— From John R. Williams

Ivan Baker, sketched by John R. Williams 18 years ago, founded the Old Men of the Mountain along with Herbie Wolford and Joe Farcas. Mike Willsey and Williams came shortly thereafter.

It has been asked: Who are the OMOTM? Well, they started out many, many years ago with just three guys.

They would meet at one of the OF’s homes until the wife would finally kick them out; they would then go to a restaurant and order something akin to a brunch because the wife would only let them hang around in the morning until about 9 a.m.

Also, one of the founding OF’s favorite saying was that 9 a.m. was a good time to hit the eating establishments because the morning crowd was gone and the afternoon crowd wasn’t there.

It wasn’t long before they asked the brother-in-law of one of the three, and a neighbor of the same OF if they wanted to join them and the OMOTM was underway.

For many years, the group was basically high school buddies from the three rival schools of Berne-Knox-Westerlo, Schoharie, and Middleburgh. The original group had one OF whose wife would send little reports to The Enterprise of where the OFs went to breakfast and a bit about what happened that week.

Then one year, the OF whose wife wrote the piece took a very long trip and asked this scribe if he would continue with the report. So the report continued, and continues. 

The title for the group came originally from those in the group who all lived on the Hill and for the most part were farmers. Occasionally there have been photographs of the group in The Enterprise, and at times photographs of their activities.

As the OMOTM progressed, some friends of the OFs retired; they were then asked if they wanted to join us for breakfast on Tuesday mornings. So the group grew and even included people from the valley, and now includes some flatlanders.

This scribe, in preparing this piece on how the OMOTM began, looked at the current roster and found about 40 names; in the summer months, we can generally expect 30 to 35 at breakfast. In the winter, there are about 20 to 25 people who regularly join us.

Last year, there were a few occasions where the attendance in the winter was over 25. A sad piece of information the scribe found out by looking at the roster — there are almost, or maybe even more, OFs dead than are on the current roster. We’re talking 30-plus years here.

At the end of each report, this scribe would make a small observation about the OFs and include the names of the OMOTM that made it that Tuesday to the breakfast. There were many reasons for this.

One reason was to supply alibis to the whereabouts of any particular OF who was in trouble with the law. Another reason was to assure that the wife who would be asking questions of a particular OF that he was where he said he was.

The column is also a week late and that is to prevent process servers from contacting OFs; that could be embarrassing. The OMOTM have no rules or plans to make rules; however, there are two unwritten rules. The conversations cannot contain any discussions on politics or religions. Those two topics cause the demise of many organizations.

The COVID-19 virus has caused quite a disruption in the OMOTM rotating among the restaurants and distributing a few bucks here and there. All the OFs’ eating destinations have been closed, but this scribe saw it as a good time to use some of his notes that did not make the first round. The virus has lasted longer than expected and in some states it looks like it is in for another round.

Now this scribe has to rely on old notes and phone calls. In Schoharie, some of the restaurants are open with restrictions. Some of the OFs are showing up for breakfast but many are not

 At 87 years old and with a few underlying conditions, this scribe is one who is sticking pretty close to home and traveling only when necessary. This scribe is waiting for a provable and workable vaccine, or a pill that will handle the virus effectively regardless of age.

This scribe (like many of the other OFs) feels pretty good, and would like to become an older OF. This scribe has the drawing board and easel to keep him busy —  oh, and a wife who has a lot of ideas of her own.

The little event the Old Men of the Mountain had last week of course has gone by, so now this scribe is again stuck with researching his little black book. (Sometimes the book is red, sometimes green, but they all do the same thing — hold little pieces of white paper with blue lines on them, together with two dinky cardboard covers front and back.)

This scribe bets fortunes are made and lost inside these little dollar store pads. Five for a buck.

Another thing! There is so much going on right now that the fodder for the column (if the OMOTM were still having breakfast once a week at the circle of restaurants) would be ample. Then again, maybe not; it would only be what the OFs could glean from the paper, radio, and TV or personal contacts because most of the venues the OFs frequent are closed.

The few OFs spoken to say they take rides now and then to nowhere; the OFs don’t even get out of the car. (None of them mentioned bathroom problems; however, with this scribe, that would be a problem so maybe their trips are short). Anyway, it gets them out of the house.

One OF said that, on their little rides, they head away from the cities and drive into Delaware, Schoharie, or Montgomery counties. The OF said going into Albany or Schenectady or any of the environs like Colonie or Rotterdam make the OFs feel areas like these are no man’s land.

The virus is lurking on everything, or else a stray bullet will find your butt. The country needs a vaccine for the virus and this OF will be first in line for that poke or pill.

This scribe thinks all the OMOTM have to hang in there — no matter what their age is — until this laundry is washed. If the OFs pass away, the funerals will be a little on the vacant side for people to say goodbye, and that is not fair for an OF who has contributed more than 70 or 80 years to this planet.

The same goes for weddings, birthdays, graduations, and other happy family events. It made graduations, especially this year, very interesting or very tough. Signing yearbooks must be a challenge, but really meaningful.

The OFs can relate to this because looking at old yearbooks — high school, college, or even those units in the military that have prepared one — is a lot of fun and very nostalgic when all people become older, not just OFs.

To see what classmates wrote over 60 years ago is a real delight. When discussing this, one OF commented on who has passed away, who is sick, and then tried to think about where some are living now and how they are. Even how we dressed years ago is enjoyable, and sometimes worth a laugh, and remembering the teachers — that, too, is entertaining.

As usual, one OF mentioned how he wished he had the sense to keep the cars he once owned back in the day. He wished even more that he had sense enough to purchase one of the old International K9 school buses, and just store them in a barn somewhere until he was old enough to enjoy them as antiques and remember them as top-of-the-line when the OF was in school.

Everyone keeps telling the OFs how simple life was 50 or 60 years ago, and they are right. One OF thought it was because information on events was slow in coming, but today it is all real time and so many people want to get on TV and spout off, or on the internet, which to me, the OF continued, is a PITA (pain in etc., etc.). Too many radicals and crackpots on that thing.

This OF said, “If that thing (internet) shut down and information slowed down, people would have time to cool off and calm down.” There! OMOTM philosophy! Too soon old, too late smart.

Remember you never realize what you have until it’s gone. Toilet paper is a good example. This is from just a few of the OGs.

On Tuesday, June 23, the Old Men of the Mountain met. That is a cool opening and in a way true. The OMOTM and a few of their wives braved the COVID-19 and decided to get together. Some wore masks but eventually removed them.

The gathering was held outdoors and the group did sit most of the time more than six feet apart, and protocols were followed in serving, cooking, and using utensils. Those who were there felt reasonably safe from the virus.

Plus it was a beautiful day sitting under a century-old cedar tree while watching an eagle snake a fish from the lake. The breeze was stiff enough to blow any germs away.

One of the conversations mentioned blocking unwanted calls on the cell phones. There were different ways offered to handle this situation. The problem was why we are now getting back into these unwanted calls. There was a short period there that we did not get many “robo” calls; it seems now they have started up again.

One person said the ones making the calls have found a way to get around the restrictions put in place to stop them. The person making the statement said, “Those restrictions lasted about two months, and that was about it.”

Talking about phones and robo calls segued into scam calls and two of the ladies at the gathering said they have received those calls and both said the caller said he was their grandson. One of the ladies was astute enough to ask the caller’s name.

“Oh dear, which one are you? What is your name?” The caller replied, “Don’t you know my name? I am your grandson.” And she hung up.

Another one was, “This is your grandson calling and I need help.”

“Where are you?” the wife of the OF asked.

“In court” was the reply.

“Yes, but what city?” the wife of the OF asked.

“New York,” was the reply.

“Yes, but what city?” the wife of the OF said, and the calling party hung up. You gotta be old to be smart.


Warner Lake

A conversation started on the name of Warner(s) Lake, which does not have an “s” now. “Maybe at one time it did,” one OG said. How it lost its “s” — no one knew why.

And in talking about the lake, there is one OMOTM who is a warm-weather aficionado and he follows the sun to Florida in the winter and this OF is a pilot. However, he is not familiar with some members of the early OMOTM group and that group included another OF who was a pilot.

This preceding OF had his airport at the south end of the lake. Now the OFs don’t know if the OF had engine problems, or maybe, just maybe, he kinda missed the runway one day and landed his Piper J3 in the middle of the lake.

Thank goodness Warner Lake is more of a mill pond than a lake and is not too deep. The deepest part of the lake, and it is not much, is only 50 feet. The water where the OF plopped his plane into was about 30 feet. OF course the OF made it out OK, and natives got the plane out also.


Map mishap

One OF mentioned he read the column last week of Google calling Fox Creek, Cobleskill Creek, and he related how Google has his driveway listed as the continuation of a road right here in East Berne. Google maps show the road going up his driveway and hooking back on the road it turned off of and it even has a name.

The OF says he has contacted Google more than once and they haven’t done anything about it. This scribe checked it out and, sure enough, there it is, just like the OF says.


Boat ride

One case where the distancing was broken is when the host OF took the OFs that wanted to go on a boat ride around the lake. Those that made the trip said it was fun and they had the chance to see some of the houses on the west side of the lake.

This was an odd boat because the OFs had to bring their own chairs. One OF mentioned it was like riding in the back of the pickup truck to go to the street movies in the old days in Schoharie.

Another OF brought his snorkeling gear and went for a snorkel. Upon the OFs return, he reported how shallow the lake was, and how he saw about six or eight huge carp cleaning up the bottom of the lake.

The OF assumed their weight was approximately 40 to 50 pounds. Those are some large fish, the OFs thought, and should keep the lake pretty clean.



In case we decide to have another gathering at the lake please remember: Old men think fast.

An elderly man in Florida had owned a large farm for several years. One evening the old farmer decided to go down to his pond, as he hadn't been there for a while, and look it over. He grabbed a five-gallon bucket to bring back some fruit. As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting and laughing with glee.

As he came closer, he saw it was a bunch of young women skinny-dipping in his pond. He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the deep end.

One of the women shouted to him, “We’re not coming out until you leave!”

The old man frowned, “I didn’t come down here to watch you ladies swim naked or make you get out of the pond naked.”

Holding the bucket up he said, “I'm here to feed the alligator.”

The Old Men of the Mountain have begun to look like real mountain men (over the past few months) unless they could cut their own hair, or trusted someone who is handy with scissors to cut it for them. (One nephew even used the dog clippers; the dog was not happy about that). Now that the barber shops and salons are open, they are packed with people wanting their hair done.

This scribe, as some may know, is an artist. When doing portraits of guys, he is generally asked for either “more hair” or to “touch it up.” The scribe’s reply is, “I paint what I see,” but, if you readers will keep this a secret, the scribe does help out where he can.

This scribe is having trouble coming up with anything the OMOTM have done because they haven’t done anything. In phone conversations with some of the OFs, they are doing what is recommended and staying home.

The OFs only leave the ole homestead when they have to. Some of the OGs have even used the word “scared.”

One OF said, “Where am I going to go? Everything is closed or so regulated I don’t know what to do, and the dumb masks are a pain in the you-know-what.”

Two OFs said they are saving money; even though gas is cheap, they are not going anywhere anyway — so there is a savings. One commented on not going out to eat, and not getting haircuts (see above comments) — they are all savings.

The other OF said he worries about the people whose jobs were where he spent his money (when he was spending money) and the longer this goes on he is getting used to not doing what he used to do and it is not that bad.

However, and this has been mentioned before, they do miss people, especially family that is quite a distance away and occasionally taking a trip to see them, and vice versa. One of the OFs mentioned that on Father’s Day his family generally had big doings. They held fireworks, cookouts, and got caught up with family chitchat.

This year, because of the OFs’ ages the family does not want to take a chance on having that virus hook a ride on something and somehow pass it along.

Some of the OMOTM say, even though things are “opening up,” they are still going to wait until there is a vaccination, a pill, or a shot that is available for the OF to take advantage of before they venture out on a routine basis; otherwise they will just go out when it is absolutely necessary.

Without the meetings, this scribe is running out of word ammunition supplied by the OFs to generate a column; however, this scribe can tell of the occasional opportunity when he got a chance to go swimming in Fox Creek.

It is interesting how past memories are prompted by current events. Our neighbors took their kids swimming in Fox Creek just a few days ago and one of their ages is close to the scribe’s when he went swimming in the same creek but not at the same spot.

If we got done in the fields early, our father would let us go swimming. We contacted a few others and hopped on the John Deere B and putt-putted to Murphy Road, picking up a few kids on the way.  Across from Murphy’s farm was a nice place to swim.

There was clean water, wide and not too much current. But we could only do this for a little while because most of the kids there had to get home for chores. This little interlude did get rid of the chaff from haying.

This scribe went to Google to see if the creek still had that wide spot and it does. There is one great big question mark to this scribe. Google has the Fox Creek labeled as the Cobleskill Creek, but the Cobleskill Creek enters the Schoharie Creek at Central Bridge. That’s nowhere near the Fox Creek, which enters the Schoharie Creek just before the Old Stone Fort (north of the Fort) in Schoharie. Hmmmm. Who questions Google?

As stated in the beginning of this column, there is hardly anything new or exciting to report from the OMOTM. In fact, this has turned into a column about nothing. Say! Didn’t Jerry Seinfeld start this way?  There is hope for us yet.

In last week’s column, the topic was basically what the OFs ate when they were young. A late note received from another of the OFs mentioned a dish his mother served and that was Hungarian goulash.

This is not an unusual meal; most of the OFs have had that dish, and mothers still make it today. The varieties of goulash are similar to the making of jumbles (cookies) — many ways to make the same thing. This dish is also offered in many restaurants so it is not as unusual as chocolate syrup and sugar on cereal or ground-up leftover popcorn for breakfast

However, some people have a knack for making goulash special and different as this OF says his mother used to make it. To him, it was special. Why? That is the unknown.

This leads into another late report for one OF who claimed his mother couldn’t cook at all. He says she had to get the cookbook out to boil water. Her cooking was awful; if it was close to edible, it was either overcooked, burned, or raw.

This OF, as he grew older (into his thirties), thought he began to understand why his mother’s cooking was so bad. It was because her mind was on other things and not cooking. For some reason, she could cook poached eggs, but when she did it was up to the OF to make his own toast.

Her toast would be either just warm bread, or burned so badly that by the time the OF was done scraping it, the toast would become so thin it was possible to see through it.

When the OF was old enough to communicate with his dad on an almost equal basis, he asked him about her cooking. The OF said his dad told him he married her because he loved her — her looks, her talents, plus she could work like a horse — not for her cooking.

Model-T running again

This scribe also received an email from another OMOTM that said he finally got his Model-T motor car running and he sent a video of himself running it around his backyard. It is amazing to see cars, trucks, planes, and boats 100 years old and still running. Some are running privately, and some in shows, but they are still chugging along.

The Model-T was made for 19 years and, according to the net, when they first came out, the autos sold for around $800. Ford found a way to lower costs and by 1927 was selling the model-T for $300.


At one time, the OFs were discussing faith, not religious faith but faith we have in each other and in things. For example, it takes faith to jump into an airplane that was built in the thirties, zip down the runway and take off.

At the time when the OFs were talking about this topic, they said we put a lot of faith in our vehicles each time we shut the door and turn the key. Our faith that each man (or robot) that built their car did their job (and did it right) is an assumption the OFs make when the door goes thump, the engine whirrs, and off the OFs go.


Using the word “engine” reminds this scribe what his father taught him about engines. This scribe’s father was well educated and an engineer who not only did civil engineering but also aeronautical engineering.

He told this scribe that an engine ran on fuel, and a motor ran on electricity. Calling an outboard engine an outboard motor is a misnomer, although everybody does it. A ⅜-inch electric drill has a motor; a weed whacker (that the OFs pull their hearts out to start) has an engine.

One time long ago, the OFs got on the beleaguered weathermen for the use of a term something like this, “Tomorrow rain or snow will over spread the area.” To “over spread” requires a constant predetermined maximum amount of rain or snow to already be there; otherwise the rain or snow is just going to spread over the area.

Right words, wrong order. To the OFs, the use of “over spread” indicates a deluge but the weather guys just might be indicating there may be a shower or two.

The other thing many of the OFs don’t understand is the term “breezy.” A breeze to the OFs is something that comes along on a hot day and a nice, soft, gentle wind comes up and the OFs go, “Ahhh” and wipe their brows.

But the weather guys say, “Tomorrow, it will be breezy” and the OFs find that tomorrow the wind will blow their hat off. This ain’t no breeze! This is a real blow!

Breeze? My foot. Tell it like it is, guys; say something like, “Tomorrow the winds are going to blow; hold on to your hat.” The OFs look forward to a breeze, not what those guys call a breeze.


Well, Father’s Day is coming up shortly and the OFs have noticed the difference between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day advertisements. Mother’s Day ads: Diamonds on sale for $3,000. Father’s Day ads: Men’s target cargo shorts on sale for $11. 

Happy Father’s Day to all.

This scribe and his wife were sitting, having breakfast, and started discussing what they had for breakfast when they were kids. This prompted the scribe to email the OFs to find out what they had for breakfast when they were kids and young adults. The replies came and included what they had for breakfast, and some just stated what they had then that they liked but not confined to breakfast.

Most of the OFs are in their eighties, or close to it, but they should be dead based on what they ate back in the thirties and early forties. That is more than eighty years ago.

To start, many mothers saved grease in a can on the back of the stove for cooking; the primary grease was bacon fat. One OF mentioned he can still smell buttermilk pancakes cooked on a grill covered with bacon grease. Then smother the pancakes with real butter and maple syrup, with two or three eggs on the side and bacon to boot.

Many of the OFs drank whole raw milk. One OF mentioned ground-up left-over popcorn for breakfast.

Another OF said they poured chocolate syrup on their cereal, with sugar on top of that. Still another said that quite often their main meal was breakfast and they had potatoes and bacon or ham, or fried Spam, or even fried bologna, eggs, whole milk, and real butter on toast.

The OF added, “Of course we had to load up before going out in the fields for the day, but many OFs loaded up the same way before going to school.”

Hamburger gravy on toast was another meal an OF said they were served, and this was good.

It was surprising how some of the OFs had the same thing for a snack. This snack was bread with butter and sugar on it, and the scribe remembers having black molasses on bread as a snack.

This scribe also remembers eating “from the land” as his mother used dandelion greens in salads. There were wild strawberries from the fields; raspberries grew rampant in the manure pile; currants behind the hop house, and blackcaps down by the little creek.

When strawberries were in season, there was just strawberry shortcake for supper. That was it! Strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream. The scribe thought he was alone in this, but he found out other OFs ate the same thing.

Then there are the Schoharie County Jumbles. There are two legends of how this cookie came about. One story is that it is an old recipe that dates back to the 1700s; the other is that the recipe was developed during the Great Depression because it used so few ingredients and is so darn good.

It is hard to find the jumbles outside of Schoharie County. Outside the county, no one seems to know what the OFs are talking about when talking cookies and the OFs mention jumbles.

Because three OFs mentioned these cookies, this scribe checked into the matter. This scribe’s mother did the same thing — made jumbles. Jumbles with milk! How good is that?

The scribe decided to check it out and in a recipe book, from Esperance (reprinted recipes for the village’s bicentennial in 2018) titled “Recipes and Remembrances.” A section called “Jumbles” was, in fact, just facts about Jumbles. Briefly, the cookie was brought over by the Europeans over 200 years ago, and since then there have many variations of the same cookie. So there.

All this talk about food brings to mind that the scribe’s wife grumbled about having to cook another meal without a restaurant break. The scribe told her that he would make dinner that evening.

The box of mac and cheese with frozen chicken nuggets was made for her and she was happy since she didn’t have to think about doing any cooking that night. She did complain the nuggets were a little hard, but I don't know why the scribe said. The bag said, “fully cooked, keep frozen.”


Flying Eagle

Well it is nice weather, which brings an OF major event — the launching of the Flying Eagle. This eagle has landed in the water. The ship has been taken out of dry dock and is now berthed at its summer dock on Thompson Lake Road.

The crew did not fare so well; they seem to be much thinner. Even the crow (he was the mascot) who is now the captain of the ship, had slim pickings.

Over the winter, the crew gathered and laid out its plans for pilfering and plundering for the summer campaign of 2020. Due to circumstances beyond the control of this raucous crew, and their new fearless leader, the pickings have become even more drastically slim.

Nobody seems to be out and about, and the crew can’t tell who is rich or poor because they all look alike. Everybody is wearing masks, and it would take all day to make a good plunder of a group because “plunderable groups” are standing so far apart to plunder them ain’t worth the time.

The captain bellowed, “The heck with this. Let’s go and pick on Jack Sparrow and call it a day.” This crow has been on too many campaigns with the OFs.


Well, another week of the COVID-19 virus running the country, and the Old Men of the Mountain are still holed up. The OMOTM are planning on holding a get-together where there is lots of space. This is about a month away.

Some of the OGs will attend but not a whole lot. This scribe has gotten some phone calls from those that will not go. They are not going based on almost the same reason — they are too old and that puts them in the category of “watch out for the virus.” So large gatherings are out for them.

Even for those who will be in attendance, it will be chancy. Social distancing can be attained — not a problem, but how do you eat a hamburger with a mask on?

Most of the OFs do realize the mask is to keep the wearer from blowing his germs (should they cough or sneeze) all over whoever is close by; basically, it is not there to keep someone else from spraying you — you need a full face shield for that.

This scribe noticed in the paper a group similar to the OMOTM, only not as large, who managed to do the same thing sans the food bit. They still get together at the home of one of the group’s members who has a large tarmac in front of his garage that was built for playing basketball when the kids were younger.

They space their lawn chairs about six to eight feet apart and all sit around and talk. About what, there is no clue. At least they were out, had on masks, and practiced social distancing — a good model for the OFs to practice.

No one wants to be responsible for passing this virus along, but neither do many of the OFs want to go nuts staring at the walls.

Mining notes inthe little black book

Now for checking the little black book for topics from the past not submitted to the paper. Ah, found one.

People who have read previous OMOTM reports know the major topics of discussion at the breakfast are old tractors, trucks, cars, and basically any old equipment. The banter for this note was based on an old Buick, not that particular vehicle, but its age.

What prompted this discussion was, as the OFs were leaving the Duanesburg Diner, a 1933 Buick went whizzing by on Route 20, heading west with regular license plates, not even historical plates. This car is 87 years old, and did not look brand new; it looked like someone’s regular car that they used every day.

The OFs started talking about the vehicles the OFs were brought up on. At that point in time, it was possible to fix these cars in your own garage. Parts came in parts.

For instance, if a wheel bearing broke, it was possible to purchase just the wheel bearing in order to fix the bearing. Now it requires getting a whole assembly.

This also holds true, in some cases, for changing a light bulb. Instead of just getting a new light bulb now it is necessary to get the whole assembly.

One OF brought up that on his new truck everything is computerized. If he didn’t have a computer, the OF said he couldn’t even start this truck even if he knew how.

However, the OFs love their new cars. One OF said can you vision a 2018 Honda CRV as a hot rod in 2058, like a 1929 or 1930 Model A coupe.

The OFs would like to be around in another 80 years to see if 2018 (at that time) Kias, or Hondas, or even Chevrolets are still in running condition, like Model T’s, and Model A’s are today.

This scribe has a note on the same page “Fishing, Fishermen” then underneath that is the comment, “Fish are smarter than the fishermen.” This scribe wishes he could remember that conversation from two years ago.

There is another note in the book that says “Pickers”; this one refers to the TV show of the same name — “American Pickers.” The OFs thought, if they could use an OF’s barn and bring all their junk to that barn then try to get on that show it would be a great way to get rid of all their junk, er —collections.

The OFs tried to figure out how that show operates. There has to be some communication with the people that run the show, with photographs and letters with items of interest. One OF said we would have to include a motorcycle or two, a few bicycles, a couple of old cars, and a bunch of signs, or this OF thought they wouldn’t show up.

“Yeah,” one OF said, “then they only buy a few things, and will leave us with a barn full of stuff.  Actually, we don’t care because now we will have the exposure and have one heck of a barn sale. Just from the interest developed by being on the show, I bet we could get rid of all our collected artifacts.” (Snicker.)

“Sounds good to me,” a couple of the OFs said, “but it is too much work. We are too old for a project like that, and who has an old car, or motorcycle for bait?”

Well, hopefully this quarantine business will come to an end pretty soon and the OMOTM will be able to get together once again and give us some more of their trials, tribulations and experiences, and outright fibs.

In the meantime, this scribe checked with a younger member of the family concerning home-schooling.  She said, “Home-schooling is not going well. Today, two students were suspended for fighting and one teacher was fired for drinking on the job.”


Like most people right about now, the Old Men of the Mountain are getting antsy about getting out and seeing people. Some of the OGs are getting tired of looking like the latest bank robber when going out.

Though most adhere to the protocols in effect with the mask and staying at least six feet from other people, the OFs are getting tired of it. Many have not left home unless it is really important but, again, as the weather has improved, this scribe has heard of a few OGs that are going out and about.

All this anxiety about trying not to get the virus is testing the OGs’ mettle; a few came up with a type of release valve. Many of the OGs miss the Tuesday morning breakfast and the people there, so they came up with a summer get-together at the home of one of the OFs who has the land, the amenities, and the time. (Time! That is something all the OFs have right now.)

There is another aspect of getting together, which is like a high school reunion, especially one where many are basically housebound. That is to see how much the OFs have changed when they can’t get to a barber shop, or they’ve tried cutting their own hair. One OF said he is at the breaking point of doing just that (and so is this scribe) because he said he is not the type to wear a man bun.

Plans are now in the works for having an old-fashioned church picnic of the potluck variety, only not really as elaborate. The OFs are simple people, so simple it will be. It was decided, seeing as how the better halves have been cooped up with these old goats, they will be invited too. (Isn’t that nice of the OFs?)

As mentioned in previous columns, the OFs are not too keen on all this virtual stuff, although the younger people (meaning most of our grandchildren) seem to get it. One OF suggested we have a Zoom breakfast.

Some of the OFs don’t even have a computer, or a tablet, or a smartphone. (To many of the OFs, the TV show Star Trek and the flip phone is as modern as they get.) The few OFs spoken to wonder how Zoom would work; what would happen to all the burps, f----, and off-handed remarks? Zoom could not handle that, and that is where a lot of the fun is. Nah, this is not for the OMOTM.

Now all the aforementioned picnic planning has to be put in motion, and maybe this scribe will actually have an up-to-date report on the recent activities of the OFs. This scribe hopes it does work out — it will be great to see some of these OGs.

Twilight Zone

With not much new news to tell, the scribe has found a story to relate from past meetings. This one goes back to July 2 of last year. Two OFs asked if anyone saw lights in the sky the night before, and the answer was “no.”

These two OFs said they saw strange lights in the northwestern sky. They said the lights were bright and did not move and they were not helicopters. Both OFs said they saw them for quite a long time. The lights just hung there and then all of a sudden they were gone.

“Planets,” a couple of OFs said,.“If they were UFOs, they would be like streaks of light not something that hung around for a long time.” These first OFs maintained they were UFOs of some kind because the light was too close and too bright to be planets.

One OF said, “There was nothing on the radio, or on TV, or in the papers about bright lights in the sky, so you guys must have hit the ’shine a little too hard if no one else saw lights.”

The OFs claiming to have seen the lights stopped talking and did not pursue the sighting anymore. This scribe thought at the time that it is hard to see something unusual and then tell about it, even to people in the area that should have witnessed it too, and then not be backed up by anyone else seeing it.  Maybe we are living in the Twilight Zone.

Anybody else feel like they’ve cooked dinner about 395 times this month?


The question of the day is the same question that is hollered by the kids from the back seat on any car trip over fifteen minutes, “ARE WE THERE YET?”

Are we there yet is a question the Old Men of the Mountain are asking, and they are answering this question themselves, “No we are not!”

The question (and answer) these days are about the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. The OFs seem to think it is going to be quite awhile, and to one OF that this scribe has spoken to, this virus is like dust and it blows all over the place.

Again, the few spoken to are chomping at the bit to just get out and about for a little while without all the worry, especially at the ages of these OMOTM.

It is not at all like World War II with rationing and books of rationing stamps. Those of the OFs who have been through that remember those stamps well and how little grumbling was done about them. At least the OFs don’t remember grumbling.

This is completely different. As one OF put it, “Screw up on this one and you are dead; screw up on your ration book and all you are out is five pounds of sugar.”

The OFs can’t wait to be “there.” “There,” in this case, means maybe a vaccine to handle this virus, or the virus just gives up and goes away — not “there” as dead.

The OFs spoken to talk about restaurants opening under the new guidelines, and the OFs ask: How are they going to fit the OFs into some, if not most, of the restaurants we go to?

Right now we are shoulder to shoulder, and hiney to hiney in them and, if we go six feet apart, we definitely have to eat in shifts. The early birds would eat in one shift, and the sleeper-inners in another.

One OF said, “Who the h--- is going to figure all that out?” But nobody is going to listen to him anyway. Maybe it can be done by days.

One OF offered a group to go Monday, one on Tuesday, and leftovers on Wednesday. That might work; at least the OFs would get out one day a week.

This scribe thinks that for kids and young people this may be, as they say, the new normal — all this virtual stuff, but for all of us OFs in our seventies and eighties these have been long years for habits to become really ingrained in our tough old hides, and it is even tougher to change at this point in our lives.

Even so, some of the OFs are keeping themselves very busy; one OF in particular said just the other day he is so busy he doesn’t know which way to turn.

That is a good problem, but then some OFs know of families and close friends who have been laid off, furloughed, or had hours cut back; no matter what it is called, these workers will eventually be out of work. The OFs think that in many cases this is going to be a permanent situation.

One OF said two things are going to happen to companies small or large: They are either going to reopen, or fold up. But for the company that has to use the “lay off” on key, talented personnel, an incentive is in order to keep them.

If not, the company may lose them because all those gone are not going to hang around until our friend, the “there,” comes. They will look for other jobs, and who knows. This is a sticky wicket any way it is looked at. And it is worldwide, which makes it stickier.

The other OF who is on the busy side is Jack Norray and his son. They are planning on having their Norray family annual chicken barbecue in front of the Knox Reformed Church on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This is going to be a different barbecue than those in the past because things are different than they were in the past. This will be a drive-through pickup according to Jack. It will be necessary to order your chicken dinner ahead of time. Well, that is different!

How are the OFs supposed to know about this, or the people who are out for a ride, and don’t want to make dinner? This scribe answered his own question by saying, “Hey, we will put this information in the column. After all, we are OFs of the highest order.”

So anyone will be able to go online to: blacksheephoney.com, or by calling 518-872-2257. Just so there are no surprises, the price is 12 bucks for half a chicken, a baked potato, coleslaw, and a homemade roll with honey butter.

The scribe is hungry just typing this. Last week, I said I went to a new restaurant called “The Kitchen.” You must gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have no clue how this place is still in business.


This should be an interesting week for the Old Men of the Mountain. On May 3, 2003, the iconic rock ledge near Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, fondly known as the Old Man of the Mountain, crumbled and tumbled down to the base of the mountain. This rock face was used to promote New Hampshire from as early as 1850. This scribe and his wife, on one of their many trips to the coast of New England, made the journey to see this out cropping and it was impressive and very well defined.

When New Hampshire used the image of the Old Man of the Mountain as its choice to put on the ninth state quarter in the 50 State Quarters program in September 2000, one of our OMOTM, Mike Willsey, purchased enough of those quarters for all the OMOTM and then some.

Mike soldered or glued pins (used for jewelry) on the back of each quarter (the back being the side of the quarter that did not have the image of the Old Man of the Mountain on it) and gave one to each OF. Most of the OMOTM pinned Mike’s gift to their OMOTM caps and wore them proudly.

The Old Man of the Mountain is now just a pile of rubble at the base of the mountain. The Old Men of the Mountain hope they wind up more than that, but that pile of rubble has had quite a history, and even a short story written about it by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

This scribe, because he was reminiscing on the quarter handouts by Mike, brought on by the anniversary of the collapse of the Old Man of the Mountain 17 years ago in May, called a very good friend of his that was brought up in New Hampshire, just about at the base of this ledge formation.

This fellow said that even the Indians had legends of the outcrop. He also said that his brother worked for the state and with the crew that maintained this rock feature in the summertime. One of the problems they had was with the people themselves that came to view the profile.

To maintain the Old Man the workers had a path, which they made on a back road, to get to the top of the mountain in which they hauled themselves and equipment up to do the work. The visitors eventually found this path and would go up there and party and leave all their trash behind. It was not a park but the people made a mess and left it, and the state had to go and clean it almost daily.

The scribe’s friend also said that at the base of the mountain was a lake called Profile Lake, and people were allowed to fly fish in this lake, and the lake was stocked.

This is the same problem the OMOTM that work on the Long Path have with Vroman’s nose in Middleburgh. Vroman’s Nose is a prominent geological feature in the town of Fulton (near Middleburgh), in Schoharie County. People climb to the top and leave their rubbish.

The plateau on the top of Vroman’s Nose is kind of a park and when college is in session in Cobleskill the trash is substantial. Sometimes the benches even get thrown over the cliff, and there has been evidence of some pretty good-sized fires started on this highland. The OMOTM go up there and clean it up.

No worst food

The reminiscing continues on another subject. At one time, the OFs began a conversation of foods they did not like. This was a selective category with no real winner.

Beets were mentioned but quickly voted down by other OFs who like their beets, cooked or not, pickled or not, soaked in vinegar with onions or not, tossed in with cucumbers and onions or not. Cukes themselves were mentioned, but they too lost out; so did broccoli. One OF mentioned pineapple, but this OF was told that was a fruit and didn’t count.

Another OF said he didn’t like cheese sauces thrown on everything. “If I order string beans, I want string beans, not string beans covered in some awful tasting, rich cheese sauce dribbled all over the beans so there is no taste resembling string beans,” he said.

The OF continued, “As a matter of fact, when the dang cheese is dribbled on the beans it spreads on everything on the plate. The whole plate tastes like the sauce, so why order the food, just order the sauce!”

One OF brought up rutabagas and that was shot down also. Surprisingly, more than one OF had rutabagas and potatoes mixed together by their moms, and they all said they miss that dish. Slosh some real butter over and chow down, was the universal decision. One other OF said that he sprinkled brown sugar along with the butter and it was almost like dessert.

It is a good thing that people have different palates or eating would be quite boring. I need to practice social distancing from — the refrigerator. Half of us are going to come out of this quarantine as amazing cooks. The other half will come out with a drinking problem.