The short-lived Name Game mystifies some, enlightens others

SCHOHARIE — On a cool crisp Tuesday morning, the OMOTM gathered at the Your Way Café in Schoharie for breakfast. We welcomed back some OFs that had spent some time in Florida who took great delight in talking at length about the warm (mid 80s) dry weather and cloudless blue skies.

After they got through “mouthing off,” the rest of the OFs pretty much ignored them as their “moment in the sun” had definitely passed.

Much discussion ensued about the “Name Game” of matching the first and last names of the OFs who attended last week’s breakfast at Mrs. K’s. I had printed out a bunch of extra sheets containing the A and B columns of names. The OFs’ first names were in column “A” to be matched with the OFs’ last names in column ”B.”

Two OFs had already gotten back to me, “The Game Master” or “TGM” for short, with 100-percent accuracy in their answers. They indicated they didn't cheat, which actually is allowed in this game. Those two OFs were present today so I had the ability to refer the rest of the OFs to them if they still had questions after I explained the game rules — again.

Of course, there was an OF who wanted to know why the mysterious new member’s name from a few weeks ago was not on the list. That’s what started this whole thing in the first place. Since the mystery man is no longer a member of the OMOTM, he was definitely not in attendance and therefore his name could not be on the list.

Others wanted to know where the attendance list was, so it was explained that this was the attendance list and they had to match the first and last names to find out who was present. Sigh. I don't think the TGM is going to do this game thing again. He has, however, developed a whole new respect for makers of “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.”


Mourning Mike Willsey

To turn to a much more serious matter, our long time Charter Member, Warren Willsey, passed away on April 16, 2024. Warren, who virtually everyone called “Mike,” would have celebrated his 98th birthday in June.

Please allow me to take a few moments of your time to express my feelings for a man that I didn't personally know but I am proud to be associated with a group of men that we know of as theOld Men of the Mountain, of which Mike was a charter member.

Here is where I want to make myself clear. As I read Mike's obituary, the book “The Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw comes to mind, and  seems to be written directly about this man, his friends ,and family from the Helderberg Mountains and the surrounding Hilltowns of Albany and Schoharie counties.

The obituary talks about Mike's “very deep ancestral heritage in the Helderbergs.” Both of Mike's parents, Frank and Mille, grew up on neighboring farms. Mike's future wife, Whilma, also has very deep roots in the Helderbergs as she grew up on land her grandfather farmed in the 1700s.

Whilma’s brother, Herbert, and Mike became very close life-long friends as both worked their dairy farms in the East Berne area. Herb also was a charter member of the OMOTM.

Mike enlisted in the Army Air Corps before he graduated high school. Of course he did. When WWII ended Mike came home and married Whilma. He refused VA benefits, to quote from the obituary, “He strongly felt only those who saw combat or were wounded in action deserved the benefits.”

So this man from a dairy farm in the mountains outside of Albany, New York, who grew up during the Great Depression, went to war, came home to the family farm, married and with his wife raised a family, a man who worked hard and asked little, if anything, for himself, certainly epitomizes Brokaw's The Greatest Generation.

I enjoy having breakfast with one of his five children, also named Warren, who is a current member of the OMOTM. I just wish I had been able to get to know Warren “Mike” Willsey. He was the type of man, like my own father, both from that same greatest generation that Tom Brokaw writes of, who are my heroes.

Well done, Warren “Mike” Willsey. To you and your generation, well done.


Band of brothers

On a considerably different and happier note, another OF has some brothers and guess what? They like each other!

I will keep with the tradition that the Scribe established and limit my use of the names of the OFs as much as possible as the Revenuers may still be out there watching and waiting.

This band of brothers, like so many families, are spread out across the country from Illinois to New York to Vermont, but they get together once or twice a year at one of their homes to “light the drinking lantern.”

They catch up with each other and their families, maybe talk about old times they had at the same college in southern Illinois where they all attended for a million consecutive years, or to figure out where to get together next time.

They went to breakfast at the Chuck Wagon which, you may recall from a previous column, originally was in Champaign Urbana, Illinois, close to where I went to college and got married. It really is a small world.

I think we all can relate somewhat to this, as many of the OMOTM and their families get together for family reunions. It is a good thing. There is enough sadness around; this is a happy thing.

No more Name Games this week. It is OK to write the attendance because it is a well-known fact that the Revenuers never read the Final Paragraph; they fall asleep! This week the following OFs made it to breakfast at the Your Way Café in Schoharie: Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Frank Fuss, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, George Washburn, Wm Lichliter, Frank Dees, Russ Pokorny, Paster Jay Francis, Jake Herzog, Ed Goff, Warren Willsey, John Dab, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Cross, Herb Bahrmann, and me.