A beautifully restored 1933 M.G., like this one, was a standout at a huge car show recently attended by some of The Old Men of the Mountain.

Finally! A Tuesday when it wasn’t foggy, with rain or drizzle, hampering the drive to whatever restaurant was on the list for Tuesday.

This past Tuesday, it happened to be the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, and still a couple of carloads of Old Men of the Mountain were left wandering around the hills because of unexpected detours, twisting the OMOTM around. As one OF put it, it is election time and some the roads are being fixed or at least patched.

At Tuesday morning’s breakfast, some of the OFs reported on a boat trip they made up the Hudson River from Coxsackie to Albany on one of the OF’s boats. From their report, the weather was perfect and a great day for boating.

This was rare; the OFs said we have not had many of these lately. The captain of this crew said one of the OFs took the trip for just what it was supposed to be. He sprawled out on the back seat and took the whole seat up for the entire trip.

He did perk up when they were passing a huge beautiful yacht. The OFs had quite a time reporting on how large this yacht was; the OFs said it was painted gold.

It was also, according to these OFs, decorated in the Art Deco style, and was being piloted by a couple who apparently considered clothes optional. It was that aspect that perked up the old gent in the back seat.

The captain reported he was unable to partake in this short show because at the time they were passing the yacht there was a tug boat approaching and he had to navigate the waters with the swells from these larger boats, and he was trying hard not to run into either one of them.

When cars and phones were simpler

This gets so redundant but, with a bunch of OFs, it is to be expected. Again, some of the OFs attended a huge car show in Pennsylvania.

And to these OFs the hit of the show was a 1933 M.G. This was beautifully a restored vehicle. To the OFs, one would think it would be something more upscale that caught their eye.

One OF said that when he was younger — much younger — sports cars were his thing, The OF said that he went through the ranks and graduated to a Jaguar XK 120 CM (coupe modified), which is a vehicle he should have kept, but being young, “What did I know?” the OF asked. That car could be his retirement today.

Another OF said we all have cars we would like to get back. The new ones may be nice, but they don’t seem to have any character. Another OF brought up that he thinks that goes for just plain older folks — not only for vehicles but other items also.

Then one old goat said, “Don’t go into the past” because he likes things the way they are now.

Some thought the OG may be right in a way because, when we were in our forties, we would always show up at the dealerships and see what the newest vehicles were and what they could do differently, etc. However, somewhere along the line things changed and the new didn’t seem that new or interesting. Then it got out of hand and we wanted the vehicle we had in the 1950s.

Another example cited was the old-fashioned rotary phone. They were easy to understand. Just insert your index finger in the hole on the dial and twist — that was it. It wasn’t necessary to go to school to learn how to use your phone.

Dealing with critters and crickets

The OFs began talking about the amount of small critters we have this fall like field mice, chipmunks, squirrels, and assorted other beetles and bugs that want to get into the house to keep warm this time of year.

One OF told of a nest of chipmunks he had in his place and, after a little patience and pest-detective work, he found where they were getting in and he plugged up the hole with a piece of tin. That, the OF said, worked for a little while, then he heard them again in the same spot where they must have returned to the nest.

This time, through the same detective work, he found they worked their way up through the cellar. It was suggested he get some live traps and haul those suckers away.

One OF suggested rat traps. Another, who spoke from experience, said the chipmunks just haul those things away and then they die someplace and smell like a dead rat.

A second OF said, “What do you do with them after you trap them in a live trap?”

The other retorted, “I’ll haul them to your place — you have 20 acres.”

“Yeah right,” the second OF said. “You start pulling that stunt and I’ll trap skunks and bring them to you.”

Oh, the comradery of this group called the OMOTM.

It went from this to trying to locate a cricket in the house, and the OFs mentioned how much damage those bugs can do once they get in. A couple of OFs agreed, but this is one of the insects the OFs said they have not seen much of lately.

A cricket in the house can be a tough one to locate even though they advertise quite loudly where they are. One OF thought they were ventriloquists, because when they announce where they are, they show up someplace else.

Grasshoppers were another creepy-crawly that an OF said he thinks are on the decline because he has not noticed many.

Those OFs who are planning on being the mighty great hunters of mice, chipmunks, and crickets and who made it to the Middleburgh Diner were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Roger Shafer, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Rev. Jay Francis, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Duncan Bellinger, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

My goodness, Magee — last week, there was fog and drizzle and there it was again this week, Tuesday Oct. 9, when the Old Men of the Mountain met at Pop’s Place (formerly the West Wind Diner) in Preston Hollow.

The Old Men of the Mountain had this miserable driving condition the whole way. With a detour on the mountain that was unexpected, and in no man’s land with the fog and drizzle, two carloads of OMOTM got lost in the hills. Another carload missed a turn they take almost daily because they could not see and they had no idea where they were in the dark and fog.

Just like last week in the fog and drizzle, some were driving by the entrance of the restaurant because the OF doing the driving did not know where they were, and did not even see the restaurant, let alone the driveway to the parking lot.

We are talking early morning here; the sun hadn’t even had a hint of showing up yet. This last carload had to do the same thing the OFs did last week — find a building with lights on and turn around.

The OMOTM think the weather being sleep-in weather was the reason for a low turnout at Pop’s Place.  Most of the OFs who didn’t show also had missed the experience of getting cows for milking many times (in their farming days) on the same type of morning.

Some of the OFs did not get to really enjoy the experience of hearing the cows mill around early in the morning before the sun comes up, or seeing cows waiting at the gate in the fog of late summer to early fall. For the ones who missed that occurrence, there was something about it that made the world feel like everything is going to be all right.

The OF who was returning to his winter home and had the snake problem brought lots of talk about snakes, and snake incidents at Tuesday morning’s breakfast. It appears that most everyone has one snake story or another to relate — some in size, others in quantity, and others in location.

The discussions centered on if the snakes were of the nasty kind, or if they were just the regular garden variety. These were the major topics. The OFs have had their run-in with rattlers, both here and in the South. Some of the OFs told of signs in the western part of the country advising people to stay on the provided path because of these critters.

One OF told of such signs at the Very Large Array in New Mexico that not only advised visitors to stay on the path because of these snakes but their sign also warned visitors to be aware of lightning strikes.

This OF and friends wondered how anyone could do that. The snake they could see but, with a lightning strike, by the time they noticed it, it would be too late to do anything about it.

The OFs wondered why so many people are leery of snakes. Some of the OFs say snakes don’t usually bother them, but can when they are not expecting them to be around. If one wiggles across his path, the OF is startled.

One OF mentioned finding a nest of rock snakes. These snakes are in our area but rare. They are harmless and beautiful; finding a nest of them is rarer yet.

The OFs discuss snakes on occasion but Tuesday morning the OFs covered the black snakes, garter snakes, milk snakes and, of course, the kind the OFs don’t want to mess with — the copperheads and the rattlesnakes. Those two can be found in the OFs’ territory but fortunately they are rarer than the rock snake.

One OF said he developed a relationship with an average-sized garter snake while painting the sunny side of his barn. The OF said he noticed the snake curled up in the sun in front of the barn and paid no attention to it. The snake stayed there while he worked around it.

The next day, he put the cat’s milk dish out where the snake was and the snake came to it, curled up, and stayed there while he painted. Each day for six days, the OF and the snake met to paint the barn.

Schoharie intersection

Outside of the diner on nice days some, if not most of the OFs, gather and continue to shoot the bull. Tuesday morning, a group discussed the tragedy in Schoharie, where a limo crashed, killing 20 people. Most of the OFs know this intersection well and the OFs’ conversation went back to when the intersection was a Y at the bottom.

The OFs agree this T-intersection is much better. Some of the OFs have come down this hill with an old K9 International Truck loaded with hay and had to make that turn and then look through the cab to the right in order to continue on to Schoharie.

Way back then, it was a trick to pull out onto Route 30. Some OFs had just been down that hill and the T-intersection with no problem.

Common ailments

A common thread that sews old people together is their health, their doctors, their aches and pains, their operations, and their spare parts. Sometimes the thread could be kids, but not all old people had kids, but aches and pains they all have.

Sometimes this thread is food, but so many old people have diet restrictions food is not the thread, but doctor visits they all have. So it is with the OMOTM.

Tuesday, there were discussions on operations and, in this case, one OF has had one knee done and the other knee requires the same type of repair.

“No way,” this OF says.

He is going to do without it. Right now, he handles the pain by keeping off the bad knee, and using Tylenol when he has to go someplace where walking is necessary.

This sentiment was echoed by other OFs who have had some similar operations, put up with them for years, and now are questioning if the operation was worth it. Some, however, say the operation may have stiffened them up some but the pain is gone.

It is a Catch-22. One OF said it all depends on your sawbones — if he knows what he is doing or not.

One OF suggested it is the OFs themselves. If the OF does not do the physical therapy completely, he is going to get stiff, and may still have some hurt.

“Look,” one OF said, “it is the practice of medicine and the doctors are all still practicing.”

The OFs groaned at this because they have heard it so many times. However, most of the OFs are happy with the doctors they have.

Condolences

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer our sympathies, condolences, thoughts, and prayers to all those who lost their lives in the accident at routes 30 and 30A in Schoharie. It is tragic and was completely preventable.  

Those OFs who made it to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow, regardless of their physical conditions, were: Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Pete Whitbeck, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Marty Herzog, Jim Rissacher, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter (it’s a small world after all, Amy is the cook and runs the diner and Mace is her great-uncle), Herb Bahrmann, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

The Tuesday of Oct. 2, the Old Men of the Mountain headed to the Chuck Wagon Diner.

The Chuck Wagon in Princetown is one of the furthest that the OFs who live in Middleburgh and beyond have to travel to have breakfast. This Tuesday was almost completely shrouded in dense fog.

Some OMOTM leave at 5 or 6 in the morning and, in this “soup,” that is dedication. One set of OFs drove right on by the diner because of oncoming traffic and not having a clue to the surrounding geography and where they were.

Actually, the OFs knew where they were; they just didn’t know where the diner was. These OFs had to drive all the way to the bank in Duanesburg where there was enough light to negotiate a turn-around once they realized they missed the restaurant’s parking-lot entrance.

Military habits

At the table where this scribe sat, one of the topics talked about was the Korean War, but not the battles, as these were Navy men. These OFs discussed what conditions were like when they were onboard ships.

One OF was on a ship like the Slater (which is now docked at Albany) and another OF was on the aircraft carrier, the Wasp, and the conditions they experienced then is nothing like the experiences now. One connection, no matter the branch of service, was these experiences and comradery that developed by serving in the military. These friendships carry over, and in many cases lifelong friendships developed.

One thing that did develop was the habit of smoking. The OFs mentioned they picked up the problem of smoking while in the military, whether it was Army, Navy, or Marines. Cigarettes were made plentiful, cheap, and often times encouraged. Those in charge considered the cigarette a stress reliever and a good way to keep the OFs alert while on watch.

The OFs at this scribe’s table all picked up the habit and continued it even after their discharge. One OF admitted he became a three-pack-a-day smoker of unfiltered Camel cigarettes.

All of the same OFs at the table are now non-smokers and quit quite a while ago. The OF who was a three-pack-a-day smoker said he looked at a cigarette he was about to light, took it, and threw it away.  The OF has never smoked since.

All said there was almost an immediate change in their health for the better. The earliest sensation the OFs noticed that improved was energy, taste, and smell. This scribe thinks that is why they are now part of this group.

This scribe has never smoked, but then again, he was never in the military. When he went with a group of buddies to sign up, the military didn’t want him, and classified this scribe as 4F.

This scribe was deeply disappointed and thought the board was wrong; only later on, he found out they were right. How the problem eluded this scribe’s doctors for years (and it wasn’t until this scribe was 60-something) before the problem was found and corrected.

Rattler alert

These reunions and get-togethers covered most of the conversation Tuesday morning, with a few side conversations thrown in. These were the typical exchanges on who saw the biggest car show etc., and then one snow bird who was preparing to leave the next day said that the place where they go (which is near Disney) sent a notice to all who were returning to be prepared for some changes.

One was that they were to keep pets indoors unless being walked. When out being walked, the pets and the people walking them were to stay on the pavement, be careful, and not get off in the grass. This is because the grass is now infested with rattlesnakes.

Well, there is a big whoop! We think this OF should hang around here for awhile longer until they (whoever they are) solves that little problem. By the way, rattlesnakes are not an endangered species and the snake skin makes good belts and boots.

Travelers’ tales

It is always interesting when someone travels and they meet someone that has been to where they have been and the traveler can say, “Did you do this or that,” or, “Stay here, or eat here,” and the person can say, “Yes, I also did that.”

This is the case of one of the OFs at the table. An OF said, “While in Mississippi, did you eat at The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint in Ocean Springs?”

The other OF said, “Yes, we did. Isn’t that some kind of place? The food was great.”

So these OFs started telling the rest of us all about The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint in Mississippi. If anyone is interested in what these OFs were talking about, you could Google it at the shed.com.

It is not necessary to type the whole thing; as soon as you start, it pops right up. This place does look unusual. Both OFs say it is like eating in a clothing store and a junkyard at the same time, and it is all open to the elements. Sounds like the OFs’ kind of place.

Those OFs that are still able to travel and who are ambulatory and willing to share their stories to the rest of the OFs are much appreciated.

All the OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, travelers or not, were: Roger Shafer, Pete Whitbeck, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Art Frament, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Warren Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Rev. Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

It was another rainy Tuesday on Sept. 25 when the Old Men of the Mountain traveled to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg.

In the direction that many of the OMOTM travel, they are bucking early morning traffic of those hustling off to work in the cities. The early morning brings its share of headlights greeting the OFs as they head in the other direction.

Add the flip-flop of the windshield wipers as they swish back and forth, wiping the water off the windshield when it is raining, and the OFs have a dark, early morning motoring challenge. The OFs aren’t complaining; the OFs thank all these cars on the road headed to work — saying, “Thank you, keep those Social Security checks rolling; we did this (work) for many years.”

The OMOTM by name have, over the years, accrued many items and most were necessary purchases. The problem is some, if not most, of these “things” are no longer necessary or have worn out, and where are these items now located? Well, surprise! The OFs have still got them.

At Tuesday’s breakfast, the OFs were talking about lawn mowers that do not work and have been replaced by newer ones, and TVs in the garage that are so obsolete that they are not even good for parts. The same goes for computers, hot-water heaters, and washers and dryers.

For one OF, it is shoes and boots. The mantra that was being displayed at this breakfast was, “I don’t want it!”

“So take it to the dump,” came a somewhat unison reply.

One OF said that he has hung on to some of this junk for so long it will now take a truck to haul it to the dump. Another OF thought it would be slick to gather all the old appliances, old chimney caps, old wood stoves, just plain old this and that, and pile it in the front yard.

Then have a few people look at it and arrange the pile into what in the OF’s opinion would be interesting, give it a name, make a sign, stick it in front of the pile and in the name of art call it (free form sculpture) and leave it there.

One OF picked up on this and said, “I have some stuff that I could bring and add to this pile.”

“Hey,” said the OFs, “we all could contribute to this, take pictures of it, and put it on the ’net.”

Some of the OFs thought this would be cool.

One OF said, “The pile could be built around an old telephone pole I have, and the OFs that have big bucket loaders could lift up an old decrepit riding lawn mower with a mannequin driver and cap the whole business.”

This met with considerable approval. The drawback was: What OF would let this so-called work of art be constructed in his front yard? The OMOTM have the collection, and the wherewithal, but ran short when it came to location.

So it still came down to “Take it to the dump.”

How colorful will the leaves be?

At the scribe’s end of the table, the conversations were quite redundant — e.g., hunting, boats, lawn mowers, old cars, old-car parts, model Ts, hearing aids, the weather, and then seasonal questions came up like: “What are we going to do this fall?” and “What do you think this fall will be like?”

One OF thought it should be exceptional because of how much the foliage grew this summer with the almost tropical weather we had in our area. If all these trees turn color without a heavy rain storm or high winds (when they are at high peak in changing), it is going to be a great fall to have the camera ready.

Others thought this fall would be like the summer — warm, wet, and dull.

This is one topic where we should make notes to see who is right or wrong; however, we all have to wait and see how it turns out. One OF says there is an area near his place that is about a quarter-mile stretch of road lined with maples and a couple of oaks.

He has taken pictures of this vicinity from the same spot for about five or six years. The trees grow some each year, but it is hardly noticeable.

Still, this year it is different — the growth is noticeable. Previously, the color of the trees, no matter what, was about the same. This year the OF thinks it will be no different — the color will be about the same.

Fooling the calendar

Another OF mentioned that many people with boats go by the calendar and take their boats out of the water when the calendar says to do so. This OF said that this year it is still good boating and fishing weather and his boat is still in the water. Even in past years, he has done the same by keeping the boat in the water longer then the calendar suggests.

Another OF said that is like buttoning up the house for winter, and putting up the outdoor furniture. Some do it way too soon and miss the nice warm days of fall, and enjoying a fire in the outdoor fireplace.

The bugs and mosquitoes are gone, the evening is darker earlier, the fire seems to crackle better, and this OF said it just seems nicer.

Others don’t like fall at all. They know what is coming and don’t like plowing and shoveling snow. Each to his own. That is what makes life so interesting.

Those Old Men of the Mountain filling up the back room and them some at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg, on a foggy, rainy Tuesday were: Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Shafer, Bill Bartholomew, Art Williams, David Williams, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Allen DeFazzo,  Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

September — and there is a touch of color on the trees, at least in the area the Old Men of the Mountain trod.

On Tuesday, Sept. 18, the Old Men of the Mountain trod in the fog and the rain to the Your Way Café in Schoharie. The number of OFs has dropped some because the snowbirds have already chickened out and headed to their winter haunts. One is still hanging out with us but eventually he, too, will head out.

The OFs commented how green it is this late in the year. One OF, though, mentioned that the bright green and all the yellow of the goldenrod looks like where John Deere took the idea to paint its tractors.

Another OF said it is the Year of the Goldenrod, and the bees should be happy.

Many of the OFs have friends and relatives living in the Carolinas, and the area of the country where Hurricane Florence visited. These OFs have been texting, emailing, and calling to see how they were doing. Fortunately, all received good reports concerning the ones being followed up on.

The OFs recalled Irene, the hurricane of 2011, which hit Schoharie very hard, and how by looking at all the pictures on television (even as bad as it was for our area) most of the pictures of Florence made our storm look like a shower by comparison.

One question was brought up: How are the government and the insurance companies able to keep up with all these recent disasters?

The fires out west and the floods in the South and East have consumed lots of real estate and upset thousand upon thousands of people. These are certainly sad events.

Farming: Past, present, future

There was more conversation on farming (when the OFs were farming) and how it is being impacted now. The OFs only have information now of farmer friends and relatives that are still in the business, along with what they read in the newspapers.

One OF said, “Forget the news on TV.  It is so short on many topics and says nothing that is informative.”

The conversation jumped from farming to political ads on TV and how most of the OFs mute them; one even shuts off the TV, and then turns it back on. A couple of OFs said they basically are done with TV until November. Then it went back to farming.

To go along with how this report has mentioned the demise of many small or medium farms in the past, one add-on is that, in the recent past, the air waves were bombarding us with how bad dairy products and red meat are for you and you shouldn’t be eating this produce.

One OF brought up the fact that many people are going organic so they won’t eat products that have been raised by fertilizers with a load of chemicals added to kill weeds, to add size, and to increase yield. This may be the right path.

Another OF mentioned that, when we were raised, these chemicals were not around. Our fertilizer was good old-fashioned manure, i.e., horse, cow, pig, chicken, and natural compost. The OFs drank milk from the cow or goat; made their own cream and ice cream; and ate red meat, many times from cows raised just for that purpose. No chemicals here.

As the world population grows, it is going to be tough to feed all these people without the use of some of the chemicals to increase the yield of both produce and milk. Maybe as the population continues to expand and people consume more of these foods that have these growth hormones added, they will adjust and develop a tolerance for them.

In years to come, this could be the norm, and possibly people will be living healthier and more productive lives much longer. The OFs think we are living in one gigantic experiment.

Soaked

Most everyone in our area knows it rained hard last Monday night thanks to Hurricane Florence. The OFs with weather instruments were reporting from two to three inches of rain fell.

One OF returned home Monday with a van load of stuff he had to unload. Monday was a beautiful day so the OF came home with the windows down. It took some time to unload the van.

The OF said he went into the house after the van was unloaded. He left the van outside and was going to go out after supper and park the van in the barn. This did not happen.

The OF said he completely forgot about it. Then Tuesday morning, the OF said, he went to go out with the flashlight to get the van to pick up his passengers to go to the breakfast. The OF said when he saw that the van was still outside, he immediately remembered the windows were all down.

Front and back seats were soaked, water was in the door-closing wells, rugs were soaked, and he had passengers to pick up.

The OF said he put pillows on the seats. This did not work and the OF and passengers showed up with wet bottoms because the water soaked through the pillows.

A great way to start the day! Come to find out, the OF found that most all the other OFs have had the same experience at one time or another. Thank goodness for pals! That took some of the sting away from the embarrassment incurred by one OF being so stupid.

The OFs who made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie and who spent a lot of time discussing things of the past and the way they are today were: Pete Whitbeck, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Art Frament, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Roger Chapman, Duncan Bellinger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazio, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

It was on a Tuesday 17 years ago that the Al-Qaeda faction of the Sunni sect of the Islamic religion, through suicide radicals, attacked the United States by hijacking planes and flying them into major buildings in our country.

The attack on the World Trade Center in New York was successful, the attack by Flight 77 into the Pentagon was also successful, but through the bravery of those on board Flight 93, the attack on Washington was not.

This Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, the Old Men of the Mountain met for breakfast at the Country Café in Schoharie and remembered a Tuesday 17 years ago and how it not only changed our country, but also the world.

Life goes on, as it should, but life is full of remembrances. That is what makes it life. Some remembrances are sad, but, thank goodness, most are mundane and happy ones. At the  breakfast, we took some time to reflect on the sad memories; however, most thoughts are the happy ones.

All around Cock Robin’s barn

Tuesday morning, the talk was on how to get around the closing of Route 157 through Thacher Park. The detour signs direct the uninitiated all around Cock Robin’s barn.

Traveling east from East Berne or west from New Salem on Route 157, there is Beaver Dam Road. (Be sure your brakes are in good working order when heading east.) However, if you are driving a big truck or camper or hauling a trailer, this is not the road for you.

One OF told of how he once met a big truck at the turn getting onto Route 157 from Beaver Dam Road at the bottom of the hill.  He had to get out of his car to help guide the truck around the turn. He also had to hold up traffic so the truck could enter Route 157. The truckers and campers better follow the detour signs.

Remember the old song that tells of the singer’s regrets for the choices made in life.

Detour, there’s a muddy road ahead,

Detour, paid no mind to what it said,

Detour, oh, these bitter things I find,

Should have read… that Detour sign.

Ill-gotten treasures

The OFs started telling tales on themselves. When young people are traveling in groups or just standing around, adults have a tendency to keep an eye on them — as they should.

However, according to the OFs, when the seniors (let’s say over age 65) are in groups and go traveling together hither and yon, it is a good idea to keep an eye on them also. Snitching something to keep as a free souvenir is not beneath them.

One OF said, “And I don’t care how many diamond rings they have on their fingers, they still think nothing of snitching a little something.”

Another OF said, “And it is the ladies. When they get back on the bus, they take the silverware, or fancy napkin, or fancy glass out of their pocketbooks and start giggling like schoolgirls over their ill-gotten treasures.”

You gotta watch those seniors.

The nose knows!

On the way to the Country Café, most OFs have to cross the bridge that travels over the Fox Creek. On Tuesday morning, just on the Schoharie side of the bridge, a skunk had been hit. This little altercation was recent because the smell brought tears to the eyes.

Some of the OFs commented by saying, “Did you get a whiff of that skunk by the bridge?” or “That was so strong, I thought I hit the thing.”

But there were a couple who never smelled it. One OF said he has lost his sense of taste and smell; another one said that he gets so full of allergies that he can’t smell much at all. This OF said that, when he starts out each day, he makes sure he has a pocket full of tissues.

Then there were a couple of the OGs who said they smell everything — pleasant or unpleasant. One OF thought we have glasses to help us see, hearing aids to help us hear, but nothing to help us taste or smell. The OFs wondered what a smell aid would look like.

Scottish Games

The OFs are — for the most part — an active lot. One of the OFs is heavily involved with the Scottish Games at the Altamont fairgrounds. It is his band that sponsors the games at the fairgrounds each year.

To pull off an event like the Scottish Games takes a lot of work by all members of the band. Being in a group like pipe bands, fife and drum corps, or drum and bugle corps take dedication from those who have joined them and also from their families.

The Scottish Games at Altamont, according to this OF, can have from 20 to 40 bands, and 40 to 50 vendors and sutlers at the event. (To clarify the term “sutler,” it is an old expression for a civilian merchant who sells provisions to an army).

To round up all these people is no easy task. For those who have not heard the massing of the bands playing altogether at the end of the day, you are missing a very stirring time.

One OF thinks that, with all the costumes, and the music, and the drilling, this is theater at its best. This OF suggests it is like the arts where there is no generation gap.

A talented 15 year-old can play alongside a seasoned veteran and be on a par, behave the same way, and talk the same language as one who is twice his or her age. Becoming involved in the arts and in music is something you can do until you meet the big band in the sky.

Playing football, you are limited to age 35 if you make it big, or until you are out of high school or college if you don’t (make it big). The OFs bit of philosophy for the day — learn to play the fiddle.

Those OFs who made it to the Country Café in Schoharie today and headed home without the shock of 17 years ago were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Roger Shafer, Pete Whitbeck, Art Frament, Marty Herzog, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Wayne Gaul, Rev. Jay Francis, Duncan Bellinger, Jim Rissacher, Warren Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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On Tuesday, Sept. 4, the Old Men of the Mountain gathered at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh.

The week before, the OFs talked about doing laundry. This scribe would like to put in his nickel’s (two cents has gone up) worth.

This is on why make up the bed. Just think of it, those who shower in the morning have slept in the bed with all their daily odors. When they get up, the bed is made up trapping all those odors under layers of blankets and, to be fashionable, a truckload of pillows and shams.

Again — why? What should be done?

— 1. Get rid of all those pillows. They serve no earthly purpose except maybe a little bit of exercise tossing them off the bed to go to bed;

— 2. The footboard on the bed should be at least 2 feet high;

— 3. When rising in the morning, all the covers should be neatly draped over the foot board to air out and also be ready for that night.

This method will not only let both the blankets and the bottom sheets air out, it will also save tons of time and money. By not covering up the sheets so they can air out, all those pillows will not be necessary.

This will upset many designers who use pillows to hide the fact that they can’t design in the first place. Penny’s, Macy’s, Kohl’s Boscov’s and others won’t be too happy either because the stores will have trouble unloading high-ticket, high-profit items that don’t do a thing except collect dust and hold odors.

The above suggestion is only for peons like the OMOTM, and most of our friends. The upper class has the maid change the sheets every day, and turn the blankets down at night.

People like this can have pillows piled to the ceiling. The pillows are probably moved to a gigantic closet when it is time for the owners to retire so they never see them. So speaketh the scribe who is an OMOTM you know.

Med meditation

The OFs cover this topic quite often and it is all on the subject of medications. Some OFs think that the medications to cover one problem cause other problems someplace else.

The OFs think that to be given another med to handle that is dumb. The OFs wonder if long-term meds like those for heart problems, such as blood thinners, cholesterol fighters, channel and beta blockers make the body become so used to those that eventually they are ineffective.

Many of the OFs are on heart meds and they also wonder if it is because of these meds they are still here. Some would like to get off these pills, but are a little leery. Some OFs claim they have no reaction if the OF misses a few pills, while others say, if they are even a couple of hours late, they know they have missed a pill.

One mentioned all the eye drops after cataract surgery. This OF said he has to do this along with taking a bouquet of pills. The OF said he is glad that he can do it. His aunt (who is deceased now) had dementia and people had to give her pills, and place the drops in her eyes.

Last week, the OMOTM column mentioned putting us in a spaceship and shooting it off into the sun. Living like his aunt had to live, the OF said, can’t be much fun.

One OF asked, “Do they even know what is going on?”

Then another said there is enough information out there with answers to these questions in them.

Then a third OF said, “I don’t like reading those pamphlets — they are too depressing.”

Travel guide

One of the OFs is a Warner of Warner Lake, but he was brought up around Winchester, Virginia. At the breakfast on Tuesday morning, he was extolling the virtues of Lake Anna in Virginia.

So this scribe decided to check it out as compared to Lake George and Lake Champlain. Lake Anna is the largest freshwater reservoir in Virginia, and has many navigable coves and inlets on either side of its entire length

It serves as water for a large nuclear plant on its east bank a little better than halfway down the lake. The lake itself is about 13,000 acres and, according to this OF, the land surrounding the lake is sparsely populated. Also, according to him, it is not expensive to stay there. The lake is about one hour from Richmond, and about 45 minutes from Fredericksburg.

In comparing that to our Lake George, Lake George is about 152, 000 acres and about an hour from Albany. Lake Champlain is huge. The New York part of the lake is 435 square miles. It is about one-third the size of Rhode Island and it takes about two hours or more to get there from here.

Lake Anna has Route 95 on the west side and Route 64 on the east side. It is not like Lake George where the interstate travels so close to the lake one can almost get wet.

An OF headed to Lake Anna would have to know how to get there because it is quite a way from either interstate. Now, if you are camper and a kayaker, or a boat enthusiast and want to get out of the state, the OFs recommend Lake Anna in Virginia.

It looks nice and sounds great, according to the OF who does go there often. So much for the travel guide of the OMOTM who never heard of Lake Anna and now want to go there; however, unlike Lake George or Lake Champlain, it takes about eight hours to get there.

Those OFs who don’t get around much anymore, and a few who do and were at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, and think Lake Anna is safe from any invasion by the OFs were: Mr. Harold Guest, Mr. Wally Guest, Captain Roger Chapman, Mr. Dave Williams, Mr. John Rossmann, Mr. George Washburn, Mr. Robie Osterman, Mr. Miner Stevens, Mr. Bill Bartholomew, Travel Guide Mr. Bill Lichliter, Mr. Pete Whitbeck, Mr. Otis Lawyer, Mr. Richard Frank, Mr. Mark Traver, Mr. Glen Patterson, Mr. Joe Rack, Mr. Jake Lederman, Mr. Roger Shafer, Mr. Lou Schenck, Mr. Mace Porter, Mr. Ted Feurer, Mr. Wayne Gaul, Mr. Duncan Bellinger, Mr. Gerry Chartier, Mr. Mike Willsey, Mr. Elwood Vanderbilt, Mr. Rich Vanderbilt, Mr. Harold Grippen, and me.

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On Tuesday, a couple days after the launch of the “Flying Eagle,” the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. It was going to be a hot day and as the OFs arrived many mentioned the morning drive had the look and feel that it was going to be a tad uncomfortable.

The early conversation was about the launch and the OFs who attended this occasion mentioned what a good time they had; the spread the host put on was the quintessence of elegance. Especially the chocolate-white cake. Some think that all OFs do is sit in rocking chairs.

Even on this — what is going to be a hot day — some of the OFs are getting together to help another OF remove some bushings from a shaft of a Model T the OF is restoring. Others also have places to go and things to do even if it is only another doctor’s appointment.

An OF said, and it has been said before, doctors are our social life. So just melting away in a chair with the eyes becoming watery watching TV is not really happening with many OFs.

One OF reported that he is going in to have a cancer removed from his left eyelid. That did not sound like fun to the rest of the OFs.

What steady hands some of these doctors must have to work in such sensitive areas and not think much about it. Having cancer in such a location points up the importance of wearing sunglasses, even at a young age.

Some OFs have had Mohs surgery to remove cancer on their ears. This scribe guesses that it is either large-brimmed hats or sunscreen care as ear muffs in the summer seems a little impractical.

House on a hill

Outside the window of the Middleburgh Diner is a view toward Fultonham along Route 30, but the OFs can’t see very far because there is quite a hill in the way across the flats. On top of this hill is a home.

One OF inquired, “How in the world to they get to this place?”

It must be a large place to stand out like it does on top of this hill with a great view. The local OFs got into a discussion on how to get to the road that goes up that mountain.

Then came another question: “How do the owners do it in the winter time?”

Are cars, and car tires better now than in the past when the OFs remember putting chains on the ole Model A to get around in the winter? Now the TV ads show cars charging through snow bumper deep with snow flying by the car like the wake of water from a boat hightailing across a lake.

Yeah, but notice those cars are in Colorado where the snow is so dry you can clean your car off with a foot of snow on it just by blowing it off. Do the same shot in the Northeast where a good soggy snow is tough to pick up with a snow shovel.

Laundry advice: Keep the kids close by

The OFs started talking a little bit about doing the laundry. One OF (a farmer OF) said one of the reasons farmers had so many kids is so they could help with the chores.

Now, as the OF and the wife are old, the kids pick up their laundry and bring it back. They don’t have to worry about laundry and the same thing happens with getting groceries.

A second OF said his kids have settled all over the country, and even out of the country, and he said the other OF was lucky to have his kids around. This second OF said he had to learn to do laundry himself.

He said he finally got the laundry to the point where it is not that bad to wash. His sheets are all white, his underwear is all white; his socks are just black or white; he wears mostly jeans, and jean-type shirts. The OF says he does have some decent clothes if he has some place important to go, but for the most part he has this laundry chore knocked.

An OF said his wife does the laundry and he has no clue how to go about doing it. Everything in the laundry room is in piles; this can’t go here because of the fabric — even though it is the same fabric color as that over there.

This can be washed in cold water, and that stack can be hot water, and that pile has to be warm water. The OF said the dials and buttons on the washer and dryer are like the controls on a 747. The OF said, if he had to do the laundry, everything would come out shrunk and pink.

One OF mentioned it is right about having kids around when we OFs get so we can’t drive, and become a little feeble and can’t get around without canes or walkers. Yep, when the kids were kids, we carried them on our hips for couple of years, then hauled them hither and yon for quite a few years, to birthday parties, to the movies, to ball games, to school events, etc., etc.

“Oh yeah,” one OF said, “And many times have to find a place to go and hang out until the little darlings’ social event was over.”

“Ya know,” another OF said, “I would give anything to get those years back. It’s funny now that these same little darlings are hauling us off to doctor appointments and they have to hang out in the waiting room until the appointment is over.”

Maybe in the future when, like the Eskimos, we get to a point we are such a burden we would all be placed aboard a spaceship and shot toward the sun. That would free up space in cemeteries, and we would be much closer to heaven when the time came.

Those OFs who are not keen on the spaceship idea, yet came to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh to have a nice breakfast amongst the morbid conversations, were: Miner Stevens, Bill Bartholomew, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Dave Williams, J-J (a young visitor who helped with the service), George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Rev. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Duncan Bellinger, Herb Sawotka, Art Frament, Ray Kennedy, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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— Photo from John R. Williams

The captain stands in the bow of his ship, the “Flying Eagle,” after the successful launch. Captain Roger Chapman, who has worked on building the ship for 12 years, awaits the boarding of his crew.

— Photo from John R. Williams

Ready to sail: Roger Chapman has built a pirate ship out of a discarded cabin cruiser. The Old Men of the Mountain convinced him to launch it on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Aug. 21, The Old Men of the Mountain met for the last time at Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow. Kim is closing the doors for good on Sept. 2.

Kim has the lament that is heard by many of the OMOTM — that it is hard to find people who want to work. Some of the retired OFs have been contacted by former employers to see if they want to come back to work.

The common thread is that the workers out there are right now seem to be the best of the worst.  “Anyone worth their salt is already working,” is another often-heard comment.

What is left, according to many employers, are those who don’t know how to work, those who don’t want to work, and those unable to work. The OFs are often asked if they know of anyone who wants to work.

Group rate?

To transcend from that to an observation by one of the OGs as he looked up and down the tables set up at Kim’s: The OF leaned over and said, “What we should do as the Old Men of the Mountain is to select a funeral parlor and get all the OGs together and see what kind of discounted rate we could get on pre-paid funerals for the whole group of OFs.”

That is not as silly as it sounds, and by looking around, we contend that the funeral parlor would not have to wait long before they started cashing in.

Empathy for old tugs

The OFs (and again being Old Fs) have a particular bond with things that have age attached to them.

This time, it was sad to see the old tug boats go down to the ocean where the governor is supposed to be building an artificial reef to attract fish for fishing. There these tugs will be sunk to add to this reef.

These tugs are classics. The OFs think they could be sold to people who could then convert them to houseboats.

Some of the old floating museums still can ply the waters; those, too, would make interesting houseboats. We are not sure if the state ever considered putting them up for auction to see what might happen.

The OFs don’t know how many tugs the state has in its fleet and some may be so far beyond repair that the houseboat plan is not feasible; some of these classics, the OFs think, are salvageable and should be kept afloat. It is tough for the OFs to see old items just discarded.

Pirate ship launched

On Sunday, Aug. 26, the OFs had a launching of their own. One of the OFs has been building his version of a pirate ship for years.

This OF has taken a discarded cabin cruiser that was sunk and constructed his own pirate ship, the “Flying Eagle.”

The OF was told, if he could raise this cruiser, he could have it. You don’t give this OF a challenge like that!

He soon took the challenge and raised the cruiser. The OFs have listened to this OF discuss the progress on the construction of this boat for so long they began putting pressure on him to get this thing in the water. So Sunday, at one o’clock, in she went.

The ship is brand new, but the crew looked like a motley gaggle of old misfits.

The launching was tense as the ship was pushed into the water: Would it tip over, would it sink, would it leak? The crowd gripped the railing as the “Flying Eagle” edged further and further into deep water. A great cheer and clapping went up when the ship floated free at the end of the slip.

Then all the food was brought out and everyone ate and over ate their fill and beyond, while the ship was maneuvered by a couple members of the crew to where it was to be moored. We are too old to have this much fun, although there were young ones who watched through the railing with great big eyes when the ship began to move.

Now that the ship is in the water, the mast and sails will be installed. The future plans for this venture is to install a galley and the OF and his wife can have meals on the deck and sit there with their coffee and watch the sun go down, or come up.

In the morning, they’ll listen to the morning sounds of the birds waking up, and in the evening they’ll listen to the bullfrogs croak. There is even a full-scale skeleton crew to cater to their every whim — Ta Dah! the Flying Dutchman in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean.

The OF even constructed a new dock to accommodate the ship. When finished, the dock will be of the period. This whole project started in 2007, and maybe it will be completed by 2020, or 2021, or 2022, who knows?

Power play

The OFs are in a quandary. The OFs wonder why their power bills keep going up when they are doing everything to conserve energy.

Some OFs go around insulating every nook and cranny they can find where drafts can get in, support the solar farms, change all their light bulbs, purchase new appliances only with the energy star sticker on them, and some even wear sweaters in the house during winter time.

One OF mentioned that, with so many homes with solar arrays on them, and the huge wind farms and solar farms being built, there must be less of a strain on the generators used at normal power plants.

One OF said his son works occasionally with geothermal installation, which also should help alleviate the drain on use of gas, nuclear, or fossil fuels. Another OF thought new construction is going faster than the newer technology grows so the drain on the grid, this OF thinks, is higher.

But then again, what do the OFs know?  We just talk.

Those OFs who all gathered together for the last time, even those OFs who drove an hour to get to Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow, were: Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Art Frament, Ray Kennedy, Pete Whitbeck, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier and very special guests (Olga Deur, and Mario Snyder), Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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On Tuesday, Aug. 14, the Old Men of the Mountain left the comfort of their homes and took off on another wild adventure; this time, it was to the Home Front Café in Altamont.

For those not familiar with the Home Front Café, it is like eating in a museum. Tuesday morning, an OMOTM brought an artifact for the café to add to its collection.

It was a sextant (all it is is a device that measures the angle between objects) used for sighting a canon. This sextant would have been used in early battles; however, the café is dedicated to United States veterans of all conflicts.

Tuesday morning, with all that was going on at the restaurant the waitress gets three atta-boys for handling all the OFs.

Final flight

The OFs at our end of the table discussed the mechanic who stole the short-hop commercial turboprop airplane in Seattle.

As one OF put it, “He went out in style, and put on quite a show beforehand.”

Another OF commented that the airlines had him in the wrong job; if he could handle a plane of that size like he did, he should have been a pilot instead of a mechanic.

Then one OF said, “What if he was and then went nuts with a plane full of passengers? If he decided to do loops and rolls (as he really did) and crash the plane that would have been a real disaster.”

Yet another OF mentioned something more scary: “What if his actions have triggered a series of copy cats that will attempt the same thing for the notoriety? Now we will have a genuine mess.”

Cycling safety

The OFs then talked a while about riding bikes; one OF mentioned they are the scariest things on the road. The OFs have covered this before, about how dangerous bikes can be.

One OF had a great suggestion this time. He felt that there should be designated bike paths on certain roads that are wide enough to support both the sport and vehicles.

One OF mentioned about riding bikes when we were kids and thought nothing of it. Then an OF suggested that, when he was a kid, the only thing he had to worry about when he was on his bike was a galloping horse not with a car going 50 to 55 miles an hour at the crest of a blind hill. That’s where a driver may come upon one bicyclist, or maybe more than one, in the road a hundred feet in front of him.

Then a smart OF said the bicyclist and in-line skaters have the right-of-way on most public roadways so, he said, “It is up to you guys to be alert.”

“If that is the case,” it was suggested, “then all roads that bicycles travel on (if they have the right-o- way) should have the speed limit lowered to basically what a bike can do; then there wouldn’t be all these scares.”

“Are you serious?” came a reply.  

One other OF offered an applicable observation. This OF thought that, with all the miles police officers travel in their patrol cars, they come upon the same situations we do and may have the same feelings.

“The officer also knows the law better than we do and sucks it up, but I bet they have some heart-stopping instances too,” he said.

Few go to the fair

Not many of the OFs are going to the Altamont Fair this year, and have not gone in the past couple of years.

The OFs are waiting for some of the family to come and tell them the fair is like they remembered years ago. Some OFs mentioned like before the grandstand fire.

Another OF said they were going too far back, using the fire as a starting point. The basic problem this scribe seemed to sort out is the OFs are too darn old and their legs won’t take them around the fair.

This was because a couple of the OFs mentioned walking and stopping to sit awhile, then walking some more and sitting some more. A sit for a long time was in store before starting the trek to the car.

The OFs who did go said it is not for farmers and workers much anymore — it is for the younger adults from about age 14 to 21. An OF came up with a reasonable summation: The farms are few and far between!

The big garden growers like LaVie farms and others are gone; the young are not into chickens, rabbits, and farm young stock as pets.  Now it seems to be all electronic games, and not much teaching the youngsters how to knit, sow, or create.

This is not to knock all kids because the electronic skills they are developing now they will need later on — we are just out of the loop. Is it for better or worse?

This OF didn’t know but it just isn’t our kind of fair anymore. We all want the fair to be like when we were kids; that is not going to happen. The kids 50 years from now will be complaining the fair is not like when we were kids; let the younger kids and adults support the fair so the fair will still be here.

Warm and wet

We all know that this summer has been on the warm and wet side so far, at least on the East Coast. A couple of the OFs brought relatives who have been staying with them to the breakfast Tuesday morning.

The OFs had to shake these visitors out of bed rather early in the morning to make it to the breakfast.  That might have been a shock to some.

One of the visitors was from Austin, Texas and he said that the temperature in Austin was 100 degrees in early May and has not been below 100 degrees since. The OFs will take what we have, thank you very much!

However, the OFs say that for this late in the season it is the trees and grass, in fact the whole surrounding area is the most lush they have seen since they can remember. (Hey! The OMOTM are OMOTM and the memory may be a little short) but it has been green and the foliage has been full.

One OF mentioned the trees have to be done for the season; fall colors may be early this year. But he concluded, “Then again, what do I know?”

The OFs who hacked their way through the jungle to get to the Home Front Café in Altamont for breakfast with Tarzan and Jane as the cook and waitress were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter and guest Josh Buck, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Rich Donnelly, Art Frament, Karl Remmers and grandsons Nolan Debar, Kaleb Debar, Herb Sawotka, Pete Whitbeck, Rich Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Bill Rice, Henry Whipple, Harold Grippen, and me.

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