On Halloween this year, the Old Men of the Mountain met in their costumes at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh on Oct. 31. The OMOTM with their wrinkled bodies are, at most of their ages, in constant costume so to become outfitted for Halloween is no trick for these OFs; all they have to do is show up.

At one corner of the table, there were some OFs who worked at, or had very close relatives who worked at, the penitentiaries of the state of New York. Most of them did not stick it out and moved on to better things.

Although one person did hang in there for quite a while. It was the understanding most of these people working in these institutions worked away from the general population. For the OFs to keep their sanity, this is a good thing.

Halloween is not a holiday, yet a couple of OFs mentioned that so much is done with Halloween, and getting ready for All Saints Day is similar to preparing for Christmas with the Halloween decorations, colored lights, and all.

Christmas has the crèche, Halloween has its graveyards. Christmas colors are green and red; Halloween, orange and black. Houses decorated with lights and scenes — one with the holiday of Christmas, and the other just for the fun of it. One day, many people head for their house of worship; the other day, they head for a house of horror.

Thanksgiving was also a topic, and the reason for the day was not mentioned; it was the get-togethers and how large or small they were. One OF mentioned that one of these he attended required a lot of food. The OF said two turkeys and he thinks two hams are necessary to feed this group.

One OF mentioned Thanksgiving was a more important extended family get-together than Christmas. More of the family traveled to be with each other than at Christmastime.

They thought that Christmas should be more of a family time, meaning your family, rather than the whole dang group down to cousins three times removed. With the young ones scurrying about and confusion, oftentimes everything is running amuck with dinner just being food consumed and not really enjoyed — and still is looked forward to every year, even planned a year in advance to attend the next one.


Engine sounds

As always, cars and trucks entered the conversation on Tuesday morning and the discussion was about how an engine sounds. Not as much as it used to be, but many of the OFs claimed they could tell the make and model of a vehicle by the sound of its engine. While others said nowadays they all sound alike to them.

One OF said that on the farm they had a small Farmall tractor and it had its own particular sound. The sound though was the same on all the Farmalls of this type.

One day at the fair, he was passing the Ferris wheel and heard that sound. Upon further investigation, he found he was right. That engine was the same engine being used to operate the Ferris wheel.

However, that was then, and maybe now being able to tell engine sound from engine sound with the new muffler systems may not be so easy.

One OF said he could tell when an engine was starting up just by how the engine cranked, or how long it took for the engine to fire up. Today it is: Hit the ignition and the engine is running so there doesn’t seem to be any crank time.


Double duty

Some of the OFs have breakfast out two days a week. One of our members has been with the group a long time, and many at one time knew this member when they were kids.

This young OF received a call and formed Rock Road Chapel. Rock Road Chapel has a breakfast every Wednesday morning and is by donation, and if you are down on your luck the best donation is just being there.

Some of the OMOTM support this endeavor and this is a “bring the whole family” breakfast not just the OM. From the reports, this is a very good breakfast — only you take what is there because no waitress is going to come out and ask what you want.

Rock Road Chapel is on Rock Road just a little way in, off Route 146 almost to Berne when traveling from Knox.



Many people, not only the OFs, reflect on what they wished they did, or learned to do, when they were young. Learn to fly a plane, learn to really know how to cook, learn to play an instrument, and learn a foreign language, which is what brought up this discussion.

The OFs discussed their parents and those who came from different cultures and who took the time to teach their kids (who are now OFs) some of the culture and the language. Most of the OFs did a little of this reflecting at Tuesday morning’s breakfast on what they missed by not paying much attention in this regard to their parents. 

One OF listed a couple of should-a’s. One was playing the piano, to which another OF said, “Hey, I play the piano. I will take care of that. I will teach you.”

That is great, teach an OF how to play the piano when the OF has trouble remembering which door he came in.

The Old Men of the Mountain who met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and thought it might be a good idea to start a school for OFs who want to learn things, were: Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Dick Dexter, Jack Norray, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, Rev. Jay Francis, Gerry Cross, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Doug Marshall, Rick LaGrange, Ed Goff, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Mike Kruzinski, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Russ Pokorny, Frank Dees, Ken Parks, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, and me.

A tad chilly this Tuesday morning, Oct. 24, but it is the Northeast and this is what it is.

The Old Men of the Mountain who ventured out of bed this morning had breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh.

Some OMOTM have breakfast served to them at home; some though married do what the little lady says, “Hey, fellow, I wait on you all day so you can make your own d--- breakfast,” and the OF does.

Then some have the part of their life that is not the best and are all alone (and not because of their wishes) and these OFs have to make breakfast by and for themselves.

At least once a week, the OMOTM don’t have to worry about it; the OFs have the best of all three worlds. Good friends, good food, and all the effort the OF has to do, other than getting to the right restaurant, is tell the server what he wants, and hope there is enough in his pocket to pay for it.

One of the so-called founding members of this rag-tag outfit had a personality as big as the whole outdoors. Many stories are told of this OF; one story was how most of the time coming back from the dump, he had more than what he took to the dump.

Over the years, the Old Men of the Mountain have had members with enough money that banks would ask them for a loan; however, one would never know it. Bibs and Dickey shirts were the basic outfit, sometimes even at formal affairs.

This scribe was fortunate enough to be good friends with this OF, and he was the next-door neighbor to boot. This OF wore a piece of rope for a belt when he wore jeans, and would say, “Why pay for a belt when this does the same thing and is always the right size?”

One day on a trip to the dump, this OF returned with one brand new shoe in the OF’s correct size. The OF’s wife questioned why he brought back the one shoe.

The OF replied, “Who knows, some day there might be another one tossed and I will have a pair; they might not match, but it will be a pair.” Perfect logic.

That shoe did come into play later on. This scribe was helping the OF rebuild his barn after a fire.

The OF and this scribe were playing construction among the rafters for the roof and this OF accidentally drove a nail right through the shoe nailing it to the joist, just missing the big toe and the one next to it.

The OF worked his way out of the shoe and finished the day with one shoe on, and the other foot barefoot, and that shoe is still nailed to that joist till this day.

Much, much more could be told about the antics of this OF and those around him and, if this OF’s wife had not kicked out those who gathered in the OF’s kitchen so she could get something done, more likely than not, there would be no Old Men of the Mountain.


Sure shot

Now for some current notes from the OMOTM. One topic was the difference between trap shooting and skeet shooting. OK, but there was no information on what the difference was, only that they discussed the sports.

Trap shooting is from a single location, only at different angles, with the clay target going away from the shooter. Skeet is a little more challenging. There are two clays which go up from different heights and the shooter is to get both.

These heights are varied as the session goes on and the clays cross over each other. Talk about hand-eye coordination. Thank you, internet.


Sleeper hold

Another topic, according to the reporter, was how the OFs discussed old-time wrestling. Back in our day, when the OFs were in their teens, wrestling was like choreographed dances (gee, old people use that term a lot — “back in my day”).

That hasn’t changed, and back then there were no ladies battling it out. The report states the OFs discussed the sleeper hold, which is very dangerous because it shuts off blood to the brain and, if applied too long, can cause death or brain damage.

When used in wrestling, it is often thought both parties were in on it and the fainting (supposedly) was faked. However, none of those guys are going to admit it.

Wrestling was on early TV, with a small screen, and in black and white, a staple. Many people got into it and would swear it was real.


Battling Mother Nature

Another report was on an OF who has property on Warner Lake and to get there one has to go over a rickety, little wooden bridge that crosses a small stream running from in back and to the side of this OFs property, down to the lake.

Apparently, this year, with all the rain and wet weather, this stream has gone from stream to creek and the OF is fighting the erosion of this running water on his property. In the battle of humans against Mother Nature, as in real life, Mother usually wins out.

Let’s hope this OF can divert Mother Nature if he can’t win the battle.

That little wooden bridge holds up because it is only holding half the vehicle; the front wheels are off the bridge and on the ground just before the rear wheels are on the bridge.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh for breakfast no matter what the situation was or is were: Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Marty Herzog, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Lou Schenck, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Rev. Jay Francis, Ed Goff, Doug Marshall, Frank Fuss, Frank Dees, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Gerry Chartier, and unfortunately not me again.

Tuesday, the 17th of October, is a day to remember; somewhere, here in our little space on the planet, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown — now that is an event to remember.

An old thought was that, when traveling, you should eat where the trucks are or the most cars are and supposedly the traveler would find the best meal at the best price. One OF thought this would be a good truism to go by.

Only at one stop, where there were not only the most trucks but one heck of a lot of cars, the OF figured this should be a great place to stop and eat. The OF and his family went in only to find out it was a topless place, a couple of steps beyond Hooters. Live and learn.

Another OF asked if they didn’t have signs advertising that they were that type of restaurant. The reply was, not that the OF noticed; if there were any, the OF missed them.

Just like the truck drivers miss the warning signs for the Glenville Bridge that keeps getting whacked. Yeah or the bridge in Schoharie County with the really sharp S turn in and out of the bridge on Junction Road in Esperance — with all kinds of signs, an OF added.



Along with apple season comes cider time. The OFs talked earlier about drunken animals; now is the time to talk about people getting snookered on the same stuff, hard cider.

One OF talked about making what he called “applejack.” The OF said that he pressed apples from an old, uncared-for orchard on the farm; he pressed the apples, good and bad, worms and all.

The OF claimed the squeezing from these apples made pretty good cider. Some of the squeezing was placed in a barrel and out of this barrel was a copper tube with a spigot on the end.

The barrel was filled with apple juice, kept outdoors, and allowed to freeze. Later in the winter, when it was frozen basically solid, the liquid in the center of the barrel was drained off.

This liquid looked just like water, the OF said, but drinking too much of it could cause blindness. The OF called it great stuff. Old Man of the Mountain Brew — it is recommended not to try this at home. One reason is the OF may have been making the whole thing up and the white lightening that came out was pure poison.


Night challenges

The OMOTM noted that, in many cases, the Bible hits the nail right on the head. Verses in the Bible that mention “your old men will dream, dreams” is right on.

The OFs were talking about how, the older they get, the more they sleep, really sleep, although a couple of OFs mentioned they find it harder to get to sleep as they have gotten older.

However, the conversation centered now on what is meant by older; real OFs can fall asleep at the drop of a hat. The column has had the topic of dreams in it before but this one is on sleeping and dreams and how, when age is up there, a nap turns into a sleep of an hour plus.

Along with a high number in age comes a certain amount of 24/7 hurts; when in a deep sleep, these are not noticed. Sometimes, as one OF put it, the hurt will wake him up out of a deep sleep.

But most of the time, when sleeping, the pain is gone so getting up in the morning is put off until it is absolutely necessary to use the john, and that may be nine o’clock in the morning.

One OF said that sometimes it is the dream that wakes him up, and he can’t get back to sleep because he does not want to fall back into the same dream. There was a lot of agreement on this one.


Bath or shower

This scribe warned that he was not going to be able to make this past Tuesday’s breakfast either and was going to use old notes but thought other notes were better and so used them. 

At one point, the OFs discussed whether it was better to bathe or shower. Some said: Why bother, take some soap and jump in the creek.

That is OK in the summertime but, in winter, not so much.

Most of the OFs shower, and didn’t think it mattered much either way but getting in and out of the tub at the age of some OFs was an effort.

One OF said he thinks the shower is best because, as the dirt and grime washes off, it goes down the drain; in the tub, as the grime is scrubbed off, the OF is sitting there in the germ-filled water, soaking in it.

Another OF claimed the shower stall is easier to clean than the ring around the tub. Yet one said there is nothing more relaxing than soaking in the tub, and adding more hot water as the water cools down.

Another said he thought toilet time was a waste of time; this OF wanted to get in, get clean, get out, get dressed, and be on his way — this OF said he had things to do.

Another OF claimed he had some Chinese friends tell him that Americans spend too much time in the shower and washing off all the bacteria on the body, much of which is there to protect the body; that is why you (meaning the OF) spend so much at the pharmacy, trying to replace it and get all these allergies and colds. Who knows, they may be right.

All the well-scrubbed Old Men of the Mountain either by shower or bath made it to the Chuck Wagon in Princetown and all those perfumed OFs were: Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Jake Herzog, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Dick Dexter, Herb Bahrmann, Paul Bahrmann, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Rev Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, John Dab, Rick LaGrange, Ed Goff, Paul Guiton, Doug Marshall, Frank Dees, Pete Whitbeck, Doug Lonnstrom, and not me.

On Tuesday, Oct. 10, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Gibby’s Diner in Quaker Street.

Unfortunately, this scribe was unable to attend due to unalterable foreseen circumstances; however, the names were taken as usual to protect the innocent. The report is using unused notes from previous meetings, as nothing new was reported.

Interesting notes are noted in a little notebook brought to the breakfast so this scribe is able to jog his memory when putting this report together. Sometimes the notes are noted but the content is not for a family paper so the scribe often wonders why they were even noted.

This first noted subject comes up quite often and that is driving, and comments the OFs make about how they drive and what the OFs do in certain situations. Some of the comments are information on road conditions, and this is helpful to the rest of the group.

Some are just how one OF style of driving is compared to another’s — the other OFs could care less because with their ages the habits of driving are well cast. The warnings and driving conditions are a different story.

At times, who makes the better driver has been brought up. Is it those who learn in the country, or those who learn in the city?

The basic conclusion is that those who learn in the city make better drivers than the good old country boys on their country roads where the only things they have to dodge are the deer, turkeys, and other animals that wander onto the road

In the city, the hazards, the OFs feel, are much greater; the alertness picks up, watching red lights, dodging drunks, cats, dogs, and with their faces in the phone, people doing their wandering onto the streets.

Who knows what might be jumping out onto the streets from between parked cars, maneuvering down the street with sirens wailing from all directions trying to make room for them?

As one OF said, there is no comparison. The OF added: Now, if you need a young driver to handle a car going into a turn at 100 miles an hour, let your country boy do that.


Leaf peekers and blinding lights

The note in the book says leaf peekers. This relates in a way to drivers, but this pastime seems to belong to us — the OFs.

The older generation is out there with the color and the nostalgia of fall, the aroma, the fresh air with lower humidity and taking it all in by poking along at a snail’s pace, while people with things to do and places to go are piling up behind us and (as the OFs chug along in their vintage cars that look brand new) are going nuts.

The OFs have discussed this many times and it is the new white lights on cars coming toward you at night. The OMOTM are beginning to find out these lights are preventing a lot of people from driving at night, and the age of the populace is not confined to OFs.

These lights, in many instances, are way too bright and flood the oncoming cars inside them with light that is blinding. The driver cannot see until that vehicle has passed.

As one OF put it, it is not all white lights that do this, but enough to make it very uncomfortable to drive at night. This was mentioned again and again. Enough of that.


Winter prep

Around this time of year, there is the talk of what kind of winter is ahead of the OFs. There are those OFs who have stored their wood now for the winter and hope it is enough, while some think the winter is going to be mild.

The OFs hate to think what the price of wood and fuel oil will be this winter with how prices for everything seem to be going up and up. If it is a hard winter, one OF said, and they need wood in early spring, it is going to be nothing but junk wood and cost an arm and leg, plus your firstborn.

One OF commented on pricing by saying you think prices are high now? Wait until all these strikes are settled, and if inflation is not in check – wow! Companies are not philanthropists; they are just going to pass the extra costs on to the rest of us.

This OF thinks it is just one great big spiraling cycle, not only here but world-wide. Again, enough of that; it is what it is and unfortunately the poor are in a hole they can’t get out of and it will be getting deeper.


Suburban deer

There is a recent note and this scribe can’t remember if the saved information was used or not; it is not checked off. (Use the note, draw a line through it and shout done!)

This note was on deer. One OF mentioned that, if the deer hunters are going to hunt deer, they don’t need to go into the hills and out in the country; the deer are in the suburbs.

One OF mentioned, and a few more joined in, in agreement, the deer gather in the suburbs in herds. The problem now is the houses are so close, and there are so many developments it is against the law to shoot.

A week or so ago, one OF said deer can read and, when hunting season starts with a roar of the shotgun, the deer head for posted land. However, these animals are smarter than that — they head for the burbs and stay there.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to Gibby’s Diner in Quaker Street and were glad the early morning light is still around so they don’t have to battle the white lights, were: Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Jake Herzog, Marty Herzog, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Dick Dexter, Herb Bahrmann, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Paul Whitbeck, Pete Whitbeck, Roland Tozer, Frank Dees, Doug Marshall, Paul Guiton, Ed Goff, Rick LaGrange, John Dab, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, and not me.

Early morning mist, sun coming up, some color on the trees — it is mornings like this that keep those Old Men of the Mountain (who stay here) hanging around in the Northeast. It is days like this that seem to be the magnet that keeps them here. On this past Tuesday morning, the OMOTM traveled to the Your Way Café in Schoharie to have breakfast and share stories.

All the OMOTM are grateful, and happy that little Charlotte Sena was located safe and sound. Like almost everyone, including the OMOTM and the governor, who said it, it is a parent’s worst nightmare when this type of event occurs.

The minds start thinking of all the struggles and fears the one taken must be going through. The OMOTM wondered if these types of heinous actions are more prevalent now or is it the availability of instant news and so much of it.

If some important official or celebrity has a fart caught crosswise now the whole world knows as it happens. However, in this case, that might have been a good thing because everyone was on the alert.

One OF suggested that, after the scare, when all the commotion settles down, what a story this young lady has for show and tell along with being a great spokesperson for traveling in pairs and being aware of your surroundings. This story being elucidated by a peer will have the attention of all those around the same age taking real notice, more so than if it came from a book or an adult.


Out of cacophony: A deal

It has been mentioned before how just regular conversation among the OMOTM turns into much more than that.

Tuesday morning, the OFs were discussing a combination of completely unrelated topics at the same time: motorcycles, motorcycles with sidecars, the weather, picking raspberries, apple-picking time and cider-making, pears, rabbits climbing trees, making wine, and grapes — all at the same time.

One would think that among all this chatter it would just go on, but no.

One OF picked up on the chatter that another OF had about a Harley that he would like to sell, but he also had a small wine-making plant with all the equipment that he would like to get rid of because it is hardly used and practically brand new.

Another OF at the same table rents wine-making equipment to make wine. Bingo!

Now a discussion on where it is, how big, and the OF saying, “I will need my truck.”

All the particulars of a transaction were discussed and then the OF said, “While you are there you can take a look at the Harley.”

This suited that OF fine because even in the fog and mist the OF interested in the wine-making equipment arrived at the Your Way Café on his motorcycle.


Sidecars aren’t cute

The OFs also received a lesson on motorcycles with sidecars. Though they look cute, and are seen in the movies as just that, cute, the OFs found out they are not that easy to drive, and they are not that cute.

One OF said he learned the hard way — they are hard to maneuver especially with no one in the sidecar. This OF said he learned that when driving a motorcycle with a sidecar to put sandbags in the sidecar to keep it down.

Some TV shows use the cycles with the sidecar: the “Two Fat Ladies” cooking show, “Death in Paradise,” and “As Time Goes By” to mention a few.


Drunk cows

Then, on top of this, the OFs who had farms discussed farms that had orchards and not letting cows in the orchards this time of year because they will just munch on the fallen apples and get tipsy as the apples ferment in the fourth stomach.

Apple acidosis can be a serious condition among not only cows but other animals that munch on this type of fallen delight. Moose, deer, and pigs are a few that can become “drunk” when over indulging. This overindulging can even cause death in the animal when it becomes severe.

One OF said that their whole herd became “drunk” because they indulged. The OF said the father told his sons to clear the orchard of dropped apples and put them in burlap sacks so they could press them into cider later on.

The boys did as they were told but all they did was drag the bags of apples to the hedgerow and put them on the other side. The cows could reach over the hedgerow and just eat from the sacks like hay in the manger. All the cows became “drunk.”

Like people who drink too much, the cows mooed with rolling eyes, and they all wobbled when they walked — some more so than others. Come milking time, they were all staggering at the gate, leaning into each other, and still mooing.

The lead cow upon entering the barn could not find her station; all the others then became disoriented and were mooing and milling about, while pooping all over the place.

The father while witnessing all this was going berserk, hollering and shouting “What the x#%#X is the matter with these @#&X#@ cows?”

He’d whack this cow then that one on the rump, continually ranting and raving, and all he got was stupid moos from the cows.

The upshot from all this was they could not ship their milk for three days, and it took two days to clean the barn.

Even though the boys the OF was talking about did not use their heads, the OF offered that the boys never dreamed this would happen, and didn’t even know it could.

It pointed out a fact this OF has heard over and over: Generally mistakes are not the fault of the mistake-maker, but the fault lies in the communicator failing to communicate.

Those Old Men of the Mountain not failing to make it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie were: Rick LaGrange, Ed Goff, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Roger Shafer, Doug Marshall, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Marty Herzog, Paul Whitbeck, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Dick Dexter, Duncan Bellinger, Rev. Jay Francis, Paul Guiton and guest Linda, and me.

The magic of Tuesday draws the Old Men of the Mountain out of the mountains and to the restaurant of the day for breakfast. On Tuesday, Sept. 26, Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh was the draw. Some of the breakfasts the OFs pack away on Tuesday are such that they must be the only meal of the day.

The good ole US of A is a big country. It is the fourth largest country in the world behind Russia, Canada, and China, and yet many of the OFs have traveled the breadth and depth of it. Tuesday morning, there was much discussion on the people, some places, and the atmosphere of different locals, from here in the Northeast, to the tropical weather of the Deep South. It is different where’er you go.

If one leaves by plane, in a matter of a few hours in the USA, the OFs mentioned leaving one area in mukluks and mackinaw, then getting off in sunglasses and shorts. Of course, the reverse of this is true.

The OFs who travel north and south noticed the biggest change in the weather; those who go east and west not so much. Those traveling top to bottom experience the change more because the north-south latitudes are greater than the east-west latitudes. Key West is much closer to the equator than the tip of California. Texas and Arizona are getting down there.

One OF mentioned that a relative of his who lives in Texas now, but who occasionally comes to the OMOTM breakfast, said they are getting excited down there because a cold front is coming through. It is going to get down to 96 degrees.

As the OFs discussed their travels hither and yon, the names of places and what it was like in other states was mentioned quite often. The OFs discussed travels in our huge country like all they are doing is going to the store for a loaf of bread not realizing that some of our states are larger than many countries.

Looking at Canada, the same thing happens. You can hop in a car, plan a trip, and go from one coast to the other, from Halifax to Ketchikan, British Columbia, Canada. All the OF would need is money for gas, food, and lodging, that is a 6,500-mile trip.

One OF took his kids out of the Berne-Knox-Westerlo school for awhile, and traveled from Maine down the east coast to Florida, across the bottom of the country up the west coast to Washington, and then across the top back to Township, Knox, New York. Needless to say, the OMOTM are a well traveled group.

One OF mentioned that in our country he found he has trouble understanding some of the people when he travels or stays South, particularly in Louisiana when he gets in Cajun country. Another OF used to travel to Cajun country all the time and he even played the Cajun accordion with groups in Cajun country.

One OF told of an experience his family had in traveling. This OF has an aversion to snakes; the OF definitely does not like them. On the trip, one of the parks they stopped at had a serpentarium (a snake house) and the kids wanted to see it.

The OMOTM said no way would they stop now. He was hoping they might forget about stopping on the way back, but they did not. The OF said he only purchased tickets for the family excluding him. He told them he would wait in the car.

The kids told the dad that, when they went in, all the harmless snakes were loose and crawling on the floor, some of which were pretty big, according to the kids. The OF said, if he went in there, he would have fainted on the spot. Some of the OFs think that this approach would be a surprise to many visitors, not only this OF.


Fall predictions

The OFs, as an aged group, talked about the weather (again) but this time in relation to the type of fall we will have this year because of the unusually wet summer, and all the lush foliage. The OFs say this year they have no idea what it will be like.

Some thought that the leaves have produced all the sugar the plants are going to need and the leaves will just dry up and fall off. Others think that, if we have a good cold snap, and some bright sunny days, the carpet of colors is going to be great.

While another OF said he is just going to wait and see. He thinks it is just going to be the same as all other falls. Some spots will be bright; in some areas, the colors will just be dull as always.

To this OF, predicting the fall is just like predicting how much snow we will get. The OF said he will see what the Farmers’ Almanac says. That book is usually a pretty good guide.



It’s time again when the Old Men of the Mountain offer their condolences and prayers to the family of a long-time, faithful Old Man of the Mountain who passed away on Sept. 26, Harold Grippen. Harold was 93 earth-years old when entering into the body of Old Men of the Mountain and their own private cloud in heaven. Our sympathy and condolences are extended to Harold’s family.

Those Old Men of the Mountain still roaming the third rock from the sun met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant, were: Joe Rack, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Rick LaGrange, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Doug Marshall, Kevin McDonald, Ken Parks, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Roland Tozer, Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, Duncan Bellinger, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Paul Guiton, John Dab, and me.

On Tuesday, Sept. 19, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner. On the way to the diner, this scribe noticed it was just this side of miserable weather — drizzle, occasional fog, and a breeze.

However, the scribe received one of the most unusual atmospheric shows he has ever seen and there are a lot of days under this OF’s skin. So this scribe will bore you with what the early morning heavens offered on this day.

Just as the scribe was pulling onto Route 145 from Cotton Hill Road, he noticed a short, wide, very bright rainbow with no actual rain ahead of him. To the left was the diner. The scribe pulled into the parking lot of the diner and faced west.

The rainbow was still there; not only that, but the rainbow continued south over the hills as far as the scribe could see down Route 145. In back of the hills, for at least a mile, the sky above the hills was colored like many rainbows.

Then the rainbows started to fade from the left to right until it came to the main rainbow directly in front of the scribe. When that happened, the rainbow that was still there began to slowly start upward and it began forming an arch.

The arch continued to the right until it rested on the Middleburgh Central School in the village and then the colors exploded in a bright red and then the whole rainbow vanished. This was just an amazing sight that lasted for some time.  

The Old Men of the Mountain who were already in the restaurant did not see the sky show just outside the windows. The OFs inquired of the scribe what he was doing out in the parking lot for so long, and this scribe had to tell them what was going on.

This scribe told them, if he ever painted a painting depicting the event, no one would believe it and they would say it was all made up. And here this scribe is with his camera on the counter in the kitchen.


Lost and found

An OMOTM was indirectly involved with one of the major news events of the day and that was the 82-year-old gentleman who was lost and an army of volunteers with professionals searched for and eventually found the gentleman in a brush pile in the woods.

This gentleman had turned off Route 443 onto Stage Road. Stage Road has a sharp turn a short way in from 443 and, if you do not make that turn, the driver will go directly down the OMOTM’s driveway, which the old gent did.

Then the old gent continued on through the OMOTM’s barnyard, passed the barn and hen house, onto a field road. The old gent proceeded down the OMOTM’s field road through a stone-wall gate opening onto a logging road that went into the wood lot.

The old gent drove along the logging road in the woods until eventually he hit a tree. He then left the vehicle and, not too far from the car, somehow collapsed in a brush pile by the pond where he was later found.

This scribe again remembers part of this trek very well because one day this scribe went to this particular OF’s barn to get some building material. (This was the same barn the old gent drove by.)

Anyway, the OF who owned the material and the scribe started hauling this stuff out of the barn. In the process, the two OFs disturbed a hornet’s nest. The OF who owned the barn was wearing bibs, his usual attire, and the hornets must have liked the bibs, or aftershave, because he attracted these nasty critters and some hornets flew down these bibs.

The OF with the bibs did a dance that was never seen before to the eerie music of screams. This came to be later known as the “Dance of the Hornets.”


Ritual replaces routine

The OFs discussed getting dressed in the morning. After many OFs reach their seventies, this daily routine is now a ritual — no more a routine.

To many, it could be considered their daily exercise. What used to take just a few minutes now takes half-an-hour to 45 minutes.

Bending over and pulling on compression socks is like a workout on an exercise machine. Getting a T-shirt hung up on the back that maybe is damp or is being put on over something else is a losing battle. If the OF isn’t a complete contortionist, the advice from the OFs is: Don’t try this alone; get help pulling the shirt down.

Another struggle is with twists and turns, tugs and pulls of muscles being used to the max just putting on a shirt that would normally be like using these same muscles in a gym. The OFs maintaining their balance while standing on one leg to put on their jeans is another good test the OF goes through getting dressed.

It is a good thing some of the OGs don’t say to heck with this and show up at the breakfast naked. This scribe thinks, if he showed up this way, his body is so wart-covered and wrinkled no one would notice anyway.

The OMOTM have mentioned before how lush this year has been, how thick and green the foliage, how the flowers along the highways (some people call them weeds) are like the foliage — thick and beautiful. It is like driving through a well-manicured garden. The Rose of Sharon is still in bloom like it’s bloomed all year.

The Old Men of the Mountain traveled to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburg, and many huddled in the restaurant while the sky put on an aerial display akin to having the rare opportunity to view the Northern Lights, and these OMOTM were: Bill Lichliter, Kevin McDonald, Frank Fuss, Ed Goff, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Gerry Chartier, Pete Whitbeck, Doug Marshall, George Washburn, Russ Pokorny, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Rev. Jay Francis, Jake Herzog, Ron Tozer, Herb Bahrmann, Dick Dexter, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, and me.

On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. It is getting so that in the early morning it is necessary to have the car’s headlights on. The comfort of driving early without the use of the headlights is gone for this year. Darn.

It is also that time of year again when the OFs have to watch out for kids waiting for the school bus, and those yellow carriages hauling the little darlings off to the institutes of learning. Now all the army of teachers has to do is get them to pay attention and learn. That is the hard part.


Feline frustrations

Cats! Many people have cats and love it or them and some people have a cat and don’t want the animal or the animals, and there are some that love cats and can’t have them due to allergies.

One OF said there is a shot for that (he meant the allergies). Another OF mentioned that he had a friend that had a cat and loved it but put up with quite an allergy because of it. The OF said he coughed, snorted, and itched all the while they had the animal.

The cat eventually died, and the allergies went away. The OF did not mention if they took in another cat or not.

Others have cats, and these OFs say they did not go out and get a cat; the cat was either willed to them or in one case a stray cat wandered into the family of the OF. The OF said it was not a stray but a set of cats were dropped off on the country road the OF lived on.

Unfortunately, this was a common occurrence. They were now stuck with one of those cats, as were neighbors up the road. This particular animal was long-haired, high maintenance, and eventually grew into quite a big cat. 

The OF said they have now had this ball of fur for at least 10 years. When it showed up, the OF took it to the vet, and, at the vet’s, they asked what its name was and the OFs said Nuisance, because that is what he was.

So this OF is still hobbled with Nuisance, and this ball of fur has cost a small fortune to keep it fed, groomed, and maintained. The OF asked: Does anybody want a cat?


Thinning the herd

Pretty soon it will be deer season and, from all the deer the OFs have had to dodge this year, which were spotted in the most unusual places, it is probably a good thing to thin down the herd.

The OFs started talking about bow hunting and what a challenge that is. One OF mentioned that he thinks it does cause many wounded deer, which have been hit with arrows that don’t do the job.

Another OF, who lives in the country,and owns some land and there is considerable farmland around him, said there are quite a few who hunt the area. What this OF can’t understand (because he does not hunt) is why it takes so many shots to bring down a deer.

This OF says it must be guys just shooting to shoot. Quite often, it sounds like they are using machine guns and this is shotgun territory.

One OF mentioned a neighbor who posts his property. His reasoning, the OF said, is not to protect the deer but he just wants to know who is back there in case anything happens. All anyone has to do is ask and the OF said the neighbor will say OK.

An OF said that posted land is where all the deer go to hide. The OF asked the question that required no answer: Did you ever wonder why during hunting season it is hard to find the deer, then after the season is over deer are back all over the place?

Well, they have gone and hidden on posted land, the deer are not dumb; they obviously can read.


A sticky wicket

Then came up a hard discussion the OFs had to report on and that was water — where it is and its importance. The OFs think that, no matter what, an animal or human requires water or liquid to live. Whether an elephant or a germ, it needs water.

If anyone is going to build a house in the country, one OF mentioned, they had better be pretty sure they can get water. One OF said there can be beautiful areas, and beautiful views, but no water so building a place would make no sense.

The OF continued with how municipalities have to be very careful with development so that they have enough water to sustain the added growth. This is a very sticky wicket, because right now it is not practical to make water, one OF thought.

Every drop of water there is now was made when this ball of dirt was formed; we had better not waste it because there ain’t gonna be no mo.

“Can’t prove it by me,” an OF said. “The land in our area is so darn wet this is the first time I ever got my zero-turn lawn mower stuck. It made a real mess pulling it out of there with another tractor.”

An OF mentioned how often he noticed all the ruts from tractors that maintain the grass on the edge of the highways. It has been so wet the farmer OMOTMs say, a lot of their hay is just junk because they can’t get it in between showers and storms. Hey, there is always next year.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and only had to stop for one school bus, were: Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Rick LaGrange, Pete Whitbeck, Mike Kruzinski, George Washburn, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Frank Fuss, Doug Marshall, Ed Goff, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Jake Herzog, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Paul Guiton, Rev. Jay Francis, Duncan Bellinger, with guest Mike Wilson, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, John Dab, and me.

Aug. 8 was a Tuesday and the Old Men of the Mountain met at Hillbelly’s in Westerlo. There was some fog and a menacing sky, but at least in the area the OMOTM traveled, nothing happened.

Last week, the column mentioned it’s a small world. Well, during the week it got even smaller.

One OF reported, after hearing the story about how a college friend’s daughter, not niece, worked at the Chuck Wagon when it was in Champaign, Illinois, another OF said he went to college in Urbana, Illinois, which is part of Champaign.

And, after the story of the Chuck Wagon was told, he said he met his wife at college there, so he too is part of this group of OMOTM and has spent some of his time in Champaign, Illinois. The world just becomes smaller and smaller.

Many of us have stories of how small the world is; this scribe sure has some very strange and unusual ones.

Frustrated fans

In this nefarious group are a contingent of Yankee fans who are completely frustrated with the Yankees waddling around in last place of the Eastern Division in the American League. Many are just fans as fans, but some are radical enough that they think they should be managing the Yankees, and the rest of us are sure they might do a better job.

There are fans of other clubs in the OMOTM, and others who don’t give a darn about any of that. They would just as soon fuss with their cars, trucks, and tractors; however, some do both.

The Yankees are, in some instances when brought up at the breakfast, a team that brings certain consternation and frustration because these guys are not playing up to the quality of ball all that money was supposed to have bought. Some of the OFs say they could play (and did play) better than these high paid professionals who are right now no better than a team of little leaguers.

One OF in an off-handed remark to defend the Yankees said that all the teams in the Eastern Division could be a division leader in any other division. To which the other OFs say, “So what”; these are the Yankees.

Foiling Google geniuses

Somehow one of the OFs mentioned the word “typewriter” in a sentence that was part of a normal statement and was not meant to mean much other than an adjective describing whatever — this scribe forgot what — but it started a conversation on today’s technology and how fast the OFs, at least this group of them, was falling out of the loop. One OF said “he was never in it.”

Most people, including many of the OFs, carry around in their pocket the instrument we called in the last column a phone, and many of these are connected to the search engine Google. This makes those from ages 5 to 105 automatic geniuses; all they need to know is what question to ask that device and click, there is the answer.

“But,” one OF said, “those of us over maybe 65 or 70 have it over them and we could have our own secret society and communicate back and forth and they would not have a clue what we were talking about, or for that matter planning.

“All we would have to do is reinstate a secure dial-phone service and the dial phone with letters and numbers like the forties and fifties. Re-introduce the typewriter, and carbon paper, and include the mimeograph as part of the hard-copy system, and the bonus would be all our written communications would be written in cursive. Any 16-year-old would be so befuddled, they wouldn’t know what was going on.”

The other OFs said, “Hey, this guy has a point. Now the question is: How do we start this retro-techno-revolution?”

Most important

job on this Earth

Last column, the discussion was on the weather and farming and basically how related the two are. One OF, who is still farming, spoke for many OFs who did farm.

Farming is hard work, both physically and mentally, plus the pay is low. Another aspect of this endeavor is that it is a blood job.

Blood on the outside and on the inside; farming gets in your blood with the realization that, if the farmer did not do his job, everyone would die. It takes a farmer so you and everyone else can live. There is no more important job on this Earth than being a farmer.

Then the OFs discussed farming back when it was done with horses. The OFs mentioned how intelligent these animals are.

The horse seems to know what they are here for. They are here to serve and today people seem to be losing that insight.

No better lesson to show this, as one OF put it, is to hear him tell his 7-year-old to go and get the horses. (This is not a statement to illustrate a story but an actual sentence told to one of the OFs more than once.) The little tyke would trot off and come back leading two huge draft horses with a couple of ropes and for the most part these ropes would be slack.

Here you have a 50-pound kid leading 2 tons of horse with  ½-inch ropes and the horses are going to be leathered up to go to work, and the horses actually seem to be smiling.

Child labor baloney, respect and love from adult to child to animal.

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it from horse to three-hundred horse-powered cars used to get to Hillbelly’s Restaurant in Westerlo for breakfast were: Miner Stevens, Rich LaGrange, Ed Goff, John Muller, Frank Fuss, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter (with guests Daniel Lichliter and Elissa Lichliter, here getting away from the heat; they actually called it like winter), Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Pete Whitbeck, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Frank Dees, Paul Whitbeck, David Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Rich Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rev. Jay Francis, Henry Whipple, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Herb Bahrmann, Paul Guiton, and me.

Well, it is the end of July and the beginning of August and the Old Men of the Mountain met on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. As most patrons of the Chuck Wagon know, this is an original dining-car diner that was originally located in Champaign, Illinois. Eventually it was moved to its current location in Princetown, New York by the Ketchums.

It is necessary to know this for the following part of the story. One of the OFs went to college with a bunch of other now OFs and a few who now reside in Florida. This OF received a phone call from one of these college buddies this Monday evening.

The college buddy was inquiring if the OMOTM wanted to come to Florida and take care of his place in Sarasota for a while. In the process of the conversation, the OMOTM told his buddy where he was going the next day and told him it was the Chuck Wagon.

The buddy then related to the OF that, when they were younger, they lived in Illinois, and that his niece worked at the Chuck Wagon when it was in Champaign, Illinois. 

If you have ever been to Disney World in Florida, you know that one of the most obnoxious theme rides is the one with the song, “It’s a Small World After All,” which is sung over, and over, and over, and over, to the point where anyone going through wants to get out of the boat and find another world, any world, because really this is a small world after all.


More than a phone

Then the OFs started talking about their phones. Some have phones that do everything while others have phones that just flip open and are phones.

To call the current phone a phone is OK, but it is a lot more than a phone. Some of the OFs rarely make calls on their phone.

The phone is now a tool, and is used like a tool. It is a still and video camera, a flashlight, a Kindle, a file cabinet, a calendar, a calculator, a text messenger machine, and maybe much more. Somewhere along the line, it may get used as a phone. 

One OF reported that he uses his phone when he can’t see behind whatever. The OF said in getting information for replacing a special white-wall tire the information was on the backside of the tire.

The OF said all he did was take his phone, hold it in back of the tire and take a picture and then read all the information like a book. No taking the wheel off or anything like that, it's just so simple to use the phone.

Another OF mentioned working in the sump of an elevator, which had a broken part that needed to be replaced. Not only was he using the messaging part of the phone to the parts people to order the part, but they wanted the make and model and the year the elevator was installed.

This information was on a plate in the dark, and in back of many moving parts that operated the elevator. All the OF did is the same as the tire OF did — he stuck his phone through all these wires to take a picture of the plate, forward it to the parts company along with the order for the parts, and was all done. No papers, no going to the office, nothing like that, all done from the pit, and on the spot.

All some people do is use phones to play games either individually, or with someone else, or even multiple players. According to the OFs, it seems there should be some other name for this device than phone.


Hay ruined in rain

At one time, most of the OFs were farmers; however, not so much anymore. One major reason is that the government forced the small farmer out of business and in the Hilltowns many of the small farms gave up farming at the same time.

This is visible now with all the fallow and brush land that is developing because this land is not being worked. However, there are still a few OFs who till the land.

This July, or even this whole haying season, has been a tough one. Dry in the beginning, and the hay was thin, so there were much fewer bales per acre than usual.

Now it has been so dang wet to cut hay, and get it dry and in, before it is rained on, that this is tough to do. Many fields have been cut and the farmer has thought he could make it and didn’t. Now he has many acres mowed and the hay is useless; in some cases, it won’t even make good mulch, or bedding. 

Now the farmer is left with a dilemma. Does he use all that fuel, devote all that time, put the wear and tear on the equipment to bale that stuff and get it off the field?

No one ever said farming was easy. However, once it gets in your blood, generally the farmer is more than willing to do all this so the rest of us can eat. 

The Old Men of the Mountain who are glad the Ketchums dragged that diner all the way from midwest and planted it in Princetown so they can chow down at the Chuck Wagon are happy. So this Tuesday morning the group of OFs that made it to the Wagon were: Miner Stevens and his grandson Brad McLaughlin, Frank Fuss, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Jake Herzog, Frank Dees, Russ Pokorny, Marty Herzog, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, John Dab, Paul Guiton, Lou Schenck, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Rich Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Jeremiah Donnelly, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Herb Bahrmann, and me.