Discourse on old and new tools: ‘We have come a long way, baby’

Through the dark, fog, and drizzle, the Old Men of the Mountain made it to the Roasted Garlic in Clarksville on Feb. 11.

In the area of the OMOTM’s habitat, the OFs have had to learn how to navigate all kinds of terrain in all four seasons. This season is ice and snow.

Getting out and about on Tuesday morning, we experienced ice covered with snow, and then water on top of the whole sandwich. This made it slow walking for all the OFs, especially those with canes.

The first challenge came for those who do not have attached garages, or those who have to cop a ride, then arriving wherever the destination is. “Careful” was the word of the day.

To some OFs, there is a store that attracts them like bears to honey. Anytime these OFs are anywhere near this place, the car automatically pulls in.

A certain store that lures the OFs in is Kohl’s. When the wife wants to go shopping at Kohl’s with these OFs as husbands, there is no argument. The OFs will drop the little lady off at her place and the OFs immediately head over to their place across the street.

This is not true with all OFs. Some of the OFs use the trip to Kohl’s for a good long nap in the parking lot. Kohl’s would get a lot more walk-in customers if the store took a section of its storeroom and built a small room called the “Gentlemen’s Lounge” with five or six comfortable recliners.

The store the OFs head to, across the street, is called Harbor Freight and it is full of tools. This scribe never understood the name of this place. Harbor Freight does not sound like tools; it sounds more like it is a storehouse for products that arrive by ship.

However, some of the OFs like visiting this store whether they purchase anything or not. The OFs say they never know what to expect, and the place has the right smell to it.

The mention of tools led to talking about tools. The chatter was about how long the old tools lasted compared to how long the new tools last. It was found, as the OFs began comparing item for item on quite a few things, old is not always the best for longevity, but in some cases it is.

Case in point. One OF said, “For instance take a half-inch drill. The old one weighs a ton, and used a bushel of current and it was necessary to be careful with it. Don’t drop it with its brittle metal case. Today a half-inch drill weighs nothing — uses a spoonful of current and I can run over it with my truck,” and then the OF whispered, “And I have, and it won’t affect it at all — and it didn’t.”

A second OF said, “Look at cars today. A newer car with 200,000 miles on it can look and run like brand new if taken care of properly. Older cars, once they hit the 30,000 mile mark, might be time to start looking for another one.”

A third OF summed it up rather nicely. The OF said, “Metal rusts, plastic doesn’t.” He continued, “Some of the new plastic and fiberglass gears and bearings will outlast steel any day, and if you bang on them like banging on cast ones they don’t shatter. We have come a long way, baby.”

Lost in transit

The OMOTM are always talking about their working days; this is reported often and is understandable.

On Tuesday morning, those who once worked on the New York State Thruway discussed items that had fallen off trucks and cars as they traveled that highway. (Side note by scribe — this road was supposed to be toll free in 1996, another case of the tax-paying public being sold a bill of goods.)

Many of the items were strange, but all were lost due to either carelessness, complete inattention, or lack of knowledge when tying down the load. Some were from professional drivers who forgot to close the doors of the truck or trailer.

Others were from Joe Homeowner who had no idea how to fasten a load. Mattresses were a big item, especially when the mattress was held down with two pieces of string going through the front and back windows. Then driving 65 miles an hour. Duh!

One OF said they were going back to their shop when the work crew spotted a very large box on the side of the road. Upon examination, they saw it was a refrigerator. The crew hoisted it into the truck and took it back to the shop.

Some time later, a guy came in asking if anyone found a refrigerator in a box alongside the road. Of course they did and the Thruway crew was perplexed as to how that refrigerator fell off the truck because there were three more refrigerators on the truck and they looked like they were tied down OK.

The crew didn’t ask any questions — they just helped put the refrigerator on the truck and wondered how the driver was going to explain the condition of that fridge because the box was pretty well beat.

Lawnmowers were another item that came off a truck or trailer or out of the backs of cars. The OFs telling the stories said, if the driver doesn’t miss the items that are gone until he gets home, he might just as well go purchase another. Most articles are quite beat after bouncing along the road, and, when you do realize it is gone it is a trip to the next exit to turn around, and then a trip back to the next exit to turn around again and then hope it is still there.

Those Old Men of the Men Mountain who agreed that, with the exception of liquor, wine, and the arts, things usually do not get better with age, but some OMOTM took exception to that, and whether well-aged or not showed up at the Roasted Garlic in Clarksville, were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Rick LaGrange, Marty Herzog, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Paul Whitbeck, Jamey Darrah, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jake Lederman, Jake Herzog, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Mike Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, and me.