Ah Tuesday morning, and a beautiful start to a beautiful day on Aug. 20, at least in the little corner of this planet that the Old Men of the Mountain call home. The OFs can imagine there are parts of this sphere where it wasn't quite so nice to wake up on Tuesday morning.

However, whatever it is, wherever it is, the OMOTM met at the Home Front Café in Altamont and covered many topics — fishing being one of them.

Not all the OFs fish but some do, and, just like any hobby, fishing is great for those who are retired; also like any hobby it costs a few bucks, one of which is the time and gas to get to the spot where it is legal to drown worms.

Listening to these OFs talk, one realizes that where they fish in some of these streams and lakes require overnights (and then some) especially those that chase to Pulaski to fish for salmon in the Salmon River.

Then there are the OFs who trudge off to far regions of the country to fish. They travel to Alaska, or go the oceans, or cast upon the Great Lakes, and they go to Florida for the tarpon.

This last mentioned fish is considered one of the great saltwater fishes, not only because of their size, but also because of their fighting spirit when hooked; they are very strong, making spectacular leaps into the air.  These fish are very bony and inedible so fishing for them is usually catch and release.

In many cases, this is not a chump-change hobby. Just like a golfer has the expense of clubs, greens fees, and sometimes memberships when pursing his hobby, the fishermen need all their gear, and sometimes a boat.

At the breakfast Tuesday morning, the OFs were talking about where to fish — what streams, ponds, and reservoirs had the best spots. This also included what permits were required to fish where. To listen to them and the knowledge the OFs had on all the requirements to fish was somewhat like listening to lawyers prepare a case.

This is what makes a hobby a hobby. The OFs’ minds are active, the OFs’ bodies are moving, and time is not stagnant.  For many of these hobbies, the OFs are outdoors in all kinds of weather, except maybe golf.

The odd part about this is that some of the OFs participate in all of these hobbies. Some have to hurry home from their golf game to get ready to go fishing, or hunting.

The OFs said that golf is their wuss sport.  If it starts to rain, the OFs run to the clubhouse.

“Well,” one OF said, “when it is really raining hard, we get on our carts and race to the clubhouse so we can spend more time at the 19th hole.”

According to the OFs, fishing in a stream is another thing. Fishing in the rain is the best, and many times, to get to where we are headed, we are crawling over logs and through the woods, whereas in golf we ride a cart, on manicured grass, and swing a stick every now and then.

One OG said. “You guys are all talking about reasonably healthy, ambulatory OFs — not all of us can do that.” 

Then another OF said, “Most of us keep busy only we don't call it a ‘hobby.’”

This OF said he was out in his workshop all the time, building something; another said he weaves every day, and others did other things that all took time and talent but they never called these hobbies.

“I guess most of us are into something and maybe more than one something — my real hobby is coming to the breakfast and associating with all you OFs. No, that is not a hobby; that is a chore,” the OF said

 “One thing I know,” he continued, “is that, no matter what your hobby is, or how old or young you are, to me, hobbies are a major contributor to the nation’s economy.”

The lure of auctions

What is the lure of auctions? One OF was telling about going to an auction and bidding on stuff he didn't need, or want but it was the challenge of the bid.

This OF said he wound up with a collection of farm equipment that went for next to nothing. The OF has about 13 acres and has enough farm equipment now to work 500 acres.

The major problem was going home and telling his wife that there is going to be a tractor here with a baler behind it but don't worry, it is ours, along with a hay bind, a corn planter, etc. etc. etc.

Don't let this OF go to England; he would probably come home with the crown jewels.

Is this a hobby? The OF said the auctioneer started out at $500, and then went backwards to get an opening bid, and when he got down to $100, or $50, the bidding started. Someone bid $50, and this OG said $55; then he looked around and noticed the bidding had stopped and he now owned whatever it was. 

“Maybe I was the only one there with money,” he mused.

Color comes, Old Men go

There is just a hint of color on the trees and some of the OFs have said their goodbyes — they are already off to their winter hide-a-ways.

These OGs are missing the best part of the year. Warm days, cool nights, and nice travel weather for day travel to places like Manchester, Vt.; or to take a ride on the Erie Canal; travel out to the wine country; or go to Horseheads, N.Y. and take a ride in a sailplane.

Most of these can be done in a day, and the kids will be in school and out of the way. Then the OFs can escape to their winter homes.

The OFs who made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont, and who considered it their hobby trip of the day were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Jay Taylor, Art Frament, Roger Fairchild, Herb Sowabta, Bob Benac, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Dave Williams, William Bartholomew, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Ken Hughes, Henry Witt, Duane Wagenbaugh, Bob Lassome, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey,  Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.


The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Restaurant in Princetown on Tuesday, Aug. 13, to have their weekly day or morning out. This scribe was not in attendance because of his once-a-year legal excuse; however, there was no assistant scribe in attendance so there will be no names at the bottom of this report.

In checking with a couple of OFs who were at the breakfast, the consensus of opinion was that the regular group of OFs was there. So, if any OFs tell those at home they were at the breakfast, they probably were.

Because this scribe was unable to listen in on current conversation (duh), this scribe will refer to his notes from previous breakfasts and clear out some conversations that took place at these earlier breakfasts — and there are enough of those notes left unreported, and some probably never will be; it is a family paper after all.

Bird seeks a larger house

Last week, we discussed the change of critters in the areas where many of the OFs live. This report is on strange critters that get into the house. Birds, bats, and snakes are some of the more off beat while mice and squirrels are more common trespassers.

One OF said he and his wife were coming home one evening and opened the back door to go in and a bird flew right by their shoulders and into the house. The OF said the bird started flying around the kitchen and the bird looked like it was just a sparrow of some sort. The OF and his wife tried to chase the bird out by leaving the door open and shooing the bird.

However, that tactic did not work

The OF said the bird made a couple of loops around the kitchen, ignoring the open door, and then it flew down the hall and managed to find its way up the stairs to the OF’s bedroom. The next plan was to close the bedroom door, open the windows, and again try to shoo it out the windows. This strategy did not work any better than the kitchen plan.

After quite awhile of this nonsense, the bird was getting a little tired and would occasionally rest on the top of the headboard of the bed.

The OF said a couple of times he tried to cautiously catch it but, as he got a few feet away from that group of flying feathers, it would take off so the OF and his wife would start flipping the pillow cases to get the thing to go out the window. No dice.

Then finally, huffing and puffing, the bird lit again on the headboard and the OF was able to catch it. He gently carried it to the window and let it go.

The dumb bird made a complete "U" turn and flew back into the bedroom through the window, past the OF, and the chase started all over. Once again, the OF was able to catch the bird and again he carried it to the window very carefully and let it go.

This bird must have had a mental problem because the OF said it made the same "U" turn and was back in the house.

The OF said that the bird did a few more loops around and he finally caught it but this time the OF said he took and held onto it like a baseball and he then went to the window and threw that feathered thing like he was throwing from center field to home plate.

This time, the bird made a few flips in the air before it got its wings together so it could fly, and by that time the wife had slammed the window shut, while the OF ran and shut the other window.

The bird flew back towards the closed window, the OF said, and made a couple of fly-bys, then took off. They haven't seen it since, or so they think, the OF said because he has so many of that type of bird flying around they don’t know any of them by name, and wouldn't be able to pick from a line-up the one that decided it wanted a larger bird house.

Going batty

Many places have their problems with bats, but another OF had a different kind of bat problem. The OF has a wood-burning stove in the living room and, at this particular time, the stainless-steel chimney had a regular cap on it.

One day, his wife said she heard something like a squeaking sound coming from the stove. The OF listened but he did not hear anything.

The next day, the OF said to the wife that he heard a rustling sound coming from the stove, and this time she heard it, too. The OF said he opened the fill door to the wood stove to see what was going on and a bat flew past his shoulder.

The bat was panicked; it was covered with ashes and soot, which trailed behind this swooshing bat like the contrail of an airplane.

Panic now reigned everywhere — panicked bat, panicked wife screaming and running into the bathroom and closing the door, and one confused OF.  

Trying to catch bats on the fly with their super-sensitive radar is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. The OF said he decided to open the door and just watch and see if the bat would find its way out.

The bat was much smarter than the bird and eventually did find the open door and was gone.  Oh, the OF said, there is now a chimney cap with a screen in it on top of that stack.

There is another bat story that would take a whole column to report on so we will save that for another time.

Those OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner/Restaurant in Princetown is anybody’s guess, _______ _______ ______; you can fill in the blanks because this scribe wasn't there so this time it is “and not me."


On Tuesday, Aug. 6, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner, and the OFs filled up the back room. In the good ole summer time, our numbers are growing, but in the throes of winter the OMOTM group is smaller, and understandably so.

It is early August and already the OFs reported seeing one tree turning color.  One OF said it is not turning color — it is just one stressed-out tree. Then someone else said he thinks, because of the wet spring this year, the trees are all done, and the fall color will be early this year. 

These hardworking trees need to take a break from all that photosynthesizing. When leaves change color from green to yellow, bright orange, or red, you'll know that trees are beginning their long winter's rest.

A healthy portion of the OFs are members of the Berne Masons, and they did a lot for our recent event concerning the C-130 plane that is often seen in the Hilltowns. Now these OFs are involved with the history of the Hilltowns, and who else would know the history of the Hilltowns other than those who have lived here 80 years or so and have seen things go from horse and buggy to jet planes and men on the moon, to talking picture shows.

My goodness!  The wonders the OFs have seen.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, these Berne OFs are going to be part of a History of Berne Festival and the OFs who come to our Tuesday breakfasts, and who are Masons, along with other Masons are going to put on a breakfast at the Masons’ Lodge in Berne. This is another open-to-the-public event; all are welcome to come and see what else will be going on in Berne.

Wondrous happenings

From breakfast to breakfast, it seems like not much happens, then, as the OFs start talking, we realize that quite often a lot really does happen in those seven days from one week till the next.

We have one OF who is building a new home, and on some Tuesdays he brings in a progress report, complete with pictures on his phone. Another OF is planning a trip, and still another is planning a major life move.

The OFs are conditioned to watching a particular group of OFs arrive at the breakfast, and we know who they are as soon as their vehicles pulls up.  Sometimes we see a different automobile and then all of a sudden the same group starts piling out of a different vehicle driven by the same OF.  This denotes another change.

Kids move, grandkids and great-grandkids are born. The days between breakfasts are not stagnant because wondrous things are happening all the time.

Where are the bugs?

The OFs talked about how few bugs are around this year. It used to be that, when leaving a light on by the porch door, one would attract all kinds of millers, moths, and flying insects. This year, the OFs are saying, “Where are they?  The bugs are not here and it’s possible to get in the house in the evening with the light on and have to deal with only a few nasty flying things.”

There are a lot fewer swallows chasing what few bugs are around, one OF noticed.  The same with the size of the robin flocks. When this OF used to see 20 to 30 robins in a group, now he is seeing only 10 or so.

Then there is the snake.  One OF said he has not seen a snake around his house in two years; some said they have seen a few but nowhere near what they used to see.

Where are they? Where are birds? One OF wondered out loud, could it still be Irene, and Lee.

This scribe offered that it could be that pesticide use has caught up with us, and another OF said it may just be a local thing, maybe all these critters have moved somewhere else.

One thing we do have on the Hill, at least in the northeast corner of Schoharie County and southwest corner of Albany County, is rabbits — we do have rabbits.

Changing landscape

This conversation prompted this scribe to e-mail one of his many nephews.  This particular nephew is a professor at Keuka College, which is located on the shores of Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

This nephew’s doctorate was presented in the area of the OFs questionings. Taken from his reply are some answers to the OFs’ queries and wonderings. The OFs did not take actual notes, but did take notice, and were using recollection of their observations.

The professor said, “I wish more people took notes on changing habitats.” A lot can change in 80 years.

He goes on to say, “The landscape has changed dramatically since the OFs were young.” (And, boy, has it, especially in the Hilltowns where many of the small farms have disappeared and the grazing land and pastures have turned into brush and wood lots.) “There are more trees and taller trees, which generates a different composition than 50 years ago. That change has brought a change to the critters that live in it.”

Continuing with his reply, he suggests that pesticides in the smaller “critters” have had some effect, and he suggests that there are similar reasons, all of which are related to people, knowingly, or otherwise, changing the environment to the detriment of the animals in it.

“These are too many and too common to list but certainly could be part of the problem,” he said.

He stated the OMOTM might recognize the increase in other animal populations, such as bear, moose, and porcupine that were not around 20 years ago, like they are now. Ravens are breeding all over the state, and some other animals have increased in abundance, all due to the changing landscape.

In the end, Professor Brown also suspects the general abused conditions of the environment have not changed that dramatically in the past few years, it is just that the OMOTM are starting to catch up with it. This change is natural due do plant succession from field to brush, from brush to forests, and therefore the critters are going to change with it.   

Guys and gals and implanted chips

The next topic (really not next because these things are chosen at random; sometimes this scribe has trouble reading his notes) was on driving. Driving is a common discussion with this group, but this conversation was about the accident that was on the news recently, and the driver had 10 or so violations, and his license was revoked.

One OF said revoking and taking away a license doesn't mean a thing to a lot of people; they will just hop in another car and take off, and, if they get caught again (driving without a license), they will do the same thing. We have to do more than that.”

“Well,” one OG said, “We can't lock them all up — we won't have enough cells to hold them all.”

One OF said, “All cars should have a chip in it, and it would be activated when the offender would have a corresponding chip implanted in his shoulder so that, once the car detects that chip, it won't start.”

Another said, “That won't work, the guy will just go and have the chip removed from his shoulder.”

Then there was a response from the original OF who suggested the idea, and this OF said the chip could also be programmed to notify the issuing police department that the chip has been tampered with and the cops can go and round him up again.

Then from nowhere came this statement, “You guys are saying guys all the time.  Are guys the only ones driving without a license?  Not on your life — the gals are just as guilty.”

That led to another discussion on guys being all inclusive — kind of genderless, so to speak. So the OFs were off on a completely different tangent.

Those OFs that made it to the Duanesburg Diner, in Duanesburg, and making us guys genderless, like “youse guys better clean up your act,” were: Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Krause, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Harold Guest, Lou Schenck, Art Frament, Herb Swabota, Jay Taylor, Roger Fairchild, Gary Porter, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Ken Hughes, Henry Witt, Duncan Bellinger, (with guest Alex Cipperly) Frank Pauli, Don Moser, John Rossmann, Bob Giebitz, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagenbaugh, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Gerry Cartier, Harold Grippen, and me.

The day of July 30, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Blue Star Café in Schoharie. It might be the weather, but many of the OFs are getting up earlier, and earlier.

As mentioned before, the original meeting time was 9 a.m. or so. Then, as the group grew larger, more of the OFs had things to do other than lay in bed and go to eat in the middle of the morning, so some OGs started coming earlier so they could get things done.

Now it almost seems that some should have keys to the restaurants so they can open it up and at least get the coffee ready.

This is a good thing!

It shows the OFs are out and about with projects to get done, and not rocking-chair bound. However, some of the OFs do show up not shaven, and look like they just tumbled out of bed, met their ride, and made it to the breakfast. This scribe wonders how many of the OFs are going to crawl back in bed when they get home from the breakfast.

What’s in a name?

Many parents agonize over what to name their kids. The parents, and their grandparents interfere; friends make suggestions. The new parents purchase books on names.

Some parents make sure the initials don't come up with something really screwy, or obscene. Most of the OFs have gone through this (as did their parents for them), trying to get the name right.

One OF mentioned that names can affect a person into adulthood and beyond; some names are a hindrance for getting ahead in life no matter how smart or talented the kid is. Then there is always the pressure to name them after Uncle Charlie, or Aunt Sarah.

One OF said he has two friends that changed their names for just that reason. The parents of these two tried to be too cute and hung a moniker on one of them that plagued him all through school.

This man said he changed his name as soon as he was legally able to do so. To get away from these memories, he joined the military. Now that his name was legally changed, everything had his new name on it and that is how everyone knew him. His life changed immediately and for the better.

One OF mentioned that he was in the third grade before he knew his name was John, and not Jack.

The names reported on the bottom of this little report carries some OFs’ names that, if you went to look them up in the phone book by the name listed, you would never find them, but that is the name they go by and people know them.

Another OF said that, when he was young, all he knew was the name his grandparents called him, and subsequently his own parents, and, when he went to school, the teacher called him by his real name and he did not answer because he thought it was somebody else. After all the names were called he told the teacher she didn't call him.

The teacher then asked him, “What is your name?”

He told her the name he went by and was used to; the teacher put two and two together and never called him by his real name again. Good for her.

Another group of OFs were talking about the exploits of a common friend and it was assumed that maybe they were talking about two different people.  However, once the conversation was sorted out, it turned out they were talking about the same person after all.  The person in question had one name that was given as a first name, but he went by his second name.

Yet another OF has a relative that has the real name of “Hugh,” but no one used that name; they used his middle name. When this young lad went to school, again the teacher called him by his given name “Hugh,” and at first the young man did not know who she was talking to. (Similar to the above scenario.)

But this teacher continued to call him Hugh, enough so that the kid was not too happy about going to school. When the mother noticed this reluctance to go to school, she asked him why.

The little boy said, "That teacher won't call me by my name she keeps calling me ‘Few’.”

So his Mom went and had a talk with the teacher, but by that time the kid had decided that "Few" was OK and when his mother told him she had a talk with the teacher, he told her, “That's OK, because I told the teacher it was OK to call me "Few" if she wanted to.” 

One OG said, “How about people with only one name? Look at Liberace or Cher, and a whole wagonload of others.”

This prompted the scribe to look these two up, and with a name like Wladziu Valentino Liberace or Cherilyn Sarkisian, the scribe might also have decided to go with only one name.

One OG mentioned that, when he was younger, he didn't mind being called Johnny, but, when he got older and in the service, he hated being called Johnny, and wanted to be called John.

Another OF said that happens a lot — Ron and Ronnie, Sam and Sammy, Ted and Teddy. To this OF, a “y” sound at the end of your name sounds like people are calling the cat.

Still another OG said, “That’s not so bad. How about Johnny Carson or Sammy Sosa? Some even called President Regan ‘Ronnie’.”

Then there are nicknames.

One OG said, “For the most part, we have no control over that. The use of initials is something else we have no control over.”

TJ, and BJ, and JB, are some friends of his and now this OF has to think hard to remember what their real names are. It is a wonder anyone can keep track of us.

Now one practical OG had to chime in, “No matter what we call ourselves, or what other people call us, the IRS will find us no matter what we are called.”

Fair time

It is fair time, and the OFs were talking about the fairs in the area — like the Sunshine Fair going on right now in Cobleskill. The problem is that this fair and the Saratoga fair are a little early for produce to be shown because much of it isn't ready yet.

The OFs say the term “country” has gone out of a few of the fairs. Cobleskill is the closest fair that still caters to farmers.

It is the opinion of the OFs the Altamont fair, located in Albany County, is definitely not farm friendly.  The OFs feel that those in charge seem to want to turn all the land in the county into housing developments, and they are doing their best to make it hard on farmers who will eventually give up and leave the farm and then the developers can take over.

Many of the OFs now go to the fair to eat grease. Fair time equates to the stomach growling and rumbling to the beat of "feed me grease, feed me grease," and it keeps doing this until it is satisfied with a fair-made sausage and pepper sandwich, followed with fried dough and a Coke.

One OF said he goes and spends a ton of money to get into the fair, and then he spends twice as much on a sausage-and-pepper sandwich (which has grease running out of it and down his elbows) as it is worth, and then asks himself, “Am I having fun now?”  He answers himself, “Well, now it is a habit, but 10 years ago it would have been loads of fun, and back then I wouldn't need the Prevacid.”

Those OFs who made it to the Blue Star Café in Schoharie, and not eating sausage and peppers for breakfast, were: Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, (and me) with our guests ( Art Williams, Hugh Williams, Jarrett Williams), Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Glenn Paterson, Otis Lawyer, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Jay Taylor, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Herb Swabota, Bill Krause, Ken Hughes, Don Moser, Lou Schenck, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Don Woods, Duncan Bellinger, Duane Wagenbaugh, Bob Lassome, Rich Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Gerry Chartier,  and Steve McDermott.

Before anything starts, this scribe has some old business to attend to. The scribe had an important date last Tuesday and left the breakfast a tad early, so now he must report that there were two attendees that arrived after he left.

So these men do not get into any trouble at home, or by some legal or illegal circumstance, please take note that they were at the breakfast on July 16. These OFs were Mike Willsey and Harold Grippen whose names did not appear on the roster of those in attendance last week.

The Old Men of the Mountain met this Tuesday, July 23, at the Country Café in Schoharie. The breakfast Tuesday morning had one of the largest number of OFs packed in any of the restaurants we frequent, and the names this time should total 35 plus one guest. (The poor waitress — she was not the guest).

With this number in attendance, one OF found a place in Cobleskill that would make the baseball-style caps with an OMOTM logo that the OMOTM wear on occasion. The OFs have had caps like this for awhile but many have been lost, or have gotten so cruddy they are not fit to wear in public, so this OF took orders for those who want to replace them, and for those who had never had one in the first place.

This OF could not have had a larger contingent of OFs to make his pitch to as he took this order — he sure wasn’t missing many OGs. 

At one time, an OF took the time to glue pins to the back of the New Hampshire quarter which depicted the "Old Man of the Mountain" as its centerpiece. This OF brought in enough of these "Old Man of the Mountain” pins to hand to all the OFs.

Many of the OFs took the pin and pinned it to the cap. Some of the OFs still wear this combination on their heads, especially if they go somewhere important. 

Maybe it’s a good thing that enough of these quarters were minted because the "Old Man of the Mountain" will be remembered for a long time especially in coin collectors’ collections.  Now, sadly, the face on the mountain is gone and it’s just a pile of rocks at the base of the cliff.

Neighborliness is a two-way street

One of the conversations we held was on good neighbors versus pain-in-the-butt neighbors. It was stated that this is a two-way street, and basically came down to this point — if you mind your own business, and respect those around you, then the OFs think things should turn out all right.

One problem that sets neighbors off is animals — especially dogs. That is one problem that the OFs can understand. Many people have dogs (including the OFs) but some people have curs, and therein lies the problem.

Yankees in the cellar?

A brief topic of conversation was about the Yankees; some OFs thought the Yankees are going to wind up in the cellar unless they somehow learn to hit the ball.

The OFs realize that the team is made up now of some triple-A players and, when they run out on the field with a name that is completely unfamiliar, and they don't look old enough to shave, the OFs slap their foreheads and say, “Oh no, where did he come from — has he graduated high school yet?”

Then some other OFs say to have faith because there is a lot of baseball left to be played, and the next Nick Swisher might be in triple-A and running out on the field.

Corn as high as an elephant’s eye

Remember the wet weather we had just a little while back? The OFs said this rainy weather was tough on their gardens; it is still the case, except for the corn.

As one OF said, “Boy, has that corn shot up. The local sweet corn may already be ready.”

The OF noticed much of the field corn tasseled out overnight. One OF mentioned that, when the farm stands open and the local fresh vegetables and fruits are ready, that is good eating.

The store-bought tomatoes are bright red, uniform in size, and taste like cardboard. A fresh local tomato, lumpy and off color, is a tomato and has a tomato taste.

One OF said a simple grilled-cheese sandwich with a fresh local tomato on it is better than a fifty-buck dinner in some fancy restaurant.

Another OG said that a couple of ears of local sweet corn, and a hamburger or a hotdog, some watermelon, and a cold beer — now that's a meal to write home about.

“All power”

Many of the OFs have an ongoing conversation on how the government is sticking its nose in our business. The original intent of government at its most basic level was to protect the people from threats, both within and without.

“Well, that has sure gone by the boards,” one OF opined.

Another OG added, “Now it seems you can't go to the bathroom because the government wants to pull down your pants, and allow you only two pieces of toilet paper.”

“It’s all power,” one more OF said, “and power is all a bully wants.  Power over a group, or an individual.”

You get the idea where this is headed but that is enough of that.

Those OFs who made it to the Country Café and just about filled up both rooms were: Glenn Patterson, Jim Heiser, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Mark Traver, George Washburn, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Bill Krause, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Duane Wagenbaugh, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Roger Fairchild, Herb Swaboda, Jay Taylor, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Maynard Porter, Tom Filkins, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Duncan Bellinger, Ted Willsey (and guest Denise), Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Lassome, Rich Donnelly, Jim Rissacher, and me.


This Tuesday, July 16, the Old Men of The Mountain met at Mrs. K's Restaurant in Middleburgh and the day already started out hot.  What can anyone say about a day, like Tuesday, in the Hilltowns?

For most of the OFs, it was another day with routine chores to be done, normal doctor visits, trips to the store, haul the wife around, and, of course, breakfast with the Old Men.

Then the few who watch the news to get the weather see all that is going on in other places on Tuesday and say, “Thank goodness we are on the Hill (or in the valley of Schoharie for the most part); just leave us alone.” 

The OFs will take their aches and pains, and their problems and handle them themselves. These OFs are not whiners and they do not complain, “Why is everybody always picking on me?”

“Take your lumps and man up,” the OFs say. “This makes you a better person all around.”

Oh yes, it was Tuesday, the 16th of July.

Mining memories

The OFs starting talking about memories and how far back they could remember, really, on their own, not by being prompted by some suggesting they did something together, such as, “Hey, do you remember when we did such and such, or this and that?”

The question was just cold-calling memories and how far back could anyone recall. It wasn't that far back, not when the OFs were 2 to 6 years old, but, after 6 years of age, sometimes fuzzy thoughts would come about a specific recollection. 

Then that old adversary — time — entered in, and this might have altered the actual memory of what happened, according to the OFs.

Not many of the OFs could actually dredge up childhood memories. The OFs could remember events, and about the time these events might have occurred, but by now the OF was at least in school.

The memories were general, like no one knew they were poor because the OFs were all poor. The OFs have covered that topic before, but the memories, which were accurate, were inclusive in nature.

As the OFs became teenagers, or close to teenagers, the recollections became more vivid. The OFs do not know how true this is with others but cold-calling memories from really young ages without being coached is not a thing most of them could do.

Speaking of memories, when the OFs were young men, some memories are very vivid, especially for those that were in World War II — those memories will linger.

This was brought up by one OF mentioning that there are only four World War II veterans left in the town of Berne. This OF mentioned that something is being planned by the town of Berne for the vets of this era, but he did not elaborate. Whatever the plan is, we think it should have some music of the Big Band era included, along with a USO-type show, like those put on by the United Service Organizations.

The buzz

On a totally unrelated topic, one of the OFs has had a recent encounter with ground bees.  This OF reported that, fortunately, he was close to water and was able to jump in.

The OF said the bees were all over him but he did not report if he was able to get into the water quick enough so he did not receive too many stings — if any at all. This brought out bee stories again, and it seems many of the OFs have disturbed these little critters from time to time and had their tales of escape.

This raises the question: Would you rather have a tiger on your tail or thousands of bees chasing your butt? The OFs said the tiger, because at least you could shoot it, but with bees. even if you have a double-barrel shotgun, it would be impossible to stand and shoot at a swarm of bees that mad at you.

That would be like kicking the ocean because you are mad at it. One OF said you would be lucky to hit one bee.

Another OG said that, if you didn't have a gun, your goose is cooked no matter what.

Then another OF jumped in and claimed that at least he could wrestle with the tiger and something might happen in his favor, but how the h--- are you going to ward off thousands of ticked-off bees?

Ticked again

’Tis the season and the OFs started talking about ticks again and how the OFs prepare to mow the lawn. Of course, there is always one OF who has the ultimate answer, and his was, “Hey, the ticks are winning.  I just don't mow the lawn anymore. I have sheep and they do it for me.”

“Yeah, right,” was the reply.

Some OFs bundle up from head to toe; others spray themselves with Deet; others (and this was recommended no matter what protection is used) said that they check themselves thoroughly when done, either using mirrors or having the wife look at their backside.

Simpler times

Going back to the memory item, where and when did this all start?  The OFs do not remember ever worrying about things like ticks and bees. The OFs ran around barefoot, put in hay hatless and shirtless, and quite often in shorts.

They would lie in the grass or hide in the brush along hedgerows to shoot woodchucks, and some even had the occasional tussle in the hay. Nobody even heard of Lyme disease and, as far as the OFs know, nobody ever had it.

The OFs are OFs, and as a rule do not like a lot of the changes that are going on, and think many of these changes are not forward steps, but backward steps. They love their kids and grandkids but now think they coddled their kids too much, and that the kids today are overly coddled.

Times they are a-changin’. The OFs’ parents thought we would never amount to much with the ducktail haircuts, Elvis, the jitterbug, rock and roll, etc. The coup de grace was spending too much time on that new-fangled thing — the telephone. Tying up the party lines forever.

So one OF asked, “What's different now?”

“Not much,” another OF answered. “But at least we had manners, even if we had nothing.  Now the kids have, or want, everything, but what they don't have, and don’t even seem to want is manners.”

Those OFs who made it Mrs. K's Restaurant, in Middleburgh on a nothing Tuesday in July, but, hey, put a nick in the post all the OFs at Mrs. K's were: Roger Chapman, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Steve Kelly, Bill Bartholomew, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Roger Fairchild, Jay Taylor, Dave Williams, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Harold Guest, Ted Willsey, Duane Wagenbaugh, Bob Lassome, Rich Donnelly, Carl Walls, Miner Stevens, Don Woods, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Lou Schenck, Ken Hughes, Don Moser, Jim Rissacher, and me (and that makes it a very important day indeed.)


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.