New topic: Butter sculptures and crowds at the state fair

It was Aug. 24, and the Old Men of the Mountain gathered at the Chuck Wagon Diner on Route 20. As most in the area know, Route 20 travels basically east and west and the sun comes up in the east and sets (duh) in the west.

Many OFs at this time of the year are driving directly east as the sun peeks over the horizon. Going east and meeting the glare of the sun in the morning can be an experience with old eyes. However, one OF said he would rather put up with the glare than drive in fog, drizzle, and gloom, and expect no better for the rest of the day.

The OFs are guaranteed to talk about the weather; who is ill or under the weather; old times, including tractors, cars, trucks, and motorcycles; what they did in school, mostly high school (college seems to be left out); what they did at work, and current events.

Some mention odd or universally interesting hobbies, or gossip; many other topics are just touched on or not mentioned at all.

This leaves the scribe reporting on, and trying to make different commentary on, the same topics over and over. Again, this is understandable; it happens in any group that has been functioning for years.

This past Tuesday, the chatter was on the weather and all the water and how wet it has been, because the OFs remembered how devastating Irene was and how this tropical storm affected so many of the OFs from actual damage, or volunteering to help others who were in need.

So, in talking about weather, that storm of 10 years ago was real weather, and is still talked about off and on today. Not only is it talked about but the evidence is still around.


Stringing phone lines

The Middleburgh Telephone Company was a discussion that was different. The OFs remember when the company was around in the forties and fifties, and at that time it was like a backyard operation.

The OFs remember working with actor John McGiver who lived in West Fulton (about 40 miles west of Albany). They were stringing phone lines through and on trees, even on fence posts.

Maybe there are phone lines strung like that in the North Country or out west someplace, but like one OF said, “If it works, so what?”

The Middleburgh Telephone Co. was started in the late 1800s and has been around ever since.


Fair talk

Some of the OFs talked about going to the New York State Fair in Syracuse. That is quite an event.

Local fairs are fun, especially when young, when youngsters belong to a club or organization that participates in these local fairs. Sometimes this even leads to their taking part in the state fair.

The state fair has a butter-sculpture exhibit that appears just about as people enter the fairgrounds. These sculptures are very well done.

Some of the OFs have seen these works and are really impressed. This scribe has seen the sculpted butter and, like the rest, is impressed.

What happens to all this butter when the fair is over? This scribe would hate to see it go to waste, and so would the OFs, but the OFs think this butter has to be destroyed just to be safe.

It is like sand art. Once it is done, and viewed by those that attended, whoever sponsored the event must have made plans for what they would do with this display when the fair is over.  All the sculptors have now are photographs of their works.

Going to the state fair on a good day, you will find the exit to get off the New York State Thruway can be packed.

One OF said, on a trip to the fair, the right lane of the Thruway was stopped quite away from the exit ramp. Of course, that exit ramp was backed up also.

The OF explained that, as his family inched their way along the Thruway to get to the exit ramp, a vehicle went scooting by on the right of their car. Just as the exit ramp left the Thruway, there was a police car and alongside the car stood a state trooper.

He was waving that car to stop and the trooper did not look too happy. One OF mentioned that rarely does anyone get to see that happen. Generally the guy with the guts to pull a stunt like that gets away with it.

The state fair or the Eastern States Exposition are not venues that (to some of the OFs) can be seen in one day. When we were younger, it was a camping trip; today it may be necessary to rent a room, motel, or B&B.

Trips like this, one OF commented, really make a dent in the ole pocketbook.

“So does a day at the track; rarely do I win,” the OF said. “But I am sure to bring a cooler. Grabbing a bite at the track is expensive.”

Just living today is expensive. A cemetery raises its costs and blames it on the cost of living. Indeed a grave situation.

Those OFs who were at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown regardless of today’s prices were: Roger Shafer, Rich LaGrange, Jake Herzog, Jake Lederman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Marty Herzog, Monty Hounshell, Pete Whitbeck, Otis Lawyer, Joe Rack, Duncan Bellinger, Gerry Chartier, Herb Bahrmann, Rich Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Paul Whitbeck, Mark Traver, John Dabrvalskes, and me.