Remembering farming as a bloody business and the trials of the Great Depression

— Photo from John R. Williams

Gearing at the head of these dehorning clippers lets them open and close with ease; they are not rusted shut. “The square head bolt, with a square nut have been long gone,” says John R. Williams. The clippers are among old farm tools bought by one of the Old Men of the Mountain.

The Your Way Café in Schoharie was the restaurant under attack by The Old Men of The Mountain on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Many of the OFs arrived at the Your Way Café at the same time Tuesday morning; four or five cars entered the parking lot just about simultaneously. The OFs unfolded out of their vehicles like most OFs, slowly, and with purpose.

The OFs greeted each other with the congenial “Good morning (enter name), you’re looking good this morning.” Most of the time that was true but there were the occasions when it was a lie.

This is similar to the OF’s reply when other OFs ask, “Hey (enter name), how ya feelin’?” or, “How ya doin’?” The standard reply from the OGs is generally, “Great,” or, “Top shelf,” or, “If I felt any better, I would be dead.”

As a rule, this is a bunch of malarkey, too. Most of the OFs have aches and pains too numerous to mention so listing them all would take way too much time, so “I’m fit as a fiddle” will do.

Old farm tools

An OMOTM breakfast would not be complete if the OFs did not discuss farming. Tuesday morning, the OFs discussed dehorning cattle (mostly cattle); no one mentioned goats or other animals with horns. However, this dehorning is also a practice with them, especially when goats get rambunctious.

What brought this up was the piece of information from one OF who bought perhaps a couple of wagon loads of old farming equipment and one of the items among the “stuff” was an old pair of dehorning shears.

These types of shears are still being used for dehorning today, along with saws, wire, and caustic chemicals. The saw of choice today is a “Sawzall”; however, back in the OFs’ day, it was a hacksaw.

No matter what, farming is a bloody business.

Great Depression recalled

Tuesday was the first morning after the big drop in stocks, and some of the OFs said their spending cash will be a little short, but none of the OFs seemed really concerned. As one OF mentioned, he has so little in the stock market that it doesn’t matter which way Wall Street goes — up or down.

Many of the OFs remember the Big One (Depression Era: 1929 to 1939) and how eventually it took World War II to get us out of it. During World War II, the whole country experienced the process of government rationing.

This was not too hard to take because the rationale of the Depression and not having anything anyway just carried over into a different word for not having anything. Only this post-war time there was money around, but during rationing the OFs had nothing to buy.

Many of the OFs went through this time in our nation’s history, and as one OF said when explaining this part of the home front’s effort in World War II to his grandkids, they had no idea what he was talking about.

The OF said, “What do they teach in school today?”

Another OF said “They teach them how to land a Rover on a moving asteroid that is not very big and it is moving at least a gazillion miles an hour.”

The USA wasn’t the only country that was affected by the Great Depression. It was worldwide.

This recent market drop supposedly started in China, but the OFs say this country has so much Chinese money loaned to us it won’t last long. Another OF said, if they ever ask for their loans back from our country in a hurry, the good ole US of A is in deep do-do.

Computer advice

The OFs who have computers were talking about the “new” operating system, Windows 10. The OFs who do not have Outlook Express think it is great, and in some respects those OFs who do have Outlook Express agree, saying that many aspects of 10 are like Windows 7.

One OF said he still has Windows 7, to which another OF said, “Keep it.”

One OF recommended that, if you have Outlook Express, don’t take Windows 10 until Microsoft arrives at a solution to that problem. It really screws up the email as it will not open any hyperlinks.

Parrott House redone

The OFs realize that The Enterprise is geared to Guilderland, the Hilltowns, New Scotland, Slingerlands, parts of Delmar, and not much to the other side of mountain into Schoharie and that area. However, the OFs’ circle of schools was Berne-Knox-Westerlo, Schoharie, and Middleburgh.

Those who are familiar with this bit of geography know of the Parrott House in Schoharie, and the problems it has been having. Finally someone has taken over this building and appears to be doing extensive work on the structure.

One OF reported that it is being completely gutted all because of the flood from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The antiquity of the place, including the bar, has been taken out.

The OFs who are familiar with this situation say that is sad because, if refurbished, the character and history of the Parrott House, once again, could result in quite a tourist attraction for the county.

On the other hand, maybe, if it were clean and new, the Parrot House could start a history of its own. This scribe, as on OF, can see one dining room devoted to the original history of the hotel, and another dining room devoted to history of the hotel after the flood, including pictures of the flood.

The Old Men of the Mountain who were able to make it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie, and bring half their breakfast home to their wives, were: Chuck Aleseio, Roger Shafer, Miner Stevens, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Otis Lawyer, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Bill Lichliter, Bob Benac with his guests Kaleb Bsandoin, and Skye Benac, Rich Donnelly, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagenbaugh, Bill Krause,  Charles Jones, Jay Taylor, Art Frament, Joe Ketzeka, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Duncan Bellinger, Don Wood, Joe Becker, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, and me.