Tuesday, Nov. 15, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie and as usual some of the OMOTM were there to open up the place.

On the rides to the restaurants, the OFs can’t help but notice kids out waiting for the bus. This brings back memories of the OFs doing the same thing.

Many of the OFs were up, in the barn doing chores, rushing in having breakfast, cleaning up so they did not smell like the barn, hurrying out to catch the bus to school, and then, when school was out, getting on the bus, going home, and doing the same thing all over.

At that time, about the only buses hauling the little darlings to school were the International K9s. Couldn’t kill these things and they were like tanks.

The roads were not taken care of like today, not for lack of trying, but the particular equipment to clear the roads was not around at that time. But, as one OF said, we did have our snow days; most of the OMOTM remember listening to Don Weeks read the school closings over the air.

In most cases, many of the OFs would rather be in school because good ole Dad had plenty of winter chores to do if the OFs were stuck at home. Most of the OFs remember their bus drivers but have forgotten many of their teachers.


Prices are

out of sight

The OFs generally in the morning greet one and all with civil greetings of good morning etc. However, the early-bird OFs on Tuesday morning were boisterous and demonstrative.

What is causing all this commotion is the price of everything! Gas, food, clothes, restaurants; everything is going out of sight. That is everything!

There was even the occasional fist-whacking the table to emphasize a point. This is one discussion the OMOTM did not fight about; there were no opposite opinions.

It is tough to have a good boisterous discussion last long when everyone is in agreement.


Competition would

be welcomed

This was followed by another conversation where there was basically total agreement and that being how useless Spectrum is. The problem here is, according to the OFs, there is no competition for Spectrum — it is either Spectrum or no one else.

One OF said the company knows it is in the driver’s seat and does not pay much attention to complaints.

Another OF said that he had to watch his bills all the time because they would sneak it a little bit higher every now and then for apparently no reason at all. Eventually, the OF said, he was paying 40 bucks a month more for the same service.

One OF said it is not the service guys because they seem to work their butts off. It is the office and business practices of the company with ads and sales pitches that are nothing like the services offered.

Another OF said, as much as we complain about government, this is one case where government is all we have to fall back on.

Then one OF commented that Spectrum is so entrenched the company is not afraid of government, just like National Grid. Both companies have a lock on it.

If one or the other screws up, who ya gonna call? It sure ain’t Ghostbusters.


Counting cars,

trucks, and tires

Here we go with OMOTM-type observations.

One OF reported that, while he was waiting in his vehicle for someone and he had nothing to do, he just started watching cars go by. The OF said he understands that white is the most common color on trucks or cars and he can attest to that now.

The OF said three cars and one pickup truck went by on the road in front of the parking lot and they were all white. This piqued his attention and the next seven vehicles that went by were all white, then a gray SUV, and one red pickup went by and spoiled the situation. He will try the observation another time.

Seven seems to be the number because another OF on a recent trip to Chicago said that he was on the Thruway and moving right along, but he found that at times on these interstates moving right along is not quick enough.

However, the OF said, a Volkswagen zipped right on by, then another vehicle passed and it too was a Volkswagen, and he was passed by yet another and it was a VW, then another. The OF said seven vehicles passed him — all VWs. The OF thought it was a delivery of some sort traveling together, but it wasn’t. Some had different plates, and he noticed some were even different years.

Then another OF said that, on Tuesday morning, just in front of the restaurant, he noticed that five multi-axled large trucks went by all in the same space. Two were headed north, and three were headed south, all from the same company.

The OF assumed that at that moment rolling in either direction, in the little town of Schoharie was one-half to three-quarters of a million dollars worth of truck almost in the same spot at the same time.

Multiply that by the whole world and just in trucks the zeros behind the figure one would make a heck of a lot of dollars just in trucks.

Then one typical wise guy OF piped up, “Yeah, how about all the tires in the world going around and around right now?”

The OFs were getting into numbers they couldn’t even say.

The Old Men of the Mountain who were approaching the point of serious blood-pressure numbers due to rising prices, and Spectrum’s dictator-type policies and who attended the breakfast at the Your Way Café in Schoharie were: Doug Marshall, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Roger Shafer, Rick LaGrange, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Rev. Jay Francis, Frank Dees, Russ Pokorny, Jake Herzog, Gerry Chartier, John Dap., Paul Guiton, Paul Whitbeck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, and me.

Tuesday, Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022, was a day for the Old Men of the Mountain going to the polls to exercise their right to vote. For the OMOTM, they considered it really exercise.

Exercise to the OFs generally is just taking a shower and getting dressed. When the OFs were younger, voting wasn’t so much exercise as it was a very important civic duty.

A couple of OFs mentioned that voting now means we have to sign our name with a stylus on some kind of screen. When the OFs said they write on one of those devices their signatures are no more like the way they really write than the man in the moon. (There is a common phrase that this scribe has no idea what it means.)

However, it is true. This scribe thinks if you just draw a straight line the electronic device will accept it.

Based on the wording, not showing up to vote is either a vote for or against; at the polls — to some — there is no such thing as a “no” vote. The only satisfaction is that, if things go wrong, the OF who didn’t vote can say he didn’t vote for it, him, or her.

That doesn’t help much was the reply. However, sometimes in the OF’s heart neither one running is worth the effort so the OFs say neither one is worth his vote. Now the OFs said they are stuck with voting in their mind for the person, or idea, that is the best of the worst and hope somehow it or they can be changed.

Then one OF said, “Once in office, always in.”

Whether good or bad, occasionally scandals or criminal acts can get the bad apple out, yet sometimes the rotten ones are the best for the country. Some guys are number-one womanizers, and get their exercise by chasing the ladies but still are great organizers and leaders.

One OF said, “Why is it always attributed to men? There are really smart ladies who do the same thing, and have the same leading qualities, and chase the guys the same way the guys chase the ladies.”

What a mess! At our ages, the OFs have seen this young country change over and over. The market goes up and down, depressions and recessions come and go, the years are hot and cold, the world is going to end in a few days — the OFs have seen it all but somehow nothing over all these years seems to change.

Things are just different every now and then, but change? The OFs think not.


Leaf conundrum

Along with the above talk about change, the OFs remember as kids, and even as adults, the pleasant aroma of burning leaves in the fall. Dad and the family would rake leaves along the yard to the edge of the driveway, or to the road, and on a relatively calm, dry day touch them off.

Some would rake up the ashes when they were cool and take them to the compost. Burn leaves now in many places and the neighbors rat on you, or the burn police spot the smoke and the OF gets a ticket for burning leaves.

Now in the suburbs they burn all that gas to come and suck these leaves up and haul them away. Then there is something that makes no sense at all.

“We cut down thousands of trees to make bags to put the leaves in,” one OF said. “Where in blazes do they think oxygen comes from?”

Maybe the OF has a lawn mower with a mulching gadget and mulches them. “Which,” one OF said, “is not a bad idea; it’s the only one that makes sense.”

One OF said he likes most of the seasons — even nice days in winter. This OF likes the end of the leaf season when the leaves are off the trees. The weather is still tolerable and he doesn’t mind being outside and with the leaves gone he can see deep into the woods.

The OF claims that, on some of his walks in the woods, he spots stone wall fences going nowhere. The OF said it is fun to try to imagine what was there to generate the building of these walls

 It is quite nice on a fall day to take a walk in the woods and smell the new-fallen leaves, and hear the rustle of the small animals scurrying under these leaves as they forage for something to eat.


Blood moon

A few of the OFs were up early enough to see the full moon bright red. One OF mentioned it is called the “blood moon” for a reason.

Another OF said that some of the cameras on the cell phones are good enough to capture this phenomenon. With the price of some of the phones, one OF added the camera should be able to capture the moon people that live in the center of the moon opening the big doors to let their spaceships out.

“They can,” the OF retorted. “Why, those cameras are so good they can see the moon people out walking their dogs, and even so good you can see the breed of the moon dog.”

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and had to leave their moon dogs in the car to guard their moon pies were: Roger Shafer, Rick LaGrange, Doug Marshall, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jake Herzog, Otis Lawyer, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Paul Whitbeck, Bob Donnelly, Allen Defazzo, Elwood Vanderbilt, John Muller, Paul Guiton, John Dap, Dave Hodgetts, Dick Dexter, Jack Norray, Frank Weber, and me.

The Old Men of the Mountain are starting a new month with breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner on Nov. 1, and it was unusually nice weather.

As most of the OFs said, we hope we can keep this up (nice weather) but deep down we know it isn’t going to happen. It is rare to see some people mowing their lawns in November.

This brought up conversations not only at this breakfast, but other recent breakfasts, about cold temperatures with snow flying and living in old houses. When the OMOTM speak of old houses, they are discussing homes 100 years old and older, none of these new residences.

The OFs speak of houses with histories and character that have proven the house can stand the test of time. The OFs are not too sure about some of the homes being built today.

One OF commented that he didn’t think it is the house as much as it is the people that live in them. The people that lived in the 100-year-old plus homes were tough, and they toughed out the winters. We can’t knock the houses of today unless we are here 100 to 150 years from now to check them out. To this OF, it seems that, if someone doesn’t take care of a mansion, it is going to fall down but, when someone takes care of a shack, it is going to last.

This brought up the construction of the new homes compared to the 100-plus-year-old homes. Insulation for homes 100 or 150 years ago was nothing like the homes of today. The OFs tied this in with the cold blast of winter. Back then, glass in the doors and windows were single-pane glass (double pane windows didn’t become popular until the 1970s) and still fluid, filled with bubbles and ripples.

One OF said storm windows weren’t even considered until much later when they were the type that hung on hooks and were taken down in spring, and put up in the fall.

What some of the OFs had were workable shutters that could be closed and heavy drapes that hung to the floor to keep out cold drafts. Sometimes the windows were so drafty on a windy day the OFs said the curtains and drapes would blow in the breeze.

Leaves and straw around the foundation was insulation. Of course mice and bugs liked this arrangement too.

The big farm house would shrink to just a few rooms during cold weather as other rooms were shut off. One OF mentioned that sleeping in one bedroom with his siblings at winter time was part of the shrinking process.

On many winter nights, there would be drifts of snow at some of the windows inside the bedroom. That did not bother us much because, even though the room wasn’t heated, we were all quite snug wrapped up in our feather ticks. In the morning though we did scurry downstairs to get dressed by the fire quickly, and then head out to the barn for chores.

“Today”, one OF said, “houses are so tight, the air inside is so unhealthy it is necessary to have air from the outside pumped in and purified.”

Another OF thought the OMOTM are the OMOTM because we had such a hard start early in life. This OF commented that these young whipper-snappers of today aren’t going to make it because they have not come into contact with germs like we used to, and they have not had the opportunity of building up natural antibodies to drive them off. These young-uns are too sterile.


Disappearing creatures?

The OFs had another observation of nature they talked about and that was the absence of snakes and a few other creatures that used to be common.

The OFs asked among themselves, “When was the last time you saw a snake?” and none could really put their finger on it. The consensus was years. Where did they all go, and why are they gone?

A few of the OFs attributed this transformation to hawks and other natural predators, while some said it was a change in the environment, like climate change. Some thought this was a bit radical but might be happening.

If the scribe remembers right, the OFs have gotten into a discussion like this before, only that time it was birds; however, birds entered this discussion too.

Another question was asked, “Does all this go together?” because one OF thought that even the nuisance insects seem to be fewer.

Some of the OFs never even thought about it; they claimed they don’t go out in the backyard looking for bugs and snakes. One OF said you can’t fool him; this OF says he has seen more stink bugs lately than he has ever seen. The OF also said a few years ago he never saw one.

“Well, with winter coming on,” he said, “all these critters are going to crawl into their holes, and hide in the cellars and attics until springtime. That will be the time to check it out. That is, if any of us with our great memories can remember to have this conversation again in April and May.”

This will give the OFs something to look forward to in the spring of 2023 — what is crawling in the grass and flying in our ears, nose, and eyes.

The OFs who are here because they were tough YFs in the thirties, forties, and fifties and who are now able to make it to the Middleburgh Diner were: Miner Stevens, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Jake Herzog, Frank Dees, Russ Pokorny, Gerry Chartier, Ed Goff, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Dick Dexter, Herb Bahrmann, John Dab, Paul Guiton, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.

The Old Men of the Mountain meet every Tuesday at one restaurant or another. The Tuesday for this week, on Oct. 25, was at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. Usually the OMOTM do not concern themselves with the cost of breakfast; however, in a few short months, it has jumped up considerably.

The OFs can understand this because the restaurant is at the end of the product line; all their costs have gone up and they can’t stay in business selling their product at cost or below. Now the OFs have to add the price of fuel (or call it energy) so the breakfasts are not as inexpensive as they once were.

This puts a little nick in the fun factor of gathering to enjoy each others’ company at least once a week to leave some of the cares, aches, and pains behind for a little while.

One OF related the current upward spiral of pricing on one factor: energy.

Other OFs based it on supply and demand. Some said the Covid pandemic played quite a role in the whole thing by lack of workers to produce necessary products and that contributed to lack of supply to common demand.

One OF thought the catching up is slower than thought, while another OF said the pandemic is not over. Then one of the nonagenarians (now that this scribe is very close to becoming one himself, the scribe loves using that word) just muttered, “So what else is new? … Been through them before,” and took another bite of his omelet.


Death is a sneaky S.O.B.

Then the subject of nursing homes, and apartment living came up and not many of the OFs were happy with either one. Nursing homes were out, according to the OFs.

The Eskimo practice of putting the OFs on an ice floe and shoving them out to sea was not a bad idea. One OF said he thought this was just folklore and never really did happen, but he too agreed with the idea and thought it is better than a nursing home.

An OF wondered why, when we did what we were sent here to do, didn’t we just fall asleep and not wake up. Like one of the founders of this group did. His name was Herbie, and Herbie felt fine, went to bed, and never woke up.

This scribe could vouch for that because just a couple days earlier this scribe and Herbie were out in the shop, making a huge frame for a very large map. He was fine then and even the next day when checking to see if the frame was OK.

Another OF commented that, if that is the way it was going to be, it would be necessary to keep all your businesses in order all the time. Nah! This was the answer for any one of us because the OFs could leave here this morning and be squashed by a run-away bulldozer. None of us really knows when we will be called up yonder.

That ain’t exactly true came an answer. If you killed your mother-in-law because she ticked you off too many times and you got the death penalty for doing it and the day was a given, you definitely knew when and how. No matter how you look at it, Death is a sneaky S.O.B.


Winter winds

Now the subject of winter came up and the winds of winter became our apprehension. Insulation of our homes was the topic of concern.

Many of the OFs live in, or have lived in, older homes. By older, in our conversation, it meant older like over 100 years.

Insulation at that time was considered, but the technology of today was not even around to produce the products that insulate the homes in the year of 2022.

Back then, glass was still full of bubbles, and rippled. The use of only one pane of glass was used with old-fashioned putty that hardened.

As one OF said, storm windows weren’t considered until much later. On his home, there were workable shutters that could be closed during cold, wintry blasts. Included with this were heavy drapes that were pulled shut to keep out the cold drafts.

The OF said he piled straw and leaves around the foundation to keep out some of the cold. Though the house was large, in the wintertime many rooms were shut off until springtime.

One OF mentioned he used to sleep in the same bedroom along with his brothers in the winter. Again, as with the other OF, the house was large, but in the winter it shrunk.

On many winter nights, the OF said there were drifts of snow at some of the windows inside the house, but that did not seem to bother us because we were all quite snug, wrapped up in our feather ticks. In the morning though, we did scurry downstairs to get dressed by the fire rather quickly, because we had to get to the barn for chores.

“Today,” one OF said, “houses are so tight and the air inside is so unhealthy, it is necessary to have air from outside pumped in and purified.”

Another OF thought that the OMOTM are the OMOTM because we had the start that we had, and this OF didn’t think these young whipper-snappers are going to make it because they have not had the experience of contacting many germs and building up natural antibodies to drive them off. These young-uns are too sterile.

The Old Men of the Mountain who shook out of their cozy beds in their toasty homes and made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner through the fog so thick some drove beyond the place because they could not see it, were: Rick LaGrange, Wayne Gaul, Ted (the hat) Feurer, Miner Stevens, Doug Marshall, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Paul Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Marty Herzog, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Paul Guiton, Jeremiah Hebring, Bob Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazio, Dave Hodgetts, Dick Dexter, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Tim Norray, Herb Bohrmann, and me.

Tuesday, Oct. 18, was a rare day because the Old Men of the Mountain locale had not lost the beautiful colors of fall to either being blown off, or taken down by a hard rain shortly after showing off their colorful foliage for this fall season. This year, the weather hung in there for quite some time so the Old Men of the Mountain could get out (along with many others) and enjoy the show.

On Tuesday, the OMOTM drove to Schoharie to have breakfast at the Your Way Café while it was still dark. Along with the early morning dark and the sun just waking up, there was not much to see outside the range of the headlights, but going home from the Your Way Café the OFs were able to drive through tunnels of color.


Lithium batteries

One OF gave what was like a report or a lecture on how lithium batteries were made and what went into making one. If the source of information is legit, and it seems so, this type of battery manufacturer uses pretty nasty stuff to produce one.

Seems like the same battle between the biggies and who has the most clout politically because money was not the problem. For instance, Firestone and Ford argued about what material they should use to make tires.

Ford again and farmers disagreed with the steel companies on what to make car bodies out of, soybeans or steel. Tesla and Edison bickered on whether to use AC or DC; no matter what the world choices are, the world just keeps rolling along.

The OF’s dissertation was interesting. The OFs do talk about things other than old cars, trucks, farms, and machinery.



Schenectady had very interesting early inhabitants. Edison, Steinmetz, Westinghouse — and one OF at the breakfast was quite familiar with Westinghouse. The birthplace of George Westinghouse was in Old Central Bridge in Schoharie County.

Westinghouse was the inventor of the air brake and, as this OF resided in Central Bridge for some time, he knew a lot about Westinghouse. The OF is quite a historian and is reasonably versed on the history of the locality.


Revolutionary raids

Talking about Westinghouse led to another discussion on little-known history. One OF discussed the Brant raid on Schoharie County during the American Revolution.

The fertile land of the county was very important to the Revolution especially in supplying food to George Washington and his army. Brant subsequently burned many of the homes and crops during raids on the county.

This is well-known history but the rest of the story is not. The OFs talking about all this were in agreement that most of the wooden homes were burned; however, the buildings of stone or brick were left standing.

These included the Reformed Church (Old Stone Fort) and George Mann’s residence (George Mann Tory Tavern), which were spared basically because of what (or who) they were, and the construction of the buildings.

One wooden building was spared because of who lived in that building and were neither Tories nor revolutionaries. The building housed slaves who worked the land and the Indians did not burn this place.

The way the OFs explained it is that now the building is being restored and has not been visible because of the vegetation that had grown around it. This undergrowth has been cleared and the structure is now visible.

A true split-rail fence has also been constructed around the site. This scribe cannot find this on Google to check it out but it seems these OFs know all about it and they are from the area. Sounds plausible, and similar to the Schenectady massacre.


Social Security

Of course, a concern to all the Old Men of the Mountain is Social Security. At this time of such high inflation and prices on many items, which seem to be going up daily, the OMOTM have had to cut back on items that are to some necessities, like medicines, and groceries, throw in gas to get to treatments, and any little extra they can get helps.

The OFs understand Social Security is supposed to go up 8.7 percent in 2023. The OFs don’t want to wish their life away but they would like to see 2023 get here in a hurry.

The OFs think they will have to see how things work out for 2023, or even late 2022, to see what the inflation rate will be like. One OF said right now he does not think the 8.7 is going to cut the mustard.

Although the OF also added he is not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. The OF said he is too old, hurts too much, and he has no idea how the new technology works to get another job to augment his income.

Besides, the OF said, it now takes him two to three hours just to get dressed in the morning and sometimes he says he announces to himself, “To heck with it” and mogs around in his slippers, PJs, and bathrobe all day and has a good time doing it.

“Saves gas,” the OF said. “If Walmart would let greeters dress like that, I might consider taking a job there.”

Then another OF said, “Hey, dressed like that you would be considered an elite some of the getups the people at Walmart wear.”

The OFs want to show up at the Your Way Café in Schoharie in their Hydrogen fuel-celled powered vehicles and do away with all the lithium, and fossil fueled stuff and these Old Men of the Mountain were: Doug Marshal, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Roger Shafer, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Paul Nelson, Miner Stevens, Rick LaGrange, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Herzog, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Duncan Bellinger, Marty Herzog, Paul Whitbeck, Pete Whitbeck, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Paul Guiton, Lou Schenck, Herb Bohrmann, Rev. Jay Francis, Steve Vanderbilt, and me.

The Enterprise — Marcello Iaia
Not only are the businesses in Middleburgh decorated for Halloween, the houses are too. This display is reminiscent of “The Little Shop of Horrors.”

Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022; can the holidays be far behind? Just six short weeks away is Thanksgiving — OK plus a few days. Then always four short weeks away from that is Christmas, then one week until New Year’s.

The words to September Song now mean a lot. Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few and, as we age, the days seem to have only 12 hours in them; they just fly by. However, the Old Men of the Mountain still manage to gather and, on the 11th, the OMOTM gathered at Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh.

The days are really getting shorter with their daylight hours until Dec. 21/22 and then they will start going the other way. With only 12-hour days, those days of December arrive much sooner. Is that a plus?

The OFs discussed distances; this scribe has this one note in his little notebook and all it says is “distances.” The reason for this word was discussion of the strange sensation that familiar ways seem shorter.

The OFs thought this was odd but, to all of the ones in on this part of the conversation, it was true. Google or the GPS may send the OFs on a different route, which in miles and time is shorter, but not familiar, and for some reason it seems when using these directions the OF is going all around cock robin’s barn to arrive at the OF’s destination.

When checking the clock and odometer, it was quicker and shorter but did not seem like it was. The familiar way seemed quicker and shorter; however, it wasn’t. One OF said he hates it when Google is right.

Another OF commented he travels to the same places quite often and sometimes it is so automatic he finds himself pulling into the parking lot and has no recollection of the drive over. The OF said his wife piles into the vehicle and said we are going to Kohl’s. OK, the OF says, and that is when it happens.

All of a sudden, the wife is getting out of the car at Kohl’s — what happened to all the time? The OFs said they do it so often they just wonder what goes on between the house and their familiar destination. I didn’t hit anybody with my car so I had to be conscious, the OF said; the time is just lost. To this OF, time and space is just a matter of consciousness.

Oct. 31st is Halloween. Halloween, for some reason, is just a day but, with all the parties and hoopla about the day, it should be designated a national holiday.

Now, there is a cause the OFs could champion. “All Hallows Eve Day” we would call it, and the OFs are sure they could get the backing of all the card, candy, and costume companies behind them.

The OFs commented on how the streets of Middleburgh were decorated with scenes in front of each business. There was a theme and each business expressed their idea of the theme with scenes made from straw and costumes. Worth a trip just to check them out and vote for which one in your opinion was best.


Heavenly diner

Every now and then, a new list of the OMOTM with phone numbers and emails is composed. This was a good time to collect the information to update the list.

The snowbirds have not flown, and the summer travelers for most part are back so the list was sent around to the OFs for any changes or updates. In going over the list sent around, the OFs noted how many on the old list are no longer with us but instead are with the OFs on the restaurant cloud in the sky doing the same thing. They are probably looking down on the OFs at Mrs. K’s.


Hunter’s moon

The use of conversations about the drive to the restaurants is quite often. This is not unusual because sometimes the ride over has interesting events happen.

The ride home cannot be reported on because how is the scribe going to gather any information unless he is at each OF’s home when they get there? This breakfast, it was the hunter’s moon and how bright it was.

Some OFs encountered fog, then nothing, but the moon was so bright it could light the way at night, then fog again. All in all, it was going to be a nice day.


Mystery word

Another stand-alone word on the scribe’s pad is “west.” Now that rings no bells.

It is a good thing this scribe is not a regular reporter. The scribe’s notes many times are rather skimpy and don’t jog too much in the way of worthwhile information.

Is west because of the sun, or “go west ,young man, go west,” or is it even west? Maybe it should be “rest.”

Who knows? This scribe’s writing is getting pretty ugly with all the arthritis. Maybe it is a good thing real reporters use recorders.

The Old Men of the Mountain who arrived at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and, as the warlocks they are, parked all their brooms outside where the decorations were already there so these brooms weren’t even noticed. The coven was already underway and the attendees were: Rick LaGrange, Roger Shafer, Joe Rack, Doug Marshal, Glenn Patterson, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Ted Feurer, Jake Herzog, Jake Lederman, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Frank Dees, Ed Goff, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Elwood Vanderbilt, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Paul Guiton, Duncan Bellinger, Paul Whitbeck, and me.

Once upon a time (which now seems a long time ago but then again it is not so long ago) a few at that time not so old, Old Men of the Mountain would gather in the kitchen of one of the OMOTM. The wife of this OF got tired of this and refused to keep serving these OGs coffee and kicked them out of the house.

The OFs milled around outside and came to a serious conclusion: “Now what?”

The OFs (not really old yet) piled into one of the OF’s vehicles and headed off to a restaurant so they could still be waited on for their cups of coffee. This turned into a really good idea, and it appeased the old lady because the OFs were out of the house, out from underfoot, and she could have a relaxing cup of coffee without having to listen to these old guys lie to each other.

This Tuesday, Oct. 4, the anniversary of the infamous October snowstorm, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh where they now had started to gather around 7 a.m. instead of 9:30 or 10 like in the beginning.

The original group was small, retired, and easygoing, but as more friends joined the fraternal brothers of OFs they had things to do and places to go, so the original OFs acquiesced to the OFs who had things to do and places to go and started meeting earlier.

Eventually, the OFs were at the doors of some of the restaurants, waiting for them to open up. The old farmer conditioning had kicked in. To many, the sliding back of the manger door, the lowing of the cows, was a pleasant call to the early hours of the morning.


Judging Judge

Now, not many of the OMOTM are farmers, but there are a few who know what all this means, because at the breakfast this past Tuesday morning, one of the first topics was, “When was Aaron Judge going to hit number 62?”

As of Tuesday morning’s breakfast, this achievement had not yet been done. Some thought that, because of the pressure, Judge was way off his stride and wasn’t going to make it, while others felt some pitcher was going to make a mistake and cough one up close to where Judge could at least get part of the barrel of the bat on it and would hit number 62.

Some would just like to see him hit the ball and get the batting title.


Ian hits home

The OFs discussed Hurricane Ian in Florida for quite some time and how it impacted that area so badly. Some of the OFs had property in the locations where the storm hit.

One even showed pictures of his condo reduced to rubble.

Another OF owned property at one time, and then that got into a legal mess and does not know if he still owns it or not. Nothing has ever been done with it, and the OF said now he is glad they never built on it. The land is still that — just land. The plot is in what would be a suburb of Englewood.

Many of the OFs have friends or relatives smack-dab in the middle of where this hurricane came inland. Sanibel/Captiva, Fort Myers, Punta Gorda, and Rotunda were some of the places mentioned and, from all appearances, these places took a direct hit.

One OF said, “We have our blizzards but I will take them in place of a hurricane like this thing was.”

Another mentioned we had Irene, but even though that was bad and many people lost a lot, it was nothing compared to what the hurricane in Florida did. Not only this one but hurricanes in general do a great deal of damage. Andrew was another, which hit Homestead, Florida in 1992, and was the costliest until Ian came along.

Blizzards, the OFs seem to be able to battle, but they certainly are not looking forward to the next one.


Gender issues with naming

Since we were talking about disasters, how about all these fires? It seems Mother Nature has quite a repertoire: fire, wind, and water seem to be her arsenal.

How about, now that it has been determined nature is a woman, there can be a whole lot of shaking going on. Yeah, if that lady wants to let us know who is in charge, Mother Nature has all the weapons.

Who gave God the masculine nomenclature when it is Mother Earth, Mother Nature, and to cap it off ships, planes, trains, and cars, etc. are generally called “she?” It seems somewhere we got this naming thing wrong.


Inflation questions

With winter coming on, the price of heating fuel came up.

One OF asked, “How come fuel oil is more than gasoline?”

This OF said his last oil bill was over $800. Who has this kind of money?

Then an OF asked another question, “Who is getting all this money?”

The questions kept coming. One asked how can groceries jump so much so fast? One week Gatorade is $5.49 the next it is $6.49, and muffins are four for $4.69 one week and the next week the same muffins are $5.69. This rip-off money is going somewhere.

One OF said we should watch for the politicians building mansions and buying yachts; there has to be a bottom to the hole all this money seems to be thrown into. There the big-shot politicians are waiting, one OF commented, not the elected officials that we work with every day.

Some of those take every cent they can and give it away to those that really need it. When and where this changes the OF didn’t know, and with some it never does.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who would like to manage the Yankees and make what a big league ball player makes (and that is any kind of ball, basket, tennis, foot, whatever) had breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner and they were: Marty Herzog, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer (who has hiked 1,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail), Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Jake Herzog, Duncan Bellinger, Rev. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, and me.

— Photo from John R. Williams

Elwood Vanderbilt, who is now 95 years old, celebrated his birthday with the other Old Men of the Mountain last Tuesday at Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh.

The day is the same, but the day itself is never the same, so this Tuesday, Sept. 20, the Old Men of the Mountain were at Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh. The prettiest part of the year is coming up with the trees changing and all the fall flowers showing off.

The colors of spring are fine but not equal to the colors of fall. One set of colors lets the OFs know that the blast of winter is on its way; the other set lets the OFs know it is over.

The Old Men of the Mountain met in Middleburgh to celebrate an OF whose birthday was on the 21st but was reaching the milestone of 95 years old. The OMOTM does have its share of nonagenarians.

Elwood Vanderbilt will be 95 but is not our oldest member right now. The OMOTM’s oldest member is Mike Willsey at 97. The term OFs fits the group well.

Mrs. K had a cake for Elwood on this occasion and this cake was beautiful. Some of these cakes are works of art and it is a shame to cut into them and eat them.

The odd part is: We all know where these sweet repasts wind up. That makes it more of a shame.

To be 95 or 97 and still lucid is great. Elwood does manage with a walker but, as mentioned many times, there are OFs who rattle their canes and park their walkers as they come to breakfast. One of these nice, crisp fall days the OMOTM should have an OF walker race.


Single OFs share cooking tips

The OMOTM have another sub-group, and they are OFs without a partner. This led to the question: How do those living alone (either in their own home or in an apartment) handle their meals?

This came up as a topic at the breakfast table. It was strange, with no communication or get-together; it was found that many do the same thing.

One OF has sectioned plates and does all his cooking on one day. The OF then portions these sections off in a rotation so he isn’t eating the same thing day after day.

The OF says the rotation is kept interesting that way. Then the OF places the sections of food in the freezer and thaws them and eats them without having to cook every day.

Another OF cooks all his food on one day but prepares lots of the same thing then has it every day until it is gone. Then he starts another but different batch and does the same thing. Not quite as adventurous as others but achieves the same thing.

Others were taking hints because they eat out most of the time and were beginning to find it’s too expensive now to do that. The OF were beginning to really mutter about the cost of common commodities yet their income has not gone up any.

Remember when our mothers and maybe even the OFs’ wives saved cooking grease and reused this grease especially if it had a lot of bacon grease in it?

Well, some of the OFs do not mind cooking and, judging by what they have, they are doing a good job of it. These OF are still saving the grease (especially bacon) and claim they really use it.

Sounds good to a lot of other OFs, even those who are not allowed to have it because their cardiologists say it is a no-no. An often repeated comment is: Why are so many no-nos so good?

So, whatever the OFs are cooking, when they are preparing their meals they should keep it up, because the group is a real rowdy bunch of OFs and that takes energy, and food equates to energy, and as one OF said, “What is this calorie thing anyway?”

Continuing on with cooking — many of the OFs order eggs at breakfast and one OF inquired offhandedly, “I wonder,” the OF said, “How many chickens are there in the world?”

The OF added that he bet there would be a ton of zeros after the number.

That is a thought, but the OFs weren’t going to lose any sleep over it, until one other OF said he wondered how many gallons of fuel were in all the gas tanks, ships, planes, trains, homes, and industry fuel tanks.

Talk about zeros behind a number — chew on that one for a while. That brought up a remark from someone else mentioning, “Well, as long as we are chewing, how many sticks of gum are being chewed on right now?”

This conversation could go on for quite a while.

Those who traveled to Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh to celebrate one of the OFs who has made 95 and some of these are 90-plus were: Robbie Osterman, Rick LaGrange, Doug Marshall, Ted Feurer, Marty Herzog, Jake Lederman, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Ken Parks, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Roger Shafer, Frank Dees, Paul Whitbeck, Pete Whitbeck, Gerry Chartier, Jake Herzog, Duncan Bellinger with his guests from Germany - Reiner Ahren, & Fredrich Ahren, Paul Muller, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Bob Donnelly with guest Terry Ayres & Jeremiah Hending, Dave Hodgetts, Allen DeFazzo, John Dap, Frank Weber, Elwood Vanderbilt of course, and me.

John R. Williams imagines this could be “the OFs in front of the Altamont Station waiting to load up for their trip to the Your Way Café in Schoharie.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in the outskirts of beautiful downtown Schoharie not far from the “Old Stone Fort.” The fort was originally a Dutch Reformed Church but, during the Revolution, it was blockaded and used as a fort. It was briefly attacked.

Sometime after the Revolution, the blockade was removed and it became a Dutch Reformed Church again. However, many of you readers already know this and probably a lot more.

On the way to the breakfast, early in the morning, it was foggy, with rain. Neither circumstance was too hard, or too thick, in the way of being early fall, end of summer, early a.m. nostalgic.

Some of the OFs come off the mountain either by Canaday Hill, or wind up on Route 443. Those using 443, just before it connects with Route 30, would come across what appeared to be either a town truck, or county truck with flashing lights in the west-bound lane.

As the cars drove around the truck, the riders would see a good-sized buck deer in the road still alive, but severely wounded, and a car in a driveway with some damage.

Reporting this little common incident had the OFs start talking about deer. This has been a subject the group has talked about many times; however, on this occasion, the discussion turned to: “Do deer have four stomachs like a cow?”

One OF thought they did, most didn’t know, even though they have killed deer and skinned them out. They had never stopped to count the guts.

One OF said he knew that deer do chew their cuds like a cow. That was a good clue. This scribe looked it up. Deer do have a four-chambered stomach and digest their food much like a cow.

Now you must remember that this is a group known as The Old Men of the Mountain.

Being that, one OF asked the question “What is the difference between a cow chewing its cud and a girl chewing gum?”

None of the OGs answered and one finally said, “What is the difference?”

And the OF who had posed the question replied, “It’s the thoughtful look on the face of the cow.”


Bridges with character

The OMOTM have a new member with a well-known county name. Some of the OFs began bringing up people with the same name and who they were and what they did. Then other common county names popped up.

Then names somehow led to a short conversation on bridges and one of these bridges was at the North end of the Old Stone Fort where the bridge crossed Fox Creek on Route 30. It seemed at that time bridges, especially small ones, had character, and even some of the larger ones displayed this characteristic.

Today there are some large beautiful bridges but they lack character.

When the OFs were young, even a culvert had character and each one seemed different. Today, so many bridges seem to be just extensions of the roadway and oftentimes the drivers don’t even know they are on a bridge.

On the Taconic, one OF said, the bridges were works of art, but most of those were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the thirties.

Today, it was suggested, most are in a hurry to get to where they are going so that it just doesn’t pay to put the time and effort into this type of construction. Just build it rugged with straight lines, right angles, and call it good enough for government work and go on to the next.

Another OF said beautifying the roadways may slow people down; then again, it may slow some down but not others, and the gawkers will get plowed in the back by the “we are in a hurry guys.”

“What we need,” one OF interjected, “along with the passing lane is a slow-speed lane so some can enjoy the ride.”

“Well,” another OF added, “the roads will have to be nearly 72 feet wide, one lane for the walkers, another for the bicycles, another for the gawkers, one for two people in a car, one for egress or ingress, one for passing, and one for high speed, and don’t forget one for trucks. Why not just take the road less traveled?”

That is a rather common statement, and the ruts of that road are worn by the wheels of the drivers over 70, but they do meet some intelligent young folks along the way.


Trains of old

One breakfast group table discussed trains of old, particularly the engine on display in Pennsylvania. This was the Big Boy, which was the largest steam engine ever built and they built 25 of them.

One OF brought in pictures of the engine that is there in Pennsylvania. The Big Boy is on display in other museums in other states and the OFs think if anyone is interested in machinery this one chunk of machinery is to be checked out.

Many think the articulated bus, or farm and construction equipment being articulated is neat. Well, for neat, the Big Boy was also articulated so it could make some of the turns.

Many don’t realize that this massive piece was built right here in the American Locomotive Company in Schenectady. Remember Schenectady? The city that lights and hauls the world.

    Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Your Way Café in their little railroad hand-cars with rubber wheels were: Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Doug Marshall, Miner Stevens, George VanWie, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Rick LaGrange, Frank Dees, Russ Pokorny, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Pete Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Marty Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Paul Whitbeck, Paul Muller, Bob Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Lou Schenck, Duncan Bellinger, Herb Bahrmann, Rev. Jay Francis, Frank Weber, and me.

On Tuesday, Sept. 6, the Old Men of the Mountain had an unusual meeting at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. The proprietor of the restaurant was on vacation in Maine where she unfortunately had a medical event and was taken to the hospital in York, Maine.

The irony of this is that this scribe was at Cape Porpoise in Maine sometime back and had a medical event and was taken to the hospital in York, Maine.

The proprietor of the restaurant had her problem evaluated and fixed. The scribe (as is usual with this OF) remembers the hospital couldn’t find what was going on and instructed him to see his doctor when he got home.

In this case, the OF’s doctor said he had a whopping case of solar neuralgia and the medicine was to wear a hat. This scribe does, and the neuralgia is gone.

The proprietor then related a story to the OMOTM about her experience at this hospital with another patient, who the proprietor thought was a regular. The proprietor did not know if the patient was inebriated or had a mental condition, but he came into her room and started up what seemed to be a normal conversation.

Then this character sat at the edge of the proprietor’s bed and continued to talk. Then before she knew it he tried to get into bed with her and his whole demeanor changed. All this was going on while the proprietor’s husband was sitting on the other side of the curtain.

The proprietor said her husband was getting ready to take care of the situation and she said she would handle it and went to the nurse’s desk and reported what was going on. They (hospital security) of course did take care of it and the visitor was taken away.

As the proprietor said, “You can’t make this stuff up.”

Welcome to Maine.


Back to school

School is back; some of the OMOTM met school buses on the road Tuesday morning. Going back to school caused two reactions from the OFs — some say, “No way” while others would like to be that age.

One OF said he would like to go back to school as a junior but have the knowledge he now knows about women and to heck with the school work.

Another OF said he learned what he knows more naturally than from books. There is a big question here. What about reading, writing, and arithmetic? Sometimes it is hard to remember when we learned to read, write, and add, multiply, and divide.


COVID not over

At Mrs. K’s, there was another event. One OF felt fine at the table having his coffee but, when the OF got up, he did not feel so well. When paying his bill, the OF felt a little wobbly and by the time the OF got to the front door he had to sit down.

The OF did not sit for too long and felt worse. It wasn’t long before the ambulance was called and the OF took an ambulance ride to St. Peter’s while other OFs took his vehicle to his home.

St. Peter’s emergency drop-off was packed with ambulances. It was raining as the ambulance from Middleburgh unloaded the OF in the rain, out on the drive. Great way to start.

Inside, according to the OF, the gurneys from the ambulances were lined up in the hallway in the order they arrived at the emergency room. It was quite a while before the Middleburgh group was first in line.

Once in the hospital, the OF said, he watched the show in the emergency room area for 12 hours, on a gurney, in a hallway, and he saw how dedicated the people who work there are. They treat everyone from addicts to people banged up from head to toe, complete weirdoes, and from really old people to crying toddlers.

Occasionally, someone would come and check out the OFand take the OF’s vitals. Eventually, the OF found out he was waiting for a room because he was being admitted and the hotel was full.

The OF said he had something wrong but the doctors could not figure it out. One doctor, the OF said, thought it would be best to do a CT scan, while following up on the heart, which was fine, but the symptoms weren’t.

Finally, the following morning, there was a room and the OF was taken there and the OF said, before he was even in the room, he was whisked to have the CT scan.

The hospital had the OF all wired up to check out his heart, yet all the evidence noted there was nothing the matter with his heart. Eventually, they had the CT scan report and a doctor came and told the OF he had blood clots on the lungs.

Both lungs had clots going all around on the bottom. The doctor asked if the OF had had his COVID shots — and the OF did have them and was boosted. However, the OF said he did get COVID and had quite a time getting over it.

The doctor said he wasn’t over it yet. The clots were a result of COVID and he might have three to six months to go.

The OF said, “What a bummer; I knew I wasn’t feeling normal.”

The OF said he felt OK but not normal. “Ya know what I mean?”

One OF answered, “You OF, you never were normal, so how could you tell?”

Another OF suggested The OMOTM should purchase one of these yellow buses and have someone go around and gather everyone up and bring them to the breakfast. That would be some chore because to gather up Rick LaGrange, Doug Marshall, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Otis Lawyer, with guest Don Martin, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Ken Parks, Duncan Bellinger, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Robbie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Frank Dees, Marty Herzog, Russ Pokorny, Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Bob Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, and me, would be one heck of a route.