Haven in a storm: On a dark and snowy Tuesday morning, the glow of neon warmly welcomes the Old Men of the Mountain to breakfast at the Duanesburg Diner.

On the last Tuesday of year 2015, Dec. 29, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg. This was the first day that the OFs have even had a hint of winter driving.

Early in the morning, the roads to the Duanesburg Diner had some snow, and it was sleeting by the time the OFs who made it to Duanesburg and were fed. When the time came for the OFs to head home, it was not bad at all.

This scribe discussed the column with a published writer who reads the column but lives waaaay out of the area; he said he understands the problem of writing the column with a semblance of freshness because of the redundancy of conversations the OFs must have. Which, to the OFs, are not redundant, but variations of topics that have been covered many times before.

This makes reporting the fodder fed to the scribe by the OFs difficult. However, it is not unique to the scribe because he, too, is an OF and it all seems relevant and new to him.

One point the scribe failed to bring up in the conversation with the author, is that much of the chatter of the OMOTM is on aging and the problems that tag along with getting older and how the OFs cope. The scribe was taught many years ago the best way to learn anything and retain it was through repetition.

In that regard (and the scribe cites this as an example) the discussion of ticks in different ways, and repetitively, should help those who read the column (and the OFs themselves) to know what to do, how to realize they have been bitten, and how to avoid and understand the world of ticks.

Beaver pelts worthless

Now to the conversations of Tuesday morning.

One OF reported that he was called to remove some beavers from a pond where the beavers were causing a lot of trouble, and property damage. After obtaining the proper permits, the OF harvested five beavers from the pond.

The OF said the beavers were very large and he was glad he had help in getting them out. This OF told the other OFs that, now that Russia is mad at us and not buying the beaver pelts, the bottom has fallen out of the beaver pelt business.

The Chinese demand has not picked up the slack so it is hardly worth the gas money to mess with these animals. That may be way they are proliferating to the point where they really are becoming a nuisance.

Bourbon honey?

Our resident beekeeper reported that one of the honey people he knows is buying used bourbon kegs and filling them with honey.  This fellow is going to leave the honey in the kegs for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time.

The prototype apparently showed that the honey will absorb some of the bourbon flavor from the kegs. The alcohol will be long gone so only the flavor will be left and the theory is he will have bourbon-flavored honey.

He hopes this will catch on. It might with the “I’m going to hire a wino to decorate our home” crowd.

Water scarcity

The OFs discussed the reality that more homes being built in some areas of the Hilltowns are affecting the water tables. Residents of some homes (as other houses are being constructed around them) have noticed their well levels have gone down to the point where some have run out of water, or their wells have taken a longer time to recover.

These OFs report that wells that previously delivered 10- to 12-gallons-a-minute water flow are now in jeopardy.

Fish tales

The OFs progressed from this type of water to local streams, and lakes, specifically Warner Lake, and Thompson’s Lake and the stocking of fish. Some of the OFs were pretty sure the process of restocking is still going on, while a few others were not so sure.

An OF mentioned some state hatcheries have been closed and the only reason they could think of was state budget restraints.

The OFs started their fish tales on the size of some of the fish they have in their ponds, or ponds they know of, especially the size of some of the carp and catfish. These two aquatic scavengers do keep the OFs’ ponds clean. One OF mentioned that he has grass-eating catfish in his pond and they are pretty good sized and do gobble up some of the algae.

Name changes

The OFs talked about name changes and some of the OFs’ names are not their real names. The OFs told stories that, when their parents emigrated, quite often their names would be changed at Ellis Island to a more common name so they would be able to find work more easily.

One OF mentioned his father’s name was changed from what it was to a more “Americanized” name so he could do just that — take employment. This OF said that one of his father’s brothers also changed his name and it was different than the one his father took, again for the same reason. His other uncles did not have to change their names because they stayed on the farm.

Social Security and birth records must have a grand time with all this. Anyway, “Hey, you” works for anyone and is gender neutral.

Those braving the weather and making it to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg and sitting in the warmth of the diner with hot cups of coffee were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, and me, and that’s it.        


Tuesday, Dec. 22, the morning temperature at 5:30 was 43 degrees; it was cloudy, and still dark.

The Old Men of the Mountain congregated at Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh as is the tradition of the breakfast before Christmas. Loretta, as usual, put on a buffet with all kinds of goodies, plus meat and cheese platters, crackers, pickles, and homemade fruitcake.  This was a real Christmas spread for the OMOTM to start with, and then the OFs ordered breakfast.

More than one of the OFs is musically bent (meaning they have talent and they are not shaped like the G cleft symbol).  One of these OFs has a small group that played for the party at Mrs. K’s.

It is only fair to mention the members of the group, starting with Roger Shafer who is the OF, then Debbie Fish, and, rounding out the trio, Tom White. Many of the OFs are talented in other ways and the OMOTM as a group is quite lucky to have all this knowledge and talent sitting at the same table.

The group played such rousing songs as “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” and one that espoused the fact the OFs do not really enjoy the view they get of themselves without clothes in front of the mirror — “I Just Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore” by Errol Gray. 

One OF mentioned he needs a GPS system to follow the wrinkles to find his toes so he can cut his toenails, and then he needs to fire up the chainsaw to do it.

The OFs would like to thank Roger for bringing this little group to the breakfast Tuesday morning and getting the OFs in the Christmas spirit — snow sure is not going to do it this year.

Spring in December

Speaking of snow, many of the OFs reported on how the weather is so much like spring that one OF has a sporadic growth of the yellow flowers of his forsythia blooming, and another OF said that his lilacs are beginning to look green. Still another said that the maple trees by him have the red cast of budding, and one tree, he thought, even had a few green leaves.

A couple of the OFs said the birds are not visiting the feeders either; the birds are around, they noted, but the seed is still there uneaten. One OF said he thinks the birds are getting their fill of what they like best and only come to his feeder for dessert.

The OFs may have reported this before but some have stated they have spotted a few farmers getting the jump on spring plowing. These thrifty farmers might just as well take advantage of the weather, and fuel while it is relatively cheap.

There is a chance come spring the price of fuel will go up or, as one OF said, “It could also go lower.”

To which another OF said, “Don’t count on it. If I was still farming, I would be out there doing the same thing. There is still going to be cold weather so then I would still have time to catch up on repairing equipment, and barn maintenance. Spring might then not catch me by surprise and I only have half my winter chores done.”

Getting dressed

A group of OFs at the end of the table near the kitchen was talking about how they have to get dressed now, and the way they get dressed.

One OF said, whether he is barefoot or has socks on, even when putting on his shorts, quite often a foot becomes caught in one leg or the other and he almost topples over. The other OFs knew exactly what he was talking about because they have the same problem.

Another OF said he has to lean against something now to put on his socks, shorts, and pants. Yet another OF said he pulls his pants halfway up and almost takes a header because invariably he is standing on his suspenders. Another round of grunts and yes-es in agreement.

Next comes the process of putting the OF’s arms through his sleeves.  One OG said he can get the left arm in the sleeve then he can’t even find the hole in the sleeve to get the right arm in. He said he is there flipping and flopping the shirt, or sweater, or coat all over the place trying to get the right arm into the sleeve.

Another OF said he has the same problem but solved it somewhat by not pulling his shirt up high before putting his right arm in. Then he hunches his back and kind of flips it up to his shoulders.

Clothes for kids and for the OFs take a beating; it is amazing fabric and thread can be so tough. In the movies, where some seductress rips the shirt off a guy’s back, the shirt must be prop. Tain’t that easy, Magee.

Some OFs said they have seen guys get part of their clothing caught in a gear, or spinning drive shaft and it does not tear. Many farmers have been seriously hurt with loose fitting clothing getting caught in unguarded whirling parts.

Those OMOTM attending the party at Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh and offering their thanks to Loretta and her staff for all they do on the Tuesday before Christmas were: Robie Osterman, Steve Kelly, Harold Guest, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Henry Witt, Jim Heiser, Miner Stevens, Dave Williams, Karl Remmers, Alvin Latham, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Don Wood, Wayne Gaul, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Ted Willsey, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Gerry Cartier, Henry Whipple, Harold Grippen and me.



— Photo by John Williams

The Old Men of the Mountain gathered at the Your Way Café last week. “The OMOTM do not frequent the fanciest of places, only the good ones,” said scribe and photographer John R. Williams.

The Old Men of the Mountain were fortunate enough on Tuesday, Dec. 15, to meet at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

The OFs were a little nervous because the member who was on duty to call the restaurants ahead of time and warn them that the OFs were coming had received no answer when calling the café. Panicsville erupted.

The caller contacted two other OFs and found out that the café was closed that day so the staff could have its annual Christmas party. Whew — can’t blame them, they are entitled some time off to have fun.

The OFs found out that the staff really had a party; it was a two-day affair. On Sunday they headed to the Turning Stone Casino, had their party and stayed over and returned Monday.

Monday, the OFs are assuming, was the “clear the head day” to get ready for the work week, not knowing until they saw the note on the door that the OMOTM would be there in a few hours. Welcome back — now get to work.

The etiquette of illness

One topic of conversation was keeping track of those OFs who have been ill, or are ill. Sometimes an OF will report on another OF who has missed a few gatherings and the rest of the OFs find out the OF has been really sick, and may have even been in the hospital, or just got out of said establishment.

To some OFs, it is like they are gossipers and don’t want to dwell on other’s misfortunes, while others like to know what’s going on so they can see if there is anything they can do to help.

Other OFs say they have problems with visiting the sick or those who are having real problems health-wise.  A few OFs declared they don’t know what to say, and are not much for chitchat, and maybe the OF in the bad situation just wants to be left alone.

One OF said that the OFs who are having problems should not be dropped or deserted. It is good to know (especially when one is under the weather) that people are still thinking of them, whether they are OFs or not.

It is good that the OFs who really know the OFs who are hurting, and will bring this information to the group so the OFs who want to respond in whatever way they feel comfortable can react. None of the OFs are vultures just waiting to feed on others’ misfortunes; it is just the opposite.

Coffee customs

This scribe notices that, at the breakfast, the waitresses keep the coffee cups filled up and hot. The OFs, in their conversations as they sit at the tables, sip their coffee (some do not take coffee) as the conversation rolls on.

When they have reached their fill, they will say, “I’m good,” or, “I’m fine,” or, “No thanks,” but that comes after a considerable amount of the hot, black, liquid has been consumed. When with friends and in pleasant conversation, the sipping of the liquid is not realized, and the OFs wonder why they have to use the restroom when they get ready to leave.

This is another scribe’s, “Well, duh.” The OFs’ bladders tain’t what they used to be.

Ticked off

Many of the OFs are outdoor people, and the problem with ticks comes up time and time again. This time, they were discussing that the warm weather is keeping these buggers active.

Some OFs have reported they are still coming out of the brush with a good number of ticks on them. Most of the OFs say the ticks are on their clothes, not on their bodies, because they are using string or rubber bands around their wrist and ankles, and their collars are buttoned tight.

Droning on

The popularity of a new fad (which the OFs think is more than a fad) came up and that is the use of drones. Like radio-controlled airplanes, these devices can be a lot of fun, and are inexpensive enough for beginners to get into the hobby.

Again, like RCs, once hooked, the hobby can become a lot more expensive and competitive. But the OFs said, like everything else, irresponsible users will spoil it for everyone by making it necessary to develop laws, rules, and regulations to control the hobby.

One OF mentioned that this is already being done because the drones are interfering with planes. Then another OF said that some of these drones are cheap and have cameras that take beautiful pictures, and might be taking pictures that interfere with people’s privacy.

Others, an OF said, could be carrying things like paint bombs the operator could drop on his neighbor’s lawn furniture and think it was funny.

One OF said that, if one of those things flew over his property, he would wait for it and, if it flew over a second time, he’d let it “have it” with his 12 gauge. Another OF said he could see where these things could cause a lot of trouble.

Fun gets complicated

The OFs think we have a hobby that very innocuously is causing problems and that is the use of laser lights in Christmas displays. One OF said he has heard the problem with these lights is, because they are visible from a considerable height in the sky, pilots are confusing them with airport lights, especially the navi lights (red and white lights) that tell a pilot if he is coming in too high or too low, or if his approach is right on.

“Boy,” one OF said, “What seems like normal fun is sure getting complicated.”

Those OFs who made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie, and seeing that the café was ready for them with just a few hours notice, were: Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Dave Williams, Harold Guest, Mark Traver, Chuck Aelesio, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer (who carries a complete tool box in his pocket), Karl Remmers, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jim Rissacher, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Ted Willsey, and me.


Photo by John R. Wiollimas

Bathed in light on a dark morning, Mrs. K’s beckons passers-by.

On the first day of December 2015, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh.

With the short days of winter upon us, the OFs arrive at the restaurants at dawn. The sun is just coming up, and in Middleburgh the trees that line the main street are still lit with the lights of the season

The OFs get out of their vehicles and walk to the restaurant, and the aroma of bacon and breakfast mingles with the scents of the early morning air; at that moment all seems right with the world. So begins December 2015.

The OFs’ conversation of remembrances permeates most every breakfast of the Old Men of the Mountain at one time or another. Tuesday morning, it was how the OFs graduated from pitching hay by hand to balers, from outhouses to indoor bathrooms, from heating with stoves to central heat, from cooking on woodstoves to cooking with gas or electric, from homemade bread and pastries to sliced bread and Freihofer’s chocolate-chip cookies, from sucking it up with bad teeth to modern dentistry.

The question was asked, “Would you want to go back?” The answer was not qualified.

Some of the OFs would go back so they did not have the stress of today. Many of the OFs say they seem to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. One OF said he could not wait to die and get off this d--- planet.

That hit the crux of the problem as some of the OFs see it. Life was hard and tough when the OFs were young, and most of the OFs were poor. Not poor by today’s standards but most of the OFs were in the same boat and did not notice that they were any different than anybody else.

What was not around while the OFs were growing up was the rapid dissemination of news, gossip, and calamities. Some of the OFs’ radios were crystal sets back then. Few of the OFs received the newspaper. The farms did receive in the mail Grit, and the Farm Journal with the cartoon “Peter Tumbledown.”

Today, worldwide information is immediate, and the newspapers and news stations live on gore, disharmony, dissention, and mayhem. To the OFs, all this does is add stress, and more gore, disharmony, dissention, and mayhem.

“Yeah,” one OF said, “I will take the work, and get away from all the rest of it.”

“Nah,” another OF said. “Give me today. I like hot showers, indoor plumbing, and no toothaches.”

This OF does not watch the news, or get a paper. This OF maintains that, if you pick up a paper from 1915, and one from 2015 (except for the price of things), the news would be interchangeable. Nothing changes except all the political correctness. (Enough of that.)

Hunting misgivings?

The OF talked about hunting, duh — it is hunting season, so why not. An OF said he was out one day and part of another over the holiday and saw nothing, but his kids saw at least 10 deer in the same area.

This OF confessed that he has hunted almost all his life and recently had a deer in his sights and it would have been an easy shot, and the OF said he couldn’t pull the trigger. He just watched the deer.

The OF feels his hunting days may be over because he just couldn’t kill the animal. Maybe it was a good thing he didn’t see anything because it might reinforce his lack of desire for the kill.

The opposite of that was one OF showed a picture of a bobcat that his son had just shot. The hunter was holding the cat by its hind legs and the feline was almost as tall as he was.

Mountain lions and fishers

This picture returned to conversations the OFs have had before on the sighting of mountain lions in the Hilltowns. One OF reported that a relative of his recently saw either a pair or one of each twice (or the same one four times).

Another OF has photos of a pair of bobcats in a willow tree in his backyard not 60 feet from his home.

Then one OF said that the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has introduced fishers back into the wild and they are vicious critters, and very secretive. One OF said this may explain all our conversations on the absence of squirrels, rabbits, woodchucks, and other little animals that scurry about.

New knee is worth the agony

One OF mentioned that he has a knee that suddenly started to really hurt, and it has subsided a little but has not really let up, so he called the orthopedic doctor to have it checked out. This OF was sitting directly across from two OFs that have had knee replacement surgery and they said, if it is to the point where it is necessary to have it replaced, then have it replaced. The OFs also said it may just need a shot of lubricant.

In either case the OFs recommended it be taken care of. The OFs told the other OF that it is two weeks of hell but worth it.  These OFs do not charge for their advice.

Those OFs who braved the nostalgia of a beautiful late fall morning with its fresh air smells, coupled with breakfast cooking in the kitchen of Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, were: Bill Lichliter,  Harold Guest, Henry Witt, Mark Traver, Chuck Aelesio, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, David Williams, Glenn Patterson, Miner Stevens, Wayne Gaul, Bill Krause, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Jack Norray, Jim Rissacher, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Roger Shafer, Henry Whipple, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bill Rice, Harold Grippen, and me.


— Photo submitted by John R. Williams

The Middleburg Diner lacks the "h" that the town of the same name ends in. The eatery is a regular stop for the Old Men of

The Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh was visited by the Old Men of the Mountain on Tuesday, Nov. 24. With Thanksgiving then just a couple of days away (and in our area we have had no snow to speak of) the OFs and thousands of other people are lucking out this November.  We’re not even having cold weather! The ski people may be a little ticked though.

The OFs, one would think, are far enough away in age to not remember a lot of things of long ago but as these little reports show that is not the case. Most of what the OFs remember are good things but there have been some bad things that the OFs think they have shaken off but deep down have not.

The topic drifted to whom the OFs hung with when the OFs were young. A lot had to do with where you lived. The kids in town had their own little cliques, and the farm boys rattled around on the outside. In middle school, then junior high, many dies were cast, depending on age; the farm boys, along with some of the town kids, were not in the in crowd and the teachers unknowingly (at least it seemed) played into the circle of the in-town kids. 

The OFs said they were quite often judged by what their siblings did.  The teachers would never admit it outright but an OF said that one teacher told him his brother was a lot of trouble “so I am going to keep my eye on you.”

The OFs who went on to college said that for them no one there knew what their brother or sisters were like, or even what their family was like because there was no family history tagging along.

One OF said, “We were all strangers on a level playing field.”

Then another OF said that he had to shake off the feeling of being on the outside even though he had a lot of friends and did not consider himself a dork. In college he was able to select the people he wanted to hang with, and they accepted him because they were in the same boat.

Some OFs said that is why college reunions, and high school reunions are 180 degrees apart, and for some reason the high school reunion seems more important, because quite often the OF can go back to the jerks in high school and say, “Ha, I drive a Maserati, and you are still driving a Dodge Dart.”

Tech talk: Preserving pictures

The OFs started an interesting conversation on computers and one OF brought up some points about saving your pictures for posterity. It seems the best thing to do is make prints of the ones anyone really wants to keep

One OF said he places them on the computer first, then he puts them on a flash drive, and then on an external hard drive. Then he makes folders of ones that pertain to particular subjects, or ones that the OF really wants to keep and puts those on a compact disc.

The OF said that none of these will last. The major problem is that in a few short years there will be nothing that will read them. The best way to make sure they will be read at least in the foreseeable future is to purchase a cheap computer and never use it.

Never hook it to the ’net, and use it only to read what you have, like the pictures or documents you have now.

Another OF said that even prints fade. Then an OF suggested that if it is a person you really want people to know about in the future have their portrait painted, or drawn. Those have been known to last for centuries. The same thing applies to the old homestead: Have it sketched.

Perils of talking

The OFs had a short discussion on talking and driving, and it was found out that some of the OFs cannot do both. Many of the OFs say they have been in the middle of a conversation and driven right past their own driveway.

“Not only that,” one OF said, “it’s worse when you’re gabbing and miss a turn you know you should take and you have taken it many times.”

When the OF comes to and realizes he has missed the turn, he looks around and has no idea where he is, and then it becomes scary.

One OF said he doesn’t have to be driving; it takes a lot of concentration for him to carry on some conversations and in the middle of talking he could even walk into a wall.  Another OF said that could lead to a serious problem if you happen to be yakking and come to a set of stairs going down.

Oil trumps wood this season

The OFs and this scribe must say again, redundancy is an OF trademark, but the OFs talked about outside furnaces. Some of the OFs have used this method of heating their homes and their hot water for years.

“Now,” one OF said, “the price of oil has gone down some, but the price of wood has not.”

This OF opined that 100 gallons of fuel oil and one full cord of wood heats about the same. Unless anyone who has one of these outside furnaces also has their own woodlot right now oil is the way to go.

Another OF said he still thinks the outside furnaces are OK because they will burn anything, while a stove should only burn dry hard wood (which ought to be used); otherwise, the risk of a chimney fire is great.

The OFs with the woodlots say that is true and the outside furnaces do burn anything. According to the OFs with the woodlots, they take only trees that are down or standing dead; rarely do these OFs cut a live tree.   

Those OFs attending the breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, and not having the cold weather blood circulating yet, were: Dave Williams, Frank Pauli, Jim Heiser, Robie Osterman, Chuck Aelesio, Mark Traver, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Henry Witt, Bill Krause, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Don Wood, Wayne Gaul, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Ted Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.


— Photo by John R. Williams

The Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville shares a building with the post office.

Tuesday, Nov. 17, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville.

The OFs enjoy coming to the Hilltown Café and for some it is a hike, and for some it is just on top of the hill. The car pools are as much fun as the breakfasts, and the way the restaurant rotation works out most of the OFs have short rides, then medium rides, and then longer rides. It is only fair, Magee.

One OF told about his information, which he has garnered from research, on the genealogy of his family tree. The OF said what came up in his trek down the family path can be quite interesting at times when the paths of history comes up along with the family research.

Another OF is a member of a church that performs this research for many people.  This information can be done for anyone; it is not necessary to be a member of this church. According to this OF, the church’s collection and resources for genealogy is one of the best sites for obtaining information on a particular family in the country.

The first OF related that he has traced his mother’s side of the family back to a Celtic tribe in Ireland and there he thinks he has run into a dead end because going back this far (especially Celtic tribes) just staying alive was more important than keeping records of who was who.

Magnetic phone poles?

The OFs were making an observation that many people have made. The OFs think that telephone poles have magnetic properties. Many stories were told of vehicles of all sorts running into telephone poles.

One OF said that were he lives the road is as straight as a string and along the road are telephone poles; nothing in between them except grass and brush, there isn’t even a deep ditch or culvert.

“Yet,” the OF said, “inevitably, vehicles will zip down this road and smack a pole, from ATVs to cars, to trucks, to motorcycles.  The only thing that has not whacked a pole is a tractor and wagon. It’s like the poles have arms and hands.

“If the pole wants a little excitement, it just reaches out and grabs whatever is going by. It’s like trying to throw a small stone through a chain-link fence; invariably, the stone will hit a wire while the space between the wires is 10 times the size of the stone. Go figure.”

Green guy

One of the OFs has a completely electric car, which this OMOTM report has written about before. That report told a lot about the vehicle and how far it will go on a charge, etc.

However, on Tuesday, the OFs learned that not only is the car totally electric but at home the OF has solar panels on his roof. The OF says that with these panels he charges the car for free.

With this little setup, and the price of gas, the OF is going have the car and panels paid for faster that you can blow your nose. By the time the hanky is placed back in the pocket, the system belongs completely to the OF — no more payments.

Built to last

The subject comes up quite often about the OFs’ homes, and the home repair — the discussion can be on a minor or major project underway. Tuesday morning, the conversation was on the construction of some of their older homes, especially when really delving in and attempting a modernization or adding a room, or bathroom.

What the OFs will find when they begin tearing down a wall that has been there 100 years or better, can be anything: horsehair plaster that clings to every lathe, spacing that is anything other than 16 inches on center, studs that can be a full 2x4, to even 3x4 or 4x4, or anything close was OK.

They might find studs that can be fish-plated if they weren’t long enough to reach the plates or maybe one nail holding a board, or overkill with 10 nails. They may find completely debarked logs for floor joists at random spacing. These homes are still standing, functioning as they should.

The newer homes, the OFs feel, will not last anywhere near the time this old, basically haphazard, type of construction has proven it will. One OF mentioned that he lives across from a new home with new materials and, within six months, they had to do extensive repairs. Not remodels — repairs.

“But,” one OF said, “what one of us is going to be around in a hundred years to see what these newer homes, with the newer materials will be like?”

Another OF said, “Any home, new or old, has to be properly maintained or it won’t last 30 years.”

A third OF said he would like to live long enough to see homes constructed out of composite materials like those used in airplanes. This OF said, when he goes to build something that requires 2x4s, most of them could be strung with string and used as a bow for a giant’s bow and arrow.

Someday, this scribe mused, homes will be constructed with walls and roofs out of composites, with solar collectors built right in and all directed to a central WiFi system so no wires will be required.  These homes will be heated with microwaves, and cooking and hot water also completed with microwaves. Each home will be its own energy source.

Can happen, this scribe thinks. All waste material will be microwaved and turned to vapor or dust. Can happen. There are probably better ideas out there right now by smarter people than this scribe.

Those OFs who left their humble abodes (no matter how old these abodes are) and some OFs who are still living in tents, made it to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, and hitched their horses and wagons to the hitching post, were: Miner Stevens, Dave Williams, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Lou Schenck, Jim Heiser, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jack Norray, Wayne Gaul, Jim Rissacher, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.


Not only the Old Men of the Mountain can’t beat this weather with a stick we are having in the Northeast, but everyone can get on the bandwagon and not beat this weather with a stick. On Nov. 3, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown.

This scribe will continue about the weather because getting out of the vehicle in the parking lot of the Chuck Wagon’s parking lot was surreal. The sunrise, the feel in the air, did not seem right; this scribe felt he was someplace else; this is November?

The OFs gave the waitress at the Chuck Wagon a break because there were not many OFs at the breakfast.

One has pneumonia but is now on the upside; four have just returned from Las Vegas; one is in Aruba; three were on the wrong time, and just couldn’t get up, so the drivers went on, leaving them home; two were working the polls; one was running for election and was working hard; one was on a trip with the kids; and one was at the doctor’s office after a tick decided this OF was a good place to call home.

As is often mentioned the OFs are old but do have places to go, people to see, and things to do. Only at the breakfast are most of the OFs sedentary.

Where have all the earwigs gone?

A new topic for the OFs at the breakfast was bugs.

Not only have the OFs noticed a decline in wildlife (like deer, rabbits, raccoons, porcupines, turkeys, and some birds and bats), the OFs have noticed that some bugs seem to have vanished, like earwigs.

Fifteen to 20 years ago, the OFs never saw an earwig, let alone knew what that nasty-looking bug was, and then all of a sudden they were here. Turn over a piece of wood, lift up a flowerpot, pick up the water dish for the dog outside and there they were, scurrying all over the place.

Now they seem to have gone for the most part. This year, nary a one. But these, unlike the wild animals, have been replaced with others like the box elder, and the stink bug.

Now where did they come from? The OFs wonder, if they have been here all the time, where have they been hiding? Particularly the stink bug, that thing is aptly named. Squash one of those bugs and you will know it.

Plenty of nuts

This is also a year the OFs notice that many trees have an abundance of fruits and nuts and even pine cones. One OF reported that his oak tree has the lawn so covered with acorns it is like walking on marbles.

Then another OF said that on his walks in the woods he has noticed that under one oak tree it would be like the other OF said, but under one right next to the first tree, practically nothing is there, hardly even one acorn. This OF said he thought this was odd.

The hickory nuts from the hickory trees are also falling from the trees like rain. Hickory nuts are all over the ground like the acorns.

One OF thought it has been a different year. The trees changed color in our area very late, by almost two weeks.

Another OF threw in the comment that the tour buses that bring people to see the color were going to miss it; the leaves would still be green. Now, instead of frost on the pumpkins, the dumb things are still growing.

“That is not entirely true,” one OF said. “We have had a few killing frosts.”

“Yeah, only in the really open areas,” another OF said.

With his plants, he noticed that, if the plants had any kind of protection at all, they are still green, and the grass is still growing.

“We are going to pay for this,” an OF said.

All the OFs thought this OF was right.

Tough jobs

The OFs talked about the current dilemma of being a police officer. One OF thought that the press and most all of the media are presenting the news in such a fashion that it is painting all police officers with the same brush as the few bad ones.

Many people forget, the OFs thought, that police officers deal with the dregs of society day in and day out and are on edge from the time they go to work until they go home. It takes a certain type of person to be a police officer, or to work in a nursing home, or even to work in a children’s hospital where many are dying of cancer and other diseases.

One OF said, “Give me a shovel and let me dig a ditch because I don’t think I could do these other jobs.”

Those OFs who were still around and had the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful beginning of a beautiful day and started it out by heading to the Chuck Wagon in Princetown were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, (whose name was entered incorrectly last week; this was to protect the innocent) Roger Shafer, Henry Whitt, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Harold Guest, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, and me.


On Tuesday, Oct. 20, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie and the way the OMOTM travel to get there is about the only area around here that the trees are still showing off their fall colors.

In the fall, the hunting begins (as we mentioned in last week’s OMOTM report) but some of the OFs reported not seeing as many of the field animals that they have seen in the past

A couple OFs reported that, under one of their barns, a fox had a litter of pups and the OFs would watch these pups come out and play. They also reported that there was both a mom (vixen) and dad (dog) fox that would be around, a regular family.

These OFs also reported that one day a big, ole coon showed up and would pester that den of fox. Papa fox would harass this old coon while the momma fox just stood and watched — she would not go in and help.

The OFs reported that, one day shortly after that coon showed up, there were no more foxes, just the coon. They surmised that this coon had a breakfast, lunch, and dinner of fox. No proof of that — only fur.

The foxes may have scattered because of the coon; however, the OFs don’t know that for sure, but the foxes are gone. These OFs are outdoor OFs and this was just a summation on their part, but the OFs claim big coons can be nasty and it is not a good idea to mess with them.

Many children’s books show raccoons as cute little animals with a black mask around their eyes, and hands that wash their food, but it is not a good idea to have your kids think they can go up and pet one of these animals and they will curl up and purr like a cat.  No-siree-bob, reach out to pet one in the wild and your hand could come back minus a couple of fingers.

Wonders of technology

A few of the OFs who were missing last week had traveled to Maine to get a bite to eat and brought back some pictures on their cell phones for show and tell. As is said over and over, technology is moving so fast it is almost impossible to keep up.

Now just about everyone has a cell phone that will take pictures, videos, and wipe your nose if you have a cold. When interesting events happen while an OF is on a trip, the OF can now let friends and relatives know what is going on in real time whether he is across the street, or with Captain Hook in Never-Never Land.

Thirty years ago, who — except maybe Dick Tracy — would have thought this is the way life would be.

Now the topic turned to discussing the latest technology — drones.  Will the government probably charge a fee and insist people register to own one of these drones?

The OFs say part of the fun of these flying platforms is building them on the kitchen table out of parts you can by at your local hobby store, or Sears, or electronics store (electronics store used to be Radio Shack, one OF added). It is not necessary to go out and buy one.

So if any crackpot wants to raise havoc with a drone he can build at home what good is all that paperwork for guys that want to have one for the fun of it? Like you do with radio-controlled planes, you could purchase the kit and build it at home or buy the parts and do the same thing.

One OF said, “Well, it will generate another governmental bureaucracy and create jobs that will raise taxes and that will insure votes for the ones that vote for all these rules and regulations but for criminal activity these rules won’t mean a thing.”

As the saying goes: You can hoodwink some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all of the time, and you certainly can’t hoodwink the OFs.

One OF thought, if government bodies are going to spend money, they could create better security around airports and governmental buildings and equip the guards with scatterguns and shoot the drones down.

“Hey,” one OF opined, “that is the kind of job I would like — popping those things out of the sky when they are flying where they are not supposed to be.”

Ways of going

The conversation became a little morbid at the end of the breakfast when a few OFs started talking about who would be next to pass away. The OFs were going by physical condition and age.

Really, if the OFs glanced up and down the table, it could be any one of the OFs, including the glancer.

“Then again, when your name is called up yonder, age and physical condition has nothing to do with it,” one OF retorted.

This prompted another OF to say, “Yeah, it does if a ten wheeler is bearing down on me.  I certainly am not in the physical condition to get out of the way, and that is because of my age.”

“Well,” the other OF said, “I am still right, that truck has your name on it, and if it wasn’t the truck, it would be a piano falling from the sky.”

To which another one of the OFs stated that, for him, it would be a bullet fired from the gun of a jealous husband.

“In your dreams,” another OF said. “That scenario would have taken place 40 years ago, not now. The way you are going, your name is written on the bottom of a beer bottle.”

And so it goes.

Those OFs who attended the breakfast at the Your Way Café in Schoharie and one who had to be told where the syrup was when he (not naming a particular name here) had it in his hands were: Harold Guest, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Miner Stevens, George Washburn, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Chuck Aelesio, Joe Ketzer, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jim Rissacher, Duncan Bellinger, Don Wood, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Gerry Chartier, interloper John, Harold Grippen, and me.


On a colorful day, Tuesday, Oct. 13, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café in Schoharie. The drivers of the car pools were at a slight disadvantage because, duh, they had to drive, but the riders had the time to do some real leaf peeping.

There is really no reason for the OFs who live on the Hill (or in the valley for that matter) to travel to Vermont or New Hampshire in order to view fall color and nature at its best, except for the ride. Maybe the OFs who ventured to the coast through the White Mountains of New Hampshire would eventually reach the ocean.

The ocean — now that is different!  Unfortunately locally, where the OFs roam, there is no ocean.

This scribe does not know how true this is but one OF said that an entrepreneurial guy is laminating leaves and selling them.

One OF said the OFs should advertise: Rake your own leaves, five bucks a box. This OF thinks people would do this and purchase boxes of leaves.

This scribe added that this is not original; Joe Gallagher, the weekend guy on WGY, has been advocating this for quite a while. The OFs have to admit that the fall season in the Northeast is unique with the many varieties of hues on the trees and sometimes the same bush will be wearing Joseph’s coat of many colors.

It is fun to notice that the OFs are OFs and they still take rides and trips to view the colors of the season like they have never seen it before.

One OF mentioned he likes this part of fall but it is too short; however, so far this year, it has been a great fall season. Some years, we go from late summer to early winter and skip the fall feeling altogether.

Some OFs thought that fall was a nostalgic time of the year. The OFs said they felt like they had this unexplained empty feeling.

One OF said he just confided in a very good friend that he wanted summer back because there was so much left undone; people unseen; and dreaming dreams, which are still just dreams.  Now he has to wait until spring because, by next fall, he will do the same thing with things undone becoming longer; people not seen now gone; and dreams, well, dreams are dreams, the OF said.

One OF mentioned that, to him, each season has its own aroma. This OF can smell the leaves of fall, the worms of spring, the new-mown hay of summer, and the fresh air of a cold winter’s morning.

“Gone now,” an OF said, “is a fun part of fall, along with Halloween, and Thanksgiving, and that is the raking of leaves and burning them by the roadside — that smell is a thing of the past. We are not supposed to burn leaves now.”

The OF said, “Instead of burning leaves, we burn gasoline in chippers and trucks to pick them up, and cut down trees to make bags to put them in. Doesn’t make sense to me,” the OF said.

Thoughts on hunting

The OFs mentioned that it was the beginning of bow season, and that, at least, is quiet. On opening day of the hunting season, it sounds like World War III is underway on the Hill. By the sounds of some of these things, they must be machine guns.

Unless the hunter is a darn poor shot, maybe two shots should do it, but, when it is pow, pow, pow, one shot right after another, it is a good indication that the hunter has missed the deer. But, if he has hit the deer, the hunter must be trying to make hamburger of the animal before it is dressed.

It is good that hunters do hit the fields and thin out the herd. Not only that, it does put meat on the tables for many of these hunters.

The OF hunters say that this is not cheap meat. All the gear you have to have, plus the travel to where you think the deer are, has to be figured in.

Then one OF said, “And all that beer — that makes for very expensive meat.”

Stewart’s plaza?

The OFs mentioned they have heard that soon Middleburgh will not look like Middleburgh, especially by the school. According to the OFs, Stewart’s has acquired the bank, the dentist office, the chiropractor’s office, and one other building.  These buildings are all coming down and Stewarts is planning on building a Stewart’s “plaza.”

One OF said, “Well, at least the kids won’t have to cross the street now to get to Stewart’s; it will be on the same side of the road and, with no roads to cross at all, the place will be practically on school property.”  Stay tuned.

Forgoing the future

The OFs have mentioned before why we are OFs with ages the OFs never thought they would be, and still having fun. This scribe has covered comments about medicines, food, medical care, and activities.

The topics Tuesday morning that the OFs were covering were geared more to mechanical items like design of homes, and senior apartments with the walk-in showers and tubs, ramps instead of stairs, riding lawnmowers, and now cars that drive themselves.

They like the idea of homes that are now prefabricated, all on one floor, and smaller.  Older couples can still have their own place and basically maintain it, plus the advent of cars that drive themselves will give a sense of freedom that was not around 30 years ago.

The OFs said they are not ready for these homes yet, but they know many that are.  Are they just fooling themselves?

Those OFs who left their three-storied homes and hopped into their standard-shift cars and pickups and drove to the Country Café in Schoharie and had man-sized breakfasts were: Miner Stevens, John Rossmann with his grandson Scott Ciabazttari, Joe Ketezer, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Duncan Bellinger, Bill Krause, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Duane Wagenbaugh, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.


Tuesday, Oct. 6, brought another beautiful sunrise, though the sunrise the day before was more spectacular. The OFs were out taking pictures Monday, and Tuesday morning on the way to Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh it was no different.

The sunrise on Tuesday morning did not hang around in the sky as long as it did yesterday, but there was a little more color on the trees as the OFs rode over the mountain to Mrs. K’s. As the sun clipped the top of the mountains and added its color to the scenery, there were many moments for calendar shots. 

One OF said that, on his computer, he keeps a folder just for sunrises. The OF did not mention sunsets. Another OF has sunrises and sunsets listed in folders also with dates and times when they occurred. As the OFs become older, they appreciate the finer things life has to offer more now than when they were young Fs.

Chickens with horns?

Why does the chicken cross the road? That was not the question of the day but crushing chicken bones was.

One OF just picked up an antique “bone crusher” used to crush up chicken bones to feed back to the chickens. The OFs speculated that it could be used to crush up other bones too.

This is the same OF who has the dehorning cutter. One OF said he didn’t know chickens had horns.

“Yeah, they do,” an OF said, “And you had better watch out for those chickens with horns — they’ll getcha.”

Oh no! No wonder the OFs’ wives don’t want the OFs talking to the grandkids and telling them things like horns on chickens, chocolate milk from brown cows, and how to plant some raw spaghetti to grow spaghetti trees.

Dodging chores

As we have reported before, our suspicions have been confirmed.  One OF came right out and said he is at the breakfast so he can dodge the wife and get out of chores.

This has been suspected for some time and this is why the attendance at the breakfast is so good. This scribe wonders how many OFs use the term “meeting” (which implies they will be doing something important) with their wives when they head out to join us.

The sneaker-and-pipe crowd

A couple of OFs who were familiar with the General Electric Research and Development facility in Niskayuna talked about all the developments that have come out of that place, one being the MRI technology.

They mentioned that there was no such thing as a Friday casual day, as every day was casual day. The OFs mentioned how some came dressed, and how some (when working on something exciting) stayed right at the site day and night.

They had an ambiguous but respectful title for this group called “the sneaker and pipe crowd.” These people developed much of what we use today as routine, especially in the medical field.

Paid for grades

Siena College was discussed, and what a tight-knit group the graduates of that institution are.

One OF mentioned that his son graduated from Siena and going from BKW to the college atmosphere was quite an adjustment for his son. Many kids from small schools are not ready for the college life, and Siena is not that big.

The OF said his son’s grades were not what he expected and related to his son that he would pay for courses where he earned As and Bs but, for the rest, he was on his own. It worked. The studying started and the grades went up.

The kid was not having any of that “I’ll have to pay for it”; he went with “hang it on dad,” There is a lesson here for all us somewhere.

Peerless peach

Sometimes the OFs tell very basic of stories in the most humorous way. This year, the OFs have mentioned how prolific their gardens are, especially mentioning the grape vines and the fruit trees.

There is usually an exception to these stories and this one OF told of his peach tree that produced only one peach. The OF said he watched that single peach develop all year long, then one day last week that peach was on the ground.

The OF said it looked OK to him so he picked it up and ate it. The OF said it was the best peach he ever had.

Another OF said, “No wonder it was so good; it didn’t have any competition.  All that the entire tree had to offer went right into the one peach.”

No surprises

One OF said that his daughter told him that she was planning a surprise birthday party for him and not to tell anyone. Was this so she could do all the planning and the OF wouldn’t take off and go hunting, or take a trip to Timbuktu?

This OF is going off on the next Honor Flight to the war memorial in Washington, D.C. and she probably did not want to prepare two meals, or plan two parties in a row for the same OF. The effort put forth in this would really be redundant for this OF. 

The OFs are wondering who his chaperone will be because this OF is in great shape and he could be some other veteran’s chaperone.  

The OFs were also kidding another OF who is a member of the fire department as one of the fire police. The OFs say he just dons the uniform and goes and blocks roads so he can talk to people in the cars that have to stop.  There is nothing going on and the OF is just flagging them down.

They were kidding him about all the roads that were closed in the Hilltowns, which segued into talking about Pinnacle road with the repairs done and the road just being opened up. The OFs commented how beautiful the view is from Camp Pinnacle.

One OF said, “Yep, just one of many from the Hilltowns, encompassing the Schoharie and Fox Creek valleys.” 

Those OFs who traveled to Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh and made Loretta and Patty happy were: Bill Bartholomew, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Jim Heiser, Mark Traver, Chuck Aelesio, Dave Williams, Glenn Patterson, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, George Gebe, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Roger Chapman, Don Wood, Ted Willsey, Rich Donnelly, Duane Wagenbaugh, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, and me.