Like most people right about now, the Old Men of the Mountain are getting antsy about getting out and seeing people. Some of the OGs are getting tired of looking like the latest bank robber when going out.

Though most adhere to the protocols in effect with the mask and staying at least six feet from other people, the OFs are getting tired of it. Many have not left home unless it is really important but, again, as the weather has improved, this scribe has heard of a few OGs that are going out and about.

All this anxiety about trying not to get the virus is testing the OGs’ mettle; a few came up with a type of release valve. Many of the OGs miss the Tuesday morning breakfast and the people there, so they came up with a summer get-together at the home of one of the OFs who has the land, the amenities, and the time. (Time! That is something all the OFs have right now.)

There is another aspect of getting together, which is like a high school reunion, especially one where many are basically housebound. That is to see how much the OFs have changed when they can’t get to a barber shop, or they’ve tried cutting their own hair. One OF said he is at the breaking point of doing just that (and so is this scribe) because he said he is not the type to wear a man bun.

Plans are now in the works for having an old-fashioned church picnic of the potluck variety, only not really as elaborate. The OFs are simple people, so simple it will be. It was decided, seeing as how the better halves have been cooped up with these old goats, they will be invited too. (Isn’t that nice of the OFs?)

As mentioned in previous columns, the OFs are not too keen on all this virtual stuff, although the younger people (meaning most of our grandchildren) seem to get it. One OF suggested we have a Zoom breakfast.

Some of the OFs don’t even have a computer, or a tablet, or a smartphone. (To many of the OFs, the TV show Star Trek and the flip phone is as modern as they get.) The few OFs spoken to wonder how Zoom would work; what would happen to all the burps, f----, and off-handed remarks? Zoom could not handle that, and that is where a lot of the fun is. Nah, this is not for the OMOTM.

Now all the aforementioned picnic planning has to be put in motion, and maybe this scribe will actually have an up-to-date report on the recent activities of the OFs. This scribe hopes it does work out — it will be great to see some of these OGs.

Twilight Zone

With not much new news to tell, the scribe has found a story to relate from past meetings. This one goes back to July 2 of last year. Two OFs asked if anyone saw lights in the sky the night before, and the answer was “no.”

These two OFs said they saw strange lights in the northwestern sky. They said the lights were bright and did not move and they were not helicopters. Both OFs said they saw them for quite a long time. The lights just hung there and then all of a sudden they were gone.

“Planets,” a couple of OFs said,.“If they were UFOs, they would be like streaks of light not something that hung around for a long time.” These first OFs maintained they were UFOs of some kind because the light was too close and too bright to be planets.

One OF said, “There was nothing on the radio, or on TV, or in the papers about bright lights in the sky, so you guys must have hit the ’shine a little too hard if no one else saw lights.”

The OFs claiming to have seen the lights stopped talking and did not pursue the sighting anymore. This scribe thought at the time that it is hard to see something unusual and then tell about it, even to people in the area that should have witnessed it too, and then not be backed up by anyone else seeing it.  Maybe we are living in the Twilight Zone.

Anybody else feel like they’ve cooked dinner about 395 times this month?

Location:

The question of the day is the same question that is hollered by the kids from the back seat on any car trip over fifteen minutes, “ARE WE THERE YET?”

Are we there yet is a question the Old Men of the Mountain are asking, and they are answering this question themselves, “No we are not!”

The question (and answer) these days are about the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. The OFs seem to think it is going to be quite awhile, and to one OF that this scribe has spoken to, this virus is like dust and it blows all over the place.

Again, the few spoken to are chomping at the bit to just get out and about for a little while without all the worry, especially at the ages of these OMOTM.

It is not at all like World War II with rationing and books of rationing stamps. Those of the OFs who have been through that remember those stamps well and how little grumbling was done about them. At least the OFs don’t remember grumbling.

This is completely different. As one OF put it, “Screw up on this one and you are dead; screw up on your ration book and all you are out is five pounds of sugar.”

The OFs can’t wait to be “there.” “There,” in this case, means maybe a vaccine to handle this virus, or the virus just gives up and goes away — not “there” as dead.

The OFs spoken to talk about restaurants opening under the new guidelines, and the OFs ask: How are they going to fit the OFs into some, if not most, of the restaurants we go to?

Right now we are shoulder to shoulder, and hiney to hiney in them and, if we go six feet apart, we definitely have to eat in shifts. The early birds would eat in one shift, and the sleeper-inners in another.

One OF said, “Who the h--- is going to figure all that out?” But nobody is going to listen to him anyway. Maybe it can be done by days.

One OF offered a group to go Monday, one on Tuesday, and leftovers on Wednesday. That might work; at least the OFs would get out one day a week.

This scribe thinks that for kids and young people this may be, as they say, the new normal — all this virtual stuff, but for all of us OFs in our seventies and eighties these have been long years for habits to become really ingrained in our tough old hides, and it is even tougher to change at this point in our lives.

Even so, some of the OFs are keeping themselves very busy; one OF in particular said just the other day he is so busy he doesn’t know which way to turn.

That is a good problem, but then some OFs know of families and close friends who have been laid off, furloughed, or had hours cut back; no matter what it is called, these workers will eventually be out of work. The OFs think that in many cases this is going to be a permanent situation.

One OF said two things are going to happen to companies small or large: They are either going to reopen, or fold up. But for the company that has to use the “lay off” on key, talented personnel, an incentive is in order to keep them.

If not, the company may lose them because all those gone are not going to hang around until our friend, the “there,” comes. They will look for other jobs, and who knows. This is a sticky wicket any way it is looked at. And it is worldwide, which makes it stickier.

The other OF who is on the busy side is Jack Norray and his son. They are planning on having their Norray family annual chicken barbecue in front of the Knox Reformed Church on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This is going to be a different barbecue than those in the past because things are different than they were in the past. This will be a drive-through pickup according to Jack. It will be necessary to order your chicken dinner ahead of time. Well, that is different!

How are the OFs supposed to know about this, or the people who are out for a ride, and don’t want to make dinner? This scribe answered his own question by saying, “Hey, we will put this information in the column. After all, we are OFs of the highest order.”

So anyone will be able to go online to: blacksheephoney.com, or by calling 518-872-2257. Just so there are no surprises, the price is 12 bucks for half a chicken, a baked potato, coleslaw, and a homemade roll with honey butter.

The scribe is hungry just typing this. Last week, I said I went to a new restaurant called “The Kitchen.” You must gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have no clue how this place is still in business.

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This should be an interesting week for the Old Men of the Mountain. On May 3, 2003, the iconic rock ledge near Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, fondly known as the Old Man of the Mountain, crumbled and tumbled down to the base of the mountain. This rock face was used to promote New Hampshire from as early as 1850. This scribe and his wife, on one of their many trips to the coast of New England, made the journey to see this out cropping and it was impressive and very well defined.

When New Hampshire used the image of the Old Man of the Mountain as its choice to put on the ninth state quarter in the 50 State Quarters program in September 2000, one of our OMOTM, Mike Willsey, purchased enough of those quarters for all the OMOTM and then some.

Mike soldered or glued pins (used for jewelry) on the back of each quarter (the back being the side of the quarter that did not have the image of the Old Man of the Mountain on it) and gave one to each OF. Most of the OMOTM pinned Mike’s gift to their OMOTM caps and wore them proudly.

The Old Man of the Mountain is now just a pile of rubble at the base of the mountain. The Old Men of the Mountain hope they wind up more than that, but that pile of rubble has had quite a history, and even a short story written about it by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

This scribe, because he was reminiscing on the quarter handouts by Mike, brought on by the anniversary of the collapse of the Old Man of the Mountain 17 years ago in May, called a very good friend of his that was brought up in New Hampshire, just about at the base of this ledge formation.

This fellow said that even the Indians had legends of the outcrop. He also said that his brother worked for the state and with the crew that maintained this rock feature in the summertime. One of the problems they had was with the people themselves that came to view the profile.

To maintain the Old Man the workers had a path, which they made on a back road, to get to the top of the mountain in which they hauled themselves and equipment up to do the work. The visitors eventually found this path and would go up there and party and leave all their trash behind. It was not a park but the people made a mess and left it, and the state had to go and clean it almost daily.

The scribe’s friend also said that at the base of the mountain was a lake called Profile Lake, and people were allowed to fly fish in this lake, and the lake was stocked.

This is the same problem the OMOTM that work on the Long Path have with Vroman’s nose in Middleburgh. Vroman’s Nose is a prominent geological feature in the town of Fulton (near Middleburgh), in Schoharie County. People climb to the top and leave their rubbish.

The plateau on the top of Vroman’s Nose is kind of a park and when college is in session in Cobleskill the trash is substantial. Sometimes the benches even get thrown over the cliff, and there has been evidence of some pretty good-sized fires started on this highland. The OMOTM go up there and clean it up.

No worst food

The reminiscing continues on another subject. At one time, the OFs began a conversation of foods they did not like. This was a selective category with no real winner.

Beets were mentioned but quickly voted down by other OFs who like their beets, cooked or not, pickled or not, soaked in vinegar with onions or not, tossed in with cucumbers and onions or not. Cukes themselves were mentioned, but they too lost out; so did broccoli. One OF mentioned pineapple, but this OF was told that was a fruit and didn’t count.

Another OF said he didn’t like cheese sauces thrown on everything. “If I order string beans, I want string beans, not string beans covered in some awful tasting, rich cheese sauce dribbled all over the beans so there is no taste resembling string beans,” he said.

The OF continued, “As a matter of fact, when the dang cheese is dribbled on the beans it spreads on everything on the plate. The whole plate tastes like the sauce, so why order the food, just order the sauce!”

One OF brought up rutabagas and that was shot down also. Surprisingly, more than one OF had rutabagas and potatoes mixed together by their moms, and they all said they miss that dish. Slosh some real butter over and chow down, was the universal decision. One other OF said that he sprinkled brown sugar along with the butter and it was almost like dessert.

It is a good thing that people have different palates or eating would be quite boring. I need to practice social distancing from — the refrigerator. Half of us are going to come out of this quarantine as amazing cooks. The other half will come out with a drinking problem.

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As usual, these are a few notes from the Old Men of the Mountain who email or who this scribe speaks to over the phone. From those spoken to, they are beyond bored. The lack of socializing is getting to all of them.

There is some “social distancing” but the freedom of going to anyplace at anytime is a freedom that is not allowed now. Even the routine of grocery shopping is now a planned event.

The OMOTM miss the weekly breakfast, they miss church and the events the churches hold, lodge gatherings and all their events, seniors lunches with bus trips and their other experiences. The OFs with their hobbies and outside interests that hold weekly or monthly meetings and again have planned events, like car clubs, antique clubs, vegetable and flower gardening clubs, and military associations are sorely missed. The list goes on and on.

Then there is just going out to eat, meeting friends at the restaurants, and being unable to do that now because most restaurants are closed. The OGs miss traveling to family and friends that may be just a couple of hundred miles away and seeing the grandkids, or just plain old socializing.

The OFs spoken to are tired of regular TV, but there is a resurgence of the old cartoons and to the OFs it is like seeing them for the first time. Bugs Bunny is the new superstar.

The OMOTM have a problem adjusting to, and don’t think they ever will, these “shows?” called virtual TV, and communications, and they can’t quite dig fan-less sports. One OF complained he is too old to fiddle with this; however, maybe it will become normal for the younger crowd.

This scribe has a narrow selection of OFs to base opinions on but when a call comes in from a different OF, that OF seems to reiterate what the others have said.

Nursing homes

The ones who call say they hope they have been nice enough to their kids because a common remark is to be nice to them since they are going to pick out your nursing home. The OFs say this is one place no one wants to be, and they ask how the virus knows to go where it is full of easy pickings.

If the nursing homes are using disinfectants to clean with and watching the food coming in and checking each employee, how is the virus getting through the defenses?

This scribe thinks this virus needs a unified worldwide three-pronged approach. One for a cure, two for a vaccine so we don’t get it, and three to find out where the heck it came from and destroy it.

If this virus comes from where this scribe’s wife says it comes from, destroying it will be kind of tough. She thinks it comes from extraterrestrial life, which the dictionary says is of or from outside the Earth or its atmosphere.

Grooming

Back to the self-style quarantine type of living and how beauty salons, or barber shops still have to remain closed. As the OFs have mentioned before, their hair is really getting long and scraggly. If it gets much worse, one OF and this scribe began a scenario conversation on grooming.

The OF and this scribe do not have much hair on top but still enough to grow; the edges are over our ears, and the back is down our necks. Pretty soon the OFs will fit the characters of the Hatfields and the McCoys, or Li’l Abner, who are all like real OFs.

All the OFs will need to do is put on their bibs (OF-speak for their bib overalls), take the musket off the wall, go and sit in the chair on the porch with the dawg, and wait for them revenuers. That is about all we can do. The OFs can’t go down to the store and whittle — tain’t allowed no more.

Home brew

Speaking of revenuers, the scribe can remember way back when in the hills of Schoharie County (and a couple in the hills of Albany) there were stills cranking out home brew. A few may have been for profit but most just for kicks and giggles.

Traveling the short distance on Route 443 from Berne to Schoharie, it was common to see smoke from the stills drifting into the air. But then it wasn’t bibs and bandanas, it was tight jeans neatly folded at the shoe tops, with T-shirts and a pack of Camels or Pall Malls rolled up in the shirt sleeves, and duck-tail haircuts.

That was the dress for the still runners in the OFs’ younger days. On Saturday nights, they would grab their instruments and lightbulbs and head to Lasalle Park in Schoharie. There they would play, dance, sing, and check out who had the best ’shine. Oddly enough, the most drinking was store-bought beer.

At that time, the jail and the sheriff’s office were in back of the Parrott House, and Lasalle Park was further up the hill in back of the jail and sheriff’s office. When the weather was right, these places were within shouting distance of each other.

This scribe cannot remember a fight breaking out, but there were some pretty loud arguments, and most of those were about cars and women.

 In preparation for, and trying for, inspiration to write this column, this scribe was wondering why music was coming from his printer. Apparently the paper was jamming.

Location:

“The Two Rogers Solving the World’s Problems in Front of Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow” was painted by John R. Williams, and features Roger Shafer on the left, and Roger Chapman on the right. “Kim’s place is no longer in business and the OFs almost had a wake when we heard that news,” says Williams.

The week that this retroactive OMOTM report is being worked on has not been an April month. Those cooped up with quarantines have not had much good weather to even open the windows and listen to the birds and peepers, or let fresh air in.

This COVID-19 is as nasty as are most viruses that get going. It seems they have a natural instinct like most newborns. They search out host-to-host and, once one is gone, the virus hunts down another, just like it knows what it is doing.

The virus has a general behind it, conducting the battle in an attempt to take over. The president calling it a war is correct — that is just what it is. Right now, we are in a retreat mode until our new generals and their troops come up with something to stop its progression. We need a new weapon, or maybe an old one modified.

The OFs did mention how blessed those of us on the Hill are. None of them, this scribe included, can understand how a person under full quarantine, living in a 900-square foot apartment on the 14th floor, is handling the situation.

This scribe thinks the most effective weapon we have in this battle is prayer — prayer that the researchers find a way to defeat the virus soon.

This scribe still receives phone calls and messages to hear how the OFs are coping with the stay-safe, stay-at-home attack on the virus.

Swallows confound

One OF had a different problem than the others in a way, and sent an email to describe his problems with barn swallows.

This scribe thinks we have covered this before but the scribe can’t remember when it was. The writer of the email answered his own question and this scribe thinks the OFs came to the same conclusion.

It was how to control those darn barn swallows. The bird makes mud nests all over. This scribe has never seen a barn swallow nest in a tree; it always seems to be in some shed we have made and the nest is under the eves.

This scribe does not know about the other OFs but some kind of swallow takes over this scribe’s bluebird houses. These swallows, too, have the pointy wings and dart around snapping up bugs.

The writer also commented that after complaining about all the fertilizer they leave around (and they do) the bird must eat well because they are really prolific in their droppings. The OF said the bird does eat its share of bugs.

Beyond the to-do list

A couple of other OFs said they are catching up on so much they left undone because it was not critical at the time. Now the OFs are getting things done that were not even on the to-do list.

Some said that, when the weather is decent, they are spending their time clearing brush around the pond, or working on lawn mowers and equipment that were just stuck in the barn when they became problematic.

One OF mentioned he has four old cars that just pooped out so he purchased another used car to carry on. Now he is fussing with those things and, if this virus goes on much longer, he may have four working vehicles.

Another OF mentioned his hair, and also his wife’s hair. They both need to be taken care of; however, his wife offered to cut his hair. That offer was not accepted. As soon as the re-opening of businesses is announced, barber shops and beauty parlors are going to be inundated.

Old days

The OFs who were farmers continue to go back in time and then jump to now and think of major earth-shattering events to change the lifestyle of everyone on the planet and not all of the troubles were of a medical nature.

They are able to remember the Great Depression of the 1930s, the dust bowl, and World War I and World War II — problems like that.

Some of these OFs remember back when they were younger and they went with their dad to purchase a horse. Their father would teach the OF the way horse dealers would sometimes try to pull a fast one before the deal was concluded.

The father would go all over the horse and even look at the horse’s teeth. The last thing his dad would do would take his knee and punch the horse in the stomach.

Now, if the horse passed gas, the longer and louder the better, his father would say, “Good horse.” Then using the name the Old Men of the Mountain are so fondly called (OFs) he would tell his son: 

A farting horse is the horse to hire

For a farting horse will never tire.

Deal made.

Location:

What now? This scribe and his wife have been in the house for a few weeks; the column and my painting has kept me busy, and actually this scribe has bit off more than he can chew.

I’ve been reading backwards in the little black book, which is filled with notes from the OMOTM’s breakfasts, and now it is interesting to try to conjure up what in the world the OMOTM were talking about when this scribe made one-word notes. Also, there are some notes that are not for the paper.

It is almost like going through old photographs and finding pictures that bring up the question, “Who the heck is that and what are they doing in our photograph album?” The same with these notes.

From Nov. 26, there is a note “Witch Hazel,” which this scribe remembers some of. But the major problems that the OFs were talking about that day were hemorrhoids. This remedy is not used by many, and even the term “witch hazel” is not used often.

One OF told the other OF (who had the problem) he wouldn’t know if witch hazel would help but the OF said change of diet might. Hemorrhoids are a malady that is mighty uncomfortable and if witch hazel would help, then use it; however, as some other OFs mentioned, there are plenty of creams on the market that are made just for this problem.

One OF said his parents always had a bottle of witch hazel in the medicine chest.

Another note on the same page that this scribe is sure he did not use is “teeth duct tape.” This scribe has no idea what that means. The OFs must have talked about it, or it meant something that would tie into a conversation — but what?

A few pages past that is the word “cloning.” This scribe remembers that topic a little bit and that chatter was: Would the OFs want to be cloned?

“Not now,” one OF said. “Why would I want to be cloned at 80 years old? If I could be cloned without  aches and pains, plus know what I know now about life, and my mind went with it, why not?”

A certain OF said the other OF missed the conception of cloning. His thought was, “If you are cloned, the other you starts out as a baby, so you would have to live 160 years to see yourself at 80.”

 “To heck with it,” the first OF said. This scribe thinks the whole concept of cloning is missed by these old goats.

The scribe found a note on a page going back to May 1, 2019 that fits right in with the project at hand. This bit of information is the making of a note that is OK for the immediate future like the one-word note but probably not good enough for tomorrow.

Things like phone numbers without names or comments on why these notes were written down, it is just the number. Directions to some place, and again, that is all it is — directions. No mention of who, or what, or where it is, just directions that could be to someplace important, or nowhere at all.

A note to look something up and when it is found wondering why it was there to be looked up because now it has no meaning. Why was it done? Just like this scribe’s book — why was that note there?

A one-word note on Jan. 7, 2020 was the word “names.” Now this scribe does remember what that was about. As we age and get to be OFs, many of the OFs see a person that they have not seen in awhile. The OF knows who they are but can’t put a name with the face.

The name is on the “tip of the OF’s tongue” yet it won’t come out. The OFs say they are stumbling to say something and all they do is make noises that sound like words. One OF said he reminds himself that he is like his grandmother who would run through the whole litany of grandkids’ names until she hit on the right one.

Then the reverse is true. Someone will mention Uncle Charlie, and the OFs know the name but can’t come up with the likeness, and the rest of the OFs could sympathize with that dilemma too.

One OF commented that we all have that problem. This particular OF said it is because the older we get, the more rubbish we have in our brains. In order to get information out, what we want to say has to sift its way through all that extraneous junk to find its way out and that takes time.

This OF said, “Sometimes days.”

This scribe might find more notes to share with you next week. In the meantime, there is this breaking news: Wearing a mask inside your home is now highly recommended. Not so much to prevent COVID19 but to stop eating.

Location:

The Old Men of the Mountain did not meet again this week — only in thought.

When they do get together (after being cooped up for weeks), this scribe feels there won’t be many stories to tell, only how or if they went out for groceries, or how many trips they made to the bathroom, and how their snacks have increased in size and quantity.

A few who commented they used to watch very little TV, now seemed to be planted in front of it.

Also, a few of the few said how hard it is to find anything to watch on TV and they are tired of seeing nothing but the virus, and how many TV stations seem to be wallowing in how many are sick and how many died.

One OF said it is almost like keeping score in a ball game. 

Another OF has gotten so tired of this baloney he does not watch the news; he watches cartoons, and the old good sitcoms, or maybe a good old movie on TCM.

TV mores

Speaking about TV, this scribe found an article in the old notes that he hadn’t written about. This was an item about kids on TV.

The OFs remembered back when they were kids, 9 to 16 years old or thereabout, and the fact that they would never-ever sass back to their parents the way that kids are portrayed in the sitcoms of today. Even their language would not be tolerated.

The kids portrayed today show very little respect to their parents, and seem to be complete wiseguys/girls. One OF mentioned that the kids on TV are more on a par with their (TV) parents even when these kids seem to be very young.

To this OF, the TV show-parents seem to encourage this type of encounter. This OF said, in our day the kids did not seem to open up with the parents on their feelings — they went to other kids. Many were actually afraid of their parents.

This OF thought there were two ways to look at this change in today’s attitudes. This OF added that, with his kids today, and his grandkids who are not kids anymore, he really doesn’t know which way is best.

For instance, he feels that the portrayal on TV today might be a good thing because his grandkids, even when they were young, could carry on a conversation with adults and were not afraid of them. However, the lack of respect for adults, and the appalling language is very concerning to him.

COVID diet

A current event, which a few OFs mentioned, is on the self-quarantine that is recommended during this run of the COVID-19 virus. This virus has had some real side effects, other than a touch of boredom, and that is some are putting on weight.

No getting out and about — walking up and down the driveway doesn’t seem to be cutting the mustard. This scribe thinks the few are speaking for many of the OFs in their eighties and beyond.

Some of the readers and some of the OFs might have seen this recommended diet that may or may not help. Here goes:

— Breakfast: 1/2 grapefruit, 1 slice whole-wheat toast, 8 oz. of 2-percent milk;

— Lunch: 4 oz. lean broiled chicken breast, 1 cup steamed zucchini, 1 Oreo cookie, herbal tea;

— Mid-afternoon snack: Rest of the package of Oreos, I quart Rocky Road ice cream, 1 jar hot fudge;

— Dinner: 2 loaves of garlic bread, large pepperoni-and-mushroom pizza,1 large pitcher of Pepsi, 2 Milky Way candy bars — and, to finish it off, entire frozen cheesecake eaten directly from the freezer.

There, that should do it!

Now the scribe thinks he will go and get something to eat.

Location:

This report will have just a few current comments and there are only a couple of email communiqués. The conversation would be on what the old men are doing to amuse themselves during the virus situation.

The OMOTM are not much different than the rest of the country with what they can do, and right now that is not much. At our ages, not much is the norm.

Reading the comments, this scribe thought now is the time for the hind-sighters to come out of the woodwork, along with the I-would-a’s. They don’t know (using the hard-to-pin-down “they” here) they don’t even have a clue, and if they had to handle the situation at hand would probably pull the covers over their heads and stay in bed.

The OFs at one time talked about how much has changed in the years that the OFs could remember well until now — from farming with horses to men on the moon. One OF commented it is quite a lifetime we OGs are having and it is not over yet.

One of the notes not used in my little notebook is the word “driving.” This was a conversation that this scribe does remember (quite a bit of) because driving years ago is nothing like it is now.

Most of the OF farmers were driving from the time they were 9 or 10 years old, and one OF said even younger. By the time the OFs were 11 years old, they could back a four-wheeled wagon loaded with hay over a barn bridge and into the bay to be unloaded, and this feat was achieved with a steel-wheeled tractor and the only power assist on those things were the muscles in your arms.

The farmer OFs went all over when they were in school and truly could use the sentence, “License? I ain’t got no license.” The reason for this was because they weren’t old enough to apply for one.

One OF remembered making a stand for a rooster to fit behind the steering wheel of a car and taking Mr. Noise (a pet rooster) and tying him to this stand. This rooster looked exactly like he was driving the car.

Then another YF would get down under the dash and in front of the rider’s seat he would work the pedals with his hands. Another YF would get in the back seat and give directions and through town they would go.

The car looked just like it was being driven by a chicken. The problem is that, in the town of Gallupville, there were not that many people out and about to impress with their efforts but, according to the OF, they had fun anyway.

Now, though it may seem stupid, this exhibit showed off the driving skills acquired by being on the farm. None of these OFs had a license.

And, another thing!  Not only driving — but living 70 years ago. Life truly was much simpler and certainly more civil.

It was necessary to drive these old vehicles — they did not drive themselves. We had hurts and some diseases that eventually were cured and the dentist was not fun, but times were simpler.

Because of the simple times, the police were much different. However, they did not have the pressures of today with all its violent behavior.

More than one OF reported on being stopped by the police for some erratic driving maneuver and more than once no one in the car had a license yet the officer would more than likely say, “You boys get that thing home right now, and don’t let me catch you driving like that again.”

Nothing was said at home beyond, “Don’t drive again tomorrow and just don’t do whatever made the officer stop you for doing.”

The OFs did some brainless things, but they did not destroy or vandalize. Boy! It is different today!

But that was 70 years ago.

These are but a few of our catch-up notes from the scribe on behalf of the Old Men of the Mountain.

Closing from the internet:  

I was so bored last night I called Jake from State Farm just to talk to somebody. He wanted to know what I was wearing.

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Number one, this is not a report on a breakfast gathering. As most know, the restaurants are closed except for those that can do takeouts. The Old Men of the Mountain by definition are in the category, “You better watch your tush, fellow, because the nasty germ let loose in China is hunting you down.”

This scribe can fill pages of the OMOTM’s discussions from weeks’ gone by with notes (that have not been used) in the weekly reports from the scribe’s little notebook.  When the scribe gets home and goes to use this notebook, half of the scribble the scribe can’t read.

It is just like trying to decipher a prescription written by the doctor. Part of the medical studies a doctor should go through is a 10-week course on penmanship run by a parochial-school nun.

This scribe has received a few calls from the OMOTM to see how we are going to continue after this is over. What this scribe assumes is that the OMOTM should start where we left off (that is, if the restaurant is still in business) and that would be the “Your Way Café.”

None of us being fortune tellers can tell, but this scribe thinks that would be a good plan. Those spoken to thought so too.

The few OMOTM talked to thought this virus is similar to other events the OFs have been through. A few mentioned the Great Depression, then World War II, the big Recession, scarlet fever, polio, and AIDs.

One member of our group carries the scars of this now-eliminated disease: polio. These were also some scary times, similar to this virus.

One OMOTM asked, “Why in the world didn’t Eve leave that apple on the tree?”

Those members of the OMOTM whom this scribe spoke to are going to hunker down, and the OFs are good at hunkering.

This is going to be tough for a while but hunkering down, and people-to-people contact kept to a minimum is the best protection available.

Remember, conversations are not canceled. There is always the phone, the internet for those who have it, and some have these really new-fangled things called Alexa or Echo.

This scribe has Alexa (which we have to call Karen), which clicks on whenever its name is said, and quite often wherever it is said, and starts spying on us.

No names to report and right now that is a good thing.

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The Old Men of the Mountain met Tuesday, March 10, at the Country Café in Schoharie. The OMOTM were a grumbling group Tuesday morning because of the time change.

Some of the OFs are still using 2019 half the time; now we have the time change to Daylight Savings Time which makes us drive in the dark again. Now there are two things to get used to.

Then, in the fall, the time will change again; then, in January, the date will change again. The year-change, the OFs say, we can do nothing about, but at least leave the time-change alone.

The main topic of conversation was about the coronavirus. Like most conversations in large groups, the talk was varied and this time 90 percent of it seemed to be conjecture, personal opinions, and rumors.

Many agreed the press was on the verge of causing panic. From the time the breakfast was held on Tuesday, and this column is in the paper, much more dialogue will have transpired.

Suffice it to say, the situation was discussed but no conclusion was reached. But at our ages, to err on the side of caution, as they say, is the best course of action.

Lilacs alive

To quote Monty Python: “Now for something completely different.” This scribe’s next note is about blossoms on the trees, especially in the valley. The shrubs that really show signs of life are the lilacs — some even have a green cast, and it is only mid-March.

A few of the OFs think winter is on its way out, while a few others think we are in for some surprises, maybe not bitter cold but snow. The waiting game for the other shoe to drop is not fun when it comes to the winter weather.

As the discussion on the weather continued, it drifted into a discussion on our locales versus that of moving or being a snowbird in warmer climates, or leaving and staying. This led to what creeps and crawls in the south and the west.

The OFs did not want to encounter alligators in their backyards, or some of the nasty snakes that creep hither and yon in either direction, south or west. One OF said he is not a fan of scorpions either; just the word makes him uneasy.

Another OF said he heard of snakes falling out of trees. Most of the OFs have heard stories like that but some are not too sure about the facts in these tales.

One OF said we have our share of snakes up here that are not so nice.

“Yeah,” another OF said, “but at least up here you can see them and hear them; down there, (meaning southern states) these snakes are small as well as nasty. And there are the spiders — those black widows.” 

The other OF said, “We have our nasty spiders here too!”

So the OFs started swapping stories about alligators, snakes, and spiders and this scribe could fill up the whole paper on spiders and snakes, and the virus. One OF said, if taxes get any higher in this state, he will put up with the spiders, snakes, scorpions, and alligators, just to get someplace where he can keep at least some of his money for himself.

One thing these few really warm days (in the waning days of winter) prompted was a few of the OFs who have motorcycles got them out, polished them up, and got ready for the season. A few even got the lawn tractors out and started them up, changed the oil, and they, too, got ready for the season.

Then going back to the earlier discussion on the weather, a few of the realists commented again that winter isn’t over, but one OF said at least we are ready when it is over.

Celebrity turtle

Then the OFs mixed conversations together, talking about critters again, only this time it was about a local snapping turtle that is huge and is old. The OFs said he hasn’t been around lately.

Those OFs who knew this reptile said they haven’t seen him or her around either. This turtle has been watched for at least 15 years or so about the same place and about the same time twice a year.

The turtle is not hard to spot because of its size and the OFs say it also has moss growing on the top of its shell. One OF said, “I hope no one has messed with him because the turtle is kind of a celebrity.”

Feeling of home

There is a phrase “ontogeny-recapitulates-phylogeny” and the OFs discuss this quite often, without even knowing it. Well, so thinks this scribe anyhow, by traveling back to when they were really young, and then fairly young, and then family guys, into what they are now.

The OFs, and this scribe included, discuss what they did when they were traveling through time to where they are now. They muse over how the past shaped their future and how what they did then will probably wind up on their tombstone instead of what they do now. (This does not always happen but most of the time it does.)

Tuesday morning, some of that was mixed in with the spiders and snakes, and old friends. These were good friends. However, once the OFs reached 80 years, many were gone.

One OF said all his good friends are gone and he did not really cultivate new ones while the old ones were still around. Now that they are all gone, he has friends, but not like those who have passed away. What keeps him here now is the feeling of home, because most of his family is spread not only all over the country, but the world, so spiders and snakes will not keep him here, but home does.

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Country Café in Schoharie to be with friends and have a cup of coffee and a breakfast, shoot the breeze for a little while, and even make plans for the rest of the day, or in the future, were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Rich LaGrange, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Jake Herzog, Karl Remmers, Rev. Jay Francis, Herb Bahrmann, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jamey Dairah, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Elwood Vanderbilt, Fred Crounse, Bob Donnelly, Harold Grippen, and me.

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