Reminiscing on the serious and the silly

The Old Men of the Mountain gather on Tuesday every week at a roundtable series of restaurants. The OFs refer to this as spreading the wealth.

These restaurants are spaced throughout the area like a clock and, as the OFs rotate through the clock, they are able to tell where the next breakfast will be if they miss one or even two. This Tuesday, which was March 24, the OFs gathered at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown.

Any OF that missed the breakfast this past Tuesday will know where the next one is by this constant rotation. Why is this important? The reason is the OFs can’t remember a thing so it is necessary to keep it simple. Read on.

Two OFs planned a trip off the Hill to go to the doctor. The price of gas has gone down but the OFs remember when gas was 29 cents a gallon; now $2.55 a gallon still seems excessive to the OFs so this prompts them to accomplish as much as they can into one trip.

The doctor’s appointment was going to be coupled with grocery shopping, getting the car washed, and a couple of other errands the OF could not remember. However, the main reason for the trip was to go to the doctor, and, when the OFs arrived at the doctor’s office, they found they were there at the right time but the wrong day.

Another OF who has to make real plans to go anywhere (because he requires transportation) also was planning trips around a doctor’s appointment, only this OF not only had things to do but also had time constraints thrown in. This OF thought (and the key word here is thought) that his appointment was for his annual physical, with a prostate check included for good measure.

This OF was all prepped mentally for his appointment for the “oil and filter change” (as the one doing the tattling put it) only to find out that it was the wrong kind of physical he was expecting and the wrong doctor. He was supposed to be at the eye doctor for a checkup with the retina specialist, and again, as the tattler told it, the wrong area of the body was going to be poked.

We OFs have to be saved from ourselves — in many cases, it is a good thing there are people watching over us.

 Remembering Iwo Jima

We, as a nation, have just celebrated the 75th anniversary battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. That is the battle where the iconic photograph was taken of the Marines raising the flag, which is now also a very famous statue.

The OFs have a member who was on that island immediately after the initial attack; there were still pockets of resistance from the enemy. This OF was a bulldozer operator and does not talk about the war much.

This scribe has known this OF for a long time. The OF is a licensed plumber and electrician and this scribe has used his services on a number of occasions and only knew he was in the service. That was it.

At the breakfast Tuesday morning, there was another OF who had to tattle. All one of the OFs mentioned to this scribe was, “You know the OF that was the licensed electrician and plumber was in the battle of Iwo Jima” and that was all the OF said.

That was enough to make this scribe ask the OF that was in the battle about any recollections he might have.  This OF that was asked said he was there about a month and what he still remembers is the smell, and the smell was of dead bodies because part of his job was to dig trenches where all the dead bodies were placed and then he had to cover them up.

Although not spoken out loud, but implied, it was more or less a joint burial of American and Japanese. Warriors of two nations joined in a final everlasting peace, resting side by side in a communal hole in the ground. That kind of experience is something not many of us would want to remember or talk about either.

Pulling pranks

The pranks the OFs pulled in their early days would today have us in prison, or at least fined. One OF told how, in his one-room school, they caught a skunk and put it in the schoolhouse, and the skunk, in panic, sprayed the whole place.

This OF said it was days before they could get back into that schoolhouse. This OF did not relate if the parents got together and had school held at one of their homes. Apparently not, because the OF would have mentioned it.

Another OF told of how they tied a chicken to the steering wheel of a car and two of the young OFs laid down on the front seat and one operated the clutch, brake, and gas while the other leaned across him and steered.

Two other young OFs sat in the back seat and told the other two where to go. This setup gave the appearance that the chicken was driving the car. They drove the car through the village of Gallupville, and then drove up to West Berne, and Berne, where the drivers would again duck down so it would look like the chicken was driving the car.

If this had any impact or not, the young OFs never knew. No one ever said, “Hey, did you see the chicken driving the car through Gallupville yesterday,” or something to that effect, but it was fun to tell the story in school the next day.

Once this olive was out of the jar, many more stories along these lines were told. This scribe will save those for a later date, when the scribe’s notes from a breakfast are boring, but that is rare with these OFs.

Those OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon and getting a little too old to pull many pranks (and nowadays some of the OFs’ tickers could not even handle a good prank) were: Karl Remmers, Dick Ogsbury, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Miner Stevens, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Chuck Aleseio, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Jim Rissacher, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Harold Guest, Warren Willsey, Ted Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, and me.