Rigors of winter weather pale before far-off disasters

It is becoming so redundant to report about Tuesday mornings being the time Mother Nature shakes out her bad weather for the day or week for those of us on the Hill. This past Tuesday was no different.

On Jan. 7, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh and the drivers for the OMOTM had to be a little careful at 6 or 6:30 a.m. in getting off the Hill.

Some went over the mountain because they didn’t want to meet those white and blue blinding headlights, and some went over the flats and they had to put up with those very dangerous headlights. Why these headlights are legal, many drivers, not only the OMOTM, don’t know.

The OFs discussed change, not that the OGs are against change; they have lived with change for many years — and here comes the “but.” BUT, it should be for the better and not worse.

So much technology moves so fast, and much of this technology is changing right in the middle of getting used to technology that is already in use. So we OFs generally feel the old way was better. Not always but many times.

“If it works,” one OF said, “why mess with it? If the change makes it easier, go for it, but if the change just adds confusion to get to the same point, why bother?”


The OFs discussed Puerto Rico and the earthquakes on top of the recent hurricane — what a mess. We go back to Irene and what havoc that storm did to our area, and these poor people seem to be going through the same type of event on a routine basis. This earthquake was the worst to hit Puerto Rico since 1918.

Then the people in Australia have been having record-breaking bushfires since September. One OF said we have problems with California burning up but even though the California fires are bad they are nowhere near what Australia is going through.

To add to this, the western coast of Canada is having its own problem with fires. The business to be in is building fire trucks.

One OF thought of all the animals that are burning up. Another OF said the ones that live in the treetops may have problems but he thinks some of the ones on the ground may make it, and the burrowing animals and snakes might be better off.

This OF’s reasoning was that the fires move so fast, and they are roaring through the brush and trees so that those critters that live underground might be spared. Anyway it is looked at, it is not nice.

Then one OF said, “Once the fire goes through, the land should repair itself quickly, even the trees.”

This OF used, as a point of reference, something that happened locally about seven or eight years ago. It was then that the gypsy moth cleared the whole side of the hills looking west going down Route 145 from Middleburgh to Livingstonville and beyond. Not a leaf left on a tree. Then came the next year and the whole hillside appeared like nothing happened.

Square-dance fashionistas

We then managed to segue into a happier discussion. Some of the OFs were square dancers and line dancers in their younger years — say in their sixties to seventies, maybe some in their fifties. 

To take part in this hobby (not rigidly applied), it was kind of expected to wear certain apparel and most of the time the partner’s outfits matched. Of course the ladies would not like to be seen in the same outfit from one dance to another so square-dance-outfit shopping trips were common, and the guys had to match their cohort.

Quite often, it was an event and some couples would get together, plan a date and go shopping. As one OF said, “Don’t forget finding a place to eat; it was an outing.”

This little adjunct to the dancing had the OFs taking part accrue quite a collection of square-dance clothes. Some of the OFs still have them and claim these outfits take up two and three closets, or a big section of their basement. Others have given them away, and others managed to have the Salvation Army take them, especially the men’s stuff.

Feeling taxed

Around this time of year, most of the OFs get their tax bills. This prompted a discussion on taxes and New York State.

One OF suggested that one of the reasons for New York being the highest taxed state are the sponges. The OFs talk about this topic a lot but the sponges as a reason had not come up. The sponges are New York City and its five boroughs, Buffalo, and Rochester.

This OF thinks these cities just suck up tax dollars because a large portion of the population in each city does not contribute. The other factor may be that the New York State Legislature is made up mostly of lawyers and money to them is not a problem.

They think everybody makes a hundred-thousand dollars a year, so they just go ahead and make another tax, create another fee, or generate another mandate and for all of this just utter a whole bunch of words that don’t mean anything.

They say that they are thinking of us, when in essence all they think about is how to get re-elected, because, if they don’t, they will get caught in some of their own hair-brained schemes.

If there was anything that the OMOTM agreed with, it was this OF’s thinking, although one OF said that not everyone fits in the Albany cesspool, they just got caught when the toilet flushed. Wow! Some of the OGs can get wound up.

The Old Men of the Mountain who (we must say it —again) made it to the next restaurant in order, and this time it was the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, were: Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, Rich LaGrange, Russ Pokorny, (this scribe thought he was being clever and placed all the “Rs” together), John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Marty Herzog, Harold Guest, Jim Heiser, Ken Parks, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Jack Norray, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.