The Old Men of the Mountain met at Kim’s West Winds in Preston Hollow on Tuesday, Aug. 8.

For some reason, the pickin’s of OFs was slim. It was found that only a few of the old goats had legal excuses.

Those OFs were the ones who were in the hospital and the one that checked in for his senior trip. The OF in Scotland, and one other who also went to Canada, plus the other world travelers, will have to give accounts of their trips upon their return.

Those who became lost apparently never read “Acres of Diamonds,” and others must have had a tough night and did not get up. This “lack of sleep” used to be a malady of the OF’s younger years; now the same malaise sets in around 70 years old or so.

OFs prefer stores to online shopping

A topic that the OFs talked about was the closing of so many stores. The OFs mentioned Sears a few weeks ago and brought up the same store again, but now they included other major stores, and complete malls.

The OFs continued that, at our ages, most cannot get accustomed to using the phone or the computer to purchase items. The OFs think that, once they put in the information that the supplier requests in order to “fill the basket,” the supplier now knows too much about the OF (and so does anybody else who has the ability to access that information) because now it is digital and out there.

The OFs wonder what is to stop some outsider from ordering something in your name. If that situation should happen, then the OFs say they are left with the hassle of trying to straighten it out. In the meantime, their credit rating is shot because the OF surely is not going to pay for something he did not order and did not receive.

The OMOTM covered the looky, touchy, feely bit a week or so ago but still brought it up again this Tuesday. With the OFs not being too astute with this purchasing “online” they were wondering what-if.  If they do (the online order) and it does not fit, or it is not exactly what the OF thought it would be, what now?

Are you stuck with it, do you have to pay to return it, and of course the box has been opened. Sometimes (the way things are packaged today) it seems like the manufacturer does not want anyone to use the product inside because it is almost impossible to get at the product because of the packaging.

One OF said on many things it is necessary to tear the whole package apart to get at the two-dollar item inside. Then on the box it might say, “For credit, return in original box.” Yeah, right!  The original box is torn to bits and all over the floor.

One OF suggested it is probably a good idea to check on the return policy before ordering. Another OF related a story about shopping for a new blazer.

His old blazer fit but was getting a little battle worn from too many funerals. The OF knew his size and it was the size that was in the old blazer; however, he and his wife went to three stores and nothing fit.

They were all too tight across the shoulders. The OF said he and his wife wound up at Boscov’s and were in the sport blazer section and were having the same problem. A salesman came over and asked if he could help.

The OF said he told the problem to the salesman and the salesman said, “Oh sir, you won’t find that size here. You belong over in Portly.”

Say what!? The old blazer could not have been that old.

The wife said, “You OG, you had that coat when you were still working and that was 22 years ago, and it is not the shoulders that’s too tight.”

The OF continued, “The salesman was right; the portly size fit perfectly.”

Now how is anyone going to get that kind of service from the phone, or the computer, or the internet.

The OFs feel it is the same old story. They are out of the loop, as mentioned before, but the OFs feel the loop is not really a loop but it is a noose that is surrounding the necks of people to increase the profit line for big corporations.

Get rid of the employees, get rid of the property, save on transportation, save on taxes — a whole litany of cost savings for businesses and passed on to the customer.

Traveling to see castles and boats

Some of the traveling OMOTM voyaged to the Thousand Islands. The OFs who have been there all admitted it is a beautiful area.

The tourists’ areas of Boldt Castle, and its love story of how it came about made for a good discussion. It was how the love of one man for one woman was so intense that, upon her death, the husband never went back to Heart Island, or finished the castle.

There is also the Singer Castle that was built by Frederick Bourne who was the fifth president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company (which is where the name Singer Castle came from).  This is the only remaining castle on the St. Lawrence River to have been completely restored, furnished, and resided in during the heyday of the great builders in New York.

Some of the OFs have visited both of these places.

The Thousand Islands is the place to be if anyone is interested in boats, particularly antique boats. It looks like the OFs are on a boat kick because the last column mentioned the same topic — only presented completely differently.

One OF said it is not necessary to go all the way to the Thousand Islands to check out boats. We have Cohoes and Waterford right in our own backyard and see boats there, especially when they have the steamboat and tugboat shows.

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to Kim’s West Winds in Preston Hollow (and they did not come by boat, although maybe they could have: From the Vlaie pond, they could get there by canoe down the Catskill creek) were: George Washburn, Josh Buck, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Dave Williams, Art Frament, Herb Sawotka, Ray Kennedy, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Ted Leherman, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, and me.

Location:

Tuesday was the first of August and, as we said before, the summer goes so fast, and winter takes forever — except, of course, for the ski enthusiasts. On Tuesday, we met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville.

As this scribe looked around at the folks in the Hilltown Café, he noticed all the patrons had gray hair, and all were men, even those who were regular customers of the restaurant. The only people whose ages seemed to be around 30 were the help.

This scribe also noticed that one of the local customers who came in had a cane and he was bent over at about 30 degrees. This scribe mentioned to an OMOTM that he looked liked he fit right in with the group.

Then the discussion began. There is no such thing as the golden years — gold does not rust. Gold is the wrong adjective; it should be the rusting years, and rust is the proper adjective. After age 65 rust begins to settle in.

The joints begin to rust and squeak; the eyes start to cloud over; the ears start to hum and ring, and catch only every other word; the veins begin clog; the brain begins to atrophy; the skin begins to develop scales while funny spots appear; and the muscles start their trip south.

There is nothing golden about it. The adjective is rust! The gold goes to doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and nursing homes. We start to rust getting prepared to turn to ashes. So say the OFs.

Shipwrights

Before all this happens, the OMOTM are busy. We are busy with many projects; now we have a couple of OFs building boats.

One OF is building a “pirate ship” and this thing is no toy. It is more than 32 feet long and at least 14 feet high.

Another OMOTM traveled to a school in Maine where they teach people how to build a Maine dinghy, and the OF is in the process of building one now at home.

Maybe there could be a battle of boats with the dinghy attacking the pirate ship. Complete with costumes of course.

Strange death of an ant

An OF related a story of an observation he had never seen before and none of the other OFs have either. The OF said he was just resting on his back porch when he spotted a bug so tiny that he could not tell what it was.

This little dot of a spot was inching its way across the floor when a small ant came onto the porch. The OF said the little dot stopped and watched this ant as the ant kept crawling closer to the dot.

When the ant got so close to the dot it was about to hit the dot, the dot jumped up and landed on the back of the ant. The OF said in a few seconds the ant was gone.

The dot turned out to be a very, very, small spider.This whole scenario developed in a space of 3/16 to 1/4 of an inch, and in less than a minute. To see something happen in nature so rare and to be focused at that spot at that precise moment in time is amazing.

The OFs wonder how much else people miss by being wrapped up in so much useless junk like iPods, and cell phones, not watching what is really going on around them.

Gadabouts galore

One thing is obvious about the OMOTM — the OFs for the most part are seniors. This leads many of the OFs to be part of senior organizations. This is another way for seniors to get out and get active.

Some of the OFs go on these senior trips that take them places that they have never been, and are not too far from their home base. Some of the OFs are real gadabouts and have been all over the world and some not so much.

Relating seniors to seniors (and not the OMOTM), the senior groups are good for them as a means for travel and companionship. Some of the OFs do go on the senior trips, especially the ones to casinos, or the mystery runs, or trips to see plays, or partake in some celebration.

These trips are great for seniors that can no longer drive. The trips still gives them a chance to get out. At our table, some of the OFs are going to miss a breakfast because of a trip. It was noted that these OFs did request permission to miss a meeting to go on the trip and permission was granted.

Getting in touch

Generally, when the OFs talk about what they did during their working careers, we hear stories concerning things that happened. On Tuesday morning, the exchange was about people the OFs worked with and who were their good friends.

Now that the OFs have been retired for some time, they have lost all touch with these people and the discussion was wondering what they are doing now. During the discussion, some of the OFs made notes to try to track some of these people down.

Some may have passed on, some may have moved clear across the country, some may be in nursing homes, and the OFs have no clue about many of them. A couple of the OFs said they don’t want to locate some of them; they didn’t like them when they were working with them and have no desire to try and find them now.

The OFs get along with each other (even though some are tech savvy and some are quickly becoming more out of the loop), yet they all found their way to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, tech savvy or not, and they were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter and his guest, Josh Buck and Chrissy Buck, Pete Whitbeck, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Art Frament, Ray Kennedy, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Bill Rice, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, and their guest Art Williams, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, and me.

Location:

Again through the fog, the drizzle, and the rain, it was a dreary Tuesday morning, July 25. Still, through the mist, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café in Altamont. It is nice that, once we are through the doors of the restaurants, the feeling is not so dreary even though the OMOTM mutter about it as they belly up to the tables.

We have another OF who ignored the bylaws of this nefarious group and made an appointment (which could have been scheduled at any time) on a Tuesday morning. His absence caused some of the other OFs to grumble about him not being here.

It may be that we have to print out a new release of the bylaws of the Old Men of the Mountain. In order to do this, it will be necessary to take up a collection for the printing process because the 28-page document takes up a lot of ink and paper.

Then the OFs will have to schedule a supper meeting to vote on any amendments, additions, or corrections to the current bylaws all because one OF decided his health was more important than the OMOTM.

According to the bylaws, no OMOTM is permitted to die; have a funeral; attend a wedding; or attend someone else’s funeral, baptism, or birthday on a Tuesday morning; however, the afternoon is fine. The one exception to this is, if an OF decides to get married on a Tuesday morning, all the OFs are automatically invited to the wedding and get a chance to kiss the bride.

The clatter of chatter

As the OFs file into the Home Front Café, or any other restaurant the OFs frequent as far as that goes, the din of chatter increases. There comes a point where it is hard to distinguish one conversation from another. One OF mentioned this to the OF sitting next to him as they both were trying to converse in separate topics with other OFs.

One OF said, “Boy there is a lot of chatter going on” and the other OF said, “Yes there is, but it is all intelligent chatter.” A good observation.

There was one conversation about the quality of many of the items we purchase today. One OF said that purchasing tools is one area where the OFs must be diligent when checking quality.

It is hard to destroy an anvil because that is one tool that is meant to be abused. However, this OF said he heard of another OF breaking an anvil. Now that is hard to do.

One OF accused another OF of purchasing tools just to hang on a wall and not using them. He said the OF does this to look like a mechanic. That was like two artists squabbling and one artist telling the other artist he can’t paint. It is all subjective.

Still working

There are many OFs who are still working; most of the work is being in business for themselves and still offering their services. Some of these endeavors are buying and selling and there was a discussion of people attempting to get a deal.

The OFs say many times they offer an item and quote a price and the buyer wants it cheaper. The OFs say, “The price is the price. I will keep the machine; you can keep your money.”

One OF said, “People watch too much TV like ‘American Pickers’ and ‘Pawn Stars.’”

Commitment to country is gone

The OFs did a little time-jumping on Tuesday morning and talked about rationing, savings bonds, and saving stamps. This scribe may be wrong (and his wife maintains this scribe generally is) but he thinks many young people wouldn’t even know what the discussion was about.

The OFs remember purchasing savings bonds and going to shows where the reason for the show was to encourage people to buy bonds. Kids remember purchasing or having their parents give them savings-stamp books and, when the book was full of savings stamps, the kids could swap it in for a $25 savings bond. All this was for supporting the war effort.

Kids saved scrap metal; they also saved the aluminum foil sticks of gum came wrapped in and rolled it into a ball and turned that in. Gas, sugar, meat, and many other items were rationed. Gas was rationed in ABC classes. The OFs said farming was rationed at one class, gas for business at another, and getting back and forth to work yet another.

Squeezing the red dot on the oleomargarine (which turned the white shortening-like margarine to yellow so it looked more like butter — did I mention butter was also rationed?) was still another chore the kids liked to do. The OFs remember this as a contribution to the country and really not a chore.

The OFs think a lot of this commitment to country is gone. One OF said, “Too many takers and not enough givers.”

This OF went on to say, “Too many now think the government, that is, the country owes them a living.”

Guard geese

My heart knows

  what the wild goose knows,

And I must go

  where the wild goose goes.

The OFs next discussed what good guard dogs geese make, maybe not all geese but most. One OF had a single goose settle in his pond in front of his house and this goose wants this pond all to himself or herself. This bird attacks people, cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other geese.

The OF said a small flock of geese landed in the pond and in short time that single goose (which has been there since late spring) had chased all the interloper geese away. The other OFs mentioned having similar experiences with geese both wild and domestic. One OF said they are not afraid of anything.

Then again, it was mentioned that some of these birds have real pleasant personalities and make great pets; these OFs also said that the birds can be either wild or domesticated. One OF had a wild goose settle in and it acted like a dog. The goose hung around the house, greeted people as they visited, and followed them around.   

Those OFs who made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont, and were going home to get the snow blowers out, were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Lou Schenck, John Rossmann, Harold Guest; his guest, Jim Guest, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Karl Remmers, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagonbaugh, Henry Whipple, Rich Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Tuesday, July 18, and the summer (and some say, “What summer?”) is flying by. Note to young people: The older you become, the faster time goes; the next thing, it will be raking leaves and shoveling snow. If you are going to do anything that is sunshine related, do it now or it will be too late.

The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. A contingent of OMOTM arrived at the same time at the Chuck Wagon and were standing outside in the early-morning mist, talking to each other for about 10 minutes before going inside to continue the conversation. It was eerie and nostalgic at the same time, that is, a group of old men standing in the mist of early morning just talking and laughing.

A recurrent conversation this summer is how often the lawns or yards have to be mowed, and how the weeds are taking over. The plants we want to grow are fussy — not enough water and the plant dries up, too much water and they wither and rot.

Weeds, on the other hand, grow like weeds in a drought, or with constant rain like this year. It makes no difference. One OF commented that it is beginning to look a lot like Ireland on the Hill because it is shimmering green.

The case for mowing the lawn brought out comments on the old TV show “Home Improvement with Tim Allen.” The OFs felt now is the time for jet-engine lawn mowers, or at least six-cylinder turbo-charged engines — not only so the OFs could cover more ground in a shorter period of time, but also zoom through higher, tougher grass.

One OF has a large lawn with few shrubs and trees that allows him to make passes of 200 feet or so. This OF swears that, when he starts back for a returning pass, the grass has already grown a couple of inches in the pass he has just mowed.

One OF (who takes a lot of the remarks seriously and misses the sarcasm or humor on many of the pronouncements the OFs utter) said that it is necessary to be careful how fast the OFs get the blades spinning because, if they go too fast, the lawnmower will become like a hydrofoil or Hovercraft and take off.

This OF said that lawn mowers are generally top heavy and will tip over easily causing the OF to get hurt. (Say what! Or is this OF just putting all of the other OFs on?)

Lost and found

The next topic is about a common phenomenon and age has nothing to do with it, neither does dementia or Alzheimer’s, nor even just plain forgetfulness. How many times does anyone set something down — quite often after just using it — something that they use all the time and then not be able to find it?

The OFs brought this up and mentioned hunting for the item until the OF’s hunter is sore. Eventually the OF said it becomes give-up time and the OF goes out to purchase another one, at which point, son-of-a-gun, the old one turns up in no time.

Of the stories told, one OF recounted a story about another OF who wears transition glasses. The OF said that they transition from light to dark almost instantly; however, the other way around, not so — going from light to dark, the lens takes it time.

This transition generally requires the wearer to either lift these glasses up, or take them off to find, for instance, a light switch inside a garage. This is the scenario that confronted the OF whom the second OF was telling the story on.

The OF pulled into his dark garage but it was still light outside so the lenses remained dark. The OF raised the glasses to find the light switch. Later on, the OF decided to put the glasses back on and could not find them. The OF hunted and his family hunted all over to no avail, no glasses.

After a week of no glasses, the OF finally decided to take his prescription and purchase another pair of transition-lens glasses.

The OF wore the new glasses for a couple of days and looked for the original pair, still to no avail. One day, he took the car and ran some errands; it was a bright sunny day (this had to be a year ago) and the lenses turned almost black.

When he pulled into the garage, the same thing happened. The OF had to remove his glasses to find the switch and, when he did this, the OF set the new transition glasses directly on top of his old ones!

The words here “raise” and “remove” are not the same thing. Habits can get anyone, not only OFs, into a lot of trouble. In this case, the habit is remove; the thought was raise.

The OFs said the most common situation for this happening is with tools. One OF said this happens so frequently he wonders if there has ever been a survey done on hunting for lost items that are not lost and how much time is spent doing this.

This OF said the worst time he remembered was when he was repairing some siding on one of his sheds. The OF said he had an apron full of nails, took a hammer and drove in a nail. He was distracted by his son who asked a simple quick question.

The OF said, after he answered his son, he took a nail and went to drive it in but — no hammer. The OF swore he never put it down, but he must have because he and the son looked all over and eventually found it on the ground under a sawhorse, and under a board that was on top of the hammer. Happens all the time!  The OFs do one thing and think they have done another.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who at least found their way to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and didn’t have to go hunting for the diner were: Bill Lichliter, his nephew Josh Buck, Roger Chapman, Pete Whitbeck, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Ted Lehermann, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Art Frament, Herb Sawotka, Joe Ketzer, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagonbaugh, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Roger Fairchild, Harold Grippen, and me, and I think I have written this.

 

Location:

The Old Men of the Mountain were considering starting a petition to change the name of the third day of the week from Tuesday to OMOTMday. The petition would change the name so OFs all over the world would have their own day and on that day, the world-wide OFs would gather with friends someplace for either breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or evening snack time.

The gathering could be just two old friends who could spend a couple of hours a week solving the problems of the world, or 40 or 50 old friends of the male gender sitting down together with no agenda, no rules, and no plans, or plans to make plans, only to do the same thing next week on OMOTMday.

This would accomplish two things, get the OFs out of the house, and give the lady of the house a couple of hours to herself.

So on Tuesday, July 11, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner, in Duanesburg on a typical day (so far in 2017) with a good dash of fog and rain. The OFs all showed up trying to brush the green mold, which is beginning to sprout on most of us, from their shoulders.    

Maybe some of you have seen this adage on T-shirts but with the OFs (in many cases) the statement is so true. The shirt reads “I am NOT sorry I arrived late. I didn’t want to come anyway!” One OF said many places he goes is because he is dragged there by some other party.

He declared, “I would rather be anywhere than at some high-brow art show trying to eat some tiny crackers with a green slimy dip that looked like it was used as a prop in Ghostbusters.”

One OF bristled a tad and said, “That art show is my kind of place, but I bring my own snacks.” This OF did add he has just as much fun in a junkyard, or at the Gas-up as well as the art show.

Some stand out

Baseball season is about half over and the All-Star game with the Home Run Derby a part of the build-up was being played. It seems that one player has considerably piqued the interest in the sport this year. That player is Aaron Judge of the Yankees.

This scribe cannot remember when the All-Star game (and in particular the Home Run Derby) was ever mentioned at an OMOTM breakfast, but this year it was.

This scribe is amazed how at times one person can interest many outside of their field so we all know who they are and what field of endeavor they were involved in: We all recognize Carl Sagan, Dr. Jonas Salk, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Marilyn Monroe, Mother Teresa, Bonnie and Clyde, Hitler, Dan Patch, and quite a few others, but those names would still be on a short list compared to all the billions of people or animals that have taken a breath of air on this terrestrial ball.

Making history real

A couple of OFs talked about participating in re-enactor groups. One OF stayed with one period in time — the Revolutionary War — and the other was a time-jumper. This second OF participated as a re-enactor in both the Revolutionary and the Civil wars.

These two OFs mentioned how American history was made real by being members of these groups and how much of the history of our country is not taught in schools. A major reason, unless someone becomes a history major, there is not time to cover it all, so just the highlights are taught. However, this way of teaching means many interesting and important parts of our nation’s history are missed.

Green thumbs

The gardening OFs discussed their gardens; this is an ongoing topic at the OMOTM Tuesday-morning conventions during the growing season. It is not so much “I can top your garden” as it is “since my garden is doing bad, what are you doing to make yours grow right?”

So far, in most of the discussions, if one OF’s garden is having a prolific year the others are, too, and vice versa. This year, the OFs say they have beautiful tomato plants but very few blossoms. No blossoms means no tomatoes.

The other is that the zucchini are about ready to pick. The garden growers are beginning to say: Enough with the rain; we need a little sunshine.

Picky about Pickers

Some of the OFs watch the TV show “American Pickers,” and some of the OFs have places that the Pickers might like to get into. However, other OFs maintain that their places, which the OFs think the Pickers would frequent, are nowhere near as bad as the places these two Pickers really do get into.

The places the OFs have are generally orderly with pieces they keep there to restore; other pieces the OFs are working on. In the TV show, many of the places they get into are no more than junkyards back in the woods.

The OFs say the places these guys pick are downright dangerous and hangouts for vermin. The OFs say that, if they spot critters around their collections, out come the traps — none of those pesky rodents, or creepy crawling stuff for them.

Those Old Men of the Mountain (and some are old enough to be collectibles for the Pickers to consider) who met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Peter Whitbeck, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Roger Shafer, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Russ Pokorny, Rev. Jay Francis, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Art Frament, Herb Sawotka, Joe Ketzer, Ray Kennedy, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, and me.    

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