Tuesday, July 10, the wives, girlfriends or whoever the housekeepers are must have been anxious to get the Old Men of the Mountain out of the house.

Tuesday morning, 40 Old Guys and not-so-Old Guys pushed their way through the doors of Mrs. K’s Family Restaurant in Middleburgh to have breakfast together. The number of OFs who crowded into Mrs. K’s generated quite a din. It was hard for this scribe to pick out conversations to eavesdrop on.

This scribe also observed regular patrons trying to talk across their tables and they appeared to need megaphones to do so. This scribe supposes the younger ones could text each other across the table; that way, the OFs’ racket wouldn’t bother them.

One OF told of needing a gardening tool and went to the box his wife keeps to do her gardening. The OF said he sorted through the tools to find something he could use. The OF said that he located a shiny tool with a plastic handle that would fill the bill.

Just before he was about to use it, he noticed the plastic was not a common plastic so he looked at the tool. The tool was brand new and still had the sticker on it.

This tool was from the Middleburgh Hardware store, and the phone number was VA xxxx (two letters and four numbers) and the price was $1.89. How long had this tool been in his wife’s box and never used?  It had to be years upon years.

The OFs wondered how many things like this are still tucked away in tool sheds, garages, and barns. One OF said, “How about junk drawers in the kitchen and behind the furnace in the cellar?”

This OF took the tool to Middleburgh Hardware and donated it. The OF found out the hardware store has started a collection for items like this and is going to make space in the store to display them.

Vintage vehicles

Some of the OFs talked about the power plant on the Schoharie Creek below the Gilboa dam and about the large pond they built on top of the mountain to run the generators. The OFs were surprised that some local OFs did not know about it. Lansing Manor is there, so is the Mine Kill state park.

One OF commented, “Can you imagine going from Lansing Manor to Albany in a horse and buggy in the winter time to go to work in either Poughkeepsie and/or Albany?”

The OFs have talked about this before — vintage vehicles — one of their favorite topics, because the OFs are vintage themselves. The OFs commented on how similar vehicles look today and how hard it is to tell one make from another and how they have no individual class.

However, back when the OFs were not so vintage and cars had style, quite often the OFs would see one of these cars broken down on the side of the road. The OFs said some of the cars even came with tool boxes so the driver was able to make repairs if necessary.

Today it is rare to see a car broken down on the side of the road, and they are mechanically so sophisticated most drivers wouldn’t even know what to look at to repair and get going, other than to fix a flat. One OF supposed many vehicles now have the ability to repair themselves when certain things go wrong, and rust seems to be a thing of the past said another OF.

A different OF said that with today’s vehicles it is almost impossible to run out of gas. When the gas becomes low there are bells, whistles and blinking lights to warn you. Even a message comes on a screen — e.g.: “This vehicle only has enough fuel for 100 miles.”

Running out of gas was common when the OFs weren’t vintage. If the OF had poor vision, the OF was unable to tell how much gas was in the vial in the fuel indicator sticking out from the hood on the front of the car.

This scribe does not think the OMOTM are that vintage but they are vintage enough to know dimmer switches on the floor, no turn signals, vacuum windshield wipers, mechanical brakes, curtains on the windows in the back, windshields that cranked out, and little side windows that flipped in.

One OF commented on keeping his old military vehicles running and on the road by going to junkyards and swap meets to get parts. One time, the OF purchased two tail gates for a vehicle that was being rebuilt.

One was rusted out on the bottom but had a good top, and on the other the top was all banged up but had a good bottom. The OF said he cut them in half, welded the two good parts together, sanded them down, and painted them and no one knows the difference. To the OFs, if they can’t make a pot, they will make a pan.

The roads must have been plugged with the Old Men of the Mountain headed to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh because they were: Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Roger Shafer, Bill Lichliter, Ted Willsey, John Rossmann, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Roger Chapman, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Karl Remmers, Kenny Parks, Pete Whitbeck, Ray Kennedy, Herb Bahrmann, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Wayne Gaul, Herb Sawotka, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Warren Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Russ Pokorny, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazio, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On Tuesday, July 3, The Old Men of the Mountain were crazy enough to venture outside and attend breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. The OFs thought nothing of it — they do make it to the breakfast in a blizzard, and, as one OF put it, “What’s the difference?”

The weather was the basic topic of conversation throughout the breakfast. One OF said he has a brother in Austin, Texas and gave him a call to let him know that we were getting some of his weather up here and told him the temperatures were in the mid- to high-90s. The brother answered him with, “Gee, it does get that cold here too.” That is a sharp reply.

Another OF received a call from a friend who lives in the hot area belt and the friend wanted to go know how the OF liked the good old southern heat. The OF said not much; it is why he doesn’t like the anything south of Pennsylvania. The OF said that when he leaves a store or a restaurant in the daytime, New York is beginning to smell like Florida outside. One OF mentioned the heat around the country must be the news of the day all over the United States.

Most of the OFs say they have hunkered down indoors, with fans and air-conditioners. One OF said, “We are going to have whopping power bills this month, with air-conditioners and dehumidifiers really cranking up.”

A second OF said, “Those of us who are supposed to drink two to three cups of coffee a day (instead of taking Flomax) take a second look at a cup of hot coffee when it is 93 degrees out.”

A third OF said, “You know, iced coffee should be the same thing.”

Another OF mentioned that the hot coffee has worked for him for years and he still doesn’t like the stuff, but as long as he is voiding OK it’s gonna be hot coffee for him, both ways outside and inside.

This brought the OFs that farmed back to farming when they were younger and no matter what the weather, they went out to the fields. They started with loose hay, next were the square bales, and now it is round or chopped or bales as big as garages.

Some farmers hired guys that went around with big stationary balers and the farmers would haul the loose hay to them and the guys with the big balers would bale it up. The crux of the matter is that this work was done if it was 65 degrees outside or 100. Everyone was doing the farm work this way and there were no summer panics.

One OF mentioned that, back in the old days, there wasn’t TV bellowing all the dangers of sunshine and fresh air. Another added that we were tougher then.

One more OF chimed in about taking salt tablets. They were sold all over the place and people did remind others who worked in hot conditions to take their salt tablets. Those things made you thirsty so drinking plenty of fluids was not a problem.

One OF talked about having cases of “Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer” in the milk cooler, and one other OF added theirs was the “Knickerbocker” beer from Albany. Scribe note: No one mentioned having Schaefer beer in stock. At one time that was a big brewery in Albany.

So much for the heat and how to take care of it; in the forties and fifties it was just as hot but we didn’t know it was a bad thing.

My goodness, the OFs made it through many a 90-degree summer and are still at the tables in the Middleburgh Diner, in Middleburgh.

Tuesday morning, the waitress had a helper who was just a little higher than the tables, so we will start off with little JJ (Joe) as the youngest number one of the OMOTM who made it to the breakfast, the rest are: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Dave Williams, Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Don Wood (who made 83 today), Ken Parks, Art Frament, Herb Sawotka, Ray Kennedy, Rich Donnelly, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Duncan Bellinger, Joe Ketzer, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen and me.

Location:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hornet’s nest

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

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

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

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

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

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

Location:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hot times

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

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

Collision course

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

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

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

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

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

Location:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gas Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catching carpenter bees

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

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

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

Kids lack municipal jobs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Location:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OFs take their time

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

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

Going back in time

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

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

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

Memorial Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

On a rare pleasant day for the Old Men of the Mountain, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie on Tuesday, May 29, to discuss whatever happened the week before. Not much for some — yet lots for others.

One OF went with another older person to visit a younger person. The younger person who was visited brought up an unusual topic during the conversation, i.e., “Why don’t weeds grow on ant hills — only grass?” This actually required no answer and the two visiting had no reply because neither had a clue.

The one OF asked this same question at this morning’s breakfast and had the same response from the OFs that he had visiting the younger person. The question remains, “Why does only grass grow on ant hills and not weeds?”

This scribe went home and checked out the ant-hill question. This scribe mows about three acres and has lots of ant hills. Checking the ant hills, this scribe found that the foregoing statement was nearly correct.

In seven out of 10 ant hills, seven had only grass growing on them and three ant hills (and this was quite a colony so it may be considered just one) had a vine-like weed covering most of the ant colony, and a small section had nothing growing on it yet.

Cutlery question

Another OF had an observation that was in the form of a question and the OF asked this question at the breakfast. Question: “Does flatware seem to be getting thinner and smaller?”

This question did have a reply and the OFs seemed to agree with the OF now that they thought about it at the breakfast. One OF said he has had a fork bend trying to cut into the hard crust on the bottom of a piece of pie.

Another OF said he didn’t think it was the cutlery but the OF’s sense of touch has lessened and he was trying to cut through the plate.

“Well, it should have cut the plate anyhow,” the OF replied. “It was a paper plate.”

Yet another OF said, “Maybe, but it all depended on how much that OF wanted to spend on his flatware.” This OF said, “There is a happy medium.”

This OF also grumbled about some flatware that is big and clunky so that it is hard to use. This OF complained that the heavy fancy cutlery, especially spoons, does not scoop up the good stuff in a bowl of soup, and generally there is no depth to the spoon. When the OF arrives at the supposed bottom of the bowl with the big spoon, there is still so much soup left that the OF has to pick up the bowl and sip the rest out.

Hot topic

The OFs discussed the eruption of Mt. Kilauea in Hawaii. They discussed the fantastic photos of the lava pouring out of the cracks in the Earth.

What brought this up was the turnaround of people wanting to go to the island. The OFs mentioned that the tourists visiting Hawaii have dropped by 50 percent.

One OF said unless anyone is going to the area around where the volcano is mad because they have stopped offering up goodies to the volcano gods and the volcano is letting the inhabitants know who is boss. The rest of the island is pretty big and, if it weren’t for the news, most of the island people would not even know what was going on.

The OFs went from Hawaii to Alaska and that was because the discussion on the eruption led to talk of the geothermal electric plant that is in the way of the lava flow. One OF mentioned the geothermal power plants in Alaska and how efficient they are and they use no fuel whatsoever.

Another OF mentioned that, until the eruption, geothermal as source of power for running power plants was really not known by the general populace. This OF said it has been mostly solar, wind, and occasionally the tides that we hear about.

Trials of travel

This scribe reports on this occasionally and it is because, as stated before, the OFs are OFs; therefore, aging is a topic of discussion often. This time, it was what the OFs used to do physically and what the OFs are limited to now — not all but many of us.

One limitation is getting up and down; the other is: When did they start putting things up so high?  The OFs have trouble reaching things.

When did getting in and out of a vehicle become a project? When did getting out of a chair require pushing on the arms? When did sitting down mean looking for a hard chair instead of one of those chairs you sink into? When did just taking off on a two-day trip change from throwing your ditty bag and some clean underwear into the vehicle and taking off?

Now it is plan the pills, plan the route for rest areas with bathrooms, and where will the OF be in a couple hours of travel, is there a McDonald’s close by? This goes on until eventually the OFs says: The heck with it; let’s just stay home; tain’t worth the hassle.

Some of the OFs agreed with a lot of this, especially the McDonald’s being so strategically spaced. One OF said that, when on trips, they have purchased a lot of coffee at McDonald’s, even while they have full thermoses in the car.  

Those Old Men of the Mountain who found traveling was not much of a chore when making their way to the Your Way Café in Schoharie were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Pete Whitbeck, Joe Rack, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Gerry Irwin, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Duncan Bellinger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

On Tuesday, May 22, the Old Men of the Mountain met on Main Street in the Village of Schoharie. With their canes and OMOTM banner held high, the OMOTM attacked the Country Café, wedging themselves through the door, shouting their battle cry: “Feed Me! Feed Me!”

Tuesday, there was another discussion by the OFs that has not been broached before and that was about OFs and girlfriends once the OFs became widowers.

The OFs said that, when married for 40 or so years, basically the couple grows old together and becomes one person. When that person departs (and in the case of the OMOTM it would be his wife) and the OMOTM becomes a widower, he is pretty much set in his ways.

There comes a time when the OMOTM desires companionship to help with the lonely times. Most of the ladies are widows and they, too, are set in their ways just like the OMOTM.

One OMOTM mentioned that attractions at our age are not like when we were younger. When the OMOTM meets someone, new magnetism can come out of the blue but the attraction can cross class lines.

The OMOTM could have been a farmer, or machinist, and the one attracted to could have been a doctor or lawyer, yet they get along well and seem to enjoy each other’s company.

The problem is that to go any further than going to the movies, or on trips, or out to eat, the OFs were wondering if that is about it. The OFs were questioning if they went any further in their relationships, would their different ways and social lives spoil a good thing?

Boy! The OFs can dig into some real social problems that consume many people’s thinking time and deep understanding.

Flat-tire saga

When anyone wakes up, young or old, what the day has in store can change in an instant. The phone may ring and the news on the other end is not good, and requires the immediate attention of the person answering the phone. What prompted the phone call has nothing to do with what the person answering the phone had in mind for the day.

One OF ran into this type of situation at Tuesday’s breakfast. This OF showed up as usual, had his breakfast as usual, paid his bill as usual, left the Country Café as usual, then the OF went to enter his car and saw his left rear tire was flat.

It was flat-flat, not low, but flat! With that particular tire being the one that was flat meant the butt of the person fixing the flat was sticking into traffic right in the middle of downtown Schoharie.

In this case, one of the younger people at the breakfast was attempting to take the flat off and put on the doughnut spare so the OF could get to Lenny’s (Tire & Repair shop in Middleburg) to either purchase another tire, or have the flat repaired.

Many of the OFs leaving the Country Café gathered around to watch. Now we had the case of two workers and 12 or more chiefs.

The wheel would not come off. They even removed the jack and had the OF drive his car forward and back to try to break it free.

No dice; did not work. Then one OF brought his battery-operated pump to try to blow the tire up enough to get the OF to Lenny’s. No dice, not half a pound of air entered that tire. What now?

One OF said he would drive the OF with the flat up to Lenny’s and see if they could help him out. That was done, and at Lenny’s the OF said he was treated really great, and they would be down and see what they could do.  

This scribe checked with the OF to see how he made out.

The OF said that, after being brought back to his car by the OF that took him to Lenny’s, the service person was there in half a minute. The service tech came and looked at the tire, gave it a kick, and it fell off.

He put the doughnut tire on and the OF drove to Lenny’s and purchased two new tires, since the ones on the car were shot anyway.

A miracle

At Tuesday’s breakfast, some OFs who are also emergency medical technicians sat across from each other and began discussing, not specific cases, but what they have in their little black boxes when they come upon, or are called to, a particular situation. This scribe thought, from their conversation, that EMTs are well prepared to handle — as one of their titles, first responders, implies — most any situation.

One of the OFs who is an EMT told a story of how a lady was in her bedroom talking on the phone to a relative in New York City when she lapsed into a diabetic coma. The relative in New York City heard a thud and then no one talking to her on the other end of the line and so she knew something had happened.

The relative in the city immediately called the fire department, who in turn immediately contacted the ambulance squad up here in the Hilltowns.

The squad went in a hurry to the address supplied. When the squad members arrived, they were met by a large black Labrador retriever, and a young lady who asked what they were doing there.

The EMTs asked if there was anyone else in the home and were told yes, and they asked where and were told one person was in her bedroom. They ran to the bedroom and found the lady passed out between two beds in the bedroom.

They were there in time to revive the lady, and things worked out well. Nobody else in the house knew that anything had happened to her. Miracles, large and small, for whatever reason, do happen.

Those OFs who made it to the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie and formed an audience for the few who were attempting to change the tire were: Miner Stevens, Bill Bartholomew, Art Williams, Dave Williams, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Duncan Bellinger, Rev. Jay Francis, Bob Donnelly, Allen DeFazio, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Another Tuesday, another breakfast, and another restaurant.

On Tuesday, May 15, The Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. Mrs. K’s is the only restaurant the OMOTM patronize that costs money to go to.

It is the only restaurant with on-street parking so, if the OMOTM want to park close to the restaurant, it will cost them 25 cents. There are municipal parking lots but they are across the street and the OFs that use this facility have to be quite ambulatory.

Most people in the realm of the OFs know of Howe Cave, or Howe Caverns, which is in the village of Howe Cave — duh. The village of Howe Cave is between the villages of Old Central Bridge and Cobleskill off Route 7.

The OFs discussed the upcoming event to be held at the caverns on July 14, “International Nude Day.” The caverns is going to hold a “Naked in the Cave” party.

As far as this scribe knows, none of the OFs have signed up. If any did and the news got out, that would put the kibosh on the whole event. No one wants to see a group of naked OFs in a group.

Oh dear, that brings tears to the eyes just imagining that sight; however, in the cave, it is not only so dark it is not possible to see your hand in front of your face, but it is also very, very cold 2,000 feet underground. The caverns are a constant 52 degrees no matter what the ambient temperature is.

Another thing to consider is this: If you ever want to get a bearing to stick to an axel, first you heat it and it expands, then it is chilled to shrink it on the shaft. Guess what that cave is going to do to everybody.

One OF said he understands that, as of now, there are over 100 people signed up to take the tour. This scribe does not know if that is right or not but the OFs think these people are not familiar with caving.

Many years ago, an OF worked for the cement plant that operated from a quarry at the original entrance of the cave. The office for the cement plant was in the Howe Caverns hotel. The original entrance to the cave was right along side of the hotel.

This OF said he did double duty and worked as a dispatcher for the cement trucks that hauled the cement under contract to the cement company. This OF worked a day shift for the cement plant, and third and sometimes second shift for the trucking company. At the cement plant, this OF held many supervisory positions basically because he could read and write so the OF could fill out the required forms.

This OF said the chief chemist at the plant was not too well liked, and was an arrogant individual. One day, while working a second shift to fill in for the trucking company, the OF went into the lab where they tested all the cement and opened all the windows in the lab.

In the evening, at dusk, millions of bats would come out of the cave right alongside of the hotel. The air would be black with bats, and the sound was like thunder. This phenomenon lasted less than a minute the OF said.

The lab was on the ground floor right above the cave entrance. On this particular day, the OF said, he took a piece of plywood about 2 feet by 4 feet and stood at the cave entrance and waited for the bats. The OF’s intention was to see if he could get some bats excited enough to go through the open windows into the lab.

Right on time, out the bats came, and the OF stood in the midst of them waving the piece of plywood slowly back and forth. After the bats had all dispersed to search out their bug meals, the OF said he quickly ran back into the lab, shut the windows, and closed the door. The OF said he did not see a bat and thought the whole thing was a waste of time.

This OF said at that time he was stores supervisor, yard foreman, and safety man for the plant. When he went to work at the plant the following morning at 7 a.m., things were just as normal as blueberry pie, but at 8 a.m., when the office help showed up for work, all misery broke loose.

The OF said he heard the siren of an ambulance speeding up the drive to the office. He then received a call from the plant manager to get up to the front office on the double.

The OF said he ran to the front office just as the ambulance people got there and there on the floor in front of the lab door lay the chief chemist out cold. The girls and the lab personnel were all out on the “front porch” milling around.

The OF said he looked into the lab and saw not only a few bats but hundreds, maybe thousands, of bats hanging from the light fixtures, from the back of doors, the tops of the windows, as many as 15 to 25 bats hanging like long black moving ropes all through the lab; bats were everywhere.

The plant manager pulled the OF aside and told him that he didn’t care what projects the OF had planned for the carpenters but to get every carpenter up to the office immediately and plug every hole they could find.

The OF said, “Yes, sir” and did send the carpenters to the office building, knowing they were not going to find any holes.

Those Old Men of the Mountain that were at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and, according to them, not planning on going to the “Naked in the Cave” event at Howe Caverns, were: John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Joe Rack, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jim Heiser, and it was great to see Ted Willsey at the breakfast, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On Tuesday, May 8, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. As usual, the early morning is the best part of the day, and this Tuesday was no exception as most of the OMOTM made their way to the diner.

The OFs at this scribe’s end of the table were on a medical kick because one of the OFs there was to be at the hospital in Cooperstown for a physical and he said that, while there, they were going to repair one of his hearing aids. This started a conversation on blood pressure, heart rates, number of pills taken, creams, lotions, a whole litany on a health-related diet, and the OFs were not talking food.

It was found that the OFs at this end of the table were rather physically fit with the adjustment of pills to the diet of regular food. One OF who is over 80 years old, and like many of the older OFs, can work a much younger mildly OF-ish into the ground.

The OF complained about these younger ones telling him how to exercise and eat. The OF said he will do what his doctor tells him to do and take what the doctor tells him to take and go to the funerals of all these others who tell what he should be doing.

The OFs at this end of the table reported their blood pressure and all were on the money — just what it should be. One OF was wearing one of these new high-tech Fitbits, and it told him everything his body was doing.

The Fitbit gave his blood pressure, heart rate, and an oxygen level in real time as he sat at the table Tuesday morning. He, too, was right on the money.

The OFs at this end of the table reported when they were kids they were forced to take cod-liver oil by their moms. Some remembered (those raised on the farm) their mothers giving them spring tonics.

One remembered an awful mixture of what he thought was three ingredients. Two he remembered quite well — they were kerosene and sugar. The other ingredient, the OF thought, was black strap molasses.

If you took one tablespoon of that stuff in early spring, there would not be a bacteria, germ, mosquito, black fly, or hornet coming anywhere near you all year.

One OF said he left off ticks. Another OF said, when he was young, he noticed big wood ticks but not these nasty ones that are so small.

Adding to the conversation, it was noted that we now see earwigs, stink bugs, box elders, elm beetles, and other bugs with weird names  One more OF added what we did have then were fireflies, honeybees by the gazillion, butterflies, and Baltimore orioles. Now, however, lots of these “good” examples of wildlife seem to be less and less, and replaced by the previously mentioned malicious things.

It used to be, the OFs continued, that there were so many fireflies that on a nice early summer evening, or early nightfall, walking down a path, the fireflies would light the way.

Hilltown road repairs needed

The OFs discussed the Hilltowns and how they seem to be the forgotten people on road repairs. Many of the OFs go way out of their way to drive around the really bad roads and even some of the detours are not that great.

One of the OFs mentioned that it is just a matter of dollars and cents. The OF feels that we are not collectively  important enough to warrant the tax dollars required to repair the roads here on the Hill or even in the low-populated Schoharie County.

The other OFs said Hear! Hear! to that one.

The end of the world

When to be born was another topic.

Some of the OFs are of the age when they say they have had enough — it is time to get off this planet. Others think they would like to be born today, right now.

These OFs think that the future will be fantastic with all the new technology that’s coming along. These OFs would love to get aboard a spaceship and travel through the heavens to another universe and visit another planet.

That would be their way of getting off the planet. Some of the others thought this planet is on its way out and won’t be around much longer anyway.

It is interesting to see both sides, and both have good arguments. This scribe wonders what must the Indians have thought when the Spaniards came with their funny clothes, and weird hats, and what must the Spaniards have thought when they saw the Indians in their weird headdresses and clothes (or lack of). It was the end of the world.

New jobs

The OFs also discussed that many interesting jobs come up seemingly from out of nowhere. The OFs themselves are doing jobs that never existed when they were younger but many jobs have remained the same. One job the OFs mentioned that is unusual to them is a dog walker.

Whoever thought people would be paying other people to walk their dogs? There are many niches that develop that a bright person can latch onto, and, as new ways to do things develop, more specialized niches come up and even the OMOTM could fill some of them.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Middleburgh Diner, and were not too anxious to enter back into the labor pool, were: Bill Lichliter, already in that pool — the rest, not so much, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, David Williams, Ken Polks, Jim Heiser, Don Wood, Sonny Mercer, Wayne Gaul, Jake Lederman, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Warren Willsey, Allen Defazio, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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