Comparing holiday habits for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas

On Halloween this year, the Old Men of the Mountain met in their costumes at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh on Oct. 31. The OMOTM with their wrinkled bodies are, at most of their ages, in constant costume so to become outfitted for Halloween is no trick for these OFs; all they have to do is show up.

At one corner of the table, there were some OFs who worked at, or had very close relatives who worked at, the penitentiaries of the state of New York. Most of them did not stick it out and moved on to better things.

Although one person did hang in there for quite a while. It was the understanding most of these people working in these institutions worked away from the general population. For the OFs to keep their sanity, this is a good thing.

Halloween is not a holiday, yet a couple of OFs mentioned that so much is done with Halloween, and getting ready for All Saints Day is similar to preparing for Christmas with the Halloween decorations, colored lights, and all.

Christmas has the crèche, Halloween has its graveyards. Christmas colors are green and red; Halloween, orange and black. Houses decorated with lights and scenes — one with the holiday of Christmas, and the other just for the fun of it. One day, many people head for their house of worship; the other day, they head for a house of horror.

Thanksgiving was also a topic, and the reason for the day was not mentioned; it was the get-togethers and how large or small they were. One OF mentioned that one of these he attended required a lot of food. The OF said two turkeys and he thinks two hams are necessary to feed this group.

One OF mentioned Thanksgiving was a more important extended family get-together than Christmas. More of the family traveled to be with each other than at Christmastime.

They thought that Christmas should be more of a family time, meaning your family, rather than the whole dang group down to cousins three times removed. With the young ones scurrying about and confusion, oftentimes everything is running amuck with dinner just being food consumed and not really enjoyed — and still is looked forward to every year, even planned a year in advance to attend the next one.


Engine sounds

As always, cars and trucks entered the conversation on Tuesday morning and the discussion was about how an engine sounds. Not as much as it used to be, but many of the OFs claimed they could tell the make and model of a vehicle by the sound of its engine. While others said nowadays they all sound alike to them.

One OF said that on the farm they had a small Farmall tractor and it had its own particular sound. The sound though was the same on all the Farmalls of this type.

One day at the fair, he was passing the Ferris wheel and heard that sound. Upon further investigation, he found he was right. That engine was the same engine being used to operate the Ferris wheel.

However, that was then, and maybe now being able to tell engine sound from engine sound with the new muffler systems may not be so easy.

One OF said he could tell when an engine was starting up just by how the engine cranked, or how long it took for the engine to fire up. Today it is: Hit the ignition and the engine is running so there doesn’t seem to be any crank time.


Double duty

Some of the OFs have breakfast out two days a week. One of our members has been with the group a long time, and many at one time knew this member when they were kids.

This young OF received a call and formed Rock Road Chapel. Rock Road Chapel has a breakfast every Wednesday morning and is by donation, and if you are down on your luck the best donation is just being there.

Some of the OMOTM support this endeavor and this is a “bring the whole family” breakfast not just the OM. From the reports, this is a very good breakfast — only you take what is there because no waitress is going to come out and ask what you want.

Rock Road Chapel is on Rock Road just a little way in, off Route 146 almost to Berne when traveling from Knox.



Many people, not only the OFs, reflect on what they wished they did, or learned to do, when they were young. Learn to fly a plane, learn to really know how to cook, learn to play an instrument, and learn a foreign language, which is what brought up this discussion.

The OFs discussed their parents and those who came from different cultures and who took the time to teach their kids (who are now OFs) some of the culture and the language. Most of the OFs did a little of this reflecting at Tuesday morning’s breakfast on what they missed by not paying much attention in this regard to their parents. 

One OF listed a couple of should-a’s. One was playing the piano, to which another OF said, “Hey, I play the piano. I will take care of that. I will teach you.”

That is great, teach an OF how to play the piano when the OF has trouble remembering which door he came in.

The Old Men of the Mountain who met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and thought it might be a good idea to start a school for OFs who want to learn things, were: Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Dick Dexter, Jack Norray, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, Rev. Jay Francis, Gerry Cross, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Doug Marshall, Rick LaGrange, Ed Goff, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Mike Kruzinski, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Russ Pokorny, Frank Dees, Ken Parks, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, and me.