Another Tuesday, another dose of bad weather; this time though, many Old Men of the Mountain made it to the restaurant.

This time, it was Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh for the OMOTM to partake of their annual Christmas party. Patty at Mrs. K’s does it up round with cookies, cakes, and hors d’oeuvres.

The spread is rather lavish and, if an OF fills up on the cheese and crackers, veggie dips, and some kind of little pizza-like thingies (some of these things were pretty spicy), cookies and sweets, they would not have to eat breakfast. However, none of the OFs are so cheap they would pull a stunt like that.

The OFs found the weather to Middleburgh was really lousy, and many schools were closed. This meant the plows did not have to get out early to really clear the roads for the buses or so the OFs thought.

This may not be the case but most of the roads were a mess, and some of the roads the OFs traveled looked like they had not been touched yet. At least by six, seven, or seven-thirty in the morning, they weren’t.

But the OFs are seasoned winter drivers, and if the OFs did not think they were Barney Oldfield when starting out on the snow-covered roads they would arrive at Mrs. K’s in fine fashion.

Glad wishes were then handed out to all the OFs who made it to Mrs. K’s. (Getting home was another matter. This scribe hopes they all arrived home safely. If something happened with car and ditch meeting, most of the OFs are in no condition to push.)

During the holiday season, when friends and families get together, the discussion of the OFs on Tuesday morning was on who is related to whom, and what they are called. Cousins, nephews, first cousins, first cousins once removed, second cousins (some even brought up kissing cousins; this scribe doesn’t know if that counts), and cousins so far convoluted in the family tree do they even count anymore?

None of the OFs could make much sense of it, and the one that might really know was playing the guitar and singing Christmas songs along with other ditties so that he was not part of the conversation. (Two of the OMOTM were adding music to the festivities by playing guitar and bass guitar, which was a touch of the season that was great.)

One of the OFs who has passed on was fondly mentioned. This OMOTM would come to our December breakfasts in a complete Santa outfit, and he did not require a beard. This OF looked and played the part perfectly because that is what he did during the holiday season.

A story told by one OF about this OF who looked like Santa took place on Sanibel Island in Florida. These two OFs and their wives rented a double house together in Florida and were visiting Sanibel Island. While they waited to board a trolley to take them around the island, a little girl ran up to the Santa-looking OMOTM and asked if he were Santa.

Without skipping a beat, this OMOTM squatted down to her level because he was very tall, and he said “Yes sweetheart, I am Santa,” and he put a finger to his mouth, meaning shush, and he continued, “Don’t tell anyone you saw me. I am on vacation from the North Pole, and all the elves are up in the North Pole, busy making presents for next year. So don’t let anyone know I am down here, OK.”

The OF said that the little girl’s eyes lit up, and she went running to her parents, telling them she saw Santa. The parents, with great big smiles, flashed a high sign to the OMOTM who looked like Santa. The spontaneity of the OF’s response indicated to the OF telling the story that this OMOTM had been through this before.

A new kind of

doctor-patient relationship

The OFs have many continuing topics of discussions that include truck, tractors, cars, work, eating habits and food, trips, farms, and many others that are redundant. One that crops up so often that this scribe can almost sense it coming and that is — wait for it — doctors and health.

Many of the OFs have gotten to the point that they know and respectively call their doctors by their first name; they also know the wife or husband and kids of their doctors.

One OF was telling how a friend of his (and he gave his friend’s first name) had just invested in an antique car to fix up. This OF is also interested in antique anything, like many of the OFs, including cars.

As the OF went along with the dialogue, everyone assumed it was either a friend or relative. The banter back and forth and the topic of exchanging car parts led the OFs to think it was a friend.

Not until near the end did the OFs even realize it was the OF’s doctor. That is what one would call getting to know your physician, and why not?

These doctors are people, too, and hobbies and interests break down class and position, and even education. A Rhodes Scholar can play French horn, right alongside your plumber in the local band; the doctor can play the fiddle shoulder-to-shoulder with a good fiddler from the high school band; and both might play together in the local band.

For a miserable winter’s day, with some of the lucky OFs basking in their winter climes, the Old Men of the Mountain who did make it to Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh were goodly in number, and they were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Roger Shafer on Guitar, Paul Nelson, Rick LaGrange, John Dabravalskas, Bill Lichliter, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Ken Parks, Otis Lawyer, Marty Herzog, Pastor Jay Francis, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin on Bass, Elwood Vanderbilt, Fred Crounse, Roger Chapman, Harold Grippen, and me.


Tuesday, Dec. 10, was a rare day in December. As some of the Old Men of the Mountain began arriving at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown around 6:30 a.m. in the morning, it was dark, warm, and foggy.

The air smelled and felt like spring. A few OFs stood outside of the diner’s door and chatted a bit — soaking it all in before going into the diner. Then stepping into the light and warmth of the diner, they were greeted by the staff and a few patrons, saying good morning, and all starting idle chatter, and the feeling continued. What a great way to start the day.

A spoiler alert: There was a goodly group at the breakfast this Tuesday, unlike last Tuesday when only the brave showed up during the snowstorm. A few of the OFs who were at this breakfast (but not the last one) had to admit they were wrong on their guess of the amount of snow that would fall last week.

These OFs guessed 10 inches would be about it. Wrong!

For many, it was more like 24 inches and a few more inches could even be added for some. These OFs were not plowed out until later in the day, and some were working on snowblowing or plowing their own property out.

Those who made it to Duanesburg came from areas that had a little less snow than those on the mountain, but still it was a great effort for those OMOTM who did their own plowing and the road crews who worked through the night and kept the main roads open.

One OF mentioned that we don’t give enough credit to the workmen and women who are first responders. This includes those who keep our highways open and safe in all kinds of weather; also the power-line crews who are out in all kinds of weather to keep the power flowing for those who are invalids, and trapped in their homes.

These laudable people do their best to keep residents supplied with power no matter what. Many of the OMOTM fall into these categories. A few still are keeping up with these hardy workers while others have performed their duty for years and now age, coupled with health problems, keep them from participating.

Yacht or kayak?

On Tuesday morning, health, again, was one of the topics and how the OFs feel good health is better than money. This scribe has to go along with that wholeheartedly.

This scribe interjected into the conversation that these OFs thinks it is better to be able to travel someplace, or participate in some event on a hundred bucks, than to be able to go around the world with a million bucks and be sick and in the care of nurses. What kind of fun is that? 

One OF commented it depends on how young and good-looking the nurses are. There were a few who agreed with that. These OFs thought they could have a lot of fun on a yacht in the ocean with a couple of nurses.

Once they have seen a tree, they have seen a tree. A tree in East Berne, New York is the same as a tree in Japan, China, Italy, or France. A road with a tractor on it in South Berne, is the same as a road with a tractor on it in England, but on a big yacht, on the ocean, with a couple of young nurses — that is different.

“This OF is missing the point here,” another OF said. “You are sick, you OG, you hurt, you are drugged out, you don’t know what’s going on. There could be 100 nurses, you don’t care, you are sick. You might just as well be on the porch of a nursing home; you are out of it.

“I would rather have a couple-hundred bucks in my pocket headed towards a little cabin in Wells, Maine, in a car that is paid for, with a simple kayak on the roof, than on any big yacht where I have to be pushed in a wheelchair to the bathroom, and then helped into the stall.”

Uh-oh. Most could see where this topic was headed so the subject was quickly changed.

Cost of phones

The OFs then progressed into quite a discussion of cell phones, or iPhones, or whatever they are correctly called. Some of the OFs consider them pocket-sized computers.

It was noticed that some people (and some of the OFs are really into these things and know the ins and outs more than the others) don’t give a hoot; they feel they got along without them before, and they can get along without them now.

That is not completely true in this day and age. Most all the pay phones that used to be at every corner, and banks of them at every Dunkin’ Donuts, are now gone. Now it is necessary to pay hundreds of bucks for a cell phone either for the phone, or for the service.

Back in the day, when using a pay phone, it was only necessary to pay for the call that was being made. At the end of the year, the OFs’ phone expenses for this kind of service might only have been 40 bucks. Now the phone companies have got you for hundreds.

The OFs have to admit that the super-duper phones do a lot more than make phone calls now and someone has to pay for all this technology, and the people who develop it. It is hard for the average OF to comprehend how so much information can be stored on something no bigger than a small spiral-bound notepad, and it will also take beautiful pictures.

Not only does the cell phone do all this but the operator can punch in a few numbers and then can speak almost anywhere in the world. Kids today don’t give it a second thought.

It was good to see all the Old Men of the Mountain make it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown where this Tuesday we were entertained by a young lady playing the guitar and singing Christmas music. The OFs were also treated to a tray of cookies that was passed around to go along with the music.

The OMOTM who partook of all this, were: Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Rick LaGrange, Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, Fred Crounse, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.


Most people in our area know what the weather was like on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Dec. 1 and 2 dropped a little bit of snow in the circle of the Old Men of the Mountain. Some had as much as 30 inches, and some 27.5 inches. That is a collection of little white flakes to pile on top of one another.

The breakfast for Tuesday, Dec. 3, was at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg; for some of the OMOTM that is their furthest diner west and they were the ones who were there.

Now let us recall how the eighth worst storm in the area (since records started to be kept) affected the OMOTM.

On the second of December, there were 10 to 12 inches of pristine white stuff in my driveway. The plow arrived at 8:30 a.m. and made it disappear into banks of pristine white stuff.

So — on Dec. 3, this scribe arose, checked his driveway at 5:30, 6:30, and 7:30 a.m. It was noted that there were about 8 to 10 more inches, which had managed to find the driveway in the night. At 8:30 a.m., the plow still hadn’t arrived and so a phone call was made.

However, it seems that this scribe wasn’t the only one who needed a plow and it wasn’t until 11:30 a.m. or so that the driveway was cleared enough to use.

This scribe then received a phone call around 6 p.m. Tuesday night, and the caller said he had gone to the restaurant in Duanesburg and thought he was going to be the only OF there. Eventually, a couple more OFs came through the door and these three thought they would be the only ones there; then three more showed up and it began to feel like a group.

That made six hardy souls out of 25 to 30 who usually attend the breakfasts.

These six brave, hardy, fearless, valiant individuals have kept the reputation of the OMOTM intact.  Neither rain, sleet, snow nor things that go bump in the night will keep these OFs from having their breakfast and social gathering ruined.

They deserve a Huzzah! From all the others who were unable to be at the Duanesburg Diner on Dec. 3. 

However, not all is lost, because in the future this will give us something to discuss and complain about. The good part is that our record of 30 years of meetings is intact.

The column will be short this week because this scribe did not want to use conversation not used from previous breakfasts. Give the credit to the brave souls who did make it and they were: Glen Patterson, Joe Rack, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Elwood Vanderbilt, and not me.


This scribe is beginning to wonder how many times he can write where and when the Old Men of the Mountain meet. It has always been on Tuesday, but where varies, and also comes and goes.

This past week, it was the Your Way Café in Schoharie. With some of the OMOTM, “your” way can mean just that — which turns out to mean “my” way. So on Tuesday, Nov. 26, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

The next item is strange — but true. Two of the OMOTM had all their teeth extracted and new ones installed at the same time. Their conversation over many weeks has been basically the same: “Have your teeth come in yet?”

For many of those weeks, the answer was no. Lo and behold, within a couple of weeks, they both got their teeth. At the breakfast Tuesday morning, the usual discussion was replaced with, “How are you making out with your teeth?”

This question followed a conversation on what were the best kinds of pies to eat because one of the OFs ordered blackberry pie with whipped cream as a dessert for breakfast. The OFs then started talking about berry pies, seeds, and teeth.

One OF with the new teeth said that seeds don’t bother him since his teeth fit really tight. So tight, in fact, that at times he has trouble getting them out.

A third OF sitting next to him (who also has installed teeth) told him to put some water in his mouth and they will come out easily. This third OF said he needs duct tape to keep his teeth in.

Problems with GPS

Another OF talked about a huge Schneider tractor trailer stopped along side of the road just past the circle at Price Chopper in Slingerlands and the post office, heading south on Route 85. If anyone knows this area, he knows there is a bridge just down Route 85 and it is low

Backing this rig up at this circle and getting his rig onto Cherry Avenue, in Delmar, then Kenwood, then back into New Scotland was going to take a few cops. This circle does not lack for traffic.

One OF said this particular truck must be following GPS (Global Positioning System). This OF said there are two things with GPS. Those things don’t tell you about low bridges, or sharp turns that big rigs can’t navigate.

The other problem with GPS is that it’s necessary to know how to spell. If anyone is a lousy speller there is no telling where he is going to wind up.

One OF piped up that even fold-out road maps didn’t give you information on low bridges and sharp turns and, if you can’t spell with a regular road map, finding where you’re heading may be impossible.

This segued into discussion on how there should be some kind of GPS that tracks you and your car and guides you to your car in a parking lot or garage. The OFs started telling stories about losing their cars in parking lots. This scribe is beginning to assume this is a routine problem with everybody — young or old.

Mall mysteries

Most of the tales told on Tuesday morning were about going in one door and coming out another door of large malls, then wandering all over, looking for the car in the wrong parking lot. One OF said he and his wife did this at a mall.

They did what the OFs were talking about, in one door and out another. The OF said they went up and down each aisle and, seeing no car, they finally decided to go to security and report the car stolen. The OF said, “Not until we pulled the door open to go back into the mall did we realize this was not the door we came in.”

Another OF said they (he and his wife) were in the same position, wandering all over to look for their car. The OF said he was just about at the end of his rope and beginning to panic when a stranger asked them, “Are you guys in trouble?”

The OF said to him, “Yes, we can’t find our car.” The fellow asked him, “What kind of car is it?” and said he would help them find it.

The OF described the car to him, and the helpful stranger said, “Oh that car! That gray Saturn is right over there.”

“Sure enough,” the OF said, “There it was.” The guy pointed right to it.

It is getting so that the OFs should notify their next of kin when they are going to be in large parking lots. Just in case.

Natural foods lead to long lives

The OFs began talking about diets, and how many are on diets because their doctors told them to go on them. It was gathered that these are not fad diets but diets geared to specific problems.

All of the diets seemed to make sense, and as these diets were discussed it was found the diets all had something in common. Apparently certain foods are not too good for anyone, but maybe a little bit might be permitted once in awhile.

Salt was one of the biggies, and breads and pastas were another. French fries with salt? That was a no-no.

It was found that many of the foods are well known that should not be eaten, but they are the ones that are so good. Looking up and down the table made it clear that most of the OFs were eating stuff that is on the bad list.

One OF mentioned, “Hey, I am 85 years old; I am going to eat what I want.”

This is true. The OFs got to be OFs by doing what they did all their lives in the way of exercise and eating. Maybe we should write our own book on how we got to where we are.

One OF thought it was because we ate what we ate when were 5 years old to our teen years and most of it was natural. All the chemicals that are found in food now were not around when we were growing up so we got a good start.

Maybe we should all forget what not to eat and go back to natural foods without all the additives. There was a big “Hear! Hear!” to that.

Those OFs who made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie and ate what they wanted, whether it was healthy or not, were: Robie Osterman, Roger Shafer, Rick LaGrange, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Bill Rice, Wally Guest, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Ken Parks, Jim Heiser, Otis Lawyer, Lou Schenk, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Rev. Jay Francis, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Henry Whipple, John Dabrvalskas, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.


The Country Café in Schoharie sits in the middle of the village. This restaurant shows signs of life and is decorated nicely for the season of Thanksgiving. 

This is the restaurant the Old Men of the Mountain funneled to on Tuesday, Nov. 19. This scribe and rider, along with other OFs who travel to the various eating establishments, take note of the weather early in the morning on the way to these places.

The 19th was slippery, with large snowflakes falling and sticking to everything — dangerous but beautiful. The snow was sticking to the road, roofs, and trees, turning everything white. It was like driving through a beautiful winter painting.

The OFs started talking about old friends and acquaintances. Bringing up these names brought little stories of each, and their personalities. One problem with this conversation was that many of these past friends are now dead.

It was mentioned that getting old is OK, but the older we get, the more of our former friends have passed on, and family becomes that much more important.

It was a common thread that groups like the OMOTM, church, veterans’ organizations, senior groups, and even hand and foot clubs are what keep the OFs from becoming loners and despondent as they age and their old friends are gone. Friends are what keep the OFs from becoming cranky OFs.

Old friends, familiar smells

An interesting topic that came out of the old friends-discussion is how some of the old friends’ homes had a special odor. This, however, was not necessarily a bad thing.

One OF mentioned a name and some other OFs knew the same person and, whenever these OFs went to his home, they immediately became hungry. The house always smelled of fresh-baked cookies or pies. The reason for this was because there were always fresh-baked cookies or pies.

This brought up the exchange that every home has its own aroma, and one OF said, “Especially if you have cats.” This OF maintained it is impossible to hide the odor of a cat (to him anyway).

This was added to by someone else, “How about dogs?”

Then another OF chimed in, “How about where there is a smoker in the house?” Almost all agreed that one was the worst. It covers up the smell of cats, dogs, wood smoke, and dead rats.

One OF mentioned that on the farm the farmhouse had its own aroma, and because most of the visitors were farmers themselves it was really not noticed. This OF said that they had to wear coveralls, and they were hung out in a little addition to the milk house. That helped the farmhouse from smelling like the barn.

Many of the farmers put their barn clothes in the woodshed although either way there were different odors to each home. One OF thought it was because there was always cooking going on over the wood stove.

Another OF said that, in some of the farms, the cooking wood stove was going winter and summer. This added its own pleasant smell.

One OF mentioned that he still misses the smell of the barn, the warmth of the kitchen, food in the oven, and homemade bread rising in the warming side of the woodstove.

One OF mentioned that, in the wintertime, there was no need for a humidifier because of clothes drying on racks around the stoves; even that added a pleasant perfume to the air in the home.

An OF pointed out that, along with missing old friends, and family members, he misses that period of time also. Another OF added “You know, I think we lived through the best of times,” and another OF added he thinks the best of times is yet to come, but it sure isn’t right now.

Free advice

There is something else that comes along with old age, and that is old bladders. Old bladders do not hold as much liquid as young bladders so calls to the restroom are more frequent.

To accommodate the OMOTM, some restaurants place all the tables in a long row with an opening in the center. This places half the group with their backs against the wall. A room like this is quite narrow but cozy.

However, if an OF is in the center of the table in the back and the old bladder has had enough, getting out to go to the restroom is a trick. If the OF knows he has a controllable bladder, he should sit with his back against the wall; if not, just like leaving the house to go on a long trip, we tell everyone they should first make a bathroom visit. The OFs should do the same thing. Remember, our medical advice is free.

Flying garbage

A weird topic came up (weirder than bladder control?) and that is garbage trucks picking up the garbage and then not closing the gate and spreading this rubbish back on the road. What an odd topic to rise to the surface, but many OFs shook their head in agreement.

What prompted this discussion this scribe does not know but he, too, sometimes has had papers and some debris coming from a garbage truck land on his property, but this does not happen too often. Then again this scribe does not live in a suburban area where it may be more of a problem.

Those OFs who made it through the snow and fog off the hill to the Country Café in Schoharie and were greeted by a good cup of hot coffee were: Rich LaGrange, Harold Guest, Mark Traver, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, Otis Lawyer, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Robie Osterman, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Mike Willsey, Rev. Jay Francis, (Winnie Chartier gracious chauffeur), and me.


Nov. 12, and it is Tuesday, and not much has happened, except the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. The weather was a little tough, but so are the OMOTM and they managed to be tougher as they made it to the restaurant.

Speaking about getting tougher, the OMOTM who cleanly shave are tougher than the OFs with beards. A weathered, cranky old face of an OF is tough and to shave it is a challenge.

Along with the leathered skin full of wrinkles (some of those wrinkles are bordering on actual crevices), the beard itself becomes tough as trees. Cutting these trees down, and getting them out of wrinkles and crevices is hard work, takes time, and in some cases, when done, it feels like these trees were taken down with a flamethrower.

The facial contortions an OF makes trying to work into these ravines is exercise for every face and neck muscle the OFs have, and even that is getting awkward.

Those with beards are wimps; all they have to do is wash their face with shampoo, and trim their beards up every now and then. Some guys and some OFs look good in a beard while others should go the clean-shaven route.

Licked clean

At the table Tuesday morning, some of the early birds already had their breakfast, and some of these meals looked better than others. There was a considerable amount of “I will have what that OG is having” bantered about.

Some of the meals were so concocted by the OF that it was hard to tell what was underneath what was on top — especially the creamed chipped beef. Was it toast, potatoes, biscuits, or mystery veggies? Whatever it was, it must have been good because those OFs who had a plate full of “whatever” liked it and licked the platter clean.

Great escape: Bees on the loose

One OF told a story about how he spent one day of the weekend, and to the rest of the OFs he had an adventure. The OF said he was spending a quiet morning at home when the phone rang and it was the sheriff.

Usually that means trouble but this time they were asking for his help at an accident. The OF said he would be glad to assist them. Then the phone rang again and it was the State Police and they asked the same question, “Would he help at an accident?”

What happened was an accident with a truckload of bees going from Canada to Georgia. Just past Cobleskill, heading south, there is a railroad bridge that is a little low and this trucker ran into the bridge knocking the top row of hives off the truck.

The hives were on pallets and stacked three high. Millions upon millions of groggy bees are now let loose.

So this OF and his son played the Lone Ranger and went to round up the bees. The OF said they spent the whole day there, gathering the bees and placing them back in the hives.

The OF also said they lost a least a million of the bees but due to the weather he does not think they are going to make it. The OF’s only problem, he said, was that the bees kept crawling up his pant leg and he got stung about five times, which was rare for him.

The OF said the owner of the bees was very appreciative of the OF’s action and asked the OF and his son how much would the charges be, but like most of the men in the OMOTM they replied there would be no charge.

It was just an accident and they were glad they could help.

Hometown Heroes

There was also talk about how nice the town of Knox’s tribute to the veterans was at the Knox Town Hall. It was apparently quite memorable.

The OF mentioned that one portion of the ceremony was how each veteran was introduced along with some mention of how they were connected to the Hilltowns and what they achieved in the military.

Winter predictions

It is noted that the following time-activated discussion (if this scribe’s memory is working) happens each year about this time. What kind of winter are we are going to have?

Over the years, it comes down to pessimists against optimists.

The pessimists claim it is going to be a tough winter with really cold weather and snow. In the pessimist corner, there were guys who said it is going to be open and freezing. (Interjection: If this weather in November, right now, is any indication, the pessimists are on top).

However, there are the optimists who say this is just a few days of anomalies that will pass and the winter is going to be above average in temperature, and average or maybe a little less in snowfall. We shall know soon enough who has to get the long underwear out.

Those OMOTM who were at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and will just have to wait until April to find out who is right were: George Washburn, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Mark Traver, Ken Parks, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Wally Guest, Rick LaGrange, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Mike Willsey, Rev. Jay Francis, John Dabrvlskas, Fred Crounse, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.


What would we do without Caesar? Because of him, we have the calendar, and with the calendar we have Tuesday, and on Tuesdays the Old Men of the Mountain gather at restaurants here and there. This past Tuesday, Nov. 5, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. And on this Tuesday the OFs mentioned how beautiful the sky was on the ride to the restaurant.

The OFs had a young guest at the breakfast on Tuesday morning so to include him in some of the conversations the OFs began talking about old games the OFs played outdoors when they were young. The OFs hit on two that the young lad knew, one was hide and seek, and the other was tag, but on some of the others, he had no clue; leap frog was one.

This scribe must mention the youngster was 10, and he did have a cell phone, so he was way ahead of some of the OFs on that one.

Some of the OFs did not want to be his age and go through all they had gone through to get to the age they are now. While others wanted to be that age just to see what was coming in the future and how different those OFs thought life would be 60 to 70 years from now.

Others thought we would be going to other planets and be trying to figure out how to colonize them. Two diametrically opposed thoughts on the same subject: Are humans going to blow the planet to smithereens or are the humans all going to come together on one goal, space — the final frontier?

This young lad may be on the front line to find out, and the technology in that phone may just be the beginning.

Old timers’ old time pieces

Then the OFs time-traveled back to wrist watches they wore in the ’30s, ’40s or ’50s. A couple OFs still have some of their old watches with names like Mickey Mouse and Roy Rogers.

Others said they had a watch picturing the Lone Ranger on his horse, Silver, and another said he remembered his sister had a watch with Cinderella on it. All of them had to be wound up to run but, as far as the OFs could remember, they all kept good time.

Back then, none remembered flipping them over to see who made them, but all of them were darn sure they were made in the USA.

Laundry challenges

For some reason, the OFs started talking about hot-water tanks and washers and dryers. Some of the OFs mentioned when they were younger (here we go again, traveling to the past), the OFs and their better halves did not mind stairs and quite often the laundry was placed in the cellar.

Whoop — that is a mistake. As we age, the OFs can attest to stairs being a problem.

The OFs spoke about bringing the washer and dryer upstairs and, to one OF, that was a real hassle. The OF said that, with living in a ranch house with everything on one floor, these kinds of problems don’t come up.

Another OF said he doesn’t have this problem. He wears the same thing for days and, when he is down to one pair of shorts, he said he throws everything in a couple of laundry bags and heads to the Laundromat. No problem.

This OF says it is cheaper than owning those two machines, paying for the electricity to run them, including the water, because on a well, the pump has to run also. All the OF said he needs is four bucks and he has it covered.

One OF challenged the other OF by asking what about the gas there and back, plus wear and tear on the car. The OFs just dropped it there.


In the remembering game and talking about laundry and the price of material, and appliances today compared to “back when” the OFs started talking about the economy.

It seems many of the OFs have not really kept up with the price of anything today. Young people today make as much in a month as the OFs did in a year and that is when the OFs retired. (That comment may be stretching it a bit.)

Minimum wage in 1998 was $4.25 an hour and in 2019 it is $11.80 an hour. However, the average hourly wage in 1998 was $9.53, and in 2019 it is $27.00 an hour. These figures are not totally correct but darn close.

One OF said they paid $7,500 dollars for their first home in 1953 and it was a nice place. His last pickup truck was about $48,000, nearly six times more than his first home.

To the OFs, there are no more five-dollar jeans, 19-cent gallons of gas, or 20-cent cups of coffee, or nickel candy bars. Those days are gone, because the one-dollar an hour days are gone too.

Heartbeats, heart throbs

Many of the OFs are on heart meds. So this is how a discussion Tuesday morning began with discussing meds but morphed into heartbeats.

Many of the OFs spend so much time in their doctors’ offices they could be given associated degrees in medicine. It was found that the heartbeats of the OFs can range from 45 beats to 110 beats per minute.

The OFs all claim for them this is normal. Should an attractive lady come into the restaurants when we are having our breakfasts, these heartbeat stats are, of course, flexible.

Well, all the normal heart-beating OFs who made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh were: Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Marty Herzog, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Roger Shafer, Otis Lawyer, Rich LaGrange, Jim Heiser, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt (guest JJ, who also cashed the OFs out), Harold Grippen. and me.


Knowing that the Old Men of the Mountain have a sense of duty, so if on early Tuesday mornings their priorities are in line, appointments for that time should be adjusted to a later date, or time. While scheduling meetings or appointments when asked, “What time is good for you?” the OMOTM should reply, “Any day but Tuesday.”

The Tuesday of Oct. 29, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow. Pop’s Place has trucker-size portions.

Some of the OFs can handle this; however, for the real antiques of the group, it may be a little much for their stomachs to adjust to. Once OFs get into their eighties, most eat less.

Where once the OF could eat out and have dessert too, now eating out means the OF looks at senior menus because he is not able to deal with all the food on the regular menu.

At the barbeques of the OFs youth (and by youth I mean any age under 70), the OFs could eat a couple of hamburgers, and three hot dogs, and think nothing of it. Now, at 80, it might be a hot dog, nursed through the whole evening.

The conversations at one end of the table Tuesday morning were, as usual, trucks, cars, motorcycles, bulldozers, and tractors.

However, when talking about cars, the OFs started talking about car hood ornaments and how interesting they were. Not only were cars adorned with these works of art but so were trucks.

The Mack “Bulldog” was a classic and some are in the realm of collectables now. When Alfred Fellows Masury, Mack’s chief engineer, carved the first bulldog hood ornament out of a bar of soap while recuperating from a surgery, Masury applied for, and received, a patent for his design in 1932, and the Bulldog ornament has adorned Mack trucks ever since.

Sadly, Masury was killed in the crash of United States Navy airship Akron in 1933, but his mascot lives on and is marking its 87th year. One OF wondered where the castings were for the “Bulldog” and if they were still around.

Many of these ornaments were finely made. The detail was exceptional.

Packard had a few, the swan with its wings outstretched, and the Greek god Mercury with wings. One of Pontiac’s ornaments was the Indian Chief with the feathers on his headband flowing back in the wind. Jaguar had a leaping Jaguar on top and in back of the grill appearing to leap into space ahead of the car.

Some hood ornaments even had a little light in them. The OFs said, “We don’t see these anymore. They are gone along with small windows in the front that swung out, and soon the spare tire is going to be a thing of the past.”

There are a few vehicles that still carry the tradition of the hood ornament; Rolls-Royce is one of them. The Spirit of Ecstasy is the bonnet (hood) ornament sculpture on Rolls-Royce cars.

It is in the form of a woman leaning forwards with her arms outstretched behind and above her. Billowing cloth runs from her arms to her back, resembling wings. The OFs didn’t know about many of the other classier cars. Some might still have hood ornaments.

One OF said he was told the demise of the spare tire is to cut down on weight. Apparently it used too much gas to haul the spare tire around.

To which another OF replied, “That is a lot of malarkey. The manufacturers are too cheap to put them in, let alone design a place to hold them.”

Early voting

Some of the OFs have taken advantage of early voting; these OFs say there are no crowds. The voter is able to vote when the voter has nothing else going on.

This allows the voter not to worry about Election Day in case an emergency comes up, or the weather turn nasty on Nov. 5. On the 5th, the OF doesn’t have to leave the house to go vote — the OF already has and now his voice has been heard.

One OF wondered how they keep the early votes a secret. If he were running for an office, the OF said he would want to know how he was doing, win or lose. So can’t he go and just look at how the vote is going? Wouldn’t that affect the rest of the voting right up until election and keep many home because they figure Joe Blow was either going to win or lose.

Online worries

The computer age has gone beyond many of the OMOTM, especially where people now order so much “online.” The OFs still don’t trust this.

Some do go online and then tell stories of how screwed up it can get and that makes the other OFs more leery of getting into this “new” technology, especially when ordering parts to fix one thing or another.

It does save a lot of driving around. One OF mentioned, even if the first order is wrong, you are able to send it back and get the right one and it isn’t necessary to leave the house.

One OF mentioned he likes to see what he is buying, touch it, and make sure there are no flaws. This OF says the merchandise may look rugged in a picture but when it finally comes into your possession it might be some cheap thing that he would never even consider owning.

Another OF said he ordered parts via the computer that were supposed to be delivered in two days. Two days came and no parts showed up, so the OF contacted the parts store again and they said they would be delivered in two days.

Two days came and went and no parts. They should have told him two weeks. He finally did receive the parts. So much for that. Maybe next time he would be better off if he told the store he would pay up in two days.

The Old Men of The Mountain who made their way through the fog to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow without bumping into anything were: John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, Marty Herzog, Wally Guest, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Paul Nelson, Rick LaGrange, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Mace Porter, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Jack Norray, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.


Tuesday, Oct. 22, The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Knox Country Café in the town of Knox.

This meeting was minus this scribe (fortunately or unfortunately). However, the scribe’s little book is full of notes that did not make the paper from previous meetings. It is just a matter of going back and catching up.

Some of the notes will never make the paper for one reason or another because they are libelous, raunchy, too political, too religious, and many are suspicious as to the truth.

One thing the Old Men of the Mountain are great at is storytelling and sometimes it is hard to discern which is truth and which is fiction. At the ages the OFs are, most of this is an honest contest between mind and body.

The mind thinks and says one thing, but the body says, “No way, monsieur; don’t even try it.” Once one OF came into a breakfast wearing a T-shirt that read, “If I wake up and nothing hurts I would think I was dead.” To the rest of the OFs this rang true.

TV not a draw

At some of the breakfasts, the OFs talk about the TV shows they watch. Some say the best channel on TV is the Cartoon Channel.

Many say they do not watch much TV, including the local basic channels. The news is hardly watched except for the weather. Some do watch the weather channel.

Sports are the big thing — football and baseball. Then come the DIY-type channels and for a few it is “Pickers,” “Pawn Stars,” and the Discovery Channel.

In essence, this is an eclectic group because this scribe is sure that at tables not heard from there are those who do watch the news, PBS, and some of the other channels that are politically bent one way or another to the particular OF’s way of thinking. I really don’t know if any OFs watch QVC.

When discussing this topic, one OF mentioned that the advertisers know old folks watch certain channels. On these channels, we take notice that most of the ads are geared to OFs like us.

Then one OF added. “Not me! On my channels, the ads are for cereal, candy, toys, and games, both whack-a-mole and video games. I am not going to get all worked up about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket. I’ll watch Bugs Bunny!”

Furniture: The right fit

One time, the OFs started talking about furniture and trying to find a comfortable chair. This may sound simple but, when the OFs were younger, comfortable furniture was not a problem.

These YFs would just fold their legs and flop. And many were so active they never even knew what a chair was; they even ate on the run.

Then, when the day was done, it was time to eat again, do homework, and go to bed. Types of chairs and sitting in a chair never entered their heads.

The most the younger OFs thought about chairs back then were not even chairs. They were tractor seats, car seats, truck seats, and wagon seats. Some of these were not designed for comfort, just there to keep the operator from having to stand up.

Now the OFs who get leg cramps and muscle aches realize types and kinds of chairs are very important. A couple of the OFs said that soft chairs are out and they are more comfortable in hard chairs.

One OF complained that all recliners are out for him because they are not long enough and, when extended, his feet hang over the end about two inches behind the ankle and that shuts off the circulation.

Most of the OFs said they need chairs with arms so they can push themselves up when they want to stand. Then there were the OFs who said they had their own chair at home where they spend a lot of time and were really comfortable.

One OF mentioned that for some reason he even felt “safe” in his chair and could take nice long naps while in that chair. The OF said, if he had trouble sleeping at night, he could get up and get in that chair and fall fast asleep.

One other OF mentioned that where he is the most comfortable is not in a chair but the front seat of the car. The OF said his vehicle’s seat is heated, and has side and back lumbar supports and tips way back. When the “ole lady” is at Kohl’s. he is in the car either reading a book, or taking a nap.


According to a few of the OFs who were cozily crammed into the Knox Country Café in Knox to partake of their first breakfast there, one OF reported on what he overheard from a different restaurant he was in recently. 

In the booth next to him in this restaurant, the story he heard suited him to a “T.” This stranger, who was not as old as the OF, was telling the lady and other gentleman with him that he “didn’t drink or smoke anymore, or do that other thing either. I am like a dead man walking.”

The OFs who could match that at the Knox Country Café were:  Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Miner Stevens, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Marty Herzog, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Joe Rack, Paul Nelson, Rick LaGrange, Harold Grippen, and not me.


This Tuesday’s breakfast was at a type of the old-fashioned railroad dining-car diners in Princetown, called the Chuck Wagon Diner on Route 20. The Chuck Wagon-style diner first appeared in the early 20th Century along with many of the Old Men of the Mountain who this Tuesday morning had breakfast at the Wagon.

The OMOTM noticed the full moon, and many had a reaction to it by prowling the halls at night. Some were up especially early and out looking at the moon.

As most of us age, like OFs, the tendency is to lose hair. On a full moon, some of the OFs do go out and hope for the werewolf effect to grow hair, but hair on the knuckles is not that attractive.

The OFs roaming the halls are looking for the bathroom, because, as you know, the full moon does have an effect on the tides. Seeing as the bladder is full of water the full moon has an effect on that gland also.

Mice seek Warm homes

Now is the time the pesky little field mice start looking for a place to stay for the winter. These critters start to check in at their apartments in the house, barn, shed, or garage.

The OFs began talking about keeping these critters from moving in. The OFs mentioned how small a hole they can get into.

This changed the conversation to what they can do and what they actually do once they get into other places than the house. Rumor has it that peppermint oil is helpful in keeping them out. Mice don’t like the odor, but humans find it quite acceptable.

The OFs mentioned cars, truck, tractors and other pieces of equipment that are prime targets for these rodents to hole up in. One OF who is repairing a dozer for another OF said he has the engine all done and it runs perfectly.

However, the dozer can’t go anywhere because mice have made a home in the dozer’s clutches. The OF doing the work told the other OF who owns the dozer that it is a ton of work to get these varmints out.

The pathway to the clutch encasement is a maze, and exceptionally small, yet the mice found a way to get into this clutch. One OF mentioned storing a car that is run only in the summertime in a barn; an OF can find mice anywhere, in the exhaust, in the engine, even inside the car.

The question was asked, how can the mice get in where even water can’t?

One OF said that his father — way back when — not only fed milk to the cats but he also had a saucer outside the door to the granary for the snakes. Most OFs said they didn’t know snakes drank milk; this OF said they did.

The OF said that his father kept the snakes happy because they kept all of the mice out of the granary because they would chase them right into their holes. The only problem was occasionally a cat would grab a snake.

Laundry duty

The OFs discussed basically the women’s role in housekeeping. The following sentence will cause some consternation among readers, but in many cases it is the truth.

The quandary is doing the laundry. The OFs have to admit there are a few OFs who do their own laundry but it is only a few.

Then conversation was on how the laundry was dried when the OFs were young. To this day, some of the OFs remember how the sheets felt, and their aroma when they were dried outdoors, even in the winter time.

A few OFs still have the laundry dried outside but most do not. Their clothes are dried in a dryer. J. Ross Moore, an American inventor from North Dakota developed designs for automatic clothes dryers during the early 20th Century. This scribe’s wife thinks Mr. Moore deserved a Nobel Prize for his efforts.

One OF said that he remembers the clothes being dried on racks around the stove in the wintertime. This OF said this served two purposes; not only did it dry the clothes but it added moisture to the air and was the early form of a humidifier.

To take care of the house when the OFs were young was work. The OFs’ moms did the laundry, took it outside, hung it up, and then brought it in and put it away. Some did the laundry in a tub with a plunger-like thing and lye soap.

“A lot of work but we were clean,” one OF said.

Another OF mentioned today all the household gadgetry we have. For instance, there are different kinds of washing machines and dryers, usually side by side. Wash the clothes in one and, when done, stand in one spot and throw them in the dryer. One OF said there is a secret to doing laundry that he could never figure out, and that is what goes with what.

The OF said his wife has clothes all sorted in piles and the OF has no idea what is in each pile, and his wife has a fit if he throws something on the wrong pile. To this OF, laundry day is still work, but he has clean clothes thanks to a lady.

The Old Men of the Mountain who were showered, most shaved, and in clean clothes gathered in clean vehicles, and then drove to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Rick LaGrange, Glenn Patterson, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Shafer, Duncan Bellinger, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Joe Rack, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, John Dabrvalskas, Harold Grippen, and me.