As fires rage, the volunteers fighting them deserve our respect

On Tuesday, April 21, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh where the OFs (who the wives kick out of the house so they can have some peace) gather to complain.

One item that has been on the OFs’ agenda for complaints is burning barrels in the country. In most towns, there is a ban on burning barrels

Middleburgh had a prime example of why the banning of burning barrels is important, and necessary. Just south of Middleburgh is Huntersland and on Sunday, April 19, a fire in a burn barrel got out of hand, and 80 acres of woods was eventually burned because of it.

It would have been far worse if the fire departments responding did not get that blaze under control.  It took 12 fire companies to complete the task of corralling this fire.

Some of the OFs, particularly those who actually live in Huntersland, were with the second truck there. These OFs spent the whole day fighting that fire; the wind made this quite a challenge.

At one time, they thought they would have to evacuate a couple of homes on top of the mountain but all the work these people did in fighting the fire and the extreme effort these volunteers put out had it under control and it was not necessary to evacuate anyone.

The rains of Monday night were a big help all the way around. The woods were becoming prone to fires because they were so dry. One OF reported that, while Conesville was aiding in fighting this fire, they had calls that two fires had broken out in their own fire district.

This is a good example of first responders, and volunteers in “volunteer” fire companies demanding much more respect than is given by many people. These “volunteers” don’t demand anything, they are our neighbors, brothers and sisters, and it is just what they do.  Some day, the family they save may be their own.


It never ceases to amaze this scribe at what transpires around the breakfast tables when the OMOTM are gathered. One OF who we have mentioned in previous columns has a serious health problem and is unable to walk.

With his insurance running out, he will not be able to remain in the facility he is in where he is getting the physical therapy he needs. This OF has a full-size van as a vehicle, which was his means of transportation before his problem set in.

OK!  That sets up the following scene.

Some of the OFs go and play cards with the OF who requires the therapy and they were discussing his plight of transportation while playing cards and the probability that he will require a lift van to get in and out to go to therapy. They were talking with the OF in the facility about the possibility that he might need another van, or else try to obtain one of those lifts that goes out the back installed in his current vehicle.

When this conversation was repeated at the breakfast Tuesday morning, one OF pipes up, “Ya know, I have one of those lifts, brand new and complete with wiring, in my garage.  If someone here knows how to install it, he can have it.”

You never know when the OFs who collect things are going to have just the thing another OF will need. If one OF needs a siren, another OF will have one.

This scribe has mentioned these types of scenarios before, but this has to be one of the better ones. Who would expect someone to require a wheelchair lift, and another one who happens to be in on the conversation to have a wheelchair lift just lying around. Go figure!

The follow-up will be to see if all this comes to pass. This will be a win-win for all involved.

The OF who needs the lift will have a lift and his life may be much better for it. The OF who has the lift (for no apparent reason other than the opportunity came up) was given it while he was picking up other items he bought at an estate sale.

The OF who now has the lift will have more space to store his unusual, and so far, great finds. To many of the OFs, the Lord has his hand in the pot from who knows when to wind up who knows where when it will be needed.

Keepers and chuckers

At another location at the same table, there was a discussion on the blood connection of a couple of the OFs. The OFs had just discussed cemeteries, and now they are on the same hallowed ground only with a different take — this was taking names from old burial records and matching them to tombstones. One OF brought in the records and it included the genealogy and photos of tombstones and the burial records.

The OFs for the most part are the type of people who respect what has gone on in the past and who the OFs are and how they got here. Most are the keeper type. Then there are the type of people who, if they don’t need or use it in 10 days, out it goes. There is no junk, or collectibles here, but the OFs have found that quite often the early chuckers depend a lot on the keepers, or pickers, or the “some day I will have a use for that’ type of OF.

The OFs believe in the barter system, and, if you have nothing to barter with — neither stuff nor time nor talent — you are in trouble in this group.

The OFs who found room at the tables in Mrs. K’s Restaurant, in Middleburgh, were: Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Dick Ogsbury, Chuck Aleseio, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Steve Kelly, Henry Witt, John Rossmann, Miner Stevens, Karl Remmers, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Otis Lawyer, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Don Wood, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gill Zabel, Harold Grippen, Jim Rissacher, and me.