Memories: The more time goes by, the deeper the past becomes

Every day should be different, yet most of the time every day seems to be the same. For instance, Tuesdays, for the Old Men of the Mountain, are different. Tuesday, Aug. 31, was different. It was the last day of the month and this is true for all those in our time zone, and using the calendar as most do.       

For the OMOTM that is the same, but who was going to be at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh? What would the sunrise be like? What would the weather be like? Is all that routine stuff, which seems to be the same, going to be different?

Who might show up at the breakfast? Will that be different? What will the OFs wear? That should be different. There is so much difference going on and the OFs haven’t even had their first cup of coffee yet.

The OFs, being the people they are, can remember the past firsthand and the more breakfasts the OFs put under their belts, the deeper the past becomes.

At one point in time, there was a really productive cement plant in Howes Cave, New york. Howes Cave is a very small hamlet in Schoharie County.

At one time, a few people from the Hilltowns worked at that plant. Though the work was hard and dusty it was one of the better-0paying jobs in the valley. It was one of the first cement plants in the country, and the stone was mined before it was quarried.

The OFs were telling stories of people who worked there in the plant’s “heyday” in the late forties and through the fifties. At times, the OFs struggled to remember names of people they worked with, though eventually the names came through.

What did come with ease were the events and stories and who was involved. Being 70 and 80 years old (and some approaching 90) digging back that far to relate a story and be reasonably accurate is pretty good.

Once the door of the brain is open to that time, the stories come more fluently, the stammering stops, and the hesitation lessens, as the mental images of what happened become sharper. This conversation was only between a couple of OFs who knew people who worked at the plant or they worked there themselves. The stories were just that to the others. Stories.


Ocean attracts

Some of the OFs travel to the coast of Maine whenever they get a chance. It must be the draw of the ocean, the waves rolling in with routine laps, or crashing roars. Some go to Cape Cod for basically the same reason.

One of the OFs just returned from Old Orchard Beach in Maine and the discussion centered on lobsters. Eating lobsters. To think they used clams and lobsters for driveways in colonial times, and lobsters were fed to their workers just to get rid of these crustaceans.

As one OF put it, “Now look at what a lobster meal costs!”

Catching lobsters is now highly regulated in order to perpetuate the species, and the same with clams. How times have changed. A good lobster meal for four can set you back a house payment.

The retired can go to the coast after school starts when the crowds are gone. The Old Orchard Beach OF said the crowds were horrendous and we are supposed to be in a pandemic.

But “in the good ole summer time” the crowds along the waterways are like that. Young and old people go, and it is getting to be really expensive, especially the gas to get who knows where. One OF piped up, “or work.”


A bummer

It is fair time and as mentioned before some of the OFs went to the state fair and they came back quite disappointed.

These OFs said, “There was not an animal there. No cows, horses, pigs, sheep — nothing. The only animals there were not remarkable animals at all — there were just a few ducks and chickens.”

“What a bummer,” one OF said.

The OFs can remember it was a big deal to have your cow win at the local fair and then take it to the state fair. The same feeling went for horses and other animals.

Fair time always means fly time especially on the Hill. Come the fair, comes the black cluster flies, and the green buzzy ones.

One OF said they got prepared by purchasing two rolls of fly paper, the sticky kind that pulls down from a little tube with a tack in it to fasten the fly paper to molding or whatever. The OF said they hung the two strips of fly paper and it hung for a couple of days and did not catch a fly.

Lots of flies but none on the paper. Either the flies are more educated or the manufacturers are not using, or are not allowed to use, the bait that entices the fly to the sticky part.

Generally those things work, not only with flies but other flying pests, but the OFs have never seen a bee stuck on one, which is a good thing.

One OF said he doesn’t know where the flies come from, but he does know they want to be outside. This OF said, just open the window and most of the flies will fly outdoors.

Then another OF said, “Yeah, the flies just fly around to the back door and wait for that to open and fly right back in.”

His advice? Swat the buggers.



The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their condolences and sympathies to the family of a loyal old man of the mountain, Roger Chapman, who passed away at St. Peter’s Hospital last week.

The Old Men of the Mountain who met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh on what felt like an early fall day, were: Wally Guest, Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Jake Lederman, Marty Herzog, Pete Whitbeck, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Duncan Bellinger, Rev. Jay Francis, Russ Pokorny, Jake Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, and me.