Oh dear, we are into June all ready. On June 6, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. For the ride over early in the morning, the smoke haze was like fog and it smelled like someone was barbecuing in the backyard all the way. When leaving the restaurant, the OFs did not know if the place was on fire or we were going to have the smoke smell all the way home.

Generally at these breakfasts there are more names than notes but last Tuesday morning conversations were so varied there are probably more notes than names, even though we had a good-sized group.

The OMOTM covered ads on TV, the subliminal messages, changing many aspects of society through ads, ads that are so convoluted it is hard to tell what is being sold, ads that are better than the shows, the brilliance of marketing creating a demand for something most people will never need or don’t even want and turning it into a big seller, and the worst promoting through advertising something that is truly bad for the consumer and making it sound desirable and even good.

There are very talented people in this field. So many ads are no more than propaganda.


On the water

The talk of boats continued, it must be that real summer is on the way if we can get rid of this smoke. The discussion was on the use of jet skis on small lakes no larger than big ponds, and lakes that are small lakes.

The noise, and dangerous maneuvers around people using the small areas of water for what they were intended — relaxation, watching the loons, swimming, paddling their kayaks and canoes, just chilling — and along comes one of those things that can cover the width, or length of the body of water in a minute.

Then came the topic of the pontoon boats and how much fun they are on big or small lakes. On the small bodies of water, they are quiet and just putz around and, on the larger lakes, they are large enough to take the whole family out on the water and even have a barbecue. Spend the day on the lake from your own floating platform.


Gas prices

The price of gas makes any activity that uses petrol a little less fun because of the cost, even the price of gas added to the price of the breakfast increases the price of the breakfast.

Then using the formulas for a tip on higher prices makes that gratuity even more. Add all this together, and a little trip out to eat begins not to be so little.


Alternative energy

This led to a discussion on generating electricity with solar, wind, or hydro. Until something better comes along, it may be best to go with one of these sources as imperfect as they may be.

All of them use natural resources to produce the electricity, the batteries, the fuel oil for the plastics to construct the wind towers and turbines, the precious metals for solar panels, and the fuel oil for, again, the plastics and then again solar panel storage batteries.

The power might cut back on the carbon footprint, but sure uses a lot to get there. The big question the OFs came up with is: With the knowledge of today, what is the alternative?

Some even mentioned hydrogen but nothing seems to be done with that yet. There may be many scientists working on other sources including hydrogen but not much is mentioned about these engineers.

There, you young whippersnappers, is a great field to get into, come up with a renewable energy source that neither consumes nor pollutes to arrive at its power.

Nuclear power did not enter into the conversation. There are advocates on all sides, well versed in their opinions, and all much smarter than this scribe.



The OMOTM did mention the lack of rain, and a couple OFs mentioned how thin the hay is this year in our area, and how low the yield has been also. However, at one time, it must have been pretty wet because the trees and flowers this spring have been full and lush.

The OFs mentioned the lilacs, and the phlox. Again in our locality, the spring flowers have the roadside and trips around the towns appear like greenhouses. This generally does not happen without water.



Who our relatives were was a topic being discussed that the scribe did not completely catch — only had one hearing aid; the other is in the shop.

However, genealogy was being discussed and some have had their genealogy researched. This takes time, and considerable effort and the family has to be interested in their past, while others don’t give a hoot on how many times old Uncle Charlie was in the hoosegow.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh because old Uncle Charlie when he was out took time to sire a few more outlaws were: Ed Goff, Frank Fuss, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Pete Whitbeck, Doug Marshall, Russ Pokorny, Jake Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Ted Feurer, Dan Pelletier, Matt Erschen, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

— Photo from John R. Williams

Pete Whitbeck’s Model T is pictured behind his roadster. He gave some of the OFs at Hillbelly’s a ride in it. “To me, it is amazing that there are so many Model T’s running about,” says John R. Williams. “Some of those things are 100 years old. The T is not like those that are old, and rare, with only a few operating. The T has clubs all over the country and there are tons of them still chugging about.”

May 30, the last Tuesday in May, the Old Men of the Mountain traveled to Hillbelly’s in Westerlo for breakfast.

The days are finally getting warm, but the OMOTM say we do need some rain and a couple of OFs added, maybe more than some.

At the breakfast at the Chuck Wagon last week, it was noted that the fired cheap help was back in the good graces of the OF who supplies the chairs for the OFs frequenting his shop to sit in while they watch him work.

So the cheap help is back at full strength ready to chip in or give free advice to the working OF. The “stay tuned” was anti-climatic as nothing really happened.

This scribe is bummed because he showed up at the breakfast at Hillbelly’s (note Google does not like the word Hillbelly’s; even on the net, when searching Hillbelly’s, Google changes it to Hillbilly’s) and the scribe did not have his camera, and he drove to the restaurant in a regular car.

One OMOTM was there with his 1950 Hudson, and another, with his Model T. A ride was given to his entourage who had to bundle up because it was a little chilly at that time of the morning for riding around in an open Model T.

Note to self: Bring the camera to these OF breakfasts. The next thing you know, the OMOTM will be showing up in buggies pulled by horses, or maybe with Fordson tractors hauling wagons.


Remembering when gifts inspired gratitude

It was a beautiful late spring day and the OFs were talking about Christmas and what Christmas was like when the OFs were young. It was nothing like today.

It was the time when the country was just coming out of a depression and entering another war to end all wars. During this time, many of the OFs were from 4 or 5 to about 10 or 11 years old, when receiving one gift was a pleasure because some did not receive anything at all.

The OFs started talking about what they received and how happy they were to get it, or what they were able to get for others with less than a dollar to spend in order to get something for three or four people or maybe even more.

The OFs compared how their Christmases were to how they are today.

As one OF put it, “There is no comparison.”

Another OF said, with his grandkids, there are enough presents to fill the whole living room, while another one commented that, in his case, one of the presents was so large for his grandkid it had to be left in the garage.

One OG said that he would like to go back to one gift per child. He thinks, in his time, kids were much more appreciative of the one gift and it meant something to them. This OF said he remembers the one gift, his grandkids can’t remember any of theirs 10 days later.

“Not only that,” one OF muttered, “none of them even think about sending a thank-you.”

Is it them or us? This was brought up because we had so little.

Did we indulge our kids to the point that they think it is normal and now they try to outdo it by over-indulging their own children? Maybe we are looking at the culprit when we look in the mirror. Who knows?

One OF remembered getting 10 cents to purchase a gift (10 cents!). This was a time when smoking was not only OK, but thought to be a good thing.

The OF took his 10 cents and went out to find a gift. After searching for some time, he spotted a nice ashtray and it was four cents.

The OF said he purchased the ash tray for four cents and received his six cents in change, and the OF hung onto that six cents. He heard about not returning the six cents quite sternly, and what he remembers most about that Christmas is not returning the six cents.

Another OF said that, at Christmases in his house on the farm, items were scarce and no matter what was given to you, you took with genuine thanks. It was really a treat that anybody got anything at all because there were 13 kids in the family. Many of the gifts were handmade, and the giver might have worked on these gifts all year.

One OF said he remembered during the war years when everything was scarce getting a bicycle that his father had made from parts of bikes that his dad had scrounged from all over. At that time, the OF said, he thought it was the best looking bike in the world; not only that, but it worked great.

The OF said the gift was so great he was the only kid on his street that had a bike at an age when all his friends should have had one. The bike was the envy of the neighborhood and all the OF’s buddies wanted to ride it.

Today, an OF said, his grandkids think nothing of asking their parents for something at any time let alone Christmas, and the item will have a price tag of hundreds of dollars. This is almost normal because all their friends have one and it’s just a matter of keeping up.

No matter how the Old Men of the Mountain made it to the breakfast, either in a car 99 years old, or one that is so current it is electric, the OMOTM who had breakfast at Hillbelly’s Restaurant in Westerlo were: Frank Fuss, Frank Dees, Rick LaGrange, Miner Stevens, Doug Marshall, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roland Tozer, Jake Herzog, Russ Pokorny, Gerry Chartier and driver Winnie Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt and driver Alice Gable, John Dab, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, and me.

May 23, the sunrise was pink and red all over due to the smoke wafting down from the fires in Canada. On the trip to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, the OMOTM had the opportunity to enjoy this sunrise as harmful to the atmosphere as it is.

A little house keeping: The Old Men roster has a considerable number of names but, as it is an ad-hoc group with no rules and no membership, it is tough to put a finger on how many are really in the OMOTM. What we do have though is a preponderance of similar names and this scribe sometimes in making up the alibi list will miss one with like names.

We have three Johns, three Pauls, two Franks, and two Jakes, with the rest being one of a kind so far. The last meeting, I missed a Frank but there were two in the little notebook used for names and one-word notes of some of the goings-on at the breakfast. So, if the cops or bill collectors are looking for either one of them, they were both at the breakfast the week before this.

Two of the big local news stories — the limo, and the driveway incident — were discussed with many opinions offered. The upstart of the conversation was that the OFs would not want to be on either one of those juries.


Old stuff

The story of stuff. This column often mentions old stuff, and it is no wonder because this is the OMOTM.

By being in this classification, the OFs are a little leery of much of the new stuff. Some because the OFs don’t understand it, and at times to the OMOTM most of the new stuff has a predetermined obsolete date.

As one OF put it: No matter how well the OF takes care of it, when the new stuff reaches its fall-apart date, it falls apart. The GE monitor-top refrigerator was one product mentioned and some of those are still running.

The OFs doubt if one of these new refrigerators that cost as much as a car will last more than 12 years no matter how well taken care of. The OFs are finding out that the quit date on many appliances is about that — 10 to 12 years.

One OF who has multiple old vehicles (and they run) mentioned fixing his “T” (that is a Ford Model T) with some kind of rod that was bent or broken, and then took it for a spin. No wonder the OFs are suspicious of the newer stuff.

One OF said he wouldn’t trade his wife for a newer model anytime. The OF said she is still prettier than most of the younger models with all their Botox, silicon, and tattoos (that are going to be nothing more than black blobs in a few years).

Another OF said there are certain cases where all these processes are necessary, like accidents, birth defects, burns, etc. 

Then it was another thought — think of all the people who would be out of work, and all the businesses shut down if this industry was put down.

Still the OF thought his wife was pretty, smart, and strong like a bull, without this augmentation.

Some OFs can attest to these black blobs; those who have them have no idea now of what they are or when the OF got them.


Some like it hot

Then another topic on individuality entered the discussions and it is a wonder how restaurants handle it.

One OF who has been mentioned before likes most of his food well done — well done to the point of bacon cooked so crisp it looks like charcoal, and toast burnt so it is possible to see through it.

Then another OF will like the same items the way most people like them. Then maybe some other OF will like the same items differently all together.

Most restaurant staffers take all this in stride and keep a smile on their faces, where, if it were the OFs waiting on the public, they would probably say, take it and eat it or go someplace else.

Again, maybe that is why there are so many restaurants with all different kinds of titles for the types of food they prepare; now the OFs have many choices.

The restaurant of Mom has a motto: I cook it, you eat it, clean your plate, and there will be no comments.

No matter the name of the restaurant, or how food is cooked, if it is reasonable, hot, and plenty, the Old Men of the Mountain are generally happy, and Tuesday the OGs were happy at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. All those OMOTM who jumped in their vehicles and headed to the Chuck Wagon were: Miner Stevens, Jake Lederman, John Muller, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Doug Marshal, Frank Fuss, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Russ Pokorny, Frank Dees, Dick Dexter, Herb Bahrmann, Joe Rack, Jake Herzog, Paul Guiton, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, John Dab, and me.

It is the Vth month already and we are into it by IX days and, on this Tuesday of V IX MMXXIII, the Old Men of the Mountain tucked another beautiful morning under their belts and gathered at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh in full force to have breakfast.

At the last count, unless this scribe missed a head or two, there were XXXIV OMOTM seated at the tables. As mentioned before, this count is very important to supply alibis for those in attendance and this scribe hopes he spotted all who came.

The past couple of weeks, the OFs have been offered a chance to take a survey on “cognizance.” So far, a couple of the OFs said the survey sounds like fun and they are interested in taking part in it, even though this is not every OF’s cup of tea.

One OF said he is leery about taking this test because after taking it the one administering the test may have him committed.

Another OF said, “You? With this group, it could or should be all of us.”


The best way

The conversation turned to how anyone does things, anything from brushing their teeth to mowing the lawn, from getting dressed to fixing a leaky sink, etc. The OFs discussed the “easy way, versus the hard way.”

During this conversation, it was concluded that the easy way to some is the hard way to others and, as usual, the ending was that, that sentence could be reversed.

One OF maintained that, when putting on your pants, it should be done sitting down because if you do it standing up there is a chance the person putting on his pants could fall over. The OF also thought it was much easier sitting down than standing up.

How to mow the lawn was another topic and it was hard to discern if the subject was the easy way or the hard way, as opposed to what some considered the right way or the wrong way.

Some thought going up one way and back the other way, others thought starting in the middle and going around and around was the best way and the quickest, while another said starting at the edge and working to the center going in one direction was the fastest and the best.

One OF really had the easiest: All he did was stand and look out the window while he had a cup of coffee and watched whoever he hired to do it, do it.


Tons of tools

This segued into a conversation on how many engines the average OMOTM had. The OFs began mentioning what tools they owned just to maintain their property, then those who had hobbies like boats, motorcycles, radio-controlled planes, and drones; all those toys that keep the OFs happy and busy.

Engines mount up, weed-whackers, lawn mowers, chainsaws, power-washers, they too, add to the mix. Some OFs say they are not mechanics but yet they keep all these engines running.

As the scribe listened to all this, and sorting out words from noise, the scribe thought about his dad telling him: If it is run by external fuel, it is an engine, and that includes steam, but if it is run by electricity, it is a motor.

But like boats and ships this is not a hard and fast rule. Engine Sports does not have the ring to it than Motor Sports does. Why that came to the scribe, he does not know, but the next conversation was on what and how the OFs learned from their moms and dads.


Parental lessons

Because it was mostly on man stuff, it was the OF’s dads who were discussed even though Mother’s Day is coming up.

How, as kids, the OFs learned from their dads is varied, some dads were good teachers, and some did not have the knack. Some of the OFs’ dads were easygoing types, and some weren’t.

What kind of dads the OFs thought they were, the OFs did not know. On the farm, dads had to be pretty good teachers without knowing it or the OFs at the table who were raised on farms wouldn’t be here; it would be someone else.

Learning from your parents, the bus, and the school of hard knocks, one OF thought was better than school and the books. The OF said, “Why the h--- did we have to learn Roman numerals?”

This OF said he didn’t think even the Roman engineers did their engineering in Roman numerals. Another OF suggested it was necessary to know Roman numerals so we could tell time on some of the clocks.

“Hey,” the OF replied, “We look at all those letters and still say the number 15. How about Roman numerals for 15 and 5/8 plus or minus a 3/8? Why, it would take a whole sentence of Roman numerals. Just to do a simple math problem would take a whole book, so why did they waste so much time in school to teach Roman numerals?”

Some of the OMOTM just asking.

The Old Men of the Mountain who found time and were smart enough to learn how to drive from generally (who else?) their dads, were able to drive to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh and they were: Rev. Jay Francis, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Henry Whipple, John Dab, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Russ Pokorny, Frank Dees, Rick LaGrange, Ed Goff, Roland Tozer, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Paul Whitbeck, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Doug Marshall, Otis Lawyer, Ken Parks, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Jake Herzog, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Duncan Bellinger, and me.

Guess what! The Old Men of the Mountain managed to gather again on Tuesday, April 25, at a new/old place with a new name. The place is Hillbelly’s in Westerlo.

One of the Old Men of the Mountain worked here many years ago when he was 15 years old and his grandfather owned the place. The OG is now 72 and eating in the same spot on this planet that he did when his mom probably fixed his lunch for him.

Now he has to buy his own lunch while someone in the kitchen puts it together and a cute little waitress brings it out. My goodness, some of the OFs don’t wander too far away from home.

Just like a bunch of old hens, the OFs talk about cooking more than one would think. One time it was how to build a sandwich; this time it was how to make potato salad.

For some reason this was a carry-over from the OF who said he planted 150 pounds of potatoes already. These OFs claim that, for one to make good potato salad, it is necessary to start with old potatoes — maybe a year old.

To some of the OFs, this takes considerable planning to store away this year’s potatoes for next year’s potato salad. The OFs said the spuds do have a bunch of eyes that have to be cut out before being cleaned and cut up but they do make great potato salad.

One OF said his father never really planted their potatoes but they always had quite a crop. This OF said, after cutting up the seed potatoes, his father just threw them on prepared ground in something that looked like rows (the OF said his father wasn’t too fussy) and then covered them up with straw.

When it was harvest time, they would just pull up the plant, and take off the potatoes, and they were just about all the same size by the straw covering and not dirt, the potatoes were then put in sacks, and hauled off to the root cellar.



Now we go on to the next topic. Not many family reunions happen with the OFs but some do travel hither and yon to attend these rare family events.

In this conversation, a few of the OFs talked about meeting with the people they graduated with. Strange that the only ones who talk about this are meeting with their high school class, not college; this may be because we all are required to go to school up until the 12th grade; college is an elective.

There are, in the military, certain reunions but again most of the time the military was elective except when the draft was in force and that friendly greeting came from the government. The ones who received the greeting were advised to serve — election had nothing to do with it.

In this discussion, the OFs noted how many of their classmates have passed on, which makes their reunion gatherings smaller and smaller. The group called the Old Men of the Mountain is open-ended; it has no age limit at either end, the rule is just show up, but these high school reunions are the other way and that is what the OFs talked about — how few are left in some of them, and the shape some of the remaining members are in.

One OF put it this way: At some point, there will be one chair not turned over, or it may work out that the waiter has to turn all the chairs over. Some of the Old Men of the Mountain hope with this group it never gets to that point.



The gathering this Tuesday morning had one OF present an offering from one of his friends who is doing a survey for some hospital on “cognizant.” (A brief check in Google says this means “knowledge of something, especially through personal experience.”)

This OF said his friend thought the OMOTM would be a great group to be part of that study. This OF gave a brief dissertation on what would be involved.

The doctor would either come to the OF’s home or the OF could go to the doctor’s home. The OF said the question-and-answer period would be about three hours long. The OFs muttered this is no rinky-dink item.

“Three hours, I can’t stay awake that long,” one OF uttered quietly.

The information offered by the OF doing the presentation was pretty sketchy for now. The OFs thought for a study like this, this group is pretty “hip” because more often than not at each breakfast the OFs time jump from the 1930s to 2023 in a couple of sentences.

So far within the group, memory does not seem to be a problem. One OF suggested that might be just what they are looking for.

“I don’t know,” was a reply. “I can tell you what my wife was wearing when we first met, but I can’t tell you what she has on today.”

“Me too,” an OF replied. “I can tell what my mother used to make for us as kids for breakfast when we came in from doing chores in the barn, but come 4 o’clock this afternoon and I won’t be able to tell you what I am having right now for breakfast.”

It will be interesting to see how many takers we have on this. For now though the Old Men of the Mountain were enjoying their breakfast at the Hillbelly’s Restaurant in Westerlo, New York. 

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the new/old restaurant were: Ed Goff, Rick LaGrange, Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Doug Marshall, Frank Fuss, Roland Tozer, Frank Dees, Russ Pokorny, Rev. Jay Francis, Herb Bahrmann, John Dab, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen Defazzo, Gerry Chartier and guest Winnie Chartier, Dick Dexter, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, and me.

On Tuesday, April 18, 2023, the Old Men of the Mountain journeyed back to the Your Way Café for their weekly morning repast; then next week it is off to a new place to eat in the OMOTM’s stomping grounds — the Helderbergs.

One OMOTM mentioned that it is good to see someplace opening instead of closing.

Another OF had a comment that had a bit of truth in it. He stated, “The way people are leaving the state, we are going to be left with only the young (the ones getting their education) and the old (that is us) and pretty soon we will have the whole darn state to ourselves.” 

“Yeah,” was a retort. “The way the ‘we are hiring’ signs are popping up, and as crippled as we are, we will be able to go back to work.”

Just like the old Revolutionary War poster stated, “As long as you are male and have two opposing teeth the military needs you,” no mention of age or physical condition.

Wedding rings

This did not bring up the next conversation. This scribe can’t remember what did or what it was related to, but it is in the notes, and the talk was about, of all things, wedding rings.

That very important little band of gold has been on some of the OMOTM’s fingers for so long they have worn grooves in their fingers. One OF had to have his ring taken off by a jeweler and stretched out to fit.

Another OF was much heavier, and the OF claims it was muscle when he was married, but now the OF has shrunk considerably, including his hands, to the point his ring keeps falling off.

The OF was afraid he was going to lose it, so he took it off. The OF said that, without the ring, he did not feel dressed, so he had it altered and the ring is now back on.

Some of the rings looked identical, and have worn down to the point they are more than half the size they were when purchased and the beaded edges are all gone.

One OF said, when he was married, the ring cost about $12.95. And another OF agreed that was a lot of money then. (The scribe checked it out on — what else — Google and 13 bucks back then is about $163 today.)

Those bands of gold, though small, are very important as constant reminders of a very serious commitment. A couple of hit songs will attest to that. Don Cherry and “Band of Gold” and Randy Travis with “On the Other Hand” are good examples of how universal these golden bands are.

One OF said that his wedding ring saved his life. One day, while stacking wood at Bush Lumber in Middleburgh, his foot slipped and he fell off the pile of lumber; however, his ring caught on the edge of a piece of lumber and spun him around so he landed on his butt, and not his head.

The OF said he did not come out scot-free; he did break his tailbone, but at least he did not land on his head like he would have. Another OF said he should have landed on his head, because it is hard as a rock. That OF thought he would be better off if it had been the head.

GPS gone awry

Another OF story centered on how much trust we should put into Google and GPS. The OF said they were leading a group on a hike that was supposed to go from point A to point B.

The OF said the group hiked for some time and he thought they were headed in the right direction; however, one of the hikers said, “Ya know, I think I’ve seen that tree before.”

In checking it out, yep the group had seen the tree before, about two hours before, or maybe longer — all they were doing was hiking in one great big circle. Apparently the group had to return to good ole Boy Scout training and use a compass to arrive at point B.

One OF told of traveling to a location out in the western part of the state. The driver did not have GPS but had been to this destination before.

The passenger brought along a portable GPS, just for kicks and giggles, that he listened to and used the GPS, and this item was right on until it got to within five or six miles from the destination. The GPS had them go straight at one point when the driver said they should turn and go up a hill.

The GPS had them make a left turn a couple miles down the road and then a couple more turns. Eventually they went through a gate and wound up in a gravel pit, at which point the GPS announced that they had arrived at 225 something street. Hmmmm.


The unusual warm weather has some of the OFs doing much of their early spring cleaning, house and yard.

One OF said he has planted 150 pounds of potatoes. Theoretically, in good soil and with good weather, two pounds of potatoes planted should yield 50 pounds at harvest. The OF should realize 3,750 pounds of potatoes, which is almost two tons of potatoes. That’ll take a whole lot of eggs to match those home fries.

Then and now

The theme of then and now cropped up as usual because one OF showed up in his early, restored cream-colored Ford Ranchero.

The then and now was not on vehicles but on Old Men of the Mountain no longer with us and how the group is aging, and still has considerable new blood to keep the OMOTM rolling along for a while.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who rolled into the Your Way Café in Schoharie and brought all their stories with them were: Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Doug Marshall, Frank Fuss, Ed Goff, Rick LaGrange, Jake Herzog, Rev. Jay Francis, Paul Guiton, John Dab, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Herzog, Herb Bahrmann, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, and me.

— Photo by Frank Dees

Landlocked: Large boats like this one are still on the streets and in the mangrove trees six months after Hurricane Ian hit Fort Myers, Florida. “There sure are a lot of logistics to go through I guess to get them out of there, if the boats are even water worthy,” said John R. Williams “Don’t tick off Mother Nature.”

On April 11, 2023, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie. On the way to the café in the early morning, different occurrences, or visuals, catch the OFs’ eyes, enough so it is mentioned by some when the OFs arrive at the eating place.

Tuesday morning, it was the amount of deer and turkey spotted while driving in. It was not one or two deer or turkey, but herds of deer, and flocks of turkeys. The mountain appears to be loaded with both.

Not only is real spring close for the homo sapiens, but also for the birds, and animals, plants and trees.

One OF wondered if animals have watery eyes and runny noses from all the fresh pollen like humans with allergies do.


Active August

Tuesday was another day in which to celebrate a birthday, and this one was on the day of the issuance of this OF on this whirling rock. So the OFs were already in tune to sing “Happy Birthday” to another OF who made 87.

With all these great people being born in April, August must be a very active month.



One OF just returned from three months in Florida for the winter (wimp, afraid of a little snow) (other OFs call those who can do smart, and wish they could) (maybe the whimpers are jealous). Choose one of the above.

Anyway, this OF reported on all the damage done to Sanibel and Captiva islands, plus other areas like Fort Myers, by the hurricanes. It is surprising how many other OFs have been to these places and knew exactly what he was talking about when the OF said only this one building was not touched but all the others are gone.

According to this OF, the damage is total; the OF said that the foundation of many of the high-rise buildings have been eroded and washed out. The buildings are completely empty.

This country complains of shoddy workmanship in other countries when we have enough of that in our own country ─ it is like the pot calling the kettle black.

This led to some discussion on insurance and how much the cost has risen, especially in Florida. The OFs wondered about how the insurance companies are able to keep up with all the natural disasters going on in this country alone.

The earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, the fires out west, the list goes on and on. One OF mentioned we don’t hear much about what goes on in South America except the drug problem. I bet they have their natural disasters also.

One OF took many photos of the damage the hurricane did in Florida. Some are reminiscent of photos of our own storm (Irene) with boats sailing in the mud quite a bit inland. The much voiced statement from those who don’t fly in the wintertime, saying they will take their blizzard anytime over the hurricanes and fires, were muttered a couple of times.

Much is said about the beauty of these places, and they are beautiful, with the warm weather, swaying palm trees, and smooth roads, but many of the OFs say, “So what.”

Many of the OMOTM (who have said this before) maintain that, outside of its politics, taxes, and big-city sponges, New York is a beautiful state. The Adirondacks, Catskills, and even our own Helderbergs can match any place for calendar scenes.

The OFs say that we have our own lakes, rivers, and streams for fishing and boating, our ocean shore- line for serious boating, our own wooded areas for hunting, our own mountains for skiing, and even the arts excel in New York.

One OF commented that there are so many hiking trails in our area anyone who is a serious hiker can walk his legs to stumps trying to do them all.

Quite a few of the Old Men of the Mountain made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie but the OMOTM surely didn’t hike there. The OFs came in their fancy cars and trucks because for many of them hiking just a few feet is an effort. Why some trails keep toilets close by is because the hike to the john is an excursion.

Those OFs who made it to the Your Way anyway were: Frank Dees, Doug Marshall, Frank Fuss, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Marty Herzog, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Ed Goff, Rick LaGrange, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Roger Shafer, Jake Herzog, Jamey Darrah, Paul Whitbeck, Paul Guiton, John Dab, Lou Schenck, Dick Dexter, Jack Norray, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

Writer’s note: This scribe would like to make a correction on the April 13 column where we discussed World War II aircraft using wood in the construction. One was the Hawker Hurricane and not the Spitfire as mentioned; sorry about that.

The Old Men of the Mountain managed to gather at Mrs. K’s Family Restaurant in Middleburgh on April 4 where the OFs went to the expense of getting a cake for one of the OFs who made it to 90 years old.

This OF thought when he hit 60 that would be it, then came 70 and the OF said he thought this was really it. Then 80 showed up but the OF said he felt great but still thought he would cross over and see what life was really like.

Now it is 90, and the OF said he is a little slower and can’t do all he used to do, and he naps more, has a few more aches and pains but still feels OK (with question marks) — the eyes are good, the ears are questionable, and the mind was always a little on the weird side so that hasn’t changed. The OF said we shall see what happens now.

The OF offered these tips on how to fall asleep in a chair. Tip #1: Be old. Tip #2: Sit in a chair. That’s it; that is all the advice the OF has to offer.

That is a fib as the OF did offer some other advice that he pretty much adheres to and that is: Don’t smoke ever, don’t drink, cut down on red meat, and stay active.

“Oh,” the OF said, “find a good woman and stick with her; that helps.”


Ice-Out Day

Many of the OMOTM are, like we say, just that, Old Men of the Mountain — and on the mountain are a few small lakes. The OFs who are flat-landers asked the mountain men if there were any open water on the lakes yet. The answer on the larger of the two lakes was “no” to open water yet.

One OF mentioned he had the experience of being on Caroga Lake at the exact right time when the ice left the lake. At first, the OF said he did not know what the roar was until he looked up and saw the ice on the lake just flip over and sink out of sight. The OF said he often heard of the ice leaving but never experienced it until that day.


World War II planes

The OFs at one end of the table talked for some time on World War II airplanes, basically the fighter type. They discussed the Dallas air show crash of last year where six people died.

One of the planes in that show was the Bell P-63 Kingcobra, which was a souped-up model of the P-39 Airacobra. The OFs who were knowledgeable about the incident felt it was some royal screw-up.

Both planes in the air at the same time is not unusual at air shows, and at low altitudes showing off is what they do. The OFs said they thought the P-63, in a turn to the left, could not see down and behind the plane. The approaching B-17 flew directly into the blind spot from below and behind the P-63

One OF who flies wondered, even in an air show, what were they doing in the same air space. Generally, air space is assigned before any plane goes up.

This is not all the OF talked about when discussing these World War II aircrafts. One other thing mentioned was how much further the planes in the air were advanced than the equipment on the ground. The British Spitfire was built out of canvas and wood, and was quite a plane during the war.

Talking about that, one OF mentioned the Morgan automobile, which was originally made out of wood and the hood was held down by leather straps. Currently Morgan cars have an aluminum frame but the rest is made of a special ash wood.


What happened to shop class?

The OFs brought up a discussion on shop in high schools. Most of the OFs were in rural schools, and shop was taught in all of them. The Future Farmers of America was an active group along with shop.

Today, the way the OFs understand it, not all schools teach shop. This course has been dropped by many.

To the OFs, this is a shame, but what has taken its place are courses in technology and how to operate a computer and work with them.

One OF said teaching everyone how to saw a piece of wood has gone by the wayside and some of the OFs were wondering if it is even necessary. But today knowing how to use a computer is really necessary.

It is a toss-up, however, because if a kid learns how to fix a toilet he won’t ever be out of work. Matter of fact, the OFs think the poor kid will be overworked.



Now for something completely different. The OFs started talking about the shuttle to the moon, especially the one that exploded.

This led to a discussion on how much longer before we will be headed for other planets, and even out of our solar system. The OFs think it is going to come about sooner rather than later; they also think we have been visited by beings from other planets.

One OF thinks they are here now. This OF says this planet is pretty big, and changes come too fast; he thinks these geniuses may be from other planets and solar systems.

Another OF thinks, if these “visitors” are here they must be from other solar systems because this OF doesn’t think any of the other planets in our solar system will support life.

This OF was overheard to say, “With all the friends I have, some are so weird I think they all come from outer space.”

All the spacemen that landed in the Helderbergs who eventually became elderly and began to call themselves the Old Men of the Mountain to hide their true identities started by having their weekly meetings at different restaurants throughout the area so they wouldn’t be detected. These aliens thought the Old Men of the Mountain would be a good name for covering their activities.

So those that met this week were under the aliases of: Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Roger Shafer, Doug Marshall, Rick LaGrange, Russ Pokorny, Frank Fuss, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Ken Parks, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Ed Goff, Marty Herzog, Herb Bahrmann, Jake Herzog, Ted Feurer, Bob Addis, Don Peletier, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, John Dab, Paul Guiton, Dick Dexter, Lou Schenck, Rev. Jay Francis, and me, met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh.

The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh on Tuesday, March 28. The ride to the diner from and over the mountain was another drive through a Christmas card.

Before the column starts, this scribe caught the opening of a radio show that came on with a guy announcing he had the truth, and then he began to babble on. Many say they have the truth but truth is in the mind of the orator, not necessarily in the mind of the listener.

Like Pontius Pilate said, “What is truth?” So many claim they have the truth that there is now so much rubbish to filter through that the truth cannot be found. And that’s the truth.

The Old Men of the Mountain have a few OFs who have traveled all over this sphere — Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, Russia, Turkey, and some are even adventurous enough to travel to South Berne. At Tuesday morning’s breakfast, one OF was telling about some of the places he has been to; one country especially interesting was Russia.

The OF said that, in the job he had, he was required to travel all over. In the beginning, it was exciting but that did not last long. The OF said 12-hour plane rides over nothing but water for most of the flight gets to be a pain in the butt after awhile.

In the city of Tambov, Russia, which is about 260 miles southeast of Moscow, the OF found it was very unusual because, even though not a major city of that country, it is pretty good-sized with about 300,000 people. That makes it a little over three times the size of Albany which is (as of 2021) about 99,000.

The OF in a city of that size (about 300,000) found there were only two restaurants, and no hotels. It sure was not a tourist destination spot as one OF put it.


Science and education

Continuing with points the OF brought up about science and education, some of the other OFs understood the problems. Once they left school and joined the workforce what the OFs thought of school sure changed, and the OFs wished they had studied harder, or would have chosen a few different courses.

One OF said that taking the easy courses just to get a degree is quite often not the way to go. Sometimes it is the harder courses that have the information the OF needed and would use.

Another OF commented that, unless you are going to play basketball or something like that as a profession, then courses in fingerpainting, and basket-weaving would be OK. Another OF chirped in for those guys and gals a course in public speaking and diction should be mandatory.

The OFs started talking about how, in the sciences, German is an important language to know and read because so much scientific information is written in German. Of course now it may not be as important because we have computers that will translate German for us, or from any other language for that matter.



As is often the case, cars, trucks, tractors, old engines, etc., are part of the conversation. Tuesday morning though, it was on cars, especially today’s cars, versus cars many of the OFs grew up with.

The OFs thought the cars of the twenties through the fifties had character and class that made each make and model different from the other. The OFs thought even some of those in the sixties and seventies would pass this test. The conversation was all on coachwork and how the vehicle looked. 

Today, the OFs say, with these wind-tunnel designs, the cars all look alike no matter how much the cost or who makes them. There, to the OFs, is no pizzazz to the coachwork.

The OFs thought again that these vehicles cost a ton of money and look like a bunch of sheets hung on the line to dry and just as boring. Mechanically — that is a different story.


Coffee connoisseurs

Another common product most everyone uses, in this case partakes of, is coffee. Some of the OFs are just plain ole coffee drinkers; others are quasi connoisseurs of the black liquid.

Like any group, the OFs have their black, cream no sugar, cream and sugar, just a splash of sugar in regular, and then there is the same set of additives in the decaffeinated group. One OF wanted his coffee super hot and when it came the OF would put a couple of ice cubes in it. (duh!)

This scribe cannot say all OFs have coffee with their breakfast, some have just water, and some will have orange juice, but some OFs are useless until the first cup of coffee.

One restaurant that is able to string tables together places two or more carafes of coffee on the table — one or more regular, and generally one decaf. At the table this past Tuesday morning, a couple of the OFs commented on how long those carafes were able to keep the coffee not just warm, but hot.

The other restaurants have waiters, or waitresses going around refilling the coffee cups, or topping them off if the OF chatted too long and the coffee cooled down. One OF said he thinks that our blood should be black not red because of how much coffee we drink.

Those Old Men of the Mountain could take winters like Tuesday morning with two or three inches of snow covering everything, the roads bare and safe, the temperature in the thirties, no wind, and the light whiff of smoke coming from the woodburning stoves, which would make winters like a Currier and Ives print. The OMOTM who traveled through this scene to the Middleburgh Diner were: Frank Fuss, Doug Marshall, Bill Lichliter, Roland Tozer, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, Russ Pokorny, Ed Goff, Jake Herzog, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Herb Bahrmann, John Muller, and me.

On Tuesday, March 21, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. The OMOTM who drove east to get to the diner said that those who drove from the west missed a beautiful sunrise with a red sky that completely covered the horizon and then some. (If the horizon is covered, what is the “some” that is covered? Hmmm)

That was a key to what most of the early morning discussion was to be — it was the weather — of course. Those who live off the Hill missed a real dose of winter. Many of the OFs are Old Men of the Mountain and they were discussing, and showing pictures of snow measured in feet not inches.

It was thought that if (there is a “that if” quotient) it were not such a wet, heavy snow the measurements would be higher yet. The OFs claimed that the weight of the snow lowered the actual total depth. (But isn’t “actual” what is wound up with anyway whether snow is wet, or light and fluffy? What is on the ground is on the ground, no matter what its composition is?  Hmmmm.)

So the 30 to 34-plus inches of snow under different circumstances could be 40 to 48. No matter what, it was a lot of snow!

One OF saw a picture of an OF clearing his driveway with a push snowblower in one section, and a snow blower on the end of a tractor in another section. Snow flying in every direction.

Another OF said that, listening to the weather reports, it would be a good idea to get as much snow off as possible because the next day was going to be warm and, with the snow off the walks and driveways, it would clear pretty quick.

Yet another OF was more of, “Hey, Mother Nature put it there; Mother Nature can take it away.”


Feeling good

One OF came in and as usual was asked almost in unison, “Hey (name), how are ya doin’?”

This is a common greeting not only with OMOTM but in general. An answer is not expected other than, “I’m fine,” or “I’m doing OK,” etc., but this OF answered with, “Some days you feel you are like the dog, and others you feel like the hydrant. Well, today I am the dog; I haven’t felt this good in a long time.”

To which another OF said, “Be careful with that.”

This OF said his old man came out of the kitchen and announced the same sentence (he hadn’t felt this good in a long time) and went into a little room that was an offshoot of the kitchen to put on his shoes and socks, sat down in a chair there, let out a little grunt and fell to the floor dead.

When the doctor came, the doctor said he was dead before he hit the floor.

“Well,” one OF added, “I guess it is best to feel rotten all the time.”

Another OF declared, “At my age, if I didn’t feel rotten all the time, I would think something was wrong.”


Hats off?

Last week, this column was about 2022; this week, the OFs mentioned an event in another restaurant that is no longer there — it was the Home Front.

When most of the OFs arrive at the restaurants, they are wearing baseball-style caps; with many of the OMOTM, they are gray with the OMOTM logo on them. Some caps do represent other logos but not many.

The subject here is most of the OFs eat with their hats on; however, a few had manners introduced at a young age and do remove their hats while at the table, but it is not many.

At one time when eating at the Home Front, there was a waitress who was “old school” and she tolerated no hats at the table. The OFs remembered her well because, if the OF forgot and left his hat on, she would remove the hat and remind the OF, “No hats at the table.”

Some waitresses, or even other people, would cause the OFs to take offense at such conduct. However, the personality of this waitress was such that the OFs would put up with the hat removal and didn’t mind.

Comment: It is odd that some people can get away with this type of behavior and others don’t. With the temperament of some of the OFs, if a different waitress tried the same move, an OF might leave and never go back.

The OFs very loosely hang together and join in a few social events. One such gathering is again a weekly thing and it is still having breakfast.

A few of the OFs go to breakfast at the Rock Road Chapel on Rock Road in Berne. The breakfast is from 7 to 9 on Wednesday and is free; however, they do accept donations. The OFs that go have a good time, and say the breakfast is pretty good.

“There,” one OF said, “they do take their hats off.”

With this type of meeting for some of the OGs and this type of atmosphere, the Old Men of the Mountain are getting to be like one great big family. Maybe they were all along. 

The Old Men of the Mountain who were able to get out since the temperature rose a few degrees, plus the good work of the highway crews, so that all who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown without having to use horses and sleighs were: Marty Herzog, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Russ Pokorny, Doug Marshall, Frank Fuss, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Jake Herzog, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Paul Guiton, Lou Schenck, Dick Dexter, Jack Norray, John Dap, Herb Bahrmann, and me.