The Old Men of the Mountain met at the “Your Way Café” on Tuesday  morning, June 2, and the OMOTM are still glad to be out doing a few things more on the normal side.

The question comes up, “What is normal?”

Normal is such an ambiguous word, like sane. Who is really sane? And who decides what is normal, and who is sane? It sure tain’t this scribe. Someone once said it’s the guy with the biggest or most guns who decides.

As the farmers cut hay and the grass grows taller, the OFs are saying summer goes fast, and it isn’t even here yet.

Some of the radio and TV stations offer an allergy report, and they are correct, but the OFs say you can tell it is allergy season by the number and loudness of the sneezes. Some of the OFs complain about being continually stuffed up, and others can attest to that for they are just as stuffed up.

The pine trees are generating their pollen so there can be more pine trees — especially the white and red pines. When leaving the car to go for a walk in the woods, you find, upon returning, that you have to look all over the parking lot for your car because all the vehicles are yellow. They are now covered with pine pollen, and this pollen does not dust off easily.

The OFs were again talking about traveling but there was quite a conversation on streams and waterways. The OGs wonder where some of the local streams start and what some of these streams eventually run into or become.

One creek or (crick, as some people call it), is listed as being completely not where it actually is, according to Google maps. According to these maps, the Cobleskill Creek is running from West Berne, through Gallupville, and Google names the same creek (Cobleskill) as going from Richmondville through Cobleskill and Central Bridge.

What just happened to Fox Creek? Both creeks run into the Schoharie Creek only miles apart but there is no Fox Creek listed in Berne. There is a Fox Creek Market, but it is on the Cobleskill Creek. (Say what!) The OFs were quite intrigued with that bit of information; no wonder trucks get caught under bridges.

Relating to the area around Richmondville, the OFs asked each other if they ever noticed, when driving down the hill on Route 88, heading west, it is necessary to continually keep depressing the accelerator to maintain speed even though it looks and feels like the highway is going downhill. The OFs commented that this phenomenon is very strange to them because the traveler is actually going uphill.

 

Trees down

This is a “not so funny Magee” event. Two of the OMOTM have had large trees blow over on their homes; one is an actual OF and the other is the mother-in-law of another one of the OFs.

The OF had the tree blow over in the very high winds of late winter. The OF said the weather people were saying how the gusts in places were 60 to 70 miles per hour. It was during this time that a perfectly good poplar uprooted and blew out of the ground (the ground, of course, was quite wet) right into the back of the OF’s home.

The other OF said it was a willow that blew over on top of his mother-in-law’s home. Both OFs said it was something to watch the professional tree people work, how they had chainsaws that were sharp; the saws didn’t ever seem to bind up, and the saws started on one pull.

How anyone started in this business is hard to tell. No fear of heights must be at the top of the list, and not being afraid of birds that are ticked off because their nests are now gone. Cardinals are one thing, but condors would give this scribe time to pause and think about it.

 

The good die young

One other procedure that has come up recently is needles in the eyes for macular degeneration. This scribe cannot remember this as a subject for discussion in all the years of attending these breakfasts.

Now all of a sudden here are a bunch of OFs shuddering just to hear the process of needles in the eyes, but some of the OFs, themselves, or their wives are going through the process just like going to the doctor’s for a flu shot.

Like the OFs keep saying: It is tough to get old, yet it is necessary to be tough to get old. The other saying about age is: The good die young; that may be a blessing to keep them from putting up with getting old.

 

Warranty warning

The OFs are beginning to wonder a lot about warranties, or guarantees. The OFs say they can remember when the best guarantee was a good, firm, handshake.

Now they are given a folder of paper weighing about five pounds, stipulating the guarantee; how good it is and long it is etc., isn’t worth all that paper it is written on. One OF said for each paragraph that explains what the guarantee grants, there are 10 just below it that explains how the company or companies can get out of it.

In other words, most are not worth the paper they are written on. On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call. Moments later, he learned his auto warranty had expired.

Those OFs who attended the breakfast at the Your Way Café in Schoharie, and can guarantee that, for them, old age is better than viewing grass from the roots, were: Robie Osterman, Rick LaGrange, Roger Chapman, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Russ Pokerny, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Jake Herzog, Peter Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Henry Whipple, Otis Lawyer, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, and me.

On Tuesday, May 25, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. Memorial Day is coming up shortly, so short it will have come and gone by the time this hits the road, and the garden planting should begin, but according to the OMOTM many seeds and plants are already in the ground.

It appears that old or young people are getting anxious to get outdoors and back to some kind of normal routine. So the OFs were glad to be back at Mrs. K’s to fill in one little crack of the routine.

Shopping is not a favorite pastime of the OMOTM unless it is at a swap meet, or for sporting equipment, or an old plow. Pants, shirts, shoes and socks, and things like that do not fit in the category of shopping items the OFs like to shop for.

One OF’s wife said, “Going shopping for clothes for the old goat is not on my favorite things-to-do list either. The OG goes to the pants rack, sees something he might wear, looks at it, if the size is close, he takes it off the rack and to the check-out counter and we are done. This whole event takes about 10 minutes. The Old Goat doesn’t even try them on, and the old pair the OG has on looks just like the new pair he just bought.”

Another wife (by the way, this was at a picnic where the OMOTM were there with their wives) commented that, if her husband (OF) heard she was going shopping with the ladies, he would holler, “Hon, would-cha pick me up a couple pair of jeans while you are out? Mine are getting kinda ratty.”

“Ratty?” the wife said, “They are so ratty the washing machine refuses to wash them.”

“My husband has it down even better,” a wife added. “When he goes or finally has to go shoe shopping (and that is about every eight to 10 years or so) he finds shoes that fit and are comfortable to him. He buys them and one or two more pairs of the same thing. That is shoe shopping for him for another eight or 10 years.”

Shopping for a lawn mower is another story. One of the same ladies added the OF uses 20 gallons of gas going to every place that sells lawn mowers, trying to save two bucks, and he examines each mower to the nth degree, even if the hardware store just up the road is selling the exact same mower.

One lady summed it all by saying in an exasperated voice, “Lordy, Lordy, men! Save me from men. It is too bad we can’t procreate without them.”

 

Year of the Lilacs

This is the Year of the Lilacs. One OF said their whole backyard is purple; another OF had thought his lilacs were dead. There were only a few on the bush last year; however, this year the same bush is loaded and has more flowers than leaves.

Traveling on Route 443, en route to Schoharie and then Middleburgh, almost to Route 30, some noticed there is a beautifully maintained older home and this is the first year the OFs who travel that way to Mrs. Ks said there is almost a hedge of lilacs about 10 feet tall in alternating colors; purple, deep dark purple, and white. Quite impressive.

One OF mentioned that cutting them and bringing them inside, the whole house smells like lilacs, but unfortunately, they don’t last very long — only a day or so. This year, however, with the bushes being so prolific, it is not much effort to bring in a new batch every other day. That way, the smell of lilacs will cover up the smell of fish for supper, or the un-emptied cat box.

 

Easy winter

Last winter apparently was an easy winter for some of the wildlife because this year the OFs seem to have deer and wild turkeys all over the place, and even bears are making visits to the city and they don’t look scrawny.

One OF said most of the deer he has seen lately from small ones to pretty good-sized ones seem to be quite black, and not as orangey brown as they used to be. The turkeys seem to be in groups of eight to 10, sometimes even more, instead of just a few.

 

Better sleep

Most OFs don’t know what is causing this either but quite a few of the OGs at our end of the table said they have been sleeping better. What that has to do with anything this scribe does not know, but he had to add to the group that for some reason he is sleeping somewhat better and the dreams are not all nightmares.

Sleep is an elusive natural phenomenon just like going to the bathroom. We all do it, only with some it is more comfortable than others. The same goes for sleep; the more restful the sleep, generally the better the day.

One OF mentioned that all any of the OFs can do is talk about the weather in our little area of the globe while other areas are having earthquakes, Louisiana is having floods, and the Midwest is having tornadoes. As the OFs have said before, the Northeast may have its cloudy weather and is loaded with what we consider miserable weather but, for the most part at least, our weather is consistent.

 

A putt in their jitney

One OF talked about taking his wife out for a ride in their Model “T.” They stopped someplace for a while and, when the OF went to start it to continue on, the car wouldn’t start. Now there is something the owner had better know, how to not only run that vehicle, but what makes that vehicle tick, and how to fix it.

The OF is not going to call triple-A and have them come out and get it going. In this case, the OF knew what was going on, fixed it, and they were on their way. This scribe wonders if they have period costumes they don when out for a putt in their jitney?

 

No job? No problem

The OFs briefly discussed the jobs that are going without workers, and why no one seems to want these jobs. The OFs came up with a few theories why this is so; collectively most seemed correct.

The question was asked, “Do any of you OFs want to go back to work and fill in this need? There are jobs out there just waiting.”

The answers were, “No! Not on your life. No way. You can’t drag me back!”

This scribe guesses the answer is NO.

 “Yay! It’s the weekend!” said nobody who works in a restaurant.

Those OF who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and who do not have to scurry off to work were: Rick LaGrange, Roger Chapman, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Pete Whitbeck, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Jake Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, and me.

On May 18, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner, in Middleburgh. It was a beautiful day to go for a ride, but as the OMOTM keep saying, anytime the OFs go for a ride, it is a ride in the country, so Tuesday the OFs went for a ride in the country — to eat.

Eating is a favorite topic of some of the OMOTM, along with old stuff, jobs, cars, trucks, gardens, etc. The group at our end of the table was talking about places to take a ride to have some good eats.

The OFs gave a plug to Saltsman’s Inn (Hotel). The OFs say this is a historic hotel, which is out by Ephratah, on Route 10, north of Canajoharie. This is another OMOTM day trip of not much traffic and into real country. Take Route 20 west to Sharon Springs; at Sharon Springs go north on Route 10 until reaching the inn. The restaurant is not open regular days so the OFs recommend getting the inn’s phone number or using the net to obtain the hours.

Why this place came up was because the OFs were talking about eating plants and flowers and, when milkweed is in season, the OFs who have eaten milkweed at Saltsman’s Inn say this dish is to die for. This is just a suggestion from the more sophisticated connoisseurs of the OMOTM who used to eat dandelion greens that their moms would show the OGs how to pick from the dandelions growing in the yard.

There was even dandelion wine, and people call these things weeds. The OMOTM know better.

 

For the birds

Another one of the early conversations was that this year some of the OFs have seen birds they have not seen in some time. One was the Baltimore oriole, and the other was a yellow-throated warbler.

One OF was telling about getting orioles to come to his feeders. The OG said he takes a regular hummingbird feeder and drills out a couple of the holes to make them larger. The OF said these birds love the stuff he puts in his feeder.

He said he takes half a cup of sugar to one-and-one-half cups of water (which the other OFs thought was really sweet) and the OF says that is what he uses, and the orioles love it. The other thing he does is hang the feeder close to a branch, which the birds can hang on to because the regular little hummingbird perches are too small for the orioles.

A couple of the OFs commented on not seeing certain species in years and they still haven’t seen them this year.  A particular bird they miss is the Bobolink.

One OF mentioned that his father would not start haying until the bobolinks left because they nested in the grass, especially the timothy. The OFs feel that so many family farms are disappearing and the fields are just turning to brush so the bobolinks have fewer places to nest. The scribe’s dad used to say the bobolinks left the fields in plenty of time for him to get the first cutting in while it was still good hay.

 

Voting confusion

Voting on the school budget was another subject discussed — especially concerning Berne-Knox-Westerlo. However, not the weather, or if the taxes were high, it wasn’t anything like that, but where to vote.

The OFs are OFs and are so used to going to the auditorium that they didn’t even know where the elementary school cafeteria was. One OF asked if anyone knew if they were going to take our temperatures. None of the OFs knew.

This scribe assumes this is all moot now because when this is being typed the elections have come and gone, and this scribe hopes no one got lost. That’s all we need — some OG wandering around the school in a daze with an OMOTM hat on.

 

On track

The OFs also discussed the eventual coming of the trains through Altamont and Voorheesville. That will be like old times, when there were more trains traveling the tracks headed towards Delanson.

However, the more the OFs talked, the more the issue drifted to the electric railroad that once was supposedly coming this way. Lots of noise, no action — that railroad never came. Some of the OFs think this might be the case also with all the chatter being bantered about the mile-long train (or so) supposedly coming to the villages.

I’ve been meaning to make a list of bad railroad puns — but I’ve been getting side-tracked.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh for a great coffee, and came by car and trucks, not trains, because the Schoharie Railway has been out of service for quite awhile, were: Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Glenn Patterson, Peter Whitbeck, Joe Rack, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Otis Lawyer, Jake Herzog, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Paul Whitbeck,  and me.

On May 11, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon in Princetown. It seems that, not only when the OMOTM meet, but most any group that meets on a weekly basis, the opening conversations, other than the weather, are a continuation of conversations from the previous week. The OMOTM are no different.

Some of the talk is the same as the week before; this time it was on motorcycles only with most continuations it covers topics that were not covered previously. This week, the dialogue was on trips and riding. This is an unusual fact because these are OMOTM and they were discussing trips for the coming year on motorcycles.

One OF said that, for he and his friends, plopping their butts on the seat and just taking off is not the way it happens. The OF said, after about an hour, they stop and stretch because the old legs begin to cramp up. Well that is understandable.

Many OFs have this happen just doing nothing. The OF bikers who also have a few outsiders join them plan very carefully, because these trips may take weeks, and in that time not too much distance is covered. The OF said one trip coming up will be into Maine and will cover about 800 miles.

One OF said, with his physical condition, he couldn’t ride a motorcycle to the end of the block. “Heck,” the OF said, “I couldn’t even swing my leg over the thing; I even have to pull my feet up by my pants leg to get my feet on the bench to tie my shoes.”

The rest of the OFs wish the bikers well.

 

Old goats

discuss real goats

Another continuation of one of our previous discussions was on goats. This scribe does not know how the OFs picked up the conversation on goats but it did come up and this time the stories were completely different.

An OF mentioned that he had goats, and he made a lot of money from goats. That perked up the other OFs’ ears — the words “money” and “goats”; only later on it was found that there was a chain being slightly yanked on this one.

It was not many goats; it was one goat that the OF said cost him a buck seventy-five. He had the goat for just a little time and, goats being goats, the goat caused a little trouble. One such bit of normal goat activity is butting heads or just butting.

Anyhow, this goat decided to butt the butt of a lady friend and that was not the thing to do. The OF decided he had enough of the goat and his shenanigans so the OF decided to sell it and he did — for seventy-five cents.

Hey, the goat was just being a goat — did anyone ever hear of putting a goat on a diet?

“Goats will even eat meat though it does not agree with them and they are not supposed to,” one OF added.

Another OF wondered if goats see the world in wide-angle because of their rectangular eyes.

A different OF said that a neighbor of his purchased some goats and penned them in the yard. In a short time, he had no yard. The OF said the neighbor apparently did not research goats. They are cute and fun but they do eat everything in sight.

 

Antique planes

The OFs who live on the Hill have an event that happens quite often and can happen day or night. It is the routine flight of the Hercules C-130 passing over their homes.

This scribe has mentioned these planes before in his little report but, as we were discussing them at Tuesday’s breakfast, it was mentioned that, because of the heavy weather, these four-engine aircraft were louder than normal and rattled the windows as they rumbled by.

For many of the OFs, these things seem so low that one OF said he could hit them if he threw a rock, and this was an effort because of the OF’s arthritis. Chucking a rock is nothing he would want to do but, if he did and it hit the plane, it might fall out of the sky.

At Tuesday’s breakfast, the OFs discussed how old these planes were, and it was found out the C-130 first started splitting the sky with its wings in 1954. These mechanical birds can be 660-year-old airframes with upgrades to keep them in the air.

One OF said, “Hey! They need antique plates.”

One OF said ,when looking at pictures of World War II planes of the early forties, compared to the cars and trucks of the same period, the planes look like they are from the future. Except for the Gooney bird, which was named after the albatross, a seabird known for its endurance and ability to fly great distances. They don’t look like they can get off the ground yet some of those planes are still flying.

Will invisible airplanes ever be a thing? I just can’t see them taking off.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who traveled to the Chuck Wagon in Princetown, and who never left the ground, were: Miner Stevens, Rick LaGrange, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Pete Whitbeck, Duncan Bellinger, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgett, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Otis Lawyer, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.

On Tuesday, May 4, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie, where the proprietor covered what has been going on in her life and the life of the restaurant during the pandemic. It is amazing how strong and resilient so many people are.

This scribe suspects that ailments and sickness will go on and on as the group is composed of OFs. That can become boring and depressing. The only up-side will be unusual cases and what is being done about them.

This may bring encouragement to those who read the column regularly (and who may be mostly old people anyway) or maybe just one or two young-uns (who read for laughs and giggles) that have a malady and are glad to see they are not alone.

Like other organizations that have regular meetings, as people arrive the greeting chatter is generally about the weather; so it is with the OFs. This time the chatter has been about the rain, drizzle, and general nastiness of what the skies have been offering us in the Northeast the last couple of weeks.

In our area, many eyes are on the creeks and streams of the Hilltowns as they race to the valley. The word at the meeting on Tuesday morning is these channels of running water are becoming full, and powerful.

The report on the little Schoharie creek, and the creeks around Huntersland, is the fullness and the power of the rushing water. This water is beginning to move some of the rocks placed there to prevent flooding from the storm that occurred in 2011, and these rocks are now being shoved around. Some of the rocks are the size of a Volkswagen. Oops.

One OF mentioned hydrologists may be great engineers, and study fluids day in and day out, but trying to outguess Mother Nature is quite a challenge. Of course Mom Nature has millions and millions of years of practice, and her drawing board is just trial and error, and this ole planet is still in the trial period, or so the OFs think.

Hardest hardship

The OFs began a discussion on “Old People.” Well, duh!

Who could be better to have this discussion than the Old Men of the Mountain? The basis for this talk was when to stop driving and give up the licenses.

For most OFs, this is the hardest hardship of all. As one OF put it, it is just like being put in prison.

This OF said he has a relative who lives with another OF for economic reasons but they both were still able to drive and the two OGs went everywhere together. Eventually his relative had to stop driving, but since the other OF still could drive his relative’s coming and going didn’t change much.

 

What is “old?”

This brought up when, and what is old. The OF said the old adage of age not being a number is only half true.

Some people become old when they are in their late fifties or early sixties, and others know when they are old in their late eighties or early nineties, and a darn few never seem to get old.

One OF said, “All the books in the world that tell you to do this and that, or take this or that so anyone can stave off getting old is a bunch of bologna. All of a sudden your body will tell when it has had enough. More often than not ,the mind won’t agree, but it is best to listen to the body and adjust mentally and physically.”

One OF said that there is something about the people who try to help fend off the age bit by eating right and exercising; it does work. The OF said eating chips and rocking in the rocking chair just gaining pounds, moaning and groaning about life and living is the easiest way to getting old in a hurry that he knows of.

This particular OF is going to push himself as much as his body will let him. The mind is another thing; however, this OF doesn’t know much about that. Maybe that is a good thing.

Sometimes the mind (as discussed above) has nothing wrong with it, but one little part of the body limits the OF’s mobility. That event is very discouraging. The OFs try to correct this problem so they can catch up, and again sometimes that is difficult.  

Getting off on a little side track, one OF mentioned “Bones them bones, them dry bones.”

“Well,” as another OF said, “Dem dry bones can be one h--- of lot of trouble.”

Another OF commented, “The doctor that works on our shoulders doesn’t have much to worry about. The bones are big and the only weight these bones have to carry is your head. Down where the foot is located, it is loaded with a bunch of little bones and they have to carry all two hundred pounds of the OF.”

Then the discussion started. What about push-ups, pull-ups, throwing balls, footballs, basketballs, etc., how about swinging a tennis racket, a ball bat? Hey! The shoulders get a workout.

“Nah,” one OF said. “You are talking all muscle here.”

As scribe, I would like to have the last word on this conversation. If you boil a funny bone, it becomes a laughing stock. Now that’s pretty humerus. (The humerus is the upper arm bone — get it?)

What this group needs is a good physical therapist to sort it out for the OFs who are interested in this issue, but in a few hours the OFs won’t remember they even had the conversation.

Those attending the Your Way Café in Schoharie and who are still arriving at the establishments by car (and at least not yet canoes) were: Glenn Patterson, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Rick LaGrange, Roger Shafer, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Jake Herzog, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, John Muller, Pete Whitbeck, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgett, Rev. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

— Photo from John R. Williams

A beaver dam has pooled water that is close to Thompson Lake Road and Old Stage Road. Some of the trees that the beavers toppled to build their home are at least a foot in diameter, says John R. Williams, adding, “This is quite a critter God has put here for one reason or another.”

On April 27, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh. This time it was a meeting of many OFs, and again it is because of vaccinations, and the releasing of some of the restrictions as more become vaccinated, and the percentage overall of citizens contacting the virus.

One of the discussions (a continuation of one of the conversations of last week) was on the beaver pond on two busy roads in the Hilltowns. Trapping the beavers is not as easy as it sounds. One of the events that might happen — which many of the OFs might never have thought of — is how to trap the beaver and not the neighbor’s dog.

The OMOTM are lucky to have a professional trapper as a loyal member of this group. When people in the area have problems with wildlife, the town, county, and state have contacted this individual to take care of the problems.

They still continue to contact him but, as always, age and other problems seem to creep up on the OMOTM and we are not as able to do what we used to do. Such is the case here.

This OMOTM said he does farm these situations out to his kids but with his supervision. However, no one from any of these public entities has contacted this OF on the beaver-dam problem.

According to one OF, some government departments have washed their hands of the pending problem and claim it is not in their bailiwick and so they don’t want to have anything to do with it. Hmmm.

 

Now what?

The OFs discussed a dilemma that has gone on for a long time, probably longer than the Old Men of the Mountain have been gathering to discuss the world and its problems. This is companies going in and out of business. This trouble happened to be on motorcycles, but it can be anything.

In this case, the difficulty was purchasing a motorized two-wheeled conveyance in one place, and then having something go wrong. In some of the places the OFs discussed, the shops were not just around the corner. The OFs then attempt to go back where they bought the item and it is out of business. Now what?

One OF commented that, when he tried to get his motorcycle repaired, in the first place he tried other than the place from which it was purchased, the owner said, “I only repair what I sell; better go somewhere else.”

Thank goodness, that response is becoming less frequent. Another comment from the place an item was purchased sounds something like, “Oh, we don’t carry that anymore; it had too many problems so we dropped it.”

Hearing that sentence is like swallowing a bowling ball and feeling it drop to the bottom of the stomach.

This predicament doesn’t have to be only motorcycles. It can be TVs, microwaves — anything. The problem is the OF now knows he has purchased a piece of junk, but sometimes it is top of the line except not too popular and doesn’t move, so as one OF mentioned it is not necessarily the cheap stuff. On the other hand, generally it is.

 

Hoof prints

In the chatter, it is often that one OF thinks what has happened has only happened to him. As the story is told, the OF finds another OF has gone through the same thing. Which only goes to point out what a small world this is.

One OF was telling how, when the company he worked for went to trade in the leased car the OG had for his use in the business (because the OF traveled for the company) there were scratches on the hood and roof. Those scratches were put there by goats.

The dealer that was going over the car at the trade-in completed his routine checking of the vehicle for dings and scratches and asked, “What are those marks on the roof and hood of the car?” He asked if it was parked under a tree.

The OF said they weren’t tree scratches; they were hoof prints. The dealer said with a very questioning tone, “Yeah right, hoof prints” and the OF had to maintain, “Yeah, hoof prints.”

After telling this little story at the OMOTM gathering at Mrs. Ks, another OF started telling another story about his vehicle also having hoof prints on his car. The stories were similar, but not quite the same; in the second OF’s story, the hoof prints were also questioned.

When people hear this they don’t believe it but they don’t understand goats. A goat’s favorite game is to butt heads while standing on top of anything it can get its eight tiny hoofs on. Goats then rear back and slam their goat heads together. They can do this for hours. This little game doesn’t look like fun to the OFs.

 

Bucket lists

The OFs discussed a little bit about bucket lists, a rather recent term applied to events the OFs would have like to have done but either never took the chance, or they were too busy making a living and raising little Jack and Jill, and keeping the wife happy.

At ages 50 to 60, maybe even 70, most of these were still doable, but at 80 that bucket was now just a little sand pail. However, I am proud to announce that I completed the first item on my bucket list. I have the bucket.

Those OFs who made it to the Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh and left their buckets at home were: Rick LaGrange, Marty Herzog, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Mark Traver, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Herb Bahrmann, Allan Fazzio,  Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgett, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Joe Rack, and me.

 

 

The Old Men of the Mountain met again at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. As the OMOTM talked after this very long hiatus, we discovered that many have not fared that well, and it is not COVID-related.

This is just a long time of not being together and catching up. The OFs found that cancers, age, and other serious conditions caught up with them, and now hearing about the collective numbers all at once makes these situations sound worse than hearing about problems every now and then. The prayer lists get longer in a hurry this way.

On the practical side, the OFs found it makes a lot of sense to do some financial planning ahead of time so that whatever the OFs have great or small doesn’t all wind up with the state, or at a nursing home. One thing that came to light was that it now takes seven years for many plans to take effect, where it used to take five years.

After talking to some of the OFs, depending on the individual circumstances, wills do not cut it like estate planning, even if the OFs don’t think they have too much of an “estate.” The wicket just becomes stickier, and stickier, with the underlying glue being the state.

The state seems to want to get its hands on whatever you have, in any way it can. It appears high taxes are not enough.

Do the OMOTM sound bitter? You betcha!

The scribe thinks this is another “we get too soon old and too late smart.” This is another reason to join senior groups where the senior generation can get good advice from people that have gone through it.

This scribe thinks if possible, don’t wait. Do something as soon as you can; age comes too quickly and there is a point of no return. The OFs comment the right thing to do is not become a burden to the kids or the neighbors, so plan ahead.

A couple of OFs, who were caregivers to their parents, mentioned that, even though it was hard at times, the OFs never considered the parents to be a burden. As one OF said, “Just consider how much you were a pain in the a-- when you were a kid and all the grief you caused your parents.”

Another OF added, “The rule of natural selection is you can’t select your gender, or your parents.”

 

Varied vaccine reactions

Many of the OFs have had their vaccinations, and there was quite a discussion on how most had no reaction, to some having quite a reaction.

A few said that the first shot one was fine; with the second one, they slept the whole next day; a few complained about having flu-like symptoms for a few days, and one OF said he became quite ill. This may or may not have been a reaction to the vaccine.

Either way, the OFs have heard that a reaction is a good thing because it shows the vaccine is working. One OF said, “Where does that put us? We had no reaction. Is it working for us? “

The other OFs said, “Hey, we don’t know. We are not doctors — Google it.”

 

Blessing in disguise?

One of the current events covered was working from home during the pandemic. Some of the OFs think this is going to change the dynamics of many companies like banks, insurance companies, big companies with large billing and collecting departments, and so many more.

The OFs think we’ve seen the last of the big skyscrapers. One OF thinks that now, worldwide, many of these buildings will be only half full.

To which another OF said, “Look how that can help with housing shortages. As the world’s population grows, there will be square footage for housing already there and we won’t have to gobble up all the farmland. Now we can grow food to feed the population as it grows. Is this a blessing in disguise or what?”

The OMOTM have mentioned this before, and this scribe thinks many times before, but the OFs said that, with all this high-tech stuff and knowing how computers work, they are now able to understand computer talk, so the new workforce can work from home.

Now who is going to fix the leaky faucet, change out the toilet, or hot water heater — all that kind of stuff. We need those people right now. Have any of you guys tried to get a contractor to come and build something or do home repair?

One OF asked, “How many actually show up, if and when they do get back to you?  If they give you a price, even show up to do the work, and if you get someone that is good and reliable, let me know.” (I was going to put a joke in here about carpentry, but I didn’t think it wood work).

 

Flood fallout

The OFs discussed speaking about contractors, etc. about how the villages of Middleburgh, and Schoharie and that area still show remnants of the flood of 2011. One large building that will pick up the area (the OFs think) is when the Parrott House in Schoharie is finished being brought back to life.

The quaintness of some of the other small towns and areas hit by the flood might be back to what they were, so hopefully, the whole valley may bounce back. The OFs are talking about this but really don’t have any answers — yet.

The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, and are beginning to try to get back into a routine. This was the first time at the diner in quite awhile. The waitress wore an Old Man of the Mountain T-shirt. How fitting. (Pun intended.) Those who made it to the diner were: Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Glenn Patterson, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Chuck Aelesio, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Jake Herzog, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Dave Hodgetts, and me.

This scribe can write, “The Old Men of the Mountain” met at the Chuck Wagon Diner for real this time. There was a group that met most of the time while this pandemic was going on; however, a few more showed up that have now had their shots and feel safer.

The Chuck Wagon had shields between each booth so hearing what was going on was tough, but at least what the scribe was able to understand it seemed as if their preceding gatherings had kept on meeting. Much of the conversation was like a continuation of last week with considerable current events thrown in, just like always, and great to hear.

 

Busy beavers

One OF reported that there were beavers building a dam practically in his front yard. The OF said the close dam was the latest of three dams these hardworking critters have built on the pond across the road.

There are now four ponds at this location; each pond is lower than the other as the ponds are built up on sloping land. The dam holding the water in pond number three is higher than the state highway that separates the beaver ponds from the land of the OMOTM.

Dam number four is just about 50 to 60 feet from the OF’s property. The OF said, if that dam ever lets go, it might take that whole section of highway with it and wash out his pond in the bargain.

One OF said, “Too bad beaver coats are out of style. It looks like quite a family of these rodents is working over there. You could trap them, skin them, and make a nice coat.”

Then another OF commented that he thought the Russians still wore beaver hats. Maybe there is a market for the pelts.

Still one other OF declared, “Are you crazy? Killing a beaver over here in order to sell pelts over there would start another war — swatting a fly is almost a crime.”

One OF compared the beaver to the hippopotamus. The OF said the hippo makes canals and builds ponds during the rainy season and in the dry season all the other critters take advantage of the hippo’s collection of water, and the beavers do the same thing.

Many other critters and birds take advantage of the beaver ponds. Now people are taking over, and the critters are just doing their thing. The beavers don’t know their way to survive can cause havoc on people and people’s activities.

This situation is not too far from this scribe’s abode, so this scribe took a walk to look at it, and it is just as described. These dams appear to be holding back water on over three acres of ground just on the lower three dams. The upper dam should not let go because there is a road over that one, and it is now not a beaver dam.

 

Cost spikes

The subject of not doing much gallivanting, or visiting, mostly staying at home and eating, means the OFs in our booth have all gained weight, and this has cost money at the grocery store. As one OF in this group noted, many people are struggling and grocery prices are going out of sight.

The OFs could not understand why such basic foods cost so much. Purchasing items to go to food pantries is getting quite expensive, one OF mentioned. With so many people hurting for no reason of their own it is hard for the OFs to understand why we have all these spikes in the cost of necessities.

 

Getting out

Upon greetings, the opening conversations were on how everybody was doing, and it seems that over the span of time many of the OFs’ wives and acquaintances, and OFs themselves, are pretty darn sick, not with minor illnesses but cancers, tumors, joint replacements, trouble walking, serious arthritis, sleepless nights, and getting about, not just simple running noses.

The old problem of age jumped right in there but, as one OF put it, “We do the best we can, and we don’t give up. Sitting in a rocking chair moaning ‘woe is me’ doesn’t cut it for me.”

Another OF answered, “This is the best medicine of all — just getting out. All the other stuff would have gone on anyway. As we generally gather weekly, the news of physical problems would be incremental and not noticed as much as getting a ton of information all at once.”

Among all this somehow the comment, “We should be eating more bananas” was mentioned and, “We would all be healthier.” The OFs in the booth all agreed as if this had been one of the conversations all along.

How the heck did bananas become part of the talk this scribe doesn’t know, but all of sudden there it was. Bananas! The food to end all our problems.

All the OFs in the booth seemed to like bananas and did eat them, some on a daily basis. However, some ate them only because bananas are easy to prepare, are filling, and taste good with just about everything.

The last word on this banana topic is: Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

Those attending — the OFs that challenged COVID (and so far are winning) — at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown were collectively Rick La Grange, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Bill Lichliter, Jake Herzog, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, John Dabrrvalskes, Herb Bahrmann, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Paul Whitbeck, and me.

As it stands right now, the Old Men of the Mountain are going to attempt to start up our weekly trek to the restaurants that will have us. The next report shall be from multiple sources and, true or not, from actual visual and verbal connections. Will it be any different? We shall see.

However, right now we will continue with some of the phone calls. Before that, this scribe was contacted by two gentlemen in Altamont that want to do a book on the paranormal of Altamont and the surrounding area.

They asked if any of the Old Men of the Mountain had any encounters, or know of anyone who did have interesting or real ghost stories to tell of the immediate area, so that they could include these in the history they are trying to collect. These gentlemen considered the Old Men of the Mountain because they are the Old Men of the Mountain and have collective years under their belts, and those anecdotes of their friends would be a good place to start.

This scribe is sure that the information does not have to stop at the OMOTM, but they would be interested if anyone has a story of their own, or in their family history. For complete information, anyone can contact The Enterprise and they would fill you in on all the particulars and put you in touch with the two fellas that are assembling all the stories and putting them in readable form.

This scribe, for one, would be interested in reading such a book. Altamont and the Hilltowns should be replete with tales of spirits wandering around occasionally making themselves known.

Because of the scribe’s own experiences, the scribe has a tendency to take some stories with the “Hmm, could be so” attitude; however, many others have made the common comment, “Really?”

 

Where are the April showers?

The OFs spoken to are glad to see the weather in April as it is. However, a few spoken to said it is too dry too soon.

The warm air and the breeze are nice but don’t help with the next growing season. One OF said the so-called miserable weather in April we generally have is very necessary to keep the ground moist if not wet.

Another OF mentioned snowfall disappearing too fast and it was not sinking into the ground. Many of the OFs, as previously reported, were farmers and know how this old planet works. The OFs were taught by the best teachers and from the best schools, the school of hard knocks, their parents, the animals, and life.

This scribe mentioned to one OF that the OG was right. If too much snow goes from the top and not the bottom, there may be problems ahead if not enough rain comes to make up the difference.

 

Swap University

This scribe wonders, after talking to the OFs, if there should be a school called “Swap University.” At this school, the semesters would change instructors.

One semester would have teachers 80-years plus. These older instructors would teach nature the way it really is, weather the way it really is, animal husbandry, etc. and students would be your typical freshmen. The next semester, the students would be 80 and above, and the instructors would be the typical freshmen, and they would teach the 80-year-olds how to use a cell phone, how to use the TV, and how to use a computer so an 80-year-old can understand it.

The 80-year-olds could teach how to drive a shift car, and freshmen could teach how to drive these new cars for which it is not even necessary to use a key to start. The degree would not be a bachelor of arts, but a “living life” degree. The graduates would now be ready for whatever came along.

This education would go along with what one OF mentioned way before this pandemic started and it almost now sounds prophetic. The OF said that too many of the young people live only for today; even though they might make tons of money some have a tendency to spend their money on pot and good times.

This OF said there should be something set aside for when things go wrong. This OF thought everyone, boys and girls, should learn to be handy: Guys should know how to cook, and girls should know how to fix a faucet and be able to do so.

This OF thinks the young folks should have two plans. One would work before retirement, and the other for when the market, or whatever their money is invested in, collapses. Make plans for their money and investments one way, and food, water, fuel, shelter, and medicine in the cellar in case of the other.

This scribe answered that he thinks to have young people make these plans is much easier said than done. Those who live in people-packed cities may have a tad of a problem having a store in the basement just for them, and a garden in the backyard, when they don’t have either a cellar or a backyard.

The scribe is now looking forward to our first meeting in almost a year where we can have more of these interesting discussions and solve life’s problems. Some days I amaze myself, and other days I look for my phone when I am talking on it.

This column is basically about being old; that is the reason for the so-called title. There are many books, articles and cartoons about being old. Maxine comes to mind, and oodles of others pertaining to the category of becoming old.

The fact of the matter is, as soon as we are born, we start getting old; there is no getting around it. However, there is old, and there is old.

To wit: One Old Man of the Mountain called and related this heartwarming story to another OF. It seems the OF was grocery shopping with his wife and they were checking out. In front of them was an elderly gentleman who had just checked out and was struggling with two bags of groceries and trying to maneuver putting his change in his wallet.

He was having quite a time of it. The Old Man of the Mountain finally decided to help the old gent out and so he helped put the bags in the old gent’s cart.

After doing this and asking the man if he wanted him to go with him to his car, the old gent told the OF no, he could handle it from there. The OF said the old gent thanked him and the old gent further said that not too many young guys would step in like that and help out an older fella.

Then, the OF continued, the elderly gentleman said to him, “Getting old is tough; just wait until you get to be 72 and you will see how hard it is.”

The OF almost said out loud that he was 84, but thought the better of it and let it go. There is old and there is old.

This scribe does not know how many of these events happen but they can sure boost your spirits when it does.

 

Together again?

Some of the OFs have asked if now that many of the OMOTM have had their shots, and restrictions have been lifted a little on the restaurants, maybe we could start getting together again. Some of the OFs have been gathering right along at a couple of the restaurants but this scribe has contacted some of the other restaurants and so far not getting much response.

One mentioned that the restaurants are not set up for big crowds and don’t think they could handle us yet. One said maybe we could change the day to Thursday as they are now closed on Tuesdays.

This scribe does not know how large a crowd we will be. Maybe that is a survey this scribe will have to take before he starts calling again with a little more solid information.

Boy, the scribe can’t wait as he and the wife still practice the stay-at-home protocol even though we have had our shots. This is getting boring.

 

Phone calls

When calling the OFs, most of the time the scribe found the phone is answered right away because almost everyone is at home. It used to be this scribe spent a lot of time talking to a machine. That is the way it should be because it shows people are out and about spending money.

The phone calls this week were mostly about the weather, or if someone was born or passed away. None of the OFs have been out causing trouble, getting arrested for one thing or another — now the problem is just loitering.

One OF did say a year ago he and the bride were talking about getting another car, but heck, the OG said, “We haven’t put any miles on the one we have, and the doctor is just about around the corner so that doesn’t add many miles either. That idea has to be put on hold for awhile.”

Another problem this scribe has run into is that he is finding more of the OFs are ill, or their spouses are ill, so the scribe has to think twice before picking up the phone. These OGs have to get out and move around; also it might be necessary to give the little lady a break from the OGs.

 

Road trip?

One outside event that was discussed is the OFs just go for a ride to nowhere and back. Pack a lunch and take a longer ride — just get out of the house; it’s making the OGs sick.

One OF did mention that he has taken rides on roads he has never been on before right here on the Hill. The OF said there was no reason for him to be on those roads because they didn’t go anywhere he was headed at any time.

However, this idea sounds like it might be fun. You can go to your area on Google and list the road not traveled and then travel on them to check them out.

One OG added that, if we do that, make sure it is not a dead end and the folks living in the last house don’t come out and meet you with a gun. In any case, the scenery won’t change much because the OF will still be wandering the hills. This scribe thinks he will take his own advice and do this a couple of times.

 

Wake-up call

One OF answered the phone at 3 p.m. and sounded like he just woke up, and it turned out that, in fact, he did. The OF was glad for the call because, he said, he has been sleeping too much.

His comment about the stay-at-home pandemic advice was that he sleeps too much, he was not much of a reader to begin with, so all he does is eat, watch TV, and sleep. This OG thinks he is going to get sick just staying home. He could be right; check paragraph above.

 

Time warp

All this discussion on age made this scribe realize that his birthday will be coming up shortly. Age is a relative term. All my relatives keep reminding me of how old I am.

Well, I am so old that I have actually dialed a rotary phone connected to a party line, while listening to a black-and-white TV with aluminum foil on its rabbit ears, and chewed Black-Jack gum. I am sure none of my grandchildren have the slightest idea of what I am talking about.

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