Puzzling over the origins of small towns in our midst

The breakfast this Tuesday, September (it is already September, the kids are back in school and, to the Old Men of the Mountain ,it seems like they just got out) 3rd, was at Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow. Pop’s place is, for many of the OMOTM, the furthest restaurant they go to.

Some dedicated OFs travel about one hour and 15 minutes to get to Pop’s Place. Also, this time around, the short way for many of the OFs is over the mountain through Rensselaerville. For the last month or so, the bridge over the Myosotis creek is closed for repairs.

To continue onto any routes to get down off the mountain to Route 145, you have to go over that bridge, except for the circuitous roundabout detour the state has set up. Now it is not so short, especially when the OFs had no idea where they were. Some OFs knew the bridge was out and they started earlier and took the long way around.

Bad taste at Thacher park

Not particularly a discussion from Tuesday, but one of a few weeks past, that has been brought to light again, is Thacher Park. To many of the OFs, the park has been part of their local history and a while back they installed a playground of sorts at the southern end of the park.

Many of the OFs feel Thacher Park with its Indian history and Indian Ladder Trail is a historical park and not a playground. The signs at the end of the park with their garish colors and circus-like appeal take away from the dignity of the park. One OF commented it is bad enough that thing is there but to advertise its location in such a way, to him, is in real bad taste.

Serious hobbies

Not many, but some of the OFs have restored World War II Army vehicles. Why not?

The OFs have collections of hundreds of old possessions; why not army trucks? They talked of a rendezvous of sorts with a few of the collectors of these types of vehicles at the Greenville Drive-in theater.

By the time this column is in the paper the event will be over, but to the OFs it was interesting because the drive-in will be showing old World War II movies to go along with old army trucks.

The other event for these World War II vehicles is a planned ride being organized by one of the OMOTM. They will actually form a convoy as they travel the prescribed route similar to a motorcycle ride.

This ride will not be like a gymkhana done with sports cars where the ending is a mystery and the riders are given check points and items to gather that will lead them to the end. Generally, the gymkhana also has a prescribed time to complete.

These hobbies are completely harmless and lots of fun, and as long as the OFs still have their licenses and can drive, they can be in any of these clubs. Everybody to their own hobbies and some are more than hobbies — they are historical in nature.

Those who are involved in hobbies of this sort study and research the historical time in which they are interested. To talk to these OFs on whatever the subject interests them is like going to school, and the OFs have more information that is correct than any school book.

This is true if the OF is a Revolutionary War reenactor or Civil War enthusiast or  is interested in World War II or World War I. Now, as one OF commented, it will soon be whatever skirmish our young people will be involved in.

Origins of small towns

All over our great country, there are hundreds of small towns. The Old Men of the Mountain are all from small towns; there is not a big-city dweller among any of us.

Most of the small towns have a history as to why they are where they are but, as the OFs drive through them to get to each of the different restaurant, the questions are asked: Why is Gallupville where it is? Why is Quaker Street where it is? Why is South Berne where it is? Why is Knox where it is? Why is Duanesburg where it is? etc, etc.

Most of these small towns have their own historical societies and if the interest is really there, the OFs have tons of time on their hands. It would be neat to visit all of these places and see why they are there.

Each OF from a specific location knows the history of his small town; the OF from Berne may know his, but might not know the reason for South Berne. That reasoning is what came about with the OFs, especially Tuesday morning. One OFs family was from the area and told of what it was like 50 to 60 years ago.

But why Preston Hollow is really there we can now go to  Google which tells us that Preston Hollow was owned from 1629 by the Dutch patroons Van Rensselaer and it was part of the huge Manor of Rensselaerwyck.

The area was so inaccessible that it was not settled until the late 1700s. Shortly after the Revolutionary War, Stephen Van Rensselaer III advertised “free” tracts of land of 160 acres to anyone who would develop the land.

After seven years, farmers had to pay an annual rent of four fat fowls, 18 bushels of wheat, and a day’s service. The rents were perpetual and binding on subsequent purchasers of the land and the patroon reserved mineral and water rights.

These “incomplete sales” led to the Anti-Rent Rebellion from 1839 to 1889, which influenced the wording of the Federal Homestead Act of 1862 and opened up the west to settlement.

Preston Hollow was free land, people! School is now in recess.

Hurricane watch

Many of the OFs have friends or relatives in harm’s way with hurricanes that come up the coast. It is no different with Dorian as it gets ready to affect the East Coast in one way or another.

Some of the OMOTM even have homes in the area of the country where hurricanes visit on occasion. These OFs are watching the TV with keen interest to keep up with the track of the storm and the degree of intensity, whether it is grade 2 or 3 or whatever.

Some of the OFs say we have are blizzards but they think hurricanes are worse. The OFs can build for snow loads but really high winds and unusually high water must be tough to build for.

The OFs who made it to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow, eventually, after a scenic ride through the mountains, were: Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Paul Nelson, Pete Whitbeck, Jake Lederman, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Rich Donnelly, Ray Kennedy, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.