The Old Men of the Mountain met on Tuesday, April 2 (this scribe’s birthday), at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. The OMOTM had another pleasant morning heading out to breakfast even though there were reports of morning temperatures from 16 to 19 degrees for this beginning of April.

The OFs began talking about fires and fire trucks. There is a precursor to this because many of the OFs are or were firemen and seem to be of one accord.

The OFs think the fire trucks are too fancy now for what they are supposed to do. Small volunteer companies can’t afford these trucks with all the trimmings and gold-leaf lettering. This has nothing to do with putting out fires.

What they really need are trucks like Army trucks only painted so they can be seen and not so they disappear into the scenery. The fire trucks need to have really good tires, and dependable equipment like engines and pumps, not these things that are so ornamental they don’t want them to get scratched.

One OF said the trucks are required to have seats in them like we are going for a 1,000-mile ride.

“Shoot,” he said, “if we go 10 or 15 miles, that is a long hike for us to get to a fire or accident.”

Another OF said, “What we do need are more volunteers.”

And yet another OF added, “They have the rules so tough it is almost impossible to get new, younger volunteers.”

One OF mentioned that young people have so much going on with their kids and the school’s demands now. It’s not like it used to be when school was school and home was home. Now the school and the state have taken up a lot of the parent’s time just keeping up with these requirements.

Pawns in  Spectrum’s game

The OFs were in a mood Tuesday morning and this scribe thinks it is because most received their Spectrum bills and all were higher, not by a little bit, but by quite a lot. One OF mentioned that he thinks it is not a coincidence that the big hike in the bills came as Spectrum is being saddled with a large fine from the state for not fulfilling its contract with the state.

The OFs rhetorically asked the question: Do you think Spectrum is going to sit back and take that hit?

“Heck no, they are going to pass it along to us. Did you notice how quick they had that price increase out there? This spike was planned long ago and I think the state knew it,” one OF opined. This OF further stated, “We are just pawns in one big chess game.”

Pro players need higher nets, lower salaries

Then the OGs started talking about sports, especially salaries, and basketball. In the sport of basketball, these guys make tons of money and one OF added, “Like they all do.”

Another OF brought up that he thought it was the players who turn into super stars, because not all make the big bucks. This OF thought they all make enough money, but we usually hear only about the big guys, no pun intended.

One OF wondered where the gene pool is for all these guys who can run down the floor and jump so their hand is over the basketball basket by almost a foot. With the court about 90 feet long, and with these guys so big, it takes only 15 long strides to go from line to line.

When this scribe told his better half what the OMOTM talked about, she said (as she has said many times before) that she thinks professional basketball hoops should be 12 feet high. It is not fair that kids in junior high school should be trying to put the ball through a hoop that is the same height as the pros.

The rims have always been 10 feet high since basketball rules were posted in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891. The average height of the player at that time was 5 foot, 6 inches. Today the average NBA player is 6 feet, 7 inches. The better half rested her case.

The OFs think there should be some kind of a cap on the money these guys make playing sports. One OF said he doesn’t watch much sports any more or even care. Who wants to watch a bunch of millionaires run the bases? Not him.

This OF maintains by attending his local high school’s baseball game (or any other sport like track, or basketball), he can watch a good game.

“Humph,” he said, “some of the pros are drafted right off the high school diamond.” One thought he brought out is that he does get some looks like: What is that old codger doing here?

“Doesn’t bother me,” the OF said.

Hairy dilemma

Somehow the OFs began talking about hair growth! Again!

This is wishful thinking on the OFs’ part. However, one OF claimed there is a product on the market that will grow hair no matter how old you are.

This has to be a scam. If there were such a product, it wouldn’t be a secret that only one OF would know about it. This product would be advertised all over the place, especially on the sports channels.

The OFs asked, “What color does it come in? Will your hair come in white, or black?”

One OF said he used to have red hair, and asked, “So does it only come in black?”

The OF then said he would be OK with it if it were white.

One more OF added, “We are just past April Fool’s Day. Are you just putting us on?”

The first OF said he saw it on television and was going to watch that channel again and write down what it is and if it is “as seen on TV only,” not sold in stores.

Everybody said, “You do that.”

All the OMOTM who were at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh are waiting for the answer to the hair-growth cream, or salve, or maybe lotion and those OMOTM were: Roger Chapman (and yes, he was there last week; he even rode with the scribe), Miner Stevens, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter (loved the hat), Jim Heiser, Kenny Parks, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Marty Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, and me.

Location:

Some of the Old Men of the Mountain wandered over the mountain on Tuesday, March 25, to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow to have breakfast. For most of the OFs, it was a nice ride, while others who live close by did not get a chance to see the sun rise from the top of the hill.

A well-kept secret was disclosed at the breakfast on Tuesday morning. A larger portion of the OMOTM than would be imagined still like to watch cartoons; this, however, may not be a bad idea.

The OFs say it takes them out of all the crazy stuff that is going on around the world right now. The OFs would rather watch Elmer Fudd chase Bugs Bunny into his underground home than deal with all the “garbage” (OMOTM term) that is in the news and on television.

The OMOTM think the news is designed to excite and agitate, so more news is generated and therefore more news is there to report on. There are some OFs who don’t think like this, but they think there are now so many more people, and technology brings the whole world in real time to all the kooks and with more people there are just more kooks. (The scribe notes that there may be more people, but kooks are less in percentage.)

The problem is that the copycats view each incident and the news has their actions blasted all over the place so it encourages those on the edge to take action. With many, all they want is to get their name in the news.

This is worldwide. We also have the “terrorists” running around doing their thing. Cartoons are much better way to keep these OFs sane.

Hoarders or collectors?

The OF keep talking about hoarders; some OFs accuse other OFs of being hoarders, and these OFs consider themselves collectors.

Tuesday morning’s conversation started in the same vein but the “collectors” queried the ones who claimed they were hoarders about what they had accumulated over the 50, 60, and even 70 years of roaming around this planet. What did they have stuck on shelves and in the garage or attic?

It was found there is a considerable amount of stuff (junk, knickknacks, momentos) in the OFs’ homes so that, if the OFs ever got together, really downsized, and had a unified garage sale, it would be one heck of a garage sale.

It was also found that in this conversation most of, if not all of, the OFs have not stopped adding to their collecting. As one OF put it, “If it is on sale, and it is a good one, it’s for me.”

So the collections grow even if the OF is 75 or 80 years old. When the OF’s number is called way up yonder and the OF kicks the bucket, his kids will have to deal with all this. One OF said his kids will just hire a truck, throw everything in it, and haul it to the dump.

Morbid but necessary talk

Speaking about all this made the subject turn to nursing homes, retirement homes, and assisted-living facilities. These are not places the OFs want to talk about, but they realize these places might be a home of the future to some.

The largest lament of the OFs is that they do not want to be a burden to their kids. (Although some say their kids were such a pain when they were growing up, the OFs wanted to get old and become a burden to them).

The OFs call it payback time. This, of course, was uttered with tongue well placed in cheek.

One OF said the worst place to visit is a nursing home. The OFs said to him so many of them know where they are and don’t want to be there. The other OFs knowingly agreed and hoped it would not be their last stopping place on this Earth. This was a morbid type of conversation for the OMOTM, but necessary in a way.

Travelers

A fresh story was related by one OMOTM. It seems this OF and his spouse, on returning back to the Northeast from their southern home, decided to follow the Civil Rights Trail (sort of) for a different way to arrive home, and they took their time. For the most part they used Airbnb for their places to stay and said that part was very interesting too.

Some of the states and places they stopped at were: New Orleans and Bourbon Street in Louisiana; a southern plantation; Selma, Alabama and the Edmund Pettus Bridge; Memphis, Tennessee; and Plains, Georgia, home of the former president, Jimmy Carter. These are the ones this scribe can remember but there were others.

The Airbnb experiences were different; one they mentioned was not the home, but the neighborhood it was in. They said the homes around it were rundown; there was an abandoned school at the end of the street, and yet they had no problems.

The house the OMOTM couple stayed in was really nice they said. They mentioned that this house did not go with the surrounding neighborhood.

This points up a fact that in the current social time it is smart to plan for the retirement years when at a young age so trips like this and other traveling, or relocation to a retirement home in a warmer climate, or even (for skiers) a winter climate, is possible.

When the OFs were young, the kids were groomed to take over the farm or business. Today that is much less the case, and, if the retirement years aren’t planned for, a newly formed YF into an OF, well, he is stuck.

The OMOTM happens to have a mixture of both planners and no-planners, and there is a third group that has so much money it doesn’t make any difference, and they include: Wally Guest, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Mike Willsey, (Winnie Chartier), Gerry Chartier, and me.

Location:

March 19 was a Tuesday and the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner on Route 20 in Princetown.

The OMOTM meet on every Tuesday with an attendance better than most religions have when they meet on Sunday. There is a good reason for this.

The OMOTM have no rules, no goals, no required attendance, no dues, no discussion on politics or religion, no dress code, and no civic duties. In essence, all the OMOTM do is have a pleasant breakfast between friends where everyone knows your name.

On this particular Tuesday, some of the OFs talked about pruning their trees. The discussion was on apple and pear trees, but this time of year the OFs thought it was a good time to prune any tree.

One OF said that even though he was doing the pruning now he thought he was a little late — not much but a little. Other OFs that have never bothered to prune their trees asked the OFs that did prune what was the proper way to do it. These OFs were given lessons on how to prune trees and found that those who did prune their trees all did it basically the same way.

One OF said last year he had tons of pears, and few apples, but the year before that he had tons of apples but very few pears. Another OF said it was all timing between the blossoms and the bees. This OF said, if the blossoms are out full and the bees are around, the OF will have fruit. It seems that both blossoms and bees have to be together for a good harvest.

Snowbirds like golf carts

The OFs who hunker down for the winter here in the great Northeast began discussing those who fly away for the winter months. The discussion focused on looking forward to the snowbirds’ return. This prompted further discussion from OFs who went down to visit those in the southern climes.

The dialogue was on the mode of travel by golf carts. Some of the OFs who go south have cars down there and so they fly down while some drive down and back each year. A few have relatives that drive them back and forth. Once down there, one OF said, they hardly use their vehicle — the vehicle of choice is the golf cart.

The OFs who have had the opportunity to go south and join the snowbirds said some of these golf carts are all dolled up with fancy paint jobs, curtains, flags, and tinted windows, and some have matching small trailers they haul behind.

This seems to be sort of a competition to see who has the fanciest golf cart. One OF mentioned that it does cut down on the carbon footprint.

Armchair quarterbacks

The OFs at one table began talking about the Boeing situation concerning their new airplane (the “737 Max 8”) and the recent fatal crash investigations they are having with this plane.

One OF thought that they are going to find there is nothing really the matter with the plane. He feels it is going to be some sophisticated computer hardware glitch (that can happen) that the pilots were never alerted to or shown how to correct for it.

Another OF said he thought the engines were too powerful for the airframe and should be scaled back. Just like many major calamities, countless armchair quarterbacks enter the fray. Sometimes none of them are right and sometimes one or two hit the nail on the head.

The OFs thought that, no matter what happens, this is going to be a sticky wicket for Boeing, and Boeing is such a major player in the economy of the Northwest.

DNA drama

The next chatter goes back about five or six weeks ago when the OFs were talking about their DNA and genealogy. Today a different group of OFs approached the same subject and were wondering about their ancestors.

This was prompted by some TV show that was tracing the expansion of people through the planet from basically a single source. One OF said he would bet there are some young scientists in this field checking human or maybe animal DNA with fish DNA to see if they can connect the two.

One OF said he hopes it is never proven that human or animal DNA can be connected to a trout, or a guppy. To this OF, it would be a bummer to know he was related to the fish swimming around in his granddaughter’s little fish tank.

So far, one OF said, we have not even been completely connected to monkeys and apes — let alone fish.

An OF suggested, with Easter coming up, it is a good thing that Jesus had a crown of thorns, and was crucified on a wooden tree; that way everything would rot and his DNA would be gone.

“Yeah,” one OF suggested, “How about the nails?”

The original OF said, “They [the nails] would be gone also; the lime would have taken care of that.”

The other OF said, “Are we sure of that? The nails could have been pulled out and might not have gone into the pit with the cross.”

Wow! Here is another discussion that can become really deep.

Those OFs who stumbled out of bed in the morning and (like the song says, stretched and came to life, dressed and either waited for their ride, or started ole Betsy) made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown were: Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Miner Stevens, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Marty Herzog, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray, Otis Lawyer, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey and Warren Willsey, along with Amy Willsey (great support person), Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On Tuesday, March 12, the Old Men of The Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg. This scribe must report nothing went on; the OFs did not have to rely on any fire trucks, police cars, ambulances or anything like that

No emergencies occurred, the OFs did not have to be rescued; as a matter of fact, it was very routine, and the discussions were on old cars and trucks, old farm equipment, machinery maintenance — just regular  OF talk.

The OFs talked about a new craze of using obsolete trailers for storage. It may be a form of copying from the Home and Garden TV show where they show people purchasing one of these obsolete trailers in good shape and making a home out of it.

This has not escaped the imagination of the OFs and some have purchased one of the trailers and already have plans of what do with it. One OF said, if he didn’t straighten up with the old lady, he better plan on making it a functional man cave.

It was interesting to hear the advantages for using one of these things for storage especially if the OFs are collectors and restorers of large items, like furniture, or tractors, cars, and trucks. As regular readers of the OMOTM know, we have quite a contingent of those rascals in the group.

So many so that, as a group, if these OFs all got together, with whiteboards, and slide projectors for old pictures, and computers for the newer stuff, they could put on quite a seminar for those just getting into the hobby.

The only problem with using these old trailers or containers used for ship and rail travel is they are ugly as sin and, depending on where they are, some sort of pleasing decorations, or fencing around the offending trailer is in order.

Naming the seven dwarfs

One OF apparently at one table came to the breakfast out of sorts. This scribe is unable to attest to that but the scribe and others at the scribe’s table heard the word “grumpy” and the other OFs were calling him grumpy. (Aside: It is hard to stay grumpy with this group.)

This had the OFs at the long table try to come up with the seven dwarfs from the movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” The OFs didn’t make it. The OFs came up with Grumpy, Dopey, Sneezy, and that was it.

One OF said Dumbo; that was not one of dwarfs and it is a completely different movie. What was also a little odd was about 12 OFs with very serious looks on their faces trying to come up with the doofus names of the seven dwarfs, this scribe included.

For those whose interest is piqued, the seven dwarfs are: Sneezy, Sleepy, Happy, Doc, Grumpy, Dopey, and Bashful. “Snow White” is a beautiful little movie; the animation is great,

“Heigh-ho, heigh-ho,

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s home from work we go,

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho.”

Or something like that.

Cell phones let you hide

Many of the OMOTM have abandoned their landlines and gone to using only cell phones. Now to contact these OFs, it is more difficult.

This may be the purpose. The OFs all say it saves them money but we know now they can hide.

It used to be all the OF had to remember was basically the last four numbers for the OF they were trying to contact because the first three were the same depending on where they lived. So it was easy; it wasn’t necessary to carry a directory with a whole bunch of different numbers.

Also now the OF doesn’t even have to turn the phone on. But, on the other hand, it is possible to get hold of the OF no matter where the OF is. Unfortunately, the OF could be in the john and, in the middle of the conversation, the OF making the call can hear the toilet flush. Ah, technology.

Army strong

Some of the OFs who have and restore old equipment restore old military equipment. Tuesday morning, this group was wondering why the government does everything to overkill.

They were talking about restoring World War II army trucks and jeeps and what they are held together with and trying to remove just one rusted-on bolt. How can four or five guys make a whole conversation on removing one simple bolt? But they did.

The OFs in complete detail described each tool they used, what worked and what didn’t. Apparently, nothing worked because the bolt is still holding firm.

The Army must not want its stuff falling apart, because in battle there is not a garage just a few miles down the road. But half-an-hour conversation on a bolt, wow. This scribe supposes a clique of knitters could to the same thing talking about a stitch.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to eat we go, and it was to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg the OFs went, and the ones who were there were: Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Marty Herzog, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Rev. Jay Francis, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Harold Grippen, Jake Lederman, and me.

Location:

This Tuesday, March 5, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie where so much went on this scribe does not know where to start. The scribe guesses he will start at the beginning.

As a rule, the names at the end of this column are listed basically in the order of appearance at the restaurant. First on this list are two names of OMOTM who are generally in the lead.

Tuesday morning, the men with those two names were not there. As more of the OFs arrived, these OFs began to think something might have happened to the lead OFs and wondered if one of  them should go out and check if the lead OFs had broken down somewhere along the way.

While this was being discussed, one OF told this scribe that maybe it was the OF’s turn to drive who had a car that did not like cold weather. In cold weather, this particular car would just quit as it was going along.

This OF said he was told that it was necessary to sit and wait awhile in the car and then it could be restarted then it would go on. The car always seemed to restart; the OF continued, it always restarted.  

No sooner did the OF enlighten us about this cranky cold-weather vehicle than through the large front windows of the Your Way Café we saw them coming down the road. Just as the OFs were going to turn into the parking lot, the car quit running!

Right there in the middle of the road in front of the restaurant, the finicky car quit! Right behind these OFs was an empty Carvel stone truck on its way back to the quarry to get another load. Fortunately, the driver stopped the vehicle about eight feet in back of the OFs.

Some of the younger OFs were getting up to help push the persnickety car out of the road, but suddenly it restarted so the OFs in the car were able to drive into the parking lot. When the OFs came through the door into the restaurant, they were given a big hand for supplying the early morning’s entertainment.

The OF sitting on the right (next to this scribe) said that the car this certain OF has never did like cold weather and has acted up like that since it was new and they can’t find out what the problem is. This scribe thinks maybe it is a Florida car that was shipped to Northeast by mistake, and like people it is one of those that can’t take cold weather.

Chest pains

The next happening is considerably more crucial.

Toward the middle of the breakfast, while some of the OFs were still arriving and others had their meals, the OF sitting to the left of this scribe in a loud voice announced, “Can I have your attention please!”

At first, not much attention was given and this scribe asked, “What’s the problem?”

The OF answered, “I am having severe chest pains.”

Fortunately, in this group there are a couple of semi-retired emergency medical technicians. This scribe right away called these EMTs up to the table, and asked for the OFs to call 9-1-1.

This was done immediately by a regular patron in the restaurant who was familiar with the procedure and what to say to the dispatcher. By the time the ambulance arrived, the OF was feeling better but he had broken out in a sweat, and was quite dizzy, and he mentioned everything was blurry.

The EMTs put him in the ambulance, which took him to Cobleskill Hospital. This scribe called that evening to check on him and find out how he was doing.

To this scribe’s surprise, the OF answered the phone. He was home, and told to rest and not do anything. The pain was gone and he was resting comfortably.

This was rather an interesting and eventful morning.

X-rays displayed like family photos

Now to some to the regular chatter, which was interspersed between the two major events and it just happened to be in a medical vein. Many of the OFs (as has been reported) are familiar with doctors, doctor appointments, and procedures.

One of these is X-rays. Some of the OFs and their friends have taken to requesting the X-rays and displaying them as you would photographs of families and friends. The OFs circle the broken, or worn-out, part as indicated by the doctors as a point of interest.

Some doctors even supply photos of their work. One OF has X-rays and pictures of his shoulder repair and a picture of a common drill drilling a hole for the screw to hold the shoulder together, and then a picture of how it looks afterward with the screw doing its job.

The OFs say that it is now common to see the insides as well as the outside of a family member in the family album. This goes for many parts — knees, shoulders, hips, backs, and whatever part is being repaired.

In some cases, it even applies to internal organs. This goes beyond nude paintings.

However, you never hear anyone say, “Hey, Joe, want to see what my shoulder looks like on the inside?  I have a picture of it hanging in our den.”

It is lucky that the OFs make it to the restaurants on Tuesday mornings, like this Tuesday morning making it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie, and those that did were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Bob Giebitz, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Dave Williams, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Ken Parks, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen Defazzo, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Tuesday, Feb. 26, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie. At this restaurant, the staff places the tables in a long line and the OFs feed like cows at a trough.

When everybody is there, and the food is coming out, the conversations are at the loudest. The scene of many of the OFs putting their hands to their ears to adjust, or remove, their hearing aids is rather comical. It is apparent that none of these hearing aids work at places where there is noise or music.

The OFs began talking about the cost of owning animals. One OF told about a friend of his that had his taxes done and received a little more than he expected in his tax return — it was about $1,500.

The OF said he was really excited about receiving the $15,000. A few days after getting his tax refund, he came home from work and found that his dog was dragging itself by his front feet and his back legs were just dragging on the floor.

He took the dog to an animal hospital. The OF said they performed all kinds of tests and could find nothing wrong.

That was until the doctor picked the dog up by the hind quarters and something inside him “clicked” and the dog stood up and has been fine ever since. However, the amount of the vet service was almost equal to the tax return.

One OF said it seems anytime he gets a windfall something comes along and takes it all away, and occasionally a little more.

Another OF said he pays $125 just to get his cat’s hair cut twice a year. Then someone else said they used to feed the pets table scraps; now it is all special food and this OF thinks his pets eat better than he does.

One OF said a vet used to come to the farm on a regular basis and check the cows and horses, and other farm animals. If there was a cat or dog that was ill, he would look at them and the OF said there was never an item on the bill that he had taken care of them.

Another OF said that pets and their care has gotten out of hand so much that only rich people can have pets; poor people can’t begin to afford them with the way prices are.

One OF commented that it is not only pets and animals but it seems everything has gone up, i.e., housing, food, gas, services, medications, everything, so why not pets and their care?

“Yeah,” one OF said. “Jeans ain’t five bucks anymore.”

Some OFs gripe about prices all the time and well they should.

Cabin Fever rages on

The OFs who clear out of New York when winter comes quite often call and gloat over the weather conditions where they are now. This year, gloating was not so much; it either has been too hot, or all it does is rain.

It all depends on what section of the country the OFs are in. The OFs who hang out in the Northeast grumble that they are hampered by not being able to do much because they are trapped indoors. It is generally called Cabin Fever, and Cabin Fever is beginning to claim many of the OMOTM.

Unreal reality shows

It was found out at the breakfast Tuesday morning that some of the OFs watch the same TV shows, like building off the grid, Maine cabin masters, the show that restores old buildings with old building materials — shows like that. These shows stimulate the thought process and the OFs wish they were young enough to take on projects like these.

To the OFs, these shows are in the category of a reality show and there is a camera crew of sorts around all the time, but the shows themselves are good and do show some interesting points that the OFs can use later on.

One OF brought up this thought: Where does the money come from, and how did these young people get the money to purchase a hundred acres in a pristine section of a beautiful forest?

Most of the time their tools are number one, and completely up to date, and this OF said he uses tools with leads taped, and handles replaced. He has good tools but they are on the tired side.

Another OF thought that the people building the project seem to have friends that own a crane, or are master craftsmen in carpentry or roofing or electronics, and have worked with off-the-grid solar energy.

The OFs say our friends have broken-down pickup trucks, or a couple of ladders with a rung missing.  Many don’t even know how to use an iPhone, so electronics are ruled out as well as the solar system. These OFs are still using wood-burning stoves and wood-burning outside furnaces.

In one show, the home was being built where there were so many bears the builder installed a bear-proof fence around the perimeter of the property to keep the bears out. This scribe was surprised the OFs have heard of this and have seen one in practice. Well, that fence is an unusual expense that is imposed on the builder when building off the grid!

The OFs who appeared at the Country Café in Schoharie and did not have to open the gate on a bear-proof fence were: Wally Guest, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, Marty Herzog, Dave Williams, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray,  Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

An artist from Broome, Jody MacBlane, left, presents the OMOTM with a steel cutout of the Old Man of the Mountain symbol of the state of New Hampshire. At the bottom are the words Timeless-Wisdom-Insight. Patty, right, will hang the artwork in her restaurant, Mrs. K’s Kitchen in Middleburgh.

The date of this little report is no longer relevant because this scribe has been the guest of St. Peter’s Hotel for awhile. A “simple” procedure done thousands of times went awry.

This procedure was supposed to be in and out the same day; in many cases, you drive yourself there, and drive yourself home. The following day should be a day of recuperation then things are pretty much set to go.

Eventually (three days later after a second “procedure”) the scribe was sent home with a catheter. The scribe’s wife is not a nurse and doesn’t pretend to be one. This was a tough time for two senior citizens.

However, with the kindness, compassion, help, and consideration of neighbors on the Hill, this scribe got through it. It certainly was an experience, and one the scribe doesn’t ever want to repeat, so he will wait patiently until March 21 before the doctor sees him.

He hopes at that time he is fit to go back to living his normal life. This means the scribe has 28 days of not lifting or pushing anything more than 10 pounds, and then the doctor’s appointment. The scribe thought he had planned it so he would not miss an Old Man of the Mountain breakfast.

Well! That didn’t work out — so much for careful planning.

Pondering the question of who feels the cold

The first breakfast this scribe missed was at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. One considerate OMOTM made a list of those who attended the breakfast in Middleburgh, and this scribe said he would make a report from some notes made in the scribe’s little black book that were not used in other columns.

One of the items not covered, but was discussed, was the fact that during the winter the OFs don’t know how some people can take the cold to the point of wearing shorts when it is 20 degrees outside and the wind is blowing at 20 miles per hour.

The OF, on the other hand, has on his insulated bib overalls over a pair of jeans, his layered top with long johns, flannel shirt, insulated Carhartt coat, and a “mad bomber” hat on his head.

One OF thought it was a mental condition, but another OF said there are enough people who dress quite lightly for cold weather that he thinks their body does not recognize cold. Some OFs said they have friends who don’t wear gloves most of the time in real cold weather and one OF said some of them are also OFs.

The OFs questioned the problem of wind chill and frostbite. The OFs wondered if frostbite affects the people who have the ability to withstand real cold weather.

Artwork honors The Old Men of the Mountain

At Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh a real-time report is very interesting and this scribe is bummed that he missed it. An artist from Broome named Jody MacBlane presented the OMOTM with a steel cutout of the OMOTM symbol of the state of New Hampshire that was used on the New Hampshire quarter.

Over the top of the cutout are the words OMOTM, and at the bottom are the words Timeless-Wisdom-Insight. (Obviously, this fellow doesn’t know us all that well). Patty, at Mrs. K’s, is going to hang this piece of art work in her establishment in Middleburgh.

The Old Men of the Mountain are much appreciative of such recognition by a reader of the column who would take the time and effort to create such a piece of art, and Patty for giving space to hang and display Mr. MacBlane’s artwork.

When the OMOTM quarter of the state of New Hampshire first came out, Mike Willsey, one of our early founders of the OMOTM, mounted clasps to the back of enough of the quarters for each of the OMOTM, and the OFs pinned these quarters to their OMOTM hats, shirts, or jackets and wore them proudly.

This scribe would also like to thank Lou Schenck of the OFs for recording their names mainly for self-preservation from any process servers, or law-enforcement officials, also for the information on the artist, and his cutout of the OMOTM.

Those OFs who were at Mrs. Ks in Middleburgh were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Rev. Jay Francis, Lou Schenck, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Ken Parks, and not me.

Those OFs that made it to the Middleburgh Diner for basically the same reasons as noted above were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Otis Lawyer, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, John Dab, Joe Rack, Ken Parks, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen and not me.

Location:

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, it was an unusual breakfast because it was out of order.

The breakfast was not unusual — the location was. The original restaurant had a scheduling change and would not be open on Tuesday.

This scribe did not know this and found out by accident, i.e., a quirk of faith, at least a few days ahead of time. So this scribe scrambled and contacted a few on the list who brought people, and called those who did not have email.

However, as is always the case, one driver did not get contacted and drove to the normally-scheduled restaurant and found it closed. With true dedication, the OMOTM drove back over two mountains to arrive almost in time at Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow where about a dozen OFs were still at the tables.

The OFs discussed taxes; it seems death and taxes are on the OFs’ minds lately. On taxes, the OFs discussed the state we are in and its truly outrageous taxes.

One OF said that those who live in New York have to support three sponges — New York City, Buffalo, and Rochester. Those places suck up all our money.

An OF countered with what he thinks — that New York city actually pays into the system more than it gets. None of the OFs are really sure if that is true, but a lot of our money is going someplace.

One OF said that he has a friend in Colorado Springs, and his taxes were $400 on his home (and it is a nice home) and that was it!  Imagine that — 400 bucks.

Another OF told a story regarding when he was working and a complete company was leaving New York (and this was years ago). The OF was given a pamphlet, which the company gave all employees, listing why they were leaving, and the pamphlet also gave all employees a chance to move with the company, and this company would pay their moving expenses.

The reasons for leaving were weather, taxes, and over-regulation. The pamphlet praised the employees. In two months, the company was gone.

As usual, tax season brings tax talk, and we all complain but when the OFs hear their friends talk about how little they pay in taxes, the OFs wonder: Where does all the money we pay in taxes go?

The OFs admit infrastructure is a big part, but Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois all have the same problem.

We used to have the best education system going; when we were in school, a New York State high school education was almost a college degree compared to some other states. Not so much now. A degree from the Carolinas seems to be better than the same one from New York State. The OFs are just confused.

The OFs have said many times that, if it weren’t for the politics, New York has average weather, and beautiful scenery, and they all feel great when coming home, but it is the politics that bothers them the most, and of course, the taxes.

One OF said, “We don’t live in the other states,” but that OF said he bets they have their problems too, and those who live there get as disgusted with one thing or another just as we New Yorkers do.

For the birds

The OFs discussed how the wild animals take care of themselves during the winter months. Some of the OFs say it is really not necessary to feed the wild birds. They can take care of themselves very well and have for eons.

Feeding birds is for our enjoyment only it will not preserve the species. One OF said he thinks it actually weakens them.

Another OF who is an  outdoorsman mentioned how the deer take care during the winter with cold weather and deep snow. The OF said the deer huddle under the hemlocks in holes they have dug in the snow. The OF said the holes are deep so only their heads can peek over the top.

“They are as snug as a bug in a rug,” he said.

All the little critters get under the snow, and even underground where the real cold weather can’t get to them, and the extra fur they start growing in late fall is also a big help. The self-made naturalists in the group, at times, make for some interesting conversations.

These OFs are good in regular table talk. It’s like going to school when listening to some of their conversations.

Talk of Tier One

A collection of OFs were sitting in proximity of each other and they all started talking about retiring. Well, duh, that conversation would include all the OMOTM. (We might have a couple of exceptions, but not many.)

This group all worked for the state in one fashion or another and all retired under “Tier One.” That left many of the other OFs wondering what kind of code they were talking; apparently “Tier One” is a good thing.

They then started talking the ins and outs of “Tier One” and this scribe was able to deduce that it was quite a favorable pension program offered by the state way back when.

Today, with all the ads for this program and that program, Medicare, Medicaid, and who knows what all, even Alex Trebek is spending more time selling insurance than he is on Jeopardy. That makes it easy to understand how this insurance topic would come up.

Condolences

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of a devoted and loyal member of this gathering, Steve Kelly, who passed away on Feb. 7 and is now with all the other OMOTM who are having their breakfast somewhere on a cloud in heaven.

Those who made it to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow, and the dedicated OMOTM who made it over hill and dale through an error on the scribe’s part, were: Marty Herzog, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, Bob Giebitz, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen Defazzo, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On Jan. 29, The Old Men of the Mountain traveled to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown.

The OMOTM are getting glad to see January go. There was a short discussion about the end of January.  Is the end of January still in the beginning of winter? According to Wikipedia, the start of winter in 2019 is Dec. 21, and the beginning of spring is March 20, so this scribe thinks we are smack-dab in the middle of the astrological winter.

So far the woolly bear caterpillar has been wrong. This little creature is the OFs’ gauge of winter — darn it, so far this one woolly bear has missed it! Maybe the OF who found the all-black caterpillar had the right critter.

The OMOTMs core base is getting older and older, driving is becoming a chore, and some have given it up completely. Some have had their kids take the car keys away, and some can’t twist their necks around to see what is coming.

Macular degeneration is also a problem. So far, these OFs are still able to make the breakfast because of those that still have their faculties (and may be younger) and they enjoy the friendship and knowledge of the older OFs, so they gather them up and bring them to the breakfast.

Tech savvy

Because we are the OMOTM, does not mean the OFs cannot keep up with at least a good part of the current technology. In the age group of 80 to 90 year olds, the OFs have cell phones and know how to use them.

Those in these same age groups have computers and tablets and know how to use them too. This comes as a surprise to some of the younger people. The OFs don’t know if it is because the OFs are smarter than people give them credit for in the tech area, or these things are really not that complicated.

One OF in his nineties said his computer was old and some of the new programs would not work on it, so he decided to purchase a new one. The OF just wanted to do simple stuff so he found a computer that was not that expensive, but when the charges for this that and the other thing, including some newer programs were added to the price of the computer, the OF said to heck with it and didn’t make the purchase. He would deal with his old friend.

Another OF summed up the cellphone very appropriately. The OF said that the iPhone is not a phone. “It is a computer with a predisposed phone app as standard equipment,” he said.

The OF made this comment as he was showing a video taken on his phone of another OF. The OF he was showing it to was performing (he’s a singer) a few months ago and this OF recorded the act on his phone.

This scribe receives much information from the OFs via their iPhones on his computer, and vice-versa: Much of what this scribe sends out goes to the OFs’ phones.

There is a very large “however” to all this technology. This scribe feels the report of some of the OGs is that they feel social media, along with the internet, is the Antichrist because it seems to be loaded with the bad, as well as the good, and sometimes it is hard to sift out which is which.

New songs don’t register with OFs

This next topic might cause some tee-heeing among the younger crowd because it concerns music. Basically, the OFs were wondering when what they knew as music became just noise.

The OFs remember music having melody, rhythm, and a tune that was hum-able. Now it seems to be who can screech the loudest with just a hint of vibrato. That is the singer of choice.

One OF said that there are some nice songs being written today — but not many. Another OF asked, “Name one right off the bat,” but no one could. However, they could name the old classics.

Another OF asked, “How many songs written today do you think will be sung 50 years from now?”

A second OF said, “Maybe some of the tunes written for musical plays will be.”  Well, we will just have to wait and see.

Then another OF said he thought that as the OFs drive home from breakfast, they would remember songs, but he thought even those would be older songs.

Pricey wheels

Sunday, around noon, there was a TV show that showed some very high-priced vehicles brought up for auction. The OFs said there has to be a lot of money around only they don’t have any.

These vehicles were going for hundreds of thousand dollars, and even into the millions. The OFs started mentioning cars they had years ago and what they would be worth today if they had taken care of them and could see into the future.

Some of the OFs had Packards, Studebakers, Hudsons, even Jaguars, and especially model A’s, old Chevys, old Fords, and Plymouths — the list goes on and on.

But one OF said most of these cars were not old. This OF declared that, for him, once a vehicle entered the collectable stage, he would be afraid to drive it. Then what was he going to do — stay home and look at it? To him, it was a waste of money.

Those OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon in Princetown in regular, standard cars and trucks and were just as happy, and they were: Bob Giebietz, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Rev. Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Tuesday, Jan. 22, The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner, in Duanesburg. This was another Tuesday where the OMOTM had to be careful on the roads, especially in the dark of early morning.

One set of OFs came upon a car in the ditch and this mishap appeared to have happened just ahead of them. The OFs said they stopped to see if they could help and the driver said, “No, we’re OK.”

The road where it happened is straight so it must have been inattention or a tad too fast for conditions or overconfidence in the car, because said vehicle was a four-wheel drive. It was no morning to be in a snowbank; the temperature was -2 degrees and the wind was blowing. Oh joy! The fun of winter driving.

The OFs were chattering about how alarmed the weather guys were because the storm of the century was pending and they carried on so. One OF commented that it is called job security.

Of course these OFs are OFs and most all, or maybe all (this is a fact this scribe would have fun looking into — what is the origin of the current group of OFs?) of the OFs are northeasterners and in 70 to 80 years have seen their share of winter storms. Though miserable for some and glorious to others, this storm was maybe normal.

One OF asked what are they comparing it to. He said, “What about 1957-58?”

Then another OF said, “Those years weren’t of this century. We are in the century of 2000 now and the century is young yet.” This OF continued, “The weather guys don’t have to go back too far for any storm to be the storm of the century — they only have to go back 18 years. We have many years to go and probably will have many ‘storms of the century’ coming up.”

Continuing on, discussing the weather during the winter months, it was noted that some of the OFs arrive early at the designated eating establishment. This means the sun has not peeked over the hill yet and these OFs are driving in the dark.

Tuesday morning with the full moon, the OFs talked about how beautiful it was; as the OFs have aged, they are becoming more appreciative of their surroundings and not afraid to talk about it.

OFs contemplate their obituaries

Along with this, the OFs talked about obituaries and how long and what they would say in their obit. With this group, there are enough years under their belts that they have a pretty good idea about what their life was like, and what they would like in their obits.

Some OFs said they would like their obit to read “He lived, he got married, he had six kids, and he died.”  That would be it!

One OF suggested it might be a cool thing to have your obit all written and kept with your will. Another OF added that it might be a good idea to keep on the good side of your kids.

Just like the quite-often recited truism — be nice to your kids because they are the ones who are going to choose your nursing home — it should be added that the kids are going to be the ones to write your obit.

It was further stated by another OF that obits can cost money. If you want to have a long obit, it would a good idea to stick an envelope with money in it attached to the will and have it marked “for obit expenses” and have your pre-written obit in that envelope.

One OF said he doesn’t want an obit, but is going to leave money specifically for his headstone. This OF wants a large, fancy headstone, and on it he wants engraved “Here lies Guess Who, Born 1937 — Died 2022” (or whatever the death date might be) and that’s it.

One OF said he wants to be cremated and his ashes spread in the ocean. Then the kids don’t have to worry about a plot, or headstone.

Another OF piped up, “They will cremate you all right but probably spread the ashes on the manure pile.”

The first OF answered, “That might not be too bad either; at least my ashes will be doing some good after I’m gone.”

The other OF replied, “You got that right because you didn’t do any good while you were here.” (Yep, it was just another day at the OMOTM’s breakfast).

What’s left behind

Most of the OFs think they are leaving quite a mess for their kids. A few are better organized than others and have totes with labels for the tchotchkes that have some value.

One OF said that, the longer he lives, the more junk he accrues. An OF added, “My wife and I are on the short end of the ruler and we still hit the garage-sale circuit and purchase items that catch our eye.”

The OF said they change them out with items already in the house and take those things being replaced to the barn. The OF said he thinks he is not as attached to these pieces as his wife, but if she hits the pearly gates before he does, their kids would have to do the garage sale.

The OF doesn’t think he could handle it. It appears dying is a lot more complicated than living.

All the Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg and found a very pleasant and efficient Waldo bringing out the vitals were: Rev. Jay Francis, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Ray Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Marty Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

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