From horse and buggy to men on the moon

On May 5, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the “Your Way Café” in Schoharie.  Years ago, there was a “My Way Café” on Route 9 around Clifton Park. This particular café was all done up with Frank Sinatra paraphernalia; however, the one in Schoharie has no such motif.

It is a clever name implying how you might want your food prepared, but, on the other hand, this may lead to some discussion between patron and cook.  There was none of that discussed with the OFs; everything came in large portions, and just as ordered.

The OFs for the most part are grandparents, and a few are great-grandparents, so, when the OFs start talking about their own grandparents, the conversation is going back a ways. That is what some of the OFs were doing Tuesday morning.

They were remembering what they did with their grandparents, and what type of people they were and what they talked about.  For instance, say the OF is 80, and the grandparent of the OF was 80, and the OF is remembering when he was 7 to 10 years old, and the grandparent was remembered when they were 25 to 30 years old. Now the OFs are talking of events around 128 to 130 years ago. That is getting back there.

Even though this has been mentioned many times before, we spoke again of how the parents of the OFs went from horse and buggy to men on the moon. Some OFs’ parents went from the Great Depression, to the Regan era.

Most all of the OFs’ parents went from farming with horses to tractors that drive themselves. One OF mentioned that we could see the progression of time then, and even when the OF was in the work force. This OF continued ruminating that now the progression of time is so fast that what is new today is obsolete tomorrow.

One OF said, “I love it.  I would like to be 6 or 7 years old now and just see what the world will be like in another 60 to 70 years.”

Another OF chimed in, “Yeah, if this old planet is still here and we haven’t blown it up by then.”

New cars for old hands

How the OFs segued into new cars from this previous conversation is almost understandable, because one OF just purchased a new vehicle for his wife (yeah, right).  This might have been the reason for the discussion that followed.

It was brought up that some of the new cars do not supply even a “doughnut” for a spare tire. The vehicle comes with a can of “Fix-a-Flat.”

“That stuff does work,” one OF said. “But it’s a mess, and what if you sliced your tire on a piece of angle iron, how is ‘Fix-a-Flat’ going to fix that flat?”

The OFs remember when cars came with two spare tires, one in each front fender. A couple of the OFs noted cars came with a parts book, and even tools for the parts that required specialty tools.

Along with that, the cars had lines; each make and model was different, and it was possible to tell which model was which. One OF said, when a bank robber was making his getaway years ago, the witnesses could say the car was a 1935, black, four-door Buick custom sedan, and the police would know what they were looking for.

Today, all they can say is, “It was a gray car, Officer, or maybe it was a pickup truck.”

The witness might be able to identify a red SUV. That’s about it. If it was a Honda, or Toyota, Mazda, Ford, Chevy, hey, they all look alike!            

When the OFs were YFs, they used to play a game on trips called “name that car.” When a car was spotted coming at them, they would start calling out the name and make of the car when it was just a dot on the horizon.

“Plymouth Coupe,” someone would shout, and everyone else would say, “Oh nuts,” because the friend or sibling spotted it first. It would be rare that somebody else would call a different car.

Plastic tractors

After reminiscing about cars, the OFs talked about tractors, especially lawn tractors, and mentioned the new ads they have seen from Cub Cadet. There was a time when International made the Cub Cadet and it was made like a tractor, now it is made by MTD, and just as tinny.

Only it’s really not “tinny” and an OF implied the tractors are all plastic and that stuff doesn’t last five or six years before it starts to crack, and things loosen up.

Another OF said, “You can’t hammer dents out of plastic, and you can’t weld a stiffer piece onto where you have a problem.”

“Not made to last, like lots of other equipment,” one OF opined. “We are a throw-away society, planned obsolescence, tough and long lasting is a joke.”

Another OF asked, “Have you ever tried to get a part for something older than five years?”  This OF said, “If an OF buys something they really like, they should buy two of these products. That way, you can start up the second one when the first one goes bad, and then the first one can become a parts machine.”

“Not a bad idea,” one OF replied.

The frog that got away

Now for a completely unrelated story (and it’s too bad the OF did not have a camera for this one). The OF said that he was out getting the garden ready and he saw a snake trying to eat a frog.

The snake had half the frog in his mouth and the half of the frog that wasn’t in the snake’s mouth was holding on a stick trying not to go down the snake’s throat. The OF relating this tale said that he did not know how a snake could eat something that large.

He also said he got a stick and struck the snake so the frog got away. The OF did not elaborate on how long this took, or how it happened, but that is what he said anyway.

Those OFs who made their way to the “Your Way Café” in Schoharie and inaugurated their first breakfast in a familiar building with the new name were: Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Dave Williams, Dick Ogsbury, Otis Lawyer, Chuck Aleseio, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Karl Remmers, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Don Wood, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Bill Krause, and me.