, the OFs have cell phones and know how to use them.

Those in these same age groups have computers and tablets and know how to use them too. This comes as a surprise to some of the younger people. The OFs don’t know if it is because the OFs are smarter than people give them credit for in the tech area, or these things are really not that complicated.

One OF in his nineties said his computer was old and some of the new programs would not work on it, so he decided to purchase a new one. The OF just wanted to do simple stuff so he found a computer that was not that expensive, but when the charges for this that and the other thing, including some newer programs were added to the price of the computer, the OF said to heck with it and didn’t make the purchase. He would deal with his old friend.

Another OF summed up the cellphone very appropriately. The OF said that the iPhone is not a phone. “It is a computer with a predisposed phone app as standard equipment,” he said.

The OF made this comment as he was showing a video taken on his phone of another OF. The OF he was showing it to was performing (he’s a singer) a few months ago and this OF recorded the act on his phone.

This scribe receives much information from the OFs via their iPhones on his computer, and vice-versa: Much of what this scribe sends out goes to the OFs’ phones.

There is a very large “however” to all this technology. This scribe feels the report of some of the OGs is that they feel social media, along with the internet, is the Antichrist because it seems to be loaded with the bad, as well as the good, and sometimes it is hard to sift out which is which.

New songs don’t register with OFs

This next topic might cause some tee-heeing among the younger crowd because it concerns music. Basically, the OFs were wondering when what they knew as music became just noise.

The OFs remember music having melody, rhythm, and a tune that was hum-able. Now it seems to be who can screech the loudest with just a hint of vibrato. That is the singer of choice.

One OF said that there are some nice songs being written today — but not many. Another OF asked, “Name one right off the bat,” but no one could. However, they could name the old classics.

Another OF asked, “How many songs written today do you think will be sung 50 years from now?”

A second OF said, “Maybe some of the tunes written for musical plays will be.”  Well, we will just have to wait and see.

Then another OF said he thought that as the OFs drive home from breakfast, they would remember songs, but he thought even those would be older songs.

Pricey wheels

Sunday, around noon, there was a TV show that showed some very high-priced vehicles brought up for auction. The OFs said there has to be a lot of money around only they don’t have any.

These vehicles were going for hundreds of thousand dollars, and even into the millions. The OFs started mentioning cars they had years ago and what they would be worth today if they had taken care of them and could see into the future.

Some of the OFs had Packards, Studebakers, Hudsons, even Jaguars, and especially model A’s, old Chevys, old Fords, and Plymouths — the list goes on and on.

But one OF said most of these cars were not old. This OF declared that, for him, once a vehicle entered the collectable stage, he would be afraid to drive it. Then what was he going to do — stay home and look at it? To him, it was a waste of money.

Those OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon in Princetown in regular, standard cars and trucks and were just as happy, and they were: Bob Giebietz, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Rev. Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

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