High-flying cake: Inspired by an Old Men of the Mountain column, the Masons in Berne held a gathering celebrating the C-130, which featured this cake, designed by Dana Sherman’s daughter, Debbie, the bakery manager for Price Chopper. She researched the planes, and Price Chopper made the photos into something edible and delicious, according to the OMOTM scribe, John R. Williams.

On Tuesday, July 2, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. Up in the Helderbergs, as the OFs imagine around most of the Hilltowns, driving can be a challenge at times.

Tuesday morning, the OFs complained about the drizzle and the fog with one OF missing his turn because he could not see through the patch of fog and he became lost for a spell. Most of the OFs ran into the same situation — fog, drizzle, rain, clear, then repeat, then repeat the repeat. Still in all, many made it to the Hilltown Café and filled it up.

The banter was fast and went from one topic to another, starting with barn cats and farm animals; to how many miles waitresses and waiters put on their shoes, running back and forth to kitchen cabinets and countertops; to airplanes; to the sugar-added coal tar called syrup, and the real stuff from the maple tree; to gardens, hearing aids, snakes and turtles, whales and dolphins; to the design of the newer cars; and getting old. Now all this scribe needs to do is expound on these without getting wordy.

The OFs who had farms had barn cats — lots of barn cats, and no mice, or, if there were any, they didn't last long. Sliding back the stable door in the morning — especially in the fall, winter, and early spring — a farmer saw all the animals would start to stir with the sound.

The cows lying down would start to stand and the cats that would sleep on a particular cow, generally at the back hip or right on top, would jump down, and the others would show up from their own hiding places in the barn, and gather for their morning ration of warm, fresh milk.

One OF mentioned that he couldn’t remember ever feeding the cats anything, just the morning and evening milk. Most of these cats were untouchable; a few were friendly and could be petted.

Sometimes, one OF said, his mom would pick a couple out for pets, and they were house cats but again not fed anything like cat food — they ate what the dogs ate: scraps and mice.

The OFs also discussed the way the cats were taken care of when they became injured, or had distemper, or how most of the animals that became incapacitated were dealt with. It was humane, and done with a considerable amount of sadness, but in many cases prevented the spread of certain diseases. Today every farmer would be arrested.

Reptiles know where they want to go

In the spring and in the fall, the turtles migrated from one place to another. Many of the OFs have watched some of these migrations for years.

A couple of OFs said they have pictures of snapping turtles that must be 14 to 16 inches across but they are not going to monkey with these things to find out if they are 14 and 3/4 or 16 and 1/2. Two of these critters are so old they are green with mold on the top of their shells.

One OF said that there is one that crosses the road going from a winter swamp to a summer pond, and this sucker is huge. The neighbors and this OF have stood on either side of the turtle and stopped traffic until it is able to complete this part of its journey. The turtle ambles halfway across the road and has to stop before continuing on; the road crossing takes at least 15 minutes.

Trying to alter the direction of a box turtle, or any other turtle, is fruitless.  They just turn around and proceed in the direction they chose.

One OF said he saw a turtle head toward a swampy area, and the turtle was out in the blazing sun so the OF picked it up and took it to where he thought it was headed in the swampy area and put it down and left it. He came back, he said, in a couple of hours and there was the same turtle in the blazing sun a few feet from where he picked it up still headed in the direction of the swampy area. Go figure.

The OFs don't know how much of this is just coincidence in each separate encounter with these creatures or if that is true with all of them because one OF said he found the same thing happens with snakes — not just one but quite a few.

This OF said his wife did not like snakes up around the house and he said he did not want to kill them because they were so helpful to the environment, so he would gather them up, put them in his pocket, or in a backpack, and take them about a mile or so away and let them go in a hedgerow. The OF said, no matter how many he hauled away, they still had snakes.

One day, the OF saw a snake head for the stone steps leading to his house, so he grabbed at it and missed. On the second grab, he was quite a ways to the back of the snake and the major portion of the snake was in the hole.

The OF said those suckers can pull, but he pulled harder and the tail broke so now the snake had a Z-shaped tail. The OF took it and let it go where he generally let the others go.

Two days later, what is going down that same hole?  The snake with the broken tail.

“No wonder I couldn't get rid of them,” the OF said. “They just kept coming back.”

Countertop conundrum

The OFs talked about countertops, and the new craze of granite or stone or concrete countertops. All the OFs who were in on the discussion advised against using this type of countertop.

Two of the OFs said, not only did the contractor advise against it when remodeling their kitchen, but so did the supplier.

One OF said, when they were doing their kitchen, they were at the supplier looking at the granite displays they had and the kitchen designer hesitated, and said she would gladly sell the OF the granite because it was a lot more money but she did not think the OF would be happy with it. In this case, the contractor said the same thing.

One OF said they were advised against getting these glass-top stoves, by, again, the contractor and the supplier.

Hmm.  Do they know something the rest of us don't?

One OF said his countertop is tile that he installed himself, with his own design, breaking pieces of tile, and grouting them in. Some of the OFs are more talented than others.

Those OFs who attended the breakfast at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, and always attempt to find their way home, even from Rensselaerville, were: Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, Bill Krause, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Jay Taylor, Herb Swabota, Steve McDermott, Roger Fairchild, Dave Williams, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Jack Norray, Ken Hughes, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Bill Rice, Henry Whipple, Duane Wagenbaugh, Ted Willsey, Bill Lassome, Rich Donnelly, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Gerry Chartier, and me.


On Tuesday, May 28, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie. The charm of the Schoharie Valley is becoming quite evident now.

Most of the scars of the flood are disappearing with the new growth of vegetation, the flowers, and nature’s natural way of repairing itself. Although nature is never in a hurry — she takes her time.

The OFs discussed the C-130 (the four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft) some columns back. That prompted a phone call from a reader who put the OMOTM in touch with a couple of men who work with the C-130 in Glenville. That conversation developed into a meeting with the C-130 people who are currently in talks with a few of the OMOTM who are also members of the Masonic Lodge in Berne.

What is in the works is a talk on the C-130 with demonstrations and explaining some of the equipment that is used.  This demonstration will be held on June 27, at 7 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge in Berne.

This will be a special event because the OMOTM will be bringing their wives, girlfriends, and siblings to this presentation. It should be a lot of fun and some of the OFs will be seeing the distaff side of other OFs for the first time.

The lodge members also suggested that it would be nice to invite the public to this event so they will not only be able to see what the C-130 is all about but also meet some of the OFs and find out not only that most OFs are old but also are real live people, and we don’t make this stuff up. (Well most of the time.)

Right now, the OMOTM are in the middle of a discussion on refreshments. That would be a nice touch. What to have, and how much to have, things like that.

It is beginning to sound like the OMOTM needs an auxiliary. There will be more to come on this; however, save Thursday, June 27, for a trip to the Berne Lodge, around 7 p.m. Formal attire will not be required.

Who will be remembered?

The OFs talked about who among the younger group is going to have staying power. We had Astaire and Rodgers, Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Einstein, FDR, Eisenhower, John Wayne, Marylin Monroe, Bradshaw, Hope and Crosby, Barney Oldfield, and so many others — even The Beatles.

The OFs are sure there are some up-and-coming personalities but people the age of the OFs do not see much of a connection with the younger set. Who, in their twenties now, will still be remembered and associated with icon status, forty, fifty, or one-hundred years from now?

The OFs can’t see Justin Bieber being remembered in 3013, but the OFs think that Ruth, or Einstein, etc. will still be remembered.

One OF said those in the history books, like Caesar, Gandhi, Columbus, Hitler, Salk, will still be in the history books in 3013, unless George Orwell’s 1984 takes over and makes it illegal to own books.

Tough soles 

The OFs talked about going barefoot, and how tough their feet became when they were kids. We don’t know how much bare-footing goes on today, but, in the OFs’ day, after just a little running around barefoot, the OFs could run on nails and not know it.

One OF said, no wonder the young people come down with so much sickness; they have not eaten or come in contact with enough germs to build up a resistance to them.

Everything seems to be so sterile today — youngsters have no germs in them to fight other germs.  The attacking germs just take over, and bingo!  You are sick.

Unless it is something really strange, the OFs say go ahead and eat it, drink it, breathe it; eventually, the body will be able to handle it.  In the long run, it may even turn out to be good for you.

One OF said, “It is good to be a little cautious, though; I don’t think it would be good to have too many mutants running around.”

Then another OF added, “Who knows?  Maybe the mutants will be better off in the future.”

Then a third OF said, “You guys are way off base here.  Some of this stuff will kill you in an instant. Who knows what is being cooked up in some of these labs? I am all for washing the food well before eating it, and washing my hands frequently.  Hey, it is not going to hurt me to do that, and it doesn’t take any more time.”

Finally (and not a moment too soon), an OF said, “I know that cleanliness is supposed to be next to godliness but what did God do? He knelt down and scooped up some mud from beside a river and made us. So we are no more than mud with a soul. I say, eat dirt and go to church.”

Those OFs that attended the breakfast at the Country Café in Schoharie and were served some darn good breakfasts and not an ounce of mud were: Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Steve Kelly, Frank Pauli, Roger Shafer, Dave Williams, Harold Guest, Jim Rissacher, Jim Hauser, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Miner Stevens and guest (his son-in- law Kevin Carey), Bill Krause, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Don Woods, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.        


This Tuesday morning was not rare, but unusual for May 14. It was a tad chilly; in the parking lot of the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh there were cars with some rather heavy frost on them and the windshields had to be scraped.

The OFs remember when it has snowed on the Hill later than this in May, and not just a dusting but four to six inches.

One of the OFs’ snowbirds was attending his first breakfast upon returning from his winter place in Florida. He showed up with a heavy coat and his mad bomber hat on his head with the ear lappers down. The OFs who were in the diner had on light jackets, or sweatshirts and hats. (They always have on hats.)

Hats are a good thing because they protect the head from the harmful rays of the sun. One thing the OFs do not want is more melanomas. Many of them have had their share of these sun cancers.

Florida talk

With the return of the winter escapees, Florida, in this case, was again a topic of discussion. This time it was the housing developments in certain regions of Florida that start up and then flop.

The OFs mentioned some they were personally aware of. The developer builds roads and has surveyed lots, drills for water, and touts big plans. Some people build homes in these developments and then the developer goes belly up.

There they sit — 18 or 20 houses in a development that was supposed to have 100 homes.

One such development mentioned was Rotunda on the west coast of Florida. The developer even built canals so that, in this circular development, all homes were on a small canal that was to be connected to a larger canal that would lead to the Gulf of Mexico.

The development was never finished; neither was the larger canal. The houses constructed in this way-underdeveloped development now sit on ponds that breed alligators and mosquitoes.

One OF said, “I don’t like Florida. It’s too hot, and the bugs are big enough to be pets.”

Still serving

The OMOTM group is just that, with the emphasis on (most who come through the door) old.  However, we do have a very active contingent of those who are somewhat younger and they continue the community service that the older OFs started.

The OFs who fall into the category of old have paid their dues regarding community service but this nefarious group continues on.

The OMOTM have the OFs who build bridges for the Long Path, and hiking trails; there are OFs who are part of groups that clean the side of the highway.

One OF thought this is a job that should not be necessary. Why should the OFs have to pick up other people’s trash discarded along the road? But the OFs and many other civic-minded groups do it just the same.

One OF said he thinks that many say, “Ah it is just a country road; chuck it out the window.”

One OF thought it would be a good idea to have a side job for the retired football players, and those rather big guys on the professional basketball teams. They could be part of a roadside goon squad.

When you are caught throwing stuff from a car, a couple of the guys from this roadside goon squad would make a visit to your home.

The perpetrator would be taken to where he threw out the trash and his nose would be rubbed in it, just like training a cat or dog, and then he would be hauled off to the landfill on Rapp Road where he would sort out the recyclables for five days and then be sent home. If he were caught again it would be 10 days at Rapp Road.

One OF said he would bet the football players would have a lot of fun playing that game.

Coming up

Watch this space for an event taking place on June 27!

Those OFs attending the breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner and commenting that this is going to be another year where we go directly from winter into summer were: George Washburn, Frank Pauli, Bill Krause, Robie Osterman, Don Wood, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Miner Stevens, Roger Shaver, Jim Heiser, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Otis Lawyer, Dave Williams, Carl Walls, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Jack Norray, Don Moser, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Ted Willsey, Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, and me.