Do you know what day it is — do you know what day it is? Nope, it is not Wednesday; it is Tuesday, Aug. 16, and the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

This Tuesday, the scribe made it and the notes will be firsthand, if that means anything. Only one hearing aid is working, and even that doesn’t mean much — it is still all noise and this scribe tries to filter out words here and there.

One conversation was on the Yankee baseball team and how they seem to be falling apart. It looks like there are a few Yankee fans in the group, but the Mets did not seem to have any, at least any that were as vocal as the Yankee fans.

Apparently the Yankee baseball team was cleaning house and way ahead in league standings. Then, according to these fans, they (top Yankee bigwigs) thought there were better players out there and so the Yankees went after them. Now the team with all these new hot-shot players is worse than the ones that got them on top in the first place.

These fans think management should have left well enough alone and the team would still be going great guns. Then again, what does the scribe know at his age? At the ages of the OFs, none of them could hit a 90-mile-an-hour fastball.


Fickle weather

Rain this year is a scarce commodity in many areas of the country, and in other areas way too much rain is falling. One local storm was discussed at Tuesday’s breakfast and this storm apparently hit one very small area in Schoharie County.

One OF said it was right over his house; another OF who doesn’t live that far away did not get a drop. The first OF said there was thunder, lighting, wind, and rain by the bucket for about 20 or so minutes, and then it was done.

Gone! Leaving sunshine and wet grass like someone turned off a faucet and turned on the heat.


Driving discourse

Another OF told of his planning for taking a thousand-mile trip to visit relatives that he has not seen in years. It is good to plan trips like this while the OFs are young enough to drive and still enjoy it.

Driving, to many of the OFs, is getting to be nothing but a chore. Too many cars are on the road, and all these cars seem to know where they are going and have to get there in a minute or so.

One OF thought differently. This OF said he has observed driving habits for a long time, and part of his job was driving. This OF said that most drivers behave themselves; it is the occasional jerk that causes all the problems.

Watch a busy street out of a window and note how most vehicles behave the same way in terms of their speed, stopping distance, start-up, and all the drivers’ abilities. This is regardless of age, sex, race, education, or physical ability. On an interstate, it is basically the same.

But don’t forget everyone should watch out for the occasional “jerk.” (The scribe’s wife says, when we OFs were young-uns, weren’t we all jerks, and in more ways than one, she added.)


Flea markets return

It seems the “pandemic” as it is now termed, was more pronounced than when the OFs were going through it. Some of the OFs feel we are still in it.

However, a good number of OFs in our group are flea-market aficionados and say many of their haunts are back in business. Who would have thought during the two years of COVID that this type of business would also become a victim and dry up? But, according to some of the OFs the flea markets are back and seem to be doing well.

The OFs are happy that the number of vendors and those attending the place where fleas can be purchased have also increased. One OF said he thinks any events like this are well attended because people are just glad to get out.

Another OF mentioned he thought that flea markets, garage and estate sales, and auctions will do well right now because buying used items is going to be the thing to do, mostly because buying new is too expensive.

One OF who knows quite a bit about this example of merchandising says it always has been this way. This OF said there are a lot of good, used, high-ticketed items out there that many people miss out on.

The OF said, if young people are looking to furnish their first place, the best store to go to is the auction house and bid against a dealer. The OF said, that way, the young people will generally be able to purchase good used items at less than cheap new items in a regular store.

This scribe thinks this is much easier said than done. It might be best to go with someone who knows the ropes before jumping into this game on the first shot.

Those OFs who were so old that they are old enough to be auctioned off as antiques but instead were at the Your Way Café in Schoharie were: Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Rick LaGrange, Miner Stevens (who was voted the oldest person with a beard at the Knox bicentennial; Miner was at the breakfast sans beard), Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Doug Marshall, Jake Herzog, Marty Herzog, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Duncan Bellinger, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rev. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Ed Goff, Johnny Dap, and me.

This is so far a two-parter; it will be the meeting of the Old Men of the Mountain at the Chuck Wagon in Princetown on July 26 and the one at the Middleburgh Diner on Aug. 2. Even though it’s hot, the summers just seem to fly by.
Many say it is already August and there is nothing anyone can do about it. August is August, and September is September; no one can say they are not ready yet. It is here.

On July 22, the OMOTM had their annual (or it is becoming an annual) event, a picnic hosted by a gracious OMOTM that allows the OFs to come to his cabin on Warner Lake, then park and stomp all over his lawn.

According to the OFs in attendance, the weather was hot but in the shade and on the water it was more than tolerable. The reports stated that the Old Men of the Mountain and the wives who made it to this situation had a good time, with conversation, boat rides, food to pass, and the host preparing the burgers and dogs.

Like one OF said, “We are too old to have this much fun.”

However, no OF has ever heard that, once anyone becomes 80, fun stops. Maybe it becomes better because at that age fun is more appreciated.

One of the topics at the picnic was the use of air-conditioning. What an invention that is, especially with a summer like this.

Now last summer was a different story. Take the two summers and average them out and it is not that bad. This is how figures can lie if looking for a place to move to.

The area looks good when figuring in the averages; however, no one says freeze one summer or cook the next summer, shovel snow over the OF’s head one winter, mow the lawn in January the next.

Ah! The Northeast! At least we are not burning up, or washing away in a flood, or blowing away in a hurricane.


Hearing aids

The breakfast for July 26 was at the Chuck Wagon in Princetown and, by the reports forwarded to this scribe, most of the discussion was typical for a gathering of OGs. The reports of the OMOTM have reported many times on hearing aids.

This time there was a unique description on the OFs leaning in to listen to the conversations. This is understandable to those who wear hearing aids.

The OF reporting commented that we should all just pass notes back and forth. Not a bad idea. At least that way there would be fewer mistakes in the conversation by the OFs not hearing the right word.

Sometimes this scribe bets there are as many as four or five interpretations of the same conversation because of the misunderstanding of the same word.


Food for thought

At the Middleburgh Diner on Aug. 2, the early topic (of course) was food, and often the OMOTM mentioned food because that is what the gathering is all about — breakfast, and not having to get your own.

It was brought up who has the best, and also the worst of the morning’s repast. One breakfast item mentioned was waffles (best and not so hot) but it was also mentioned that not all restaurants have waffles.

Some years back, there was a restaurant the OMOTM frequented called the Alley Cat, and on occasion when strawberries were in season they had waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. At one time, when this was on the white/black board as a breakfast special, a few of the OFs ordered that for breakfast.

At that time, we had an OF who, in his bibs, carried a complete tool box in one pocket; a whole design package in another; and pens, pencils, rulers, etc. in another. In this pocket, the OF had what he called his boarding house-reach fork. This fork extended to about two feet so the OF was able to reach just about anywhere on the table.

This OF ordered the waffle with strawberries and Cool Whip; when the breakfast arrived, the OF whipped out his ruler and measured the offering. That thing measured 8 inches high. Have that for breakfast and the OF was able to skip lunch. The OMOTM have not seen that type of waffle for breakfast since the Alley Cat.



Eating out as the OFs do is getting to be a serious chunk of the budget nowadays. This is understandable because the OFs know what it costs to produce food, with all the increases thrown in.

The grocery stores and restaurants can’t sell at a loss for many items, so guess who pays in the end? The OMOTM, and all the others.

The problem is, most of the OFs pay more, but their income stays the same. Duh, the OMOTM want to know — does anyone see a problem here?


What a mess!

The problems with the rain in the central-eastern part of the country brought up more discussion on our own Irene flooding but the problems there made Irene look like the bathtub overflowed. What a mess!

The OFs say the country is dealing with the two worst scenarios: fire and water at the same time.



It has been brought to our attention that one of the Old Men of the Mountain has passed on. Bob Benninger has died and is another OMOTM going to join the band of OGs in the clouds for breakfast on eternal Tuesdays.

As this is a report for a couple of Tuesdays the list of names for protection will be omitted and those who got into trouble and planned on using the OMOTM as an alibi are on their own.

On Tuesday, July 19, The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

When traveling, many of the OFs (along with many others) drive right past restaurants and diners like those the OMOTM frequent. The thought, by some, is that they are not too sure how clean these places are or what the food is like.

One OF said that he thinks those travelers are missing out on some great places. Still another said that he has found it both ways.

Some eateries (like the ones the OFs visit) are great, but others are just like what the OFs fear — greasy spoons, torn seats, surly waitresses, and food and flies on the same plate. One OF said places like that are fronts for whatever is going on in the back.

“Yeah,” another OG answered, “could be.”

The OF added he looks where there are a lot of trucks, or pickup trucks parked, and eats where he finds lots of these trucks.

A third OF said most of these guys don’t put up with any nonsense; they want a clean place, lots of good but not fancy food, and maybe one or two good-looking waitresses. To which another OF replies that he doesn’t care, he will take a waiter, or a mom or grandma, as long as they are pleasant and efficient.

The question still remained: How does anyone know if waiting on table is their first time through? Good question was the answer; that is part of the thrill of the trip, unless someone has told the OF where to go before he starts out.

Many OFs have been trapped by signs along the roadway. Stop where the signs suggest and the place is a dive.


Dearth of young volunteers

It has been mentioned over and over in this little report how the OMOTM is loaded with volunteers for this, that, and the other thing. Some of these OFs were talking about how volunteering has fallen off. All the OFs were wondering why this was so.

It seemed to be that it was harking back to the internet and too many young people, at the age they are encouraged to volunteer, are working their thumbs on their smartphones.

One OF did say there are some that do volunteer and he mentioned a recent experience he had with the Boy Scouts helping out. But (the “but” still remains) there do seem to be fewer young people volunteering and the OFs are concerned.


On the tongue of the taster

Sometimes this scribe comments on the breakfasts the OMOTM put away. Tuesday morning was maybe a winner.

One OF was telling how another OF prepares his oatmeal. According to the OF (snitching on the other OF), by the time the OF gets done with the add-ons, oatmeal is a minor ingredient.

He winds up with only one of these ingredients being oatmeal, the rest being honey, fruit, and peanut butter. That must be a weird taste sensation; then again each to their own taste as well as their eyesight. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so it must go: Taste is on the tongue of the taster.


Baler fire

There was some discussion on a local fire; one OF asked another OF a simple question, “I hear there was a fire up your way yesterday?”

“Yeah,” the OF answered, “It was me.”

That perked everybody’s ears up. The OF said it was his baler that caught on fire.

Odd the OFs talked about balers last week and now we have a baler catching on fire.

The OF said he tried to extinguish the fire himself but it was too hot to get close enough to be able to do that so he called the fire department. The OF said everyone showed up, police, ambulance, fire trucks, the whole ball of wax.

The way things are this summer no one wants a field of hay to start burning and work its way into the woods. As was said just recently, what a mess.


Drought drama

There was a brief discussion on wildlife. Somehow this was connected to the volunteering but was a side track that didn’t seem to connect.

Some of the usual watering holes, which are tucked off on the trails, that birds and animals would frequent are drying up, and the same creatures are going to the bigger ponds. So th OFs are reporting seeing, at times, deer-like cows at farmer’s ponds around the area, and some of these ponds are getting low.

It is not like situations like this haven’t happened in the past where wells and ponds have gone dry. According to the OFs, we are close, really close, but not there yet.

It is time to let the car get dirty and forget washing it for a while. Let the lawn turn yellow or brown — it will come back. Hey! Brown is the new green.

The Old Men of the Mountain who met at the Your Way Café (and lucky for the OMOTM no OMOTM way of eating was peanut butter on oatmeal) were: Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Doug Marshall, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Rick LaGrange, Jake Herzog, Marty Herzog, Duncan Bellinger, Robie Osterman, Pete Whitbeck, Frank Dees, Bill Lichliter, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Warren Willsey, Jack Norray, Russ Pokorny, Dave Wood, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Gerry Chartier, John Dap, and me.

Tuesday, July 11, and our area needs rain. It looks like the whole country needs rain, but not a deluge; a nice three-day steady, soaking rain would do it.

Regardless of the weather, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Family Restaurant in Middleburgh. It has been really nice weather to go for a short ride over the mountain and into the valleys. Schoharie, Mohawk, and even the Champlain valley — the small towns and villages are at their best right now.

At one end of the table there was a discussion on black powder. This is powder that goes boom, not the black powder spread over the eggs in the morning. Re-enactors use this powder in considerable amounts during educational re-enactments of times before we had modern firearms.

Many of these events included uniforms and clothing of the period.  Our area is lucky enough to have many authentic locations for these demonstrations to take place like the Old Stone Fort, the New Windsor Cantonment, or even the Mabee Farm.

Also, there are people concerned enough to take part in these re-enactments. Again in our area we have people who partake in doing demonstrations of the Renaissance period.

Unfortunately, none of the OMOTM is in any group that participates in that era of showing history of the period with royal knights in shining armor prancing around. We do, however, have some OFs who can demonstrate the Neanderthal period just by waking up and getting dressed for the day, scribe included.

On Tuesday morning, we discovered we do have a OF who owns his own gun and participates in cannon shoots. These are not cannons of today but guns of the revolution, actually before and after that period. We have OFs with muskets, swords, and now cannons.

This scribe has yet to sit at a table where there are OMOTM who shoot old-fashioned bows (and arrows). The scribe thinks they are the longbow, not these things that go through a series of pulleys and can shoot an arrow through a two-by-four.

Oh, the talents of the OFs! This column has quite often mentioned the many varied talents and interests of the OFs and now we add to this group a cannon re-enactor.



In Voorheesville, there once was a pizza place called “Smitty’s.” Smitty’s is no longer there and many of the OFs liked going to Smitty’s. The OFs began reminiscing about the place and telling a few stories about their trips to Smitty’s.

The OFs like watching the train run around the ceiling of the place. Without posting signs, a bar entrance, and a dining-room entrance were available, and, after making a couple of trips to Smitty’s, most people knew the ropes. 

Along with this conversation, some of the OFs thought of another place to eat and this time it was not in the valley but at the foothills on the way to Thacher Park. There is a little place to eat in New Scotland called Emma Cleary’s.

This is another place the OFs say is good once the OF learns the ropes on how to order. The ambiance? Well, the dining area is square with tables. That’s about it, but for some reason this eatery seems to be loaded with a certain ambiance.

This discussion was brought up about many places where we go to eat. We talked about how some places go all out to try and create an atmosphere and nothing happens.

These places have fabric tablecloths, live music — the works — and it just doesn’t connect, while others do the same thing and the OF can’t get in the place without a half-hour wait, or reservations in advance.

Then one OF suggested someone could purchase four old outhouses, stick them together, cook burgers on a grill in a shed in the back, and it becomes the best place in town. Go figure.

One OF wondered why a slab of bacon is a slab of bacon but a BLT in one place is nothing like a BLT in another; the same goes for a tuna sandwich. A can of tuna is a can of tuna — how can the same fish taste so different in different places?

One OF suggested he thinks half the OFs don’t know what they are eating; it is just the comradery along with all the yakking that goes on, yet some are pseudo connoisseurs and have taste buds that can detect one grain of pepper too much.


“Don’t ever move!”

One of the OFs is moving. The name will be suppressed so the law can’t find the OF; however, it isn’t very far.

The advice from this OF is the same advice the OF received from another OF who moved to warmer climes just to get out of New York’s weather. The advice was “You OF, don’t ever move!”

The moving OMOTM, OF now understands why this OF gave that advice. It is work, it is confusing, and it is very tiring.

Not only is it physical, and at the ages of the OFs who now take hours to do what they used to do in minutes, it is understanding who, how, and what agency to let know the address has changed, let alone having to let all your friends (if they are still alive) know the new phone number.

This is unless the OF is astute enough to know how to operate a “smart phone” and not have to change the number.

Those OFs who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and did not show up in animal skins were Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Paul Muller, Doug Marshall, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Ken Parks, Russ Pokorny, Frank Dees, Jake Herzog, Wayne Gaul, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Pete Whitbeck, Robie Osterman, Gerry Chartier, Duncan Bellinger, Rich Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Ed Goff, Johnny Dap, and me.

— Photo from Larry Rockey

An old Case baler: “The kid on the right could be me without the hat, and the guy on the left could be Bambi hooking the wires,” says John R. Williams. “Hot, dusty work but we didn’t know it.”

On July 5, the Old Men of Mountain marched to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, but this scribe was not among them. At times priorities have a pecking order, and in this case one priority out-pecked another priority, and this scribe could not be in two places miles apart at the same time, no matter how the scribe tried to maneuver the clock so it could be done.

One of the OFs did send an email on what (the OF could remember) was discussed; however, names eluded the OMOTM and names were not on the report. It was reported the group was smaller than usual with the astute observation by the OMOTM that he thought the holiday on the fourth might have had something to do with it.

As many travel through the countryside in late spring and early summer, they may notice many of the fields have either round bales of hay or rectangular bales of hay, commonly known as square bales. As reported over and over, many of the older OFs in the group were farmers, and the current crop still has a few that were.

The question came up: How many square bales are there in a round bale?

Those who worked the fields just did the math in their heads without using numbers per se. Even the kids would figure this out without being told or taught. They would hear the farmers talk about how much hay was in the barn and if they had enough to go through a tough winter.

The OMOTM, as kids, never heard of round bales; some were even pitching loose hay with horses, or hauling hay to stationary balers. No matter what, the calculation was: So many cows ate so much hay whether it was loose, square, round, hex, or tubular.

The math on this would be: If a field produced 800 square bales, and the same field produced 40 round bales, there were 20 square bales per round bale. Pad and paper not needed.

However, farming knowledge required asking the following questions. Was it a thin year for hay, or a heavy year? How was the timing? Was it tender, or tough? Was it caught with all the nutrients in it, or late when not so much? What field looked like good feed, and another loaded with weeds would make better bedding or mulch? Hayin’ tain’t like mowing grass around the house, fellas.

Seeing as it is a hay day when some of the OFs were YFs and hay balers first came out, a feature of many of these machines was a couple of cranks on the discharge end. These cranks were used to control the weight of the bale. The tighter the crank — the heavier the bale.

Some of the fathers, or farm owners, would crank those suckers almost down to the stops so the bales would be really heavy. That would make for more room in the mows; same amount of hay, fewer bales.

In many cases, it was the kids who had to pick up the bales and throw them on the wagon, and again in many cases, another young-un on the wagon was mowing the bales away on a swaying wagon in such a way that a big load of bales could be put on the wagon without the hay falling off as the wagon bounced across the field.

So what the kids would do, at least on this scribe’s farm, was to sneak around and crank those cranks back up so the bales would be lighter when they went out in the fields to pick them up.

The scribe’s dad caught on to this so he cranked the cranks down just before they started out to bale. What fun.

This was many years ago; whatever happened to those years? The smell of fresh-cut hay, out in the sun, working your butt off from sunrise to sunset, loving every minute of it and not knowing it.


Carrying on

Another OF who has been mentioned before is retired from the Air Force National Guard and was stationed in Glenville with the unit that maintains the research facility in Greenland, which has been in the news a few times. This OMOTM was on the last mission out and brought back pictures of his trip that just ended.

The OMOTM who made a few notes has the same problem that this scribe does. When old folks get together, the conversation quite often turns to doctors and health, along with aches and pains.

In this OF’s email his comments and conversations eventually turned to doctors and health, aches and pains. Who would have guessed that, in a group with the name Old Men of the Mountain?

Those Old Men of the Mountain that made it to the Middleburgh Diner regardless of their aches and pains were: Doug Marshall, Miner Stevens, Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, Frank Deez, Russ Pokorny, Rev. Jay Francis, Gerry Chartier, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, but not me.

On Tuesday, June 28, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. Early in the morning, traveling west on Route 20 just about anywhere, there are not many people actually headed in either direction. Add a few hours and the area between (the localities are just a guess) Richfield Springs and the Northway, the highway is abuzz with vehicles with the drivers all late for work.

It seems for most people life is divided by events that happened which are either joyful, traumatic, or in some way meaningful, to each individual. These events can be the same, albeit totally different, depending on the person’s perception. In some cases, the event won’t mean a thing to one OF, but to the another OF it may mean a lot.

Birthdays, weddings, funerals, graduations, college, learning to drive, first car, first kiss, military, scoring a winning touchdown in a big game, are just a few of the major events that can enter the lives of all of us.

Tuesday morning, it was military, and the loss of a loved one and how these incidents affected the lives of some, while to others the same events didn’t mean much; they were just a part of life and living. The OFs, as often noted, are a microcosm of everyone (male at least) thrown in one pot.


Updates from the trail

Tuesday morning had reports of the OFs who are hikers and how they did, and what they did on their solstice hikes. The Looking Glass path hikers had nine people marching along with the flag of the “Long Path-ers” waving proudly up front.

The group sang camp songs as they marched along.  This makes a nice, fun group out for a walk.

Then another couple of OFs were planning on building a raised walkway on the path in Dutch Settlement. At the Tuesday breakfast before the job was to be done, the OFs planning the project were concerned about how they were going to get the material up a very steep hill to the site to even get the job underway.

The OFs were very much surprised at how many volunteers turned out to help. A job the OFs planned would take about two days took less than a day because so many helped — including a troop of Boy Scouts.

Now hikers can transverse that area of the path safely. This section of the path at times was very muddy and slippery, and at times during the year some areas have about six to eight inches of water running across the path. Now the hikers are high and dry.


Fuel rates

A couple of OFs are on degree day rate with various oil companies for delivery of fuel oil. Some of the OFs with this pay-in-advance plan with locked-in prices have made out very well for this past winter.

However, for some others, those contracts have expired. Even though we have had a few warm days, the OFs said ,not only has it been cool so far this late spring and early summer but very dry, at least in our section of the country.

One OF said, when looking at the weather map, it looks like most of the country is on fire and here in the Northeast it is cool enough for the furnace to kick in on occasion.

This is the problem: Some OFs automatically are in line for a drop of fuel oil because of the degree/day formula and the tanks are topped off.

One OF said that, when he saw that bill, his hand shook; it was over $1,000. “Where is this amount of money coming from?” he asked. “It sure wasn’t in the budget, and neither were $200 grocery bills.”

The OF said he has to go into his savings to augment paying for bills like this.

If the politicians want to force us to use electric cars and now electric heat because they have their money invested in batteries and windmills, they are doing a good job of it.

There has to be some reason for all this, one OF said; it has happened too much too fast, and seems to be well organized, and well planned. All the truckers and pilots did not fall into some giant pit, along with all the other workers.

“How did they all disappear in just a few weeks?” the OFs asked.

The OFs think this is kinda weird.

Scribe’s note: The OFs have discussed this before, and probably will again, as their wallets get thinner and thinner. One OF said we have to follow the money, see who is getting the bigger boat, and fancier car, and moving to 5,000-square-foot houses by the ocean.

Those OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner, and arrived on horseback, or bicycle from their new homes (which are tents out in the woods) — some even used the old symbol for transportation, “the thumb,” to get to the breakfast — and they were: Jake Herzog, Paul Muller, Johnny Dap, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Jay Williams (guest of the scribe), Rich Lagrange, Doug Marshall, Wally Guest, Frank Dees, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Russ Pokorny, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

Of course it is another Tuesday. Tuesday, the longest day (actually daylight day) of the year and there are still 24 hours in the day, June 21, and the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

One thing about the 15-plus hours of daylight this year, there wasn’t much of it, and to old blood running through old veins in a bunch of OFs, it was cold! The OFs mentioned this fact a couple of times on Tuesday morning along with the rest of the country being really hot, even our neighbors to the north.

However, not us, although many of the OFs like the weather we are having instead of the sweltering heat.

To go along with this, the wind has blown chilly for quite a few days. This is not news as anyone can tell the weather just by stepping outside. The swimmers and boaters might have a short season unless we have a hot fall.

The day for the beginning of summer is on the solstice. The OFs learned this in grade school.

Some of these same OFs became hikers later on and, as a ritual, these OFs along with many others take a hike on the day of the solstice. Rain or shine, hot or cold, out they go hiking on whatever trail they choose.

One trail the OFs are hiking is Looking Glass Pond up in Summit, New York. An OF claims it is a nice walk and not too tough. Another OF is working on a state trail in Dutch Settlement State Park, which is more than a hike. It is activities like this that keep the OFs young OFs and the trails ready for thousands of other hikers.


Preparing for the worst

There is a routine performed many times by many people along with the OMOTM; that is preparing for the worst and it never happens. The reason for this is (no joke) preparing for the worst.

If it weren’t prepared for it would surely happen.

So, as one of the OFs said, “If anyone does not want it to happen, prepare for it.”

The OFs talking about this were the bikers that ride their bikes to the breakfast. One OF, who came on his motorcycle prepared for the worst, took half the morning to get out of all the gear he had on in case the worst happened — which it didn’t.

Sometimes, one OF said, he prepares for the worst and it happens. One time, this OF was with a bunch of guys who listened to the weatherman and did not prepare. The weather turned out ugly.

Now those guys were all miserable; they were at a point of no turning back. Inside, the OF said, he felt quite smug.


Rising prices mean less dining out

There was a discussion on eating out, which used to be one of the favorite things for the OFs to do. At a certain age, cooking is not as much fun as it used to be, and to some it never was fun. It was a chore that had to be done if the OF wanted to be around the next day.

What the OFs have done now is to cut back on going out like they used to. The OFs did mention how even McDonald’s now cost as much as a regular diner or counter as the prices have gone up.

One OF said, “Why not go to some place nice, pay a couple bucks more, get more, and it is not coated in grease.”

Another OF said, “Hey, the grease is the best part.”

It seems at most of our breakfasts, talk of rising prices works its way into the conversations. This scribe is thinking about cutting the column down by just reporting “see previous column” because of the redundancy on the topic of pricing.

There has to be a silver lining here someplace. Maybe we will find out it is possible to get along on a lot fewer things. We might find out jeans sold at Walmart are the same jeans that are sold at Macy’s at three times the prices just because of the label.

We may learn that apples with a blemish, but cheaper, are the same as prime apples without the blemish and double the price, or a corn borer does not affect the quality of an ear of corn without the borer.


School tops two culverts

Another topic, which was more to the locality of Middleburgh and not the Hilltowns, was discussed. The only way this project would affect us here on the Hill is if there were another flood like Irene, or the high water of 2021.

When there is a natural disaster such as Irene in 2011, and people are still talking about it and working to help protect certain areas 11 years later, that indicates this was quite an event.

The OFs who live in and around this area were talking about Middleburgh High School being built right on top of the storm culvert. This scribe has heard of this for many years but did not think it was true.

However, with two roads going to be closed down for construction upgrading this culvert, this scribe went to his old friend Google and found the maps for the Gorge Creek culvert repair.

Sure enough, the school is built on top of the culvert, which the map shows is in two sections. According to the dotted lines that marked the culvert, the physical school is on top of both of them.

With modern technology, this may not be a problem. They may be able to clean the debris from the culverts with cameras and machines just like the scribe has seen it done in Albany where roads and buildings are built on top of many culverts.

Storm drains are under most all roads, and even cities are built on drains, which are possible to drive a car through, so this scribe guesses part of a school on top of a culvert is not a problem.

The Old Men of the Mountain who showed up at the Your Way Café in Schoharie prepared for anything were: Joe Rack, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Paul Nelson, Mark Traver, Doug Marshall, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Jake Herzog, Marty Herzog, Pete Whitbeck, Russ Pokorny, Gerry Chartier, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt, Lou Schenck, and me.

Half the year is just about behind us; Tuesday was June 7, 2022, and haying is in full swing. Wasn’t it yesterday when we just finished snow-blowing the driveway?

Whatever, the Old Men of the Mountain gathered at the base of the mountain and had breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh.

There was a topic that came up more than once, and it was how much most everything has gone up in price. The people on fixed incomes and those making minimum wage have to really plan on stretching the dollar. The OFs keep asking why we’re losing so much so fast.

The OFs have many reasons why. Of course there is always politics to blame, but consider too few large producers of many necessary products instead of small independent producers of the same thing.

Adding to that is the war in Ukraine, fuel, too many governmental regulations, and all, in a way, going wacky and culminating at the same time.

One OF said he saw this coming years ago. His thought was inflation is caused simply by the lack of competition, which keeps prices in check, and competition is being eradicated.

No matter, prices were the topic quite a few times at the last breakfast and Tuesday. Probably the same discussions will be next week with even more reasons why things are so out of whack.

One OF said he was going to quit mowing his yard because gasoline prices are so high. The OF said he burns the non-ethanol gas in his small engines and when five gallons of that stuff gets to be close to 30 bucks, to heck with the mowing. Let the weeds, dandelions, bug,s and bees have the yard.

The OFs discussed this situation last week and, with prices going up as the OFs stand there, they can’t help shaking their heads. One OF said somebody has to be making money off this thing.

“Ya think?” was the basic answer.

Another OF said we can thank Harvard for this mess.

Gas, food, and who knows what else is out of whack, and on top of this, the country runs out of baby formula! What in the world did we do before there was baby formula?


Pollen profusion

Some of the vehicles in the parking lot, and even some of the shoes the OFs wore, were the same color or color pattern. That is, a basic color plus yellow.

The pine pollen was especially prevalent this year. At times, when the wind blew, there would be clouds of yellow drifting through the air.

One OF mentioned this stuff will go where water won’t, just like cement dust. There is this yellow time of the year every year but then it stops, and in a few days is gone. Where does it go?

The porch and porch railings that were once yellow are now normal, and the OFs haven’t done a thing to brush it away; it is just gone, like the heavens have sent down a huge, very quiet, vacuum cleaner to suck it all up. However, it is one pain in the nose and a boon to the Kleenex, and Refresh industry while it is here.


Weather jumping

The snowbirds quite often have tales to tell from when they are at their homes away from home, almost to the point of being very good salesmen for the areas they call home during the winter months.

In the discussion Tuesday morning, many of the “things to do” when in these areas were very inviting. However, some, once done — they are done. That is possible to do on a vacation.

One of the topics though was the manatee, popularly known as a sea cow. These huge creatures are gentle, and they seem to be smiling all the time and appear to have no natural enemies except humans and their careless “me first” attitudes.

There are groups formed to bring awareness to the plight of the manatees since this marine mammal is listed as being vulnerable to extinction. Joining one of these groups (along with other activities of the warmer climes) seems to make the trips down south more like home number two, or in some cases home number one, and home in the mountains then becomes home number two.

One OF suggested that family enters into weather jumping too. This OF became one of those who found himself living alone as a member of the run-from-the-snow group, and found living alone in different areas is not for him, so the OF moved so he could be with family.

This OF says family comes first, at least to him. Many of the OFs are lucky enough to have family around as they get older.

Listening to all the varied conversations of the group called “The Old Men of the Mountain,” it is found this small group is quite a melting pot of life, and lifestyles. Just in the little part of our whirling sphere occupied by the souls of the OFs, the variety is so varied it melts into one, like a crazy quilt.

The OFs are part of a greater universe and we bet in all the groups similar to the OMOTM, family will be discussed world-wide, if not throughout the whole universe.

All the Old Men of the Mountain, and a couple of OFs from a planet in the Andromeda Galaxy who found their way through our local wormhole and who joined in the conversation on family met at the Middleburgh Diner, in Middleburgh. The OFs who welcomed them were: Paul Nelson, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Miner Stevens, Doug Marshall, Otis Lawyer, Pete Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Duncan Bellinger, Gerry Chartier, and me.

What does one do on Tuesday, the 24th of May? Why, the best thing to do is go to the Old Men of the Mountain breakfast at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

At breakfast, this tidbit piece of information was brought up. The Mohawk Indian word for “driftwood” is Schoharie. This was added to the conversation because one OF was showing how large and entangled a root system was under a tree the OF had cut down. The OF was saying he thought it would be simple to use his tractor and haul the stump away.

That turned into more of a chore because the size of the root system was as large as a small house and gave more of a battle than the OF counted on. Along with the show and tell of removing the roots, and showing pictures of the process and the final root system, the chatter was coupled with a side conversation of class reunions.

One OF mentioned the roots looked like a pile of driftwood. So discussing class reunions and driftwood in one tower of babble, an OF offhandedly added to the cacophony of words in the air on multiple topics.

For instance: “Did you know the Indian word for ‘driftwood’ is Schoharie?”

That is all the OF said and the conversations just kept rolling on.


The spring of lilacs  

One OF mentioned that it looks like this is going to be the spring of the lilacs. This OF asked the ambiguous question, “Has anyone noticed how prolific the lilacs are this year? Every bush is loaded with flowers, and I have seen bushes of lilacs where I haven’t seen them before.”

There was just a little lull, and another OF answered for everyone else. The OF was right. Lilacs do seem to be in full bloom this spring.

One OF mentioned, along with the lilacs, that for some reason this OF noticed this year how much contrast there is, not only on the hillsides, but in the fields and yards, with the color green between the different types of trees.

Another OF said it may be because the air was cleaner when the OF noticed the sharpness of color. Could be.


Anderson’s driveway

Many people, OFs or not, travel Route 88 (also known as the late Senator Warren Anderson’s private driveway) when traveling southwest of the Albany/Schenectady area. The OFs discussed how this highway seems to traverse a section of the state where the prevailing winds blow right across the road.

In bad weather, the OFs who use it frequently commented that it is a good road to stay off of, especially in the winter time. Route 7 may take longer but, in cases of bad weather, one OF said, it sure is safer.

Some OFs began relating accidents and incidents they saw, or just missed while on this stretch of road in bad weather. One OF said, compared to the Northway and the Thruway, this road is, just as advertised, like his own personal driveway — there are so few cars on it. At times, the OF said, there are sections of the road which makes him feel like he is the only one on it.

Another OF complained that in sections Route 88 is rougher than a rutted dirt road. This OF inquired if there are so few vehicles on it, how come it gets so beat up?

None of the OFs seemed to know but also had to agree to that. However, one OF suggested it may have something to do with the unusual weather that keeps pounding the road. Could be.


Current events

The OFs discussed Monkeypox. The OFs thought the way they understand how it is transmitted: As OFs, they are beyond catching the disease.

One OF suggested that the way things are going now, the best thing to do is stay home and have as many provisions as you can delivered. Go shopping and get mugged or shot; go to a ball game, or a show, and wind up with COVID. It is not worth it.

Then there is the cost of just getting to wherever. A round trip to Saratoga or Lake George is going to cost fifty, sixty, or even seventy bucks just in fuel.

Stay home and have a cookout with the neighbors in walking distance until there becomes some sense of normalcy returning to this planet and Satan returns to his fiery realm.


Ashes to ashes

One OF told a story that had a familiar ring to it, but this one is for real because the OF knows those involved and he was part of it.

The OF had a friend who passed away. This friend had at one time a large farm and his own dairy. Farming, as most of the OFs know from experience, became a lost cause, so many deserted the business.

So did this farmer friend of the OF. One of the conditions of the farmer’s final requests was to have his ashes spread on the manure spreader and covered with a specific wood chip to protect the ashes and then take them to a field and spread over the land.

This type of story has been around for a long time but few have ever participated in this procedure. Apparently at this time most of the OFs know it was done, and who the OF was who took part in it. That’s what good friends are for.

The Old Men of the Mountain brave enough to gather and have breakfast out, and meet each other at the Your Way Café in Schoharie were: Roger Shafer, Doug Marshall, Miner Stevens, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Wally Guest, Otis Lawyer, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Rick LaGrange, Marty Herzog, Pete Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Duncan Bellinger, Johnny Dap, Paul Guiton,  Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.

As the scribe types this to the backlit screen it is Friday the 13th; however, when the Old Men of the Mountain met it was Tuesday, May 10, and the OMOTM were at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh.
It was noticed (and also discussed) that, when a group of OFs get together whether OMOTM or not, just older people, there seems to be a considerable amount of coughing and hacking going on. At the OMOTM’s breakfasts it is hardly noticed because the OFs have learned to control it to a degree.

At Tuesday’s breakfast, these morning noises were talked about. It was found many of the OF cougher/hackers were basically on the same meds. The OFs were not talking about the wake-up morning hack most people have when they greet the day, but the dry irritating cough that goes on all day. Sometimes this need to cough wakes the OF up at night or, worse yet, when the OF is having a good nap.

This brings the problem a little above a habit. Most complained about a dry tickle in the throat and oftentimes they have a few coughs and it goes away for awhile.

These coughs are very dry, according to a few of the OFs, and sometimes one OF said he doesn’t even have to open his mouth. Apparently this coughing doesn’t mean much to the doctors who just say “hmmm,” and go on about their business, and the meds stay the same. One OF said he didn’t think it was meds, it’s his throat muscles which are just giving out like the rest of him.


Adam’s task

The fishing season is apparently upon us and there was a discussion on fishing — especially bass. Adam had quite a job naming all the animals. How did this guy handle all the fish from the tiniest guppies to the massive whale, and what language was he using?

This is a cod, this is a flounder, this is a bass — aha this is a bass too. Well, one has a big mouth, yet this one has a small mouth, but this one has stripes, and this one hangs around rocks, so on and so on, and how about all the prehistoric creatures that roamed the seas?

Poor Adam must have had quite a time naming everything; however, time is all he had anyway so why not? He had the place to himself — no woman yet; boy, would that change everything when he gave up that rib.

Now poor Adam really had no time for anything, let alone naming any new living thing that came along, so if one showed up it went nameless. That is why even today we are left finding new species all over the planet that have to be named.

Well, if we are all descendants of Adam, it is a good guess, in a way, that Adam is still doing the job.

As the OFs talked about fishing, where the fish hung out, and how big some of these swimmers were, it must be when Adam was telling Eve about naming the fish where the first use of exaggeration of size came in.

It has been carried on ever since right down to the OMOTM.


The power of hypnotism

The OMOTM have discussed smoking many times and how people were able to overcome the habit. At Tuesday’s breakfast, it was reported that hypnotism was used successfully to cure the habit, not with one but two people.

This method has held for 40 years for these people. The OG relating the information said that the desire to stop was immediate, from the time he left the place till now and beyond — neither has had a cigarette.

For them, the hypnotism was great. No withdrawals, no chemicals, and the only expense was the charge of the hypnotist.

The OF telling of this happy event also said it does not work for everybody. It is necessary to really have the desire to quit the habit.



The question of the day was: When is it time to call seniors, “seniors,” or elderly, “elderly?” It came down to even calling old people, “old people.”

That did not sit well. “Senior citizen” seemed to come out on top, but when?

One OF said he was listening to the news (note: listening is the word used, not watching) and heard the newscaster give an age of 64 and then used the word “elderly.” The OF asked how old was that newscaster — 15?

Sixty-four years old is just a kid; the word “elderly,” and even giving an age like 64 indicating something was wrong and this person belonged in the home is way out of whack.

The OF continued, “If the person was 44, would the age even be mentioned?”

To the OMOTM, 64 is middle age, nowhere near elderly. “But,” one OF added, “Whoever it was can join AARP at 55 and be considered a senior citizen.”

“That’s a joke,” another OF said. This OF said he “might consider, maybe at age 70, to be a senior citizen.”

Then one more OF commented, “Hey, they should make it 45; then we could get all the discounts earlier. If it saves me money, they can call me a cranky old fart at any age — suits me fine.”  

It seems the word “elderly” is out, at least with the OMOTM. The OMOTM would rather use “senior citizen,” or “older person.”

The Old Men of the Mountain who are not elderly, or even senior, just a group of guys with many years under their belts, and years of smarts in their heads met for breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner and they were: Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Miner Stevens, Marty Herzog, Doug Marshall, Pete Whitbeck, Otis Lawyer, Paul Nelson, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Jake Herzog, Paul Whitbeck, John Muller, Duncan Bellinger, Lou Schenck, Bill Bremmer, Herb Bohrmann, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.