Silver King tractors, like this one, are being restored by two Old Men of the Mountain.

Tuesday is here again and the Old Men of the Mountain met on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Home Front Café in Altamont.

The other restaurants the OFs visit are restaurants, but the Home Front is a restaurant with a theme.  The Home Front pays tribute to the men and women of the 1940s generation.

The Home Front is as well known for that theme as for its food. The theme suits many of the OFs because they are veterans. However, the talk Tuesday morning was not on anything veteran-related.  The OFs may be old but at least they are current.

The big argument of the day is what a lynx is, and what a bobcat is. Really!

In a good side shot, there should be no discussion. One OF brought in a clear picture on his cell phone of a bobcat in a backyard. It was a bobcat; it was large and apparently a male; however, one OF insisted it was a lynx.

A quick perusal on Google revealed the following: The most common wildcat in North America, the bobcat, is named for its short, bobbed tail. They are medium-sized cats and are slightly smaller but similar in appearance to their cousin, the lynx. Their coats vary in color from shades of beige to brown fur with spotted or lined markings in dark brown or black.

So, it was one against 30 and among the 30 were outdoorsmen, trappers (one professional), hunters and fishermen, and a few who have the cats visit them on occasion. But (like many of the OFs) once an OF’s mind is set, it is virtually cast in stone; hence the well-earned phrase “you blockhead”!

Anyway, it was just a big bobcat out for a stroll.  Or maybe it was his cousin.

Snowed under

Another OF brought in some photographs of the winter of 1957/58 on the Hill with snow banks twice as high as a vehicle and in many areas the plows could not get through and the snow was shoveled by hand to reach the road.

Helicopters were used to bring in supplies to stranded farmers, and they even brought in hay. But one OF muttered under his breath that this winter isn’t over yet; we still have to get through March.

Tractor talk

Two OFs who sat across from each other were discussing the Silver King tractor; both OFs have one, and these tractors are in different stages of restoration. Listening to the two yak back and forth was like a history lesson on the Silver King tractor.

The tractor was developed in the early 1900s to augment a company in Plymouth, Ohio that made locomotives and other equipment for moving clay to make bricks. The company (Plymouth Locomotives) had a serious decline in sales because of the Great Depression of 1929 to 1939.

They needed something cheap that people could afford, and they needed to keep their employees working. Aha! the Silver King tractor so named because the silver paint used on the locomotives was good stuff.

The original tractor was designed by the locomotive engineers and was big and cumbersome like a locomotive. This was not what the owners wanted. The company heard of a farmer that made his own tractor from various parts like the Model T and other parts he had laying around his farm.

The owners hired this farmer, and voilà, a small inexpensive tractor was born and painted silver with blue wheels. The tractors were intended for farms less than 60 acres and caught on well. But larger farms found they were a good utility tractor and purchased the tractor to save them from having to crank up the big, heavy ones to do Mickey Mouse chores.

Farmers once again came to the rescue and with forward thinking by the owners developed this type of tractor, which saved the company and the employees. The Silver King was made well into the late 1940s.

When did accidents become crashes?

The OFs were wondering when accidents became crashes. One OF said he hears a crash and he looks for some deliberate act.

The OFs said a crash is when someone goes out and drives headlong into a bridge abutment to kill himself — otherwise it is just an accident. No one goes out to deliberately have an accident, no matter how plastered they are.

More drunks make it home than don’t and the ones that do slam into a tree did not do it deliberately because they were drunk. This was an accident the drunk did not count on.

One OF added, “Yeah, if you are peeling potatoes and cut your hand, it is an accident, and, if you are drunk and cut your hand, it is still an accident because it was not planned. Now the same guy may always be drunk when he peels potatoes and he has been doing it that way for years, but one time he cut his hand.  This is an accident.”

Recalling the lure of Green Stamps

The OFs continued to muse about old times and talked about Green Stamps.  One OF mentioned he still has an unfilled book with Green Stamps.

Some of the OFs mentioned what they picked up at the redemption center. An OF said he still uses one of the items today that he purchased many years ago with Green Stamps.

Another OF wondered if the point system used by airlines, and certain stores and credit cards are a version of the old-fashioned Green Stamps. The OFs said there is so much rigmarole needed to redeem these points and what they offer is nothing the OFs want or can use.

These “points” don’t even come close to the ease of using Green Stamps, and at the redemption center there were many items that people needed and could use.

Elderberries in wine and pies

The OFs talked about eating, again, and this will not be the last time. This time, the chatter was about elderberries — making elderberry wine — and a couple of OFs have just begun making theirs.

One OF garnered 30 pounds of elderberries and the other OF picked 26 pounds and, if anyone knows elderberries, that is a lot of elderberries. One OF is going to combine some blueberries in his wine.

Then the OFs began talking about elderberry pie, and that led to mincemeat pies and how our mothers (now you know we are going back a ways) made their own mincemeat. The OFs know how to eat.

The OFs who made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont, but none ordered elderberr or mincemeat pie, were: John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Ray Frank, Karl Remmers, Bob Snyder, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Rev. Jay Francis, Wayne Gaul, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Bob Giebitz, Gerry Irwin, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.


On Jan. 10, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, and this scribe does not have a clue as to what went on because this scribe was not there.

This will give the scribe a chance to expand on or use some of the notes from previous breakfast conversations. Some of what the OFs talk about is a very short, and generally quick, banter back and forth that may only be one or two sentences long and then a nippy retort.

Many of these are not newsworthy or fit for a paper but are very commonplace — locker-room talk of the senior-citizen type.

Last week, one of the topics not covered in the Enterprise report was water. On the Hill, many, if not most, of the wells have sulfur water. This is great stuff.

There are many kinds of water softeners that take care of the sulfur in the home if owner does not want it. Many on the Hill prefer it and, when going off the Hill and drinking the water in Delmar, or Guilderland or any community that has a water plant, the Hill people can smell the chlorine almost immediately.

Some of the OFs say it is almost like drinking Clorox. Some of the OFs who have softeners have a bypass line that goes to a faucet on the sink that takes the untreated water directly to that faucet. This water they use for drinking and cooking.

Some direct the sulfur water directly to a holding jug and let the water aerate. That is good water and spoils the OFs (and most people who drink it) from drinking other water. Thi is one of the many advantages of living on the Hill, but not all the wells are sulfur.  Some wells tap into a good stream of water before it travels through the limestone and that, too, is great water.

OFs ate health food down on the farm

The OFs, say they are OFs because well, duh, they are old and most of the OFs became old by eating the right stuff and the OFs did this naturally. The OFs keep getting reports on how people should be eating and, as the OFs look at these suggestions, many say: What is this stuff? The OFs say that they did not eat the good stuff all the time but, when they got off track, it was only occasionally.

When many of the OFs were growing up, their meals came from items grown in the garden, and butchered on the farm. One OF said, you can’t get any fresher than that, and it was chemical-free: Eggs, meat, and potatoes with veggies and fruit, although some OFs said their fruit came in the form of pies and jams.

A couple of the OFs said their fruit came in the form of wine. Home canning, and curing your own meat, was a food process more than one OF mentioned. “We used plain stuff like salt, or stuff you could pronounce,” said one.

Another OF said his family was poor, to which another OF quickly added, “We were all poor.” Anyway, this particular OF said he didn’t start to eat well until he went into the service.  

“We still eat the same way,” an OF said, “only we get it from the store, and we consume all the chemicals they use and don’t see any difference.”

However, another spoke up and said, “Most of us had a good start before the agriculturists started using all these growth hormones.”

Food and drink is essential

But is it interesting?

Looks like this scribe did not consider eating and drinking interesting because, for any of us to be here, we have to eat and drink. To this, this scribe says, it must be more interesting than he thinks because of all the cooking shows on TV and all the cookbooks in the bookstores.

The question becomes, as one OF put it, “Suppose we ate like they tell us to eat now. Would we be older OFs, and function better at 90 or 100, than we are now at 80 and 90?”

“Only time will tell,” another OF thought. “But who wants to be on this planet that long?”

This is the same OF who wanted to get off this planet awhile back.

Those OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and are still adding weight to this sphere were: Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Pastor Jay Francis, Roger Shafer, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and not me.


Well, on the first breakfast of the New Year (and, by the way, Happy New Year from the OMOTM), the OFs’ good weather for driving to the restaurants ran out. The drive on Jan. 3 was not fun.

There was drizzle at the freezing point and thick, heavy fog and it was a dark day, but this did not hold many OFs from getting out and enjoying the camaraderie of all the other OFs. The OFs discussed the weather in Duanesburg because Tuesday morning the OMOTM were at the Duanesburg Diner in that village. Duanesburg has a weather system all its own and it generally has nothing to do with the rest of us.

Tuesday morning, this scribe had copious notes because the subjects were varied and all over the place — they covered New Year’s Eve, Mariah Carey, trapping, aquariums, zoos, self-driving cars, clever crooks, sulfur water, guarantees, computer spying, the nonword “overspread,” warts, spots, wrinkles, babies, mice and ticks, the flu, and a few others. This scribe can only pick a few of these to expand on.

Learning to trap

Quite a schooling was given on the art of trapping. It does take time to learn and it is done by going as an apprentice with an experienced trapper. Book larnin’ tain’t gonna cut it.

The critter of choice for this lesson from the trapper was the fisher. The fisher is a nasty animal and will eat just about anything: squirrels, mice, rabbits, birds, cats, skunks, and even the parents of the aforementioned animals, and also their young, and their eggs, according to the OF outdoorsman and trapper. This is a ferocious little animal.

The OF said that, during this trapping season, with the few traps he set out, he managed to trap two fishers. The OF said he does not use leg traps.

Something fishy

We found out in many of our conversations that the OFs have been to places that most of the other OFs have been to. This time it was aquariums.

The aquariums the OFs talked about were the ones in Mystic, Connecticut, in Boston, in Bush Gardens, and in Myrtle Beach. The one that is now open in the old Rotterdam mall was what brought this up.

The kid of one of the OFs was going to take his kids and some friends of theirs to the aquarium at the mall in Rotterdam on the school winter break, but when he checked the cost that was soon scratched off the list.

Legal questions on self-driving cars

The OFs were wondering who would be at fault and who would the lawyers sue if two self-driving vehicles collided with each other. Would they have to sue the company, or the people who owned the cars?

The people who owned them were not driving them so how could they be responsible? How about the guidance system that was directing them? Supposing they were both using the same guidance system, what then?

How would the police fill out the accident report? What kind of answer would they get to, “May I see your license and registration please?”

The OFs think the questions that could come up might be endless.

“What fun,” as one OF put it.

Crazy crimes

The OFs talked about clever crooks, and the crooks that stole the diamonds with 7,000 police officers a couple of blocks away.

One might admit they had one heck of a decoy with the revelry of one of the largest New Year’s Eve parties in full swing. These crooks could have even used jackhammers and no one would have noticed.

One OF thought all of the officers were looking in one direction, trying to spot any sort of trouble so the people partying would be safe; however, none must have looked behind them. One OF added that two blocks away in New York is quite a distance so, even if the police officers looked back, they probably would not have seen anything.

The one crime that was not made by a stupid crook, but rather stupid people who were transporting a tremendous amount of gold.  There was so much gold that this one individual saw just sitting in a bucket in the back of an unattended truck — again New York City.

He picked it up and walked off with it. Who the heck was at fault on that deal one OF wondered.

Then there was the local guy that went after an automated teller machine with a big hammer that was not big enough. The guy went home and came back with a sledge hammer and started beating on the ATM machine but it did not break.

This shows one thing. These machines are well built!

If anyone is going to steal one of these things they should take lessons from the crooks that used a forklift and placed the ATM on a truck and hauled it away. It might be a good idea if the manufacturers of these machines installed a GPS tracking device in the machines along with the cameras.


Some time ago, the OFs discussed manufacturers’ errors, and this time the discussion was on warranties. Many of the OFs have had appliances, tools, outdoor equipment, and other items that are used in and around the home and these items fail within the warrantee period.

Depending on the supplier, and what the product is, sometimes the OGs try and fix the problem, but sometimes the suppliers just say, “Take another one.” And, when asked what to do with the one that doesn’t work, often these suppliers say, “Keep it.”

This is because the dealer doesn’t want to mess with it and neither does the manufacturer. Now the OF who bought it is stuck with it and has to take it to the dump — er, transfer station.

However, some of the OFs who have kept various and sundry of these pieces of failed whatever have used them for spare parts, made planters out of them, and in some cases cobbled them up and made them serviceable again.

The OFs have come to the conclusion that, over the years, we have really become a throwaway society.

Those OFs who made it to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg (and the OFs are original production runs and not castaways) were: Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Marty Herzog, and me.



On Tuesday, Dec. 27, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie. This was a sad meeting because the OMOTM were advised of the death of Loretta Kennedy.

Loretta was the proprietor of Mrs. K’s Country Kitchen in Middleburgh and a good friend of many of the OMOTM. Some of the OMOTM sat next to Loretta in many of her classes when she was at Schoharie Central. She was in the same class as this scribe and graduated with him in 1952.

As reported last week, the OMOTM were at Mrs. K’s for their annual Christmas party and Loretta was taking orders and conversing with all the OMOTM and doing all this while supporting herself with a cane. The OMOTM’s thoughts and prayers go out to Patti and her family at this time of sorrow.

The sorrow is for all of us but not for Loretta. God already has put her to work waiting on all the OMOTM who have gone on before (and that is a big group) on a cloud held especially for the OMOTM and their heavenly breakfast.


This scribe does not know how much of the news becomes information for the OFs because so many of the OFs claim they don’t watch the news (and some do not even get a newspaper) but again many OFs were upset about the lowlifes who steal Christmas presents particularly those intended for the needy. What kind of person would do this?

The OFs wonder what kind of rock they crawled out from. One OF suggested it isn’t a rock; that is too good a home for them. It must be they oozed from some festering cesspool to pull stunts like that.

Many of the OFs don’t understand why anyone takes something that belongs to someone else in the first place. What happens to them when, or if, they get caught was a rhetorical question. Nothing, was the basic reply.  At least the OFs never hear of them getting caught.


In the Your Way Café was a neat snowman made out of pieces of logs. The bottom of the one in the window was about 12 inches in diameter; the middle was about 9 inches and the head was about four-fifths of an inch. All the pieces were about 2 inches thick, and of course the hat was wood as was the nose and extremities. It had a scarf, too.

The OFs thought it would be possible to make a whole family of these for the front yard; they thought it looked like a fun, easy project that the whole family could get into.

“But,” as one OF said, “only if you have a chainsaw.”

Unwelcome vines

Maybe the OFs have mentioned this before but they think they have a use for kudzu. Now all we need is a good use for wild grape vines other than making wreaths.

The OFs talked about what a nuisance this stuff is. The more the OFs cut it back, the more it grows. The OFs wonder if it does any damage to the trees that it weaves its wicked vine around.

The plant crawls along the ground and starts new shoots that search for trees to climb. It is difficult to control especially along hedgerows and fences where it gets a start. If only grape vines that grows grapes for harvests were as hardy and productive.

Car complexities

The OFs drifted into one of their generic topics — cars.  This time, the talk was on how complicated they are becoming.

There seem to be more dashboard lights, buttons, and switches than ever before.

The touch screens are like computers with no “oops” button in case the OF inadvertently touches the wrong part of the screen or the screen time is not long enough for the OF to interpret what it is and what to do with it. By the time the OF decides that is what he wants, it changes to something else just as the OF is ready to push it.

The OFs still maintain all they need are a few simple toggle switches: one for lights with the dimmer on the floor, and a two-position toggle for the wipers — one for slow, one for fast. A horn ring without the horn button hidden someplace in the center of the wheel because now, when the OF pushes where the OF thinks the horn located, nothing happens. A simple key to start and lock the car.

The wipers would have simple double-toggles: one for the heater and one for the air, with a simple knob to turn that indicates warmer and cooler. The radio would be on/off with a volume knob, and a tuner knob.

The OFs think that should do it. And to boot whatever happened to the small triangle windows on the front windows that could be pushed out to scoop air in as you drove?  Those little air-scoop windows worked better than air-conditioning.

Now in some of these vehicles the OFs need a master’s degree in computer science just to turn the dumb thing on. Careful, one OF suggested, you have just admitted the car is smarter than you are.

The OFs who made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie in their new fancy cars with all the gadgets and managed just fine, regardless of their grumbling, were: Ted Willsey, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, (with his daughter Amy who brought some information that might bear watching about an outbreak of flu in cats in New York City. So far there is only one suspected case of it being transmitted to humans. Something else for the OFs to worry about), Chuck Aleseio, Ray Frank, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Harold Guest, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feruer, Don Wood, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Rev. Jay Francis, Gerry Chartier, Russ Pokorny, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Marty Herzog, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, and me.


The Enterprise — John Williams

Savoring the seasons: The Old Men of the Mountain enjoyed listening to music played by Roger Shafer, Gerry Irwin, Tom White, and Debbie Fish while they ate their breakfast on Dec. 20,  Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh.

On Dec. 20,  Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh welcomed the Old Men of the Mountain for their annual Christmas Party. The restaurant always puts on a great spread for the OFs as they get ready to celebrate the Christmas season. Usually there is live music (as opposed to dead music) for occasional sing-alongs if the OFs know the tune and stop talking long enough to give the musicians some attention.

The chatter at the breakfast is similar to the chatter that proceeds church as people come in, or any meeting where people who see each other once a week or so get together. In some cases, the persons at these meetings have just visited with each other the day before, but that does not deter them from conversing before the service or meeting starts.

The OMOTM breakfast does not have a beginning or end, no one bangs a gavel, or rings a bell, or comes down the aisle with lit candles to indicate that whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, so the chatter continues until the last OF pays his bill and goes home. This is what the musicians have to contend with as they continue to play through the breakfast with the noise and chatter, and they appear to have a good time doing it.

Much of the conversation among the OFs consists of bringing people up to date on each other’s activities during the week, and some is a continuation of conversations of last week. However, this week we had one OF bring us up to date on his travels to South Africa.

The OF was asked many questions and the OF related tales to us about what life was like during his stay in that country. One thing he mentioned more than once was that the water in the South Atlantic was very, very, cold. The OF said it turned one’s legs red. He thought it was colder than the ocean in Maine and most OFs could relate to that.

Home repair project goes out of control

Another thing the OFs could relate to is, when starting a home-repair project how many times the OFs have to go to the hardware store to purchase additional parts so they can repair parts on something that broke along the way. Fixing one simple thing leads to either breaking something further down the line, or a part is rusted solid and adding a pipe to the wrench is generally not a good idea.

Then the OF finds that he can’t get the part because the guy behind the counter says “How the h--- old is that thing?  They haven’t made parts for that in years.”

Now the OF is stuck paying a couple hundred bucks for a complete new whatchamacallit instead of the two bucks he thought the part would be. Then the OF says he gets home and the new part doesn’t fit because it is different in length and width and none of connections join up.

Back to the store, and by now the OF mentioned he was really ticked off, and didn’t know how much more would break somewhere down the line, so he buys more parts than he needs just to be sure.

One OF piped up, “Why didn’t you just call a plumber?”

“What,” the other OF says, “and admit defeat!  Never, even if cost me a grand.”

Another situation the OFs could relate to. Many of the OFs have started to repair something and chased it to the end after all the trips to the store, and days later to find they have replaced the whole thing, which they should have done in the first place.

Key West is now costly

The OFs went from South Africa, to right here at home, to the Florida Keys. Now that is a lot of geography. When the OFs were at the Keys (especially Longboat Key, Marathon, and Key West the first time and they were younger) prices were cheap, and Key West was, in their opinion, sort of dumpy, but even at the way money was then, it was a cheap vacation.

Today, what a difference! Key West has been spruced up, and the OFs say it is necessary to have a real pocket full of change, just to eat. The OFs said that, when they were younger, it was possible to take the family on vacations and it wouldn’t break the bank.

As one OF put it, the really upper middle-class and the rich can travel there now, but as it stands currently these type of trips are out of reach for the OFs and many of their kids.

Out-of-touch government

One OF added he does not know what planet the government is from because there was no increase in Social Security, and some OFs even took a loss after the increase in Medicare hit their Social Security checks — the reason given by our wise politicians that there was no rise in the cost of living.

The OFs say, “Say what!”

As one OF commented, “The CIA should look around and find out where the officials who came up with that information parked their space ship!”

Those OFs who enjoyed the music, supplied by Roger Shafer (OF), Gerry Irwin (OF), Tom White, and Debbie Fish, with the hors d’oeuvres (almost a meal, supplied by Mrs. K’s Restaurant) at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh were: Marty Herzog, Jim Rissacher, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Jim Heiser, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson  (at the table, exactly one week from being under the knife with a complete hip replacement ─ the wonders of modern medicine), Mark Traver, Bill Dergosits, Ted Willsey, Don Wood, Sonny Mercer, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, and me.