The drive to Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow on Tuesday, June 26, made the whole day. The air was so clear the Old Men of the Mountain mentioned being able to see people across the valley on the Catskill Mountains up and about.

The view was from Route 358 outside of Rensselaerville heading south. Many OFs go over the mountain and comment on this view.

One OF mentioned having quite an experience while having a meal at the Maple on the Lake Restaurant on Warners Lake. While eating, a friend sitting at a table next to the OF pointed out the window and said, “Wow look at that!”

The OF and his wife turned and looked (along with other patrons) to the indicated area in the sky. There was a bald eagle flying in the sky about 100 feet up and cruising toward the restaurant.

Suddenly the eagle made a sharp left turn and dove toward the water. Just in front of the dock in front of the restaurant, out came his feet and the eagle snaked a fish out of the water. This happened about 40 yards from the restaurant. The eagle taking the fish in his talons flew toward the other shore not more than three to four feet above the water the whole distance.

After hearing about this amazing display, another OF said, “Yep, they do that all the time.”

This OF told how his camp is on the other shore and the eagle’s nest is just about in front of his camp. Many times, these birds eat their catch on his front lawn and it isn’t always fish — sometimes it is birds. The OF claims it is an awful mess because quite often the eagles don’t eat the whole victim and he has to go out and clean up his yard; otherwise, it stinks up the whole place.

The friend of the OF who spotted the eagle boats on Thompsons Lake and he said there are two pairs of eagles nesting on that lake. This is really wow time.

The OFs remembered many years ago when bald eagles were on the endangered list. They’re not on the list anymore. One OF mentioned how great it would be if this worked on all endangered species and if they could have that same satisfactory rebound. Sadly, life doesn’t seem to work that way.

Another OF mentioned that we do have some big birds in our neck of the woods. Thacher Park is loaded with turkey vultures, and part5 of the park now is the Nature Center and it has eagles. These birds are just like small planes.

The wing span on the eagle can approach seven feet and on the turkey vulture, six feet. The OF who lives in the camp on Warners Lake said it is fun to watch the little birds harass the eagles just like they do crows. This OF said they are dive-bombing them all the time and driving the eagles nuts trying to get away.

The OFs continued in the bird vein and started talking about talking birds and how many of them had friends who owned one or more of these birds. One OF said that, to him, it is necessary to concentrate and listen to make out what the birds are saying.

Another OF said a friend of his has a gray parrot that talks up a storm. The OF said the parrot can bark like a dog, and meow like a cat, and repeat words basically in the accent of the person who asked it to speak. This OF said his friend’s parrot mimics the sounds it hears and is able to repeat a man’s voice with the low tones of a man and vice-versa with a female.

One OF thought this must take a lot of patience to train a bird to do this. Another OF said that he had a friend that had a parakeet that he trained to talk. The OF said this friend was a Chevrolet dealer when dealers sold only one make of car or truck and to that dealer they were the best, and the dealers were loyal to the brand. Today one dealer sells everything and, if you don’t like the Chevy, he will just as soon sell you a Toyota.

The OF said the parakeet’s cage door was open and that bird flew all over the house. This OF’s friend taught the parakeet to say “p-h-o-r-d Ford piece of junk” only the last word wasn’t junk — and the bird flew all over house squawking that statement and his name.

The bird would also fly up to you and say, “Love you.” The OF said some of it was pretty clear but some of the bird’s chatter made it necessary to concentrate to make out what he was saying.

Hornet’s nest

Now for something completely different: The conversation at this scribe’s end of the table (which included about 14 OFs) was about Spectrum. What an uproar that caused.

One or more OF called Spectrum out-and-out criminals in their opinion. One OF told about getting so mad at Spectrum that he purchased a new 40-inch TV that is like a computer.  He then dropped Spectrum and went to streaming.

The OF with the new TV tried to explain how it worked to the rest of the OFs. Some grasped how to operate the TV while others did not quite get it.

Some OFs said, in their opinion, the company out-and-out lies on what it can do and its services rot. Others said you ask for help and get nothing or are sent to India where it is almost impossible to understand them.

The cry went up: Bring back Time Warner; as much as the OFs yapped about Time Warner, at least they were customer-oriented. If you needed help, Time Warner took care of it and the OF would be talking to somebody in Utica. Boy, did the simple comment about Spectrum stir up a hornet’s nest.  

Those Old Men of the Mountain who got up and out on a beautiful morning and made it to Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow, were: Pete Whitbeck, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Ted Willsey, Dave Williams, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Don Wood, Russ Pokorny, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Joe Ketzer, Otis Lawyer, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Warren Willsey, Winnie Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Allen DeMis, Bob Donnelly, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

A bit of history — now gone, but not forgotten.

This Tuesday, June 19, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café in Altamont. Redundancy is a habit of the OFs, along with most people who are over 60, and so is this little weekly message.

Therefore, to be redundant, this scribe is always amazed how one waitress can handle all the OFs, and the regular patrons, all alone (duh, if there is only one, she have to be alone). Tuesday morning, there were 29 OFs plus 16 regular patrons and one waitress. The young lady never lost her composure. What goes on in the kitchen, the OFs have no idea.

One OF brought in a note someone gave him in an envelope with a 3-cent stamp on it. This stamp was issued by the United Post Office, June 21, 1955, and commemorated the Old Man of the Mountain rock formation in Franconia, New Hampshire. This rock formation tumbled to the bottom of the mountain on Saturday, May 3, 2003. That must have made quite a noise, and sadly, it is no more.

The OF who brought in the stamp is the same OF who, when the Old Man in the Mountain quarter was made to represent the state of New Hampshire, purchased a slew of them. He then proceeded to solder clasp pins to the back of the quarters and handed these quarters out to the OMOTM when he finished them. Many of the OFs then pinned the quarters on their OMOTM hats and wear them to this day.

This scribe, after looking at this 3-cent stamp and the envelope, wanted to make a record of these items for the OMOTM’s folder. That is when today’s technology entered into the conversation.

Technology nowadays, which is so commonplace to many, yet is only fascinating to others (particularly this scribe) along with really older folks. Because the envelope had so much character with the stamp attached, this scribe asked the OF if he could take it home and scan it into his computer.

Sitting at the table were three other OMOTM and they all had these super-duper phones. One OMOTM said he wanted to take a picture of the stamp, and he did. When they heard what this scribe wanted to do, the same OMOTM said he would take pictures of the stamp and envelope and send these pictures to the scribe’s computer.

He took the pictures, asked for this scribe’s email address, typed the first three letters into his phone, and up popped this scribe’s email address. The OMOTM hit “send” and, in seconds, the phone recorded “sent.”

This scribe trusted the electronic transfer so much he gave the envelope back to the OF who brought it in.  The whole transaction took just seconds. Amazing.

When this scribe returned home, he went immediately to his computer to check it out. There it was, in all its glory — tattered envelope, Old Man of the Mountain, 3-cent, green stamp, glory.

Some of the OMOTM know Franconia and the face of the mountain well because they have been there. When that face in the mountain was protruding out of the mountainside, quite a tourist community developed around the area.

There were puzzles, paintings, photographs, and all kinds of touristy items for sale. Pick up a mug with the image on it, turn it over, and it says “Made in China.” There is a stream that runs below the mountain and one OF said he brought his pole and actually caught fish in that stream.

No one has mentioned going back to Franconia since the figure has collapsed to the base of the mountain and become just a pile of rubble.

Hot times

As most OFs could attest, June 18 was a tad on the warm side; actually, it was really hot. The OFs talked about how they managed to stay cool. Basically it was by doing nothing, except one OF mentioned he mowed his lawn.

This conversation occurred only at one corner of the table. Some of the other OFs may have been busy doing something but what it was, was unknown. The smartest thing for those of the senior set is to take it easy when it is hot and humid.

Collision course

One never knows what is going to jump out in front of your vehicle when cruising down the highway. One OF reported that the grill on his truck is all smashed.

The OF claimed to have hit a coyote while driving on Carman Road just by Hannaford on Route 20.This is the first report of an OMOTM having his vehicle and coyote come in contact with one another and not on a country road to do it.

The animals are moving to suburbia. Generally, the OFs hit rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, the occasional woodchuck, and sometimes a bird, which does not manage to make it to the slip stream and gets whopped, but this is our first coyote. Oh!

It was remembered that, a while back, two OFs clipped a peacock in flight. The two OFs thought it was an airplane coming down the road and they ducked under the dash. They stopped and the peacock was at the side of the road. Just as they approached it, this bird got up, shook out its feathers, and gave the OFs a dirty look and took off.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who greeted the workers at the Home Front Café in Altamont with a cheery “Good Morning and where is the coffee?” were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Henry Whipple, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Karl Remmers, John DeMis, Ted Willsey, Herb Sawotka, Joe Ketzer, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, a bunch of guys were hatched. These guys did not like where they were; it was hot and dusty. There was little color — the dust was a dull gray-green, and the only things living there (other than these guys) were bugs roaming this colorless place.

Over time, they constructed a huge trebuchet (an improved form of a catapult) from the few large trees found on this whirling boulder. When ready, they climbed into the basket at the end of the arm, bound themselves with twine in a big ball, released the trigger, and hurled themselves into space.

After some time flying through the dark void of space, they spotted off in the distance a tiny, bright blue dot.

“Wow,” they exclaimed. “Let’s head there,” and they did.

The most pleasant place they spotted on this blue celestial ball was a small range of hills between two little lakes; it was beautiful. By twisting and turning, the men guided their human ball to that area and landed.

That was a long, long, time ago, but on Tuesday morning, June 12, 6018 (years from their auspicious landing, using their calendar) these green-gray planet guys are still meeting, this time at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, New York. They now have a title.  They are called “The Old Men of the Mountain” and still roam the hills they love.

Gas Up

This time each year, on a farm between Schoharie and Gallupville, the Gas Up is held. Many of the OMOTM make a trip to this event to meet “old friends.” These so-called “friends” do not have two or even four legs, but they are a replacement for their old farm equipment.

The old “friends” include old engines, old cars, old trucks, and sometimes really old flesh-and-blood friends.

The OFs discussed some of the changes made at the Gas Up and one of the things they missed was the Reformed Church of Schoharie running the eat, meet, and greet shack on top of the hill this year.  However, there is still the homemade ice cream. The event was larger this year with more equipment.

When the OFs were younger, they would spend the whole day at the Gas Up but, like everything else, as they get older, the legs and the body doesn’t allow many of them to do that. As quite often with the older OFs, the mind says one thing and the body says another.

It does the heart good anyway — for the guys that like to mess with this older method of producing power — just to smell the mixture of gas and oil, hear the putt-putt-putt of the hit-and-miss engine, the flap of the flat belts as they run old rusty equipment like it was new, and the whine of the buzz saws cutting wood. It is different.

Parking is free, and the event is by donation, which is a plus for the OFs. There are youngsters at the Gas Up, quite a few to be exact, which is good to see.

A few OFs interjected that not all the young kids are becoming cross-eyed from staring all day at a 3 x 4 screen six inches from their nose.

Catching carpenter bees

Last week, the column included a section on carpenter bees. This week, an OMOTM (who also belongs to the Kiwanis) brought in some carpenter bee traps that the Kiwanis are making and selling.

They were a hit with some of the OFs who are having problems with these bees. The OF said they work exceptionally well, and use no poison of any kind. This OF sold two traps immediately to some OFs at Tuesday morning’s breakfast.

The OMOTM recommend if you are having problems with these critters to contact the Kiwanis in Altamont and maybe your problem will be solved. A couple of OFs said it is more fun swatting them though with a racket than catching them in a trap.

Kids lack municipal jobs

The OFs wondered what happened to all the summer jobs that school kids could get working with the city and towns, and even with the county. It really gave them something to do; they did jobs like mowing the park, painting fire hydrants and cleaning around them. Painting and fixing up town barn buildings, they did lots of things to improve the appearance of the town. One OF said they even worked in Thacher Park.

Another OF said that he heard it was the child labor laws and the kids were not allowed to do this work.

A third OF responded, “What, I was driving a tractor mowing hay when I was 9! Whose cockamamie idea was that?”

Another OF said he heard it was the public service employee unions that complained kids were taking jobs away from the regular employees who could be doing that work. If the state, county, or town needed more regular employees to do this work, it would give more people jobs (instead of part-time jobs to kids to do the work).

In either case, whichever is right or not right at all, the kids find themselves looking for other programs or part-time jobs to keep them active during the summer months.

One OF said, “Believe it or not, the kids would rather be doing something other than just leaning against a tree staring at their phones like many people think.”

Those OFs who hit on the Helderbergs as a beautiful place to live (and who continue to feel that way) maintain their connection every Tuesday and those OFs who met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, were: Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Shafer, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Russ Pokorny, Herb Bahrmann, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Art Frament, Ray Kennedy, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Duncan Bellinger, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

It was a really good Tuesday morning on June 5 with the Old Men of the Mountain meeting at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg.  All the morning welcomers acknowledged each group of OMOTM as they came into the restaurant.

This is similar to the opening of the old TV show “Cheers” — only the places the OMOTM visit on Tuesday mornings are not the type of places that promote “cirrhosis of the liver.”

(This scribe, after typing the morning opening, thought about the name of a large boat which was parked at a dock on the Route 5S side of the Mohawk River near a nice restaurant just south of the Fonda-Fultonville bridge. The boat was named “Cirrhosis of the River.”)

Now is the time for new birth. Eggs are hatching, young rabbits are scurrying, and the deer are having their young.

Two OFs mentioned spotting young fawns along the side of the road. One OF brought in a picture of a fawn (he took the picture with his phone) which had to be no more than a few hours old. This, too, was alongside the road.

The OFs thought that these young animals — being brought up right alongside the highway — are either going to be very road-wise and look in both directions before crossing, or they are not going to pay any attention to vehicles; they will just leisurely cross the road because the road sounds will be so familiar to them.  

Along with this new birthing time, the OFs mentioned how few of the little creatures we see now. Woodchucks were a prime example of this dialogue; raccoons were another, and even skunks were mentioned.

The OFs said that, when one of these youngsters is spotted, it is noted what, when, and where, and so can be brought up as conversation fodder at these breakfasts.  

However, there are always exceptions. Some exceptions that have been seen in abundance this year are carpenter bees. They seem to be all over the place.

A short discussion followed on what to do to get rid of these bees because of the damage they do. The consensus was: “There is not much we can do.”

The most positive solution was to get a tennis or badminton racket and swat them to the ground and step on them. This sounds cruel, but it’s necessary, if the OF doesn’t want his house or shed falling down.

OFs take their time

One OF uttered a very true statement that included all the OFs. The OF noted that, when the OFs were contemplating a project together with other OFs, it now takes three of us to craft something impressive, as well as four times the amount of time.

He continued, “You guys are talking like we will go and work on this job and it will be over in an hour or so. Not so; I better plan on having supper at your house.” Pretty clever, some of these OFs.

Going back in time

The OFs talked about back in time. Like this scribe says, the OFs are time-jumpers.

This time, they were talking about (way back) carrying with them baling twine or baling wire, friction tape, a hammer, a pair of pliers, and a screwdriver so it was possible to fix anything. Now the OFs say all that is needed is a roll of duct tape and wrap “it” up and “it” is good to go.

However, one OF said there are way too many products made now that are so complicated all the OFs can do is stand and stare at whatever it is no matter how many tools they have. One OF said it is impossible to find bailing wire now anyway and who knows what friction tape is.

Memorial Day

A couple of weeks ago, it was Memorial Day and the OFs were discussing what they did with parades and family get-togethers and visiting gravesites. The OFs who had been in the military did the same and some attended the ceremonies in the small town in which they lived that represented the meaning of the day.

But some of the OFs mentioned that the crowds that used to be in attendance at these occasions seemed to be getting smaller and some events were even canceled.

One OG’s family worked very hard on Memorial Day. The work they did made Memorial Day much more pleasant for others, and saved a lot of moms, and maybe dads, a ton of work.

This OF’s family put on a public chicken barbecue in front of the Knox Reformed Church. That is one way to celebrate the holiday, and help others celebrate it at the same time.

Then there were those who worked on and in parades, or participated at ceremonies that honored the veterans. Even the OFs who were physically unable to participate went to watch those who were marching, so the marchers are not parading just for the cows and horses.

The OFs who made it especially early to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg (it may be the sun that gets them up) were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Art Frament, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Wayne Gaul, Gerry Irwin, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Joe Rack, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Allen DeFazzo, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

On a rare pleasant day for the Old Men of the Mountain, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie on Tuesday, May 29, to discuss whatever happened the week before.

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