Tuesday, Dec. 6, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. Rarely does this scribe and his riders arrive at the eating establishments first — there are always a few of the OFs already at the tables. This scribe does not know what time these OFs wake up but it has to be early.
Sometimes the OFs are at the restaurant’s door, waiting for them to open up. The owners are so familiar with the OFs, they should give these early OGs a key to the place so they can open up and get things ready.
Last week, the talk at the table, for the most part, had a general theme. This week, it was all over the place: Truth and trust (the OFs have covered this before but this was a new take); the election; China; the economy; the fires in Tennessee, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Oakland, California; cost of heating (again); ministers; what things are like in different parts of the country, along with same things going on all over the world, the universe, and this was not all of the subjects covered at Tuesday’s morning’s breakfast so there was not much depth in any one topic.
Fires rage and enrage
The OFs talked about the fires that seem to raging all over. Some of the OFs have been to one or more of these localities where the fires were.
Cambridge a classy address in Massachusetts where the OF who was there said he could almost visualize where these buildings were that burned but wasn’t quite sure.
A couple of the OFs have been to the smoky mountains of Tennessee especially Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg — they remembered these places quite vividly. And a few have been to Oakland, California, but had no recollection of the area where this warehouse was.
One OF mentioned how dry it has been in the Northeast and he knows how dry it has been in Tennessee because some friends of his who live there were complaining about the dryness and the concern for wells and ponds, just like here.
In the discussion on politics, as far as the OGs are concerned, this was not really politics because in the bylaws of the OMOTM politics and religion are a no-no. However, the OFs do manage to skirt around both of these topics.
On politics Tuesday morning, the OFs talked about how many United States presidents the OFs have lived through; at our end of the table, we came up with 14. The election when most of the OFs first voted was when Truman was elected.
There is no truth to the rumor that our oldest OF (who will remain nameless, but the initials are MW) voted for Millard Fillmore. The point is, the OFs have lived through them all: good or bad, Republican or Democrat. The OFs even lived through the confusing time of trying to find out what the definition of is, is.
The OFs also lived through the time when we had drills in school and were told to duck under our desks in case of a nuclear attack.
Following the same vein, the OFs discussed ministers they have known or encountered over the years as they grew up. The ministers fell into the same type of categories as the presidents only with different titles to the classifications, i.e. really good, good, not so good, and awful.
The OFs were able to go back further than presidents since some were in school in 1920 to 1930, when they were 6- or 7-years-old and in Sunday school. Some of the OFs had trouble going back that far, trying to reach through the cobwebs of their memory to pull out information.
Religion, like life, has changed and evolved. The OFs wonder if some of the old preachers they had could come back and see how religion is today would they even recognize it.
“Hey,” one OF said, “that goes for a lot of things. I used to think one plus one was two; today I am not too sure of that.”
The OFs are not real economists but have just enough knowledge that the OFs could be dangerous to themselves. They are now watching this unexpected growth in the stock market, which has been setting all kinds of records after the election.
The OFs are wondering how long this type of growth can be sustained and if the bubble will burst, or will there be a leveling-out somewhere along the line and the new numbers become the norm. The OFs think there are a lot of crystal balls in use right now on the economy, and, as stated, the OF are not economists.
It is that time of year again and it not Thanksgiving or Christmas but time to thin out the herd of deer. The OFs were asking each other about seeing any deer their way. Most have seen them in some areas and some say they are all over the place.
According to the OFs, all they have to do is grab the bow or get the gun and the deer are gone. The OFs think deer have the same sense as crows, and they have spies out watching the OFs who are hunters. Once the OF who hunts leaves his home in camouflage and with his weapon of choice, the warning signs go out just like the participants in the Anti-rent Wars with their tin horns and calico.
Those OFs who missed all the deer in the road on their way to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, and were wondering where they disappear to when the OFs get home were: Roger Shafer, Dave Williams, Miner Stevens, John Rossmann, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Don Wood, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Wayne Gaul, Sonny Mercer, Ray Kennedy, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, and the Willsey’s guest Winnie, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.
On Tuesday, Nov. 29, the Old Men of the Mountain traveled to Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow to have their last breakfast in November.
Now the month of “Hectic” starts — also known as December. Christmas is supposed to be the time of peace, love, and joy but somehow it becomes push, shove, and “that is mine.” Underneath it all though this time of peace, love, and joy does shine through all the hustle and bustle; most of the OMOTM can attest to that.
The OFs who have to travel quite a distance to Kim’s West Wind Diner must get up early in the morning, but most are up anyway so that is not new. On this particular Tuesday, the OFs out on the road while it is still dark had temperatures in the high forties and low fifties, and yet many encountered salt trucks spreading salt. They must have known something the OFs didn’t.
Usually the OFs skip all over in their conversations, and Tuesday morning they did follow the pattern somewhat but most of the conversation was on homes. They spoke of maintenance, the environment’s attack on homes, and how the cost of upkeep is outpacing the OFs’ incomes.
The last part may be because many of the OFs are on fixed incomes and the planned rise of inflation did not match the actual cost of inflation on items that affect many of the OFs such as taxes, medicine, food, and gas. Even the price of paint is way out of proportion to what a gallon of paint cost 20 years ago.
Some of the OFs are in the process of replacing the windows in their homes and they discussed the effort in keeping the older windows clean, and how some of the windows failed because of poor construction. Design flaws the manufacturers did not see coming caused windows to leak, sag, and rot.
In a previous time, the old-fashioned double-hung windows with their ropes and weights could be repaired by the homeowner; however, these windows are not very efficient in keeping out the cold and drafts.
The OFs now look to windows that tip in to clean instead of having to leave the outside of the upstairs windows dirty because it takes a 20-foot ladder to reach them. Cleaning becomes a real chore especially if these are six-over-six windows.
Another reason is we do not need any OFs falling off 20-foot ladders. They would make an awful splat on the ground and, with their ancient bones, they would shatter like glass. What a mess!
Tilted but solid
The OFs topics covered painting houses with white lead paint and how long that paint lasted. Some OFs said that houses they painted with white lead 50 years ago are still in good shape, and a properly used pressure washer to clean off the grime makes the house looks like it was just freshly painted.
The OFs also noticed that metal roofs are making a comeback. It used to be that a metal standing-seam roof was the roof of choice and those roofs, if painted every now and then, would last a lifetime and maybe one or two more lifetimes.
One OF wondered if the new houses of today will be around 150 or 200 years from now, like many of the houses in the Northeast and South. If you drop a marble (in a 200-year-old home) in one end of a room you might see it roll to another corner of the room on its own. Some of the doors might not shut tight, but these homes are still being lived in today. Even though a little tilted, the home is still solid as a rock and will probably outlive a home built in the year 2000.
On OF mentioned how the wood on his home is aging. This OF thinks it is causing a dust to settle not only on the windows but on other things on the outside of the home.
One OF years ago had a deck painted white on the back of his home facing west-north-west and in a few years the OF noticed a grayish-black coating on the deck, yet the paint was fine. The OF also noticed the same discoloration on the part of the roof that faced in the same direction.
This OF had the problem checked out and was told the discoloration was caused by acid rain. This OF said he has not noticed it in recent years.
The OFs also had experiences with housing mistakes where the manufacturers (on mostly rehab jobs) measured wrong, or sent the wrong materials. In almost all the cases, the manufacturers did not want the mistakes brought back.
Apparently all they would do, if returned, would take up room in their warehouses. What are they going to do with them?
One OF said a friend of his selected a prefab home that was stick-built and it was shipped to him on trucks. When the contractor was putting it together, he found the company shipped halves of two different houses.
The contractor said the OF’s friend had two choices. The contractor could jury rig the two-mismatched houses or the friend would have to wait quite awhile for the manufacturer to sort it out. The OFs friend said, “Go ahead, hook ’em up,” and so they did.
The OFs think at their ages there is a lot to be said for either renting a home, or buying a condo — to heck with this house work, let someone else do it.
Those OFs who made it to Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow after they finished the house work were: Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Roger Chapman, Karl Remmers, Bob Snyder, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Don Wood, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Elwood Vanderbilt, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Harold Grippen, and me.
Well, we have finally seen winter! The Hill received more snow on Nov. 20 and 21 than the Hill saw all of last year. This correlation may be a little off but the weather surely seemed like it.
Anyway, even with weather like this, we were at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, on Tuesday Nov. 22. The Hilltown Café is the restaurant with the highest elevation (at 1,651 feet) that the OFs frequent. This gave the OFs a good drive to sharpen their winter driving skills.
The OFs talked a lot about energy, and why not with the onset of winter getting such an early start this year. The OFs mentioned how dirty a fuel coal is, and how we should get away from using that. However, that would cost many jobs, and coal is so plentiful.
What can be done is that instead of ignoring coal we add it to the many types of energy that are already being used (wind, solar, nuclear) by using the talents of engineers to develop scrubbers, or ways of cleaning up coal, and throw that into the mix and eliminate the dependency on fuel oil as a source of energy.
This leaves the limited supply of fuel oil to be used for other things like medicine, and macadam, along with all the other products that rely on petroleum as a part of this mix.
The OFs also not only think, but know, the internal combustion engine can be made to develop more power on less fuel but they also think the big oil companies and the automotive manufacturers are in cahoots and won’t let this happen. It is the view of the OFs that suppression of this technology is a plan the big companies work on together. The OFs are of the opinion that all the technology is already here but being kept under wraps.
One OF reflected, “Could you imagine all the people that would be put out of work if even a portion of this technology was invoked in a year?”
Maybe cooler heads are prevailing here and the plan is to ease into some of these advancements so the populace has a chance to adjust. Especially with the OFs — their heads can only take so much information at one time.
A TV show that is mentioned from time to time and one which many of the OFs watch is “American Pickers.” The OFs are amazed at how many places around the country have hoards of just plain old stuff. One OF said these places look just like quite a few of the OFs’ barns and backyards.
It does not take much imagination to see how the OFs would take to too much technology when they are still so concerned about the old stuff. The OFs at times still don’t know what the heck is going on; some are still amazed with how much a 3- or 4-year-old knows.
One OF commented on what some of the old junk the pickers look at and how much it is worth. The OFs say, “We were just ready to take something like that to the dump.” Now the OFs are leery about throwing anything away.
One OFs said he watches the pickers on occasion where the locality they are picking is in a place where the OF is interested, particularly when the area is local or at least close to local.
Protecting our flag
The OMOTM continued dropping off their flags by giving six flags on small wooden holders to the Hilltown Café. The OFs have no idea how these flags will be used but figure in today’s world the flag is not getting the respect it is due.
For all the work so many have done to keep it flying, our flag deserves more attention than it is getting. The effort many people have put into protecting the flag so a few have the right to burn it — how sad it is to see it treated this way.
Like drunk cows?
Some of the OFs did brave the winds of Tuesday, Nov. 22, and made it to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. It is a good thing the OFs travel all the distances to the eating establishments and they are always open. If, for some reason, one was closed without notification, the OFs would be milling around like cows drunk on apples, trying to find their stanchions.
So it was a very good thing that the Hilltown Café was open and able to take care of the OFs who were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Karl Remmers, Bob Snyder, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.
Tuesday, Nov. 15, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café in Altamont.
Someone must have returned from Florida because the restaurant had a huge bowl of oranges on a table in the back. Each of the OMOTM got an orange. We feel the Home Front wants to keep the OFs healthy so there are enough of the old goats to continue this round robin of restaurants.
Particularly Tuesday morning at the Home Front, at one table two of the OFs sat side by side and there were 183 years of living between them. Someone should sit them both down and compile that many years of living history. It would not only be local but national and international in scope.
There is an update on the old cars topic: An OF (not of this group because of geography) mentioned the Pierce Arrow that was made right here in New York State. According to this OF, it was produced in Buffalo, New York.
This scribe should have remembered this vehicle because it was one of the vehicles that convinced this scribe he should give up sign painting. This scribe was given the “chore” of striping a beautifully restored Pierce Arrow — talk about nervewracking. Maybe this scribe tried to wash that experience from the gray cells that have it stored somewhere in his brain.
The election was briefly touched on and a strange phenomenon popped up as many of the OFs did not vote for one or the other, rather they voted against one or the other. One OF who works at the polls said that this election was the busiest he has ever seen and he has been doing it a long time.
The OF said the poll workers did not even have time to eat. They caught a bite here and there as the evening went on.
The OF said they usually (in the town of Knox) have pizza brought in or they call for take-outs. Not this year — no time to do that. This OF also noted that the preponderance of young people voting was really noticeable.
All the OFs are glad the election is over and they can watch TV, and laugh at the Geico and Aflac ads, along with some others that are so interesting the OFs say they forget what is being advertised.
The OFs commented on the new trend of taking naps. The OFs are masters of how to do that. The OFs could write a book on nap-taking.
Most all the OFs say they feel refreshed after taking a nap. The duration of the naps and when they take them do vary, but basically the results are the same. One OF did mention that he does not nap because, when he does, he can’t sleep at night.
A couple of the OGs said that they have trouble sleeping at night and take naps all through the day. For them, this seems to work.
Some notable people who napped or got along on very little sleep were mentioned. One was Thomas Edison who had strange sleeping habits. One OF said that Edison thought ideas were in the air for anyone to grab and Edison figured that, if he were sleeping, he would miss some of these ideas.
One OF mentioned that he is tired all the time and all he has to do is sit down and he is asleep. How soundly the OFs were asleep in these naps did not come up but most claim they were actually asleep, and could tell by how much time had gone by that they did not realize had gone by.
One OF said he wakes up from his naps quite often for the same reason he wakes up at night — he has to go to the bathroom.
“Isn’t it funny,” one OG remarked, “that, even though the body is asleep, the plumbing keeps right on working?”
Fuel for the fire
A conversation that is common at this time of year is about the woodpiles of the OFs who burn wood for heat. Some have stoves; others have wood-burning furnaces either in the cellar or outdoors. A few have the outdoor furnaces that they run all year-round because they also use the furnace for hot water.
One OF said that, in his furnace, he uses wood that, for the most part, came from trees that have fallen or are dead. This helps keep his wood lot clean. With the outdoor furnace, it is possible to burn just about anything since the furnace is a good distance from the house so, if a chimney fire from creosote happens, it is not a problem.
What is a problem is to feed the dumb thing when it is 10-degrees below zero and there are two feet of snow outside to wade through. This makes it necessary to bundle up to put another log on the fire.
Just like cows: If the OF doesn’t feel good, the cows still have to be milked, and, in this case, the fire still has to be fed. Yep, it has to be done unless there is a good backup in case adversity happens.
The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their condolences to the family of Dick Ogsbury who passed away on Veterans Day. Dick was ill for a long time and courageously dealt with it.
The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont, where the restaurant made sure the OFs would not get scurvy, were: Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Dave Williams, Mike Willsey, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Bob Giebitz, Jim Rissacher, Bill Rice, Henry Whipple, Ted Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Marty Herzog, Harold Grippen, and me.
On Tuesday, Nov. 8, another gorgeous day, the Old Men of the Mountains met at the Chuck Wagon Diner, on Route 20 in Princetown.
The election weather was going to be nice, at least in our part of the country. This should make for a good turnout. Some of the OFs had already voted before the breakfast and others were going to vote right after.
One OF was working the polls, so another OF ordered a breakfast sandwich and delivered it to the one at the polls. Even though he was “working” at the polls, should we consider him an absentee at the breakfast? The rules will have to be checked for this.
The OFs had a good discussion on weight and weight control at the breakfast table and, looking at some of the breakfasts ordered, it must be that, for some of the OFs, it is only the one meal for the day.
It was discussed that even people who do not have diabetes could consider following the diabetes diet. Those OFs who do eat that way say it is a very bland diet, with no salt and many food items not allowed, especially sweets and many types of bread. What fun is there in that?
One OF thought that eating is for health and sustenance and not supposed to be fun. Say what!
At our age, for many of the OFs, eating is the only fun we have left. Sex is out, hiking is out, driving fast (if driving at all) is out, skydiving is really gone, scuba diving — forget that, but the OFs can still raise a knife and fork.
Summer stretches on
Some of the OFs are still mowing their lawns because the grass is still growing. One OF reported that the bees are even now working what flowers that are still around, and lady bugs are all over the place, at least up on the Hill.
One OF reported that, while sitting at the kitchen table, the lady bugs would seem to drop out of nowhere. He exclaimed, “It is particularly frustrating when they fall in my coffee cup while I am still drinking it.
Another OF mentioned that he was getting ready to shave and reached for the soap and it moved. The OF said he snapped his hand back and said to himself, “What the heck is that?” There were three live lady bugs trapped in the soap and those bugs were really ticked off.
These bugs are portrayed as cute little things (and they are) with their red wings with the black dots, but these suckers can bite.
How best to teach kids
The OFs do not remember dunce caps, but they do remember being put on a stool in the corner in school if and when they acted up. The OFs don’t know if they do that today or not.
One OF remembered a teacher in Schoharie who was a former United States Marine and then went on to become a teacher, and it was a good idea not to fool around in his class. This teacher had his own idea of the dunce cap and that was to have the one misbehaving stand in the front of the class with his or her arms outstretched until they felt like they were going to fall off.
This ex-Marine was a good teacher; the kids knew and understood what was going to be on a test, and this Marine was not afraid to hand out “A’s”
One OF said that the kids today get awards even when they lose. The OFs don’t quite understand that.
One OF said, “If you are in something to win, why bother when you are going to get an award even if you don’t try?”
Another OF said he did not think that was really the gist of it; this OF thought it was the perception of self-esteem that some kids are never going to be winners but should be rewarded for effort and at least trying their best. In their minds, this will make them a winner of sorts.
An OF said he can see this in some situations but not all. Some other OFs agreed but they did not elucidate as to what the differences were — sports, art, music, academics — or who was participating.
One OF liked the idea of having the smart kids in a smart class where they could be challenged. This OF thought the schools are dumbing down to the lowest common denominator. This is why we are being left behind by other countries.
This OF said he was in the slow class, and turned out alright, and had more fun in school than the egg heads. Another OF summed it up by saying that the ones running the show want to throw everyone in the same basket; however, people are different and there should be many baskets, but all baskets should be the same. Somehow this scribe understands that.
The OFs talked about the cars they have had and the names of some are really weird. Some of them they just rode in because they never could afford them — just like today.
The Duesenberg, Hudson, White, Whippet, Reo (truck), Studebaker, Packard, Willys, Nash, Hupmobile, Vauxhall, the Brewster with its bat-wing fenders and heart-shaped grill. Stanley Steamer, Franklin, Jack Benny’s Maxwell, Checker the yellow cab, the little Bantam, Auburn, the Kaiser with its double-arched windshield — these are just a few the OFs came up with and now these vehicles are no longer made.
Some the OFs could describe but could not come up with the names. Then there was the Tucker but that is another story. Probably those reading this can come up with some that are not listed. The OFs were not talking about the companies still manufacturing cars, like Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and the like.
Those OFs who motored to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princeton Tuesday morning, in cars with names just as strange only with names in languages from all over the world, were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Roger Shafer, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Gerry Irwin, Glenn Patterson, (the OFs wish him good luck on his hip replacement,) Mark Traver, Jack Norray, Otis Lawyer, Mace Porter, Andy Tinning, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.