September — and there is a touch of color on the trees, at least in the area the Old Men of the Mountain trod.

On Tuesday, Sept. 18, the Old Men of the Mountain trod in the fog and the rain to the Your Way Café in Schoharie. The number of OFs has dropped some because the snowbirds have already chickened out and headed to their winter haunts. One is still hanging out with us but eventually he, too, will head out.

The OFs commented how green it is this late in the year. One OF, though, mentioned that the bright green and all the yellow of the goldenrod looks like where John Deere took the idea to paint its tractors.

Another OF said it is the Year of the Goldenrod, and the bees should be happy.

Many of the OFs have friends and relatives living in the Carolinas, and the area of the country where Hurricane Florence visited. These OFs have been texting, emailing, and calling to see how they were doing. Fortunately, all received good reports concerning the ones being followed up on.

The OFs recalled Irene, the hurricane of 2011, which hit Schoharie very hard, and how by looking at all the pictures on television (even as bad as it was for our area) most of the pictures of Florence made our storm look like a shower by comparison.

One question was brought up: How are the government and the insurance companies able to keep up with all these recent disasters?

The fires out west and the floods in the South and East have consumed lots of real estate and upset thousand upon thousands of people. These are certainly sad events.

Farming: Past, present, future

There was more conversation on farming (when the OFs were farming) and how it is being impacted now. The OFs only have information now of farmer friends and relatives that are still in the business, along with what they read in the newspapers.

One OF said, “Forget the news on TV.  It is so short on many topics and says nothing that is informative.”

The conversation jumped from farming to political ads on TV and how most of the OFs mute them; one even shuts off the TV, and then turns it back on. A couple of OFs said they basically are done with TV until November. Then it went back to farming.

To go along with how this report has mentioned the demise of many small or medium farms in the past, one add-on is that, in the recent past, the air waves were bombarding us with how bad dairy products and red meat are for you and you shouldn’t be eating this produce.

One OF brought up the fact that many people are going organic so they won’t eat products that have been raised by fertilizers with a load of chemicals added to kill weeds, to add size, and to increase yield. This may be the right path.

Another OF mentioned that, when we were raised, these chemicals were not around. Our fertilizer was good old-fashioned manure, i.e., horse, cow, pig, chicken, and natural compost. The OFs drank milk from the cow or goat; made their own cream and ice cream; and ate red meat, many times from cows raised just for that purpose. No chemicals here.

As the world population grows, it is going to be tough to feed all these people without the use of some of the chemicals to increase the yield of both produce and milk. Maybe as the population continues to expand and people consume more of these foods that have these growth hormones added, they will adjust and develop a tolerance for them.

In years to come, this could be the norm, and possibly people will be living healthier and more productive lives much longer. The OFs think we are living in one gigantic experiment.

Soaked

Most everyone in our area knows it rained hard last Monday night thanks to Hurricane Florence. The OFs with weather instruments were reporting from two to three inches of rain fell.

One OF returned home Monday with a van load of stuff he had to unload. Monday was a beautiful day so the OF came home with the windows down. It took some time to unload the van.

The OF said he went into the house after the van was unloaded. He left the van outside and was going to go out after supper and park the van in the barn. This did not happen.

The OF said he completely forgot about it. Then Tuesday morning, the OF said, he went to go out with the flashlight to get the van to pick up his passengers to go to the breakfast. The OF said when he saw that the van was still outside, he immediately remembered the windows were all down.

Front and back seats were soaked, water was in the door-closing wells, rugs were soaked, and he had passengers to pick up.

The OF said he put pillows on the seats. This did not work and the OF and passengers showed up with wet bottoms because the water soaked through the pillows.

A great way to start the day! Come to find out, the OF found that most all the other OFs have had the same experience at one time or another. Thank goodness for pals! That took some of the sting away from the embarrassment incurred by one OF being so stupid.

The OFs who made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie and who spent a lot of time discussing things of the past and the way they are today were: Pete Whitbeck, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Art Frament, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Roger Chapman, Duncan Bellinger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazio, Harold Grippen, and me.

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It was on a Tuesday 17 years ago that the Al-Qaeda faction of the Sunni sect of the Islamic religion, through suicide radicals, attacked the United States by hijacking planes and flying them into major buildings in our country.

The attack on the World Trade Center in New York was successful, the attack by Flight 77 into the Pentagon was also successful, but through the bravery of those on board Flight 93, the attack on Washington was not.

This Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, the Old Men of the Mountain met for breakfast at the Country Café in Schoharie and remembered a Tuesday 17 years ago and how it not only changed our country, but also the world.

Life goes on, as it should, but life is full of remembrances. That is what makes it life. Some remembrances are sad, but, thank goodness, most are mundane and happy ones. At the  breakfast, we took some time to reflect on the sad memories; however, most thoughts are the happy ones.

All around Cock Robin’s barn

Tuesday morning, the talk was on how to get around the closing of Route 157 through Thacher Park. The detour signs direct the uninitiated all around Cock Robin’s barn.

Traveling east from East Berne or west from New Salem on Route 157, there is Beaver Dam Road. (Be sure your brakes are in good working order when heading east.) However, if you are driving a big truck or camper or hauling a trailer, this is not the road for you.

One OF told of how he once met a big truck at the turn getting onto Route 157 from Beaver Dam Road at the bottom of the hill.  He had to get out of his car to help guide the truck around the turn. He also had to hold up traffic so the truck could enter Route 157. The truckers and campers better follow the detour signs.

Remember the old song that tells of the singer’s regrets for the choices made in life.

Detour, there’s a muddy road ahead,

Detour, paid no mind to what it said,

Detour, oh, these bitter things I find,

Should have read… that Detour sign.

Ill-gotten treasures

The OFs started telling tales on themselves. When young people are traveling in groups or just standing around, adults have a tendency to keep an eye on them — as they should.

However, according to the OFs, when the seniors (let’s say over age 65) are in groups and go traveling together hither and yon, it is a good idea to keep an eye on them also. Snitching something to keep as a free souvenir is not beneath them.

One OF said, “And I don’t care how many diamond rings they have on their fingers, they still think nothing of snitching a little something.”

Another OF said, “And it is the ladies. When they get back on the bus, they take the silverware, or fancy napkin, or fancy glass out of their pocketbooks and start giggling like schoolgirls over their ill-gotten treasures.”

You gotta watch those seniors.

The nose knows!

On the way to the Country Café, most OFs have to cross the bridge that travels over the Fox Creek. On Tuesday morning, just on the Schoharie side of the bridge, a skunk had been hit. This little altercation was recent because the smell brought tears to the eyes.

Some of the OFs commented by saying, “Did you get a whiff of that skunk by the bridge?” or “That was so strong, I thought I hit the thing.”

But there were a couple who never smelled it. One OF said he has lost his sense of taste and smell; another one said that he gets so full of allergies that he can’t smell much at all. This OF said that, when he starts out each day, he makes sure he has a pocket full of tissues.

Then there were a couple of the OGs who said they smell everything — pleasant or unpleasant. One OF thought we have glasses to help us see, hearing aids to help us hear, but nothing to help us taste or smell. The OFs wondered what a smell aid would look like.

Scottish Games

The OFs are — for the most part — an active lot. One of the OFs is heavily involved with the Scottish Games at the Altamont fairgrounds. It is his band that sponsors the games at the fairgrounds each year.

To pull off an event like the Scottish Games takes a lot of work by all members of the band. Being in a group like pipe bands, fife and drum corps, or drum and bugle corps take dedication from those who have joined them and also from their families.

The Scottish Games at Altamont, according to this OF, can have from 20 to 40 bands, and 40 to 50 vendors and sutlers at the event. (To clarify the term “sutler,” it is an old expression for a civilian merchant who sells provisions to an army).

To round up all these people is no easy task. For those who have not heard the massing of the bands playing altogether at the end of the day, you are missing a very stirring time.

One OF thinks that, with all the costumes, and the music, and the drilling, this is theater at its best. This OF suggests it is like the arts where there is no generation gap.

A talented 15 year-old can play alongside a seasoned veteran and be on a par, behave the same way, and talk the same language as one who is twice his or her age. Becoming involved in the arts and in music is something you can do until you meet the big band in the sky.

Playing football, you are limited to age 35 if you make it big, or until you are out of high school or college if you don’t (make it big). The OFs bit of philosophy for the day — learn to play the fiddle.

Those OFs who made it to the Country Café in Schoharie today and headed home without the shock of 17 years ago were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Roger Shafer, Pete Whitbeck, Art Frament, Marty Herzog, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Wayne Gaul, Rev. Jay Francis, Duncan Bellinger, Jim Rissacher, Warren Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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On Tuesday, Sept. 4, the Old Men of the Mountain gathered at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh.

The week before, the OFs talked about doing laundry. This scribe would like to put in his nickel’s (two cents has gone up) worth.

This is on why make up the bed. Just think of it, those who shower in the morning have slept in the bed with all their daily odors. When they get up, the bed is made up trapping all those odors under layers of blankets and, to be fashionable, a truckload of pillows and shams.

Again — why? What should be done?

— 1. Get rid of all those pillows. They serve no earthly purpose except maybe a little bit of exercise tossing them off the bed to go to bed;

— 2. The footboard on the bed should be at least 2 feet high;

— 3. When rising in the morning, all the covers should be neatly draped over the foot board to air out and also be ready for that night.

This method will not only let both the blankets and the bottom sheets air out, it will also save tons of time and money. By not covering up the sheets so they can air out, all those pillows will not be necessary.

This will upset many designers who use pillows to hide the fact that they can’t design in the first place. Penny’s, Macy’s, Kohl’s Boscov’s and others won’t be too happy either because the stores will have trouble unloading high-ticket, high-profit items that don’t do a thing except collect dust and hold odors.

The above suggestion is only for peons like the OMOTM, and most of our friends. The upper class has the maid change the sheets every day, and turn the blankets down at night.

People like this can have pillows piled to the ceiling. The pillows are probably moved to a gigantic closet when it is time for the owners to retire so they never see them. So speaketh the scribe who is an OMOTM you know.

Med meditation

The OFs cover this topic quite often and it is all on the subject of medications. Some OFs think that the medications to cover one problem cause other problems someplace else.

The OFs think that to be given another med to handle that is dumb. The OFs wonder if long-term meds like those for heart problems, such as blood thinners, cholesterol fighters, channel and beta blockers make the body become so used to those that eventually they are ineffective.

Many of the OFs are on heart meds and they also wonder if it is because of these meds they are still here. Some would like to get off these pills, but are a little leery. Some OFs claim they have no reaction if the OF misses a few pills, while others say, if they are even a couple of hours late, they know they have missed a pill.

One mentioned all the eye drops after cataract surgery. This OF said he has to do this along with taking a bouquet of pills. The OF said he is glad that he can do it. His aunt (who is deceased now) had dementia and people had to give her pills, and place the drops in her eyes.

Last week, the OMOTM column mentioned putting us in a spaceship and shooting it off into the sun. Living like his aunt had to live, the OF said, can’t be much fun.

One OF asked, “Do they even know what is going on?”

Then another said there is enough information out there with answers to these questions in them.

Then a third OF said, “I don’t like reading those pamphlets — they are too depressing.”

Travel guide

One of the OFs is a Warner of Warner Lake, but he was brought up around Winchester, Virginia. At the breakfast on Tuesday morning, he was extolling the virtues of Lake Anna in Virginia.

So this scribe decided to check it out as compared to Lake George and Lake Champlain. Lake Anna is the largest freshwater reservoir in Virginia, and has many navigable coves and inlets on either side of its entire length

It serves as water for a large nuclear plant on its east bank a little better than halfway down the lake. The lake itself is about 13,000 acres and, according to this OF, the land surrounding the lake is sparsely populated. Also, according to him, it is not expensive to stay there. The lake is about one hour from Richmond, and about 45 minutes from Fredericksburg.

In comparing that to our Lake George, Lake George is about 152, 000 acres and about an hour from Albany. Lake Champlain is huge. The New York part of the lake is 435 square miles. It is about one-third the size of Rhode Island and it takes about two hours or more to get there from here.

Lake Anna has Route 95 on the west side and Route 64 on the east side. It is not like Lake George where the interstate travels so close to the lake one can almost get wet.

An OF headed to Lake Anna would have to know how to get there because it is quite a way from either interstate. Now, if you are camper and a kayaker, or a boat enthusiast and want to get out of the state, the OFs recommend Lake Anna in Virginia.

It looks nice and sounds great, according to the OF who does go there often. So much for the travel guide of the OMOTM who never heard of Lake Anna and now want to go there; however, unlike Lake George or Lake Champlain, it takes about eight hours to get there.

Those OFs who don’t get around much anymore, and a few who do and were at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, and think Lake Anna is safe from any invasion by the OFs were: Mr. Harold Guest, Mr. Wally Guest, Captain Roger Chapman, Mr. Dave Williams, Mr. John Rossmann, Mr. George Washburn, Mr. Robie Osterman, Mr. Miner Stevens, Mr. Bill Bartholomew, Travel Guide Mr. Bill Lichliter, Mr. Pete Whitbeck, Mr. Otis Lawyer, Mr. Richard Frank, Mr. Mark Traver, Mr. Glen Patterson, Mr. Joe Rack, Mr. Jake Lederman, Mr. Roger Shafer, Mr. Lou Schenck, Mr. Mace Porter, Mr. Ted Feurer, Mr. Wayne Gaul, Mr. Duncan Bellinger, Mr. Gerry Chartier, Mr. Mike Willsey, Mr. Elwood Vanderbilt, Mr. Rich Vanderbilt, Mr. Harold Grippen, and me.

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On Tuesday, a couple days after the launch of the “Flying Eagle,” the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. It was going to be a hot day and as the OFs arrived many mentioned the morning drive had the look and feel that it was going to be a tad uncomfortable.

The early conversation was about the launch and the OFs who attended this occasion mentioned what a good time they had; the spread the host put on was the quintessence of elegance. Especially the chocolate-white cake. Some think that all OFs do is sit in rocking chairs.

Even on this — what is going to be a hot day — some of the OFs are getting together to help another OF remove some bushings from a shaft of a Model T the OF is restoring. Others also have places to go and things to do even if it is only another doctor’s appointment.

An OF said, and it has been said before, doctors are our social life. So just melting away in a chair with the eyes becoming watery watching TV is not really happening with many OFs.

One OF reported that he is going in to have a cancer removed from his left eyelid. That did not sound like fun to the rest of the OFs.

What steady hands some of these doctors must have to work in such sensitive areas and not think much about it. Having cancer in such a location points up the importance of wearing sunglasses, even at a young age.

Some OFs have had Mohs surgery to remove cancer on their ears. This scribe guesses that it is either large-brimmed hats or sunscreen care as ear muffs in the summer seems a little impractical.

House on a hill

Outside the window of the Middleburgh Diner is a view toward Fultonham along Route 30, but the OFs can’t see very far because there is quite a hill in the way across the flats. On top of this hill is a home.

One OF inquired, “How in the world to they get to this place?”

It must be a large place to stand out like it does on top of this hill with a great view. The local OFs got into a discussion on how to get to the road that goes up that mountain.

Then came another question: “How do the owners do it in the winter time?”

Are cars, and car tires better now than in the past when the OFs remember putting chains on the ole Model A to get around in the winter? Now the TV ads show cars charging through snow bumper deep with snow flying by the car like the wake of water from a boat hightailing across a lake.

Yeah, but notice those cars are in Colorado where the snow is so dry you can clean your car off with a foot of snow on it just by blowing it off. Do the same shot in the Northeast where a good soggy snow is tough to pick up with a snow shovel.

Laundry advice: Keep the kids close by

The OFs started talking a little bit about doing the laundry. One OF (a farmer OF) said one of the reasons farmers had so many kids is so they could help with the chores.

Now, as the OF and the wife are old, the kids pick up their laundry and bring it back. They don’t have to worry about laundry and the same thing happens with getting groceries.

A second OF said his kids have settled all over the country, and even out of the country, and he said the other OF was lucky to have his kids around. This second OF said he had to learn to do laundry himself.

He said he finally got the laundry to the point where it is not that bad to wash. His sheets are all white, his underwear is all white; his socks are just black or white; he wears mostly jeans, and jean-type shirts. The OF says he does have some decent clothes if he has some place important to go, but for the most part he has this laundry chore knocked.

An OF said his wife does the laundry and he has no clue how to go about doing it. Everything in the laundry room is in piles; this can’t go here because of the fabric — even though it is the same fabric color as that over there.

This can be washed in cold water, and that stack can be hot water, and that pile has to be warm water. The OF said the dials and buttons on the washer and dryer are like the controls on a 747. The OF said, if he had to do the laundry, everything would come out shrunk and pink.

One OF mentioned it is right about having kids around when we OFs get so we can’t drive, and become a little feeble and can’t get around without canes or walkers. Yep, when the kids were kids, we carried them on our hips for couple of years, then hauled them hither and yon for quite a few years, to birthday parties, to the movies, to ball games, to school events, etc., etc.

“Oh yeah,” one OF said, “And many times have to find a place to go and hang out until the little darlings’ social event was over.”

“Ya know,” another OF said, “I would give anything to get those years back. It’s funny now that these same little darlings are hauling us off to doctor appointments and they have to hang out in the waiting room until the appointment is over.”

Maybe in the future when, like the Eskimos, we get to a point we are such a burden we would all be placed aboard a spaceship and shot toward the sun. That would free up space in cemeteries, and we would be much closer to heaven when the time came.

Those OFs who are not keen on the spaceship idea, yet came to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh to have a nice breakfast amongst the morbid conversations, were: Miner Stevens, Bill Bartholomew, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Dave Williams, J-J (a young visitor who helped with the service), George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Rev. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Duncan Bellinger, Herb Sawotka, Art Frament, Ray Kennedy, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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— Photo from John R. Williams

The captain stands in the bow of his ship, the “Flying Eagle,” after the successful launch. Captain Roger Chapman, who has worked on building the ship for 12 years, awaits the boarding of his crew.

— Photo from John R. Williams

Ready to sail: Roger Chapman has built a pirate ship out of a discarded cabin cruiser. The Old Men of the Mountain convinced him to launch it on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Aug. 21, The Old Men of the Mountain met for the last time at Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow. Kim is closing the doors for good on Sept. 2.

Kim has the lament that is heard by many of the OMOTM — that it is hard to find people who want to work. Some of the retired OFs have been contacted by former employers to see if they want to come back to work.

The common thread is that the workers out there are right now seem to be the best of the worst.  “Anyone worth their salt is already working,” is another often-heard comment.

What is left, according to many employers, are those who don’t know how to work, those who don’t want to work, and those unable to work. The OFs are often asked if they know of anyone who wants to work.

Group rate?

To transcend from that to an observation by one of the OGs as he looked up and down the tables set up at Kim’s: The OF leaned over and said, “What we should do as the Old Men of the Mountain is to select a funeral parlor and get all the OGs together and see what kind of discounted rate we could get on pre-paid funerals for the whole group of OFs.”

That is not as silly as it sounds, and by looking around, we contend that the funeral parlor would not have to wait long before they started cashing in.

Empathy for old tugs

The OFs (and again being Old Fs) have a particular bond with things that have age attached to them.

This time, it was sad to see the old tug boats go down to the ocean where the governor is supposed to be building an artificial reef to attract fish for fishing. There these tugs will be sunk to add to this reef.

These tugs are classics. The OFs think they could be sold to people who could then convert them to houseboats.

Some of the old floating museums still can ply the waters; those, too, would make interesting houseboats. We are not sure if the state ever considered putting them up for auction to see what might happen.

The OFs don’t know how many tugs the state has in its fleet and some may be so far beyond repair that the houseboat plan is not feasible; some of these classics, the OFs think, are salvageable and should be kept afloat. It is tough for the OFs to see old items just discarded.

Pirate ship launched

On Sunday, Aug. 26, the OFs had a launching of their own. One of the OFs has been building his version of a pirate ship for years.

This OF has taken a discarded cabin cruiser that was sunk and constructed his own pirate ship, the “Flying Eagle.”

The OF was told, if he could raise this cruiser, he could have it. You don’t give this OF a challenge like that!

He soon took the challenge and raised the cruiser. The OFs have listened to this OF discuss the progress on the construction of this boat for so long they began putting pressure on him to get this thing in the water. So Sunday, at one o’clock, in she went.

The ship is brand new, but the crew looked like a motley gaggle of old misfits.

The launching was tense as the ship was pushed into the water: Would it tip over, would it sink, would it leak? The crowd gripped the railing as the “Flying Eagle” edged further and further into deep water. A great cheer and clapping went up when the ship floated free at the end of the slip.

Then all the food was brought out and everyone ate and over ate their fill and beyond, while the ship was maneuvered by a couple members of the crew to where it was to be moored. We are too old to have this much fun, although there were young ones who watched through the railing with great big eyes when the ship began to move.

Now that the ship is in the water, the mast and sails will be installed. The future plans for this venture is to install a galley and the OF and his wife can have meals on the deck and sit there with their coffee and watch the sun go down, or come up.

In the morning, they’ll listen to the morning sounds of the birds waking up, and in the evening they’ll listen to the bullfrogs croak. There is even a full-scale skeleton crew to cater to their every whim — Ta Dah! the Flying Dutchman in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean.

The OF even constructed a new dock to accommodate the ship. When finished, the dock will be of the period. This whole project started in 2007, and maybe it will be completed by 2020, or 2021, or 2022, who knows?

Power play

The OFs are in a quandary. The OFs wonder why their power bills keep going up when they are doing everything to conserve energy.

Some OFs go around insulating every nook and cranny they can find where drafts can get in, support the solar farms, change all their light bulbs, purchase new appliances only with the energy star sticker on them, and some even wear sweaters in the house during winter time.

One OF mentioned that, with so many homes with solar arrays on them, and the huge wind farms and solar farms being built, there must be less of a strain on the generators used at normal power plants.

One OF said his son works occasionally with geothermal installation, which also should help alleviate the drain on use of gas, nuclear, or fossil fuels. Another OF thought new construction is going faster than the newer technology grows so the drain on the grid, this OF thinks, is higher.

But then again, what do the OFs know?  We just talk.

Those OFs who all gathered together for the last time, even those OFs who drove an hour to get to Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow, were: Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Art Frament, Ray Kennedy, Pete Whitbeck, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier and very special guests (Olga Deur, and Mario Snyder), Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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