Some of the Old Men of the Mountain who travel to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow travel over the mountain to get there. This past Tuesday, on May 14, the temperature for many leaving for the trek to Pop’s Place was in the mid-thirties and snow was expected on top of the mountain.

But as luck would have it there was no snow — only fog and drizzle. This weather, as we have been reporting, has caused some grumbling among the OFs; however, a few the snowbirds have returned, and our grumbling is minor compared to these guys whose blood is still as thin as water. The rest of us OFs believe our blood is still thick; it has not had time to thin out.

There is one big “however” to add to the above paragraph. In 2002, on May 18, the hill had about three inches of snow. An OF said that his brother-in-law had a 50th-year surprise birthday party planned for that day and it was to be held at Thacher Park.

Everybody showed up and the snow was on the ground, greeting all who came. The snow was more of a surprise than the party. Eventually all wound up at the OFs home where the woodstove was already running on May 18.

Ah, the Northeast! It is almost impossible to be bored. Still and all, we are getting pretty sick of the rain, chilly weather, and more rain.

But with this constant drizzle, damp weather, and rain the OFs who live in the valley are keeping a close eye on the creeks — especially the tributaries that feed the Catskill and Schoharie creeks. These OFs have a tendency to be a little skittish of long-duration rainfall.

All the other OFs can understand, especially when it wasn’t that long ago (2011) when some of the OFs had seven feet of water in their living rooms.

The last straw

There was quite a discussion on plastic straws. One OF said he was at a restaurant where they were given straws made from some kind of weed. The OF didn’t know whether to drink from it or smoke it. Either way, the straw did not last long before it dissolved into mush.

One OF’s wife purchased a combination spoon and straw made from stainless steel. The OF said, once they got them home, they found out the spoon part wouldn’t fit into a soda-type bottle.

The OF added, if he wanted to use the straw in the soda bottle, it was necessary to put the spoon part in his mouth. When he tried it with the spoon part in his mouth, he found it is really silly looking and it doesn’t work anyway.

The first thing the OF found out is that it was necessary to put the bottom part of the spoon on top; otherwise, when sucking whatever up the straw, the liquid hits the spoon and spreads all over. The OF doubts if these will ever get used at his house.

This scribe listened to the OFs talk, if briefly, on straws and plastic bags so this scribe went to our friend Google, and found that maybe we should be using multi-use shopping bags, or bags made from corn-husk fibers.

Both paper and plastic consume much of our natural resources, in oil and trees. Check it out for yourself as it would take too much space in this little column to report on all the information found.

Ailing biz

This scribe found out that one of the OFs worked for many years for Shafer Brewery until it left Albany for Pennsylvania. According to this OF, it was the workers’ own union that killed Shafer. The OF told what some of his jobs were and some were jobs that one would never think of, but they were jobs that had to be done.

One job was putting a plug in the barrel containing beer and the OF said if he (or anyone) missed with the whack of the hammer, they were covered in said beer. One OF asked who was covered in beer, and the OF answered, “Me.”

The OF said that once he was going through a police checkpoint and, when the cop looked in the window, they pulled him over for being drunk. The OF said he told the cop he went home smelling like this all the time. The OF said he worked for Shafer Brewery and showed him the emblem on his shirt and they let him go.

Another OF piped up that it was the union that killed Capital City Container and his son was out of a job because of it.

“Dangerous varmints”

The OFs talked about their first guns and how they got them. Some of the OFs received them as Christmas gifts.

One OF remembered he was given his first gun when he was about 10 years old. It was a simple single-shot Remington 22. His dad got him and his brother each one. These guns had a single purpose on the farm, and that was to shoot woodchucks.

Woodchucks were dangerous critters on the farm. They were pretty easy to get out of their holes most of the time; the Young OFs could just whistle them up. They would come out of their holes and stand up and look around for the whistle.

In the beginning, when they were farming with horses, it could be disaster for the horse if it stepped into a woodchuck hole. When they were able to switch from horses to tractors, woodchuck holes were just as bad. If a front wheel of the tractor hit one of those things, it would spin the steering wheel right out of your hand and the driver could end up with a broken thumb, or wrist. Yep, those “chucks were dangerous varmints.”

Again the Old Men of the Mountain who met the challenge of the weather (but nothing like the weather going on in the South, Midwest, and Southeast) and made it to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow were: Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Paul Nelson, Pete Whitbeck, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On Tuesday, May 7, The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner. Finally! A reasonably nice day, so a few of the OMOTM stood outside in the parking lot just enjoying the early morning air before going in to the diner.

One thing about standing in the parking lot of the Chuck Wagon is noticing how fast the cars whiz by going to work at that time of the morning on Route 20.

Lawn mowers and grass, wet spots that can’t be mowed, and types of soil were early topics for discussion, but this scribe has covered conversations like this many times because the OFs talk about their yards quite often. These issues are like the weather — a good opening for conversations for the rest of the morning.

Over the weekend, one OF and his better half went to visit some friends and part of the conversation they had over coffee was quite interesting.

The friends said that they were with their surveyor discussing which direction they would face the new home they were going to build. While they were standing there looking at their land, two large elk came out of the woods adjacent to their property. They said these animals were not big deer with corresponding large racks; they were elk.

The OF and his wife knew the hill was basically farmland with large tracts of open fields, but elk? The friends said the elk walked right by them, about 50 yards away, and did not seem skittish at all, as they ambled up a little knoll, walked across the road, then disappeared into the field on top of the hill.

So this OF related this story to the OMOTM, and asked if anyone had heard of elk on the Hill. The answer was yes.

About the time they were doing the plot survey, the elk farm in Middleburgh had two of its animals get away. To make matters more interesting, the elk farm is on one of the farms on the flats in Middleburgh that was once owned by one of the Old Men of the Mountain. This farm still raises elk. Sometimes it is strange how events tangle together.

Black flies rampant

Another thought about things tangling together is how from year-to-year in nature nothing is the same. One spring is not like the spring before it, and one winter is not like the winter before that but, when a whole collection of springs and winters are strung together, they are all alike.

What made the scribe think of this was the discussion on how many black flies are out now in comparison to last year, and those nasty ticks seem to be everywhere. The OFs had to admit that these statements were true, but we have had springs when they were just as bad.

This year, the black flies attack in open areas; generally, they are around shrubs and trees. However, this year they seem to be everywhere. One OF bought one of those hats with screening attached just so he can walk out to the mailbox.

Another OF said he must have a pheromone that attracts the dumb black flies. He said that he and his uncle can go out in the woods and he is pursued by these little flying black insects. Even with repellent, he is still swatting so much that he feels that one of these days he is going to take off.

In the meantime, his uncle stands not two to three feet away from him and not a gnat, or no-see-um, black fly or mosquito is anywhere around him. His uncle says it is because he drinks his coffee black and doesn’t put all that sugar in it.

Stocking adventure

One OF told of how he spent one day stocking creeks on state land with fish — brown trout and rainbow trout. According to the OF, one of the stocking places turned into an adventure.

The creeks, like West Kill Creek in Blenheim, for the most part were easy to stock because they could stop on a road that goes alongside the creek and carry the tubs of fish over to the creek and dump the fish in the water.

However, not all the dumpings were in creeks; some were in large ponds on state land. The truck they were using to transport the hatchlings had compartments filled with water and each compartment contained fish that were to go in certain ponds and creeks

This was not a light load. One of the ponds was Mallet pond in Fulton, which is about 16-plus acres. There was no road getting to this pond, only an old logging road that was not in the best of shape. With all the wet weather we have had lately, the so-called road was sloppy and slippery.

After they stocked the pond, the group attempted to leave and was immediately stuck, that is up-to-the-axels stuck. The group tried pushing the truck and all they could do, the OF said, was move it about three or four inches then nothing at all. Up-to-the-axels stuck!

Then a conservation ranger showed up and he also had a truck. A way up from the stuck truck was a patch of semi-dry ground, so the group used a tow line from truck-to-truck.The ranger’s truck pulled the conservation truck (with the fish), which spun and the tow line broke. Up-to-the-axels stuck!

The OF suggested digging and filling in with stones. There was an old stone fence a distance up the hill so the group proceeded to dig and haul rocks.

The OF tied a bowline in the tow line and they started the process of towing truck number-one, pulling with truck number-two spinning in reverse. The OF said, if this thing starts to move, don’t stop. Up-to-the-axels stuck!

Well, the stuck truck started to move, and the pulling truck did not stop. It was the rocks that did the trick.The trucks were covered in mud; the crew was covered in mud. On this trip, the only thing not covered in mud were the fish. The axels were now unstuck!

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown on a nostalgic early spring morning were: Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Roger Shafer, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Bob Snyder, Karl Remmers, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Marty Herzog, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Rev. Jay Francis, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

It was Tuesday, April 30, and it was miserable: Drizzle, fog, and the early morning chill, which went right through the Old Men of the Mountain, but the OMOTM all managed to be in the right place — the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg.

The question was asked Tuesday morning, “How long do you think it will be before money will be obsolete?”

The number of OFs who gave an answer to this hypothetical question was surprising. Some answers were close to each other and some were far apart. The average answer (if an average could be figured out) was in about 20 to 30 years in the future. A couple of OFs thought we were in the beginning phase right now.

One OF related a story about needing $2,000 in cash. Naming what the money was for might identify the OF with what the OF was purchasing, but it was nothing illegal. According to the OF, the bank did not have enough cash to handle it right then.

A couple of the OFs said, “Say what!”

Then one OF said, “You should-a come to me; I would take your check.”

See, what the OMOTM meant was that, if you require a ditch dug, a tree cut down, a tractor repaired, or to get something off your chest, or even two grand in cash, it is right here among your buddies in the OMOTM.

That was just an interlude in the question of a moneyless society. The OFs seem to think this development is coming sooner than later but had no idea on how it would work.

It would be interesting to see money in a museum. The dollar currency would be seen in a glass case laid out with the penny, nickels, dimes, etc., up to a thousand-dollar bill; then would come the English pound, the Russian ruble, the Mexican peso, and so on.

This collection of money would take up a whole room in a museum when taking into consideration all the currencies in the world. People viewing the display of all that cash would probably be wondering how in heck we kept it all straight.

Thacher Park

The OFs discussed the unfortunate lady that was struck by the falling rock at Thacher Park. The OFs commented on how many times they have been to the park, and walked the Indian Ladder path along the lower part of the cliff and never even thought about falling rocks.

An OF opined that this situation is going to get worse with rock climbers and the zip line coming in and ruining the park. The park, this OF claimed, is a part of history, not a playground.

Another OF added that, with the newspaper putting the settlement amount in great big headline type, watch and see that not only Thatcher Park, but other parks, will have copy-cat type injuries to try and get large settlements. The OMOTM feel this misfortune is something the press should have buried on the inside, if reporting on it at all.

Who’s smart?

Those OFs who watch Jeopardy talked about how this guy that has won a million-and-a-half dollars on the show makes them feel so dumb. They questioned how one guy knows so much and is able to recall it in such a short period of time.

One OF said all of Jeopardy makes him feel like he never went to school at all.

Then another OF said, “I bet I am smarter than that guy; I can rewire a lamp and I bet he has trouble changing a light bulb.”

This OF was defending all the OFs.

This OF continued, “I don’t care who the king of Underbakedistan was in 1450, when his brother was off fighting the nation Notonyourlife. Hey, that was thousands of years ago, and I don’t even care who won. All of us OMOTM are just as smart as that guy is, only in different areas.”

However, none of us have made a million dollars in 21 days. Dang!

The grass is always greener ...

Lawns! Every spring the subject of lawns comes up among the OFs and not just at one breakfast, but the breakfast after this one, and the one after that.

Lawns and their care, for the OFs who have lawns, is generally a spring-summer topic. This spring, those on the Hill are having trouble working on their lawns because they are so wet.

Some of the OFs have lawns like carpets, and others are rather scraggly. The scraggly OFs maintain they have other things to do than fuss with the lawn. Those with the lawns like carpets say that is their exercise — fussing with the lawn and being outside in the nice weather.

Then there are the really old OFs who say, you guys who can fuss or not fuss with the lawn are lucky because at our age and physical condition, showering, getting dressed, and coming to the breakfast is our exercise for the day.

Disappearing species

The OFs, as part of their conversation Tuesday morning, spoke about how many tree species are either really endangered, or have disappeared from the New York landscape altogether since the OFs were YFs.

The OFs were surprised at this list. The elm, the ash, and the butternut tree were a few that were mentioned. The OFs were not completely sure that somewhere in the state there may be a few hidden in some woods in some places. If they are still here, they sure are scarce.

Those OMOTM who made it to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg and paid for their breakfast in hard-earned cash were: Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Jim Rissacher, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Roger Schafer, Marty Herzog, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis, Lawyer, Joe Rack, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Russ Pokorny, Rev. Jay Francis, Warren Willsey, Gerry Irwin, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Duncan Bellinger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

This report is for Tuesday, April 23, at the YOUR WAY CAFÉ IN SCHOHARIE. This is very important to keep in mind.

This scribe has a lot of apologizing to do. This scribe does not know if it is because what hair he has is gray, or because his co-pilot was not with him, or it is just because he is an OF. The scribe and another OF arrived at the Duanesburg dinner about 6:40 a.m.

The OF and the scribe sat there and had a couple cups of coffee, waiting for the other OFs. The reason the one OF was there with the scribe is because he had been traveling south for about five weeks and called this scribe to see where the next breakfast was. The scribe told him the Duanesburg Diner.

This scribe on Monday even called the Duanesburg Diner to advise the diner that the OMOTM would be there. This scribe does that every Monday to alert whatever diner is next in line to prepare them for about 20 to 30 guys. When the OF and the scribe got to Duanesburg, the diner was all set up and ready for the OMOTM.

A little after 7 a.m. this scribe noticed none of the OMOTM were there and the scribe then realized that he and the other OF were at the wrong restaurant. WE WERE SUPPOSED to be at THE YOUR WAY CAFÉ in Schoharie.

To compound this apology is to admit that the Your Way Café was not alerted that it was going to be under attack from a gaggle of hungry OFs demanding to be fed. So this scribe publicly would like to offer his apology to both the Duanesburg Diner and the Your Way Café for being  victims of this scribe not reading his own emails.

Another duty the scribe does is to send an email to all the OFs (who have computers) to tell them where the next breakfast is going to be, plus the next two or three restaurants in line. The scribe does this so the OFs who didn’t make a particular morning’s breakfast will know where the next one is

At least the scribe knows the emails are read because all the other OFs were at the right place; they were at the YOUR WAY CAFÉ, which proves the email at least was correct.

To add insult to injury, the scribe was so sure it was the Duanesburg Diner that, at around 5:30 a.m. (a.m., that is morning folks; it is a good thing this scribe is an old farmer because 4:30 a.m. was “go get the cows” time), when the phone rings and it is the Chuck Wagon Diner advising the scribe that next Tuesday the diner would be closed for repairs, this scribe advised them that the OMOTM would pick them up on the next go-round because they follow the Duanesburg Diner, and thanked them for letting the scribe know, and the scribe would announce this at this morning’s breakfast at the Duanesburg Diner.

But (please pay attention) now the Chuck Wagon does not have to worry because next Tuesday it WILL be the Duanesburg Diner, and the week after that WILL be the Chuck Wagon. Now this scribe has to call the Chuck Wagon and advise them, “No problem, the OMOTM will be there as scheduled.”

You know maybe it is because this scribe is taking Benadryl to help him sleep that things are getting all screwed up — PHEW!

When the scribe and the other OF made it to the Your Way Café, the ribbing was not that bad. This scribe expected much worse.

On the other hand, the OF and the scribe were banished to sit at a table for two, and had to make more conversation between ourselves. We had been talking together for awhile by the time we made it to the Your Way Café but we managed to find a few suitable topics that we had overlooked. This fiasco left the scribe out of much of the conversation for anything new to report on this week.

The scribe has to admit conversational subjects were scarce Tuesday morning. It could have been about Easter (as something different) but you can bet the standard fare would have been — as it usually is — on trucks, tractors, cars, kids, gardens — topics like that.

One OF who is walking with a cane, and has missed a few breakfasts, was asked how he was doing (this is another standard topic with the OFs, aches and pains coupled with mobility) and he replied his hip operation went fine; there is no pain and the hip works like a charm, but his knees are giving him trouble now. This seemed a little odd because it was the hip that was the most recent bionic repair.

The OFs have always maintained that the guy who moves and does simple aerobic exercises daily, like nice long steady walks, swimming, or golf, will live longer and have less aches and pains in later life than the athlete who lifts weights, takes all kinds of supplements, gets on all these machines, and pushes his body beyond what it was designed for.

The Old Men of the Mountain that made it to the YOUR WAY CAFÉ in Schoharie, because they have stayed away from the gym instead of going to it were: Glenn Patterson, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Dave Williams, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Mark Traver, Ken Parks, Joe Rack, Jim Heiser, Roger Shafer, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Harold Grippen, and me — SORRY DARCY!

Location:

Spring is slow coming, which is not new, but we get one nice day and then four or five days of cold and winds. This Tuesday, when the Old Men of the Mountain met, it was April 16 and they all were in heavy jackets.

One OMOTM had his long johns on just in case (right after breakfast) he was required to be outside. This is not dressing for spring.

One OF reported one-and-a-half inches of pea-sized hail at his place; this scribe had a friend say they also had hail, and one OF reported snowflakes in a brief rain shower. This is not rare but it is not conducive to spring-like thoughts.

So the Old Men of the Mountain sat in the Country Café on Main St. in Schoharie and grumbled.

One thing they grumbled about, or rather more or less commented on, was what Schoharie (County and Village) could be, at least in the OMOTM’s opinion. When the new county office building design was selected years ago, whoever was in charge should be dragged through town with a flag stating, “I made a mistake.”

The OFs think the powers that be (or should that read the powers that were?) in Schoharie should have hired an architect who specialized in historical design. This person should have designed the exterior of the new courthouse to match the old court house.

Then, taking the park out from in front of the buildings — in the OFs’ opinion — is an abomination. Add to that the Parrott House, which could be repaired if the county would quit squabbling about it.

Just ask the OFs’ position on many things and there will be many opinions and answers that will be on the mark. This comes from combined years of what works and what doesn’t stored in the heads of the OFs.

Dollars to doughnuts

Another OMOTM who is still working in small-engine repair and is busy all the time, probably would get more done if his OF buddies would not go to his shop and just hang around, eating doughnuts and getting in the way.

This is going to be the OMOTM’s “rush season” with people wanting their summer machines ready to go, and their winter machines winterized before sticking them in the back of the garage.

This OMOTM says another spring problem is the guys who do not winterize their summer equipment getting all out of joint when the apparatus doesn’t start in the spring. When they do bring their mowers, lawn tractors, or rototillers to him they expect a miracle from him by his just saying “Abracadabra” over the machine and it starts.

“Doesn’t work that way,” the OMOTM said. The OFs better bring him another doughnut.

Greeting cards

This is an unusual topic for the OFs and that is Hallmark and greeting cards.

The OFs said that their place to buy cards is the Dollar Store. They said these cards convey what they want to say and don’t cost five or 10 dollars.

One OF said, “Why pay that much for a card that, once it is read, it’s just going to be chucked anyway”?

One OF said his family doesn’t chuck their cards.

A second OF exclaimed, “You keep all your cards?”

The first OF said, “Of course not, only those from our kids and some special people.”

Another OF said his wife uses cards over again when doing crafty things; she also uses them for name tags on packages, and Christmas presents.

Still another OF piped up that he makes his own cards on the computer, or sends one of the electronic ones. This saves paper and postage, plus this OF is one of those who thinks the mailed ones also just get tossed anyway.

But one OF stuck up for Hallmark; he thought that, more often than not, Hallmark will have the right sentiment for the occasion and will say what he and wife thinks is suitable because they never can put their own thoughts into the proper words.

The OMOTM are a sentimental group at heart. Who would have guessed?

Blood pressure

The OFs fell into a common discussion that is almost a weekly conversation — medical conditions.

There are recurring conversations that can be counted on at each breakfast. Cars (old cars and trucks), tractors, farm machinery, aches and pains and the medications that go with these ailments, gardens, and the weather are mentioned at nearly every breakfast.

Tuesday morning, it was blood pressure, and what is good or bad, plus how weird the blood pressure is of some of the OFs. This was brought about by one OF who did not make the cut at the physical for his volunteer fire company because his blood pressure was too high on four attempts to see if they could get one that would let him pass.

The OF is 83 years old, so in essence the OF is at the edge anyway. However, at 83, look at all the years of experience the OF could pass along to the young firefighters coming up.

There should be a space in many organizations where people beyond being physically able to handle the job could tutor the newcomers in many phases of their new endeavor and not be mustered out.

The OFs with their blood pressure being all over the lot among them can’t be too bad because this discussion is among guys aged 90 to 80 who are still active. These OFs should be giving lessons on managing your BP, moreover what the proper BP level is.

Condolences

The Old Men of the Mountain want to send their condolences and prayers to the family of Frank Pauli who passed away last week. Frank was a long-time OMOTM who became ill, and went to live with relatives out of state.

The OFs who made it to the Country Café in Schoharie and are still amazed how one waitress and a cook can handle 23 guys plus the other walk-ins were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Dave Williams, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

The Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh this Tuesday on April 9.

Ms. K’s Restaurant is becoming an OMOTM museum. There are a few artifacts displayed here and there that have been donated by the OFs.

This establishment has the unique distinction of having “Loretta” (the original proprietor) attend Schoharie Central School along with some of the OMOTM, and she actually was in the same class as four of the OFs. Now her daughter and her granddaughter are running the restaurant.

Tuesday morning, the early OFs’ coffee would put hair on your chest. “It was coffee with a kick,” one OF said. This was truck-driver, 24-hour stuff.

Another OF said he put cream in it and the coffee never changed color. A third OF said that the cook was just trying to wake us up. Ordering up decaf wasn’t any better; it was he-man stuff too. The later rounds were fine, and the early guys were now wide awake. Patty had her fun with the early-morning OFs.

Fruitful talk

Awhile back, the OFs were discussing their fruit trees. Tuesday morning, the OFs told us how they are concocting ways to take the apples and make cider.

One OF is going to make cider using a corn shredder. This will be the second stage in the process; the first stage is picking the apples and getting to the shredder.

The OF said he is going to electrify the corn shredder with an electric motor, instead of rigging it up with a belt and one of his hit-and-miss engines. Then what comes out of the shredder goes into the press. Bingo! Cider!

The other OF said he has a shredder-type object on top of his press. The only problem with that is that everything is manual, and he has to turn a crank to cut up his apples.

Another OF has apple and pear trees. One other OF said he should cut a few of each and press them together to see what type of flavor comes from the combination of the two. The OF thought he could do 50/50, then maybe 60/40, then 70/30 both ways — this OF said it sounds like it would be fun.

Bear facts

The OFs started reminiscing about a mutual friend who they used to hike with. Real hiking days of some of the OFs are days in the past. Struggling to make the legs move with the arthritis is not much fun.

Apparently the mutual friend has now taken up kayaking. The OFs said they used to do kayaking, and would like to do it again, but getting in and out of one of those boats is nothing they now can do.

The mutual friend came into the conversation because there was an unwelcome visitor in the backyard — a pretty good-sized black bear. Pictures were taken to substantiate the intrusion.

One of the OFs who lives not too far from the mutual friend was called and advised that the critter was out there roaming about. The state’s Department of Environmental conservation was called but, by the time they got there, the animal was gone and the DEC was unable to locate it.

One OF said the he/she bear will pop up someplace else but, if the bear is finding food, he/she will hang around. The hunter-gatherers of the OMOTM said in the spring bears can be pretty nasty because they are hungry; later on, when there are plenty of fruits and berries around (unless you mess with the bears), they will pretty much take off.

Some of the OFs said they wouldn’t want to check that out to see if it is true.

Friends help ailing friends

The OFs started talking about the vehicles they had when their bones would cooperate and move without pain going hither and yon throughout their bodies. The OFs commented that sports cars are out for them now just because the OFs can’t get in or out of them. One OF complained he has trouble getting out of some newer cars.

The OMOTM as a group right now has a few ailing OFs. There are three OFs with cancers, and the rest of the OFs are getting quite a lesson on the disease and the various current treatments.

We also have one OF finding it necessary to get help from the Bone and Joint Center and relief from physical therapy. This scribe hopes these OFs get strength and consolation from the vibes and prayers of their Old Men of the Mountain friends.

Those OFs who share in the decorations of Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh and the rest of us who, on every seventh Tuesday, share in the decorations just by being there were: Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Roger Chapman, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Marty Herzog, Ken Parks, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Otis Lawyer, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Gerry Irwin, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazio, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

The Old Men of the Mountain met on Tuesday, April 2 (this scribe’s birthday), at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. The OMOTM had another pleasant morning heading out to breakfast even though there were reports of morning temperatures from 16 to 19 degrees for this beginning of April.

The OFs began talking about fires and fire trucks. There is a precursor to this because many of the OFs are or were firemen and seem to be of one accord.

The OFs think the fire trucks are too fancy now for what they are supposed to do. Small volunteer companies can’t afford these trucks with all the trimmings and gold-leaf lettering. This has nothing to do with putting out fires.

What they really need are trucks like Army trucks only painted so they can be seen and not so they disappear into the scenery. The fire trucks need to have really good tires, and dependable equipment like engines and pumps, not these things that are so ornamental they don’t want them to get scratched.

One OF said the trucks are required to have seats in them like we are going for a 1,000-mile ride.

“Shoot,” he said, “if we go 10 or 15 miles, that is a long hike for us to get to a fire or accident.”

Another OF said, “What we do need are more volunteers.”

And yet another OF added, “They have the rules so tough it is almost impossible to get new, younger volunteers.”

One OF mentioned that young people have so much going on with their kids and the school’s demands now. It’s not like it used to be when school was school and home was home. Now the school and the state have taken up a lot of the parent’s time just keeping up with these requirements.

Pawns in  Spectrum’s game

The OFs were in a mood Tuesday morning and this scribe thinks it is because most received their Spectrum bills and all were higher, not by a little bit, but by quite a lot. One OF mentioned that he thinks it is not a coincidence that the big hike in the bills came as Spectrum is being saddled with a large fine from the state for not fulfilling its contract with the state.

The OFs rhetorically asked the question: Do you think Spectrum is going to sit back and take that hit?

“Heck no, they are going to pass it along to us. Did you notice how quick they had that price increase out there? This spike was planned long ago and I think the state knew it,” one OF opined. This OF further stated, “We are just pawns in one big chess game.”

Pro players need higher nets, lower salaries

Then the OGs started talking about sports, especially salaries, and basketball. In the sport of basketball, these guys make tons of money and one OF added, “Like they all do.”

Another OF brought up that he thought it was the players who turn into super stars, because not all make the big bucks. This OF thought they all make enough money, but we usually hear only about the big guys, no pun intended.

One OF wondered where the gene pool is for all these guys who can run down the floor and jump so their hand is over the basketball basket by almost a foot. With the court about 90 feet long, and with these guys so big, it takes only 15 long strides to go from line to line.

When this scribe told his better half what the OMOTM talked about, she said (as she has said many times before) that she thinks professional basketball hoops should be 12 feet high. It is not fair that kids in junior high school should be trying to put the ball through a hoop that is the same height as the pros.

The rims have always been 10 feet high since basketball rules were posted in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891. The average height of the player at that time was 5 foot, 6 inches. Today the average NBA player is 6 feet, 7 inches. The better half rested her case.

The OFs think there should be some kind of a cap on the money these guys make playing sports. One OF said he doesn’t watch much sports any more or even care. Who wants to watch a bunch of millionaires run the bases? Not him.

This OF maintains by attending his local high school’s baseball game (or any other sport like track, or basketball), he can watch a good game.

“Humph,” he said, “some of the pros are drafted right off the high school diamond.” One thought he brought out is that he does get some looks like: What is that old codger doing here?

“Doesn’t bother me,” the OF said.

Hairy dilemma

Somehow the OFs began talking about hair growth! Again!

This is wishful thinking on the OFs’ part. However, one OF claimed there is a product on the market that will grow hair no matter how old you are.

This has to be a scam. If there were such a product, it wouldn’t be a secret that only one OF would know about it. This product would be advertised all over the place, especially on the sports channels.

The OFs asked, “What color does it come in? Will your hair come in white, or black?”

One OF said he used to have red hair, and asked, “So does it only come in black?”

The OF then said he would be OK with it if it were white.

One more OF added, “We are just past April Fool’s Day. Are you just putting us on?”

The first OF said he saw it on television and was going to watch that channel again and write down what it is and if it is “as seen on TV only,” not sold in stores.

Everybody said, “You do that.”

All the OMOTM who were at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh are waiting for the answer to the hair-growth cream, or salve, or maybe lotion and those OMOTM were: Roger Chapman (and yes, he was there last week; he even rode with the scribe), Miner Stevens, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter (loved the hat), Jim Heiser, Kenny Parks, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Marty Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, and me.

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Some of the Old Men of the Mountain wandered over the mountain on Tuesday, March 25, to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow to have breakfast. For most of the OFs, it was a nice ride, while others who live close by did not get a chance to see the sun rise from the top of the hill.

A well-kept secret was disclosed at the breakfast on Tuesday morning. A larger portion of the OMOTM than would be imagined still like to watch cartoons; this, however, may not be a bad idea.

The OFs say it takes them out of all the crazy stuff that is going on around the world right now. The OFs would rather watch Elmer Fudd chase Bugs Bunny into his underground home than deal with all the “garbage” (OMOTM term) that is in the news and on television.

The OMOTM think the news is designed to excite and agitate, so more news is generated and therefore more news is there to report on. There are some OFs who don’t think like this, but they think there are now so many more people, and technology brings the whole world in real time to all the kooks and with more people there are just more kooks. (The scribe notes that there may be more people, but kooks are less in percentage.)

The problem is that the copycats view each incident and the news has their actions blasted all over the place so it encourages those on the edge to take action. With many, all they want is to get their name in the news.

This is worldwide. We also have the “terrorists” running around doing their thing. Cartoons are much better way to keep these OFs sane.

Hoarders or collectors?

The OF keep talking about hoarders; some OFs accuse other OFs of being hoarders, and these OFs consider themselves collectors.

Tuesday morning’s conversation started in the same vein but the “collectors” queried the ones who claimed they were hoarders about what they had accumulated over the 50, 60, and even 70 years of roaming around this planet. What did they have stuck on shelves and in the garage or attic?

It was found there is a considerable amount of stuff (junk, knickknacks, momentos) in the OFs’ homes so that, if the OFs ever got together, really downsized, and had a unified garage sale, it would be one heck of a garage sale.

It was also found that in this conversation most of, if not all of, the OFs have not stopped adding to their collecting. As one OF put it, “If it is on sale, and it is a good one, it’s for me.”

So the collections grow even if the OF is 75 or 80 years old. When the OF’s number is called way up yonder and the OF kicks the bucket, his kids will have to deal with all this. One OF said his kids will just hire a truck, throw everything in it, and haul it to the dump.

Morbid but necessary talk

Speaking about all this made the subject turn to nursing homes, retirement homes, and assisted-living facilities. These are not places the OFs want to talk about, but they realize these places might be a home of the future to some.

The largest lament of the OFs is that they do not want to be a burden to their kids. (Although some say their kids were such a pain when they were growing up, the OFs wanted to get old and become a burden to them).

The OFs call it payback time. This, of course, was uttered with tongue well placed in cheek.

One OF said the worst place to visit is a nursing home. The OFs said to him so many of them know where they are and don’t want to be there. The other OFs knowingly agreed and hoped it would not be their last stopping place on this Earth. This was a morbid type of conversation for the OMOTM, but necessary in a way.

Travelers

A fresh story was related by one OMOTM. It seems this OF and his spouse, on returning back to the Northeast from their southern home, decided to follow the Civil Rights Trail (sort of) for a different way to arrive home, and they took their time. For the most part they used Airbnb for their places to stay and said that part was very interesting too.

Some of the states and places they stopped at were: New Orleans and Bourbon Street in Louisiana; a southern plantation; Selma, Alabama and the Edmund Pettus Bridge; Memphis, Tennessee; and Plains, Georgia, home of the former president, Jimmy Carter. These are the ones this scribe can remember but there were others.

The Airbnb experiences were different; one they mentioned was not the home, but the neighborhood it was in. They said the homes around it were rundown; there was an abandoned school at the end of the street, and yet they had no problems.

The house the OMOTM couple stayed in was really nice they said. They mentioned that this house did not go with the surrounding neighborhood.

This points up a fact that in the current social time it is smart to plan for the retirement years when at a young age so trips like this and other traveling, or relocation to a retirement home in a warmer climate, or even (for skiers) a winter climate, is possible.

When the OFs were young, the kids were groomed to take over the farm or business. Today that is much less the case, and, if the retirement years aren’t planned for, a newly formed YF into an OF, well, he is stuck.

The OMOTM happens to have a mixture of both planners and no-planners, and there is a third group that has so much money it doesn’t make any difference, and they include: Wally Guest, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Mike Willsey, (Winnie Chartier), Gerry Chartier, and me.

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March 19 was a Tuesday and the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner on Route 20 in Princetown.

The OMOTM meet on every Tuesday with an attendance better than most religions have when they meet on Sunday. There is a good reason for this.

The OMOTM have no rules, no goals, no required attendance, no dues, no discussion on politics or religion, no dress code, and no civic duties. In essence, all the OMOTM do is have a pleasant breakfast between friends where everyone knows your name.

On this particular Tuesday, some of the OFs talked about pruning their trees. The discussion was on apple and pear trees, but this time of year the OFs thought it was a good time to prune any tree.

One OF said that even though he was doing the pruning now he thought he was a little late — not much but a little. Other OFs that have never bothered to prune their trees asked the OFs that did prune what was the proper way to do it. These OFs were given lessons on how to prune trees and found that those who did prune their trees all did it basically the same way.

One OF said last year he had tons of pears, and few apples, but the year before that he had tons of apples but very few pears. Another OF said it was all timing between the blossoms and the bees. This OF said, if the blossoms are out full and the bees are around, the OF will have fruit. It seems that both blossoms and bees have to be together for a good harvest.

Snowbirds like golf carts

The OFs who hunker down for the winter here in the great Northeast began discussing those who fly away for the winter months. The discussion focused on looking forward to the snowbirds’ return. This prompted further discussion from OFs who went down to visit those in the southern climes.

The dialogue was on the mode of travel by golf carts. Some of the OFs who go south have cars down there and so they fly down while some drive down and back each year. A few have relatives that drive them back and forth. Once down there, one OF said, they hardly use their vehicle — the vehicle of choice is the golf cart.

The OFs who have had the opportunity to go south and join the snowbirds said some of these golf carts are all dolled up with fancy paint jobs, curtains, flags, and tinted windows, and some have matching small trailers they haul behind.

This seems to be sort of a competition to see who has the fanciest golf cart. One OF mentioned that it does cut down on the carbon footprint.

Armchair quarterbacks

The OFs at one table began talking about the Boeing situation concerning their new airplane (the “737 Max 8”) and the recent fatal crash investigations they are having with this plane.

One OF thought that they are going to find there is nothing really the matter with the plane. He feels it is going to be some sophisticated computer hardware glitch (that can happen) that the pilots were never alerted to or shown how to correct for it.

Another OF said he thought the engines were too powerful for the airframe and should be scaled back. Just like many major calamities, countless armchair quarterbacks enter the fray. Sometimes none of them are right and sometimes one or two hit the nail on the head.

The OFs thought that, no matter what happens, this is going to be a sticky wicket for Boeing, and Boeing is such a major player in the economy of the Northwest.

DNA drama

The next chatter goes back about five or six weeks ago when the OFs were talking about their DNA and genealogy. Today a different group of OFs approached the same subject and were wondering about their ancestors.

This was prompted by some TV show that was tracing the expansion of people through the planet from basically a single source. One OF said he would bet there are some young scientists in this field checking human or maybe animal DNA with fish DNA to see if they can connect the two.

One OF said he hopes it is never proven that human or animal DNA can be connected to a trout, or a guppy. To this OF, it would be a bummer to know he was related to the fish swimming around in his granddaughter’s little fish tank.

So far, one OF said, we have not even been completely connected to monkeys and apes — let alone fish.

An OF suggested, with Easter coming up, it is a good thing that Jesus had a crown of thorns, and was crucified on a wooden tree; that way everything would rot and his DNA would be gone.

“Yeah,” one OF suggested, “How about the nails?”

The original OF said, “They [the nails] would be gone also; the lime would have taken care of that.”

The other OF said, “Are we sure of that? The nails could have been pulled out and might not have gone into the pit with the cross.”

Wow! Here is another discussion that can become really deep.

Those OFs who stumbled out of bed in the morning and (like the song says, stretched and came to life, dressed and either waited for their ride, or started ole Betsy) made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown were: Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Miner Stevens, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Marty Herzog, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray, Otis Lawyer, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey and Warren Willsey, along with Amy Willsey (great support person), Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Harold Grippen, and me.

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On Tuesday, March 12, the Old Men of The Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg. This scribe must report nothing went on; the OFs did not have to rely on any fire trucks, police cars, ambulances or anything like that

No emergencies occurred, the OFs did not have to be rescued; as a matter of fact, it was very routine, and the discussions were on old cars and trucks, old farm equipment, machinery maintenance — just regular  OF talk.

The OFs talked about a new craze of using obsolete trailers for storage. It may be a form of copying from the Home and Garden TV show where they show people purchasing one of these obsolete trailers in good shape and making a home out of it.

This has not escaped the imagination of the OFs and some have purchased one of the trailers and already have plans of what do with it. One OF said, if he didn’t straighten up with the old lady, he better plan on making it a functional man cave.

It was interesting to hear the advantages for using one of these things for storage especially if the OFs are collectors and restorers of large items, like furniture, or tractors, cars, and trucks. As regular readers of the OMOTM know, we have quite a contingent of those rascals in the group.

So many so that, as a group, if these OFs all got together, with whiteboards, and slide projectors for old pictures, and computers for the newer stuff, they could put on quite a seminar for those just getting into the hobby.

The only problem with using these old trailers or containers used for ship and rail travel is they are ugly as sin and, depending on where they are, some sort of pleasing decorations, or fencing around the offending trailer is in order.

Naming the seven dwarfs

One OF apparently at one table came to the breakfast out of sorts. This scribe is unable to attest to that but the scribe and others at the scribe’s table heard the word “grumpy” and the other OFs were calling him grumpy. (Aside: It is hard to stay grumpy with this group.)

This had the OFs at the long table try to come up with the seven dwarfs from the movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” The OFs didn’t make it. The OFs came up with Grumpy, Dopey, Sneezy, and that was it.

One OF said Dumbo; that was not one of dwarfs and it is a completely different movie. What was also a little odd was about 12 OFs with very serious looks on their faces trying to come up with the doofus names of the seven dwarfs, this scribe included.

For those whose interest is piqued, the seven dwarfs are: Sneezy, Sleepy, Happy, Doc, Grumpy, Dopey, and Bashful. “Snow White” is a beautiful little movie; the animation is great,

“Heigh-ho, heigh-ho,

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s home from work we go,

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho.”

Or something like that.

Cell phones let you hide

Many of the OMOTM have abandoned their landlines and gone to using only cell phones. Now to contact these OFs, it is more difficult.

This may be the purpose. The OFs all say it saves them money but we know now they can hide.

It used to be all the OF had to remember was basically the last four numbers for the OF they were trying to contact because the first three were the same depending on where they lived. So it was easy; it wasn’t necessary to carry a directory with a whole bunch of different numbers.

Also now the OF doesn’t even have to turn the phone on. But, on the other hand, it is possible to get hold of the OF no matter where the OF is. Unfortunately, the OF could be in the john and, in the middle of the conversation, the OF making the call can hear the toilet flush. Ah, technology.

Army strong

Some of the OFs who have and restore old equipment restore old military equipment. Tuesday morning, this group was wondering why the government does everything to overkill.

They were talking about restoring World War II army trucks and jeeps and what they are held together with and trying to remove just one rusted-on bolt. How can four or five guys make a whole conversation on removing one simple bolt? But they did.

The OFs in complete detail described each tool they used, what worked and what didn’t. Apparently, nothing worked because the bolt is still holding firm.

The Army must not want its stuff falling apart, because in battle there is not a garage just a few miles down the road. But half-an-hour conversation on a bolt, wow. This scribe supposes a clique of knitters could to the same thing talking about a stitch.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to eat we go, and it was to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg the OFs went, and the ones who were there were: Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Marty Herzog, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Rev. Jay Francis, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Harold Grippen, Jake Lederman, and me.

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