OFs land in the Helderbergs, the Earth’s most beautiful place

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, a bunch of guys were hatched. These guys did not like where they were; it was hot and dusty. There was little color — the dust was a dull gray-green, and the only things living there (other than these guys) were bugs roaming this colorless place.

Over time, they constructed a huge trebuchet (an improved form of a catapult) from the few large trees found on this whirling boulder. When ready, they climbed into the basket at the end of the arm, bound themselves with twine in a big ball, released the trigger, and hurled themselves into space.

After some time flying through the dark void of space, they spotted off in the distance a tiny, bright blue dot.

“Wow,” they exclaimed. “Let’s head there,” and they did.

The most pleasant place they spotted on this blue celestial ball was a small range of hills between two little lakes; it was beautiful. By twisting and turning, the men guided their human ball to that area and landed.

That was a long, long, time ago, but on Tuesday morning, June 12, 6018 (years from their auspicious landing, using their calendar) these green-gray planet guys are still meeting, this time at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, New York. They now have a title.  They are called “The Old Men of the Mountain” and still roam the hills they love.

Gas Up

This time each year, on a farm between Schoharie and Gallupville, the Gas Up is held. Many of the OMOTM make a trip to this event to meet “old friends.” These so-called “friends” do not have two or even four legs, but they are a replacement for their old farm equipment.

The old “friends” include old engines, old cars, old trucks, and sometimes really old flesh-and-blood friends.

The OFs discussed some of the changes made at the Gas Up and one of the things they missed was the Reformed Church of Schoharie running the eat, meet, and greet shack on top of the hill this year.  However, there is still the homemade ice cream. The event was larger this year with more equipment.

When the OFs were younger, they would spend the whole day at the Gas Up but, like everything else, as they get older, the legs and the body doesn’t allow many of them to do that. As quite often with the older OFs, the mind says one thing and the body says another.

It does the heart good anyway — for the guys that like to mess with this older method of producing power — just to smell the mixture of gas and oil, hear the putt-putt-putt of the hit-and-miss engine, the flap of the flat belts as they run old rusty equipment like it was new, and the whine of the buzz saws cutting wood. It is different.

Parking is free, and the event is by donation, which is a plus for the OFs. There are youngsters at the Gas Up, quite a few to be exact, which is good to see.

A few OFs interjected that not all the young kids are becoming cross-eyed from staring all day at a 3 x 4 screen six inches from their nose.

Catching carpenter bees

Last week, the column included a section on carpenter bees. This week, an OMOTM (who also belongs to the Kiwanis) brought in some carpenter bee traps that the Kiwanis are making and selling.

They were a hit with some of the OFs who are having problems with these bees. The OF said they work exceptionally well, and use no poison of any kind. This OF sold two traps immediately to some OFs at Tuesday morning’s breakfast.

The OMOTM recommend if you are having problems with these critters to contact the Kiwanis in Altamont and maybe your problem will be solved. A couple of OFs said it is more fun swatting them though with a racket than catching them in a trap.

Kids lack municipal jobs

The OFs wondered what happened to all the summer jobs that school kids could get working with the city and towns, and even with the county. It really gave them something to do; they did jobs like mowing the park, painting fire hydrants and cleaning around them. Painting and fixing up town barn buildings, they did lots of things to improve the appearance of the town. One OF said they even worked in Thacher Park.

Another OF said that he heard it was the child labor laws and the kids were not allowed to do this work.

A third OF responded, “What, I was driving a tractor mowing hay when I was 9! Whose cockamamie idea was that?”

Another OF said he heard it was the public service employee unions that complained kids were taking jobs away from the regular employees who could be doing that work. If the state, county, or town needed more regular employees to do this work, it would give more people jobs (instead of part-time jobs to kids to do the work).

In either case, whichever is right or not right at all, the kids find themselves looking for other programs or part-time jobs to keep them active during the summer months.

One OF said, “Believe it or not, the kids would rather be doing something other than just leaning against a tree staring at their phones like many people think.”

Those OFs who hit on the Helderbergs as a beautiful place to live (and who continue to feel that way) maintain their connection every Tuesday and those OFs who met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, were: Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Shafer, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Russ Pokorny, Herb Bahrmann, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Art Frament, Ray Kennedy, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Duncan Bellinger, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.