Tuesday, Nov. 18, this scribe traveled to the Country Café in Schoharie all alone (boo-hoo) since one of the riders was scheduled for surgery on his elbow. We tried to convince this OF that, because it was elective surgery, it was strictly against the OMOTM bylaws, (Page 6, Article 14, Section E), which specifically states, “Non-emergency surgeries cannot be scheduled on any Tuesday.” The exceptions would be surgeries due to an accident, to repair broken bones, etc.

Page 6, Article 14, Section F also covers funerals. If any OMOTM should pass away, his funeral is not to be scheduled on a Tuesday, with the exception being travel. Relatives that come from considerable distances, and have time restraints, will be taken into consideration and the funeral can take place on a Tuesday afternoon.

Any OF who deviates from these rules without previous permission from the governing board are subject to fines that will be assessed by the same board. Fines will not exceed two weeks’ payments of all OFs in attendance breakfasts’. The scribe was instructed by the sergeant-at-arms to re-emphasize this particular section of the OMOTM bylaws. 

 The other riders were legitimately excused by a rather lengthy section of the OMOTM bylaws that this scribe will not go into at this time.

The OFs looked up and down the table and considered how blessed many of the OFs are just to be able to attend the breakfast. The subject came up because some friends of the OFs are down with this problem or that.\

One OF’s friend just found out he has multiple sclerosis, and he is not that old. Another was developing ulcers on his feet because of not paying enough attention to his diabetes; he will now, the OFs hope.

Even with the OFs’ maladies, the OGs manage to attend the breakfast and do not give in to them. There isn’t an OG at the table who doesn’t hurt in one way or another. 

One OF came to the breakfast all tanned up; he may hurt but it sure didn’t show. This OF just returned from Aruba, just in time for the breakfast and a 20-degree morning greeting.

Old Uhai

The OFs briefly touched on Uhai Mountain in Berne. It was thought that at one time, when the ax factory was going full blast in Berne, that the mountain was denuded of trees. The wood was used for the forges to temper the axes.

According to one OF, the mountain after being clear-cut was farmed. Much of the land around the Bernes and Knox was farmed and planted with grains because of the grain mills in the vicinity of Berne and East Berne.

According to the OFs, the trees were replanted by the Boy Scouts, the OFs thought in the 1930s, and these trees have now all grown to the same basic height so the canopy of the trees appears to have been cut with a lawn mower.

Why not knit instead?

The OFs also briefly discussed the attacks on cigarette smoking and the apparent dangers of puffing on this supposedly ground-up leaf. This was brought up by one community considering banning all smoking.

The OFs do agree that this is a nasty and sometimes deadly habit.  If not putting some six feet under it puts many in the hospital for considerable stays, and is a drain on the family after that.

“However, there are the occasional few,” one OF said, “that puff until they are 100 years old with no consequences. It is a crapshoot.”

“Are you going to be one of the few that can handle it or not?” asked one OF.

The experience of the OFs indicates the odds are definitely against you to be one of the few.

 Now “they” are demonizing tobacco, and replacing it with something just as bad, if not worse: marijuana.

The OFs say we pay high enough medical insurance for taking care of those that smoke and all their lung and heart problems, and now we will have to take care of all those that wind up in mental hospitals, and on harder drugs, which will increase our taxes to pay for the extra police to control that problem.

The OFs feel that the need to do something with our hands is the problem. Hand to mouth with the cigarette, or hand to mouth with the marijuana.

Jingle-belled to death

Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up. Duh, does anyone need to be reminded about this — especially about Christmas?

The OFs said they are already being jingle-belled to death. The merchants started even before Halloween.

Before you know it, the merchants will start touting their wares on Columbus Day, or even before that. One OG thought that, if merchants start pushing anything electronic that early, by the time Christmas comes around it will old hat, out-dated, and obsolete.

“If I get one,” the OF said of an electronic gadget, “I know I will be stuck with it because they make the new ones so the old one is not compatible.”

“Hey,” another OG said, “they go to school to learn how to do that.”

“Well,” still another OF said, “they can’t outfox me. I do my Christmas shopping on December 24th.”

“Yeah,” was the reply, “we always knew you were cheap; that way, all that is available is leftovers.”

“I don’t care,” the OG said, “because everything I give is always brought back to the store anyway.”

“Ya know, that is not such a bad idea,” an OG chimed in. “Give them some cheap thing you know they won’t like, they take it back and get something they need, or do like, and you are a hero.”

The OF added, “I am going to keep this little trick in mind.”

Show and tell

At this breakfast, we even had show and tell from an OF who brought in items for identification, and the OFs were not faked out this time — many knew what these items were.

This also showed what can be found at rummage sales, and in box lots at the end of auctions. Sometimes there is unknown quality hidden in some of those boxes like what the OF brought to the breakfast.

The OFs who made it to the County Café on Main Street in Schoharie on a January day in November were: Harold Guest, Dave Williams, Chuck Aleseio, Glenn Patterson, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Frank Pauli, Robie Osterman, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Bill Krause, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gil Zabel, Gerry Chartier, and me. (And the fly on the wall was there again, and buzzed it would be the last time until there is a wall free around Christmas time.)


This scribe jumped out of bed at 5 a.m. on Nov. 11 and found it was Tuesday, and time to round up whoever was going with him to the breakfast. Even at 5 a.m., when this scribe and riders arrived at Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh, the restaurant was already half-full

What hour in the morning must these OFs get up to be at the breakfast, showered, most shaved, and reasonably dressed? Some must still be thinking they have to roll back the barn door and get ready for milking.

The OFs have been enjoying this fall, and commenting on it at every breakfast. A couple of the OFs have mowed their lawns again; it was Nov. 10 when they were at it

One even commented on a farm putting in third cutting. The OF said that the alfalfa was nice looking stuff, deep green color, but not many bales, which is understandable

It is interesting how the OFs talk about what they observe on farmland as they drive by and sometimes they comment on the other farmers — still farming — just as if the OFs were still in the business. Forgetting they are thinking horses, and the farmers today are using GPS guided tractors, and individual machines that do all the work as they go through the fields. Tain’t the same, Magee.

From the horse’s mouth

The OFs carried on with the discussion of the work being done on the Little Schoharie Creek that the OFs mentioned last week. They are still amazed at the amount of work being done, but the OFs can’t see how what they are doing is going to help.

Loretta and Patty (proprietors of Mrs. K’s) said that the “boys” (their term) working on the project stop in for breakfast in the morning before going to work. Maybe one of the OFs who live in that area should stop in one morning, seeing that these OFs are some of the ones up that early, and get the information from the horse’s mouth by talking to these “boys.”

The expression “horse’s mouth” must be from the racing game where a bettor bets on some swayback nag to win the race and, lo and behold, it does, because the horse told him it was pay for the hay day. That’s straight from the horse’s mouth.

“Thank you, vet, on your day”

Nov. 11 is Veterans Day; it was Armistice Day for the end of World War 1. This armistice was signed on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918.

Some parts of the world call it Armistice Day, and, in others, Remembrance Day. The United States changed it to Veterans Day to honor all veterans.

The Old Men of the Mountain is a group with many veterans in its midst. Not only have they made a major contribution to this country, but to the neighborhoods in which they live now.

The Old Men of the Mountain who are vets should be honored for both of their contributions, and son of a gun they are still are contributing just by being at this OMOTM breakfast.

This scribe wonders if it should be, “Thank you, vet, on your day” instead of, “Happy Veterans Day” because to some veteran it may not be that happy.

Opening day of deer season is a quasi-legal holiday

Deer hunting starts soon and the OFs were discussing this semi-holiday in our neck of the woods. Some were enthused that hunters are now able to use rifles in most of Albany County.

This also alarmed a few of the OFs because the errant shot of a rifle could travel quite a distance and cause unintended harm. Still and all, the opening day of deer season in many households is a quasi-legal holiday.

The OFs remember, when they were working, the opening day of the deer-hunting season was when the hunters and non-hunters were making arrangements to switch vacation times and days off so the hunters could hunt.

This scribe remembers the significant drop-off in hunting permits issued after the Walt Disney movie, Bambi, came out. With just a tiny bit of imagination, it is possible to see the deer all clapping in the woods for the release of this picture.

When racing was real

There was some discussion on automobile racing since NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) really took over. It has changed the sport considerably.

The OFs remembered in the 1950s and ’60s going to Fonda for the races and having to leave the house early to get a seat, and get to the track really early to get a seat where you wanted. It is not like that today. It is possible to get a seat just before the first heat is to start.

Pete Corey was a racecar driver back when the safety rules were simple and races were fun to watch, said The Old Men of the Mountain. — Photo from John R. Williams.


The OFs talked about the older drivers, their cars, which in the ’50s and ’60s were not fake souped-up cars but the real thing — a Chevy coup was a Chevy coup, a Plymouth was a Plymouth, a Nash was a Nash, a Hudson was a Hudson, a Ford was a Ford, and a Gremlin was a Gremlin.

Each team did its own thing from engine work, to set-up. The safety rules were simple — roll bars, automatic fire extinguishers for rollovers, seats, safety belts, and a few others.

The OFs agreed the races were fun to watch, and each race team had its own following and many would sit together in the stands; some of the OFs were part of that crowd. One OF actually worked on them, well, not really “worked” but did some of the lettering on the racecars.

Those OFs who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and arrived in their own conventional chariots were: Miner Stevens, Jim Heiser, George Washburn, Dave Williams, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, with guest Mathew Pauli, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Don Wood, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Jim Rissacher, Henry Whipple, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Ted Willsey, and me. (Plus the little fly on the wall was there again.) 


On a beautiful October day, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the newly refurbished Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville.

It was Tuesday, the 28th of the month, and some of the OFs had a little extra ride early in the morning on the way to the Hilltown Café. The road normally traveled was closed for apparent culvert repair and this carload of OFs was not completely familiar with the hills in this area of the county, and in them thar hills there are roads that lead the unsuspecting driver to no-man’s land.

This carload backtracked to where they knew and took the roundabout way, which seemed to take forever, but, according to the OFs, time-wise it was not that long.

 Some OFs said to these OFs, “Why didn’t you come up Ravine Road? That is the way we get here anyway.”

The carload that went for the ride said they saw the sign for Ravine Road but, not being familiar with the road, was hesitant to take it. Some OFs might still be wandering around the hills up there trying to find the restaurant and this carload of OFs remembered that incident. This carload said they would follow the directions from the OFs that use Ravine Road to get to the Hilltown Café and take that way back down the mountain.

Views on schools

Many of the OFs are glad they are not back in school, and some of the OFs at one time were involved with the school system and one still teaches. The OFs don’t have a clue as to what is going on, both politically, and academically.

The political correctness is driving many of the OFs nuts but the one that opens the shell for the nut is how far behind the times the OFs are and they have no idea what their grandkids are talking about when it comes to schoolwork.

One OF said that the kids have to learn everything that has gone on in the past 80 years, and that is a lot — we didn’t because the OFs have lived it. Except for math and science, which has really changed, the rest is the same old stuff, just repeated over and over although American history seems to be shortchanged.

The OFs comment is there are not really any new stories or poetry since Homer or Heraclitus. How about the Divine Comedy or the Bible?

To this OF, it is all the same intrigue only using different words. To this OF, “So what’s new?”

There have always been wars, only different people going at it with the same results. First it was fists, then clubs, then spears and the like, then the Chinese came up with gun powder, and now we are throwing atoms at each other. Nothing has changed, and neither will the results.

“Boy,” this OF said, “I am glad I’m not back in school.”

Similar to the Barbarians taking Rome, and the Huns running roughshod over everyone, this OF feels the Barbarians are back and their weapons are drugs going after our young people.

Who knows where we would be if the Romans, the Greeks, and the Egyptians were able to continue without being thwarted by might, and not brains?  We would probably be traveling to other planets, and pain would be eliminated. These cultures were on their way to achieve that.

“Boy, I am glad I am not back in school,” the OF said again, “not for the learning part but all the crap that goes on between those walls. The teachers must not only teach, but, by golly, they have to be cops; along with their degrees, they should automatically be part of law enforcement and get badges.” 

“You cynical old coot, you are being swayed by only a small portion of the school population,” an OF said. “How do you think it has gotten so far advanced that we OFs don’t understand it?  Most of the students are paying attention to their teachers and then those kids are going on to become responsible citizens like us. We should give them a hand for running the gauntlet and coming out the other end as the next doctor to cure cancer. Like everyone says and this column has reported: If you can read this column, thank a teacher.”

Better than raking

The fall season of raking came up and some OFs say they don’t bother to rake anymore. They take their tractor, set it low, and grind the leaves up into mulch and leave them there.

Other OFs have to deal with pine needles; they are a horse of a different color. Those nasty little orange needles have to be raked. When they get twisted into the grass, they have to be double raked, once north and south, then east and west.

One OF mentioned that, in the South, they bale the pine needles and call them pine straw and some landscapers go around and do all the work for them just to get the pine straw. 

More buzz on bees

One of the OFs has a winter chore this year that he doesn’t generally have to do.  This OF is a beekeeper and this year he is moving his hives to North Carolina for protection.

Apparently it is not to protect the bees from the cold but rather from disease. This OF says he has lost half his bee population this year.

The bee is one of the main links in the pollination of almost everything. Birds, butterflies, and the wind are some of the other links but the bee is number one. We are in trouble if the problem of why the bees are dying is not found out and controlled.

Those OFs who made it to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, and quite pleased that Route 85 and the road to the bridge have been paved were: Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Miner Stevens, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aleseio, Roger Chapman, Dick Ogsbury, Karl Remmers, Otis Lawyer, Bill Krause, Jessie Vadney, Frank Pauli, Harold Grippen, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, George Washburn, Mark Traver, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jim Rissacher, Gill Zable, Ted Willsey, and me. 

On Oct. 21, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café in Altamont.

The question was asked: What time do the OMOTM meet? Because our bylaws are so extensive, the time is obliterated: One page says one thing and another page says something else.

As this is a collection of OFs that get together, the time for each is arbitrary. Some of the OFs are quite ambulatory while others are not. Some ride with early risers, and some share transportation with those who were not farmers and arise a little later.

Still, some who do the chauffeuring for that day have quite a trip to round up all their OF passengers. Adding all this together makes for an interesting XYZ equation. So the OFs get to the restaurants when they get there.

The restaurants understand this; they know they are dealing with the senior section of our society, and the restaurants, God bless them, know that, if the OFs want to wear purple, they will.


Now that fall is on its way out, the OFs talked some about winterizing their homes, putting away the summer items the OFs hauled out in the spring back to the winter-resting places. This, to many of the OFs, is a lot of work, seeing that the lawn mowers, weed eaters, tractors, and other gas-engine powered lawn equipment is ready for their winter hibernation.

All the lawn furniture is undercover, or covered up, hoses are drained and stored, outside water is shut off, the snow blower is ready to go, the plow is on the truck and ready, and there is enough wood in the shed. This is what keeps the OFs — OFs.

All this activity, and just planning for summer and winter and all that is involved, may be one of the thought processes that keeps Alzheimer’s at bay.

As always, there is one spoilsport. One OF said he sold his home and has moved into a condo so this OF doesn’t have to worry about anything, not even plowing the driveway.  He has no storm windows to put up, no old caulking to be redone, no hay bales around the foundation — none of that.

“Hey,” as one OF put it, “Now what are you going to do for fun?”

Camera shy

This scribe continually reports on how many of the OFs are at least up to the 20th Century on some of the newer technology with computers, cell phones, GPS systems, and the like. We are in an age that much of what is done can be, and will be, caught on camera.

There is no more hiding behind the barn with the lady next door, or picking your nose, or running around half naked to be comfortable; it will now be fodder for some camera somewhere. The OFs can whip out their cell phones, or iPads, or whatever electronic device is at hand as fast as anyone and record it.

Car conundrum

A never-ending conversation with the OFs seems to be OFs and old cars. These conversations are what keeps the interest up and subsequently preserves the history of cars (and it doesn’t have to be only cars) and Tuesday morning it happened to be Volkswagens.

An OF reported that, when they were young, they had an old V.W. This OF couldn’t remember if it was one with the small taillights or not.

The OFs’ memories now and again can be quite vague unless it is something of real interest; apparently, the OF was not interested in that old car. What is interesting to some is not interesting to others so the Volkswagen must not have impressed this OF until now because the V.W.’s with the small tail lights (that still run) are in popular demand.

One OF suggested that in World War II we were trying to blast the Germans to kingdom come; now we run around in their cars, and tout German ingenuity. The same with the Japanese and the reliability of their cars, and most of the vehicles with Japanese names sell like hot cakes. It is a good thing memories are short.

“Elderly” is subjective

It was brought up that the OFs should respect our elders.

Well, who the heck is more elder than the OFs? What elder were they talking about?

This scribe was furrowing his brow at this one until the scribe found out he was the elder in question. This scribe in not elder, there are more elder than this scribe in the OMOTM group.

The OFs as a whole take exception to the use of elderly by the newspapers, TV, and radio. An example recently used in a local newspaper stated, “The car in the accident was driven by a 72-year-old elderly man.”

Hey!  To the OFs, that driver is just a kid, not elderly.

Who determines what age is “elderly?”

Some young reporter on the scene might call the person elderly, but, if the reporter on the scene is a year or so from retirement, he might just say a 72-year old man, and leave out elderly.

Why is elderly even used the OFs want to know. It is just letters to fill up space; it has nothing to do as an adjective to describe anything.

The word is subjective; a 72-year old person is sufficient, that is enough of a description. Would you say a 72-year old wrinkled old hag fell down the stairs? Wrinkled old hag does nothing — just a 72-year old lady fell down the stairs. The OFs are robust, not elderly!

The OFs have spoken.

Those robust OFs who made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont under their own power were: Jim Rissacher, Roger Chapman, Henry Witt, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Dave Williams, Jim Heiser, Otis Lawyer, Chuck Aleseio, Glenn Patterson, Bill Krause, Lou Schenk, Mace Porter, Henry Whipple, Bill Keal, Ted Willsey, and me. However, three OFs made it to the wrong restaurant and they were: Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, and Gill Zabel — and these three apparently had a good meal.


The Old Men of the Mountain shook themselves out of bed on Oct. 14, and scurried off to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg for the OMOTM breakfast.

One OF told of overhearing two ladies coming out of Tractor Supply in Cobleskill, complaining about prices and how they hit the nail on the head when one said, “Money does not go as far as it used to.”

The OF mentioned this at the breakfast and there was complete agreement. One OF said that taking care of the household expenses comes first. Look at the places that are going out of business: casinos, restaurants, car dealerships, and more.

“Things we can do without,” one OF said.

Traveling has been cut way back because of the price of gas. Now it is necessary to go to the bank to get money to pay for a couple of cups of coffee.

Take sugar, for example.  The manufacturers didn’t change the price but the sack now weighs only four pounds when it used to weigh five.

“A lot of items are like that,” an OF said. “We just have to check the weight, or the volume and see how many products supply less for the same money — and some even charge more. The price of a movie now is ridiculous.”

The OFs guess this is everybody’s lament.

Many talents

The group of guys who make up the OMOTM have many talents that this scribe has brought up a few times before; this is true with many groups that get together under this name or that.

Schoharie has an annual historical revolutionary re-enactors’ event at the Old Stone Fort in October. This year’s event was special because of the 125th anniversary of the Schoharie Historical Society.

In TV ads for this event, one of the OFs who plays guitar and sings with a group was shown in his Colonial garb, strumming his guitar. Of course, as this scribe pointed out, it was from a previous event because this one had not happened yet.

Nostalgia for the old days

Talking about Colonial times seemed to make the OFs a bit nostalgic and they turned the conversation back to when many of them were farming.  During those years, WGY had an early-morning radio show that was on in every barn.

Charles John Stevenson was the Chanticleer; Earl Pudney was on air with him. The Chanticleer gave the farm reports for the day, including the cattle auction (which included more than cattle) from Central Bridge.

This let farmers know what hogs and cows were selling for on a weekly basis. This radio show started with the National Anthem, and a prayer.

“Try that today,” one OF said.

One of the chores on the farm (at the time the OFs were YFs) that was fun to do was to go and clear the fields of woodchucks. These varmints’ holes and mounds were downright dangerous to farmers.

Mowing with a row crop tractor and having those two wheels drop into a woodchuck hole could cause a broken, or at best, very sore thumb, wrist, hand, or finger from the twist on the steering wheel. Cows would step in these holes and really get hurt, so it was one of the routine chores on the farm at that time to get rid of them.

Today woodchucks are a rare sight. Either the farmers cleaned them out, or they are living under sheds or barns.  Occasionally, a woodchuck can be spotted waddling along the side of the road.  They are not gone; it seems they have adapted and found a safer place to live so the farmer boys don’t use them to learn how to shoot.

Ghost stories

It is approaching Halloween and the OFs began to relate a few ghost stories.

Do the OFs believe in ghosts?

That brought on a few shrugs. Shrugs like, “Yeah, I do,” or, “No, I don’t.”

These shrugs indicated both.

The OFs had to admit there are some strange things that do go on that are hard to explain. Just like aliens.  Most of the OFs do think there are other universes, and some think there may be too many to count.

Changes afoot

It was noted that there are now changes in Berne with the new sewer system up and running.

The corner where Route 443 meets Route 156 is much wider, and the building that stood there by the creek is gone.

The OFs brought up the changes that will be in the village of Schoharie when the new apartment complex is completed. The OFs understand (and this may just be something the OFs heard) that there is going to be a drainage system under the apartments that will go to the creek to drain the complex in case of high water.

The OFs wonder how this will work if the creek overflows and there is water in the streets of Schoharie. The pipes will be under water. Without a series of check valves to stop the water from flowing from the creek to the apartments, how is the water going to drain out? The OFs were just wondering.

With true dedication, the OFs who made it through the fog to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg, were Steve Kelly, Miner Stevens, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, Dick Ogsbury, Karl Remmers, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Bill Krause, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Duane Wagonbaugh, Joe Loubier, Andy Tinning, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gill Zabel, Harold Grippen, and me.


On Oct. 7, The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Scho/Co Diner in Schoharie. The group now has fewer people barging in on the restaurants that are on the OFs’ round-robin list of eateries because most, if not all, the snowbirds have flown

This leaves the group with the hard-core Northeasters and the few who wish they could fly with the snowbirds. This second group has many reasons for not joining the southwestern, or southern brigade — family and friends, doctors, money, and some just don’t have the guts to pull the trigger and go.

The OFs wonder sometimes why we are at the table. This breakfast, the OFs were discussing accidents they have seen, they have had, and the many close calls that were had among the OFs.

Recalling some of these accidents the OFs have had (or almost have had), the OFs noticed that once the accident started it seemed to transfer into slow motion. There are all types of accidents: falling, industrial, shop, car, and just living-type accidents.

Then again, some happen so fast (as one OF put it once) that the OF can just pick himself up from the floor and say, “What the H--- just happened?”

The OFs say no one goes out and says, “I guess I will have an accident today.” That is why they are called accidents.

One OF said, “Accidents are caused by our own stupidity or someone else’s stupidity.”

But another OF said that being in the wrong place at the wrong time doesn’t help either. All the OFs now have a fear of falling down and not being able to get up.

“Even if I get down on purpose,” one OF said, “I have a fear of not being able to get up.”

This conversation was because one of the OFs had such an accident recently, and it was of the “Holy Cow, what just happened?” type. This particular OF is one hurting individual right now.

Wondering about

winter weather

With the snowbirds flying, the subject of the upcoming winter arose and what type of weather it would bring. The OFs whipped out their own Ouija boards to predict the winter.

The OFs also rely on the marking of the wooly bear. So far, that little caterpillar says a long hard beginning to the winter, and a little break in the middle, and a short hard ending. This friendly little thing is generally right, but, then again, as one OF said, so is the Farmers’ Almanac.

An OF said he just waits and watches what happens during the winter months and, come spring, analyzes what the winter was — whether it was hard, average, or not bad. Trying to predict is useless; even the weather guys can’t get the next day right much of time so why should he bother to try and figure out what is going to happen for three months.

Bionic OFs

Some of the OFs have had knees, or shoulders replaced recently, even a hip or two. One just had a piece of kidney taken out so the OFs started talking about pain pills: Some of big boys like hydrocodone, or oxycodone, or morphine, and, though it seems as if these pills take the pain away, sometimes the side effects are worse than the pain.

Some of the OFs have hallucinations that are downright scary, while others break out in hives or other types of rashes. On one occasion, an OF took only one pill and wouldn’t take another because of the hallucinations — so the doctors gave him Tylenol #3, which seemed to work but another OF said he even has a reaction to that. Weird.

However, some can take the things as if they were candy and the only side effect they have is sleep. “Sleep,” one OF said, “is the best pain killer going and maybe that is what those things are supposed to do — knock you out.”

“Heck,” one more OF said, “if that is all they are supposed to do, I will come over and whack you with a hammer every now and then.  That’ll put you to sleep.”

It is tough to beat the logic of the OFs.

Eagles for real?

The OFs at this table were talking about seeing eagles and some of the OFs hoped they were not mistaking turkey vultures for eagles since there are tons of turkey vultures around. The eagles the OFs claim to be spotting are around the Thompsons Lake area of the Helderbergs; the Camp Woodstock area, also in the Helderbergs; and along the Schoharie creek between Middleburgh and Schoharie.

Some of the OFs are waiting for some photographic proof on these majestic birds, i.e., real eagles, and not the ones that sit atop the very high tree stumps in one OF’s yard.

Those OFs who made it to the Scho/Co diner in Schoharie and didn’t have any accidents along the way were: Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Henry Witt, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Karl Remmers, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Dick Ogsbury, Miner Stevens, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Don Wood, Bill Krause, Duncan Bellinger, Rich Donnelly, Ted Willsey, Joe Loubier, Duane Wagonbaugh, Jim Rissacher, Bill Keal, Carl Walls, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gill Zable, Harold Grippen, and me.

On the last day of September 2014, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café in Schoharie. The Country Café is across the street from the Parrott House, which is a three-story hotel on the main street of the village.

The Parrott House holds a lot of memories for many of the OFs but, after Tropical Storm Irene entered the picture in Schoharie County in 2011, the hotel fell on hard times. The OFs say this is a shame.

The Parrott House itself can almost be considered one of the centerpieces of the county. Today, looking across at the building in need of repair inside and out, and with a blue blanket stuffed in one of the windows apparently to keep out some flying critters and drafts, the paint peeling, and the sign drooping, the building looks sad.  It almost appears to be saying, “Help me.”

One OF said that it would take someone with deep pockets to bring it back to life, and then there is all the Schoharie politics that would go with it. One OF said the power structure in Schoharie is anti-this, anti-that, and anti-this again.

The anti group has a whole series of hoops for anyone trying to do something to jump through, and, once anyone is done with those, there is a whole series more of hoops to go through and someone in the group is running around gathering up the first set of hoops so it is necessary to go through them again.

Rigmarole in Berne

Then there is all the rigmarole required to hook up to the new sewer system in the village of Berne. That is another story, but the way it was told at the gathering this morning was so pathetic it was like a comedy show.

This exchange came from OFs at the breakfast who knew something about the mechanics of what was being installed and they were left scratching their heads.

The OFs on this topic were wondering whatever happens to common sense to when people become elected or are appointed to this board or that board, yet when they are not together with these groups seem like such nice, normal people and great to be with.

Political ads confound OFs

A few quick yearly comments that pop up at election time are the political ads. Most all the OFs are sick of them (the word “most” is used here because the scribe can only report what is within earshot of where this scribe’s bum is plopped).

(Another aside: The wife of this scribe said that the scope of his earshot is only about the end of his arm, because she maintains that this scribe can’t hear her when she is in the same room with him.)

Back to the political ads — to the OFs, the only one that benefits from these ads is the media.

“They must love it,” one OF said.

Pols patch roads

Another sign that it is October is handing out money for this program and that program, when it could have been done long ago.  All of a sudden, the blacktop batch plants are working overtime because many roads are being paved.

The OFs also noticed that, where fancy people live (and the roads weren’t that bad), these roads are being paved, and the roads where the middle class hang out are still being neglected.

Church-dinner fans

Fall is not only the season for leaf peekers, but it is also the season of church dinners. The OFs highly recommend these dinners.

Not only do you get fed well but you help support the small-town community churches, and these dinners are inexpensive plus being all you can eat. Many of these church dinners have craft tables set up that also contribute to the small churches, and a big plus is that most of the desserts at these dinners are homemade pies. Some even have take-outs.

One OF said what he does is attend the supper and eat a meal, then he orders a takeout, takes it home and splits it up, places some in the freezer, and some in the fridge, and he eats well for a week. These OFs aren’t dumb, but, of course, they have been around awhile — that is why they are OFs.

Garden gadget

At Tuesday morning’s breakfast, the OFs had a double show and tell. One OF purchased, at an estate/garage sale, a gadget that was used for gardening. It was old, so he brought it in to see if any of the OFs knew what it was.

The OFs came close but no cigar. It was a potato planter that was built so the person planting the potatoes did not have to bend over to do so. Must have been invented a long time ago by someone with a bad back.

The buzz on bees

Another OF brought in a picture he had taken of a beehive in a tree.  Without being inside the tree, the combs of honey just hung from a “Y” of a branch while the bees just kept on building the hive.

This OF is a beekeeper and supplies many of the OFs with their honey.

Another reason the OFs are OFs, many eat cinnamon and honey regularly.  The OFs maintain that adding that combination of food to their diet keeps many diseases and ailments away.

The photograph drew much attention, because the OFs understand that there seems to have been a problem with the bee population the last few years; however, this photo showed there were a ton of bees around this hive exposed to the air. One OF commented that it is good thing a bear hasn’t found that hive yet.

Those OFs that attended the breakfast at the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie and came on their own, not chased in by bees, were: Miner Stevens, Dave Williams, Jim Heiser, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Bill Bartholomew, Roger Chapman, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Rich Donnelly, Bob Lassome, Joe Loubier, Duane Wagenbaugh, Don Wood, Duncan Bellinger, Bill Krause, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey (ask Mike what not to do when using a table saw), Gerry Chartier, and me.

On Sept. 23, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. The streets of Middleburgh are lined with bright-colored yellow mums, and they can’t be missed.  Schoharie has their main street lined with flowers in those simulated halves of wine barrels. This makes for a very colorful ride through parts of the Schoharie Valley just prior to, or during, the fall color season.

The OFs were talking about a ride out through the valley that would be very picturesque and thought that, instead of heading to Vermont, people would see similar views here — only better. The OFs have talked about traveling through the Helderbergs on many occasions but the rides are still worth the travels.

Starting in Altamont (with its Home Front Café), through Knox, to Rock Road, to County Route 1, to South Berne, just past the little village of South Berne is a church on a hill to the left, and 408 goes to the right; take that to Route 85 to Rensselaerville, (home of the Hilltown Café), to County Route 353, through the little town of Hauverville, to Route 145 Livingstonville, to Middleburgh, (where the Middleburgh Diner and Mrs. K’s Restaurant are located), to Route 30 to Schoharie (with the Country Café and Scho-Co Diner) to 443 to Gallupville, Route 146 and back to Altamont.

That is a nice ride with good places to eat, and, in Middleburgh at the light, you could go across the bridge on Route 30 to Shaul’s and Barber’s farm stands, or continue a short ways beyond Route 443 on Route 30 to the Carrot Barn, or the Apple Barrel, and it becomes — Vermont, eat your heart out!

This is just one of many little day trips through the hills where the OFs reside, and quite often the carloads of OFs headed to a restaurant will take the time to stop and enjoy the views. There are also many chances to duck off on a country road, and take the road less traveled and see where the little road that beckons takes you. Small adventures abound.

The bloom is off New York

The OFs often mention where they have had the opportunity to grow up and how great it would be if it weren’t for the extremely high taxes, and the circus put on in Albany from basically January to June or whenever the clowns decide to show up for work.

The OFs say now the price of gas, heating oil, economics, and politics take the bloom off the once great state of New York, and really drives many New Yorkers away to places where they can afford to live. One OG said that you have to be either poor, and on welfare, or really rich to float your boat in New York — those of us in the middle are really wacked on.

Military changes

with the times

The scribe checked his notes for this report: rabbits, travels, old tractors, New York, Florida, Navy ships, closing day, and hawks were what was written. But there was a sundry of other discussions where this scribe did not make a note; however, with some Navy OFs, and an Air Force OF sitting together there was much naval and military talk and the only note was “military.”

According to these OFs, the Navy of today is not like the Navy they were in many years ago. This scribe can insert that the Navy the OFs were in was not like the Navy with the Merrimac, and the Merrimac Navy was not like the Navy of the Constitution. Times keep on a-changin’.

The Air Force OF flew on the C-130, and brought up that it is not that glamorous of a job. The planes were cold and noisy, the OF said, and, if anything happened over water, the plane would sink like a rock.

The Navy guys who talked about their ships told stories” One OF told of being on a ship with about 65 guys, while the other OF was on an aircraft carrier called the Wasp. The OF on the Wasp said he recently had a tour of the new carrier, the George H.W. Bush.

This OF told about some of the differences between these two carriers. First, the Bush basically holds no guns; second, it was so large that three of the old Wasps would fit inside it.

An old World War II Navy guy said that, when they went to war in the Pacific, they were in a fleet of 11 ships and he thought that was the largest flotilla he had ever seen. At the war’s end, the OF returned home in a convoy of over 100 ships. He said they went from horizon to horizon in all directions — battleships, aircraft carriers, destroyers, everything was a-float, and the OF remembered how he started out and was amazed again.

The OF on the Wasp said that, for his time, their carrier was so large that one night (with the way navigation lights on the carrier were placed) the lights were so far apart that another ship thought it had gone by and sailed right into his ship and punctured a gapping hole in the carrier. They brought in repair divers by helicopter to patch the hole so the carrier could limp back to dry-dock. (One of the OFs who was also in the Navy was one of these divers. He wasn’t at the breakfast. This OF is one of the snowbirds that have already flown.) 

The OF on the Wasp telling the story said when they returned there was another carrier being built, and the bow was about ready for the new carrier. What they did was cut the bow away from the Wasp, and attach the bow that was built for the new carrier onto the Wasp and sent her back out. Now the Wasp was a patched up ship that served well. Like a hot rod, it was remade from multiple parts.

This scribe wonders how many stories are out there that should be collected and written down by someone who would interview the OFs, other than just hearing snippets of tales which are only parts of normal conversations, and where others add their stories at the same time. Now each story is just a glimpse of stories that would take a lot more space to report.

Those OFs who attended the breakfast at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, and have their minds in shape to relate life’s events lucidly were: Art Frament, Miner Stevens, Otis Lawyer, Robie Osterman, Karl Remmers, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Harold Guest, George Washburn, Dick Ogsbury, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Bob Benac, Roger Chapman, Chuck Aleseio, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Don Wood, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Joe Loubier, Rich Donnelly, Duane Wagonbaugh, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Gill Zabel, Harold Grippen, and me.


In the rain and fog, the Old Men of the Mountain on Sept. 16 met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. Trudging to the Middleburgh Diner through muck and mire is what the OFs are good at; trudging is what the OFs do.

The OFs are experts on trudging. To see many of us OFs disembark from a vehicle is a lesson in trudging. Many of the OFs unfold out of a car and stand for a few seconds before moving; this is to get their knees, hips, and backs in proper alignment from sitting in order to take the first step.

Then for the next 10 or 12 steps, it is the Tim Conway shuffle for these joints to creak into shape; the pain then becomes the familiar and bearable one that the OFs are used to. Then the backs may straighten up some and the gait increases until, by the time the OFs reach the door of the restaurant, they are not in bad shape.

Of course, the reverse is true when it is time to leave the restaurant.  The process starts all over because now the OFs have to get out of their restaurant chairs, and trudge their creaking joints to their vehicles.

Autumn angst

’Tis the season for allergies, the end of summer nostalgia, and for political signs to start sprouting up. These things pop up all over the place, according to the OFs, they have been well fertilized and ready for a new season of lousing up the beautiful fall colors.

The continuous bombardment of nasty attack ads on TV from both sides of the aisle, as one OF said, is a great reason for the use of the mute button.  He said if only he could make it automatic: That is that, on that.

Energy concerns

The OFs spoke again about solar panels (this topic is coming up more often; this scribe thinks that this type of power is coming more into vogue) and how there are pluses and minuses to this energy source.

One OF mentioned that many of these installations require the use of power from the grid. If the power goes out, so does your solar panel. Then an OF added that there are systems that collect the power and store it in batteries so, when that does happen, your need for power converts to the batteries.

To most of the OFs, all this sounds rather expensive. One OF brought up the question of how much natural resources does it take to build one of these things and maintain it.

“You can’t build a battery out of thin air,” the OF said. “Let me burn wood, at least I can grow another tree, but what can I do with a huge battery when it wears out and I have to buy another one. Where does that battery go?”

“The same thing can be said of just about anything,” another OF said. “Oil takes the same steel to build the pumps, and the offshore rigs, and what happens to those big rigs when the oil runs out?”

The other OF said, “I can still grow a tree.”

One OF had an answer for the rigs — turn them into condos.  “I bet tons of people would love to live on the ocean,” he said, “and make the parts of the rigs that go down into the water apartments. I think that would be great to live in for a while, anyway, under the ocean. I bet it would be quiet at night.”

One OG who was familiar with diving said, “It is pretty quiet all the time under the water.”

The OFs wondered if the big oil companies have thought of this.  These OFs are quite an entrepreneurial group. 

The tree OF said, “I don’t care what they do; I can still grow a tree, and I do.”

“Not all people live in the woods like you, you OG,” an OF responded. “Millions live in the city and don’t even know what a tree is. Well, wind and solar isn’t going to handle that, if you want to cut out oil and coal, there is always nuclear, and I for one think that is the way to go, plus cars, trains, and trucks that run off magnetic strips powered by nuclear generators.”

Wildlife gone wild

Again, the abundance of wild life around this late summer was another topic. The hunters won’t have much hunting to do; it looks like the turkey and deer are going to be coming right up to nuzzle the muzzle of the gun.

Besides being abundant, the OFs think, they are almost tame. The OFs know many of the fifth- or sixth-generation of deer are road-wise.

Many of the OFs report seeing deer stop at the edge of the road and check for traffic in both directions before crossing. Watching a deer try to scurry across a paved road gives the appearance that the deer is on ice.

An OF wondered how much weight is on a deer hoof. They are small and sharp.

A Clydesdale horse has very large hoofs so per square inch that horse isn’t putting much pressure on the ground, but that deer must be placing all its weight on just a couple of square inches of ground — no wonder they skid all over the place on a paved road.

“Yeah,” an OF said, “a fat, beer-drinking, redneck with clod-hoppers on is putting less weight per square inch on the ground than some skinny broad in high heels.”

“Right,” was the reply. “Who would you want to step on your foot, a 300-pound man in size 14 work boots, or a 100-pound broomstick lass in six-inch heels?”

The OFs’ advice: Go for the 300-pound guy.

The OFs who made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh via the normal means of transportation were: Bill Bartholomew, George Washburn, Steve Kelly, Harold Guest, Jim Heiser, Roger Shafer, Miner Stevens, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, Dave Williams, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Don Woods, Henry Whipple, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Rich Donnelly, Duane Wagonbaugh, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gill Zabel, Harold Grippen, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Bob Donnelly, and me.


Tuesday, Sept. 9, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville.  Unfortunately, this scribe was not in attendance, and this scribe had a bona fide excuse. To break it down to its finer points: “Happy wife, happy life” and that is true.

This gives the scribe a chance to return to some of his notes taken at previous breakfasts and use a couple of items that did not make it to The Enterprise.

One entry was how important it is what we do now and what the OFs did when they were in the workforce. The conclusion the OFs came up with is that most of what everyone does is important and much of what we do directly affects many other people.

One OF said that just closing the door on your vehicle and starting out to go somewhere (to the store or across the country) is a job — an important job. Many people rely on how someone conducts himself behind the wheel, and it is not just the driver. 

That thought is carried back to the people who design and build the car in the first place. If these designers don’t pay attention to what they are doing and install a wheel haphazardly, that wheel could come off and many could become hurt.

Take that further back to the company that made the wheel, and even further back to the company that made the steel, that made the wheel, and it is now apparent how important each one’s job is.

One OF mentioned how important the job of a mail carrier is, because at times — as his brother was delivering the mail — his brother would think of what each letter might mean. One could be a check that was so important to the recipient; another could be bringing news of an ill or elderly relative; one could be a simple wedding invitation, or birth announcement.

Good news, bad news, encouraging news, even the “junk mail” is interesting to someone.  Also important to both (the one who was sending and the one who was receiving this mail) and the mailman’s job was to get it done and done right.

As one OF put it, “No matter what your job is, the thing is: Do the best you can, and don’t put yourself down because what is being done seems inconsequential.”

Another OG said, “Boy, that sounds corny, but, ya know, it is true.”

When it comes to speeding,

everyone breaks the law

One OF mentioned closing the door on a car, and this brought up a discussion on cars and speed limits; some others were wondering what speed limits are and do they really mean anything.

The OF said that the speed limit on Route 20 through Guilderland is 40 miles per hour.

“If I go 40,” the second OF said, “I’m in the way.”

Another OF chimed in, “Route 85 from the circle at Blessing Road, to I-90 is 55 miles per hour.  Try that one at 55.  I have to go 65 just to stay with the moderate traffic.”

A third OF said, “If you ask anyone if they have knowingly broken the law, I think most would say no, but they have — from cops, to priests, ministers, judges, politicians, doctors, lawyers, Indians, and such.”

This OF is willing to bet that they all knowingly break the law on a daily basis, just getting to and from work, and heaven help us if any one of them is in a hurry.

“Yeah,” one OF said, “but you and we all are in that category.”

“Another thing,” an OF added, “now that we are talking about all of this, one of us is bound to get a ticket; it will be just our luck.”

“That may be right, another OF said. “But you will get cited for not maintaining 30 miles an hour, you old poke.”

Conversely, an OF said he has been on the New York State Thruway about four times recently, running to Utica and back, and he finds that almost everyone, including trucks, are behaving themselves.

Only the occasional wise-a-- goes tearing by. Then again, the OF said that apparent wise-a-- may have a real emergency or a good promise and has a reason for pedal-to-the metal high-balling it down the highway.

Then more discussion ensued around certain routes where the OFs find they have a lot of tricky maneuvering.  One road is I-90 from Exit 24 to the bridge at Route 787, which is another reason for prayer when getting on. That is a 55-mile-per-hour stretch, and 70 miles per hour seems to be the norm.

Then there is a scary section that requires no arthritis in the neck and that is negotiating the half-mile section from Route 20 to Wolf Road via the Northway.

One OF said, “That is why I shop local. To fight my way to Colonie Center or Crossgates is not worth the hassle.”

Ah — age takes all the fun out of many challenges.

This scribe does not know how the OFs got to Rensselaerville and the Hilltown Café. The scribe suspects all the drivers were cautious because the OFs who made it were: Dick Ogsbury, Karl Remmers, Bob Benac, Jack Benac, Roger Fairchild, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Ted Willsey, Duane Wagonbaugh, Joe Loubier, Rich Donnelly, Bob Lassome, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Jim Rissacher, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Gerry Chartier (w/guests Mario Schnelder & Olga Ferr), Mike Willsey (with guest Amy Willsey), Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, and not me.