Fatal blaze brings condolences, debate

On Oct. 12, The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie. Most know of the fire that happened last week in the village in which a lady died in the blaze. The house is just kitty-corner of the Your Way Café and this prompted conversation on the fire. The lady that was a victim of the fire was known by many of the OMOTM, as was the family.

A lot of the OMOTM were volunteer firemen and the burned-out pile of rubble brought to mind the fire and how it was fought. This scribe is not sure how much of this is true but the OFs seemed to know what happened.

What the OFs were wondering is why was Middleburgh the first fire company there, when the Schoharie fire department is only about 2,000 feet away? Westmere, why were they there? That fire department is quite a ways away.

One OF expressed the thought that maybe towns should do away with volunteer fire companies, and have paid, professional fire departments instead, but he added, he also thought it should be a combination of paid and volunteer.

Another OF claimed he did not know how this would work. The first OF also agreed it would get the equipment to the fire much faster but then what?  

This scribe assumes this isn’t the first time this conversation has come up with volunteer fire companies. It sounds like there are passionate, devoted people in the mix here, because the next place to go up may be theirs.

There was much debate as to answers but they were not all in agreement so much of the discussion has to be left out. The OMOTM offer their condolences to the families involved with the fire in Schoharie with the loss of their loved one.


Touch a Truck

Speaking of fire trucks, one OF said there is going to be an event in the Berne town park for basically kids (and maybe a few adults who still are kids in some respect) called “Touch a Truck” where the kids will be able to sit in and pretend to drive all sorts of trucks.

The OFs hope all the keys are out of these things and in a safe place). This sounds like fun for “kids.”


THE bridge

One OMOTM told a story when he was asked, “What are you doing since you retired?” Well, he is still driving truck and making deliveries apparently on his own terms.

One of his deliveries took him downstate to “THE” bridge. The OF could not get the new name out. The OF knew it but couldn’t say it and finally, with help from the OFs around him, announced you mean the Tappan Zee bridge, and this scribe must report there was much laughter and snickers.

No one was going to call it the “Governor Mario M. Cuomo” bridge no matter how many or how large the signs are — it is still the Tappan Zee.

One OF gave a brief history of the original name of the bridge: Tappan, for the Native Indians that lived in the area, and Zee, the Dutch word for sea, which was for the Dutch that settled in the area including Albany. Now you know the rest of the story.


Disappearing toll booths

To go along with the bridge and the toll just to use it to cross the river, the OFs talked about these no-toll booths on some interstates. The OFs don’t trust these booths at all.

One OF said he was headed up the Northway and the vehicle ahead of him was hauling a boat. This vehicle was also used for plowing snow.

As the OF passed said vehicle, he noted it still had the frame for attaching the plow to the vehicle, and from behind the OF said he could not see a license plate at all because of the boat. Even after passing it, he could only see the edge of a plate. The OF wondered, if this vehicle was on the Thruway, how would a camera get a picture to send a bill?

Many questioned this arrangement, again when the driver gets on and off quickly (especially downstate where the exits come up fast) the state is doing all this for perhaps 20 cents. The OFs don’t quite understand it.

One OF thought there must be some kind of special camera equipment involved. Say, for instance, the first vehicle through is a tractor trailer hauling doubles, then the next one is a Volkswagen beetle, and the one after that is a pickup truck hauling a camper, and they all leave the Thruway at different exits.

To do this, the OF opined, it must take quite a sophisticated piece of camera equipment to sort all this out and send the bills to the right people.   

However, some of this new technology takes a while to sink in, in the older brain cells, not that it won’t ever sink in; it just takes longer. We OFs remember that Moses had the first tablet that could connect to the cloud.

The Old Men of the Mountain made it to the Your Way Café, and helped them open the doors for the day. Those OMOTM with their hands on the key were: Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Roger Shafer, Rick LaGrange, Jake Herzog, Miner Stevens, Paul Nelson, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Jake Lederman, Gerry Chartier, Russ Pokorny, Pete Whitbeck, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Duncan Bellinger, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, and me.