A history: Although more OFs are dead than on the current roster, the OMOTM rolls on

— From John R. Williams

Ivan Baker, sketched by John R. Williams 18 years ago, founded the Old Men of the Mountain along with Herbie Wolford and Joe Farcas. Mike Willsey and Williams came shortly thereafter.

It has been asked: Who are the OMOTM? Well, they started out many, many years ago with just three guys.

They would meet at one of the OF’s homes until the wife would finally kick them out; they would then go to a restaurant and order something akin to a brunch because the wife would only let them hang around in the morning until about 9 a.m.

Also, one of the founding OF’s favorite saying was that 9 a.m. was a good time to hit the eating establishments because the morning crowd was gone and the afternoon crowd wasn’t there.

It wasn’t long before they asked the brother-in-law of one of the three, and a neighbor of the same OF if they wanted to join them and the OMOTM was underway.

For many years, the group was basically high school buddies from the three rival schools of Berne-Knox-Westerlo, Schoharie, and Middleburgh. The original group had one OF whose wife would send little reports to The Enterprise of where the OFs went to breakfast and a bit about what happened that week.

Then one year, the OF whose wife wrote the piece took a very long trip and asked this scribe if he would continue with the report. So the report continued, and continues. 

The title for the group came originally from those in the group who all lived on the Hill and for the most part were farmers. Occasionally there have been photographs of the group in The Enterprise, and at times photographs of their activities.

As the OMOTM progressed, some friends of the OFs retired; they were then asked if they wanted to join us for breakfast on Tuesday mornings. So the group grew and even included people from the valley, and now includes some flatlanders.

This scribe, in preparing this piece on how the OMOTM began, looked at the current roster and found about 40 names; in the summer months, we can generally expect 30 to 35 at breakfast. In the winter, there are about 20 to 25 people who regularly join us.

Last year, there were a few occasions where the attendance in the winter was over 25. A sad piece of information the scribe found out by looking at the roster — there are almost, or maybe even more, OFs dead than are on the current roster. We’re talking 30-plus years here.

At the end of each report, this scribe would make a small observation about the OFs and include the names of the OMOTM that made it that Tuesday to the breakfast. There were many reasons for this.

One reason was to supply alibis to the whereabouts of any particular OF who was in trouble with the law. Another reason was to assure that the wife who would be asking questions of a particular OF that he was where he said he was.

The column is also a week late and that is to prevent process servers from contacting OFs; that could be embarrassing. The OMOTM have no rules or plans to make rules; however, there are two unwritten rules. The conversations cannot contain any discussions on politics or religions. Those two topics cause the demise of many organizations.

The COVID-19 virus has caused quite a disruption in the OMOTM rotating among the restaurants and distributing a few bucks here and there. All the OFs’ eating destinations have been closed, but this scribe saw it as a good time to use some of his notes that did not make the first round. The virus has lasted longer than expected and in some states it looks like it is in for another round.

Now this scribe has to rely on old notes and phone calls. In Schoharie, some of the restaurants are open with restrictions. Some of the OFs are showing up for breakfast but many are not

 At 87 years old and with a few underlying conditions, this scribe is one who is sticking pretty close to home and traveling only when necessary. This scribe is waiting for a provable and workable vaccine, or a pill that will handle the virus effectively regardless of age.

This scribe (like many of the other OFs) feels pretty good, and would like to become an older OF. This scribe has the drawing board and easel to keep him busy —  oh, and a wife who has a lot of ideas of her own.