Remembering an OF who looked and played the part of Santa

Another Tuesday, another dose of bad weather; this time though, many Old Men of the Mountain made it to the restaurant.

This time, it was Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh for the OMOTM to partake of their annual Christmas party. Patty at Mrs. K’s does it up round with cookies, cakes, and hors d’oeuvres.

The spread is rather lavish and, if an OF fills up on the cheese and crackers, veggie dips, and some kind of little pizza-like thingies (some of these things were pretty spicy), cookies and sweets, they would not have to eat breakfast. However, none of the OFs are so cheap they would pull a stunt like that.

The OFs found the weather to Middleburgh was really lousy, and many schools were closed. This meant the plows did not have to get out early to really clear the roads for the buses or so the OFs thought.

This may not be the case but most of the roads were a mess, and some of the roads the OFs traveled looked like they had not been touched yet. At least by six, seven, or seven-thirty in the morning, they weren’t.

But the OFs are seasoned winter drivers, and if the OFs did not think they were Barney Oldfield when starting out on the snow-covered roads they would arrive at Mrs. K’s in fine fashion.

Glad wishes were then handed out to all the OFs who made it to Mrs. K’s. (Getting home was another matter. This scribe hopes they all arrived home safely. If something happened with car and ditch meeting, most of the OFs are in no condition to push.)

During the holiday season, when friends and families get together, the discussion of the OFs on Tuesday morning was on who is related to whom, and what they are called. Cousins, nephews, first cousins, first cousins once removed, second cousins (some even brought up kissing cousins; this scribe doesn’t know if that counts), and cousins so far convoluted in the family tree do they even count anymore?

None of the OFs could make much sense of it, and the one that might really know was playing the guitar and singing Christmas songs along with other ditties so that he was not part of the conversation. (Two of the OMOTM were adding music to the festivities by playing guitar and bass guitar, which was a touch of the season that was great.)

One of the OFs who has passed on was fondly mentioned. This OMOTM would come to our December breakfasts in a complete Santa outfit, and he did not require a beard. This OF looked and played the part perfectly because that is what he did during the holiday season.

A story told by one OF about this OF who looked like Santa took place on Sanibel Island in Florida. These two OFs and their wives rented a double house together in Florida and were visiting Sanibel Island. While they waited to board a trolley to take them around the island, a little girl ran up to the Santa-looking OMOTM and asked if he were Santa.

Without skipping a beat, this OMOTM squatted down to her level because he was very tall, and he said “Yes sweetheart, I am Santa,” and he put a finger to his mouth, meaning shush, and he continued, “Don’t tell anyone you saw me. I am on vacation from the North Pole, and all the elves are up in the North Pole, busy making presents for next year. So don’t let anyone know I am down here, OK.”

The OF said that the little girl’s eyes lit up, and she went running to her parents, telling them she saw Santa. The parents, with great big smiles, flashed a high sign to the OMOTM who looked like Santa. The spontaneity of the OF’s response indicated to the OF telling the story that this OMOTM had been through this before.

A new kind of

doctor-patient relationship

The OFs have many continuing topics of discussions that include truck, tractors, cars, work, eating habits and food, trips, farms, and many others that are redundant. One that crops up so often that this scribe can almost sense it coming and that is — wait for it — doctors and health.

Many of the OFs have gotten to the point that they know and respectively call their doctors by their first name; they also know the wife or husband and kids of their doctors.

One OF was telling how a friend of his (and he gave his friend’s first name) had just invested in an antique car to fix up. This OF is also interested in antique anything, like many of the OFs, including cars.

As the OF went along with the dialogue, everyone assumed it was either a friend or relative. The banter back and forth and the topic of exchanging car parts led the OFs to think it was a friend.

Not until near the end did the OFs even realize it was the OF’s doctor. That is what one would call getting to know your physician, and why not?

These doctors are people, too, and hobbies and interests break down class and position, and even education. A Rhodes Scholar can play French horn, right alongside your plumber in the local band; the doctor can play the fiddle shoulder-to-shoulder with a good fiddler from the high school band; and both might play together in the local band.

For a miserable winter’s day, with some of the lucky OFs basking in their winter climes, the Old Men of the Mountain who did make it to Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh were goodly in number, and they were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Roger Shafer on Guitar, Paul Nelson, Rick LaGrange, John Dabravalskas, Bill Lichliter, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Ken Parks, Otis Lawyer, Marty Herzog, Pastor Jay Francis, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin on Bass, Elwood Vanderbilt, Fred Crounse, Roger Chapman, Harold Grippen, and me.