Tuesday, July 11, and our area needs rain. It looks like the whole country needs rain, but not a deluge; a nice three-day steady, soaking rain would do it.

Regardless of the weather, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Family Restaurant in Middleburgh. It has been really nice weather to go for a short ride over the mountain and into the valleys. Schoharie, Mohawk, and even the Champlain valley — the small towns and villages are at their best right now.

At one end of the table there was a discussion on black powder. This is powder that goes boom, not the black powder spread over the eggs in the morning. Re-enactors use this powder in considerable amounts during educational re-enactments of times before we had modern firearms.

Many of these events included uniforms and clothing of the period.  Our area is lucky enough to have many authentic locations for these demonstrations to take place like the Old Stone Fort, the New Windsor Cantonment, or even the Mabee Farm.

Also, there are people concerned enough to take part in these re-enactments. Again in our area we have people who partake in doing demonstrations of the Renaissance period.

Unfortunately, none of the OMOTM is in any group that participates in that era of showing history of the period with royal knights in shining armor prancing around. We do, however, have some OFs who can demonstrate the Neanderthal period just by waking up and getting dressed for the day, scribe included.

On Tuesday morning, we discovered we do have a OF who owns his own gun and participates in cannon shoots. These are not cannons of today but guns of the revolution, actually before and after that period. We have OFs with muskets, swords, and now cannons.

This scribe has yet to sit at a table where there are OMOTM who shoot old-fashioned bows (and arrows). The scribe thinks they are the longbow, not these things that go through a series of pulleys and can shoot an arrow through a two-by-four.

Oh, the talents of the OFs! This column has quite often mentioned the many varied talents and interests of the OFs and now we add to this group a cannon re-enactor.



In Voorheesville, there once was a pizza place called “Smitty’s.” Smitty’s is no longer there and many of the OFs liked going to Smitty’s. The OFs began reminiscing about the place and telling a few stories about their trips to Smitty’s.

The OFs like watching the train run around the ceiling of the place. Without posting signs, a bar entrance, and a dining-room entrance were available, and, after making a couple of trips to Smitty’s, most people knew the ropes. 

Along with this conversation, some of the OFs thought of another place to eat and this time it was not in the valley but at the foothills on the way to Thacher Park. There is a little place to eat in New Scotland called Emma Cleary’s.

This is another place the OFs say is good once the OF learns the ropes on how to order. The ambiance? Well, the dining area is square with tables. That’s about it, but for some reason this eatery seems to be loaded with a certain ambiance.

This discussion was brought up about many places where we go to eat. We talked about how some places go all out to try and create an atmosphere and nothing happens.

These places have fabric tablecloths, live music — the works — and it just doesn’t connect, while others do the same thing and the OF can’t get in the place without a half-hour wait, or reservations in advance.

Then one OF suggested someone could purchase four old outhouses, stick them together, cook burgers on a grill in a shed in the back, and it becomes the best place in town. Go figure.

One OF wondered why a slab of bacon is a slab of bacon but a BLT in one place is nothing like a BLT in another; the same goes for a tuna sandwich. A can of tuna is a can of tuna — how can the same fish taste so different in different places?

One OF suggested he thinks half the OFs don’t know what they are eating; it is just the comradery along with all the yakking that goes on, yet some are pseudo connoisseurs and have taste buds that can detect one grain of pepper too much.


“Don’t ever move!”

One of the OFs is moving. The name will be suppressed so the law can’t find the OF; however, it isn’t very far.

The advice from this OF is the same advice the OF received from another OF who moved to warmer climes just to get out of New York’s weather. The advice was “You OF, don’t ever move!”

The moving OMOTM, OF now understands why this OF gave that advice. It is work, it is confusing, and it is very tiring.

Not only is it physical, and at the ages of the OFs who now take hours to do what they used to do in minutes, it is understanding who, how, and what agency to let know the address has changed, let alone having to let all your friends (if they are still alive) know the new phone number.

This is unless the OF is astute enough to know how to operate a “smart phone” and not have to change the number.

Those OFs who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and did not show up in animal skins were Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Paul Muller, Doug Marshall, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Ken Parks, Russ Pokorny, Frank Dees, Jake Herzog, Wayne Gaul, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Pete Whitbeck, Robie Osterman, Gerry Chartier, Duncan Bellinger, Rich Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Ed Goff, Johnny Dap, and me.

— Photo from Larry Rockey

An old Case baler: “The kid on the right could be me without the hat, and the guy on the left could be Bambi hooking the wires,” says John R. Williams. “Hot, dusty work but we didn’t know it.”

On July 5, the Old Men of Mountain marched to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, but this scribe was not among them. At times priorities have a pecking order, and in this case one priority out-pecked another priority, and this scribe could not be in two places miles apart at the same time, no matter how the scribe tried to maneuver the clock so it could be done.

One of the OFs did send an email on what (the OF could remember) was discussed; however, names eluded the OMOTM and names were not on the report. It was reported the group was smaller than usual with the astute observation by the OMOTM that he thought the holiday on the fourth might have had something to do with it.

As many travel through the countryside in late spring and early summer, they may notice many of the fields have either round bales of hay or rectangular bales of hay, commonly known as square bales. As reported over and over, many of the older OFs in the group were farmers, and the current crop still has a few that were.

The question came up: How many square bales are there in a round bale?

Those who worked the fields just did the math in their heads without using numbers per se. Even the kids would figure this out without being told or taught. They would hear the farmers talk about how much hay was in the barn and if they had enough to go through a tough winter.

The OMOTM, as kids, never heard of round bales; some were even pitching loose hay with horses, or hauling hay to stationary balers. No matter what, the calculation was: So many cows ate so much hay whether it was loose, square, round, hex, or tubular.

The math on this would be: If a field produced 800 square bales, and the same field produced 40 round bales, there were 20 square bales per round bale. Pad and paper not needed.

However, farming knowledge required asking the following questions. Was it a thin year for hay, or a heavy year? How was the timing? Was it tender, or tough? Was it caught with all the nutrients in it, or late when not so much? What field looked like good feed, and another loaded with weeds would make better bedding or mulch? Hayin’ tain’t like mowing grass around the house, fellas.

Seeing as it is a hay day when some of the OFs were YFs and hay balers first came out, a feature of many of these machines was a couple of cranks on the discharge end. These cranks were used to control the weight of the bale. The tighter the crank — the heavier the bale.

Some of the fathers, or farm owners, would crank those suckers almost down to the stops so the bales would be really heavy. That would make for more room in the mows; same amount of hay, fewer bales.

In many cases, it was the kids who had to pick up the bales and throw them on the wagon, and again in many cases, another young-un on the wagon was mowing the bales away on a swaying wagon in such a way that a big load of bales could be put on the wagon without the hay falling off as the wagon bounced across the field.

So what the kids would do, at least on this scribe’s farm, was to sneak around and crank those cranks back up so the bales would be lighter when they went out in the fields to pick them up.

The scribe’s dad caught on to this so he cranked the cranks down just before they started out to bale. What fun.

This was many years ago; whatever happened to those years? The smell of fresh-cut hay, out in the sun, working your butt off from sunrise to sunset, loving every minute of it and not knowing it.


Carrying on

Another OF who has been mentioned before is retired from the Air Force National Guard and was stationed in Glenville with the unit that maintains the research facility in Greenland, which has been in the news a few times. This OMOTM was on the last mission out and brought back pictures of his trip that just ended.

The OMOTM who made a few notes has the same problem that this scribe does. When old folks get together, the conversation quite often turns to doctors and health, along with aches and pains.

In this OF’s email his comments and conversations eventually turned to doctors and health, aches and pains. Who would have guessed that, in a group with the name Old Men of the Mountain?

Those Old Men of the Mountain that made it to the Middleburgh Diner regardless of their aches and pains were: Doug Marshall, Miner Stevens, Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, Frank Deez, Russ Pokorny, Rev. Jay Francis, Gerry Chartier, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, but not me.

On Tuesday, June 28, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. Early in the morning, traveling west on Route 20 just about anywhere, there are not many people actually headed in either direction. Add a few hours and the area between (the localities are just a guess) Richfield Springs and the Northway, the highway is abuzz with vehicles with the drivers all late for work.

It seems for most people life is divided by events that happened which are either joyful, traumatic, or in some way meaningful, to each individual. These events can be the same, albeit totally different, depending on the person’s perception. In some cases, the event won’t mean a thing to one OF, but to the another OF it may mean a lot.

Birthdays, weddings, funerals, graduations, college, learning to drive, first car, first kiss, military, scoring a winning touchdown in a big game, are just a few of the major events that can enter the lives of all of us.

Tuesday morning, it was military, and the loss of a loved one and how these incidents affected the lives of some, while to others the same events didn’t mean much; they were just a part of life and living. The OFs, as often noted, are a microcosm of everyone (male at least) thrown in one pot.


Updates from the trail

Tuesday morning had reports of the OFs who are hikers and how they did, and what they did on their solstice hikes. The Looking Glass path hikers had nine people marching along with the flag of the “Long Path-ers” waving proudly up front.

The group sang camp songs as they marched along.  This makes a nice, fun group out for a walk.

Then another couple of OFs were planning on building a raised walkway on the path in Dutch Settlement. At the Tuesday breakfast before the job was to be done, the OFs planning the project were concerned about how they were going to get the material up a very steep hill to the site to even get the job underway.

The OFs were very much surprised at how many volunteers turned out to help. A job the OFs planned would take about two days took less than a day because so many helped — including a troop of Boy Scouts.

Now hikers can transverse that area of the path safely. This section of the path at times was very muddy and slippery, and at times during the year some areas have about six to eight inches of water running across the path. Now the hikers are high and dry.


Fuel rates

A couple of OFs are on degree day rate with various oil companies for delivery of fuel oil. Some of the OFs with this pay-in-advance plan with locked-in prices have made out very well for this past winter.

However, for some others, those contracts have expired. Even though we have had a few warm days, the OFs said ,not only has it been cool so far this late spring and early summer but very dry, at least in our section of the country.

One OF said, when looking at the weather map, it looks like most of the country is on fire and here in the Northeast it is cool enough for the furnace to kick in on occasion.

This is the problem: Some OFs automatically are in line for a drop of fuel oil because of the degree/day formula and the tanks are topped off.

One OF said that, when he saw that bill, his hand shook; it was over $1,000. “Where is this amount of money coming from?” he asked. “It sure wasn’t in the budget, and neither were $200 grocery bills.”

The OF said he has to go into his savings to augment paying for bills like this.

If the politicians want to force us to use electric cars and now electric heat because they have their money invested in batteries and windmills, they are doing a good job of it.

There has to be some reason for all this, one OF said; it has happened too much too fast, and seems to be well organized, and well planned. All the truckers and pilots did not fall into some giant pit, along with all the other workers.

“How did they all disappear in just a few weeks?” the OFs asked.

The OFs think this is kinda weird.

Scribe’s note: The OFs have discussed this before, and probably will again, as their wallets get thinner and thinner. One OF said we have to follow the money, see who is getting the bigger boat, and fancier car, and moving to 5,000-square-foot houses by the ocean.

Those OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner, and arrived on horseback, or bicycle from their new homes (which are tents out in the woods) — some even used the old symbol for transportation, “the thumb,” to get to the breakfast — and they were: Jake Herzog, Paul Muller, Johnny Dap, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Jay Williams (guest of the scribe), Rich Lagrange, Doug Marshall, Wally Guest, Frank Dees, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Russ Pokorny, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

Of course it is another Tuesday. Tuesday, the longest day (actually daylight day) of the year and there are still 24 hours in the day, June 21, and the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

One thing about the 15-plus hours of daylight this year, there wasn’t much of it, and to old blood running through old veins in a bunch of OFs, it was cold! The OFs mentioned this fact a couple of times on Tuesday morning along with the rest of the country being really hot, even our neighbors to the north.

However, not us, although many of the OFs like the weather we are having instead of the sweltering heat.

To go along with this, the wind has blown chilly for quite a few days. This is not news as anyone can tell the weather just by stepping outside. The swimmers and boaters might have a short season unless we have a hot fall.

The day for the beginning of summer is on the solstice. The OFs learned this in grade school.

Some of these same OFs became hikers later on and, as a ritual, these OFs along with many others take a hike on the day of the solstice. Rain or shine, hot or cold, out they go hiking on whatever trail they choose.

One trail the OFs are hiking is Looking Glass Pond up in Summit, New York. An OF claims it is a nice walk and not too tough. Another OF is working on a state trail in Dutch Settlement State Park, which is more than a hike. It is activities like this that keep the OFs young OFs and the trails ready for thousands of other hikers.


Preparing for the worst

There is a routine performed many times by many people along with the OMOTM; that is preparing for the worst and it never happens. The reason for this is (no joke) preparing for the worst.

If it weren’t prepared for it would surely happen.

So, as one of the OFs said, “If anyone does not want it to happen, prepare for it.”

The OFs talking about this were the bikers that ride their bikes to the breakfast. One OF, who came on his motorcycle prepared for the worst, took half the morning to get out of all the gear he had on in case the worst happened — which it didn’t.

Sometimes, one OF said, he prepares for the worst and it happens. One time, this OF was with a bunch of guys who listened to the weatherman and did not prepare. The weather turned out ugly.

Now those guys were all miserable; they were at a point of no turning back. Inside, the OF said, he felt quite smug.


Rising prices mean less dining out

There was a discussion on eating out, which used to be one of the favorite things for the OFs to do. At a certain age, cooking is not as much fun as it used to be, and to some it never was fun. It was a chore that had to be done if the OF wanted to be around the next day.

What the OFs have done now is to cut back on going out like they used to. The OFs did mention how even McDonald’s now cost as much as a regular diner or counter as the prices have gone up.

One OF said, “Why not go to some place nice, pay a couple bucks more, get more, and it is not coated in grease.”

Another OF said, “Hey, the grease is the best part.”

It seems at most of our breakfasts, talk of rising prices works its way into the conversations. This scribe is thinking about cutting the column down by just reporting “see previous column” because of the redundancy on the topic of pricing.

There has to be a silver lining here someplace. Maybe we will find out it is possible to get along on a lot fewer things. We might find out jeans sold at Walmart are the same jeans that are sold at Macy’s at three times the prices just because of the label.

We may learn that apples with a blemish, but cheaper, are the same as prime apples without the blemish and double the price, or a corn borer does not affect the quality of an ear of corn without the borer.


School tops two culverts

Another topic, which was more to the locality of Middleburgh and not the Hilltowns, was discussed. The only way this project would affect us here on the Hill is if there were another flood like Irene, or the high water of 2021.

When there is a natural disaster such as Irene in 2011, and people are still talking about it and working to help protect certain areas 11 years later, that indicates this was quite an event.

The OFs who live in and around this area were talking about Middleburgh High School being built right on top of the storm culvert. This scribe has heard of this for many years but did not think it was true.

However, with two roads going to be closed down for construction upgrading this culvert, this scribe went to his old friend Google and found the maps for the Gorge Creek culvert repair.

Sure enough, the school is built on top of the culvert, which the map shows is in two sections. According to the dotted lines that marked the culvert, the physical school is on top of both of them.

With modern technology, this may not be a problem. They may be able to clean the debris from the culverts with cameras and machines just like the scribe has seen it done in Albany where roads and buildings are built on top of many culverts.

Storm drains are under most all roads, and even cities are built on drains, which are possible to drive a car through, so this scribe guesses part of a school on top of a culvert is not a problem.

The Old Men of the Mountain who showed up at the Your Way Café in Schoharie prepared for anything were: Joe Rack, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Paul Nelson, Mark Traver, Doug Marshall, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Jake Herzog, Marty Herzog, Pete Whitbeck, Russ Pokorny, Gerry Chartier, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt, Lou Schenck, and me.

Half the year is just about behind us; Tuesday was June 7, 2022, and haying is in full swing. Wasn’t it yesterday when we just finished snow-blowing the driveway?

Whatever, the Old Men of the Mountain gathered at the base of the mountain and had breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh.

There was a topic that came up more than once, and it was how much most everything has gone up in price. The people on fixed incomes and those making minimum wage have to really plan on stretching the dollar. The OFs keep asking why we’re losing so much so fast.

The OFs have many reasons why. Of course there is always politics to blame, but consider too few large producers of many necessary products instead of small independent producers of the same thing.

Adding to that is the war in Ukraine, fuel, too many governmental regulations, and all, in a way, going wacky and culminating at the same time.

One OF said he saw this coming years ago. His thought was inflation is caused simply by the lack of competition, which keeps prices in check, and competition is being eradicated.

No matter, prices were the topic quite a few times at the last breakfast and Tuesday. Probably the same discussions will be next week with even more reasons why things are so out of whack.

One OF said he was going to quit mowing his yard because gasoline prices are so high. The OF said he burns the non-ethanol gas in his small engines and when five gallons of that stuff gets to be close to 30 bucks, to heck with the mowing. Let the weeds, dandelions, bug,s and bees have the yard.

The OFs discussed this situation last week and, with prices going up as the OFs stand there, they can’t help shaking their heads. One OF said somebody has to be making money off this thing.

“Ya think?” was the basic answer.

Another OF said we can thank Harvard for this mess.

Gas, food, and who knows what else is out of whack, and on top of this, the country runs out of baby formula! What in the world did we do before there was baby formula?


Pollen profusion

Some of the vehicles in the parking lot, and even some of the shoes the OFs wore, were the same color or color pattern. That is, a basic color plus yellow.

The pine pollen was especially prevalent this year. At times, when the wind blew, there would be clouds of yellow drifting through the air.

One OF mentioned this stuff will go where water won’t, just like cement dust. There is this yellow time of the year every year but then it stops, and in a few days is gone. Where does it go?

The porch and porch railings that were once yellow are now normal, and the OFs haven’t done a thing to brush it away; it is just gone, like the heavens have sent down a huge, very quiet, vacuum cleaner to suck it all up. However, it is one pain in the nose and a boon to the Kleenex, and Refresh industry while it is here.


Weather jumping

The snowbirds quite often have tales to tell from when they are at their homes away from home, almost to the point of being very good salesmen for the areas they call home during the winter months.

In the discussion Tuesday morning, many of the “things to do” when in these areas were very inviting. However, some, once done — they are done. That is possible to do on a vacation.

One of the topics though was the manatee, popularly known as a sea cow. These huge creatures are gentle, and they seem to be smiling all the time and appear to have no natural enemies except humans and their careless “me first” attitudes.

There are groups formed to bring awareness to the plight of the manatees since this marine mammal is listed as being vulnerable to extinction. Joining one of these groups (along with other activities of the warmer climes) seems to make the trips down south more like home number two, or in some cases home number one, and home in the mountains then becomes home number two.

One OF suggested that family enters into weather jumping too. This OF became one of those who found himself living alone as a member of the run-from-the-snow group, and found living alone in different areas is not for him, so the OF moved so he could be with family.

This OF says family comes first, at least to him. Many of the OFs are lucky enough to have family around as they get older.

Listening to all the varied conversations of the group called “The Old Men of the Mountain,” it is found this small group is quite a melting pot of life, and lifestyles. Just in the little part of our whirling sphere occupied by the souls of the OFs, the variety is so varied it melts into one, like a crazy quilt.

The OFs are part of a greater universe and we bet in all the groups similar to the OMOTM, family will be discussed world-wide, if not throughout the whole universe.

All the Old Men of the Mountain, and a couple of OFs from a planet in the Andromeda Galaxy who found their way through our local wormhole and who joined in the conversation on family met at the Middleburgh Diner, in Middleburgh. The OFs who welcomed them were: Paul Nelson, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Miner Stevens, Doug Marshall, Otis Lawyer, Pete Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Duncan Bellinger, Gerry Chartier, and me.

What does one do on Tuesday, the 24th of May? Why, the best thing to do is go to the Old Men of the Mountain breakfast at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

At breakfast, this tidbit piece of information was brought up. The Mohawk Indian word for “driftwood” is Schoharie. This was added to the conversation because one OF was showing how large and entangled a root system was under a tree the OF had cut down. The OF was saying he thought it would be simple to use his tractor and haul the stump away.

That turned into more of a chore because the size of the root system was as large as a small house and gave more of a battle than the OF counted on. Along with the show and tell of removing the roots, and showing pictures of the process and the final root system, the chatter was coupled with a side conversation of class reunions.

One OF mentioned the roots looked like a pile of driftwood. So discussing class reunions and driftwood in one tower of babble, an OF offhandedly added to the cacophony of words in the air on multiple topics.

For instance: “Did you know the Indian word for ‘driftwood’ is Schoharie?”

That is all the OF said and the conversations just kept rolling on.


The spring of lilacs  

One OF mentioned that it looks like this is going to be the spring of the lilacs. This OF asked the ambiguous question, “Has anyone noticed how prolific the lilacs are this year? Every bush is loaded with flowers, and I have seen bushes of lilacs where I haven’t seen them before.”

There was just a little lull, and another OF answered for everyone else. The OF was right. Lilacs do seem to be in full bloom this spring.

One OF mentioned, along with the lilacs, that for some reason this OF noticed this year how much contrast there is, not only on the hillsides, but in the fields and yards, with the color green between the different types of trees.

Another OF said it may be because the air was cleaner when the OF noticed the sharpness of color. Could be.


Anderson’s driveway

Many people, OFs or not, travel Route 88 (also known as the late Senator Warren Anderson’s private driveway) when traveling southwest of the Albany/Schenectady area. The OFs discussed how this highway seems to traverse a section of the state where the prevailing winds blow right across the road.

In bad weather, the OFs who use it frequently commented that it is a good road to stay off of, especially in the winter time. Route 7 may take longer but, in cases of bad weather, one OF said, it sure is safer.

Some OFs began relating accidents and incidents they saw, or just missed while on this stretch of road in bad weather. One OF said, compared to the Northway and the Thruway, this road is, just as advertised, like his own personal driveway — there are so few cars on it. At times, the OF said, there are sections of the road which makes him feel like he is the only one on it.

Another OF complained that in sections Route 88 is rougher than a rutted dirt road. This OF inquired if there are so few vehicles on it, how come it gets so beat up?

None of the OFs seemed to know but also had to agree to that. However, one OF suggested it may have something to do with the unusual weather that keeps pounding the road. Could be.


Current events

The OFs discussed Monkeypox. The OFs thought the way they understand how it is transmitted: As OFs, they are beyond catching the disease.

One OF suggested that the way things are going now, the best thing to do is stay home and have as many provisions as you can delivered. Go shopping and get mugged or shot; go to a ball game, or a show, and wind up with COVID. It is not worth it.

Then there is the cost of just getting to wherever. A round trip to Saratoga or Lake George is going to cost fifty, sixty, or even seventy bucks just in fuel.

Stay home and have a cookout with the neighbors in walking distance until there becomes some sense of normalcy returning to this planet and Satan returns to his fiery realm.


Ashes to ashes

One OF told a story that had a familiar ring to it, but this one is for real because the OF knows those involved and he was part of it.

The OF had a friend who passed away. This friend had at one time a large farm and his own dairy. Farming, as most of the OFs know from experience, became a lost cause, so many deserted the business.

So did this farmer friend of the OF. One of the conditions of the farmer’s final requests was to have his ashes spread on the manure spreader and covered with a specific wood chip to protect the ashes and then take them to a field and spread over the land.

This type of story has been around for a long time but few have ever participated in this procedure. Apparently at this time most of the OFs know it was done, and who the OF was who took part in it. That’s what good friends are for.

The Old Men of the Mountain brave enough to gather and have breakfast out, and meet each other at the Your Way Café in Schoharie were: Roger Shafer, Doug Marshall, Miner Stevens, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Wally Guest, Otis Lawyer, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Rick LaGrange, Marty Herzog, Pete Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Duncan Bellinger, Johnny Dap, Paul Guiton,  Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.

As the scribe types this to the backlit screen it is Friday the 13th; however, when the Old Men of the Mountain met it was Tuesday, May 10, and the OMOTM were at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh.
It was noticed (and also discussed) that, when a group of OFs get together whether OMOTM or not, just older people, there seems to be a considerable amount of coughing and hacking going on. At the OMOTM’s breakfasts it is hardly noticed because the OFs have learned to control it to a degree.

At Tuesday’s breakfast, these morning noises were talked about. It was found many of the OF cougher/hackers were basically on the same meds. The OFs were not talking about the wake-up morning hack most people have when they greet the day, but the dry irritating cough that goes on all day. Sometimes this need to cough wakes the OF up at night or, worse yet, when the OF is having a good nap.

This brings the problem a little above a habit. Most complained about a dry tickle in the throat and oftentimes they have a few coughs and it goes away for awhile.

These coughs are very dry, according to a few of the OFs, and sometimes one OF said he doesn’t even have to open his mouth. Apparently this coughing doesn’t mean much to the doctors who just say “hmmm,” and go on about their business, and the meds stay the same. One OF said he didn’t think it was meds, it’s his throat muscles which are just giving out like the rest of him.


Adam’s task

The fishing season is apparently upon us and there was a discussion on fishing — especially bass. Adam had quite a job naming all the animals. How did this guy handle all the fish from the tiniest guppies to the massive whale, and what language was he using?

This is a cod, this is a flounder, this is a bass — aha this is a bass too. Well, one has a big mouth, yet this one has a small mouth, but this one has stripes, and this one hangs around rocks, so on and so on, and how about all the prehistoric creatures that roamed the seas?

Poor Adam must have had quite a time naming everything; however, time is all he had anyway so why not? He had the place to himself — no woman yet; boy, would that change everything when he gave up that rib.

Now poor Adam really had no time for anything, let alone naming any new living thing that came along, so if one showed up it went nameless. That is why even today we are left finding new species all over the planet that have to be named.

Well, if we are all descendants of Adam, it is a good guess, in a way, that Adam is still doing the job.

As the OFs talked about fishing, where the fish hung out, and how big some of these swimmers were, it must be when Adam was telling Eve about naming the fish where the first use of exaggeration of size came in.

It has been carried on ever since right down to the OMOTM.


The power of hypnotism

The OMOTM have discussed smoking many times and how people were able to overcome the habit. At Tuesday’s breakfast, it was reported that hypnotism was used successfully to cure the habit, not with one but two people.

This method has held for 40 years for these people. The OG relating the information said that the desire to stop was immediate, from the time he left the place till now and beyond — neither has had a cigarette.

For them, the hypnotism was great. No withdrawals, no chemicals, and the only expense was the charge of the hypnotist.

The OF telling of this happy event also said it does not work for everybody. It is necessary to really have the desire to quit the habit.



The question of the day was: When is it time to call seniors, “seniors,” or elderly, “elderly?” It came down to even calling old people, “old people.”

That did not sit well. “Senior citizen” seemed to come out on top, but when?

One OF said he was listening to the news (note: listening is the word used, not watching) and heard the newscaster give an age of 64 and then used the word “elderly.” The OF asked how old was that newscaster — 15?

Sixty-four years old is just a kid; the word “elderly,” and even giving an age like 64 indicating something was wrong and this person belonged in the home is way out of whack.

The OF continued, “If the person was 44, would the age even be mentioned?”

To the OMOTM, 64 is middle age, nowhere near elderly. “But,” one OF added, “Whoever it was can join AARP at 55 and be considered a senior citizen.”

“That’s a joke,” another OF said. This OF said he “might consider, maybe at age 70, to be a senior citizen.”

Then one more OF commented, “Hey, they should make it 45; then we could get all the discounts earlier. If it saves me money, they can call me a cranky old fart at any age — suits me fine.”  

It seems the word “elderly” is out, at least with the OMOTM. The OMOTM would rather use “senior citizen,” or “older person.”

The Old Men of the Mountain who are not elderly, or even senior, just a group of guys with many years under their belts, and years of smarts in their heads met for breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner and they were: Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Miner Stevens, Marty Herzog, Doug Marshall, Pete Whitbeck, Otis Lawyer, Paul Nelson, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Jake Herzog, Paul Whitbeck, John Muller, Duncan Bellinger, Lou Schenck, Bill Bremmer, Herb Bohrmann, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.

— Photo from United States Mint

The Old Man of the Mountain, depicted on a quarter, was made into a pin — one for each Helderberg OMOTM.

Tuesdays are beginning to be brighter and brighter as the sun decides to get up early. The Old Men of the Mountain now do not have to fight the white oncoming headlights when driving to the early morning breakfasts.

On Tuesday, May 3, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. The subject of farming continued and this time it was on robotic milking and how robots perform the milking duties on some large farm.

The OF relating the science behind this said that in the milking parlor there are no people, only cows and robots. This was hard to believe by most of the OFs, yet this OF insisted that the cows are milked three times a day and they get in line in order and are washed, milked, and go on their way to the barn/farm yard until it is their time again.

The cows then get in line and do the same thing over and over and over. What a life.


Deliberate costs

Inflation is an ongoing topic. Not only do the OMOTM know about it, but everyone else does too.

This scribe does not have enough space to report all that is said about the price of just about everything. Some of the price increases are related to the cost of what goes into whatever is going up, and the vendor is just relating the higher cost of goods onto us, the OFs, i.e. the average consumer.

The OFs started using their ages, and the common sense of farmers to figure out what is going on with the price of fuel and it is not what the big oil companies in cahoots with big government want us to believe. The OFs think the increasing higher cost of this product is deliberate, and for many reasons.

Number one, the government and environmentalists want the OFs to phase out combustion engines, which may be a good thing; however, electric vehicles are questionable. No matter, the big oil companies are going to make their bucks.

This is the way the OFs figure it. A thousand gallons of fuel at two bucks a gallon is $2,000; five-hundred gallons of fuel at four bucks a gallon is still $2,000.

The two biggies haven’t lost a cent, yet they have driven the prices of many other manufactured goods much higher because they rely on their product. Enough of that — it is not too hard to figure out the rest.


Recalling the rock OMOTM

Most people know that there was an outcropping of rock in Franconia, New Hampshire called the Old Man of the Mountain. Many of the OFs have traveled to New Hampshire to see this face in the hills. Those who have seen it say it was a very good likeness of an old man’s face peering out at the landscape from the side of that mountain.

Unfortunately, 19 years ago today, on May 3, 2003, that face, produced by nature and not man with chisels or jackhammers, tumbled to a pile of rubble at the base of the mountain.

This outcropping was so well known as a symbol for New Hampshire it was used on the “back” of the new (at that time) New Hampshire quarter.

Back when that quarter first came out, one of the OFs, Mike Willsey, purchased a quantity of these quarters and soldered pins to the “front” of the quarters so the OFs could pin them to their OMOTM hats. Which most of the OFs did. Along with the OMOTM hats, these pins proudly indicated the wearer was an Old Man of the Mountain.


The real stuff

The OFs talked about sapping (sapping being maple syrup) again this week, and next year at this time will probably talk about sapping again because that is what some of the OFs are into. Those who have had real maple syrup on their pancakes or waffles know what the OFs are talking about.

The real stuff is so much better than the flavored tar that carries the name syrup, but the comparison has a long way to go to equal the boiled-down sap from a tree.

Maple syrup is like honey — nothing added. The OFs just take the sap from the tree, add heat, bring to boil, and bingo! Maple syrup!

Honey is a thick, sweet, syrupy substance that bees make and store in honeycombs (which can be scraped off) and there you are: Honey! If you want to try this honey it is possible to eat comb and all; nothing of any kind added.

At one time it was suggested that, if you ate the honeycomb, it would help with migraine headaches. The OFs don’t know about that.

One OF thought that sugar and salt is literally the same thing. Nothing is added, the cane is just dried and ground for sugar, and salt is no more than evaporated sea water, or ground-up rock. At least that is what the OF thinks of the way salt is produced.

My goodness! It almost sounds like going back to school at breakfast with the OMOTM. When putting all the conversations together, the OFs do cover many topics, projects, and basic living from firsthand information, or experiences.

As it is said, the school of hard knocks has the best teachers. It is also said experience is the best teacher. Take your pick; the OMOTM have both.

Those OFs, who at the Chuck Wagon Diner picked up their higher education degrees, were: Miner Stevens, Paul Nelson, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Pete Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Rich LaGrange, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Paul Guiton, Duncan Bellinger, Paul Whitbeck, John Dapp, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Bill Bremmer, Heb Bahrmann, Paul Bahrmann, Doug Marshall,  and me.

The Old Men of the Mountain gave the Your Way Café another shot because the Chuck Wagon was closed. It seems the OMOTM wanted to get out — the number of OFs at the restaurant was ample, the conversations were loud and long, and the laughter was plentiful. It’s neat to see and hear OFs with all their ailments have really hearty laughs.

Much of the talk was a good form of gossip. Who, what, and sometimes when; where did not crop up too often.

The information was sad though because it was how the current times have caused many in small businesses, and those with farms, to go out of business and find something else. How often one business is associated with others and when one is having problems the old trickle-down effect passes to the others.

The OFs were discussing what was happening to Joe Blow or Jane Doe, so the conversations were very personal because many OFs knew, or did business, with those involved.

The OFs thought that it is getting too expensive to be in business, and only the big companies with deep pockets are going to make it. One OF thought there may be some young people out there who are going to give small entrepreneurial business a shot, but the OMOTM are out of that loop and only know what they hear on the news or read in the papers.

Many are so discouraged with those sources that the OFs don’t pay any attention to either. That’s odd, because this is going to be in the paper. This scribe is pretty sure local papers are not part of this exclusion group. (Too much interesting gossip and information in the pages of the local papers. Not nice to shoot the horse that brings one home.)


Missing person

The OFs discussed the school teacher from Delmar who is now missing in Massachusetts. The OFs admitted from the photographs in the paper she is very pretty, which prompted one OF to say there is an advantage to being ugly — it cuts down on the weirdos picking the pretty ones as a target.

The OFs think that her car was not driven by the victim to where it was found. Even though they do have to search the area, the OFs don’t think they will find anything there. Some of the OFs thought the police have already assumed this to be the case; however, what else are they going to do until they have checked the area thoroughly?


Gobbling ticks

Next topic reported on: Ticks were the usual spring discussion and one OF reported when his dog came in they took 17 ticks off of the animal.

A few of the other OFs reported they have not seen ticks, but then again they haven’t been in the woods either. It seems every year these nasty little insects seem to cause many problems.

Maybe someone will develop an animal and human one-shot vaccine to ward off the infectious bite of the tick. On the other hand, this is just an OMOTM thought.

One OF wondered why some birds like the guinea hen go around just gobbling those things up and nothing happens to them. What have they got that the rest of us don’t?

Guinea hens are fun to watch as they go around snacking on the ticks from the grass. Do the guinea hens have some sort of sensor that alerts the hen to what tick is loaded with Lyme, and the others are not?

This scribe thinks they just gobble them up and don’t give a hoot about what the tick has, the carrier for Lyme disease or not; the tick is just food to them.



No matter who the OF is, some may have faith as religion, and some not, but one thing they all have is faith ─ religion, or not. The OFs have certain things happening in their lives that require faith, and with some of the OFs that faith has to be really strong.

Think about how often any of us (OF or not) go to the doctor and then are referred to a surgeon and the surgeon recommends surgery to fix the problem. Bingo, as soon as the OF says, “OK let’s do it,” faith by the ton takes over.

It is often said that, as soon as the OF closes the door of his vehicle, faith takes the wheel, along with the hands of the OF. The OF now has faith in many people, and the OF needs it, so the faith the OF has in all the people that worked on the vehicle is rewarded when the OF arrives safely at his destination.

It takes faith by the bushel to drive a vehicle, weighing more or less 2,000 pounds and aiming it down the highway at 60 miles an hour not thinking once about all these people involved in building this big bullet. The OF is guiding the vehicle effortlessly with one hand and drinking a Gatoraid with the other so who knows what the OF may be thinking as the guardrails zip by.

This scribe bets the people who built the vehicle won’t be one of them. All of the OFs, and those who aren’t OFs, have their minds occupied by so much more not even realizing how much faith we put in people we don’t even know.

Then there are the doctors and surgeons we do know. The surgeon is going to wield a knife over our bodies and deliberately cut into them. Without faith that the surgeon is going to perform his job well, the OF wouldn’t even be on that table. The surgeon has to have faith in himself that he is going to do the job well.

Faith is inherent in all of us, whether we know it or not, so that is how the OFs get to be OMOTM. Bobby McFerrin had it right in his song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Faith is how the OFs get there. The way one OF put it, though, was: That is tough to do right now.

All the OFs who gathered at the Your Way Café in Schoharie and had a good time getting together were: Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Miner Stevens, Brian McLaughlin, Doug Marshall, Rich LaGrange, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Jake Herzog, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Gerry Chartier, John Dapp, Paul Guiton, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, and me.

On Tuesday, April 19, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie. A few brave souls were able to get out and make it to the restaurant.

This scribe was not one of them that made it. This OF was up early, dressed, and ready to go but found eight to nine inches of snow in the driveway. This OF was not the only one who had this predicament; in checking to see who was able to make it to the restaurant, this OF found many with similar problems.

Some had snow plus no power. That makes the situation more fun.

This scribe never did get plowed out; he was trapped in the house for two days. This is nothing new.

Now to have the OMOTM reports continue without a break, this scribe has to review the notes of previous breakfast and report on what was not reported on before. Also, it is necessary to protect the innocent few who were there from any legal hazards that may crop up.

This scribe contacted one of those who made it to the Your Way Café to see if he could remember anything that was discussed. One item discussed was “where the heck was everybody else?”

Duh — probably snowed in; or no power; or exhausted from shoveling wet, heavy snow (which OFs shouldn’t be doing anyway).

The other discussion was on how many deer one of the OFs saw on a trip to where the OF did not remember. This OF said it had to be about 300 deer. Now that is a lot of animals to spot and count even if they were cows, horses, or elephants. Suffice it to say the OF saw a lot of deer.

If the price of meat and fish becomes any higher, there might be a large number of hunters in the woods, thinning the deer herd out, or guys and gals fishing for the plate not for the fun of catch and release.

It used to take a little time to enter the names to protect but this time not so. The Old Men of the Mountain who ventured out and made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie and kept the OMOTM breakfast sequence intact were: Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt (one of the oldest OMOTM if not the oldest, made it), Rich Vanderbilt, Johnnie Dapp, but not me.