One of the Old Men of the Mountain, Frank Dees of Knox, took this photo while visiting family in Illinois. Blake Durbin inspects a drone used to spray farmers’ fields, replacing large wheel tractor sprayers, airplanes, and helicopters that used to do the spraying. Durbin has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Illinois, Dees reports, adding, “Today no such thing as a dumb farmer, they work long hours.” John R. Williams responded, “Take it from an old farmer’s kid. Farmers have always worked long hours whether it was behind a horse, or with a drone.”

Tuesday, July 25, it’s almost time to pay the rent again. So far, it has not been a nice summer, according to the Old Men of the Mountain, as they met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie. 

The Old Men of the Mountain gathered at the outside of the restaurant, waiting for it to open like bees gathering on a flower. Then they all go in as a group to harvest the nectar but the OFs are not going to share it. It is all going to be used for energy to keep the OFs going until lunch when it is time to gather more nectar.

The OGs discussed how much rain was dumped on the Hill, while some who live off the Hill received only a squirt. According to the weather guys on the TV, Knox and that area received 3.4 inches of heavenly liquid in a short period of time.

This deluge prompted the OFs to talk about pollution and how years ago only a few paid any attention to this problem. How we treated our trash, what we used to make paint, and insulation, plus how we did a lot of things that was ruining our atmosphere, and not only that but our bodies too, the worst of which was smoking.

Some of the OFs told of how we paid no attention to how batteries were disposed of in the forties and fifties, even the sixties. The product of lead was used for many things; now we are much more careful on how and what lead is used for.

Batteries are used more today than they were back in the day and, with the advent of electric-powered cars, tools, computers, watches, and since just about everything else nowadays has a battery in it someplace, we hope people are more aware of how to dispose of them.


Droning on

And speaking of drones (from last week), the size of these things is getting to the point where soon they will be able to carry a human, or humans. One OF said that in Illinois some of the large farms use drones to spread pesticides instead of using crop-dusting airplanes.

These drones are powered by batteries, but this scribe bets a small engine could power a drone to get the operator off the ground. This scribe also thought, “Darn, why am I so old that I am going to miss all this and not have a drone of my own?”


Sleep intrusions

The OFs had a discussion on dreams and nightmares. It seems everyone is subjected to these sleep-time mental intrusions.

It was found that some OFs think that it could be a result of work-related stress that causes sleep disturbances. Some thought that current experiences that were out of the norm, frightening or pleasant, caused a number of these occurrences

For some people, dreams are gone in the morning; the OFs knew they dreamed but are unable to recall the dream. On the other hand, others can remember dreams so vividly they are able to recount the dream almost word for word.

One OF said his nightmares got so bad he did not want to go to sleep at night, or even take his naps during the day. This OF said that, at a visit to his cardiologist, he off-handily mentioned this situation to the doctor.

The doctor mentioned a med that he had put the OF on and told him not to take another pill, and then the doctor replaced that med with something else and the nightmares went away immediately.

Another OF said that sometimes his dreams are so real and the dreams have gone on through the night that when he wakes up in the morning it is like he never slept at all and the OF is not rested one bit.


Reading the signs

The OFs are, in a way, restaurant connoisseurs and in many restaurants they have cutesy signs and decorations throughout the restaurant. One OF thought that the more signs and collectibles they have throughout the place, the slower the service.

This OF thinks the signs are there to keep the customers amused because there are only a couple of cooks in the kitchen.

However, one of the signs that come to mind is in the Your Way Café, which by the way does not have a slew of them around, and it reads: We guarantee quick service no matter how long it takes! 

A second sign in another restaurant reads: Today has been canceled — go back to bed!

This must be a common theme because another OF said the way the sign read in the restaurant he was in was: Today has been canceled due to lack of interest!

So many of these clever bits of useless (and maybe not-so-useless) information and knowledge on bumper stickers and signs generally have no relationship to trying to sell something or impart any bit of information on the establishment displaying it. Apparently the signs are just there to fill up wall space except the ones that have a political or specific point of view to express.

Then there are ones that make no sense at all like the one stuck in many car windows: Baby on Board. What does that mean; is it OK to whack other cars in the rear end but not that one because there is a Baby on Board? Duh.

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Your Way Café and made it a point not to hit any car whether there was a sign or not were: Pete Whitbeck, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Otis Lawyer, Miner Stevens, Marty Herzog, Jimmy Darrah, Rick LaGrange, Ed Goff, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Frank Fuss, Frank Dees, Russ Pokorny, Jake Herzog, Rev. Jay Francis, Paul Guiton, John Dab, Roger Shafer, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Herb Bahrmann, Dan Pelitier, and me.

July 18, The Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. Quite often the OMOTM discuss the ride to the eating place of that Tuesday.

This past Tuesday morning, it was a little unusual. Not too often do the OFs say the ride over was at times miserable because of the drizzle, fog, and smoke — smoke; that is new.

Some said they could smell the smoke inside the car. This is not unusual because during the fall and winter when the air is heavy it is possible to smell the smoke from the homes that burn wood, or have outdoor furnaces and the smoke from these heating devices waft across the road and can be noticed in the car. This, though, is short and sometimes is nostalgic or at times will make the OF hungry.

One OF thought the smell of burning leaves in the fall is also very nostalgic and the OF really enjoyed burning them; now we are not supposed to burn our leaves. Now we are supposed to mulch them someplace, and in the towns put lawn rakings in bags or rake them to the curb, and city or town will pick them up.

Now raking leaves is nothing but work, all the fun is gone. One OF said we pay more taxes so the municipalities can pick up the leaves and now we can live longer with more aches and pains and pay more taxes.


Feline focus

Many (and that is a good word) of the OMOTM have or have had cats, or at least one cat. Some mentioned just one or two to others with dozens.

Cats, according to some of the OFs, can be friends or just a plain ole pain in the butt. The range of a cat’s affections can go from super friendly to don’t mess with me, and feral.

One OF asked questions and told of an experience at the same time. The question was: Why do cats love boxes? That question just got a bunch of shrugged shoulders for an answer.

The other question was how to use boxes to catch feral cats without them running away or clawing the catcher to pieces.

The OFs said to just place boxes out, it was not said when but the OFs feel it is safe to say when the cats are visible and around (and it was not said whether a little food was placed in each box or not) and watch the cats. They will examine the box and eventually jump in, curl up and lay down.

Then the OF should stealthily amble up to the box and close the lid. Bingo, the scrappy feline is caught. 

This may or may not work. Cats are not the easiest animal to catch if they do not want to be caught. Quite often, if something is really hard to do, it is referred to as “trying to herd cats.”


Longer lives

Our aging society is beginning to show up in groups like the Old Men of the Mountain. One OF thought that is why there is such a concern with nursing homes and homes for the elderly.

The OFs thought that in previous years people died off at an earlier age before they were all crippled up with arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and other ailments that require a ton of care which homeowners can’t provide even if they wanted to and could.

This scribe checked out that the average age for a male in 1950 was 65; in 2022, it was 79.5 or almost 80. That gives the OFs 15 more years to get all the ailments that used to put the OFs in the “home.”

On the flip side, that is 15 more years of beautiful sunrises and sunsets, watching the kids grow, contributing your accrued knowledge not only from education, but life itself, on to society so the average end of life can become still older and better.

It may be smart to invest at both ends of living: Manufacture items for babies and toddlers like strollers, and car seats and then, at the other end, manufacture items like rollators, wheelchairs, and hospital beds.


Lake picnic

For some years, one OF has offered the use of his camp as a location for an OMOTM picnic. This has turned into an annual event.

On July 19, the OFs had their “annual” picnic at this OF’s place. This outing includes the OMOTM and their wives or significant others.

This camp on Warner Lake sits right on the water and is very private. Close to the camp is a huge cedar tree where many of the OFs circled in the shade of this tree told stories and passed on misinformation, or maybe the real stuff, who knows, it all has to be sifted out.

A few of the OFs gathered in the shade of the porch, close to the goodies. Mentioned often was how lucky the group was with the weather. It was a beautiful day; considering the summer so far, this day was one of the rare ones.

The host, who is very gracious in lending the use of his home on the lake, took the OFs out in small groups on his pontoon boat for a leisurely lap around the lake.

As we reported many times before, some of the OMOTM have antique or restored later model vehicles. One OMOTM arrived in his Model-T, which ran better than some newer cars. Others showed up in restored vehicles that would be the envy of any car show.

The whole event went very well; now it is wait until next year.

This scribe is going to tattle on himself here (here-hear); a good example of what happened is in typing “who knows” in this column, when re-reading that section, this scribe saw he had typed “who nose” — ah-hah.

Finding their way to Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh on a smoky, foggy, morning, the Old Men of the Mountain were: Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Rick LaGrange, Ed Goff, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Frank Fuss, Dan Pellitier, Ken Parks, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, George Washburn, Russ Pokorny, Frank Dees, Gerry Chartier, Rev. Jay Francis, Jake Herzog, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Bob Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Paul Guiton, John Dab, and me.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, the Old Men of the Mountain appeared in a mysterious communiqué that arrived at the Middleburgh Diner. This letter was current but the year mentioned was not.

The year was 1998, and as the letter requested it was passed to the current names listed in the CC at the bottom of the letter. So this July 11, 2023 quickly was transported back in time.

This scribe proceeded, just out of curiosity, to see who would have been in attendance at the breakfast in 1998. A phone call was made to the editor of The Enterprise, requesting if she had any records of the OMOTM at that time. She did, and the editor graciously forwarded to this scribe the names of those in attendance.

This scribe found 16 Old Men of the Mountain at breakfast at that time. Of those 16, only two are still currently regular attendees, and two are still taking nourishment but are in their nineties. One does not hear very well and has trouble getting ready until later in the day; the other is 97 and has basically the same problems.

This makes four who are still taking up space on this planet, and the other 12 have passed and are having breakfast every Tuesday with all the other OFs on some cloud in the sky.


Rare beauty

The OMOTM quite often report on the weather in our area — sometimes good and other times not so good. This can be true of most any part of this sphere that anyone happens to be in at any particular time.

After all the miserable weather the area has been having, the morning of Tuesday, July 11, was an exception. The air was crisp and clear and, looking across the hills, it seemed as if one could see forever.

Around 6 or so in the morning, some fog popped up here and there, and the sun lit up the hills. Some OFs stopped and pulled to the side of the road to take it all in on their way to the Middleburgh Diner.


Drones evolve

In conjunction with the beauty of the day, the discussion of drones came up and how many people that have these new toys can take unusual pictures from perspectives they never could before. Some of the OFs have these machines and noted the early ones were driven by radio-controlled airplane engines, which are pretty touchy to start and run.

Now most of the drones are battery operated; the controls are the same but all that is necessary to get the drone started is to flick a switch and the operator with his machine is underway. 

A couple of OFs discussed how there is quite a learning curve on flying a drone, similar to a radio-controlled airplane. Once they are in the air and a distance from the operator, it is tough to know which way the drone is going. Is it away from the operator or towards the operator?

The other similarity is, once the drone passes the centerline of the operator, many of the controls reverse. Right now becomes left, and left is right.

At this time, the drone is quite a tool for the search-and-rescue teams dealing with all the flooding going on now, or when people are lost in the woods. But as one OF thought, once AI gets cranked up, and these things become more sophisticated, society is getting set up for George Orwell’s Big Brother warning in the book “1984” big time.


Precious stuff

The OFs, as they age and now have time and money, have a tendency to accrue stuff — just stuff. What happens to this stuff when the OFs get to the point they are no longer able to enjoy the stuff or get out and about like they used to?

All this stuff does is collect dust, rot, or rust away. Because of the letter mentioned at the start of this column, the OFs talked about passing all this junk, stuff, antiques, etc., on. However, the odd thing is, nobody wants it; it is only interesting to the OF.

Who do you give it to most of the time? Your kids, nah. They don’t want it; they already have their own stuff so they don’t want yours.

Quite often, when the OFs eventually get to be OFs, their kids are beginning to approach their own OF age. The OF’s trinkets are theirs — not the kids’.

However, this does not hold true especially if the trinkets and stuff are true antiques. Now may be the time for an auction, or sale but this is tough. One OF said he has become really attached to a lot of his stuff and would rather die while it was still in the barn.

The Old Men of the Mountain that attended the breakfast in 1998 were: Steve Kelly, Ivan Baker, Walt Coulter, Frank Ostrander, Herbie Wolford, Myron Filkins, Carl Slater, Keith Saddlemire, Gerd Remmers, Harold Murphy, George Washburn, and Warren Willsey who was brought as a guest because he was just a young-un at that time, and me (and those who were very active but have had to retire: Robie Osterman, 91, and Mike Willsey, 97). 

Now those who were at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh 25 years later were: Wally Guest, Ed Goff, Miner Stevens, Russ Pokorny, Harold Guest, Frank Fuss, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn again, Pete Whitbeck, Otis Lawyer, Gerry Chartier, Jake Herzog, Rev. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Herzog, Herb Bahrmann, and me again.

Another Tuesday, this one was on the Fourth of July, 2023 and the Old Men of the Mountain’s breakfast was at Hillbelly’s in Westerlo. Google finally changed the name of the restaurant to Hillbelly’s ─ before it kept referring to it as Hillbilly’s.

Many of the restaurants are some distances from where the folks who are members live. Hillbelly’s is one of these for those who live almost due north of Westerlo. Normal time for these OMOTM to make it to Hillbelly’s would be about an hour.

This was their first trip and this scribe does not know if they used GPS or not but they arrived just as some of the OFs were leaving. This carload said it took two hours to get there. They claimed they wound up in Greenville.

One of the OFs said someone there, or at least on the way, gave them directions that were pretty good so they could get to Hillbelly’s. At least once in Westerlo there is not too much there: a deli, some churches, a post office, bank, library, fire department, Hannay Hose Reel, and Hillbelly’s. That’s about it.


Wrong group

This is an after-the-fact communiqué. This happened during the breakfast, but this scribe did not know about it until afterwards.

A new member was invited to attend the breakfast to see if he liked the crowd. This new member arrived rather late and most of the OMOTM were already there. Apparently, arriving late, he noticed there was no place to sit in the back room where the OMOTM were.

Tuesday morning at Hillbelly’s there was another group of 12 meeting at the same time and in the front section, which is part restaurant and part store and there was space there. According to the fellow reporting the incident, the new guy-to-be thought they were the OMOTM and sat with them — until they started their Bible lesson.

The apparent new member told the OMOTM who invited him he knew now that was the wrong group. Well duh.


Stuck key

One of the OFs mentioned how he was having trouble turning a key in a lock and became rather irritated so he proceeded to go get a vise grip to give extra leverage on turning that key. No lock was going to outwit this OF, but it did. The key snapped off, leaving the OF with a piece of the key in the vise grip, and the other in the lock.

As luck would have it, this OF was sitting directly across from an OF who is a locksmith; the locksmith said this was one of the most common problems he runs into. He proceeded to explain how to handle this type of situation.

The locksmith OF said: Do not try and twist the key; instead spray WD-40 or an oil that the OF recommended (this scribe did not catch that), which was something like 3-in-One oil, in the lock and insert the key in and out several times, do not twist, just in and out; the key will become freer as this is done.

When the key is working in and out freely, try and twist, doing it very easy; the lock should then open. The OF said do not use graphite, or grease; all this does is collect grime and dust, which makes matters worse.

This OF began giving a lesson on locks and how they were made and worked. The OF also said most all locks are made the same: The top moves and the bottom is stationary.

Just like flush toilets, keyed locks, or a form thereof, go back to Roman times. My goodness, some things have not changed in thousands of years.

The way the OF explained it, the Roman locks were more like combination locks. As mentioned before with Roman engineering, using Roman numerals, and now combination locks, those lettered numbers somehow worked well.


Legal costs

The OFs then talked a bit about the attorney ads on TV. One OF thought attorneys charged about $200 to $400 an hour, more or less.

So, as one OG thought, the insurance company offers a grand, the lawyers say they can get more, they do, they get you $1,500 hundred dollars — big whoop! They charged $800 maybe, or more, to get it.

That is a quickie two hours of work — maybe. Whoops $1,500 minus 800 bucks; let’s see, now you get $700. Hmmm. This is just lay people talking; it might not work this way.

This is nothing against lawyers because, when the OFs are in trouble, or selling a home, or planning a will, who is the first person the OF will run to? A lawyer.

Who knows the ins and outs and makes things run smoothly in routine daily life? A lawyer. But just wait until one gets into politics, which is another story.


Mourning Bob Giebitz

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to send our condolences and prayers for the passing of an OMOTM, Bob Giebitz, known for his gardening abilities.

The Old Men of the Mountain that traveled to Hillbelly’s and solved all the world’s problems using the best lessons learned, passing the test with high marks in the lessons of common sense taught by the school of hard knocks were: Wally Guest, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Harold Guest, Doug Marshall, Russ Pokorny, Frank Fuss, Ed Goff, Roland Tozer, Rick LaGrange, Pete Whitbeck, Paul Whitbeck, Pete Parisi, Jake Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, John Dab, Paul Guiton, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.

June is almost gone, and the last Old Man of the Mountain breakfast for June was on Tuesday, the 27th of the month, at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. The longest daylight day has come and gone; Christmas and snow is just ahead, better get your shopping done.

According to some of the OMOTM, one would think that the most important item on the planet was not the almost civil war in Russia, or interplanetary finding of possible space-travel wormholes, but the sore toe on the right foot of Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees.

This is a disaster, as one OF put it; it should be in all the papers in the United States and then some. Doctors from all over the world should be consulted to find out how to heal this toe, have it healed and get Judge back on the field. These OFs think the world would be a better place if Judge were back out there.

Glutton’s punishment

To get to the Chuck Wagon, OFs come from some distance; eventually, they have to get on Route 20 either from Duanesburg and go east, or from points east from Princetown and head west. Those who were heading west on Route 20 encountered a very large bird, dead in the road about 1,500 to 2,000 feet from the Chuck Wagon.

Some thought it was an owl, some a hawk, and some a vulture. All thought it had found something dead in the road and was using it as a meal and was so intent on eating that it failed to notice an oncoming vehicle and met its demise right there in the middle of the road.

This scribe thinks it was a vulture because hawks, kestrels, and owls are not scavengers and don’t eat dead animals — vultures do. If there were a live bunny hopping across the road and some large hawk spotted it, and car/truck, bunny, and bird all met at the same time, then it could happen. Probably not.

Waning creatures

Previously, the OFs have mentioned, and this scribe has commented on, the absence of many insects or at least if spotted how few there seem to be. Bees, dragonflies, lightning bugs, butterflies, etc., they all seem to be disappearing.

On Tuesday morning, an OF mentioned how his garden had something eating his vegetables so he set some traps and found it was woodchucks. This is a rodent that has seemingly been on the wane along with the insects and snakes.

There used to be woodchuck mounds all over in the fields and they could be seen scurrying across the road quite often. This OF said he caught three of them and thinks that is the lot. The OF said they were living under a shed on the farm, not in the fields like they used to, and those were the only chucks he had seen in quite awhile.

One OF piped up saying, “With all these creatures disappearing, are we next?”

Old connections

As usual, there was a discussion on, “Where are they now?” This time, it was not necessarily on OFs but on those the OFs knew in high school, or when they were young.

This is a study in concentration and memory. First, the person or persons has to be someone other OFs knew so that part of the search starts, “Do you remember XYZ?” And, if no one remembers, then that hunt stops.

Quite often, these are sad trips when one is found, because of the ages of those in this inquiry find so many of those being inquired about are either sick or dead. Another rather common find is that they now live in Florida, or Georgia, or the Carolinas.

One OF commented, “What are we chopped liver? We are still here.”

Another OF retorted, “There is no place I would rather be than right here.”

Again this reminded this scribe of a song sung by Johnny Russell, “Red Necks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer” — great song.

All of sudden, people in the OFs’ high school, or not-too-often college yearbooks, or classes, or even neighbors that the OFs only knew on the edges back then, and rarely if ever spoke to, are now lost friends that the OFs somehow want to contact, or really know how they are doing.

One OF commented that, even though they seem to be missing quite a few, and the group at the class reunions is getting smaller, we seem to be living longer. We do have our aches and pains but seem to be in better shape.

One OF said, “You can’t prove it by me. Every morning when I wake up I say, ‘Oh darn, I woke up again; now I’ve got another day to get through.’” Talk about a downer OF.

A second OF said just the opposite; the OG used a cliché that is heard often. The OF said, when he wakes up, he rushes to the bathroom to look in the mirror and see how much better looking he’s gotten since the day before. 

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and all better looking than the day before were: Miner Stevens, Rick LaGrange, Paul Whitbeck, Doug Marshall, Frank Fuss, Roland Tozer, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Marty Herzog, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Duncan Bellinger, Paul Guiton, John Dab, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Lou Schenck, and me.

It was Tuesday, June 20, when the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie. The original Old Men (by the way those who are still here are really OMOTM now) used to meet after the crowds left the restaurants (hmm, crowds?) around 9 or 9:30 in the morning; now the OMOTM are the crowd and are standing at the door waiting for the restaurants to open up at 7 a.m.

This past Tuesday, six or eight OFs gathered in front of the restaurant waiting for it to open at 7 and watched two young girls set the tables and get the place ready for all the OGs to attack a little later on before they had to run off to school.

As some of the OFs age, the later time makes more sense, but the younger OFs have things planned and better things to do than have breakfast all morning. One OF commented that he moves so slowly now that he couldn’t even get out of the way of a train if it was standing still. Doesn’t make any sense but the intent is right on.

Still around

There was some discussion on who was still around, and doing what — if anything. This is a frequent topic at the breakfasts when something happens to an OMOTM, or an acquaintance of one or many of the other OFs.

Discussion about the OMOTM’s, friends and relatives, and people the OFs grew up with is not uncommon. The OFs who have the most aches and pains point to the fact they are beginning to outlive many of these people, and it is a little disconcerting. Belonging to a group like the Old Men of the Mountain helps a lot.

On the water

Our mountains have a number of lakes and good-sized ponds scattered about and the OFs discussed these for a bit and how they have changed from 70 or so years ago. The talk of the local lakes carried over from last week so it must be getting close to summer.

The talk of boats and the motors the OFs as YFs used to propel them was interesting, as the names of the motors are rarely heard today, names like Neptune and Evinrude.

The OFs were talking about what they did as kids, or maybe very young adults, especially around water. If some of this “horseplay” was done today they would all be arrested.

It seems back then the dumb things that were done by the young-uns were dumb things. Not the violent, dangerous, and destructive activities of today that seem so way out of hand and harmful.

“Then and now”

The OFs talked about White Sulphur Springs on Route 443 and how many of the OFs and their friends would go there generally as members of a church group or club of some sort. Today that very large building with its spacious grounds is all gone.

Driving on Route 443 in that area now, one would never know it was there. On June 7, 2017, by 2:43 in the afternoon, the resort was all gone. Some of the OFs who knew it was there and even spent time at the resort could now drive right by and not know it was ever there.

It was a time to discuss the Hilltowns to a certain extent. Just like OFs (whether OMOTM or just OFs), many times the conversation is just about “then and now.” In a way, discussing “then and now” is fun; sometimes it is what keeps OFs young.

Historic cabin

One OMOTM is a direct descendant of one of the original settlers of the area around Warner Lake. These settlers built a log cabin at the north end of the lake in the mid-1700s.

This OF has been trying to locate where this cabin was for quite some time to no avail — until recently. This past Tuesday morning, the OF related some of what he went through in his search for the log cabin.

The OF discovered that, as time went on, the family built another home because the saw mill apparently did very well and leaving the log cabin appeared to be a good idea. Recently, according to the OF, there was discussion on restoring the original home but that seemed to be unreasonable so they decided to tear it down.

In tearing down the homestead, the OF said he finally found the log cabin he was trying to locate for years. The home was built right where the log cabin stood.

The OF said the foundation was still there and so were parts of the cabin that were used in construction of the new home. The OF also said that, after taking the cabin down, what was not used, like the foundation, was packed in blue clay. (On the Hill, that is not hard to find.)

The OF said it is in perfect condition. So now he can cross that off his list of things to do. He has found the cabin.

The Old Men who arrived early at the Your Way Café in Schoharie watched the youngsters through the windows (like a play) setting things up in time for the café to open. When done, the smallest went to the door and opened it up for oldsters to enter the establishment. The door holder was no taller than three feet, and offered a little smile with the, “You’re Welcome” as many OFs said “Thank You” to the little waif holding the door. This was beyond cute and those OFs were: Doug Lonnstrom, Doug Marshall, Roland Tozer, Ed Goff, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Pete Whitbeck, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, John Dab, Paul Guiton, Lou Schenck, Dick Dexter, Jack Norray, Duncan Bellinger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, and me.

We are in the middle of June, and on June 13, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. 

The OMOTM who are falling off the Schoharie side of the mountain are finding prices less expensive (for the most part) than falling off the Albany side. Not 100-percent of the time — but enough so it is noticeable.

However, with the current price of gas (as one OF put it) when that is figured in, it is best to shop close to home for small amounts and small things. For big-ticket items ,shop around, but one OF said he uses the ’net more than he thought he would. 

The way inflation is, and apparently is going, things are much more expensive for just routine items necessary for living. One OG thought somebody is making big bucks off this. It is either pay the price or do without.

This will all come out in the wash was a thought, we’ve been through it before, tain’t new Magee. Of course, these OFs have 70 or 80 years of living to draw on with a lot of comin’ and goin’ in between so the thought was well put.


Too fast to photograph

Getting to the restaurants, or getting to anyplace, or just sitting on the back porch, there are many events in life that are interesting, scary, or just plain, “what the heck!” that happen in an instant and, even if the OF wanted to capture it on camera, it is so fast that time does not allow the viewer to gather up anything to save the experience.

At  breakfast on Tuesday morning, one OF mentioned such an experience traveling to the restaurant, and another OF mentioned having the same thing happen to him and, by the time he could record it ,the scene was gone.

How many of these blips in life happen to everybody and all we have is the oral record of them and then some seem so far-fetched that no one believes them.


Pondering pills

The OMOTM have covered this topic before and maybe more than once; it is the number of pills some of the OFs take in the course of a day. One OF went through a new experience last week and that was having a stent put in his heart.

Today, this is so common it is like having the tonsils removed. However, with this OF, some pills were added to his already bouquet of pills.

On Tuesday morning, the OF took a handful of pills before eating, which was commented on, and the OF said he takes more pills than this at night. The pharmaceutical companies must love this OG. 

Now the question came up: How do the pills know where to go? How does a pill for the prostate know to go just to the prostate?

One OF said that he thinks some of the time it doesn’t and that is why we have all these awful side effects. The listing of the side effects is scary, some get to the final side of the medicine as even death. Now that is a side effect!

Many of the OFs claim they do the same thing they do a lot of in the hospital: They plop the whole wad of pills in their mouths at the same time. What in blazes must your body think is going on when this whole concoction of medicines hits the stomach at the same time? Somehow the body has to figure out what medicine goes where.


What should schools teach?

It is graduation time, and some of the schools have poster-sized photos of the graduating class members on the lawn of the schools. This is a neat touch but was not around when the OMOTM graduated. We were lucky to have Brownie cameras to record the event.

Some of the OFs are glad they are some distance from school because the OFs say they don’t think they could learn what kids have to learn today. Talking in numbers is something the OFs do not understand.

One OF said everything today is just zeros, and ones. That’s all there is. Another OF thought that is how we are going to talk to aliens — zeros and ones, along with do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti, do.

One OF commented the other way. This OF said shop and metalworking should be brought back into school. This OF said that many kids graduating today do not know how to work, or even what work is.

We need carpenters, plumbers, electricians, truck drivers, yes and even more farmers. This OF said that, even with all the disasters going on, the population of the world is increasing and we are going to have to take care of each other.

This OF doesn’t believe it is going to be done with everyone dealing in zeros and ones. Someone is going to have to know how to drive a nail, and measure a board.

Those OFs who drove to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and got there in vehicles designed by kids with their zeros, and ones put together by kids who took shop, or attended BOCES were: Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Ed Goff, Doug Marshall, Frank Fuss, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Roland Tozer, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, George Washburn, Ken Parks, Jake Herzog, Gerry Chartier, John Dab, Paul Guiton, Rev. Jay Francis, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Dick Dexter, Jack Norray, and me, who says it take all kinds, and don’t do away with shop, metalworking, art, or music.

Oh dear, we are into June all ready. On June 6, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. For the ride over early in the morning, the smoke haze was like fog and it smelled like someone was barbecuing in the backyard all the way. When leaving the restaurant, the OFs did not know if the place was on fire or we were going to have the smoke smell all the way home.

Generally at these breakfasts there are more names than notes but last Tuesday morning conversations were so varied there are probably more notes than names, even though we had a good-sized group.

The OMOTM covered ads on TV, the subliminal messages, changing many aspects of society through ads, ads that are so convoluted it is hard to tell what is being sold, ads that are better than the shows, the brilliance of marketing creating a demand for something most people will never need or don’t even want and turning it into a big seller, and the worst promoting through advertising something that is truly bad for the consumer and making it sound desirable and even good.

There are very talented people in this field. So many ads are no more than propaganda.


On the water

The talk of boats continued, it must be that real summer is on the way if we can get rid of this smoke. The discussion was on the use of jet skis on small lakes no larger than big ponds, and lakes that are small lakes.

The noise, and dangerous maneuvers around people using the small areas of water for what they were intended — relaxation, watching the loons, swimming, paddling their kayaks and canoes, just chilling — and along comes one of those things that can cover the width, or length of the body of water in a minute.

Then came the topic of the pontoon boats and how much fun they are on big or small lakes. On the small bodies of water, they are quiet and just putz around and, on the larger lakes, they are large enough to take the whole family out on the water and even have a barbecue. Spend the day on the lake from your own floating platform.


Gas prices

The price of gas makes any activity that uses petrol a little less fun because of the cost, even the price of gas added to the price of the breakfast increases the price of the breakfast.

Then using the formulas for a tip on higher prices makes that gratuity even more. Add all this together, and a little trip out to eat begins not to be so little.


Alternative energy

This led to a discussion on generating electricity with solar, wind, or hydro. Until something better comes along, it may be best to go with one of these sources as imperfect as they may be.

All of them use natural resources to produce the electricity, the batteries, the fuel oil for the plastics to construct the wind towers and turbines, the precious metals for solar panels, and the fuel oil for, again, the plastics and then again solar panel storage batteries.

The power might cut back on the carbon footprint, but sure uses a lot to get there. The big question the OFs came up with is: With the knowledge of today, what is the alternative?

Some even mentioned hydrogen but nothing seems to be done with that yet. There may be many scientists working on other sources including hydrogen but not much is mentioned about these engineers.

There, you young whippersnappers, is a great field to get into, come up with a renewable energy source that neither consumes nor pollutes to arrive at its power.

Nuclear power did not enter into the conversation. There are advocates on all sides, well versed in their opinions, and all much smarter than this scribe.



The OMOTM did mention the lack of rain, and a couple OFs mentioned how thin the hay is this year in our area, and how low the yield has been also. However, at one time, it must have been pretty wet because the trees and flowers this spring have been full and lush.

The OFs mentioned the lilacs, and the phlox. Again in our locality, the spring flowers have the roadside and trips around the towns appear like greenhouses. This generally does not happen without water.



Who our relatives were was a topic being discussed that the scribe did not completely catch — only had one hearing aid; the other is in the shop.

However, genealogy was being discussed and some have had their genealogy researched. This takes time, and considerable effort and the family has to be interested in their past, while others don’t give a hoot on how many times old Uncle Charlie was in the hoosegow.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh because old Uncle Charlie when he was out took time to sire a few more outlaws were: Ed Goff, Frank Fuss, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Pete Whitbeck, Doug Marshall, Russ Pokorny, Jake Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Ted Feurer, Dan Pelletier, Matt Erschen, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

— Photo from John R. Williams

Pete Whitbeck’s Model T is pictured behind his roadster. He gave some of the OFs at Hillbelly’s a ride in it. “To me, it is amazing that there are so many Model T’s running about,” says John R. Williams. “Some of those things are 100 years old. The T is not like those that are old, and rare, with only a few operating. The T has clubs all over the country and there are tons of them still chugging about.”

May 30, the last Tuesday in May, the Old Men of the Mountain traveled to Hillbelly’s in Westerlo for breakfast.

The days are finally getting warm, but the OMOTM say we do need some rain and a couple of OFs added, maybe more than some.

At the breakfast at the Chuck Wagon last week, it was noted that the fired cheap help was back in the good graces of the OF who supplies the chairs for the OFs frequenting his shop to sit in while they watch him work.

So the cheap help is back at full strength ready to chip in or give free advice to the working OF. The “stay tuned” was anti-climatic as nothing really happened.

This scribe is bummed because he showed up at the breakfast at Hillbelly’s (note Google does not like the word Hillbelly’s; even on the net, when searching Hillbelly’s, Google changes it to Hillbilly’s) and the scribe did not have his camera, and he drove to the restaurant in a regular car.

One OMOTM was there with his 1950 Hudson, and another, with his Model T. A ride was given to his entourage who had to bundle up because it was a little chilly at that time of the morning for riding around in an open Model T.

Note to self: Bring the camera to these OF breakfasts. The next thing you know, the OMOTM will be showing up in buggies pulled by horses, or maybe with Fordson tractors hauling wagons.


Remembering when gifts inspired gratitude

It was a beautiful late spring day and the OFs were talking about Christmas and what Christmas was like when the OFs were young. It was nothing like today.

It was the time when the country was just coming out of a depression and entering another war to end all wars. During this time, many of the OFs were from 4 or 5 to about 10 or 11 years old, when receiving one gift was a pleasure because some did not receive anything at all.

The OFs started talking about what they received and how happy they were to get it, or what they were able to get for others with less than a dollar to spend in order to get something for three or four people or maybe even more.

The OFs compared how their Christmases were to how they are today.

As one OF put it, “There is no comparison.”

Another OF said, with his grandkids, there are enough presents to fill the whole living room, while another one commented that, in his case, one of the presents was so large for his grandkid it had to be left in the garage.

One OG said that he would like to go back to one gift per child. He thinks, in his time, kids were much more appreciative of the one gift and it meant something to them. This OF said he remembers the one gift, his grandkids can’t remember any of theirs 10 days later.

“Not only that,” one OF muttered, “none of them even think about sending a thank-you.”

Is it them or us? This was brought up because we had so little.

Did we indulge our kids to the point that they think it is normal and now they try to outdo it by over-indulging their own children? Maybe we are looking at the culprit when we look in the mirror. Who knows?

One OF remembered getting 10 cents to purchase a gift (10 cents!). This was a time when smoking was not only OK, but thought to be a good thing.

The OF took his 10 cents and went out to find a gift. After searching for some time, he spotted a nice ashtray and it was four cents.

The OF said he purchased the ash tray for four cents and received his six cents in change, and the OF hung onto that six cents. He heard about not returning the six cents quite sternly, and what he remembers most about that Christmas is not returning the six cents.

Another OF said that, at Christmases in his house on the farm, items were scarce and no matter what was given to you, you took with genuine thanks. It was really a treat that anybody got anything at all because there were 13 kids in the family. Many of the gifts were handmade, and the giver might have worked on these gifts all year.

One OF said he remembered during the war years when everything was scarce getting a bicycle that his father had made from parts of bikes that his dad had scrounged from all over. At that time, the OF said, he thought it was the best looking bike in the world; not only that, but it worked great.

The OF said the gift was so great he was the only kid on his street that had a bike at an age when all his friends should have had one. The bike was the envy of the neighborhood and all the OF’s buddies wanted to ride it.

Today, an OF said, his grandkids think nothing of asking their parents for something at any time let alone Christmas, and the item will have a price tag of hundreds of dollars. This is almost normal because all their friends have one and it’s just a matter of keeping up.

No matter how the Old Men of the Mountain made it to the breakfast, either in a car 99 years old, or one that is so current it is electric, the OMOTM who had breakfast at Hillbelly’s Restaurant in Westerlo were: Frank Fuss, Frank Dees, Rick LaGrange, Miner Stevens, Doug Marshall, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roland Tozer, Jake Herzog, Russ Pokorny, Gerry Chartier and driver Winnie Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt and driver Alice Gable, John Dab, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, and me.

May 23, the sunrise was pink and red all over due to the smoke wafting down from the fires in Canada. On the trip to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, the OMOTM had the opportunity to enjoy this sunrise as harmful to the atmosphere as it is.

A little house keeping: The Old Men roster has a considerable number of names but, as it is an ad-hoc group with no rules and no membership, it is tough to put a finger on how many are really in the OMOTM. What we do have though is a preponderance of similar names and this scribe sometimes in making up the alibi list will miss one with like names.

We have three Johns, three Pauls, two Franks, and two Jakes, with the rest being one of a kind so far. The last meeting, I missed a Frank but there were two in the little notebook used for names and one-word notes of some of the goings-on at the breakfast. So, if the cops or bill collectors are looking for either one of them, they were both at the breakfast the week before this.

Two of the big local news stories — the limo, and the driveway incident — were discussed with many opinions offered. The upstart of the conversation was that the OFs would not want to be on either one of those juries.


Old stuff

The story of stuff. This column often mentions old stuff, and it is no wonder because this is the OMOTM.

By being in this classification, the OFs are a little leery of much of the new stuff. Some because the OFs don’t understand it, and at times to the OMOTM most of the new stuff has a predetermined obsolete date.

As one OF put it: No matter how well the OF takes care of it, when the new stuff reaches its fall-apart date, it falls apart. The GE monitor-top refrigerator was one product mentioned and some of those are still running.

The OFs doubt if one of these new refrigerators that cost as much as a car will last more than 12 years no matter how well taken care of. The OFs are finding out that the quit date on many appliances is about that — 10 to 12 years.

One OF who has multiple old vehicles (and they run) mentioned fixing his “T” (that is a Ford Model T) with some kind of rod that was bent or broken, and then took it for a spin. No wonder the OFs are suspicious of the newer stuff.

One OF said he wouldn’t trade his wife for a newer model anytime. The OF said she is still prettier than most of the younger models with all their Botox, silicon, and tattoos (that are going to be nothing more than black blobs in a few years).

Another OF said there are certain cases where all these processes are necessary, like accidents, birth defects, burns, etc. 

Then it was another thought — think of all the people who would be out of work, and all the businesses shut down if this industry was put down.

Still the OF thought his wife was pretty, smart, and strong like a bull, without this augmentation.

Some OFs can attest to these black blobs; those who have them have no idea now of what they are or when the OF got them.


Some like it hot

Then another topic on individuality entered the discussions and it is a wonder how restaurants handle it.

One OF who has been mentioned before likes most of his food well done — well done to the point of bacon cooked so crisp it looks like charcoal, and toast burnt so it is possible to see through it.

Then another OF will like the same items the way most people like them. Then maybe some other OF will like the same items differently all together.

Most restaurant staffers take all this in stride and keep a smile on their faces, where, if it were the OFs waiting on the public, they would probably say, take it and eat it or go someplace else.

Again, maybe that is why there are so many restaurants with all different kinds of titles for the types of food they prepare; now the OFs have many choices.

The restaurant of Mom has a motto: I cook it, you eat it, clean your plate, and there will be no comments.

No matter the name of the restaurant, or how food is cooked, if it is reasonable, hot, and plenty, the Old Men of the Mountain are generally happy, and Tuesday the OGs were happy at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. All those OMOTM who jumped in their vehicles and headed to the Chuck Wagon were: Miner Stevens, Jake Lederman, John Muller, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Doug Marshal, Frank Fuss, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Russ Pokorny, Frank Dees, Dick Dexter, Herb Bahrmann, Joe Rack, Jake Herzog, Paul Guiton, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, John Dab, and me.