The audacity of complaint yields richer cocoa

On these waning days of a continual spring (there was no real summer), it was Tuesday, Aug. 29, when the early contingent of the Old Men of the Mountain gathered on the sidewalk in front of the Country Café in Schoharie, waiting for it to open before the men piled in. On the sidewalk, the OFs began discussing many of the topics that would be carried into the Country Café.

A discussion that was typical of the OFs (in manner not in subject) was how some OGs were jawing at another OG about the type of cocoa he served them in his at-home workshop. The OFs were complaining when the OG was trying to get work done, even though the OFs who showed up there (just for someplace to go and visit), that his cocoa was weak and cheap. For goodness sake!

The cocoa was free, the entertainment was free, the parking was free, stools and rickety old chairs were free for the OFs’ use, and yet these visiting OFs have the audacity to complain.

These OGs complained so much that the fellow with the shop had to upgrade his cocoa brand. Through experimentation and the process of elimination, the OF now serves Swiss Miss to the visiting OFs, and these ingrates don’t even chip in.

The next thing you know, the OFs will be asking, “Where are the doughnuts”?

The OF with the shop says he really doesn’t mind too much; the OFs do on occasion bring in some business. They also offer free advice, lots of free advice, none of it right though, he added.

This common scenario of the OMOTM is a clue to the type of summer we in the Northeast have experienced. The OFs claim we never really exited the cocoa-doughnut phase of fall and winter, and now the OFs are right into what should be the cocoa-doughnut, pumpkin, apple pie phase of the year.

The OFs said they never really felt like having watermelon and soft ice-cream this summer.

Disasters everywhere

With all the problems that the southeast coast of Texas is having with Hurricane Harvey, Irene pops up her ugly head, flooding residents of our area with memories, and how close it was in the time of year for these two cataclysmic events. Irene was nasty but the OFs noted how many more people were affected by Harvey.

Although one OF mentioned that, if it happens to you, it is a disaster of one, so whether it is happening to seventy thousand, twenty thousand, or just a few hundred, it is still a disaster to those involved. What do you do when everything you have is swept away in a flood, or burned up in a forest fire, or buried under rubble in an earthquake

It is all mind-numbing for those going through it.

One OF said, “The west coast burns up, the South gets blown away, the center of the country gets sucked into the heavens, and the east coast becomes buried under snow.”

The OF said, “We can run but we can’t hide. Bad weather will find you, and if it is not the weather it is bugs, snakes, and alligators.”

Another OF added, “If it wasn’t for all that, there would be no challenges and life would be boring.”

And one more OF further stated, “Tell that to someone whose house has just burned to the ground.”

Pioneer’s perspective

That started another conversation on how the pioneers lived with no electricity, no air conditioners or refrigerators, and no means of expanded verbal conversation. News traveled only by word of mouth, or on the printed page.

One OF said at least the Indians were one up on us there — they had smoke signals.

It is hard for the younger group of OFs to envision this. The OFs that are 80 or beyond had to do a lot without the accepted conveniences of today and many of the OFs said, “We didn’t miss them because we didn’t have them.”  

However, one OF said, “Things weren’t too bad because we had cars and trucks and even airplanes; we had radios, crystal sets, and we even had the telephone. It is our parents that got along quite well without the conveniences of the 1930s. Look at all the advancements they had in World War I.”

The OF added, “Why, when we were young. we even had Johnny Ray, and Elvis.”

The OFs had to agree (even though some were still farming with horses) that the modern conveniences were around.  Why, we even had F.W. Woolworth's, Kresge’s, Wards, and Sears — what else did the OFs need?

The OFs who gathered at the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie, with one whipping out his phone to order a part so the OF could repair his lawn tractor, were: Miner Stevens, Josh Buck, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn,  Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Glenn Patterson (who showed all of  the OFs up by hiking to the restaurant, and then he had to hike home), Pete Whitbeck, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Roger Shafer, Otis Lawyer, Jim Heiser, Mark Traver, Art Frament, Ray Kennedy, Bob Benac, Herb Sawotka, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagonbaugh, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Rev. Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, John Rossmann, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, and me.