Some OFs say, ‘We have lived in the best of times’ while others say there are no best times

This has been a pretty nasty winter so far — except for those few spoiler days in February. Like the letter carriers, neither rain, snow, sleet, hail, blizzard, tornado, flood, nor hurricane will deter the Old Men of the Mountain from their Tuesday appointed restaurant.

This past week, it was the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. Again the weather: Two OGs said they went to Cobleskill to purchase some snow shovels. The OFs went to a couple of stores and there were none to be had, although both stores had rows of lawn mowers. It is like trying to purchase a winter coat in March when all the stores are selling bathing suits.

The OFs talk about strange coincidences (or odd pieces of luck that we all have) and wonder how that happens. One OF said he was in church on Sunday and had the Bible and the hymnal open to the exact page on all the hymns and Bible readings every time. Most of the time, many of the OFs said, while they were fumbling around trying to find the page the hymn is on, the hymn is about over.

One OF said he used to give his kids a job when they first got to church. This OF said he brought pieces of paper to church and the kids’ job was to locate all the readings and hymns, and then put the strips of paper by the page number in the books. then, when the time to sing or read came, they could open the book to the right pages quickly. It also kept the kids quiet until the service started. Smart Dad.

Diving derring-do

What else would anyone talk about on a gray winter’s day other than swimming holes?

The OFs mentioned a few that were in Fox Creek and what dumb and dangerous stunts the OFs did when they were YFs. The OFs remembered diving or jumping off bridges into the water and just missing protruding ledges of rock.

The kids knew these rocks were there, so actually they weren’t jumping blind. It was a great way for getting rid of the hay chaff from working in the fields or getting stuck working in the haymow. There were times when bathing suits were optional. Farm boys had fun in what little time they had for fun.

The OFs also mentioned swimming at White Sulphur Springs on Route 443 just outside of Berne, heading east. That was a popular spot. There was a large lodging building there, and people were brought to the springs by bus. It was also popular with local church groups.

It is all gone now — the building has been torn down and it is just a lawn. Two of the swimming holes in the creek have been bulldozed out by the Army Corps of Engineers to control flooding and they are gone.

Many of the OFs continue to say, “We have lived in the best of times.” And still some question that. Those OFs say there is no best of times, never will be; we have been promised that.

Mysterious messages

The OFs also discussed how many of them have had phone calls from what appear to be local calls, with local numbers. The few who do not have phone-identification on their phones get suckered into answering these calls.

Then they talked about how many of the OFs are getting emails from what appears to be someone they know. The OFs said one of the basic questions they ask themselves or their spouses is, “Why would xyz be emailing us? They never have before.”  So they wisely delete it and never open it.

One OF said, if an email message seems strange to him, he emails or phones the person who the email is from to see if the person actually did send an email. To date none of them have.

This same OF said on his caller ID he received a call from himself. The OF wondered how that happened.

It seemed to him that, if the scammer knew the name of the phone number he was calling had the same name, why would he even complete the call? It has to be some kind of robocall and a machine can’t think like that.

To which another OF said, “Not yet they can’t, but just wait,”

Snowed under

With all the snow we are getting (and the weather guys say there is more coming), the OFs were talking about how much havoc has been done to their property that lies underneath all this snow. They mentioned shed roofs coming down, mailboxes being destroyed, lawns and drives being torn up, shingles ripped off roofs by sliding snow, and branches down all over the place.

What a mess.

The OFs said that we can’t fault the plow drivers. They are out there plowing the drives and the roads and they can barely see. The power crews are also working in really dangerous situations, in the dark.

One OF said the power crews quite often are trying to restore power to everyone who is without power, when they, themselves, may be without power and therefore know the situation everyone else is in.

An OF observed that severe weather anywhere, though disastrous in some ways, is a boon to the economy. It takes material and manpower to get things back up and running, and that does keep money flowing.

“Well, that is one way to look at it,” an OF added, “but I look at the misery so many people go through.”

The OF also wondered how the insurance companies can keep up when in this country alone natural disasters have caused so much carnage.

This scribe thinks it is good thing there are many sides to the same thing, like two people who can’t agree on what rose is the prettiest rose among a hundred different roses. Who cares? Just take the one that is prettiest to you.

There is no simple, single answer to so much.  Just look in the grocery store — one whole aisle is devoted to cereal.

Those OFs who made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, and not one who ordered cereal, were: Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Dave Williams, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Marty Herzog, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.