Fortunately (or unfortunately) most people, so we are told, are creatures of habit. On Tuesdays, a certain group known as “The Old Men of the Mountain” are called to various diners, and restaurants.

This Tuesday, June 18, the OMOTM were called to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg. Monday, June 17, was a pretty nice day, and guess what! On Tuesday, the OMOTM traveled in the drizzle and fog, again to their appointed eating establishment.

The weather has been so wet, so far this year, that it was almost the lone topic of conversation at one end of the table. It is beginning to affect the OFs’ attitude towards many daily projects. The one thing the OFs agree on is that they look out at the gray sky and want to go back to sleep. Some do. One OF says all he does is drag around from project to project and ultimately does nothing.

Others say that many of their plants and gardens are doing nothing. One OF was going to paint his deck and stairs. This OF claims it is going to take all summer for the wood to dry out so he can do it.

“We have nothing to complain about,” was a comment made because of the situations in the southern and central part of the country. This has been brought up before. There is no doubt about the OF being right.

Rescue at Thacher Park

The OFs covered the topic of young people messing around in Thacher Park and the one young lad going over the edge. That was quite a tumble and required the use of many people and much equipment to rescue him.

These responders put themselves in harm’s way to do this. One OF said the responders practice for these situations and the safest way to do them, yet there is always an element of risk involved no matter how much they train.

It was brought out by the OFs (who were once young) who lived on the Hill. They, quite often, were part of the crowd that partied in the park when they were not supposed to. It was called an attractive nuisance by some, a dare by some, and a challenge by others.

First responders in the fifties were not trained as well, nor did they have equipment like we have today — helicopters for instance. Helicopters were around in the fifties but not equipped with technology like they have now. The OFs are lucky that none of them went over the ledge.

Many parties were held at Thacher Park, even way back when the Indians were still running up and down the cliffs 400 years ago. Many of the OFs had their high school graduation parties there. Only a few of the OFs are old enough to remember seeing the Indians there.

“The Eagle has landed”

The OFs have some birthdays coming up, one on July 20. The significance of this birthday, beyond that of being one of the OMOTM, is that it’s the day this country put a man on the moon.

July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong announced, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”  By referring to “Tranquility Base” to Houston emphasized to listeners that the landing was complete and successful.

When stepping onto the moon’s surface Neil Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for [A] man, one giant leap for mankind.”  Somehow, that [A] was lost in the communication thus changing the meaning of that sentence and starting a lot of debate.

Finally, in 2006, a computer analyst in Australia, using new technology designed to help handicapped people, was able to hear the recording that Armstrong had made in 1969 and this proved that he did indeed use the [A] before the word “man.”

Neil requested that, when people used this quote, they should put brackets around the A.  Neil Armstrong died on Aug. 25, 2012, but he will always be remembered for being the first man to step on the moon’s surface.   

Some have birthdays that will always be remembered just for what happened on that day. In the case of July 20, there will always be skeptics of the event. These skeptics maintain it was only someplace like in a barn somewhere, or in Texas or Arizona.

Sometime this scribe will go back to the internet and find out what became of all these skeptics. One last note of interest: Today’s cell phones are far more powerful than the computers on the Apollo  Command Module and Lunar Module that were used to navigate to the moon and operate all the spacecraft control systems. Who said Google is just for youngsters?

Odds and ends

 Other birthdays hard to forget if yours falls on one of these days are Dec. 25, Jan. 1, July 4, or your Uncle Harry’s on May 3.

Many of the topics discussed at this morning’s breakfast were carryovers from last week — especially on animals. This gets to be redundant; just how much can be covered on animals?  However, the OFs continue to find something interesting but this week not so much — it was just animals. 

The OFs started to rehash computers and how they will soon be running everything (see the previous Neil Armstrong story) and many OFs are not ready for this. One OF said the young people will be controlled by these machines and not know the difference, but we OFs know what independence is and how to think for ourselves. One OF thought this was a little harsh on the younger generation, because we know little about it and maybe are afraid of what is coming.

Where have all the bugs gone?

The OFs ask where all the bugs have gone. The stink bugs, the elder beetle, the earwigs, etc.; the OFs were not complaining, just wondering.

One OF said, “Wait until it warms up, then watch out, they don’t like this weather either; the bugs are just holing up waiting to attack.”

The Old Men of the Mountain are not waiting for the attack of the bugs. The OMOTM are hiding in one of their selected hide-outs; those hiding in the Duanesburg Diner this week were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Paul Nelson, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Dave Williams, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Art Frament, Ray Gaul, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Russ Pokorny, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Mace Porter, Gerry Chartier, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Harold Grippen, and me.

Condolences

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their condolences and prayers to the family of Garry Porter, a good and loyal member of the OMOTM, on his passing on Tuesday.

Location:

 Three days of decent weather and then comes Tuesday morning, June 11. There was a half-inch of rain overnight, nasty drizzle in the morning, and wind blowing 20 to 30 miles per  hour. Hello!

It is time for the Old Men of the Mountain to gather at the Your Way Café in Schoharie for breakfast; it is hard for the OMOTM to catch a break. Two or three nice days a year for driving to the various restaurants really takes dedication.

It is only about 10 days until the longest day of the year. This date means the OFs who have their boats in the water (as noted in a previous report) do not have much “summer” time to use them. Still, the OFs say summer is short and winter is long.

One OF said that is true only if you like water and swimming. Winter is short, if you like skiing and snowboarding.

By the way, the pirate ship and crew is in the pond at the end of Old Stage Road, and the Thompson’s Lake Road (Route 157).  Bring your camera, or if you are keeping up with technology, your cellphone.

For some reason (ha!) the OFs were talking about feeling old, which is different than getting old. The one thing that makes the OFs feel old is how old their children are now.

When your kids are retiring, it makes the OFs feel old; when the OFs are attending their grandkids’ weddings, the OFs feel old.

Getting old is when the OFs start to slow down and realize they can’t do what they used to do, or it takes them a very long time to do what they used to do, which makes them feel sometimes that what they used to do isn’t worth the effort.

Downsizing

Downsizing is a frequent topic for the OFs. This time the chatter was on how large the home is.

Some OFs with their better halves (and that all depends on which one is being spoken to) are still in the old farmhouse. Or they have a home with four bedrooms, and back then it was only the one bathroom, but still, the home is too large.

Now there are only two of them rattling around in the place. In the instance of the big old farmhouse, which kids don’t want to inherit, the OFs have loaded it up with 80 or 85 years of collected stuff — because the OFs did not throw anything out; the home becomes quite a white elephant to sell.

One OF brought up the fact that many of the OFs started life during the Great Depression, or soon after, and throwing anything away was a sin. Clothes were held on to, to pass on to others in the family, or those who had none.

Holding on to the clothes became a syndrome even when times changed and it wasn’t necessary. No one wanted their old clothes anyway. One OF suggested that, depending on what kind of clothing they have, donating them to an animal shelter.

Many of the OFs have lifelong friends and family that their hearts would break if they had to leave them. So begins the quandary of what to do. The OFs talk it over and over and very few do anything.

One OF had a thought that the young ones should not snicker at this problem because they too will become old and have the same problem, even if they say they won’t.

Perturbing opossums

The one-time animal control officer for the Hilltowns was telling stories of some of his adventures in trapping unwanted varmints and animals that were not supposed to be where they were. One thing the OF mentioned was that opossums are one of the dumbest animals on four feet.

Opossums don’t know where to call home. The OFs think that those things go as far as they can go and eat whatever along the way and when they tire out that’s home. It can be under the porch, or under the dog house, they just don’t seem to care.

One OF said he had them on his porch like they wanted to come in with the cat. In another instance, three opossums holed up in the wall of his garage. The OF tried to get them out with a broom but it was raining out.

As soon as the opossums’ feet hit the wet ground, they all ran right back into the garage. The OF said one ran up the handle of the broom, hissing all the way. No way were they going out in the rain.

In defense of the “dumb” opossum, they eat ticks, help prevent Lyme disease, and kill venomous snakes. Opossums do their human friends many favors. It’s too bad they aren’t cute.

Old engines

The Gas-Up is running; it is that time of the year.

Some of the OFs leave the wife at home and make their annual trip to the two-weekend event in a field off Murphy Road, which is off Drebitko Road, which is just southwest of Gallupville on Route 443.

The OFs who go to this event just go to reminisce. The OFs mutter, “I had one of those (tractors), or one of these (hit-and-miss engines) etc.,” and a few OFs still have one of those and one of these.

Those OFs who left the wild animals behind so they themselves could scurry to the “Your Way Café” in Schoharie for their first cup of coffee were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Marty Herzog, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Paul Nelson, Bill Lichliter, Josh Buck, guest of Bill’s who rode his motorcycle all the way from Dallas Texas, in mostly rain, Roger Shafer, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Karl Remmers, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Pete Whitbeck, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Duncan Bellinger, Harold Grippen, Ted Willsey with Denise Schanz, and me.

Location:

On Tuesday, June 4, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café in Schoharie after experiencing a really cold night for the month of June. Some of the OMOTM went to bed with the temperature at 42 or 44 degrees.

Dang! The OFs are mostly on blood thinners and they feel this chill; the OFs still are using flannel sheets and flannel PJs. The furnace is set at 65 and that sucker is continuing to kick in.

On Tuesday morning, the OFs who reside in the hills southeast of Middleburgh found they had ice or frost on their car windows. This is the OMOTM’s weather report for June 4, 2019.

All this wet weather and the cold, near the beginning of summer, was what was handed out for weather Tuesday morning and this weather report kept the OFs’ gardeners buzzing. Some have kept their plants in the containers they started them in and these plants are now pretty good-sized.

One OF just had a chance to till his gardens but nothing is in the dirt yet. This OF plans on doing the planting after our breakfast before the rains come. We will have to wait until next Tuesday to see if these preparations come to pass.

One OF wondered if his favorite team will be able to get the ball game in before more rain; it is odd watching some of the baseball players still wearing their hoodies this time of year.

Seventies upheaval

The OFs who once worked in industry, and who are now retired, talked about what it was like working in the fifties and sixties and how much changed during the eighties and nineties. Most say that things started to change in the 1970s and the changes that came about were very complex. The seventies were an era of economic struggle, cultural change and technological innovation.

To the OFs, at this point in time, circumstances became more hectic, and less friendly. The hurry-up attitude seemed to put an edge on people.

One OF thought it was because we had become older in the seventies and had the comparison of working in the past (to the seventies). The younger people joining the workforce were already in the fast pace so this OF thought the fast pace didn’t seem so fast to these baby boomers.

This OF considered that, as OFs, we were used to civility, and that seemed to be (to him anyway) disappearing as the pace increased.

Another OF said that, now that he was retired (and has been for about 15 years), to heck with the pace, he will just chug along in low.

The OF mentioned the companies that are no longer around since the time they were in the workplace. Many of these companies were local to our area.

GE with over 22,000 employees and ALCO (the American Locomotive Company) with its thousands working there, made Schenectady the city that lights and hauls the world. GE’s workforce now is down to much less than Price Chopper, and ALCO is gone.

Those are just two companies the OFs came up with, others also — gone. One OF mentioned that many smaller companies probably have been replaced.

Green meat and Other delicacies

This scribe does not remember how the OFs began talking about cooking, but it was not cooking like making spaghetti or a stew. This discussion was about flour, and flour mills, wheat etc., and also about meat — storing meat, and preserving meat.

This scribe (if he heard it right) heard the OFs say that the little bugs found in flour are OK to cook up — they don’t bother anything. Some OFs questioned that.

However, a little research (thank you, Google) said: “Yes, it is safe. Assuming the flour is in something you will bake or otherwise heat up because the high temps will kill the bugs. They are mainly protein so you might even consider them healthy. At the same time, you probably don't want to eat food or be served with food with dead weevils in it.”

Weevils? We hadn’t discussed them.

Then one OF said that big silos of ground grain are allowed a certain amount of bugs, and mouse droppings. It can’t be 100 percent avoided.

One OF said, “Count me out now from eating bread, cookies, and buns.”

Another OF said a friend of his was a butcher for a large chain grocery store and this butcher would save him (and a few other friends) the meat, especially steaks, that had green mold on them.

When he had some meat on sale that wasn’t “perfect,” he would call his friends and let them know how much he had, and how much it would cost. The OF said this was great meat, extremely tender, and flavorful.

Misery loves company

The OFs were talking doctors again, basically on the nasty, debilitating, disease called arthritis. It was funny how some of the OFs found out they go to the same doctor, not only for arthritis but for other ailments too.

It seems like many of the OFs have the same medical problems so it wouldn’t make sense to complain about these problems because who you are complaining to has the same problem you do and maybe even worse!

However, all the OFs still complain to each other. This probably completes the ole saw “misery loves company.”

This scribe is going to promote himself. If you have the time and want to see a little show of some of the scribe’s paintings, the scribe has 12 of them hanging at the Berne Library for the month of June.

The library has sort of an uneven policy for when it is open. The times are as follows: Monday, 2 to 8 p.m.; Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Wednesday, noon to 8 p.m.; Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.; Friday, 2 to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and it is closed Sunday.

There was a contingent of OFs hanging around outside enjoying the early morning air waiting for the restaurant to open, and it did, of course, then the other Old Men of the Mountain began to arrive and they were: Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Karl Remmers, Roger Shafer, Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, George Washburn, Wally Guest, David Williams, Roger Chapman, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Pete Whitbeck, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Rev. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Duncan Bellinger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me. Finally, after most of the OFs had eaten breakfast and left, two more arrived: Marty Herzog and Jim Rissacher.

Location:

It is almost June, and it doesn’t feel like it; this May 28 it felt more like maybe early April. Regardless, it was a Tuesday, and the Old Men of the Mountain knew what day it was and met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. Middleburgh spelled with an “H” and Duanesburg without — go figure.

Tuesday morning, the OFs spoke about putting things off. Procrastination is the big word for the problem, only with the OFs it is not so much putting things off, it is old age catching up with the OFs.

The OFs may think they are putting things off, but the truth is now the OFs move slowly, and take so much longer to just take a shower and get dressed that it may seem they are putting whatever it is off.   However, they just haven’t caught up to whatever it is yet.

Then it is evening and supper, which used to be at 6 or 7 o’clock, is now happening at 4 or 5 o’clock and the day is over for us OFs. The OFs still haven’t completed half of what they thought they would do, so come the next morning the OF has already had half a day shot and the OF isn’t even out of bed yet!

Just having to do what was leftover from yesterday, by the end of the week, the OF is so far behind that the OF says to heck with it and goes back to bed. With the OFs, it is not procrastination, it is those numbers 80 through 90-plus added to the OFs age that is the problem.

New doc takes toll

The OMOTM followed up on the previous banter, saying how, at the ages of the OFs, having to change doctors is a problem. In some cases, the OFs outlive the doctor that has been taking care of them for years and realize they have to find a new doctor.

Sometimes this poses a real family situation — getting the OF comfortable with a new doctor who doesn’t look old enough to shave. Trying to convince the OF that this “youngster” is his doctor and that the OF will be comfortable with him or her.

In a few cases, the new doctor practices with a large group of doctors, and if the “kid” doctor is not available, the OG is shuffled off to another doctor in the factory whom he has never met. The OFs continued, saying “This guy starts asking questions that I have answered a hundred times before.”

One OF said this case in point had just happened to him. While he was answering the questions, the doctor wasn’t even listening; he was writing something down that didn’t pertain to him at all. The doctor even called a nurse in and gave her the paper he was writing on.

“Sure didn’t make me feel any better,” the OF said.

Enrollment down, Why are taxes up?

There is also that continuing problem of taxes. A short time ago, there was voting all over the place on school budgets. The OFs were wondering with local school enrollments going down (not by much, but the trend is down, as is the population of New York) why do taxes keep going up?

The newspaper just reported that New York State has the highest (by double) per-student rate in the country, and the kids are not any smarter for it.

Like the ad on TV for the dishwashing soap, “What does the dishwasher do?” the young girl asks after watching her mother wash all the dishes and then put them in the dishwasher.

We OFs would also ask, “Just what do all those school taxes do?” The pie chart, and the flyer sent around just before voting time, the OFs say, said nothing.

The OFs know maintenance, supplies, and fuel oil prices fluctuate, but building new buildings, etc. doesn’t seem to make sense unless the others are so bad they are unusable.

One OF said he was home-schooled, and the schoolhouse was the barn. There is a lot to be said for that.

Another OF defended the way we were taught, and the way school is today. If our education was only that of out behind the barn we never would have gotten to the moon, and now we are looking toward way beyond that.

These conversations almost sounded like the OFs want to go back to doctors making house calls, and one-room schoolhouses where one teacher taught multiple grades and was put up at one of the farmer’s homes. The doctors making house calls was mentioned and some remembered the names of the local doctors who did that.

One OF brought up a thought that he thinks communicable diseases and colds would be kept down by this practice instead of everybody going to an office, which, to this OF, is an incubator of all kinds of germs.

One OF thought that in the not-to-distant future we won’t be seeing a doctor. The secretary will ask what our problem is and we will step into a room and a series of machines will take over, and diagnose what’s going on, and another machine will take over and take care of the problem.

This OF thinks that somewhere along the line a doctor will be part of the diagnosis and a possible cure, but we will never actually see this doctor. One OF said, “Star Trek, here we come.”

In the field of medicine, the young people have a lot to look forward to, but for now the OFs look forward to Tuesday and the next breakfast, and this week those who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh were: Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Miner Stevens, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, David Williams, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Pete Whitbeck, Jim Heiser, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Ken Parks, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Duncan Bellinger, Rev. Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Bob Donnelly, Allen DeFazio, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

It is almost Memorial Day — the start of summer. Yeah, right! On Tuesday, May 21, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh.

Most all of the OMOTM on Tuesday mornings are like the old TV show “Cheers,” and this morning was no different. It was evident as each OG came in and was greeted with a chorus of his name — a great way to start the day.

The OFs cover a considerable amount of geography when taking in where they maintain their humble domiciles. This has the group living where there are different companies supplying phone service, and different substations distributing power to the OFs homes.

Tuesday morning, the OFs discussed how some have had fewer power outages, while some complain their power is always going out. One OF said his power never goes out because the OF can wind up the creaky ole arm and chuck a rock to the substation.

This brought up the question of how many are prepared for power outages with generators. It seems quite a few have either a generator in their garage that can be switched over to provide temporary power, or a generator outside that they can plug into an outlet, or a whole-house (depending on the size of the house) generator that automatically kicks in when the power goes out.

One OF mentioned that he has a generator that he plugs into an outlet and he is able to use it just to run the freezer, fridge, water pump, furnace, and a few lights. However, it doesn’t run the stove, the OF said.

Other OFs mentioned that they have the same type of setup. None of the OFs run their generators close to the house.

Electric cars

The topic of power continued when one OF said he and his wife were in the grocery store parking lot packing the groceries into the back of their car when, the OF said, they both jumped back because they thought their car was moving.

Turns out it wasn’t their car, it was the car next to them. That car was backing up, and when it was positioned right so it could move forward, it did, and never made a sound. It was a Tesla — a full-sized vehicle.

One of the OFs said one of his relatives has a Toyota Prius and this car did the same thing, but the relatives installed a backup alarm on the car because they were afraid that people would not hear the car and then they might hit them when doing just that, backing out of parking space in a parking lot. This is exactly why the previously mentioned OFs thought their own car was moving; they could have jumped right into the Tesla.

Summer fun

The hunters and fishermen of the OFs were talking about hunting and fishing. This scribe now knows it is OK to hunt turkeys this month because it is turkey season, and bass fishing isn’t OK until next month.

This scribe really doesn’t care but, boy, a lot of the OFs do. One OF said his boat is still shrink-wrapped at the marina but the people promised him the boat would be ready and in the water for bass season.

This OF must like to fish alone because he said he has only one seat in the boat and this seat is a high one. It sounds like some of the OFs are getting ready for their summer fun.

Some of the OF’s hobbies become quite technical. The hunters and fishermen started talking about which are good fish to fish for and which are not, unless what the OFs are fishing for is catch and release. (This scribe does not think this is much fun for the fish.)

The reason for leaving those fish alone is, if you are going to eat them, they are way too boney. These OFs know their business because they started naming which are good and which ones to put back in the water. This scribe wouldn’t know one fish from the other.

A host of hobbies

Many hobbies that retired people enjoy are expensive; that includes fishing and hunting. Gas for that boat is four bucks a gallon. Then there are all the other bits and pieces that go with a specific hobby. Hunting is the same, so is golfing, and charging around on an ATV is not cheap either.

The best hobby is a hammock and a book with soft music in the background. To top it off is to have enough money to travel to the summer here, and the winter there — wherever there is. If the hammock is hung in the cellar then here on the hill makes the cost of that hobby pretty cheap. If it is hung there rather then here, that’s another story.

We have some OFs whose hobbies are bigger than most. A hobby can be building things, but we have one OF who has a special hobby of building boats. Not just rowboats, or canoes, but pirate ships — 30-foot pirate ships.

This particular pirate ship is still in the process of being built, but the weather is getting to the point (like the OF whose boat is still shrink-wrapped) where the water is getting warmer and warmer so this pirate ship should soon be back in the water, waiting for unsuspecting prey.

Still on the subject of hobbies, we have to discount the OF who said his hobby was girls. That is the one hobby that will get any OF in a ton of trouble and is this a real hobby?

Those OFs whose hobby is breakfast with the Old Men of the Mountain who met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh on Tuesday were: Bill Lichliter, Paul Nelson, John Rossmann, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, Wally Guest, Dave Williams, Pete Whitbeck, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Roger Shafer, Ken Parks, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Jake Lederman, Russ Pokorny, Mike Willsey, Duncan Bellinger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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