Old Man Winter is getting the OFs ready for Christmas

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. This, as has been mentioned before, is for some of the OMOTM the farthest and highest restaurant we OFs have on the roster.

Starting out Tuesday morning about 6 a.m., we found it was dark with a light snow and wet roads. The surprise snow blew strongly across the road, especially on a turn.

The OFs call this the “oops, surprise highway” as the car momentarily goes sideways for a few feet when it meets one of these turns at 45 to 50 miles per hour and the conditions quickly become 25 to 30 miles per hour, especially in the dark.

When the OFs left the breakfast, all their vehicles were covered with about 3 inches of wet snow. Old Man Winter is just getting the OFs ready for Christmas.

The first topic of conversation was how the OFs planned to use their 2-percent Social Security increase. One OF thought he would get a new truck and another said he was going to update his deck. Yet another said the wife and he would use it for a cruise to Alaska. Yeah right!

A couple of OFs said they lost a buck, another made two bucks, and some stayed even. This was a great conversation to start the day. It definitely was not how rich they were going to become. Some OFs opined on how they would spend the two bucks, others on how they would make up for the loss.

Bald truths?

There became a slight challenge between the OFs who had lots of hair; some with thinning hair; and some with hints of hair; and some, it has to be said, bald. Each OF began to discuss the benefits of each condition.

The ones with lots of hair maintained they look younger and attracted younger ladies. Many of the OFs disputed this claim saying, “You OFs are not counting all the wrinkles under that hair.” The one with hair maintained he had character lines not wrinkles.

A challenger from the hairless side said, “The one with hair has to go to the barber frequently and have it coiffed, has to keep shampooing it, and worst of all — clean that hair out of the tub and sink traps.  Now then, all I have to do is wash my head with a washcloth every day and dry it with a towel and I am all done.”

Then another OF retorted, “Yeah, you guys with hair tick me off. I go to the barber and they go zip-zip and I am done; you, on the other hand, occupy the chair three times as long and they charge you the same as they charge me. That is not fair.”

Then one of hairless ones came up with the standard cliché — “No grass on a busy street” (whatever that means) — and another OF pronounced an older cliché, which this OF maintains is true.  He said, “He (the OF with no hair) wore all his hair off on the headboard of the bed.”

“If you guys believe that one,” another commented, “I have a large bridge for sale and it crosses the Hudson in New York City.” And so it went.  Are we jealous or envious?

Tire talk

The OFs talked about flat tires and how seldom they see them with the new tires we have today, and they added how many more miles the OFs get on their tires. Then they started talking about problems they had with tires with stupid leaks.

Most of the leaks were attributed to the new tire sensors that are required to be in tires and how they can corrode with the salt and the weather in the Northeast, and in other areas where the winter brings ice and snow and roads are treated.

One OF mentioned how he had a tire that was continually going down and he found it was the hole in the rim was slightly oversized when the rim was made. Being an enterprising OF, he welded and drilled the hole again to the proper size.  Problem solved, tire stayed up.

The OFs then started to prattle on about tire punctures — these being a real nuisance.  One OF mentioned tractor tires and the thorndike thornberry tree (or shrub) that is native (on the Hill at least) to our area and how the thorns on the shrub can and do puncture tires of tractors if they should run afoul on one of these branches that has fallen on the ground.

A collection of these shrubs would be like meeting up with Johnny Horton’s song “The Battle of New Orleans” — the briars and the brambles where a rabbit couldn’t go. To work around these thorn trees would take an Oliver “Cletrac” — farm tractor with steel tracks that was made by Oliver until 1951 and now is quite collectible if you can find one.

Fordson fires

The OFs talked about things that haven’t changed from the forties till now. This conversation was about what the OFs consider poor design of equipment, highways, and buildings.

One that was in the thirties and forties was the Fordson tractor. This had the carburetor right over the manifold; the manifold became rather hot after the tractor was run for just a short time. The carburetor had a breather hole right in front of it and, when the float acted up anytime the tractor was plowing, the farmer would start a new row.

The right steel wheel would dip into the furrow, and gas would squirt out the little hole and Bingo! there was a fire. The farmer had to stop, or carry a bucket of sand on the tractor to toss on the flames, and then continue on. Gas might spit out on the next turn — then again it might not. What fun.


The OMOTM would like to offer their condolences to the family of Willard Osterhout. While Willard could, he was a faithful attendee of the OMOTM. He brought stories to the breakfast that would enhance the stories that bounced around the table every morning. Only Willard could connect the dots as to who was related to whom, and many times, who they were currently.

The OMOTM who braved the weather, which wasn’t that bad, except driving in the snow in the early morning darkness at the ages of the OFs is not fun anymore, and those OFs were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Rev. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Jim Rissacher, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Marty Herzog, and me.