Clouds, politics, and taxes make here a bad place to retire

It was Aug. 15, and The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh and for some reason the OMOTM arrived at the restaurant in dribs and drabs. Generally the OGs arrive in various groups at about the same time — last Tuesday was different. Eventually, the OGs made it.

It was a day of news for the OFs but unfortunately much of it was of interest only to the OMOTM. The discussions were on who was ill and all their problems; however, this is of concern mostly to the OFs’ families and the OFs.

A topic talked about for a little bit was the article in The Times Union about the Albany area being the “worst” place to retire. At least it was at the bottom of the list of 117 places used in the sample.

The OFs’ breakfast is a good place for this discussion because the OFs are all retired. The ones who stick it out summer and winter had a little problem with that commentary because they had no real comparison, but the ones who fly away in the winter months did have a few comments and they heartily agreed with the conclusion of the study.

It is the typical laments of most New Yorkers: the lack of sunshine in summer and winter; taxes being ridiculous compared to any other place; and, of course, the politics. Some said New York is so out of touch with the rest of the country it is like a little country all to itself, at least in the Albany area.

Lack of inexpensive public transportation to outlying areas is a big concern for retired people and it is virtually nonexistent in the tri-city area. Senior housing, where the seniors can walk to church,  grocery stores, and pharmacies at reasonable prices are needed.

One OF mentioned he did not think the area even considered itself as a place to retire to. It is a center of government, education, and some industry. This OF said that the tri-city area is the place to make your mark when you are young, invest wisely, then retire to the sunny, laid-back places. Here it is a hustle-bustle, push-shove atmosphere.

An OF added. “I am here because I am used to the high taxes, political shenanigans, and all my friends and family are here.” The OF said he does not want to wander off to where he doesn’t know anybody just for a few more rays of sunshine.

“As long as I am happy where I am,” the OF said, “that is where I am going to stay. When things go wrong, at least I will know the doctors and there will be people I know to take care of me. I don’t need someone else to tell me where to retire to.”

Catching up

The conversation turned to a more cheerful topic concerning an event that occurred a couple of weeks ago. At the Hilltown Café restaurant in Rensselaerville, a rare happenstance took place.

It is necessary to know the layout of the restaurant to follow this. The restaurant has only tables and a counter — no booths. The restaurant dining area is basically L-shaped.

The OFs start filling the restaurant up from the bottom of the L, then proceeding up the leg of the L, sitting at tables. At the bottom of the L, the tables are pushed together and, when filled, the OFs start sitting at individual tables that hold four people, leaving the ones in front for regular patrons.

On this particular morning, one of the regular patrons came in and sat at one of the tables in the leg of the L. As the other OFs came in and the back was full the OFs started sitting at tables going up the leg, leaving this local gentleman sitting at his table alone, surrounded by the OMOTM.

Eventually all the tables were full of OMOTM except his. (Almost filling up a restaurant is common with the OM).  

When three more OFs came in and all tables were full they went to the table where the older, regular patron was sitting and asked if was OK if they sat with him. (Rarely does this scribe use names; this is to protect the innocent but in this case it is necessary to have this little report make any sense.)

The regular patron said, “Sure, I just came in to see if Bill Bartholomew was coming. I see his name in The Enterprise quite often and would like to see him because I used to do business with him years ago.” The three OFs smiled because the man he was talking to, and who had asked him if it was OK to sit there, was Bill Bartholomew.

Age has a way of sneaking up on us OFs and, if the OFs don’t check the mirror every now and then, many would not even recognize themselves. These two did not recognize each other until names were said and hands were shook.

Condolences offered

Life goes on in somewhat of a normal pace. The pace is different for us all, including the OMOTM. As age creeps up on us, adversity slips in; the OFs adjust to the adversity that now becomes part of the routine.

When this change in the routine is accepted and the adversity eventually comes to an end, though the OFs know it is going to happen, it is still hard. With that in mind, the Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their heartfelt condolences to Harold Guest on the passing of his wife, Arlene, on Sunday, Aug. 13.  

The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh with not a hint of the news of Arlene until the breakfast; those who met were all saddened and they were: Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Don Wood, Herb Sawotka, Ray Kennedy, Roger Chapman, Duane Wagonbaugh, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Bob Lassome, Gerry Irwin, Russ Pokorny, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink and his grandson Ellis Fink, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.