Ah yes, it is another Tuesday and the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café in Schoharie. This Tuesday, Sept. 24, the OMOTM formed in front of the Country Café to partake of their first cups of coffee of the day.

While standing there, the OFs noticed how festive the front of the café was decorated for fall. They looked up and down Main Street and saw that the decorations seemed to say, “Come in and have some hot cider and a couple of cider doughnuts.”

One OF mentioned that each season has its own particular smell. The air was crisp, and the straw bales in front of the restaurant enhanced the early smell of fall and the barn.

Unfinished work

Some of the OFs have some construction projects going on, and they would like to have them completed before winter’s winds begin to blow. Thus began a rousing conversation on contractors not showing up after they start a project.

To all OFs who were having work done, the complaint was unanimous. The percentage done on each job was different but all jobs were not finished, and, on one job, the contractor could not even be found.

One OF said there seems to be a universal connection between all the contractors. It seems that they start one job and then go to another in a few days, and maybe even another one after that.

Then, when each one of them is underway, the contractors will come back to you, drive in a few nails and then go on to the next until your job (which was supposed to be done in a few weeks) stretches into next year.

One OF said he thinks it is the little private contractors way of having job security.

Another OF said that he had his kitchen redone, and had the same experiences only the contractor never came back to do the finish work. The OF said he finally finished the work himself and found that the contractor had gone south to work on a big job.

This led to furnace work. One OF asked if any of the OFs knew of anyone who was good at maintaining furnaces.

Some names were thrown out but the OFs didn’t really know any of them personally. They did know some who worked for fuel oil companies but were not able to come up with an independent guy who went around fixing furnaces.

Spectacles needed

Then the OFs got on the scribe who really screwed up the names. The scribe reported one OF as being in attendance and he wasn’t, and he did not report on another OF who was in attendance but not accounted for.

To this scribe’s defense, in a way these two are alike in height and build, and from a distance they could look alike.

After the column was done, this scribe received an email from the one listed as in attendance but he wasn’t there. He was in Texas on a leg of a 4,000-mile motorcycle trip. (See what you can do when you retire young.)

The one who wasn’t there didn’t complain. Apparently, the scribe needs better glasses.

Water wheels

This column mentioned some time back the subject of water wheels as a source of power. For some reason, we began talking about this again.

The reason may be because the working wheel that runs the Caverns Creek Grist Mill, on Caverns Road on the way to Howe Caverns, in Howe Cave, New York, has been closed for some time. The OFs thought this was a shame but, as one OF reported, it is need of extensive repair.

Another OF remembered going to this mill a couple of times and buying a few sacks of cornmeal. You could watch the cornmeal being ground by the stone in the mill.

The stone was run by the water wheel. At those times, this mill was being run by a young couple who were dressed in period garb. The OF thought at that time this had to be a labor of love because they surely were not going to get rich off this operation.

Finding checkpoints

This scribe forgot how this conversation began but it was somehow tying in sports cars and gymkhanas and hikers. The gymkhanas had chec points and trinkets to collect and the hikers were leaving notes in boxes and taking a trinket, then leaving a trinket for someone else.

Somewhere along the line with the hikers, latitude and longitude became part of it. The scribe does not remember if the information was from where the hiker left or not, but this is interesting because it teaches how to use this important information when hiking, or even traveling, especially if the OF is a pilot of a plane.

Many sports cars are open vehicles and, at some of the checkpoints, one of the trinkets to carry would be inflated balloons — maybe four or six tied with a string. The trick is to drive down the road in an open vehicle and keep those things in the car and maintain the legal speed limit.

Keeping peace

The OFs talked about keeping peace in the family, This scribe doesn’t know about this.

This scribe thinks, if the family squabble is really out of whack, don’t come to the OMOTM for advice, get professional help, but the OFs did talk about it.

Oh, and about the lost boat in a previous column? It was found. It broke free from its moorings and the wind had blown it clear across the lake.

Those OFs who were at  the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie, and how the peace talk of family battles using the OFs’ suggestions might lead to all-out war, were: Rick LaGrange, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Bob Benac, Jamey Dairah, Wayne Gaul, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Mike Willsey, Joel Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, John Dabrvalskas, Allen DeFazio, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

The early morning rides to the various restaurants are now taking place in the dark for many of the Old Men of the Mountain. On Tuesday morning, Sept. 17, on the way to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, it was just that way, but the darkness was becoming thin as the sun was beginning to come up.

Some of the OFs think this is the best part of the day, while others “yawn and stretch and try to come to life.” The early risers are already at Mrs. K’s getting their cup of ambition.

The darkness of the morning brought out “night” driving — again. The problem happens because of the blue and white lights, especially when the oncoming car does not dim them.

Even on low beam these lights may cause momentary blindness until they go by. The high-rise trucks that bring the headlights to eye level are also a real problem for oncoming drivers.

The OFs think there should be a law that limits the height of headlights off the ground. That way, trucks and these modified vehicles would have headlights down where they belong and not at windshield height. One OF said this is one of those cases where people think only of themselves and not about the people around them.

Autumn watch

The OFs are watching the end of summer, and the fall approaching. Many of the OFs have commented the signs indicate an early start to winter.

The amount of apples on the trees (including the old trees with their little wild apples) is a good indicator of the weather, the OFs say.

The OFs have noticed these trees in our area are loaded with fruit. The leaves on the trees are turning basically brown and falling off. So far there is little color to them.

One OF said it is still early and the color will come when it is supposed to. Another OF said the trees were done early this year in making sugar for the winter and they started getting ready for winter earlier.

One OF commented it might be earlier, but he thinks it is going to be easier because he has not noticed a real bird migration yet. Another OF said it is still early for the birds to pack up and leave also but he has noticed all the robins are gone.

Then one OF said he has robins year-round and not just a few of them, but lots of them. Then this OF said to take a close look at them and the OF bets they are all males.

This OF said the male robin has a black head, and white throat, and the female robin is duller in color. So the other OF said he would check that out.

The OF said that the OF with the year-round robins must have lots of food and protection for them to hang in there through the winter. That OF said he doesn’t know but he has about one-thousand feet of sumac on one side of his property, and it is loaded with a thorn berry bush, and that bush is a pain in the butt. Some thorns on that thing will puncture a tractor tire.

“That’ll do it for the birds,” the other OF said.

Bird lesson for the day from the OMOTM.

Dearth of workers

Some of the OFs talked about some cities having it tough and others rebuilding nicely. The OFs thought it had to do with weather, taxes, and manufacturing plants locating in the southern states, leaving the states close to the Canadian border that used to have heavy manufacturing jobs struggling.

In our area, we seem to be doing well, but up north, not so.

One OF thought it was states with high taxes and tough unions that drive businesses to states with fewer regulations that are receptive to industry. One OF said that today there are more job openings than unemployed workers to fill them. Another OF said he read that, too.

An OF was asked if he wanted to go to work part-time. The fellow who asked this question told the OF that right now he has to take the best of the worst to fill the job.

One OF said he doesn’t think these jobs pay well or have any benefits that will keep a family going. This may be the problem, some thought, and the major reason for the comment is because there are not enough workers to fill the jobs out there.

“Yeah,” one OF mentioned, “statistics can be maneuvered in many ways. If you have lost a job paying $30 an hour with bennies, and have a wife and two kids, working at McDonald’s is not going to cut the mustard.”

The OFs who can still drive at night, and get up early enough to be the early birds at the restaurants, met at their usual early time at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. However, once all had gathered, those OFs were: Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Wally Guest, Paul Nelson, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Bartholomew, Rev. Jay Francis, Dave Williams, Jim Heiser, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Ken Parks, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Otis Lawyer, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, Marty Herzog, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Rick LaGrange, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazio, Fred Crounse, Rick Donnelly, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Harold Grippen, Harold Guest, and me.

Location:

On a beautiful morning, Tuesday, Sept. 10, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh.

It is now getting a little dark when some of the OMOTM head out for breakfast, but the OFs do not have to worry. Tuesday morning, the OFs said that there were so many shiny heads at the breakfast that the OFs really don’t need the sun.

As the OFs entered, the inside of the restaurant does seem to get a little brighter. This scribe has to admit he is one that contributes to the illumination of the restaurant.

One OF summed it up nicely (and he too has a shiny head) when he said, “Grass doesn’t grow on a busy street.”

The shiny-head syndrome is a sign of brilliance just like the exterior of the cranium. Maybe that OF is right!

Many of the OFs have gone for a stress test. This test is to check on the condition of the heart. The physical condition that is, because some of the OFs have been called heartless in certain situations — especially by their kids.

Some of the OFs become stressed just to hear that they have to have a stress test. For one thing, this test is painless. So not to worry there.

The other thing, as far as most of the OFs can attest, there are capable people around giving the test, and the OF will be wired up like the back of an old TV set.

The not-so fun part is not the running one must do during the procedure, but the laying flat seemingly forever while the camera takes pictures of the heart after the stress part is done.

The OFs are waiting for the Star Trek type of medicine where they rub a cream on the belly, then wave a wand over it and, whatever the problem is, it is diagnosed immediately, and remedy is applied.

Dorian disaster

Hurricane Dorian was a discussion the OFs had and they talked about the aftermath. The Bahamas, according to the press, were completely flattened, and the pictures seemed to attest to that.

Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is only 121 feet above sea level, but most of the islands are only a few feet above sea level. What a mess. 

The OFs also discussed the pictures that show all the relief items sitting on the docks, the perishables rotting in the sun, and other supplies and equipment still sitting there because most of the people have gone. This means there is no one there to unload the supplies anyway, let alone use them.

Miami, Florida is not that far away from some of the Bahama Islands. Bimini is only 50 miles from Miami. That is like a trip from Albany going up the New York State Thruway to St. Johnsville, or down to Saugerties, both a little over an hour away.

To Florida, the Bahamas are like next-door neighbors. Some day they may even build a bridge to the mainland of the Bahamas.

This brought up the resurgence of Irene and its little shower of 13 inches of rain that we in upstate New York felt in 2011. What in the world, the OFs thought, would we do with 2 to 3 feet of rain, if Irene had carried that much liquid?

“My goodness,” one OF exclaimed. “There would have been no Middleburgh, or Schoharie or Central Bridge; it would have been a local disaster of gigantic proportions.”

Energy efficient

Jumping from one topic to another, one OF brought to the OMOTM’s attention that, though we are Old Men of the Mountain, some do keep up with the times. Four of the OFs have electric cars.

Proportionally, that is way above the average population of the country. The next thing you know, the OFs will be driving solar-powered vehicles, basically because they are not in too much of a hurry to get anywhere.

One OF suggested, if you really want to be energy efficient, go back to using horses. They eat grass and grain, supply transportation, and produce methane that can be converted to usable gas to run a gas stove. When its life is over, the horse can still be used for glue, and its hide for leathers (breast collars and driving harnesses) for future horses, and coats and shoes for the riders.

This sounds cruel but true. Again, people going back to the future using horses can’t be in too much of a hurry.

Work ethic

All the OMOTM have had jobs of one sort or another and we have mentioned these many times in previous columns. However, what the OFs did in the past keeps coming up, as this topic probably does in general conversations whether you are an OMOTM or not.

Jobs are a big part of our life; if the OFs have nothing to do, they become bored and go looking for something to do. As the OFs were talking on Tuesday morning, they mentioned that some jobs are a pain in the butt, while others are OK, and some didn’t even know they were working.

Year of goldenrod

As the OFs travel, or are just out and about, they have come to one conclusion: This is the year of goldenrod. That yellow weed is all over; it even seems to be crowding out that invasive plant, the purple loosestrife.

Bees though, seem to love goldenrod, so that might help the declining bee population.

Those attending the breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, and not sneezing too much because of the goldenrod were: Bob Benac, Paul Nelson, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Ken Parks, Rick LaGrange, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

The breakfast this Tuesday, September (it is already September, the kids are back in school and, to the Old Men of the Mountain ,it seems like they just got out) 3rd, was at Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow. Pop’s place is, for many of the OMOTM, the furthest restaurant they go to.

Some dedicated OFs travel about one hour and 15 minutes to get to Pop’s Place. Also, this time around, the short way for many of the OFs is over the mountain through Rensselaerville. For the last month or so, the bridge over the Myosotis creek is closed for repairs.

To continue onto any routes to get down off the mountain to Route 145, you have to go over that bridge, except for the circuitous roundabout detour the state has set up. Now it is not so short, especially when the OFs had no idea where they were. Some OFs knew the bridge was out and they started earlier and took the long way around.

Bad taste at Thacher park

Not particularly a discussion from Tuesday, but one of a few weeks past, that has been brought to light again, is Thacher Park. To many of the OFs, the park has been part of their local history and a while back they installed a playground of sorts at the southern end of the park.

Many of the OFs feel Thacher Park with its Indian history and Indian Ladder Trail is a historical park and not a playground. The signs at the end of the park with their garish colors and circus-like appeal take away from the dignity of the park. One OF commented it is bad enough that thing is there but to advertise its location in such a way, to him, is in real bad taste.

Serious hobbies

Not many, but some of the OFs have restored World War II Army vehicles. Why not?

The OFs have collections of hundreds of old possessions; why not army trucks? They talked of a rendezvous of sorts with a few of the collectors of these types of vehicles at the Greenville Drive-in theater.

By the time this column is in the paper the event will be over, but to the OFs it was interesting because the drive-in will be showing old World War II movies to go along with old army trucks.

The other event for these World War II vehicles is a planned ride being organized by one of the OMOTM. They will actually form a convoy as they travel the prescribed route similar to a motorcycle ride.

This ride will not be like a gymkhana done with sports cars where the ending is a mystery and the riders are given check points and items to gather that will lead them to the end. Generally, the gymkhana also has a prescribed time to complete.

These hobbies are completely harmless and lots of fun, and as long as the OFs still have their licenses and can drive, they can be in any of these clubs. Everybody to their own hobbies and some are more than hobbies — they are historical in nature.

Those who are involved in hobbies of this sort study and research the historical time in which they are interested. To talk to these OFs on whatever the subject interests them is like going to school, and the OFs have more information that is correct than any school book.

This is true if the OF is a Revolutionary War reenactor or Civil War enthusiast or  is interested in World War II or World War I. Now, as one OF commented, it will soon be whatever skirmish our young people will be involved in.

Origins of small towns

All over our great country, there are hundreds of small towns. The Old Men of the Mountain are all from small towns; there is not a big-city dweller among any of us.

Most of the small towns have a history as to why they are where they are but, as the OFs drive through them to get to each of the different restaurant, the questions are asked: Why is Gallupville where it is? Why is Quaker Street where it is? Why is South Berne where it is? Why is Knox where it is? Why is Duanesburg where it is? etc, etc.

Most of these small towns have their own historical societies and if the interest is really there, the OFs have tons of time on their hands. It would be neat to visit all of these places and see why they are there.

Each OF from a specific location knows the history of his small town; the OF from Berne may know his, but might not know the reason for South Berne. That reasoning is what came about with the OFs, especially Tuesday morning. One OFs family was from the area and told of what it was like 50 to 60 years ago.

But why Preston Hollow is really there we can now go to  Google which tells us that Preston Hollow was owned from 1629 by the Dutch patroons Van Rensselaer and it was part of the huge Manor of Rensselaerwyck.

The area was so inaccessible that it was not settled until the late 1700s. Shortly after the Revolutionary War, Stephen Van Rensselaer III advertised “free” tracts of land of 160 acres to anyone who would develop the land.

After seven years, farmers had to pay an annual rent of four fat fowls, 18 bushels of wheat, and a day’s service. The rents were perpetual and binding on subsequent purchasers of the land and the patroon reserved mineral and water rights.

These “incomplete sales” led to the Anti-Rent Rebellion from 1839 to 1889, which influenced the wording of the Federal Homestead Act of 1862 and opened up the west to settlement.

Preston Hollow was free land, people! School is now in recess.

Hurricane watch

Many of the OFs have friends or relatives in harm’s way with hurricanes that come up the coast. It is no different with Dorian as it gets ready to affect the East Coast in one way or another.

Some of the OMOTM even have homes in the area of the country where hurricanes visit on occasion. These OFs are watching the TV with keen interest to keep up with the track of the storm and the degree of intensity, whether it is grade 2 or 3 or whatever.

Some of the OFs say we have are blizzards but they think hurricanes are worse. The OFs can build for snow loads but really high winds and unusually high water must be tough to build for.

The OFs who made it to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow, eventually, after a scenic ride through the mountains, were: Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Paul Nelson, Pete Whitbeck, Jake Lederman, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Rich Donnelly, Ray Kennedy, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

The Old Men of the Mountain traveled to Gracie’s Restaurant in Voorheesville on Tuesday, Aug. 27. This is the old Voorheesville Diner, which was taken to the ground and rebuilt.

Though the restaurant is now completely different, the trains are not. Four trains went past while the OMOTM were there and these trains were rolling by at a pretty quick pace. With watching something that large, the OFs tried to estimate their speed and they came up with about 50 miles per hour or faster.

An intellectual mood

From last week, we continued the OFs discussion on the paranormal. We discussed animals and their sense of what is going on around us before we humans know it. The OFs discussed the homing instinct of many animals and birds and how those that are newly born (especially birds) fly away thousands of miles in the fall, and in the spring, manage to find their way back to the same nest. How do they do that?

Before the advent of the 20th Century, science did not acknowledge the vitality of trees and plants. The OFs discussed some of Cleve Backster’s work on plants, and brine shrimp.

Then there was Jagadish Chandra Bose, an Indian plant physiologist and physicist, and his study on plants. One study backed up his other study on plants having life, and sending out electrical impulses (at least one being able to be recorded) that they are going to die before they do. Interesting information like that.

Like an apple knows it is going to picked before it is; also that it is going to fall off the tree on its own accord before it falls. The OFs were in an intellectual mood this Tuesday.

The OFs also mentioned the information in these books is very surprising. One was that mothers of some animals (if not all, but that is only a guess) know if something happens to their offspring and indicate this knowledge by twitching.

Cleve Backster used brine shrimp to prove this and then graduated his research to include rabbits. The Russians used dogs. The scribe thinks the internet or the library is in order on this one.

Train trips

The OFs watched the trains go by and talked of some of their train trips. One OF mentioned taking a train excursion to Alaska and back and said that was quite an experience.

The OF said that the trip to Alaska was smooth and neat; however, they had to pull over every time a freight train went by. Apparently, the freight trains have the right of way. Also, he said, when they were in the plains part of Canada one day there was nothing to see but sunflowers — the whole day. That was kinda boring.

The OF noted that the return trip was completely different. He related that the train swayed back and forth, and clickety-clacked the whole way. The OF said a little better than half-way he told his wife he wanted to get off and fly the rest of the way home. The OF claimed the reason the trip is so long is the passenger train does spend a lot of time sitting on the side tracks waiting for the freight trains to go by in both countries.

Abundant apples

The OFs who have land, and old apple trees, are commenting on how many apples they have on them this year, and these apples are mostly worm-free. The OFs used to think these apples were useless except for feeding deer during the winter.

Now they are finding out they make really good cider — especially hard cider. Like anything else, the fad is catching on so that there is even a cider press on the market that can be used on these smaller sweet apples.

Some of the OFs have checked their old trees and say they are loaded and they may try making cider because of the quantity of apples they see. They will use their old presses to do it.

One OF said that, in the fall, there is nothing like warm cider doughnuts, and hot mulled cider, with pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

“Almost a meal,” another OF said.

A third OF said, “It isn’t fall yet, let’s enjoy the summer; it is short enough as it is. It seems like I just got the boat out, let alone used it.”

Spider scare

A different OF changed the subject completely as the conversation on apples started to peter out; he brought up the subject of spiders. The OF told about sitting down in his living room peacefully watching Rural TV when a blood-curdling scream came from the upstairs bathroom.

The OF said he jumped out of the chair as fast as he could.

“At my age,” he said, “that is not too fast because I have to push myself up and out by the arms of the chair.”

To which another OF added that he has to sit in chairs with arms, too, because he can’t get out of chairs with no arms or chairs that are too soft.

Anyway, the OF hollered upstairs, “What’s going on?”

And the wife screamed back breathlessly, “S P I D E R!”

The OF said, when he got upstairs, his wife told him that, when she went to wash her face and brought the washcloth up, a huge black spider, about the size of a quarter, fell out of the washcloth onto the top of the vanity.

She said she quickly grabbed a shampoo bottle and whacked the spider; however, she missed him and got only half of this interloper. When she took the bottle away there was half a spider running across the vanity, and the other half squashed flat with one leg moving.

“It took awhile for her to calm down,” the OF said.

It is noted that every time this story is told the spider gets bigger and soon it will be the size of a silver dollar.

Those OFs who decided breakfast out was better than making their own, or shaking the wife out of bed to make it for them, and decided to go to Gracie’s Kitchen in Voorheesville instead, were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, and me.

Location:

Sometimes this scribe has a tendency to schedule too much in one day and Tuesday, Aug. 20, was such a day. It started at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and continued from there. The Old Men of the Mountain found their way to Princetown and the Chuck Wagon all in good fashion.

The first discussion was on fencing, not the type where a couple of people don a specific uniform for the sport of swordplay, but fencing to keep animals in or out, whichever the case may be.

The OFs were again talking about bison (remembering the ones that escaped from their Schoharie County farm). The discussion centered around how a fence should be built to keep that type of animal in.

One OF said that on the farm cows were kept in with just a simple fence; some used electric fencing to do the job. That, also, is just one strand of wire.

Another OF, who has had horses, said they were kept in with a strand of wire with flags on it. The OF said the horses honored that type of fencing and they never had a problem with them getting out. This OF imagined the buffalo were the same, maintaining that some of their draft horses were larger than the buffalo.

Yet another OF said that, if any animals like cows or horses wanted to challenge any fence, it wouldn’t stop them, i.e., barbed, electric, little white flags or not. One OF said that a high enough, and solid, stone wall would — something high enough the animal couldn’t jump over.

An OF said he knows how cows trained the young calves to respect the fence, but how do the animals know what is their territory?

A smart OF said that, when they were on the farm and an animal got out, his father always said: Let the dumb thing go; don’t break you neck trying to catch it. Cows are homing animals and they will come back at milking time and wait to get in the barn.

Camping the old-fashioned way

The OFs discussed how they used to go camping all over with the family. Load everything into the station wagon, tent and all, and head out.

What prompted this was a discussion on one side of an OF’s family doing just that, and how the OFs said they could no more sleep on the ground in a tent now than they could flap their arms and fly.

The OF reflected that it was a lot of work and arguing when putting up the tent. Once the tent was up, and all the cussing and shouting was done, it was all forgotten. Camping was a lot of fun.

One OF said, “This type of camping was where we met a lot of nice people.” The OF further said that one family they met while camping years ago are still their friends today.

Another OF pondered how many people still tent, use a Coleman stove, and eat on a picnic table under a flap today? “Not many,” an OF supposed.

How about sleeping in sleeping bags on the ground? If you look at even small motorhomes, or tow-behind trailers, it is like not even leaving the house. What fun is there in that?

Another OF said when they tent-camped, they hauled bicycles, canoes, and everything else they thought they would need. This stuff all went in their station wagon.

The kids did all sorts of crafts, learned to swim, boat, and make friends quickly. The OF saw these same kids he raised leave in a camper the same way.

However, he noticed their kids (his grandkids) did not help load the camper or anything like that. All the grandkids did was stare at that little screen all kids have nowadays. The OF said he did not want to interfere but he was really frustrated as they left.

License tax

The OFs talked about the newest tax put on New Yorkers. That would be the new license plates.

One OF said, “This, once again, is upstate taking care of downstate. The people in the city, (those five boroughs in New York City) many don’t drive, or even own cars, and, if they have to go someplace, they rent a car.”

This OF deduced that all of us upstaters have to drive just to go shopping, or to the doctor’s ,and we are the ones who have to own cars.

One OF said, “Well, if we don’t like it, we can move out, or move downstate, but 20 bucks for the freedom to move around is OK by me.”

“There is always two sides to everything, but it isn’t easy,” another OF said, “To have something shoved down your throat and you don’t have anything to say about it.”

Animals predict weather

The OFs continued their conversation from last week about dogs, and animals seeming to know ahead of time when a storm is coming.

One OF added to that saying, “With cows, it doesn’t even have to be a storm.” The OF said, “Cows know when it is just going to be a steady rain. They will all lie down ahead of the rain to keep the ground under them dry, so if you see all the cows lying down in the pasture you can be pretty sure it is going to rain.”

(Spoiler alert) This led to a discussion by the OFs on the paranormal, which will carry over next week, if the OFs don’t have too much to say next week.

The OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and are all pretty normal, except for maybe this scribe, were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Roger Shafer, Jamie Dairah, Peter Whitbeck, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Ray Kennedy, Rich Donnelly, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Rev. Jay Francis, Duncan Bellinger, John Dabrvalskas, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

With the nice sleeping weather, this scribe is finding it harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning.   The scribe is still awake but wants to just lie there — nothing hurts, and the day looks fine, and there are no disasters (yet).

However, duty calls because it is Tuesday, Aug. 13, and it is time for the Old Men of the Mountain to gather at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg.

In order to find our way to Duanesburg, almost all of the OMOTM have to travel west on either Route 88, or Route 7, or the Schoharie Turnpike. Those of us who traveled on the Schoharie Turnpike noticed the bright red sun; it looked like you could reach out and touch it, or drive right into it. The OMOTM noticed this because on routes 7 or 88, the red sun appeared in the heavens like it should. This was quite an optical illusion that caught the attention of the OFs on the turnpike.

The OFs also noticed that this year the sides of the roads are like bouquets with asters, trefoil, Queen Anne’s lace, and whatever other weeds are mixed in, and the OFs wonder if it is the salt on the highway that produced this proliferation of splendor because most fields are not like this. There was a very wet spring this year and some of the OFs thought that might have brought forth the beautiful flora, and also hastened the growth of the trees.

Watching the OFs order their breakfast was interesting on Tuesday morning. For some reason, this scribe tuned into a few of the OFs as they ordered breakfast. Not all the OFs, because pretty soon the collection of OGs becomes rather noisy as more and more show up.

But this clan is a fussy bunch of old guys. Each breakfast had its own little twist. The waitress must have her own style of shorthand to get all this down and get it right.

Pent-up energy was released through work

The OFs’ talk drifted back to the forties and fifties and early mornings on the farm, and the radio playing in the barn. Most of the farmers back then found that cows enjoyed listening to music and produced better.

This scribe has mentioned before WGY and the early morning farm show with the Chanticleer, John Charles Stevenson. The OFs were drifting back into a quieter, more peaceful time.

This brought up all that is going on currently with the young people and how they are behaving. The OFs pinned it down to basically two things:

— The advent of the internet with constant news and constant shoot-em-ups; and,

— Pent-up energy that has to go someplace.

In the locale of the mountains, the OFs said, we were no different. We had the pent-up energy, only it had a release and it was called work. The OFs got into farm-boy trouble but it was nothing like today. An OF said we all had guns, many had more than one, but would never think about shooting another person.

What’s wrong with this picture?

An OF who lives on the water and has a few boats said that, over the weekend, he had house company. The OF said he was having breakfast and the OF kept looking out the window and finally said to his company, “Something is not right out there.”

There was a deer on the lawn but that wasn’t the problem; deer appear quite often. The more the OF looked, it finally occurred to him! A boat was missing.

He went out to check and, sure enough, a boat was missing. Well, that would dampen your day. Now what? The OF didn’t say.

Smart fish

Speaking of boats, the OFs queried another OF who is a fisherman, and wanted to know how he was doing. The reply was “not well” because he was fishing for a particular type of fish.

The OFs said the fish are there; the OF should be catching them. The  OF (who fishes) said the fish are smarter than he is and know what is going on.

Then the OFs started talking about different lures; the OF said he has tried them but claimed the fish are not that dumb. This OF says, as soon as his boat is in the water, the word gets out among the fish that he is on the water trying to catch them.

Another OF said it is not only fish but he thinks rabbits and deer do the same thing. This OF says he can walk in the woods by his place with a stick and the deer come so close he could tap them on the butt with the stick.

“Let me go in the woods with a gun,” the OF continued, “and I think there is not a deer within miles.”

One more OF then advised the fisherman to leave his poles and tackle box on the dock and the fish might just jump in the boat.

No one will ever accuse the OFs of having deep, tedious, meaningful discussions.

Canine companions

The animal vein chit chat continued but this time it was all about dogs some of the OFs had. Combining all the conversations, one would think some dogs were people and part of the family. Sleeping on the bed. Special diets.

Nothing happens for the start of the day until the mutt is taken care of, nothing even for the kids — the dog comes first. This scribe wonders if the dogs know all this.

The OFs insist that dogs, and even cats, can tell the weather before the weatherman comes on the radio or TV and tells listeners the area where the weather is going to happen. One OF said his dog heads to the bedroom before there is even a sound of thunder off in the distance.

A few of the OFs said their animals act peculiarly before a thunderstorm and the OFs say they have learned the dog’s signals.  Who is training whom?

Those OFs who made it to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg, and all their animals were behaving normally, were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Art Williams, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Roger Shafer, Marty Herzog, Peter Whitbeck, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Gerry Chartier, Rev. Jay Francis, Mike Willsey, Jamie Dairah, Gerry Irwin, Ted Feurer, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

Location:

Again, a morning mist greeted the Old Men of the Mountain as they left the comfort of their beds on Tuesday, Aug. 6, and headed to the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

The opening conversation was a little unusual. A couple of the OFs were talking about comments the minister made in church Sunday.

The OFs were surprised the minister mentioned downsizing because he has been retired for some years, but one of the items he has to downsize (and is having trouble doing) is the five motorcycles he has in his garage. Now that is downsizing, and with that kind of hobby this minister would fit right in with the OMOTM.

Our Texas traveler is back. However, this time he didn’t ride his motorcycle all the way from San Antonio, Texas to upstate New York in the rain like he did last time.

This time he flew, and took the train.

Discussing motorcycles with the OFs is a diverse issue. The OMOTM motorcycle riders are like artists, meaning they are a slightly different breed of people and are dedicated to their passion for riding the road on these machines.

Self-care, the old-fashioned way

Again, the OFs had a conversation that took us back to when the OFs were young. The topic was the most common way of taking care of yourself on the farm.

Showers were not on the country farm. For the most part, it was the clawfoot tub, or a round tub purchased along with the same tub used for watering cattle.

Water was boiled on the stove, and lye soap was plentiful and used frequently. Lye soap. Yikes! Needless to say with scalding hot water, and soap made from lye, the OFs were clean.

The rest of the duties that today we perform in the bathroom were found elsewhere. On a number of farms, there was no special room for this routine — it was done in the kitchen although some farms did have a laundry room where the bath was taken.

The bodily function that was extremely necessary did have its own room, and its name was “The Outhouse.”

Stories were told of using this detached room from the house. One story told of cows poking their heads through the door when it was in use to see what was going on, to a night-time visit to the house in the woods at 12 midnight by another curious animal.

Only this wasn’t an OF, but a person on the distaff side of the OF, and the animal was a bear. This outhouse experience did not happen on a particular farm but a cabin on a log pond with the name “The Goodnow Flow” in Newcomb, New York.

All the screaming in the world did not reach any ears but the ears of the bear. It is assumed that this noise startled the bear, and the bear decided it was best to get out of there. The OF did not relate if the business intended for the outhouse was accomplished or not, but one OF was greeted by a frightened, exasperated lady tumbling through the door, out of breath and at a loss for words.

The buzz

Time-jumping to the present, one OF said he had a bunch, swarm, or definitely a mess of bees going into his house through a small hole at the end of the house’s soffit vent. The OF is perplexed by this because everything is aluminum, and this is a very small space where the edge of the soffit and the flashing meet.

These are honey bees and the OF does not want to kill them so he went to the bee man of the group. (This OF has been mentioned before in this column because he is an expert.)

The advice from this expert OMOTM follows: Because it is so late in the season that the bees started building the hive in the soffit, you have to leave them be. The bees will never make enough honey to carry them through the winter and they will all die. In the spring, plug up the hole. The bees will eat all the honey they have made during the winter, and the dry crumbs won’t cause any problems.

Better than Abby

As this scribe keeps reporting: If an OF has a question or needs advice, just ask around the table — you got it. This is not saying all the advice is good advice but it is advice anyway.

Do not ask about politics or your love-life because you are likely to get in really big trouble. This advice is generally always wrong.

Hole in the universe

As anyone becomes older (not only the OFs), there are some things that happen that are not pleasant. One example is: A lot of times, the OFs outlive many of their friends and even family members.

When the OF finally passes on, there are not many left to go to his funeral, or even plan it, or even know much about the old goat.

The OFs were talking about doing a family history and having someone know your wishes and where your paperwork is, and this someone should be the family member you can trust to pass that information along.

Even though some of the OFs think that doing this paperwork might not mean much in the scheme of things, one OF said, “We really do mean a lot. If we weren’t who we are or where we are, there would be one heck of a hole in the universe, and believe it or not the universe would collapse in on itself if we were not here.”

Maybe it is who the OFs hang out with, but the OFs seem to think there is more white hair around now than there used to be. Some of the OFs said they haven’t noticed.

One OF thought it was the stress of living now that has people getting gray hair earlier, so even though we see white hair, the ones running around with the crop of white on the top of their heads are not that old.

The OFs who arrived at the Your Way Café in Schoharie at one time or another, and left full and ready to go home and take a nap were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Roger Shafer, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Rich Donnelly, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazio, Ray Kennedy, Harold Grippen, and me.

— Photo by John R. Williams

Early morning in Schoharie: “Around 6:30, the sun was shining through a light mist. It was quiet, calm, and the aroma was clear. Small-town atmosphere all around,” writes John R. Williams of this scene. “Some of the OMOTM were outside of the Country Café, watching what was a sample of the old lamplighter putting out the lights coming up the walk, only this was the workman that waters the plants coming with his wagon of water, watering the plants as he drove along.”

The Old Men of the Mountain made the trek to the Country Café in Schoharie on a beautiful Tuesday morning on July 30. The Farmers Almanac has our area down for a cool summer. Can’t prove it by the OMOTM and the 90-degree days.

As usual, the OMOTM talked about their health, and the health of others. Tuesday morning, the chatter was on one very bad habit — that of smoking.

There is one OF who is going through the process of trying to get rid of lung cancer. Tuesday morning, he and a few others admitted, at one time, they were heavy smokers. This brought about OFs who had family members or friends who were heavy smokers and how many of them have managed to quit. 

The OFs discussed some who had passed away from the habit. 

The problem is that, when the OFs were YFs, there was no stigma attached to smoking. The Army used to pass cigarettes out for free and even, to some extent, encouraged smoking

At the age the OFs started smoking, it wasn’t but a few years of puffing on these white nails and the OFs, along with everyone else, were hooked on the nicotine. The OFs did not know what we know today and how dangerous the cigarettes, or cigars, or pipes were.

The OFs were unsuspecting guinea pigs, because, as suggested, the OFs think tobacco companies knew from Day One that nicotine was addictive.

One OF said he thought the medical profession also had hints, but the doctors themselves kept on smoking, especially cigars. Another OF said his doctor scolded him about smoking while he was smoking a cigar.

Duh! The message here, the OFs guess, is, if you smoke — quit! Throw those things away! They know it is hard but some have done it that way.

One OF said his father woke up one morning, hacking and coughing his head off. The OF said his dad stared at that pack of cigarettes for awhile, walked out on the front porch, and heaved that pack of cigarettes as far as he could; it landed on the edge of a hay field

The OF said his father never lit another cigarette, but he was a miserable old coot for some time. He still died young, but maybe he lived longer than if he had kept on smoking. The best thing, the OFs say, is never start.

Applejack is potent

The OFs went from smoking to drinking; this time it was the making of a special brew called applejack.

This was made right in the farmer’s basement or outdoors in a wooden keg. This stuff was lethal. 

Applejack was clear as water, smooth as silk, and was easy going down. Some OFs reported the inexperienced would not know what was happening to them because it appeared nothing was.

About three-eights to half of an inch in the bottom of a water glass was all you wanted of this stuff. The uninitiated would fill the glass half full.

The OFs said they warned them beforehand that was way too much but, being as the applejack was so smooth, the drinkers had no idea, until they went to stand up and found they couldn’t. A great “I told you so” event for the OFs. 

Smoking and drinking were great topics for the OFs from the school of hard knocks because they have found neither one is worth the effort.

The trials of meds

Another rehash the OFs talked about was what it was like when they were in school. This time, the discussion disclosed how little we knew about medicine, and what few medicines we had.

After World War II, the medical profession took off as all kinds of antibiotics were coming out, all kinds of procedures were being done, and new medicines were being developed.

According to one OF, that might not have been a good thing. This OF said that he has to take a medicine that tastes so awful that he studies the glass for a long time before he gathers the courage to bring it to his mouth and drink it.

Another OF added that one of the pills he takes (which is like a horse pill) sometimes becomes stuck crosswise in his esophagus and doesn’t go down but starts to dissolve; the taste is horrendous.

The OF says he drinks another gulp of water as quick as he can, but it doesn’t help, and that awful taste hangs around for a good half hour.

Another OF questioned, “What is in this stuff?”

Bygone diseases

When the OFs were in school, there was such a thing as a quarantine (isolation of people or animals out of a certain area to prevent the spread of disease).

These diseases are rare now and, because of vaccinations, many people have never heard of them. A couple of OFs said they missed a whole year of school because of the mumps.

If mumps was in your household, none of the other kids in the house could go to school until they had them. Measles was the same way; whooping cough was another winner. Measles, when the OFs were young, could develop into rheumatic fever, and from there it was singing in the angel choir. 

It is much different today. Polio now is almost extinct, and the OMOTM are very familiar with that one. When the OFs were in school some of these diseases, when caught, put the OF back one whole grade.

Escaped bison

The OFs started singing: 

“Oh give me a home

where the Buffalo roam,

Where the dee

and the antelope play.

Where seldom is heard

 a discouraging word, 

And the skies

are not cloudy all day.” 

The Old Men of the Mountain who were at the Country Café in Schoharie, discussed the escaped bison roaming somewhere in the hills of Schoharie and Otsego counties. The members of the Old Men of the Mountain choir singing about the buffalo were: Dave Williams, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Otis Lawyer, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Pete Whitbeck, Wally Guest, Bill Bartholomew, John Rossmann, Paul Nelson, Jim Heiser, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Rich Donnelly, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Marty Herzog, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Rich Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

This choir was as flat as a pancake.

Location:

Many of the Old Men of the Mountain took advantage of the weather break and slept in a tad; however, they dressed in a hurry, putting on some of the clothes they wore yesterday, but they made it by about 6:30 a.m. to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh.

As usual, the restaurant was ready for the OMOTM, so on a rainy Tuesday morning, July 23, the OMOTM were set for another normal day. They were full of stories that didn’t amount to a hill of beans; nonetheless, the OFs were ready for whatever came their way during the day.

Old news first. In a recent OMOTM column, there was a picture of a 1932 Model A hotrod owned by one of the OMOTM. This vehicle was taken to the large car show at Lansing Manor at the Gilboa power station where it won another trophy. This vehicle has to be seen to be appreciated. Congratulations are in order!

Overtaxed

An early conversation was on taxes, and how they are getting out of hand in New York State. This, coupled with the salaries that our elected officials make in New York, have the OFs thinking that both taxes and the amount the legislators make are becoming disparagingly large in comparison to all the other states in the country.

One OF suggested that a smaller portion of the population of the state is taking care of a larger portion of the state that does nothing to support them, and that includes those that sit in those fancy buildings in Albany.

One OF said that he does not know what they are thinking; they are killing the farmer in New York with regulations and taxes. This OF said, “Just look at all the fallow land in our area from farms that have gone under due to the weight of all the laws and taxes piled on by the State of New York.”

Another OF suggested the big farms might prosper because they can hire people to navigate the system. But yet another OF added that he knows farms that were large to him, for instance, two- to five-hundred head of cattle, having problems, and these farms are also going under.

Those who fly away during the winter commented on what it is like in other states, not only taxes but power bills, the price of gas, and things like that. One OF asked why don’t those who fly away just stay where they fly to.

The reasons were many; after sorting it out, it came down to basically doctors, family, and friends — not dollars and cents.

Enhanced license is tough to get

Somehow, tied in to traveling to other places, the talk centered on getting the new enhanced licenses. Not one OF had the right information when he first went to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

One OF said he went with a wad of papers to prove he was who he said he was, and he was still missing one bit of information. Another OF said he did the same thing, and had the same situation, only his problem was that he had the wrong copy.

Still another OF showed up and he said he knew the girl waiting on him and his paperwork was still not right. He commented that the person waiting on him knew who he was, but according to the DMV he couldn’t prove it.

One OF said he didn’t know why he was getting one of those fancy licenses because he is not planning on going anywhere. Right now a trip to Cobleskill or Catskill is a trip for him, but who knows?

The OF said, “Maybe an opportunity might pop up and I will get a chance to go to a ballgame in Montreal. Still,” the OF continued, “I’m 87, and the license is good until I’m 95, if I make it to that number. I doubt I will still be driving … then again, there is that ‘maybe’ word, and I have the money now, so why not go for it? I get my picture taken to boot!”

“You, in front of a camera and having your picture taken voluntarily, are a hoot. You should have 40 or 50 copies made and give one to each of us,” an OF interjected, “We could pin it on our OMOTM hats and it would scare all the fleas, flies, mosquitoes, and ticks away.”

With friends like this, the OF certainly does not need any enemies.

Small cars

As usual, the topic of vehicles came up; this can be counted on by this scribe as a Tuesday-morning conversation every Tuesday. This past Tuesday morning, the talk was about vehicles so small that they approach the size of upholstered roller skates.

The OFs at our end of the table said they would not feel safe in one of those cars that are the size of one tire on a tractor trailer. 

One OF used this as an analogy. Just imagine sitting at a red light with a semi trailer truck right next to you, and, when you look out the side window, all you see is valve stem. The OF said, “If the tractor was bob-tailing and took off in a hurry, it would suck your little car right under it.”

“Not for me,” the OF said.

For those lacking knowledge of the term “valve stem,” Wikipedia tells us that it is a self-contained  valve that opens to admit gas to a chamber (such as air to inflate a tire), and is then automatically closed and kept sealed by the pressure in the chamber, or a spring, or both, to prevent the gas from escaping. You’re welcome.

However, that does not preclude that some of the OFs do own electric cars, but these vehicles are regular cars, not salesman samples.

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh in vehicles of their choice were: Roger Chapman, Paul Nelson, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Don Guest, (Don is headed overseas to compete in a triathlon) (many of the OMOTM’s total exercise is getting out of bed, and getting dressed, so the reader can tell Don Guest is a guest), Bill Bartholomew, David Williams, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Shafer, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Art Frament, Rich Donnelly, Ken Parks, Marty Herzog, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier,  Ray Kennedy, Harold Grippen, and me. 

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