The old men’s book of practical cats

The daylight hours are getting shorter; this means some of the Old Men of the Mountain are starting out in the dark. This Tuesday was Nov. 29 so for a few more weeks it will be darker still.

(Scribe’s comment: Just like we can’t make cold, we also can’t make dark. All we can do is take away heat for cold, and light for dark. What has that got to do with anything — hmmmm?)

This also means that, while driving to these early breakfast meetings, we see some autos coming toward us with white lights that are either not set right, or not dimmed. The OMOTM complain that, when meeting these vehicles in the opposite lane, they are blinded by these lights. Not all — just some.

On the way to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, the OFs feel it is a good thing this diner is in the country because not too many of these bright lights are met by the OFs.

In talking around the tables at home, the OFs are finding out it is not only the OFs who have this problem, it is the younger folks too. One OF reported that one of the young folks mentioned in conversation that he wonders how many accidents have been caused by these lights and it has been hushed-hushed.

Over and over, the OMOTM start harping about hearing aids. In the circle around this scribe sat five OFs (not counting the scribe himself) who either don’t wear their hearing aids in a crowd or try to hear over the noise that all the other chatter creates.

In the car, the OFs say, they hear the car, not the conversation. On the boob-tube, when watching sports, the OFs with the aids hear the crowd noises and not the commentators.

In a room with a fan or air-conditioner running, the OFs hear those appliances and not the conversations. Music sounds completely different. One OF said that, when he goes to the bathroom to tinkle, it sounds like Niagara Falls and he knows with his prostate problem this is not true.

What an invention the senses are! Sight, sound, touch, taste, and we can help some but certainly can’t duplicate them.

One OF added the word “yet.” He is a true optimist.


The cat’s meow

There was a discussion on cats, not the play but the animal. Most of the OMOTM have or have had cats.

Those on the farm had “cats” with a lot of plural esses. A couple of these made house cats and were pets with a question mark; the others were barn cats.

There was not much of a difference in who was in control between the house cat and the barn cats. The house cat could be petted if the cat wanted to be petted.

One OF said, “We don’t pet a cat; the cat lets us pet it. There is a difference.”

The barn cats for the most part could not be touched; there were a few at times that they would let the farmer do that but not many.

These cats were not mean, just really independent and, as long as these felines got their warm milk twice a day, they were really welcome to stay in the barn.

Some cats liked the milk squirted right from the cow to the cat. The cat would close its eyes and have milk dripping all over its face and the farmer could almost see the cat smile.

This scene has been mentioned before but was mentioned again at Tuesday’s breakfast, and that is the feeling of having one of the pleasant sensations on the farm in an early cold and frosty morning.

Upon opening the manger door and having the warmth and aroma of the barn greet the farmer, the cows would slowly stir awake and, from the hips of some of the cows lying down, a cat would also stir, stretch, and jump off the cow and then the cow would get up.

These cats would come from the manger, or the milk house, wherever the others hung out and then gather around the old milk-can covers waiting for the first splash of milk. Did the farmer mind all this?

Of course not, because the farmer did not have to deal with any rodents. The cats were pretty good workers and all they got paid was a quart of milk.



The Old Men of the Mountain do not have any rituals or uniforms or anything like that, but they do have hats. The hats just have OMOTM in black letters across the front.

On Nov. 29, a few OFs wanted new hats, and some of the newer OFs wanted hats. Talk about inflation (and we do); the price of the hats has really gone up.

One OF said his hat was getting pretty grungy and he was thinking of getting a new one but, when hearing the price of the new one, he thought better of it, and said the hat can get grungier.

Hey, like an old pair of worn-out shoes, all scuffed up with no shine left fits better than any new pair that squeaks when the OF takes a step, the same sensation goes with a hat; an old comfortable hat wears better than a new one anyway.

One OF said, “I wish my wife would see it that way. Her motto is: Wear it once or twice or, if everybody has seen it, put it in the closet and get something new.”

Those Old Men of the Mountain who arrived at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh in their shiny new shoes, and new jackets (NOT) were: Doug Marshal, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Roland Tozer, Paul Nelson, Rev. Jay Francis, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Russ Pokorny, Dick Dexter, Frank Dees, Gerry Chartier, Jake Herzog, Marty Herzog, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, and me.