Some of the Old Men of the Mountain are taking chances and are going out to a few restaurants; however, this scribe is not one of them nor are many others. As ancient as we may be, many of the OMOTM are learning to be “virtual.” This is really no fun because there is nothing like person to person, eyeball to eyeball, heinie to heinie, or any other of those people-connecting terms.

One thing about virtual ability is, if the conversation becomes a little testy and one of the ones in the virtual group says something the others don’t agree with, the OF that uttered the offensive or wrong words can’t be slugged, whereas in a real group situation the OF might have to defend himself.

This has never happened in the OMOTM for two reasons. The OFs are too old to get their arms up to slug somebody, plus most of them can’t hear anyway and sometimes disparaging remarks go right over their heads or they just hear them wrong.

We all say age is just a number and that may be so, but our bodies react differently. In many discussions, the OFs say they can’t do this or that anymore and they still try, but a few things get in the way. Arthritis is one of these things, and depth perception is another (few people realize how important this depth perception is). One can hurt like crazy (the arthritis), and the other is painless and creeps in without the OFs knowing it.


When everyday life is too much like work

Another item is, for some reason, the OFs become tired easier and earlier. Of course the other ailments let the OFs know they are around, and sometimes the OFs fail to acknowledge their existence, but the body doesn’t.

In conversations with the OGs, the indication that some of the above is taking hold, and in some cases not slowing the OFs down, but it is just the words used. For instance, one OF complained about how long it takes him to get showered and dressed.

According to this OF, he thought it was just part of the daily routine. The OF would do both, go down have breakfast and go about his business. Recently he noticed that the shower took more time and, when he got out, it was like he had just finished some work.

Then, the OF continued, he rested a bit before he got dressed, and it was just until recently he was able to do that without much complaining. Then, suddenly, getting dressed was a form of work, and he just recently realized that also.

To add to this (and again it was a recent add to the morning routine), he sat down to put on his socks. His question was: When did all this happen? He feels just the same, and he does pretty much the same thing but now this bit of everyday life is getting to be too much like work.

Some of the OFs agreed with this guy and a few of those admitted having the same thing begin to happen to them. An OF said he was checking the clock just the other day because he thought he was having breakfast later, and the OF found that he was a whole half-hour later.  

One OF added to the conversation: “Just wait until one day you begin to notice the ache in your hands doesn’t go away. What you thought was because you bumped your hand is not what is hurting,” the OF said. “It is the beginning of arthritis. Welcome to getting old.”

This was the term the other OFs did not want to accept. They insisted they would continue to do what they were doing. The OFs agreed this was the thing to do, and so most of them try to keep on keeping on.


The thick of things 

As this scribe keeps reporting on the OFs activities, the OGs for the most part, are still in the thick of things. A few have had to slow down because the ailments and doctor appointments get in the way. One OF said, if you looked at his calendar, it looks like the OF is a pretty busy guy, but most of the dates are doctors’ appointments, or physical-therapy appointments, mixed in with a few birthdays and social events, and church work. 

Today, this scribe wonders what the calendar would look like minus the social events and church work. This scribe knows it is becoming rather boring hunkering down and not seeing all the OMOTM, the table laughter, and the discussions. The scribe keeps mentioning the hobbies of the OMOTM, but as with this scribe, the human connection is very important; soon the hobbies become more like work and not as much fun.


Flying high

We have one OF who really knows about social distancing and he is keeping the other OFs that are joined on Facebook with him interested in what will be his next local aerial presentation. As long as the weather is good, this OF takes his plane, flies over the area, and on Facebook posts his latest shot.

If the OFs who get his pictures and then save them to photos and then enlarge them, it’s fun to see what the OF is able to pick out. Like we mentioned above, some hobbies do keep us occupied.


OFs’ texting decoded

And another thing. We hear that some senior citizens have taken to texting with gusto. Texting keeps them in touch with their friends and even their grandchildren. These OFs have their own vocabulary:

— BFF: Best Friend Fainted;

— BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth;

— CBM: Covered by Medicare;

— FWB: Friend with Beta-blockers;

— LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out; and

— GGPBL: Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low!

The OMOTM will continue with some of what the OGs did 30 or 40 years ago — maybe even longer. When the group was just beginning (before the OMOTM ever dreamed they would be a larger group of old guys) we, at that time, did not consider the group as old. The assemblage would all fit in one car and we took turns being the chauffeur.

No one minded the others driving until we had an OF join the group that everyone knew. He was a nice enough OG even though he was a hay dealer, as well as a farmer. Farmers were really OK guys until they had the distinction of being a hay dealer added to their résumés. The hay dealer bought and sold hay from farmer to farmer.

Herbie Wolford sold his own excess hay. That was a big difference. This particular OMOTM, who is being remembered here (name withheld) purchased hay from other farmers and re-sold it to still other farmers. A lot of this OF’s business was in Canada; the OG did cart it all over the place.

Most of the time he hauled it himself, so he was gone a lot from the farm. This may be one of the reasons his wife ran off with the hired hand. That is another story.

One would think the thousands of miles he put behind the wheel of a hay truck would make him a good driver, and he did have to know what he was doing because, as far as the OMOTM know, this OF never had an accident, or a citation. Nevertheless his driving with the OFs was atrocious.

When it was his turn to drive, everyone one shuddered; some did not want to go if they had to ride with him. No one wanted to sit up front. It was not speed that was a factor; it was the fact that he considered both sides of the road to be his. The solid yellow line meant nothing; neither did stop signs, sharp turns, or slow-moving tractors.

One day, it was this OF’s turn to drive and the restaurant that particular Tuesday happened to be the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. At that time, a young couple was just getting the restaurant started and the OMOTM wanted to help. That the young lady getting it going was sociable and pretty didn’t hurt.

The OFs were in no hurry to leave Herbie’s residence and the last one out had to sit up front. The route the OFs took to Rensselaerville was (anyone familiar with the Hilltowns will be able to follow this, the others will have to use their imaginations) Pleasant Valley Road to Rock Road, Rock Road to Switzkill Road (County Route 1).

From Rock Road to County Route 1 there is a little connector road about 1,000 feet and it crosses Helderberg Trail, State Route 443, by the cemetery on the hill outside of Berne. Going toward Rensselaerville there is a blind curve coming from Gallupville that goes around the cemetery. This intersection crosses Route 443 at this point.

The driver that morning for the OMOTM took that route and approached this intersection on the connector road at full speed. He did not slow down or stop or even look right or left, but zipped right through the intersection crossing Route 443 like it wasn’t even there.

One could hear a pin drop in that car for the next five miles. The first words spoken came from Herbie in the back seat. “Anybody got dry pants?” he asked.

The final incident that had the OFs request that this OF save the gas, plus wear and tear of his vehicle and asked not to drive any more was on Old Stage Road just outside of Altamont on top of the hill. Again, anyone that knows the road knows that there is a section that is very steep, and winds up as part of the escarpment that is Thacher Park.

The OF who is being talked about was the driver for the day and he was dropping off riders as they headed back to Herbie’s home after breakfast. The OF was headed up Old Stage Road when he quickly approached a pickup truck that was overloaded with plywood as it was making its way up into the first turn.

Per usual, this OG approached the truck at full bore when all the sheets of plywood started sliding off the back of the truck (the load was not tied down in any fashion) onto the road right in front of the OFs who were holding on for dear life.

This driver whipped right around the mess and truck with no regard to any traffic coming down the hill and proceeded up the hill on the wrong side of the road. This time there were comments!

The riders wanted to know if he wasn’t going to stop so the OFs could help out by putting the plywood back on the truck and clearing the road, or at least stop traffic coming down the hill or going up, because after the driver losing the plywood realized it was no longer on the back of the truck he was quite a ways up the hill.

The OF’s driver’s comment was “H--- no; if he is stupid enough not to tie that kind of load down, let him pick it up himself,” and he kept right on going.

That was the last straw. The OMOTM gathered enough courage to suggest to him that he did not have to drive anymore.

This driver has long since passed away, but those who witnessed these shenanigans have long remembered these early OMOTM days and it gives us something else to talk about.

The scribe, from past experience, can pass on to you these words of reality. Enjoy yourself. These are the good old days you’re going to miss in the years ahead.

— Photo from John R. Williams

Herbie Wolford, right, shares a smile with John Williams.

The Old Men of the Mountain are going back in time with stories from their youth. Some will include one of the OMOTM’s founding members. Unfortunately, the founding member has passed away but we can use his name, and his name is necessary for these stories.

Herbie Wolford was a man that enjoyed life and was not easily rattled. Herbie would go to the — at that time — “landfill” which was really the “dump” and recycling was not even thought of yet, so everything went.

This was all to the chagrin of Barbara (Herbie’s wife) because quite often Herbie brought more home from this “dump” than what he brought there to dispose of. He justified this by remarking, “All of these things could be used some day.” Since Herbie passed, it seems that much of what was brought home to be used someday, well, the someday still isn’t here.

Herbie had many belts hanging in his milk house; some were new, and some not so new. Herbie’s philosophy was someday he would become a certain size and then they all would fit. This was odd thinking because the young OFs at that time who knew Herbie never saw him wear a belt. He always held his pants up with a piece of rope.

One day, following this same philosophy, Herbie brought home one brand new shoe, and Barbara said Herbie told her that it fit perfectly and one day there might be another shoe for the other foot left at the dump.

Herbie not only had a good-sized productive farm but he also cut and sold hay, especially for the horse farms downstate. He trucked this hay down on a K9 International. In the farm next to Herbie’s, just past Line Road in Schoharie County, lived three young boys. (One of these “boys” is now a member of the OMOTM). At this time the now-OMOTM member was about 15 years old, he was helping Herbie load the K9 in the field with baled hay ready to head downstate.

The load was not tied down and Herbie told the now-member of the OMOTM and another lad that they would tie it down when they loaded up on Line Road. He also told the neighbor lad to take the truck out of the field and out on the road.

Even at age 15, the neighbor kid sort of questioned this maneuver because the field road to get the truck out had quite a tip to it as it approached Line Road, but Herbie insisted so the neighbor kid went to the truck and headed out of the field.

When the lad started up this field road the truck started to tip, and slowly, slowly, the truck tipped over on its side spilling the whole hay load back onto the field. When the neighbor kid crawled out of the rider’s side door, Herbie and the other hired hand were laughing their heads off.

As was reported earlier, nothing much bothered Herbie, even after it took tons of work to get the truck back on its wheels, load the hay onto wagons, and haul them to the truck and reload it while it now sat on the road. According to the 15-year-old, this is the way it should have been done in the first place. All this didn’t bother Herbie in the least.

Quite often Herbie would have the neighbor kid ride with him while he took the hay downstate. As qualified sources reported, the kid did not ride, he drove while Herbie slept. The neighbor kid did not have a license — he wasn’t even old enough to apply for one.

One day, Herbie and others were working on a barn he was building. They were working on the rafters when Herbie accidentally drove a nail through his shoe, just nicking his toe. Herbie slid his foot out of the shoe, and drove a couple more nails through the shoe nailing it into the rafter.

He finished the rest of the day with a shoe on one foot and a sock on the other. Herbie told those working with him that he guessed he would have to go to the dump and find another shoe.

Those are just a few of the stories gleaned from one of the three founding members of the Old Men of the Mountain and, as far as the OMOTM know, that shoe is still part of the barn.

In these stressful times, it helps us to have had friends and remember the good times. Friends are like bras — close to your heart and there for support.

Sometimes the heading “The Old Men of the Mountain” is a misnomer because some of the OMOTM are not that old, by the group’s standards anyway. In this case, one of the OMOTM reported that he and a few of his friends (who still play with their bikes) went on an 800-mile motorcycle trip to Alexandria Bay on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. They were gone about three days and had a nice ride because, as the OMOTM reported, the weather was great.

This shows it is still possible to have fun and take great trips without leaving the state so having to quarantine is not necessary. The OMOTM reported they also visited the Eisenhower Lock, and visited about a dozen American Legions in the area but found only a few open.

A person has to be younger than this scribe to pull a trip like this. A three-day trip like this would take the scribe a three-month recovery session to get over it. It did sound like fun for those who can, and should, take a trip like this.

Another OF in a conversation mentioned that he was going to schedule time to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower and he did. The OF said he went out three times during the night to view the heavens in search of the meteors. The OF reported that he spotted only three; he did not mention if all three came at one time or it was one each time he went out. One hundred an hour must have been someplace else — not where the OF was.

One thing that the OF did notice was the absence of bugs. We (the OF and this scribe) started talking about the absence of bugs, and the few birds we have seen. Both the OF and this scribe said even wasps, mosquitoes, millers, and the like are not around as much; there are a few but not like they should be, and neither are the birds that feed on them.

The OF and the scribe discussed the absence of these birds; neither of us can remember seeing a cedar waxwing in a couple of years. They may be around but the OFs haven’t seen them or the swallows this year. In the evening, these birds would be darting all over the backyard but haven’t been around last year or this year as far as we can tell.

The swallows used to take over the bluebird houses; now they are empty for us. The other things on the wane are the small undomesticated animals; they seem to be disappearing also. The OF brought up how he has not seen a snake in a long time either.

One OF added to this conversation that we should just watch what might happen next year. We are probably going to be overrun with insects, bugs, wasps and little critters so much so they are going to be a pain in the — neck.


Some OFs meet

A few of the OMOTM are meeting at some of the local restaurants but this scribe is not one of them. The scribe’s wife is 85, and the scribe is 87 with a few stents in the heart and both of us are on meds. Still, both of us are very careful, and if we do go out it is well planned and not very often.

What we will need to help the column is to have one of the group, who meets with some of the determined others who are very fearless, email the scribe with who was there, and where, along with what they discussed.

There are some topics that have been done to death in the column i.e., old cars, trucks, tractors, doctor visits, and the virus. If anyone can come up with interesting topics other than those, like who was just let out of jail, or who took the challenge of skydiving, or who has the virus (that is different than the coronavirus in general) or who ran away with the woman next door, that all would be neat for the column.

So for now, this small bit will have to do. 



Here are some signs you’re getting older:

— All of your favorite movies are now revised in color;

— The car that you bought brand new becomes an antique;

— Conversations with people your own age often turn into “dueling ailments”;

— Frequently you find yourself telling people what a loaf of bread used to cost;

— “Getting lucky” means you find your car in the parking lot;

— The gray-haired person you help across the street is your spouse;

— It takes a couple of tries to get over a speed bump;

— Lawn care has become a big highlight of your life;

— One of the throw pillows on your bed is a hot water bottle; and

— A sexy babe catches your fancy and your pacemaker opens — the garage door.


1934 military fire truck

— Photo from John R. Williams

Karl Remmers restores tractors, and rescued a 1934 military fire truck.

The weeks seem to fly by; it is time for another column, and soon it will be time for another one, etc. etc. As we all grow older day by day it is nice to have a project that keeps us busy; the old men have many of those.

The scribe has reported on these over the years. One project that is rather constant is the restoration of old things, as in the case of the bridge builders, removing, repairing, reinstalling and even starting from scratch with their bridges so hikers can safely enjoy the paths that wander through the Hilltowns.

There is a group of OMOTMs that restores and preserves old equipment — stationary or mobile. These types of projects require movement (body), study (mind), and execution (satisfaction of a completed job).

Put all these together and with the OMOTM it makes age, and attitude, just a number. To show what these OMOTM have accomplished through their own work, or work to be done, and even purchases that have to be maintained, here are just a few of them.

Some projects that the OMOTM start now take much longer than when the interest was first initiated.

Usually this scribe does not name names in the column to protect the innocent, and in our case it may also be the guilty. For this, the scribe will name names but only in this one category. The OMOTM also have many more in the group that have interests and talents which require clear heads: musicians, pilots, artists, gardeners, etc.

The OMOTM have Pete Whitbeck and his cars, one a running Model T; Bill Lichliter and his restoring old military vehicles; Karl Remmers restoring tractors, and rescuing a 1934 military fire truck, and maintaining it; Roger Chapman and his tractors plus a 1933 Hudson to be restored. The OFs live what they talk.

Now that many of the OFs are enjoying the extra time at home, things are getting done around the house. One OF said he did two things. One was eventually learning how to use and then using a smoker he purchased quite a while ago. The OF said he bought it because he thought it was the thing to do — everyone else was buying them.

In this time while at home, and not running all over the place, he has learned how to use this specific piece of BBQ grill, and now uses it all the time. The OF has made special trips into his woodlot to cut hickory sticks to use in it and the OF said that food from this cooker is real gooood.

Another thing that is getting done is yard work, and exterior and interior painting of the ole château. This should help the paint, and paint-accruement manufacturers, but can lead to some surprises.

For example, one OF who was pulling weeds in plantings around the house had a huge surprise. After pulling the weeds, the OF said he had a pile of them and so carried them out to his compost pile. Just as he was ready to throw them on the pile, he saw the biggest snake he has ever seen in his compost.

The OF said the snake had to be three inches through and at first he could not see the head, so he carefully cleared away some of the compost and saw that it was a round head with round eyes and round pupils (if anyone cares to get close enough to check this out), which generally means it is harmless.

The vipers generally have an arrow-shaped head with flat eyes, which can have slits in them. (Again, if anyone wants to go eyeball to eyeball and check it out, go ahead. Lesson for today).

The snake must have been logy or full because it did not scurry away. It stayed still in the compost long enough for the OF to take a picture of it and send it to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

The OF said they returned with information on the snake. It is quite uncommon in our area; however, it is a northern water snake, and the water snakes are one of the most common snakes in the lower 48 states and are very beneficial and harmless.


Exercise for seniors

The scribe, after perusing the net for more activities for the home-bound, found the following helpful advice on exercise for seniors:

— Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side;

— With a five-pound potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them as long as you can, then relax;

— Each day, you’ll find you can hold this position longer. Try to reach a full minute’

— After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-pound potato bags and then 50-pound potato bags. Eventually you will be able to lift 100-pound potato bags and hold your arms straight for a full minute. (I’m at this level now);

— After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each bag.

This scribe has contacted a few of the Old Men of the Mountain and one Old Man of the Mountain who is not a member of the gathering, but really is an old man of two mountains because he owns the top of one mountain in Richmondville. Anyway, the main topic in discussions is the pandemic situation. So here we go again.

One of the OFs thought that the virus was brought here by aliens from another planet, just like explorers years ago from another continent brought smallpox to the Indians. This OF thought it wasn’t aliens that brought the virus but the supposed virus is the aliens themselves.

He feels that their spaceship landed somewhere in the east and the aliens were brought by this landing and that is why we are having so much trouble with the virus and it spread worldwide so fast, because it has a brain and a plan.

So this scribe thinks the OF is only half right. The scribe thinks the virus is the alien. The alien is traveling the universe, looking for a planet it can inhabit and take over. The main plan is first to eliminate as many of the inhabitants of the planet as they can in the shortest period of time. Then they will have free run of the rest and can take care of them in their own time.

Once this is done, they will have control of the planet and it will be their home. With the planet Earth, the aliens ran into a serious problem that they had not planned on. The problem is called oxygen. The aliens can’t handle oxygen.

So, as the president says, we are in a real world war, and our weapons are simple masks, and social distancing. Social distancing is a cube or a box the alien can attack from front, back, sides, top or bottom so we must be prepared from any direction.

As the alien reaches out to grab another victim, and there is too much space between the launch point and the victim, the alien will take in too much oxygen so the alien weakens and can’t reach the victim and dies.

The aliens have found they have another problem with people on the planet Earth. For the most part, earthly people wear clothing and the alien has a problem working its way through the clothing to attack a bodily fluid, and the alien also found that the bodily fluids are also protected by an outer layer of skin and this skin is waterproof and can be cleaned easily.

However, there are voids in the skin where bodily fluids are exposed and, if they can get to those areas of the body, there is a chance it can eliminate that one body of the earthly species. However, this planet has an unusual liquid that is made up partly of oxygen, and when combined with soap, the oxygen and soap does the alien in.

So the battle rages on with the alien trying to take over, and the populace fighting back with PPE’s, soap and water, and spacing themselves apart and surrounding themselves with a space of oxygen. If there is enough space (six feet) the alien won’t make it across.

The aliens are finding out this earth is not as easy a target as they thought, but they keep fighting on because their ship was found and destroyed so there is no retreat, and no escape. It is a fight till the end.

We are at war, my friends, and the enemy has attacked the old people first because they are the ones with the smarts. Take that, William Shatner.


Missing breakfasts

Also, in talking with the few OFs (we have discussed this before), we find the OFs really miss the breakfasts; on top of that, the OFs are old and they miss their routine. What they also miss is telling all the other OFs what their plans are for the week and what they are going to do.

The thing is, all the other OFs know most of this is wishful thinking because each one does the same thing and what really happens is maybe 20 percent of what the OFs tell each other they are going to get done, gets done. The rest is nap time!

A part of each conversation also is a deep and heartfelt concern for those out of work, and small businesses that have no business and are struggling. All the OFs desire a quick solution to the pandemic so things can return to some kind of normal, even if it isn’t the old normal.

And now, a final word from the internet. It seems this scribe recently got a senior’s GPS. Not only does it tell me how to get to my destination; it tells me why I wanted to go there.


Many of the Old Men of the Mountain are hanging around the house and going out only as necessary. Groceries and doctors seem to be the major outings, and the grocery bit gets some help at times.

Even the doctors’ appointments (depending on the problem) can be done by phone, and with Zoom becoming so popular maybe soon it will be almost like being in the examining room. Still, for the OFs, they claim there is nothing like being there, and there have been times that the OFs have reported the doctor has found something that the appointment was not for.

One OF described that, at one of his doctor visits, the doctor was listening to his heart from the back and, when he pulled his shirt back down, the doctor said there was something on his back that should be looked at right away. The doctor then made an appointment for the OF from the office with a dermatologist.

The OF kept that appointment and found it was skin cancer caught in the nick of time. The dermatologist also found another blemish that was cancerous, plus two pre-cancer spots on the top of the OF’s bald head, which the doctor said, when he first looked at him, “Before we even start, we better take care of those right away,” and he did. This could not be done over the phone.

Another OF chimed in on this conversation with what happened to him. This OF said he went to his dentist with an awful toothache, or so he thought. When the dentist came in and looked in his mouth, the OF said the dentist told him, “You don’t need me, you are in the wrong place; you have a sinus problem, go see your regular doctor.”

“This is another example,” the first OF commented, “On how can this be done over the phone?”

“Of course,” the other OF retorted, “how can a dentist do anything over the phone? He would require one heck of a long set of arms and hose on that drill.”


A virus question

In a recent phone conversation with an OMOTM, this OF asked this scribe a question that the scribe had no answer to, and he wondered himself what the answer would be. This particular OF has his groceries delivered and the OF was wondering if this scribe knew how long the virus lives on the packing and bags the groceries are in.

If he left then in the breezeway for four or five hours before going out to get them, is the virus still active? This scribe has no clue; never even thought of it. In this heat, the perishables would have perished by then.

This scribe knows he has seen a chart somewhere that told how long the virus is active on different surfaces but now can’t remember where he saw it. The scribe should have immediately cut it out and added it to the collection on the refrigerator door. The wife said I should have told the OF to Google it.



This scribe bumped into an OF filling up gas cans at Stewart’s, while the scribe was filling up his van and both did the same thing. The scribe thought this was very unusual. The OF and the scribe both sprayed the octane buttons and the nozzle with Lysol before touching them to indicate gas octane, credit card numbers etc. That was something.


Travel scuttled

This pandemic/virus — whatever you want to call it — has changed so many plans. Two OMOTM mentioned over the phone that generally during the summer they take off for summer vacations — one to the beach, and the other to Lake Michigan. Neither one is going anyplace because right now New York is one of the safest states.

“But you can go to Maine,” the scribe offered. The OF said they go to relatives in Texas. OOOPS.


Role reversal

The pandemic and subsequent quarantine have also brought to attention the one thing that parents usually dread. Our adult children are becoming our parents.

The wife of this scribe h as been taken to her doctor appointments by a daughter and she introduces this daughter as her “mother.” Another friend calls her daughter “The Warden.” Still another friend tells us that her daughter likes to tell her when and where she should go and even if she should go out.

The OFs have noticed this kid-bit going on even before the current virus situation took hold. How often the OFs remember telling their kids when they were teenagers what they were going to do, and where they could and couldn’t go.

Now these kids are doing the same to us. One OF mentioned that he can’t ever remember telling his parents what they could and couldn’t do. Then, one other OF said, “That is because your parents couldn’t do much (physically) and you did it for them.”

Life without sports! Not much on TV. This scribe would like to report a young lady sitting on his couch yesterday. Apparently she’s my wife. She seems nice.

Where to begin? As of late, there are a few of the OMOTM who are getting together at some of the restaurants. However, three or four are at one restaurant on one day, and a couple of OFs are at another restaurant on a different day.

One group sent this scribe an email on what they discussed; this message contained only one or two words. Their discussion was about motorcycles and (gasp) politics, and, it almost goes without saying — COVID-19.

Apparently, the sergeant at arms was not with this group, because to keep the assemblage from falling apart, religion and politics are usually left out. These two topics ruin any group.

In phone conversations with some other OFs, we hope those who are getting out take care of themselves with all the protocols in place; it was mentioned before: At our ages we don’t want to encounter this virus. We feel that six feet apart today is better than six feet under tomorrow.

There is now a prime example of how potent this disease is with the Fourth of July gathering in Albany, and all the havoc that has caused. Now we add to that the Florida Marlins baseball team. Thirteen or so out of 50 or so people is a startling number to test positive.

This scribe has forwarded a list of OFs attending breakfasts to those he knows who are venturing out here and there. If they all get together, it should be about seven guys keeping the home fires burning.

Mourning Mace

The Old Men of the Mountain has received some sad information. A long-standing member, Mace Porter, age 91, passed away in his sleep on July 28, 2020. Mace was a very kind man, active, and a good talker right up to the end. Mace will be missed by many.

Back to school

Digging up old conversations of the OFs at this point in time does not seem to be the thing to do. We are all hoping for a pill or vaccine to come along that will take care of this virus sooner rather than later.

A few of the conversations this scribe has had with other OMOTM was about the school problem coming up.

One OF put it rather succinctly, “When school is in session, every cough, sneeze, flu, pink-eye, or head lice, will come home with certain children. What makes anyone think COVID-19 will be any different?”

Then the question becomes, “How do you think everyone can stay home and teach their kids?”

Can’t be done. The OFs who have kids that have kids (OK, grandkids) are facing this problem, and this problem tain’t only here Magee. One OF suggested they (some OFs) are willing to try and help out by assisting in the teaching, only the OF said he has to be taught how to do it first.

Here is a good place for seniors and those retired to step up and help out.

Not like war

To those who are complaining about the quarantine period and curfews, just remember that your grandparents were called to war; you are being called to sit on the couch and watch Netflix.

You can do this!



This scribe is beginning to run out of stories from days gone by. The virus is hanging in there longer than the scribe thought it would. The scribe had hoped it would have been under control by now.

The scribe assumed (and all that does it make an ass out of u and me) that a variation of one of the vaccines already in use on a particular flu could be altered to combat this COVID-19. I guess that is not the case right now, but how about some people we occasionally hear about who are small potatoes and just like Preston Tucker (with his automobile that was way ahead of its time) the big guys won’t let them in because of the (you guessed it) money.

The OFs think there might be more than one “Tucker” in the wings.

As things begin to open up, with each phase giving more places the chance to open, restaurants and other businesses are also beginning to open to customers — with restrictions. It may be soon and the OMOTM will be able to get out and enjoy each other’s company and listen to events and adventures the OFs have had in the past few months.

Some of the OFs are still playing it safe. They are being careful where they go, to what places, and for what items. Willy-nilly travel is out.

Some are still waiting for the virus to be wiped out, or at least a pill to cover you if you get it, or maybe a workable vaccine to keep the OF from ever getting it.

A few OMOTM do not want to play games with their ages, and medical pre-conditions, like pacemakers, bypasses, stints, diabetes, thyroid problems, and other similar problems, plus some of the OFs just plain hurt. The only ones that hear them complain are the wives.

One OF mentioned about spacing when out and about, and wearing masks and asked how long does the scribe think this will go on. This scribe doesn’t know but he thinks quite awhile.

The two OFs discussed how people look with the masks and all we have to go by are the eyes. People behind the mask could have a serious overbite but now no one knows.

This could be a good thing. We get to know their eyes and their personalities and not so much their appearance. Some people are pretty clever on how they decorate their masks.

Sometimes the OFs find themselves out in the rain, a good hard rain, and the mask gets soaked. No one told the OFs these things are not waterproof.

Another thing the OFs have mentioned to the scribe is, “If the OFs start again and we are tables of four and spread out, how do we eat with a mask on? All the OFs will have their masks off. Is this acceptable?”

The scribe tells the OFs he does not know of any mask with a flap that the wearer is able to lift up and slide food into the wearer’s mouth. Now what if it is spaghetti? What a mess that would be, and then the wearer might possibly have to go out in the rain. One saving grace is that the OFs hardly ever order spaghetti for breakfast.

What about hot coffee? Now that would be a trick. We need one hand to lift the flap and the other hand to hold the cup of hot coffee.

“Boy,” the OF said, “better not slip up on that one!”


The OFs have a rule — discuss no politics, but on occasion that rule slips. It is not politics that is discussed; it is politicians.

The OFs harken back to the days when politicians were after funding to build the Thruway (late forties early fifties) and to obtain the funding we were told this Thruway was going to be run by an authority and no state funds were to be used. All debt was to be paid by tolls and fees, and at that time we were told this road would be toll-free by at least 1996.

We all know how that worked out, and what fibbers the politicians were, and now the situation is getting worse according to many of the OFs.

One OF said he has recently driven the Thruway and it is beginning to look rather worn and old. It is rough; the signs look faded by the weather; and, where he traveled, much of it wasn’t mowed. Some sections were mowed so maybe others will be taken care of soon.

The OF wondered where the tolls were going. One OF said, when he was working in Syracuse it was faster to use Route 20 home to Albany than use the Thruway.

Another OF asked what about all the small-town speed limits, and the OF answered, even with all the small towns, Route 20 was faster.

“The only thing for me,” the OF said, “were the rest areas on the Thruway because I did not really like stopping in a diner just to use the restroom without getting a cup of coffee or something.”

The scribe offered, “There is always McDonalds; they have considerately placed an outside door by the restrooms so you don’t have to use the dining area.”

This scribe is at the bottom of the notes that were taken last week from a few of the OGs.

The wife just commented, “I’m at the ‘what can I make with green beans and cake mix’ stage of needing groceries. Once again it’s time to don the masks and practice social distancing at the market.

— From John R. Williams

Ivan Baker, sketched by John R. Williams 18 years ago, founded the Old Men of the Mountain along with Herbie Wolford and Joe Farcas. Mike Willsey and Williams came shortly thereafter.

It has been asked: Who are the OMOTM? Well, they started out many, many years ago with just three guys.

They would meet at one of the OF’s homes until the wife would finally kick them out; they would then go to a restaurant and order something akin to a brunch because the wife would only let them hang around in the morning until about 9 a.m.

Also, one of the founding OF’s favorite saying was that 9 a.m. was a good time to hit the eating establishments because the morning crowd was gone and the afternoon crowd wasn’t there.

It wasn’t long before they asked the brother-in-law of one of the three, and a neighbor of the same OF if they wanted to join them and the OMOTM was underway.

For many years, the group was basically high school buddies from the three rival schools of Berne-Knox-Westerlo, Schoharie, and Middleburgh. The original group had one OF whose wife would send little reports to The Enterprise of where the OFs went to breakfast and a bit about what happened that week.

Then one year, the OF whose wife wrote the piece took a very long trip and asked this scribe if he would continue with the report. So the report continued, and continues. 

The title for the group came originally from those in the group who all lived on the Hill and for the most part were farmers. Occasionally there have been photographs of the group in The Enterprise, and at times photographs of their activities.

As the OMOTM progressed, some friends of the OFs retired; they were then asked if they wanted to join us for breakfast on Tuesday mornings. So the group grew and even included people from the valley, and now includes some flatlanders.

This scribe, in preparing this piece on how the OMOTM began, looked at the current roster and found about 40 names; in the summer months, we can generally expect 30 to 35 at breakfast. In the winter, there are about 20 to 25 people who regularly join us.

Last year, there were a few occasions where the attendance in the winter was over 25. A sad piece of information the scribe found out by looking at the roster — there are almost, or maybe even more, OFs dead than are on the current roster. We’re talking 30-plus years here.

At the end of each report, this scribe would make a small observation about the OFs and include the names of the OMOTM that made it that Tuesday to the breakfast. There were many reasons for this.

One reason was to supply alibis to the whereabouts of any particular OF who was in trouble with the law. Another reason was to assure that the wife who would be asking questions of a particular OF that he was where he said he was.

The column is also a week late and that is to prevent process servers from contacting OFs; that could be embarrassing. The OMOTM have no rules or plans to make rules; however, there are two unwritten rules. The conversations cannot contain any discussions on politics or religions. Those two topics cause the demise of many organizations.

The COVID-19 virus has caused quite a disruption in the OMOTM rotating among the restaurants and distributing a few bucks here and there. All the OFs’ eating destinations have been closed, but this scribe saw it as a good time to use some of his notes that did not make the first round. The virus has lasted longer than expected and in some states it looks like it is in for another round.

Now this scribe has to rely on old notes and phone calls. In Schoharie, some of the restaurants are open with restrictions. Some of the OFs are showing up for breakfast but many are not

 At 87 years old and with a few underlying conditions, this scribe is one who is sticking pretty close to home and traveling only when necessary. This scribe is waiting for a provable and workable vaccine, or a pill that will handle the virus effectively regardless of age.

This scribe (like many of the other OFs) feels pretty good, and would like to become an older OF. This scribe has the drawing board and easel to keep him busy —  oh, and a wife who has a lot of ideas of her own.