Quandary: What will we do without plastic bags? OF: Well, what did we do before plastic bags?

The Old Men of the Mountain met Tuesday, Feb. 18, at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. If anyone wants to dine back in time, take a trip to the Chuck Wagon in Princetown.

The first topic we discussed was the accident at the end of NASCAR’s Daytona 500. There were serious concerns at the time, but as one OF mentioned, the radio this morning said the driver, Ryan Newman, was in an induced coma, stable, with non life-threatening injuries. Though bad, that was good news.

The OFs brought up batteries and the design of planned obsolescence. The OFs say, in earlier times, this sounded like the OFs were speaking about heraldry times with castles and jousts. Really they were talking about the first part of the 20th Century when craftsmen built with longevity in mind and did the best they could to achieve that.

At last Tuesday’s breakfast, the focus seemed to be on how well people tried to build anything. The column of last week showed most construction did not last long, mainly because of tools, and materials, but the craftsmen did their best.

It is easy to tell how many tried to outdo each other when looking at the gingerbread on houses, and inside moldings and railings. The artwork on furniture, and pottery, even though some of it was done for a select few of the upper crust, much of it was done for the general public.

This doesn’t say, as one OF pointed out, that we don’t have super craftsmen today, but for their work the average bloke would have to mortgage the tent to pay for it.

A quandary

The OFs briefly touched on the news about single-use plastic bags being discontinued in March. Many of the OFs are in a quandary because they used these bags when they got them home for other things.

Sometimes the bags served multiple purposes at home. The OFs question now what are we going to do. Some lined the garbage buckets; some used them in the garden.

The stores themselves used the plastic to put meat in, which is a very good idea. Lining the garbage bucket with paper is not a good idea, and, if it is not lined (even if scoured), eventually it stinks to high heaven.

Then the owner of the bucket goes out and buys another bucket, and that bucket is also made of plastic. Some bags are exempt under the law, so plastic bags may still be distributed to consumers in a few  specific circumstances, such as a bag used by a pharmacy to carry prescription drugs, and produce bags for bulk items such as fruits and vegetables.

The OFs think that much of what some of these environmental people think they don’t quite think things through. Our brains are throbbing now with all this thinking.

Another OF said his father always told him, “Don’t come and complain to me how we do things unless you have a better idea, or at least a suggestion. Too many people b - - - -  about this and that and don’t have a clue how to change it, or do something different. If you can’t change it for the better or at least have an idea, don’t b - - - - about it.”

The OF said all he hears about is banning the plastic bags, and using reusable bags, which quickly become soiled and then discarded because it is almost impossible to clean the things, and that uses water, and soap.

Then one OF summed up the conversation with, “Well, what did we do before plastic bags, and what did we do before cell phones?

Boy, the OFs opened up another can of beans. One OF said, “Soap and water don’t wind up in the landfill.” Too much thinking.

Thoughts on snow

Another discussion arose about the past, and that was on how we have been lucky this year so far with snowfalls. We need snow for the summer, or at least water, but one OF mentioned it should be snow.

This OF declared that, if we get rain on frozen ground, instead of seeping into the ground, it runs off. Snow takes time to melt and a thick snow cover is warm underneath and the ground thaws faster in the spring than if it’s an open cold winter.

But the lecture on winter, snow, and water was not the point of the discussion. The discussion was how well the highway departments keep the roads today with the skill of the operators and the equipment they have.

Going back to the late thirties, forties, and fifties, almost everybody carried a set of chains in their vehicles and knew how to put them on. Now with snow tires, four-wheel-drive cars, and basically open roads, chains are not even thought of.

One OF said that chains are still better in real snow than any snow tire, studded or not. An OF mentioned the old car tires were also much thinner, and they were better than these big wide tires we use now.

The old snow plows had thin tires for traction, but one OF said they also had chains. Things do change, even the weather, one OF said because he does not think we have winters with snow like we used to have.

The debate on planned obsolescence will have to wait until next time. One OF wondered if we, as people, have a planned obsolescence built in. We really, finally, did stop thinking!

Those OFs at the Chuck Wagon feel the obsolescence fixation is mute with the Old Men of the Mountain because we celebrated another milestone birthday when on this day, 90 years ago, Harold Grippen entered this world to make his mark and he was at the breakfast bright and chipper.

The rest of the OFs were Rick LaGrange, Roger Shafer, Marty Herzog, John Rossmann, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Paul Whitbeck, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Roger Chapman, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Jake Herzog, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Rich Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Fred Crounse, John Dabrvalskes, Harold Grippen, and me.