Weather surprises keep the Northeast interesting

Some of the Old Men of the Mountain who travel to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow travel over the mountain to get there. This past Tuesday, on May 14, the temperature for many leaving for the trek to Pop’s Place was in the mid-thirties and snow was expected on top of the mountain.

But as luck would have it there was no snow — only fog and drizzle. This weather, as we have been reporting, has caused some grumbling among the OFs; however, a few the snowbirds have returned, and our grumbling is minor compared to these guys whose blood is still as thin as water. The rest of us OFs believe our blood is still thick; it has not had time to thin out.

There is one big “however” to add to the above paragraph. In 2002, on May 18, the hill had about three inches of snow. An OF said that his brother-in-law had a 50th-year surprise birthday party planned for that day and it was to be held at Thacher Park.

Everybody showed up and the snow was on the ground, greeting all who came. The snow was more of a surprise than the party. Eventually all wound up at the OFs home where the woodstove was already running on May 18.

Ah, the Northeast! It is almost impossible to be bored. Still and all, we are getting pretty sick of the rain, chilly weather, and more rain.

But with this constant drizzle, damp weather, and rain the OFs who live in the valley are keeping a close eye on the creeks — especially the tributaries that feed the Catskill and Schoharie creeks. These OFs have a tendency to be a little skittish of long-duration rainfall.

All the other OFs can understand, especially when it wasn’t that long ago (2011) when some of the OFs had seven feet of water in their living rooms.

The last straw

There was quite a discussion on plastic straws. One OF said he was at a restaurant where they were given straws made from some kind of weed. The OF didn’t know whether to drink from it or smoke it. Either way, the straw did not last long before it dissolved into mush.

One OF’s wife purchased a combination spoon and straw made from stainless steel. The OF said, once they got them home, they found out the spoon part wouldn’t fit into a soda-type bottle.

The OF added, if he wanted to use the straw in the soda bottle, it was necessary to put the spoon part in his mouth. When he tried it with the spoon part in his mouth, he found it is really silly looking and it doesn’t work anyway.

The first thing the OF found out is that it was necessary to put the bottom part of the spoon on top; otherwise, when sucking whatever up the straw, the liquid hits the spoon and spreads all over. The OF doubts if these will ever get used at his house.

This scribe listened to the OFs talk, if briefly, on straws and plastic bags so this scribe went to our friend Google, and found that maybe we should be using multi-use shopping bags, or bags made from corn-husk fibers.

Both paper and plastic consume much of our natural resources, in oil and trees. Check it out for yourself as it would take too much space in this little column to report on all the information found.

Ailing biz

This scribe found out that one of the OFs worked for many years for Shafer Brewery until it left Albany for Pennsylvania. According to this OF, it was the workers’ own union that killed Shafer. The OF told what some of his jobs were and some were jobs that one would never think of, but they were jobs that had to be done.

One job was putting a plug in the barrel containing beer and the OF said if he (or anyone) missed with the whack of the hammer, they were covered in said beer. One OF asked who was covered in beer, and the OF answered, “Me.”

The OF said that once he was going through a police checkpoint and, when the cop looked in the window, they pulled him over for being drunk. The OF said he told the cop he went home smelling like this all the time. The OF said he worked for Shafer Brewery and showed him the emblem on his shirt and they let him go.

Another OF piped up that it was the union that killed Capital City Container and his son was out of a job because of it.

“Dangerous varmints”

The OFs talked about their first guns and how they got them. Some of the OFs received them as Christmas gifts.

One OF remembered he was given his first gun when he was about 10 years old. It was a simple single-shot Remington 22. His dad got him and his brother each one. These guns had a single purpose on the farm, and that was to shoot woodchucks.

Woodchucks were dangerous critters on the farm. They were pretty easy to get out of their holes most of the time; the Young OFs could just whistle them up. They would come out of their holes and stand up and look around for the whistle.

In the beginning, when they were farming with horses, it could be disaster for the horse if it stepped into a woodchuck hole. When they were able to switch from horses to tractors, woodchuck holes were just as bad. If a front wheel of the tractor hit one of those things, it would spin the steering wheel right out of your hand and the driver could end up with a broken thumb, or wrist. Yep, those “chucks were dangerous varmints.”

Again the Old Men of the Mountain who met the challenge of the weather (but nothing like the weather going on in the South, Midwest, and Southeast) and made it to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow were: Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Paul Nelson, Pete Whitbeck, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Harold Grippen, and me.