On Tuesday, June 17, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Blue Star Café in Schoharie where the OMOTM lamented that, at our breakfast the next Tuesday, the day will be shorter. The OFs complained how fast this came about, and many do not have all their gardens in yet.

Some plants and seeds are in — but not all. The corn to be “knee high by the fourth of July” will have to hustle. One OF said, “If we get a good stretch of warm days and warm nights, so the ground itself warms up, we might make it.”

 Some of the OFs made it to the Gas-Up just outside of Gallupville, located off Route 443 towards Schoharie, on Drebitko Road. This event is held two weekends a year, the weekend before Father’s Day, and the weekend of Father’s Day.

The OFs that went on Saturday, June 14, froze. It felt like it was about to snow, the wind blew, and the clouds rolled dark and ominous, yet the event was well attended. Sunday was quite different, and, oddly enough, the weekend before was even better.

Some of the OFs had their equipment on display at the Gas-Up. The items at the Gas-Up are old and most of them run like new, only they look beat, just like the OFs who go there.  However, the OFs look beat but they don’t run so well.

It is hard to put a new spark plug and fresh gas in an OF and improve his operation. Most of the OFs have to grind it out with what they have, and, like a hit-and-miss engine, the OFs miss more than they hit.

Facing catastrophe

The OFs wonder if the current generation would be able to get along if there happened to be a major catastrophe where all our power was interrupted for an extended period of time. There would be no Internet, no gas, no lights; the list goes on and on. One heck of an adjustment period would ensue.

One OF suggested people should make a list of what supplies they would need and how they would obtain them. Decades ago, before there were large cities, people got along on basically farmers’ markets, ice houses, and homespun clothes.

One OF said that either way with technology up the kazoo (or having no technology at all) the most important job on the whole planet is farming, and too many city people are forgetting that and driving the farmers off the land because, through a whole list of rigmarole, new governmental rules are making it quite hard to farm, and developers want the land. This topic seems to be a general theme with the OFs.

What if all the farmers got together and took care of only themselves and refused to deliver any goods to anyone else?  The OFs bet things might change.

However, one OG said he didn’t think it would change anything at all. The big warehouses would just import more materials from China, Chili, Australia, and places like that. It is a Catch-22.

Another OF asked a rhetorical question, “What are we going to do with all the people as the Earth’s population keeps expanding?  There is only so much water and so much land; we can’t make any more of either, but we do continue to make babies.”

An OF replied, “You are making my head hurt.  To me, the world is full of old people.  My problem right now is making it to tomorrow.”

Phew, enough of that! This scribe wants to move to another table. The scribe (as an OF) thinks that, in the not-to-distant future, humans will be scooting around space, like the rest of the universe.

Some like it hot

When is it time to shut down the furnace? Some of the OFs are still running theirs.

One OF said that he decided to shut his outside wood furnace down by letting it go out. So he did, and it got down to just a few embers.

Then along came last Saturday, and last Friday night, and the OF said he caught it just in time and started that sucker up again. Taking a shower when the bathroom is only 60 some degrees is not his idea of fun.

“Hey!  It’s the middle of June, for crying out loud,” the OF said.

Some OFs added, “How about those apartment buildings where they automatically shut the heat off in May, and some even April 15th?”

“Then it is the time to invest in a good electric heater,” was a common-sense reply by another OF.

Those OFs who made it to the Blue Star Restaurant in Schoharie because, at one time, many years ago, they were a gleam in their father’s eye were: Jay Taylor, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Karl Remmers, Dick Ogsbury, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Jim Heiser, Mark Traver, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Don Wood, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Bob Lassome, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Joe Loubier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Bill Krause, Roger Chapman, and me. 


Hobbies are something you do in your free time for enjoyment or relaxation. When I was young, I thought as I got older I'd have time to get into hobbies, but I was totally wrong — the older I get, the busier I get.

Plus, as you age, your energy level decreases such that, sometimes, just resting is all you want to do. Still, hobbies are a wonderful pastime, and truly worth finding the time and resources to participate in if you can. Here are some hobbies I've tried and would love to do more of:

— Model Railroading: I've been interested in model trains since I was a kid. Back then, I had the time but not the space or funds to get into it — now I have those but not the time.

If you've never seen a great model railroad, you really should. There is a club layout in the basement at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute that is truly a miniature world. They've modeled the Troy area in the 1940s, and it's not only beautiful but historically accurate as well. While I could never create something as amazing as that, I'd sure love to have something to work on and play with. Someday.

— Computer Programming: From the first moment I was exposed to computers in high school, where your programs were on paper tape and punch cards, I was hooked. I've made my career working with computers, and, of course, they are ubiquitous now, but there is still a big rush in getting a computer to do exactly what you want it to do.

If you have the bug for this (no pun intended), there are many programming languages to choose from, and, lucky for us, the best of these are free or "open source." Computers are great because, unlike people, there is no gray area with them — the program either works or it doesn't.

— Woodworking and Metalworking: Woodworking and metalworking are terrific hobbies because you can make useful things. Though very similar in the creative sense, they are very different in real life, because metal is basically stable but wood shrinks and expands with temperature and humidity.

The kinds of tools you need are different as well (tools are like toys for big boys). I've made plenty of bookcases over the years, and I can hang shelves anywhere, but I really want to take my woodworking to the next level.

I'm also learning how to weld, and I have a really old metal lathe that I'd love to get working one of these days. Both of these hobbies reward practice and patience in so many ways it's fantastic.


— Ham Radio, Electronics, Audio: I've been a radio fan my whole life, so it was natural to get a ham radio license. Ham radio ties in nicely with electronics, too — there are so many gadgets to build.

Though ham radio is no longer on the cutting edge due to the Internet, it's still a great learning tool and can really come in handy during an emergency. Good quality stereo gear is awesome as well, and you can still build it yourself if you like. There is so much information out there in this area, much of it free, that you are truly limited only by your time and imagination.

— Fitness: It's always good to do something physical, even if it's just walking. Keeping the blood flowing keeps you feeling young.

Over the years I've tried everything — running, weight-lifting, bicycling, calisthenics — but I always come back to nice long walks to clear my head and make me feel good. I'd like to hike more as well, and someday I'd love to learn to swim, but the important thing is just doing something. A good sweat now and then is a great thing.

— Learning Another Language: Wouldn't it be fascinating to learn another tongue and then travel to places where that tongue is spoken? Maybe you won't be fluent, but it would still be helpful for sure.

My problem is there are so many places I want to go I can't decide on what language to learn. Not too long ago, I was at a campground late at night, sitting under the stars with my short-wave radio, and I picked up Radio China which was airing Mandarin lessons. That language is so different from our own, but for that one night, if a Chinese person showed up at the campground, I could have greeted him or her and then shown them to the bathroom!  

— Entertaining: By “entertaining,” I mean cooking and sharing good times with family and friends. Every now and then, you go to a party where everything is right — the food, the mix of guests, and the weather if it's outside. It's hard to get it just right, and there are entire books on how to entertain.

My lovely wife is a big fan of potlucks, where everyone brings a dish to share. Then there's holiday entertaining, theme parties, sports events — I'm getting tired just thinking about it. Entertaining creatively and effectively is a skill in its own right and one worth getting better at.

— Traveling: You only have so much time, money, and strength to travel, yet there are so many places to go it's mindboggling. You name a city or landmark anywhere in the world and I'm sure I'd love to go there. How do you choose?

I know for my wife and I riding motorcycles in the Swiss Alps is definitely on our bucket list, as well as touring Italy and visiting Australia. Those would all be fantastic, but what about Peru, South Africa, Japan, and New Zealand, to say nothing of closer destinations like Key West, Alaska, and even the national parks? Will there be enough time, money, and health? I sure hope so for some of it at least.  

— Reading and Writing: All my life, reading has been a dependable joy, the one activity that never fails to entertain and enlighten. Reading truly is a time and space machine, as you connect with writers from different eras and walks of life. Such a deal. In my case, reading led to creative writing, which I enjoy very much.

Even if I had all the money in the world, my favorite things would still be a good walk and a good book. Truly you don't need much more than that.

Note: though I'm an avid motorcyclist, I did not include motorcycling here because, while I do ride in my leisure time, I consider motorcycling more of a lifestyle choice than a hobby. For example, circumstances permitting, I'll always ride rather than drive, and, since driving is not generally considered a hobby, why should motorcycle riding be?

If you can ride to work — and I do whenever I can — then it's not a hobby.

Similarly, I've not included being a sports fan as a hobby. Just listen to some sports talk radio to hear how passionate sports fans can be and you realize we take it very seriously. Sports can be much more than a hobby, or even a lifestyle; watch a Bills game and see those bare-chested fans with their faces painted, wildly yelling and screaming, outdoors in freezing cold weather — the word “obsessed” comes to mind.

Gardening, stamp collecting, whatever — hobbies are great fun and worth doing if you have the time and resources. When I hear that people retire and then get bored, I simply have no idea how to relate. There is just so much to learn and do. Enjoy your hobbies!

On June 10, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie. Interspersed throughout much of the morning conversation at one corner of the restaurant were discussions on what Schoharie was like in the 1940s and ’50s.

This was prompted by three or four of the OFs who were sitting by the window of the restaurant, which looks out across the street to the courthouse, and the Parrott House. The OFs remembered the movies in the street, setting pins in the bowling alley, and, at that time, the Parrott House was the place to be seen.

A couple of the OFs remembered the Glass Bar, but that will be that — let it be said that there was a place called the Glass Bar.

The village has changed, the Parrott House has changed, and the times have changed, but really nothing has changed.

The OFs are still sitting and eating, getting out of their vehicles, and walking within the same five thousand or so square feet of the planet they did umpteen, ump years ago, even though most have been all over the country, and some all over the world; here they are just like salmon, back to the same dirt on the bottom of their shoes that they had there when they started their travels.

Our discussion on the history of Schoharie (as the OFs remember it) only goes back 60, or maybe 70, years ago.  Not a history like history books, nonetheless, first-hand accounts of the past.

The proposed work that is going to be done at the intersection of routes 443 and 156 is what prompted the next conversation. The hamlets of Knox, Berne, West Berne, and Gallupville were bustling little communities with hotels, stores, gas stations, restaurants, and tourist destinations like White Sulphur Springs in Berne, most just memories now. 

The OFs mentioned that this was the year of the dandelion. Now, at least in the valley of Schoharie and the Hilltowns, it is also the year, so far, of green and phlox — these wild flowers are everywhere.

The OFs do not know how many remember the ice cream destination of “Dutcher’s.”  This was a place outside of Altamont on Route 158, not far from the reservoir, where the proprietors of Dutcher’s made their own ice cream. It is now the home of The Elegant Touch catering service.

Many of the OFs remember going there in the 1950s and ’60s and the amount of ice cream that was dished out. One OF remembered the banana splits, and claimed that was a meal. It wasn’t only the quantity — but the quality — similar to the Bears restaurant, one OF said.  Dutcher’s still remains one of the many gone-but-not-forgotten places that were pluses in the realm of the OFs.

Advice for kids

The topic that comes up quite often with the OFs is our grandchildren. One OF has a relatively new grandchild and it his first.

It was obvious how tickled he is; however, he sat across from another OF that has 18 grandchildren!  The new grandfather has a lot of catching up to do.

Talking about kids, one OF noticed how another OF came in and sat down.  This OF sat down with a plump — he just dropped into the chair. This was not because the sitting OF wanted to, but, with OF knees, hips, backs and legs, many times this is the only way to accomplish the maneuver. Getting up out of the chair is not much easier either; there has to be a darn sturdy table at the ready to push on in order to become elevated.

The OFs remember telling their kids to sit without plopping into a chair or couch. They remember telling their kids the furniture is not a trampoline. One OF mentioned he remembered his parents telling him the same thing that he harangued his kids for. Now that the OF is of the age he is, he has a tendency to fold and plop, and then hope he can get back up.

Bad bets,

Good pets

Some of the OFs discussed the horse race at Belmont (and the rant about the Triple Crown that came up after the race).  The OFs are in agreement with the co-owner of California Chrome, but not quite how he handled it.

One OF mentioned that the owner was not one of the high-class horse-owner mucky-mucks.  He seemed to be more of a people person just like the OFs are who speak their minds (while not always politically correct) yet they are more honest most of the time.

The OFs also covered another current topic — chickens and chickens as pets! Chickens make good pets, and are better as a teaching tool for your kids than cats or dogs.

Chickens make far less noise than some yappy little poodle that barks all day.  Clucking hens are very relaxing similar to a purring cat.

Who hasn’t been startled out of bed by a cat fight right outside your bedroom window? Talk about noise!

Any pet takes a lot of care no matter what it is, even if it is a pot-bellied pig, or miniature horse, they all have to be looked after. One OF said he has a large pet that needs a lot of looking after, and nobody complains about that. It is called a wife.

Those attending the breakfast at the Country Café in Schoharie and really filling up the place with good old Hilltown and Valley dirt were: Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Jim Heiser, Otis Lawyer, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Karl Remmers, Dick Ogsbury, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Roger Chapman, Jay Taylor, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Herb Sawotka, Miner Stevens, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Bill Krause, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Jim Rissacher, Henry Whipple, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, and me.

We are now into June, and the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh on June 2 as a few more snowbirds returned. This scribe may be forced to join this migratory group. The operative word here is forced; joining that flock remains to be seen.

The OFs for the most part have been a very productive group. Here we have two categories.  One is what many OFs have accomplished, and two is adding to the continuation of the species of homosapiens.

It is this second subject that came up, showing how proud the OFs are of their kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. Every now and then, an OF will bring in something reported in a newspaper that the offspring of the OF has accomplished.

It is interesting to the OFs to hear these reports, which in turn means the OFs will listen to you when you bring up something that your brood has done that is noteworthy.

The OFs raise their eyes to the sky when the age of some of the OFs’ kids is brought up in conjunction with these spontaneous reports — the age of these kids brings a form of wonderment to the OFs.

“How old?” is the common question.

When whatever OF is telling the story says a number like 50, or 60, and some reaching retirement age and beyond, it hard for the OFs to believe this.

One OF said, “I never thought I would reach that age, let alone the age I am now.”

A second OF replied, “It’s all the good food we get at Mrs. K’s and the other restaurants that got you here, you ole goat; you should leave a bigger tip.”

“Hey I get d--- good food at home, too, don’t forget. I know, because you keep coming over right at supper time to mooch.”

Reaching back to “accomplishments” (as previously mentioned), the number one-accomplishment would be the hobbies the OFs have that this scribe has cited on other occasions. The OGs are quite proud of these, too.

At Mrs. K’s, there is a clock on the wall completely handcrafted by one of the OFs; there is also a painting in the same restaurant handcrafted by another of the OFs.

Some of the OFs have more to do than they have life left. One OF has a restored horse-drawn grader, while others have enough antique tractors around that, if melted down, would at least make a naval destroyer.

Others are really active, and hike and maintain hiking trails — some of their activities have been referred to in the newspaper. Others collect, whatever, even if it is just belly-button fuzz, while some still think they can collect women.

“Old men will dream dreams”

The other OFs call them dreamers. It is stated in the Bible that “your young men will prophesize, and your old men will dream dreams.” The second part of that statement is the OFs. See, the OFs are just doing as they are told. 

The OFs sometimes wonder how much of what they do is predicated on genes, or how the OFs behaved when they were young, or their diet, or their work environment. The OFs think that any one or combination of any is the reason some are not able to do much, and some are able to do 10-mile bike rides and consider that too short.

The OFs’ advice to younger OFs (who will be OFs sooner than they think) is: Take care of yourself now or pay for it later, and paying for it later is no fun.


One OF was presented with a World War II ration book, which happened to have been issued to the OF it was given to during the war. Many young people will have no idea what this is or how important they were.

During World War II, many things —such as gasoline, tires, sugar, butter, meat, and cars — were rationed. Gas was strictly controlled, as was a host of other items.

If anyone is interested, it can be checked out on the net.  One search engine on Google  (World War Two rationing) is good. It has pictures of the books, the ration stamps — the whole ball of wax.

Because people were all affected by this conflict, together they worked hard to make sure their labor was not in vain. Victory gardens were quite common to supplement the supply of food and much of this food was shared with others.

As with everything, there were some bad apples and the OFs said, once the rotten ones were found out, sometimes the law was taken by the hands of citizens and the bad apples wished they had never started to rot.

Those OFs who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, and who are still making sure they take care of each other, were: John Rossmann, Bill Bartholomew, Miner Stevens, Glenn Patterson, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, David Williams, Harold Guest, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Henry Witt, Don Wood, Art Frament, Jay Taylor, Herb Sawotka, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Ken Hughes, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Bill Krause, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me. 

The 27th of May, may be our one day of summer!  Mark the calendar — it reached 87 degrees, and we had a hot day later on with high humidity.

On Tuesday, this day in May, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburg Diner in Middleburgh. The Middelburg Diner and the Duanesburg Diner in the Duanesburg are the only two restaurants the OMOTM travel to that have their locations in their names.  All the others do not; however, some hint at it.

Anyone who is unaware of where the restaurants would be have to google the location, or ask a friend, or use a GPS system, but most of the OFs are a little suspect of that.

The OFs began discussing personalities; we each have one to some degree or other so the OFs then talked about the degree of personalities. This scribe must point out the OFs have rather high degrees of personality. The OFs state their opinions without rancor and that places them in a class of personalities that makes for harmonious conversations even with divergent opinions.

The OGs continued the conversation of yards and yard work of the last couple of weeks like there were no days in between the Tuesday breakfasts. These chats were much alike (we are OFs and the same stories told over and over are expected and normal, and to the OFs with short attention spans, even though the stories may be old, to them they are new) but keeping equipment going was the topic this past Tuesday morning.

Another aside about being OFs is just that many of these OGs lived through the Depression, World War II, and the times when there were enough possessions but still everyone was poor by today’s standards. Nobody knew they were poor because everyone was poor.

That little tidbit of information leads to why the OFs keep old machinery running and just don’t run out and buy new when something starts giving the OFs fits. Tinker with this old paraphernalia and get it going again is the OFs motto.

The magic screwdriver

One OF mentioned that he has a number of old lawnmowers a weed whacker, chainsaws, and equipment with other small engines.  Somehow they had all decided they were tired of working and so they decided to quit.

A couple of OFs are geniuses when it comes to small engine repair, and one of these OFs was working on one of the lawnmowers, and he wasn’t quite done fixing it.

The OF who had all this equipment was like many other OFs who don’t know a thing about small-engine repair; sometimes, if they do know a few things about repairing them, they find they do not have the patience to mess with them.

One day, this particular OF took a small screwdriver and said he would try adjusting one of the mowers because it wasn’t running anyway. The OF adjusted a screw, pulled the rope, and brraaapp, son of a gun, it started.

“Holy cow,” the OF said. “I guess I will try another.”

So, he took the magic screwdriver and adjusted another motor that wouldn’t run and brraaapp, away it went running like clockwork. The OF said he then looked at the screwdriver in his hand and tried fixing a chainsaw that hadn’t run.

He turned the screw to what he thought was right, pulled the rope, and, slap your butt, there was another brraaapp, and it was purring like a kitten.

The OF said, “Now that is what I would call a good day.”

Unwanted guests

To have all the lawn equipment up and running is essential to many of the OFs. The OFs have manicured lawns, and they look good, but to show off is not the reason for having these types of lawns. Most of the OFs live in the country, and the OFs maintain their lawns to keep the creepy-crawlies down and away from the house.

Mowing the lawn keeps these critters down because they breed and live in tall grass. One OF said, not only the crawly things, but the little flying critters, too. Another OF said we should keep plants and shrubs away from around the outside of the house because they bring the unwanted guests into your home also.

Ad season

ad nauseum

There were quite a few “Oh no’s” from some of the OFs now that it is the beginning of the political ad season. Now is the time, at least with the big-position politicos, that the politicians who have the most bucks will bombard the radio and TV with ads “to try and convince the 10 people who haven’t already made up their minds,” one OF said.

A second OF opined, “The media loves this.  Look at the bucks it reels in for them.”

In one OF’s opinion elections nowadays are not won, they are bought.

“Well, weren’t they in the old days also?” retorted one OF. “Only back then they handed out five-dollar bills, and cigars.”

 “To which ‘back then,’ ” another OF said, “five bucks was worth something.  Now you might just as well give a guy a quarter, and that won’t even buy a pack of gum — a lot of votes that’ll getcha.”

Changes in bathing

The OFs dropped that subject and went back to discussing bathrooms and how our bathrooms have changed over the years.

An OF said that he can understand that because he has trouble lifting his leg over the side of the tub to take a shower. It seems to be that, at our ages, a house does need two bathrooms — one with a tub for the soakers, and another with a walk-in shower for the OF who wants to be rained on.

In the good old days, the OFs took a bar of homemade soap, and went to the creek or pond.

One OF said, “You OGs have to remember we were YFs then.”

“What did our parents do?” an OF asked.  None could really remember.

Those OFs who have lots of wrinkles from all that lye in the homemade soap and who had breakfast at the Middleburg Diner, in Middleburgh, were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Dave Williams, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Jim Heiser, Harold Guest, Roger Shafer, Otis Lawyer, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Steve Kelly, Duncan Bellinger, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Andy Tinning, Miner Stevens, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Jack Norray, Jim Rissacher, Ken Hughes, Bill Krause, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Roger Chapman, and me. 

On Tuesday, May 20, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville and noted that Route 85 has still not been fixed. The OFs swear the highway department must be in cahoots with some fender and body shops in the area.

’Tis the season for just about all the outdoor activities of the spring and summer months to start. One of these many activities is gardening.

Last week, the OFs touched on this subject but a new twist was mentioned this week.  This new detail is in regard to raised beds, or complete gardens being raised, so the OFs don’t have to bend over so far to maintain them.

Bending, as anybody over 60 will attest, is not the easiest body motion to do. One OF suggested using cinder blocks and another mentioned using old railroad ties. The last OF was jumped on because there is creosote in the old ties.

To which the offended OF said, “Hey!  When we were kids, we chewed the stuff. On a hot day, we would peel it from the telephone pole and chew it, and we are not dead yet.”

Another OF wondered out loud who makes up all the rules saying that “creosote was the best wood preservative going and now it is bad; get around it and you will die.”

Another OF thought that there was a new item that came on the market and the company wanted to sell it, so, in order to make a place for it, the government had to say the creosote was bad, just so they could sell the new wood preservative, and the new preservative is not half as good as creosote.

“Just wait,” another OF added. “In a few more years the new preservative will be found to be hazardous to the tsetse fly and we won’t be able to use that either.

“Give me the good old creosote, oil-based paints, hey, even white lead — these new paints offer as much protection as food dye in tap water.”

This scribe often wonders how we get from gardens to the tsetse fly, to creosote and paint all in a matter of minutes.

Year of the dandelions

Without any fertilizer, or even planting in raised beds, the OFs say this is the year of the dandelions. Everywhere you look, the dandelion’s yellow flower is dotting the landscape at least on the Hill, and in the valley of Schoharie, and maybe Altamont and Rotterdam have the dandelion yellow carpet also.

Some of the OFs remember their mothers gathering the young dandelion leaves and using them as greens in salads and garnishes. One OF mentioned that using what pops up in lawns and fields, picking it, then using it to cook with is becoming a lost art.

Another OF said he used to do a lot of that — collecting mushrooms, dandelions, burdock, and other plants that the OF has forgotten about.

One OF mentioned that he thinks he still has a stash of dandelion wine in the cellar.  The OF added that, if he went out today to forage in the forest, he probably would come home with plants that would kill a horse in minutes, or a least give the OF the trots.

Encounters with angels

The OFs started talking about a subject that was both a little sad and a little scary.  This topic was how much it hurts the OFs when their kids become seriously ill.

“Why them — why not me?  I am at the short end of the ruler,” was a general consensus. Many of the OFs have gone through this type of unwanted anxiety and have the same thoughts.

Somehow this started a few of the OFs talking about angels and how some of the OFs have had encounters with these beings.

The OFs did not seem to be talking about the type of angel that has been perpetrated by humans as comely visions with golden hair and white feathered wings flying off floating through the air, but the OMOTMs’ angels are people, known and unknown, that just seem to pop up and disappear.

When the OG is in trouble, one can be a friend who for some unknown reason has the time to help. The OGs began relating a few stories where a particular event would take place and help would come from out of the blue.

This scribe thinks that we are all angels and, when the time comes for us to be used, we will be used and not even know that we are being used that way.

Let sleeping cats lie

The OFs mentioned how unsafe it is to disturb a sleeping animal, especially a cat.

“Yeah,” one OF said, “disturbing a sleeping cat is not the smartest thing in the world to do, not if you want to maintain your eyeballs.”

“Not only a cat, but have you ever been kicked by a normally gentle horse?” a second OF asked.

“If you come up on the wrong side of the animal while it is sleeping, that is a half a ton of flying hoofs that are flaying at anything within reach and that to the horse could be a bear, mountain lion — or you. The horse also is not thinking, ‘Shoo, go away’; the horse’s kicking is meant to harm, disable, or bring whatever startled the horse to an untimely demise.”

The OFs think that the old adage to let a sleeping dog lie is a good one to heed around anything that has left this conscious world and, if you can see its chest is still heaving, leave it be.

Those OFs who were at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville and having no intentions on disturbing any sleeping being (especially the wife) were: Bill Krause, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Harold Guest, Carl Walls, Robie Osterman, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Miner Stevens, Andy Tinning, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Lou Schenck, Gary Porter, Jack Norray, Ken Hughes, Mace Porter, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Bob Lassome, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, and me.

This scribe looked around the Home Front Café in Altamont on Tuesday, May 13, and again noticed that the restaurant was full of men. The only member of the distaff side was the waitress. This scribe thought that, as often as this happens, the ladies’ time out and about must be later on in the day.

The OFs talked about mowing the grass (not hay).  This is almost like the conversation of last week only now the OFs are already complaining about cutting the grass. Once started in the spring, the OFs say, it is like pulling a cork out of a bottle.

The grass (also known as weeds in some yards) continues to grow and once one corner or section of the yard is done, it is necessary to go back and start all over right away. This little circus goes on until late June and, in August, when the OFs are able to catch up with the growing cycle of the grass (AKA weeds) the grass takes a break in the hot weather.

Operations abound

Another typical discussion was that of the OFs’ medical operations. The OFs were not talking hangnail type operations but the real thing, like heart bypasses, knees, shoulders, hips, hernias, some cancers, and having metal plates placed in the head.

One OF has just had his hearing repaired in one ear. The OFs don’t know if this is a hearing aid or not. Half the OFs have those things, and the other half need them.

But this OF had an operation on his head. The doctors placed something in his head just behind the left ear. Then they gave the OF a round object about one inch in diameter, and one quarter inch thick. Attached to that object is a little box about one inch square and one quarter inch thick. This unit snaps to the metal plate inside his head with a magnet.

When the OF clicks this unit to his head he can hear. It sure is different than a hearing aid, and also different in price — about two to three times more than a pair good hearing aids.

The OFs who have had other operations all seemed to have them do whatever they were supposed to do in one degree or another. Some of the OFs have no pain while others, at times, have a little discomfort.

A few of the OFs have problems with some of their joints and they could be operated on, but the advice from the doctors is “leave it alone and live with it.” The OFs wonder why this approach is taken at times and, at other times, the knife is already in the air.

Some of the OFs have had their operations done at the hospital in Cooperstown and say what a nice place this is. It is a small hospital with only 164 beds but the OFs who have used the facility say it is a good hospital and they felt safe there.

Lost ambulance

Cooperstown is a town in central New York, and one OF had a three-way bypass done at this facility. After the bypass surgery, he was sent to Sunnyview rehab in Schenectady for his (you guessed it) rehabilitation.

This OF was transported by ambulance to Sunnyview. This is quite a ride, and the driver apparently knew his way around Cooperstown, but got lost with the OF in Schenectady.

The OF said the ambulance driver drove all over the place trying to find the hospital. Some of the OFs could understand this because of the one-way streets, and it is not the easiest of hospitals to get to even if you were from Albany and had an inkling of Schenectady.

The OFs assumed the driver must have been male because he could have asked for directions. The OF in the ambulance said he did ask for directions but they seemed to be of no help.

No one asked if the ambulance had a GPS, which would have been a help. This was a few years ago, because most of the newer ambulances today are equipped with a GPS system. A few of the OFs are EMTs and one said that the GPS systems works pretty well if you are a good speller and know how to spell where you are and where you want to go.

One OF had a knee replaced recently and is getting around great but the hospital stay was another thing. We will save that for another time.

Those OFs that made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont and who would make a good support group for those contemplating an operation, or for reassuring those just coming out of an operation, were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Frank Pauli, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Bill Krause, Dave Williams, George Cove, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Andy Tinning, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Ken Hughes, Mace Porter, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.


Canes at the ready, the Old Men of the Mountain attacked the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg on the history-making date of April 29, 2014, and to many of the OFs it is still winter. Some have even put the lawn mowers away, and gassed up the snow blowers.

The OFs that had farms or grew up on farms began talking about the types of animals they raised on these farms. Most were the usual kinds — cows, horses, mules, pigs, chickens, cats, dogs, turkeys, and goats. These were the mainstay of the farm.  Some of the OFs had, not unusual, but “different” animals like guinea hens, peacocks, rabbits, or suchlike.

Growing up with these critters taught the OFs how different animals behaved. Some were quite alike and some were totally different but most had their own personalities. The OFs could tell if any of their animals were sick and required the attention of a vet.

On the other hand, if the animal was not sick but in severe distress, the OFs then knew which was which and it was time to get the gun.  Most OFs, with tears in their eyes, would painlessly put the poor animal down.

Continuing on with the farming theme, the OFs maintain that everybody is sticking their nose in the business of farming, and most of those doing the sticking have no idea of what they are doing. The OFs maintain that they should go back to washing windows, and keep their collective noses out of their business and everybody would be much better off.

“Well,” one OF said, “someone has to be looking out for the common people.”

Another OF picked up on this and said, “I am a common person.”

And the first OF replied, “You know what I mean.”

“Of course,” the other OF answered. 

The original OF said he knew some farmers would cut corners just like some contractors and even manufactures cut corners. One OG said he knew that, but that was not what he was talking about.

He opined that milk inspectors and people like that knew most of the time what was going on, and common sense was the norm between most of the routine inspectors and the farmer, but mandates like having to install bulk milk tanks, instead of using strainers and milk cans, put him out of business. This OF thought that milk cans were the cleaner way to go anyway, and he felt that, if the farmer wanted to install the bulk tanks, OK, but let the little guy still use his milk cans.

Such mandates have killed many of the small farms.  Most of these small farms are now in disrepair with barns and out buildings falling down. The once productive fields are now trees and brush.

“Yep,” another OF said, “the big money cats have persuaded the legislators to tax these same farms as building lots and the farmer can’t pay these high taxes so the developers jump in and buy the farms.  The guy in the capitol has met his commitment to the fat cat.

“We can take this little sneaky conspiracy one step further. Where does our food come from now — Chile, Brazil, Australia, Canada?   I bet,” the OF continued, “this is another commitment met, only higher up.”

End of OF rant.

Pessimists and optimists

Most of the OFs are glad to see April go, as much as the OFs were glad to see March go.

One OF said “he feels like he is wishing his life away by wanting May.”

Then another OF added, “Maybe this year, we will be glad to see May go also.”

Yet some of the OFs were talking about tomato plants and planting gardens.

Optimism and pessimism in one little conversation.

Strong concentration

The OFs had a small discussion on the phrase “lost in his work.”

One OG was picking up another OG to go to the breakfast and the OG being picked up was out working in his yard. The picker-upper drove up his driveway and the OG being picked up kept right on working.

The picker-upper OG turned around and drove back down the driveway and sat waiting for his friend who just kept right on working. The driveway was no more than 50 feet from where the OG was raking.

The picker-upper OG sat for a short while with the car running and finally blew his horn. The OG working in the yard just raised his head and waved in the general direction of the road and went right back raking.

The OG picking up this OF then really blew his horn, and, finally, the OG turned and saw the car and laid down his rake and walked to the car.

It is a good thing this scribe does not use names because, if anyone realized who this was and saw the OG working in the yard, they could drive right up his driveway, steal one of his tractors, drive it away, and the OG would never know it. That is what is known as engrossed in your work.

As one of the OFs commented, “That OG is the type of person you would want working for you — one that is not easily distracted.”

Those OFs who attended the breakfast at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg (with some OFs quite removed from farming but still think they are farmers, yet are now are able to go out to breakfast and not to the barn) were: Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Dave Williams, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Harold Guest, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Karl Remmers, Dick Ogsbury, Andy Tinning, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Ken Hughes, Jack Norray, Duncan Bellinger, Bill Krause, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, and me.

This scribe would like to have a nickel, no, maybe just a penny, for every time the following has been said: “Why do the weeks go by so fast?”

Tuesday has rolled around again, and it seems like it was just Tuesday the day before, but here it is Tuesday, April 22, 2014, and already 112 days of the year have gone by.  My goodness, the OFs will have to start their Christmas shopping pretty soon.

To add to this, in just a few more weeks, the Old Men of the Mountain will be right back at the Blue Star Restaurant in Schoharie ordering the same breakfast — or maybe not.

According to the OFs, spring has sprung because the peepers are peeping. Most of the OFs say, don’t count on it; one day does not spring make.

With the temperature hovering above freezing, and not by much, except for the aforementioned day, the snow does melt. With the snowmelt, the water table goes up and the OFs were talking about how much water they have. Some have their wells overflowing.

One OF said that he has water coming up all over the place, but this OF lives between two hills so this is understandable. However, one who has a well overflowing so the water is running from under the casing cap down the drive lives on top of the mountain. The OFs surmised there must be a ton of pressure on the water table to push the water up like that.

Then comes mid-summer and the OFs hope the water is still there. Generally it is.

One OF said occasionally some of their friends come up from the city to spend time with them and to be in the country for a while. They have day trips planned, and they do some farm-stand shopping, but what drives this OF up the wall is their indiscriminate use of water, “like there is an infinite source of water.”

The showers these friends take are long, and then long again. When trying to help in the kitchen, they turn on the tap and let ’er run. They have the water running and then walk away to do something else.

It is a good thing they are only here for a few days, the OF noted, and he stressed again that they are great friends and nice people.

Another OF chimed in that they have similar friends, again from places with public sources of water and apparently no usage tax. They don’t really know about being on a well with the energy to run the pump and the possibility that the water may be low in a long dry summer.

“Somehow,” the OF said, “we have to remember how important water is because we really aren’t that far removed from the fish we once were.”

 Sorrowful Friday pervades Easter

Easter is an event that is not celebrated like many of the others.

The OFs do not wish each other Happy Easter. Maybe at some ends of the table it was said, but nothing like the expressions heard at Christmas. Happy Easter does not have the ring to it as does Merry Christmas.

There were only a couple of OFs that even asked, “How was your Easter?”

On Thanksgiving, most of the OFs are curious about what the other OFs are doing for Thanksgiving, like family coming over, or checking to see if the OF was going anywhere.

Even the first day of deer season sparks more conversation than Easter. Good Friday, in many circles, is such a downer that it carries over into Easter. (No one really knows why it is called Good Friday, conjecture applies, so take your pick, only in German it is called Sorrowful Friday, everyone to their own interpretation. There that answers the OFs’ questions.)   

Dealing with

an aggressive cardinal

Some of the OFs discussed having birds attack the windows of their homes. The OFs were talking about deliberate attacks, not the occasional bird that flies headlong into a window.

Most of the time it is the cardinal that becomes so aggressive. One OF reported having one of the cardinals becoming such a nuisance that he was making a mess on the side of the house.

The OF said that this bird would attack his hand as he tried to shush it away. The OF said that the only thing between him and that crazed bird was the glass in the window.

This OF called the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service in Voorheesville for advice on how to handle the situation. They said that cardinals were very territorial and the cardinal saw his reflection in the window and saw what he thought was another cardinal.

The extension service said to hang newspaper on that window and the bird would not see his reflection and stop trying to attack the reflection. Did not work!  The dumb bird just went to the next window. More newspaper; the bird just went to the next adjacent window.

Finally one old farmer friend said he should get an owl from the garden shop and hang it where the bird will see it. Cardinals in the wild are afraid of owls and they can’t seem to tell the difference between plastic owls or the genuine bird.

The OF said he went and purchased two owls. Bingo! The next day, the bird was gone. The OF said he still has those owls, and no birds with aggressive behavior wailing at his house to date.


The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their condolences to the family of Bob Dietz who passed away at his winter home in Tucson, Arizona.

Bob was a loyal member of the OMOTM and graced the company of OMOTM with his stories, and humor.

Those OFs with the courage to get out of bed, and ambulatory enough to make it to the Blue Star Restaurant in Schoharie were: Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Otis Lawyer, Jim Heiser, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Dick Ogsbury, Karl Remmers, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Andy Tinning, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Ken Hughes, Jack Norray, Don Wood, Bill Krause, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

The weather sometimes seems to support the Old Men of the Mountain because on Tuesday, April 15, it held off nicely for breakfast time. The OMOTM catch that break quite often, so, if you are planning anything that has to be done in the morning, make it a Tuesday morning and the weather should be OK thanks to the OMOTM.

This past Tuesday morning, the OFs who are beef eaters, (isn’t that a wine or some kind of alcoholic beverage?) were complaining about the prices of beef and bacon.

What brought that discussion up was the OFs were at the Country Café in Schoharie where they have the good bacon, the thick stuff that has some body to it, not that thin pre-cooked bacon that is so thin it is possible to read the paper through it. Real bacon — and even the bacon sliced so thin that the hog doesn’t even know it is gone — and the price of both of these types of bacon has taken its place among the stars.

Also, while on the subject of restaurants, the OFs started talking about the ambience of rest rooms, particularly in restaurants. The circulating thought was that a restaurant could have great food and dining-area ambience, but, if the restrooms are a step above an outhouse, then the whole place goes with it.

The OFs thought that this is because we are OFs and the restrooms are a little more important to us now. One OF mentioned that it might be because we have been married so long that some of the OFs’ uncouthness has been refined a little to the point where we are becoming more couth.

One OF mentioned that, when we were young, the restroom could be behind a tree, who cared, but, as we progressed through the aging process, the OFs now want clean bathrooms, warm, well lit, and soft toilet paper, toilets and sinks that work, and paper towels.

Same goals

Some discussion was unusual for the OFs and that was brought about by the lead in an editorial in the Albany Times-Union that the Albany, Schenectady, Troy area was one of the least religious areas in the nation. The discussion was on the differences in churches and, even with these differences, they all have the same goal.

Plant pain?

The OFs began talking about the findings of Cleve Baxter, and his work with plants, and their ability to feel or not feel pain. This is quite interesting, and, just like the UFO that has the Malaysian plane, there is much debate in the scientific community about plants feeling pain. Whether or not they do feel pain is the question, but having a nervous system does seem to have some basis.

Along with this there is still conversation among the OFs on this missing aircraft. This scribe will be glad when that sucker is found.

Personal pain

Then the OFs (including this scribe) started talking about their own pains, especially in our legs. Almost all, at the corner of the table where this scribe was seated, have puffy legs at night.

These puffy legs start just about at the sock line and, at the end of the day, can really be bothersome. Some of the OFs said, not only do the legs hurt, but they itch.

One OF said he has rubbed his legs raw, and there are scabs where he has scratched them. By morning, this swelling is gone and the legs appear to be normal, or how ever 70- or 80-year-old legs are supposed to look when normal.

All these OFs say they have reported this condition to their doctors who really don’t say anything or seem to pay any attention. The doctors just look at them and say, hmmm — and that’s about it.

The doctor’s reply is generic to each OF; only one doctor did tell one of the OFs to occasionally elevate his legs during the day and see if that helped.

See if that helps!  For crying out loud, are we OFs part of some learning curve?  This is why it’s called the practice of medicine; sometimes the doctors are still practicing on us.

One OF said that it seems funny that, when we go to the doctor with an eye that twitches twice, and then once, and then twice again, the doctor will immediately diagnose some rare malady that is found only in the jungles of the Congo.

Go there with two legs that are swollen above the OF’s socks as big as telephone poles, and below the sock as thin as chicken legs and the same doctors sit there scratching their heads.

One OF said that, while he was at his doctor’s office, he just started snorting and clearing his throat about three or four months ago, and it began like out of the blue. The doctor’s reply was, “You know, I started to do that about a year or so ago and I can’t get rid of it either.”

Then one OF said, “I hate it when the doctor says, ‘Oh that’ and then he admits he has ‘it’ too.”

Then again, many of the OFs think that, with the slightest new cough, hack, or twitch, the OF might have Beriberi but the doctors know that the OFs are OFs and really they have nothing — the OFs are in the category of getting old and these things are just going to happen.

Those OFs who made it to the Country Café in Schoharie regardless of what their doctors say were: Ted Willsey, Jerry Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Karl Remmers, Dick Ogsbury, Dave Williams, John Rossmann, Chuck Aleseio, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Ken Hughes, Henry Whipple, Bill Krause, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.