Finding the good in ‘now’ although it’s not as much fun as ‘then’

On Jan. 4, the first meeting of the Old Men of the Mountain for the year 2022 was at the Country Café in Schoharie. So far, it was also the coldest day of the year. The low temperature at breakfast was 3 degrees, and the high was 7 degrees.

When you’re in your seventies or eighties, that is a tad of a brisk morning to be up and about, out on the road in the dark, and headed out to eat at six a.m. or so. Some brave souls did make it to the Country Café.

It was here that the OFs who were not bike riders learned that it was “supposed” to be a ritual that real bike riders take the machines out and go for a ride on New Year’s Day. With the riders who are members of the OMOTM, that did not happen; apparently a ride down the driveway does not count.

However, one rider did say cold weather did not bother him because the suit is heated, the gloves are heated, the grips are heated, and maybe the seats and the air is even heated, so the rider is pretty comfy until it comes time to stop.


Then and now

Quite often the OMOTM discuss “then and now.” Remember when people had diaries and got mad when someone read them? Now they put everything online and get mad when people don’t.

This is something all the OFs can relate to—what things were like 60, and in some cases, 70 years ago. These discussions would fill a book but in today’s age (age here is a very short time back and the “then and now” seems to be out of whack) technology is one “now” the OFs shrug their shoulders on.

Pricing is one thing they can’t wave away because most are on fixed incomes and the OFs aren’t happy about inflation “now.” What cost 50 cents in 1933, now costs about 11 dollars for the same thing. The “now” is way too close to the “then.”

It is not only technology and money; it is so much more. We are older and healthier “now,” one OF said, although it doesn’t seem to be that way, but to him it appears that way.

This was brought out in the midst of a pandemic, and that had the conversation take a turn right in the middle of “then and now,” yet not lose the main topic.

Keeping with the thought mechanism of these guys and jotting down notes is a trick. The OFs thought this particular OF may be right, then they threw in how much bigger everyone seems to be, and one OF thought it may be we (the OFs) are shrinking.

One OF mentioned getting from here to there; today this OF said he thinks nothing of having lunch with friends a hundred miles away, spending some time with them, and heading home when it isn’t even dark yet.

“Yeah,” one OF commented, “we think nothing of heading for Brooks (in Oneonta) to have chicken or ribs, and having the doggie bag for supper when we get home.”

That is not a “then” thing.

How about white teeth? Does anyone remember flashing white teeth like we do now?

The OFs say there is much good in “now,” compared to “then,” but there is not as much fun in “now” and life is much more hectic. It would be great if we could take the best of “then,” and combine it with the best of “now,” but the OFs are afraid that is not going to happen.

Keeping up with all this was the way of communicating “then and now,” and what this one OF thought was in the works (if he understood it right) is an invisible phone. Apparently, pretty soon (and how true this is, the OFs don’t know) no one will have to carry a phone around, or have the physical equipment of a TV.

All anyone would need is their password, or maybe an assigned code number. All anyone would have to do is verbalize a code number and the phone would appear in mid-air. The OF would just talk to this invisible phone; speak to whoever he wants to talk to, using their code number and he or she would answer. All calls would be made without a physical object. Say what!

Taking trips now with a carload of kids is not the same. One OF said all they seem to do is play with their games on their $500 phones. An OF said his grandkids get to watch TV in the back seat.

This OF said his son has a car with TVs in it, not just one but two TVs. The kids can put a movie or a game on and they are fine.

The OF said there is not a peep out of them, though they might be going through the most beautiful part of the country, or something interesting is going on outside and these kids will never know it.

One OF said this has been said over and over with today’s technology and the youth growing up today. Who do you think is inventing the invisible phones? If we were their ages and in this time, the OFs would be doing the same thing.

Another OF chimed in by saying, “That is true.” This OF said he was no different, only in his time he had to keep yelling at his kids to get their heads out of the comic books. No different.     

Those OMOTM who braved the cold, and not one of the hunkerers who made it to the Country Café came without having to read the comic books (however, the comics are the best part of the paper) were: Miner Stevens, Roger Shafer, Paul Nelson, Jake Herzog, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, and me.