Remembering the Old Man of the Mountain before it was rubble

This should be an interesting week for the Old Men of the Mountain. On May 3, 2003, the iconic rock ledge near Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, fondly known as the Old Man of the Mountain, crumbled and tumbled down to the base of the mountain. This rock face was used to promote New Hampshire from as early as 1850. This scribe and his wife, on one of their many trips to the coast of New England, made the journey to see this out cropping and it was impressive and very well defined.

When New Hampshire used the image of the Old Man of the Mountain as its choice to put on the ninth state quarter in the 50 State Quarters program in September 2000, one of our OMOTM, Mike Willsey, purchased enough of those quarters for all the OMOTM and then some.

Mike soldered or glued pins (used for jewelry) on the back of each quarter (the back being the side of the quarter that did not have the image of the Old Man of the Mountain on it) and gave one to each OF. Most of the OMOTM pinned Mike’s gift to their OMOTM caps and wore them proudly.

The Old Man of the Mountain is now just a pile of rubble at the base of the mountain. The Old Men of the Mountain hope they wind up more than that, but that pile of rubble has had quite a history, and even a short story written about it by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

This scribe, because he was reminiscing on the quarter handouts by Mike, brought on by the anniversary of the collapse of the Old Man of the Mountain 17 years ago in May, called a very good friend of his that was brought up in New Hampshire, just about at the base of this ledge formation.

This fellow said that even the Indians had legends of the outcrop. He also said that his brother worked for the state and with the crew that maintained this rock feature in the summertime. One of the problems they had was with the people themselves that came to view the profile.

To maintain the Old Man the workers had a path, which they made on a back road, to get to the top of the mountain in which they hauled themselves and equipment up to do the work. The visitors eventually found this path and would go up there and party and leave all their trash behind. It was not a park but the people made a mess and left it, and the state had to go and clean it almost daily.

The scribe’s friend also said that at the base of the mountain was a lake called Profile Lake, and people were allowed to fly fish in this lake, and the lake was stocked.

This is the same problem the OMOTM that work on the Long Path have with Vroman’s nose in Middleburgh. Vroman’s Nose is a prominent geological feature in the town of Fulton (near Middleburgh), in Schoharie County. People climb to the top and leave their rubbish.

The plateau on the top of Vroman’s Nose is kind of a park and when college is in session in Cobleskill the trash is substantial. Sometimes the benches even get thrown over the cliff, and there has been evidence of some pretty good-sized fires started on this highland. The OMOTM go up there and clean it up.

No worst food

The reminiscing continues on another subject. At one time, the OFs began a conversation of foods they did not like. This was a selective category with no real winner.

Beets were mentioned but quickly voted down by other OFs who like their beets, cooked or not, pickled or not, soaked in vinegar with onions or not, tossed in with cucumbers and onions or not. Cukes themselves were mentioned, but they too lost out; so did broccoli. One OF mentioned pineapple, but this OF was told that was a fruit and didn’t count.

Another OF said he didn’t like cheese sauces thrown on everything. “If I order string beans, I want string beans, not string beans covered in some awful tasting, rich cheese sauce dribbled all over the beans so there is no taste resembling string beans,” he said.

The OF continued, “As a matter of fact, when the dang cheese is dribbled on the beans it spreads on everything on the plate. The whole plate tastes like the sauce, so why order the food, just order the sauce!”

One OF brought up rutabagas and that was shot down also. Surprisingly, more than one OF had rutabagas and potatoes mixed together by their moms, and they all said they miss that dish. Slosh some real butter over and chow down, was the universal decision. One other OF said that he sprinkled brown sugar along with the butter and it was almost like dessert.

It is a good thing that people have different palates or eating would be quite boring. I need to practice social distancing from — the refrigerator. Half of us are going to come out of this quarantine as amazing cooks. The other half will come out with a drinking problem.