Big malls are scary for the out-of-the-loop guys

This January so far has not kept the Old Men from their appointed round of restaurants. Tuesday, Jan. 17, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner on Route 7 in Princetown. At this time of year and this time of day, the sun is coming up and the aroma of the diner is very nostalgic to the Old Men of the Mountain.

It is odd that a simple thing like shopping (with today’s prices, it is not as simple as it sounds) is downright scary, and scary is the word in this conversation. The OFs at one table discussed how they are a little nervous to shop at Crossgates Mall.

It is not that they do not use a store as a form of destination shopping. For instance, if one OF is shopping for electronics and thinks he will find it in Best Buy, the OF finds a spot in the parking lot by the store and will shop only at that store.

Another OF said it is good to shop even in one store with a friend and not to go alone. Another OF thinks the mall is for young people — it is not an OF mall.

One OF thought that, when anyone becomes 60 or 65 years old, they don’t make anything for people beyond that age, especially clothes. To purchase a clock radio, or just a radio, or TV, or even a coffee pot with just an on-and-off switch is almost impossible.

One OF mentioned that everything comes with a remote or with more buttons on it than in the space shuttle. Who cares if the coffee pot not only makes coffee but will make toast and pancakes, sprout legs with wheels, and bring the stuff right to you?

On the topic of shopping, the OFs remember what it was like 20 to 40 years ago to shop and where they went shopping. The OFs remember shopping Johnstown/Gloversville and all the items that were actually manufactured there.

One OF said they would go all the way there to shop for cars. The OF claimed they thought (and now the OF knows) they got better deals there, but it was a long way to go to have the car taken care of.

Another OF said they went there for quite a few years to do much of their Christmas shopping at the Johnstown knitting mills.

The leather and glove manufacturers like Grandeau leather made St. Thomas wallets, and other leather goods with the St. Thomas label. The company also made pocketbooks and leather items like that for other companies and put on those company labels.

At Christmas, the Grandeau leather factory outlet, which was right at the factory, had employees at their cellar door letting people in as people came out and the outlet was packed as was the glove place where shoppers were brought in by the bus load. All these places are gone now. 

Still in the shopping vein, the OFs discussed how many of the older shopping places are gone; small stores the OFs were familiar with where the OF knew the employees, and the employees knew the OFs — most of these are also gone. One OF said many little boutiques opened up and, in a few short years, these shops too were out of business.

It was more or less summed up by one OF who said that we are out-of-the-loop guys. The younger guys (we should include gals here, but to the OFs the term “guys” is all inclusive, so the distaff side shouldn’t feel left out) are used to the new ways and 50 years from now they will be wondering what happened to their way of shopping and why does everything have only an on-and-off switch.


Weather — or not

A usual topic of conversation — the weather — came up and how the OFs don’t remember a January like this in our area even if the month is only half over. Many of the OFs are beyond their skiing years and, as long as we get enough precipitation as rain, or a collection of small snowfalls that melt away in a day or two, the OFs are happy.

But as one OF put it: This is us. Look at the west coast, and the problems with the weather in the south and southwest: Boy, are they having problems! So far the Northeast has been lucky.

The so-far mild January brought up a discussion on how soon spring will be here. (Scribe’s note: Is this wishful thinking or not?) Spring training for baseball, and the Daytona 500, both coming in late February was mentioned.

There is still a lot of winter to go, and one OF at the table said we could pay for this in April or May. Yep.

Look for a cold spring and mud up to your crotch, the typical pessimist/optimist discussion, the kind only time will tell and one or the other will have the bragging rights of “I told you so.”

At our ages, nobody is going to remember the conversation anyway.

The Old Men of the Mountain who traveled to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown just to enjoy the early morning ride and bask in another rare January day were: Paul Whitbeck, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Jeremiah Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Dan Peltier, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, John Bahrmann, John Dab, Rick LaGrange, Doug Marshall, Jake Lederman, John Muller, Ted Feurer, Miner Stevens, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Roland Tozer, Jamey Darrah, Jake Herzog, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Rev. Jay Francis, Dick Dexter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Paul Guiton, and me.