New venue for Tuesday breakfast: Masonic Lodge

Tuesday, Sept. 26, was an unusual day in two respects. One was the temperature, breaking record highs for the few days remaining in September, and two was where the breakfast was held.

On this particular Tuesday, the Old Men of the Mountain were served breakfast by other Old Men of the Mountain at the Berne Masonic Lodge in Berne. The OFs of the lodge (who are also part of the Old Men of the Mountain) decided it would be fun to have breakfast at the lodge — and indeed, it was fun.

It was fun to watch what effort it took eight guys to do, when at some restaurants the OFs frequent, they manage to have only one cook, one waitress, and, if they are lucky, one doing dishes.

It must be said these guys did all right: The coffee kept flowing, the toast kept coming, and the French toast and eggs were done to order. The home fries were seasoned and done right, and they, too, kept coming.

The breakfast was part family style, and part done to order at the same time. On the table were slips of paper with a place to write the OFs name, table number, and what he wanted and how they wanted it cooked. This paper was taken to the kitchen (term used loosely) where it was prepared.

As far as this scribe can ascertain, there were no screw-ups. For the OF who likes some of his food done quite well — even better than quite well, burned is more like it — the Lodge boys filled the request on that slip also.

Another plus for the guys — the meals were hot! That is always a good sign.

These lodge OFs were better than some restaurants that have the meal ready and then stick it under heat lamps until the waitress has time to pick it up and bring it to the table. A little aside to this from the scribe: The OFs are lucky because this generally does not happen at the restaurants in the circle the OFs frequent.

The ambience was like eating in a Boy Scout camp dining hall, only with much more decorum. No camp counselors were around with whistles that they used to keep blowing to restore order.

A few of the OFs had trouble locating the lodge, but obviously not too much trouble because these OFs managed to show up at the lodge right on time. Fortunately, the meal was fun and different. If an OF felt the service was bad, or the food was rotten, who was he going to complain to?  The complaining OF might have been drummed right out of the corps.

Three hurricanes

The OFs talked, among other things, about the three storms that have slammed into Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and the Islands to the southeast of Florida like Puerto Rico and the rest of the islands strung out in those few latitudes.

“What a mess” was the general comment of the OFs. “They all need help.”

However, as one OF put it, “Texas and Florida are states loaded with billionaires, but Puerto Rico and those islands around it have nothing.”

“Well,” one OF said, “at least one of those islands has that Branson fella.” (This would be Sir Richard Branson, whose net worth, according to Forbes, is $5 billion.)

Many little bits do the most good

One OF said that he and his family went to a venue down South, paid to get in, and the OF said he paid for everybody. Once inside, he noticed a sign that said “seniors” got in for less money.

It wasn’t a whole lot less, the OF said, but he went back to the ticket booth and showed it to the young girl in the cashier’s booth and the OF told her it wasn’t much and it would be OK if it wasn’t honored because he did not see the sign until inside.

In the typical southern drawl and smile, the little girl said, “Oh honey, I don’t mind,” as she handed him the money. “Every little bit helps.”

The OF said he always has remembered this, and so often it is the many little bits that do the most good.

The Big Apple loses its polish

The OFs do not visit New York City much anymore as there is not much down there to attract them. If they are going to a ball game, they will take a bus.

The OFs mentioned friends of theirs that live in the city or the environs thereof who have difficulty trying to park a car, or even own a car down there. One OF said, just to park a car in the city costs between $600 and $800 a month.

That, this scribe can’t refute or substantiate, but can understand, because relatives of this OF don’t even own a car who live in the city; they can get around without a car because of public transportation.  If they want to, or have to, leave the city for any reason, they rent a car.

One OF commented, “Imagine the car rental agencies in New York city renting cars to drivers that only drive a car about six or seven times a year. No wonder we pay so much to rent a car up here. We are paying for the way the cars must come back to the rental agencies in the big cities.”

One OF said he drives all the time and hates driving downstate where everyone thinks their car is a tank. Picture getting behind the wheel and starting out in that mess when you haven’t had your hands on a steering wheel in months.

As one other OF put it, “What fun.”

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Masonic Lodge in Berne, by whatever circuitous route they choose to get there, were: Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Herb Bahrmann, Roger Shafer, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Jake Leberman, Ted Feurer, Bill Bartholomew, and Warren Willsey, Duncan Bellinger. Kitchen help and servers were: Lou Scheck, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, John Jacniewski, Ray Gaul, and me.