Talk of house-eating bees, taped-together race cars, serendipitous meetings, and parking prowess

On a rather chilly day for the month of May, the ninth, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg.

Duanesburg is quite a hub basically in the middle of nowhere. This is where two main highways intersect — Route 20, which travels east and west, and Route 7, which also travels east and west. Both highways will bring the traveler to Route 81 — Route 7 at Binghamton, and Route 20 just below Syracuse. However, Binghamton is southwest of Albany and Syracuse is about due west of Albany.

The OFs are very familiar with both roads because the OFs were traveling in these directions way before Route 88 and Route 87 (the Thruway) were built. The OFs were driving their cars on Route 20, going up and down the hills to Syracuse, and navigating all the small towns along Route 7 to Binghamton. The construction of routes 87 and 88 eliminated most of the dreaded curves and hills.


This time of year, the bugs start to make their presence known. One that is not really a bug (but an OF tossed it into the mix of bugs) is the carpenter bee. There were two suggestion of how to get rid of these bees, which can do considerable damage with their ability to drill perfect half-inch holes in wooden trim and siding of the OFs’ houses, sheds, or garages.

The one that sounded like a sport (if the OF has the time) is to take a badminton racket and stand where these bees are hovering. When the bee shows up to find out what the OF is doing there, the OF can swat it with the racket.

“Works every time,” the OF who offered this suggestion said.

Made sense to the rest of us. The OFs will use anything that will get rid of them so we do not have to use sprays and poison.

The other non-poisonous way was to wait until evening when the bees are all in their holes, then take fine steel wool and duct tape and plug up the hole. Most will die but some of them might start another hole and chew their way out. According to the OF who uses this technique, this does not happen very often.

The OFs were a little upset about all these people that use pesticides and lawn chemicals so they can have lawns that look like carpets. These chemicals are decimating the bee population and other insects that pollinate the fruit trees, vegetables, and flowers. Some of the OFs feel that using these sprays also adds to the recipe of chemicals that pollute the air we breathe.

Duct tape guru

What did we do before duct tape? There was friction or electrical tape but that was nothing like duct tape. It is amazing to see a NASCAR car slam into a wall at 180 miles an hour, get mangled, and, when it is brought into the pits, the pit crew sticks the sheet metal back together with duct tape.

The car then goes back onto the track and races to the end, again at 180 miles an hour, and nothing flies off the damaged car. One OF said you couldn’t do that with friction tape.

Whatever happened to “The Red Green Show?” the OFs want to know. He was the duct tape guru.  

Small world

The OFs talked about how small the world really is, and they were wondering how two people who know each other sometimes meet in the strangest places. There are 7,500,000,001 (about) in the world and yet the OFs say they can be 3,000 miles from home, go into a restaurant, and there sits an uncle the OF hasn’t see in 15 years.

The former anecdote is hypothetical but the following is actual. One OF said that his sister was on a plane in Dallas, Texas and a man came and sat next to her and this man turned out to be her nephew whom she had not seen in about 20 years. She had lost all contact with him and found out that this nephew now lives in Pittsburgh.

Another OF said the same thing happened to him when they were in Hawaii. The OF said they were checking in at a hotel and the wife said, “Isn’t that Uncle Bill?”

The OF said, “It looks like him but he moved to Los Angeles and you know how we all have doubles wandering about that looks like someone we know.”

The wife said she was going to get closer and check; she did and it was Uncle Bill.  He was checking into the same hotel. It’s a small world after all, or maybe there is a parallel universe and every now and then we jump from universe to universe and don’t know it.

Parking-lot tryst

To some of the OFs, shopping is a drag, unless the OF is in a hardware store, so many of the OFs, when taking their wives to Kohl’s, take a nap in the car. This scribe would like to report that this is a rare happenstance; however, it is a common event.

The OFs started telling what goes on in the parking lots of some of these places while the ladies are shopping. According to the OFs, it is a lot more fun in the parking lot than in the store.

One OF said he was sitting in his car, drinking a soda, when a car pulled up in the line in front of him and stopped. There was only one person in the car but he did not get out. Shortly after that, another car pulled into a space about four cars down and a young lady got out and went to the car with the guy in it.

What went on, the OF recalled, cannot be printed in black and white in a family paper, but the couple were definitely not mad at each other. After a while (quite a while, the OF thought), the young lady got out of the guy’s car, went back to her car, and left. Neither one went into the store.

The OF was asked if he got the license plate numbers, and the OF said, “Darn it, no; I didn’t think of it.”

Apparently it is more fun in the parking lot. The OFs wonder if the people doing whatever in the parking lot knew most parking lots are now on camera.

The OMOTM who hauled out of bed and made it to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg, and none were wiping the sleepy dirt from their eyes, were: Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Roger Shafer, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Chick Aelesio, Ray Frank, Marty Herzog, Ted Peterman, Ted Feurer, Harold Grippen, John Rossmann, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Mike Willsey, Gerry Willsey, and me.