In last week’s column, the topic was basically what the OFs ate when they were young. A late note received from another of the OFs mentioned a dish his mother served and that was Hungarian goulash.

This is not an unusual meal; most of the OFs have had that dish, and mothers still make it today. The varieties of goulash are similar to the making of jumbles (cookies) — many ways to make the same thing. This dish is also offered in many restaurants so it is not as unusual as chocolate syrup and sugar on cereal or ground-up leftover popcorn for breakfast

However, some people have a knack for making goulash special and different as this OF says his mother used to make it. To him, it was special. Why? That is the unknown.

This leads into another late report for one OF who claimed his mother couldn’t cook at all. He says she had to get the cookbook out to boil water. Her cooking was awful; if it was close to edible, it was either overcooked, burned, or raw.

This OF, as he grew older (into his thirties), thought he began to understand why his mother’s cooking was so bad. It was because her mind was on other things and not cooking. For some reason, she could cook poached eggs, but when she did it was up to the OF to make his own toast.

Her toast would be either just warm bread, or burned so badly that by the time the OF was done scraping it, the toast would become so thin it was possible to see through it.

When the OF was old enough to communicate with his dad on an almost equal basis, he asked him about her cooking. The OF said his dad told him he married her because he loved her — her looks, her talents, plus she could work like a horse — not for her cooking.

Model-T running again

This scribe also received an email from another OMOTM that said he finally got his Model-T motor car running and he sent a video of himself running it around his backyard. It is amazing to see cars, trucks, planes, and boats 100 years old and still running. Some are running privately, and some in shows, but they are still chugging along.

The Model-T was made for 19 years and, according to the net, when they first came out, the autos sold for around $800. Ford found a way to lower costs and by 1927 was selling the model-T for $300.


At one time, the OFs were discussing faith, not religious faith but faith we have in each other and in things. For example, it takes faith to jump into an airplane that was built in the thirties, zip down the runway and take off.

At the time when the OFs were talking about this topic, they said we put a lot of faith in our vehicles each time we shut the door and turn the key. Our faith that each man (or robot) that built their car did their job (and did it right) is an assumption the OFs make when the door goes thump, the engine whirrs, and off the OFs go.


Using the word “engine” reminds this scribe what his father taught him about engines. This scribe’s father was well educated and an engineer who not only did civil engineering but also aeronautical engineering.

He told this scribe that an engine ran on fuel, and a motor ran on electricity. Calling an outboard engine an outboard motor is a misnomer, although everybody does it. A ⅜-inch electric drill has a motor; a weed whacker (that the OFs pull their hearts out to start) has an engine.

One time long ago, the OFs got on the beleaguered weathermen for the use of a term something like this, “Tomorrow rain or snow will over spread the area.” To “over spread” requires a constant predetermined maximum amount of rain or snow to already be there; otherwise the rain or snow is just going to spread over the area.

Right words, wrong order. To the OFs, the use of “over spread” indicates a deluge but the weather guys just might be indicating there may be a shower or two.

The other thing many of the OFs don’t understand is the term “breezy.” A breeze to the OFs is something that comes along on a hot day and a nice, soft, gentle wind comes up and the OFs go, “Ahhh” and wipe their brows.

But the weather guys say, “Tomorrow, it will be breezy” and the OFs find that tomorrow the wind will blow their hat off. This ain’t no breeze! This is a real blow!

Breeze? My foot. Tell it like it is, guys; say something like, “Tomorrow the winds are going to blow; hold on to your hat.” The OFs look forward to a breeze, not what those guys call a breeze.


Well, Father’s Day is coming up shortly and the OFs have noticed the difference between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day advertisements. Mother’s Day ads: Diamonds on sale for $3,000. Father’s Day ads: Men’s target cargo shorts on sale for $11. 

Happy Father’s Day to all.

This scribe and his wife were sitting, having breakfast, and started discussing what they had for breakfast when they were kids. This prompted the scribe to email the OFs to find out what they had for breakfast when they were kids and young adults. The replies came and included what they had for breakfast, and some just stated what they had then that they liked but not confined to breakfast.

Most of the OFs are in their eighties, or close to it, but they should be dead based on what they ate back in the thirties and early forties. That is more than eighty years ago.

To start, many mothers saved grease in a can on the back of the stove for cooking; the primary grease was bacon fat. One OF mentioned he can still smell buttermilk pancakes cooked on a grill covered with bacon grease. Then smother the pancakes with real butter and maple syrup, with two or three eggs on the side and bacon to boot.

Many of the OFs drank whole raw milk. One OF mentioned ground-up left-over popcorn for breakfast.

Another OF said they poured chocolate syrup on their cereal, with sugar on top of that. Still another said that quite often their main meal was breakfast and they had potatoes and bacon or ham, or fried Spam, or even fried bologna, eggs, whole milk, and real butter on toast.

The OF added, “Of course we had to load up before going out in the fields for the day, but many OFs loaded up the same way before going to school.”

Hamburger gravy on toast was another meal an OF said they were served, and this was good.

It was surprising how some of the OFs had the same thing for a snack. This snack was bread with butter and sugar on it, and the scribe remembers having black molasses on bread as a snack.

This scribe also remembers eating “from the land” as his mother used dandelion greens in salads. There were wild strawberries from the fields; raspberries grew rampant in the manure pile; currants behind the hop house, and blackcaps down by the little creek.

When strawberries were in season, there was just strawberry shortcake for supper. That was it! Strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream. The scribe thought he was alone in this, but he found out other OFs ate the same thing.

Then there are the Schoharie County Jumbles. There are two legends of how this cookie came about. One story is that it is an old recipe that dates back to the 1700s; the other is that the recipe was developed during the Great Depression because it used so few ingredients and is so darn good.

It is hard to find the jumbles outside of Schoharie County. Outside the county, no one seems to know what the OFs are talking about when talking cookies and the OFs mention jumbles.

Because three OFs mentioned these cookies, this scribe checked into the matter. This scribe’s mother did the same thing — made jumbles. Jumbles with milk! How good is that?

The scribe decided to check it out and in a recipe book, from Esperance (reprinted recipes for the village’s bicentennial in 2018) titled “Recipes and Remembrances.” A section called “Jumbles” was, in fact, just facts about Jumbles. Briefly, the cookie was brought over by the Europeans over 200 years ago, and since then there have many variations of the same cookie. So there.

All this talk about food brings to mind that the scribe’s wife grumbled about having to cook another meal without a restaurant break. The scribe told her that he would make dinner that evening.

The box of mac and cheese with frozen chicken nuggets was made for her and she was happy since she didn’t have to think about doing any cooking that night. She did complain the nuggets were a little hard, but I don't know why the scribe said. The bag said, “fully cooked, keep frozen.”


Flying Eagle

Well it is nice weather, which brings an OF major event — the launching of the Flying Eagle. This eagle has landed in the water. The ship has been taken out of dry dock and is now berthed at its summer dock on Thompson Lake Road.

The crew did not fare so well; they seem to be much thinner. Even the crow (he was the mascot) who is now the captain of the ship, had slim pickings.

Over the winter, the crew gathered and laid out its plans for pilfering and plundering for the summer campaign of 2020. Due to circumstances beyond the control of this raucous crew, and their new fearless leader, the pickings have become even more drastically slim.

Nobody seems to be out and about, and the crew can’t tell who is rich or poor because they all look alike. Everybody is wearing masks, and it would take all day to make a good plunder of a group because “plunderable groups” are standing so far apart to plunder them ain’t worth the time.

The captain bellowed, “The heck with this. Let’s go and pick on Jack Sparrow and call it a day.” This crow has been on too many campaigns with the OFs.


Well, another week of the COVID-19 virus running the country, and the Old Men of the Mountain are still holed up. The OMOTM are planning on holding a get-together where there is lots of space. This is about a month away.

Some of the OGs will attend but not a whole lot. This scribe has gotten some phone calls from those that will not go. They are not going based on almost the same reason — they are too old and that puts them in the category of “watch out for the virus.” So large gatherings are out for them.

Even for those who will be in attendance, it will be chancy. Social distancing can be attained — not a problem, but how do you eat a hamburger with a mask on?

Most of the OFs do realize the mask is to keep the wearer from blowing his germs (should they cough or sneeze) all over whoever is close by; basically, it is not there to keep someone else from spraying you — you need a full face shield for that.

This scribe noticed in the paper a group similar to the OMOTM, only not as large, who managed to do the same thing sans the food bit. They still get together at the home of one of the group’s members who has a large tarmac in front of his garage that was built for playing basketball when the kids were younger.

They space their lawn chairs about six to eight feet apart and all sit around and talk. About what, there is no clue. At least they were out, had on masks, and practiced social distancing — a good model for the OFs to practice.

No one wants to be responsible for passing this virus along, but neither do many of the OFs want to go nuts staring at the walls.

Mining notes inthe little black book

Now for checking the little black book for topics from the past not submitted to the paper. Ah, found one.

People who have read previous OMOTM reports know the major topics of discussion at the breakfast are old tractors, trucks, cars, and basically any old equipment. The banter for this note was based on an old Buick, not that particular vehicle, but its age.

What prompted this discussion was, as the OFs were leaving the Duanesburg Diner, a 1933 Buick went whizzing by on Route 20, heading west with regular license plates, not even historical plates. This car is 87 years old, and did not look brand new; it looked like someone’s regular car that they used every day.

The OFs started talking about the vehicles the OFs were brought up on. At that point in time, it was possible to fix these cars in your own garage. Parts came in parts.

For instance, if a wheel bearing broke, it was possible to purchase just the wheel bearing in order to fix the bearing. Now it requires getting a whole assembly.

This also holds true, in some cases, for changing a light bulb. Instead of just getting a new light bulb now it is necessary to get the whole assembly.

One OF brought up that on his new truck everything is computerized. If he didn’t have a computer, the OF said he couldn’t even start this truck even if he knew how.

However, the OFs love their new cars. One OF said can you vision a 2018 Honda CRV as a hot rod in 2058, like a 1929 or 1930 Model A coupe.

The OFs would like to be around in another 80 years to see if 2018 (at that time) Kias, or Hondas, or even Chevrolets are still in running condition, like Model T’s, and Model A’s are today.

This scribe has a note on the same page “Fishing, Fishermen” then underneath that is the comment, “Fish are smarter than the fishermen.” This scribe wishes he could remember that conversation from two years ago.

There is another note in the book that says “Pickers”; this one refers to the TV show of the same name — “American Pickers.” The OFs thought, if they could use an OF’s barn and bring all their junk to that barn then try to get on that show it would be a great way to get rid of all their junk, er —collections.

The OFs tried to figure out how that show operates. There has to be some communication with the people that run the show, with photographs and letters with items of interest. One OF said we would have to include a motorcycle or two, a few bicycles, a couple of old cars, and a bunch of signs, or this OF thought they wouldn’t show up.

“Yeah,” one OF said, “then they only buy a few things, and will leave us with a barn full of stuff.  Actually, we don’t care because now we will have the exposure and have one heck of a barn sale. Just from the interest developed by being on the show, I bet we could get rid of all our collected artifacts.” (Snicker.)

“Sounds good to me,” a couple of the OFs said, “but it is too much work. We are too old for a project like that, and who has an old car, or motorcycle for bait?”

Well, hopefully this quarantine business will come to an end pretty soon and the OMOTM will be able to get together once again and give us some more of their trials, tribulations and experiences, and outright fibs.

In the meantime, this scribe checked with a younger member of the family concerning home-schooling.  She said, “Home-schooling is not going well. Today, two students were suspended for fighting and one teacher was fired for drinking on the job.”


Like most people right about now, the Old Men of the Mountain are getting antsy about getting out and seeing people. Some of the OGs are getting tired of looking like the latest bank robber when going out.

Though most adhere to the protocols in effect with the mask and staying at least six feet from other people, the OFs are getting tired of it. Many have not left home unless it is really important but, again, as the weather has improved, this scribe has heard of a few OGs that are going out and about.

All this anxiety about trying not to get the virus is testing the OGs’ mettle; a few came up with a type of release valve. Many of the OGs miss the Tuesday morning breakfast and the people there, so they came up with a summer get-together at the home of one of the OFs who has the land, the amenities, and the time. (Time! That is something all the OFs have right now.)

There is another aspect of getting together, which is like a high school reunion, especially one where many are basically housebound. That is to see how much the OFs have changed when they can’t get to a barber shop, or they’ve tried cutting their own hair. One OF said he is at the breaking point of doing just that (and so is this scribe) because he said he is not the type to wear a man bun.

Plans are now in the works for having an old-fashioned church picnic of the potluck variety, only not really as elaborate. The OFs are simple people, so simple it will be. It was decided, seeing as how the better halves have been cooped up with these old goats, they will be invited too. (Isn’t that nice of the OFs?)

As mentioned in previous columns, the OFs are not too keen on all this virtual stuff, although the younger people (meaning most of our grandchildren) seem to get it. One OF suggested we have a Zoom breakfast.

Some of the OFs don’t even have a computer, or a tablet, or a smartphone. (To many of the OFs, the TV show Star Trek and the flip phone is as modern as they get.) The few OFs spoken to wonder how Zoom would work; what would happen to all the burps, f----, and off-handed remarks? Zoom could not handle that, and that is where a lot of the fun is. Nah, this is not for the OMOTM.

Now all the aforementioned picnic planning has to be put in motion, and maybe this scribe will actually have an up-to-date report on the recent activities of the OFs. This scribe hopes it does work out — it will be great to see some of these OGs.

Twilight Zone

With not much new news to tell, the scribe has found a story to relate from past meetings. This one goes back to July 2 of last year. Two OFs asked if anyone saw lights in the sky the night before, and the answer was “no.”

These two OFs said they saw strange lights in the northwestern sky. They said the lights were bright and did not move and they were not helicopters. Both OFs said they saw them for quite a long time. The lights just hung there and then all of a sudden they were gone.

“Planets,” a couple of OFs said,.“If they were UFOs, they would be like streaks of light not something that hung around for a long time.” These first OFs maintained they were UFOs of some kind because the light was too close and too bright to be planets.

One OF said, “There was nothing on the radio, or on TV, or in the papers about bright lights in the sky, so you guys must have hit the ’shine a little too hard if no one else saw lights.”

The OFs claiming to have seen the lights stopped talking and did not pursue the sighting anymore. This scribe thought at the time that it is hard to see something unusual and then tell about it, even to people in the area that should have witnessed it too, and then not be backed up by anyone else seeing it.  Maybe we are living in the Twilight Zone.

Anybody else feel like they’ve cooked dinner about 395 times this month?


The question of the day is the same question that is hollered by the kids from the back seat on any car trip over fifteen minutes, “ARE WE THERE YET?”

Are we there yet is a question the Old Men of the Mountain are asking, and they are answering this question themselves, “No we are not!”

The question (and answer) these days are about the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. The OFs seem to think it is going to be quite awhile, and to one OF that this scribe has spoken to, this virus is like dust and it blows all over the place.

Again, the few spoken to are chomping at the bit to just get out and about for a little while without all the worry, especially at the ages of these OMOTM.

It is not at all like World War II with rationing and books of rationing stamps. Those of the OFs who have been through that remember those stamps well and how little grumbling was done about them. At least the OFs don’t remember grumbling.

This is completely different. As one OF put it, “Screw up on this one and you are dead; screw up on your ration book and all you are out is five pounds of sugar.”

The OFs can’t wait to be “there.” “There,” in this case, means maybe a vaccine to handle this virus, or the virus just gives up and goes away — not “there” as dead.

The OFs spoken to talk about restaurants opening under the new guidelines, and the OFs ask: How are they going to fit the OFs into some, if not most, of the restaurants we go to?

Right now we are shoulder to shoulder, and hiney to hiney in them and, if we go six feet apart, we definitely have to eat in shifts. The early birds would eat in one shift, and the sleeper-inners in another.

One OF said, “Who the h--- is going to figure all that out?” But nobody is going to listen to him anyway. Maybe it can be done by days.

One OF offered a group to go Monday, one on Tuesday, and leftovers on Wednesday. That might work; at least the OFs would get out one day a week.

This scribe thinks that for kids and young people this may be, as they say, the new normal — all this virtual stuff, but for all of us OFs in our seventies and eighties these have been long years for habits to become really ingrained in our tough old hides, and it is even tougher to change at this point in our lives.

Even so, some of the OFs are keeping themselves very busy; one OF in particular said just the other day he is so busy he doesn’t know which way to turn.

That is a good problem, but then some OFs know of families and close friends who have been laid off, furloughed, or had hours cut back; no matter what it is called, these workers will eventually be out of work. The OFs think that in many cases this is going to be a permanent situation.

One OF said two things are going to happen to companies small or large: They are either going to reopen, or fold up. But for the company that has to use the “lay off” on key, talented personnel, an incentive is in order to keep them.

If not, the company may lose them because all those gone are not going to hang around until our friend, the “there,” comes. They will look for other jobs, and who knows. This is a sticky wicket any way it is looked at. And it is worldwide, which makes it stickier.

The other OF who is on the busy side is Jack Norray and his son. They are planning on having their Norray family annual chicken barbecue in front of the Knox Reformed Church on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This is going to be a different barbecue than those in the past because things are different than they were in the past. This will be a drive-through pickup according to Jack. It will be necessary to order your chicken dinner ahead of time. Well, that is different!

How are the OFs supposed to know about this, or the people who are out for a ride, and don’t want to make dinner? This scribe answered his own question by saying, “Hey, we will put this information in the column. After all, we are OFs of the highest order.”

So anyone will be able to go online to:, or by calling 518-872-2257. Just so there are no surprises, the price is 12 bucks for half a chicken, a baked potato, coleslaw, and a homemade roll with honey butter.

The scribe is hungry just typing this. Last week, I said I went to a new restaurant called “The Kitchen.” You must gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have no clue how this place is still in business.


This should be an interesting week for the Old Men of the Mountain. On May 3, 2003, the iconic rock ledge near Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, fondly known as the Old Man of the Mountain, crumbled and tumbled down to the base of the mountain. This rock face was used to promote New Hampshire from as early as 1850. This scribe and his wife, on one of their many trips to the coast of New England, made the journey to see this out cropping and it was impressive and very well defined.

When New Hampshire used the image of the Old Man of the Mountain as its choice to put on the ninth state quarter in the 50 State Quarters program in September 2000, one of our OMOTM, Mike Willsey, purchased enough of those quarters for all the OMOTM and then some.

Mike soldered or glued pins (used for jewelry) on the back of each quarter (the back being the side of the quarter that did not have the image of the Old Man of the Mountain on it) and gave one to each OF. Most of the OMOTM pinned Mike’s gift to their OMOTM caps and wore them proudly.

The Old Man of the Mountain is now just a pile of rubble at the base of the mountain. The Old Men of the Mountain hope they wind up more than that, but that pile of rubble has had quite a history, and even a short story written about it by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

This scribe, because he was reminiscing on the quarter handouts by Mike, brought on by the anniversary of the collapse of the Old Man of the Mountain 17 years ago in May, called a very good friend of his that was brought up in New Hampshire, just about at the base of this ledge formation.

This fellow said that even the Indians had legends of the outcrop. He also said that his brother worked for the state and with the crew that maintained this rock feature in the summertime. One of the problems they had was with the people themselves that came to view the profile.

To maintain the Old Man the workers had a path, which they made on a back road, to get to the top of the mountain in which they hauled themselves and equipment up to do the work. The visitors eventually found this path and would go up there and party and leave all their trash behind. It was not a park but the people made a mess and left it, and the state had to go and clean it almost daily.

The scribe’s friend also said that at the base of the mountain was a lake called Profile Lake, and people were allowed to fly fish in this lake, and the lake was stocked.

This is the same problem the OMOTM that work on the Long Path have with Vroman’s nose in Middleburgh. Vroman’s Nose is a prominent geological feature in the town of Fulton (near Middleburgh), in Schoharie County. People climb to the top and leave their rubbish.

The plateau on the top of Vroman’s Nose is kind of a park and when college is in session in Cobleskill the trash is substantial. Sometimes the benches even get thrown over the cliff, and there has been evidence of some pretty good-sized fires started on this highland. The OMOTM go up there and clean it up.

No worst food

The reminiscing continues on another subject. At one time, the OFs began a conversation of foods they did not like. This was a selective category with no real winner.

Beets were mentioned but quickly voted down by other OFs who like their beets, cooked or not, pickled or not, soaked in vinegar with onions or not, tossed in with cucumbers and onions or not. Cukes themselves were mentioned, but they too lost out; so did broccoli. One OF mentioned pineapple, but this OF was told that was a fruit and didn’t count.

Another OF said he didn’t like cheese sauces thrown on everything. “If I order string beans, I want string beans, not string beans covered in some awful tasting, rich cheese sauce dribbled all over the beans so there is no taste resembling string beans,” he said.

The OF continued, “As a matter of fact, when the dang cheese is dribbled on the beans it spreads on everything on the plate. The whole plate tastes like the sauce, so why order the food, just order the sauce!”

One OF brought up rutabagas and that was shot down also. Surprisingly, more than one OF had rutabagas and potatoes mixed together by their moms, and they all said they miss that dish. Slosh some real butter over and chow down, was the universal decision. One other OF said that he sprinkled brown sugar along with the butter and it was almost like dessert.

It is a good thing that people have different palates or eating would be quite boring. I need to practice social distancing from — the refrigerator. Half of us are going to come out of this quarantine as amazing cooks. The other half will come out with a drinking problem.


As usual, these are a few notes from the Old Men of the Mountain who email or who this scribe speaks to over the phone. From those spoken to, they are beyond bored. The lack of socializing is getting to all of them.

There is some “social distancing” but the freedom of going to anyplace at anytime is a freedom that is not allowed now. Even the routine of grocery shopping is now a planned event.

The OMOTM miss the weekly breakfast, they miss church and the events the churches hold, lodge gatherings and all their events, seniors lunches with bus trips and their other experiences. The OFs with their hobbies and outside interests that hold weekly or monthly meetings and again have planned events, like car clubs, antique clubs, vegetable and flower gardening clubs, and military associations are sorely missed. The list goes on and on.

Then there is just going out to eat, meeting friends at the restaurants, and being unable to do that now because most restaurants are closed. The OGs miss traveling to family and friends that may be just a couple of hundred miles away and seeing the grandkids, or just plain old socializing.

The OFs spoken to are tired of regular TV, but there is a resurgence of the old cartoons and to the OFs it is like seeing them for the first time. Bugs Bunny is the new superstar.

The OMOTM have a problem adjusting to, and don’t think they ever will, these “shows?” called virtual TV, and communications, and they can’t quite dig fan-less sports. One OF complained he is too old to fiddle with this; however, maybe it will become normal for the younger crowd.

This scribe has a narrow selection of OFs to base opinions on but when a call comes in from a different OF, that OF seems to reiterate what the others have said.

Nursing homes

The ones who call say they hope they have been nice enough to their kids because a common remark is to be nice to them since they are going to pick out your nursing home. The OFs say this is one place no one wants to be, and they ask how the virus knows to go where it is full of easy pickings.

If the nursing homes are using disinfectants to clean with and watching the food coming in and checking each employee, how is the virus getting through the defenses?

This scribe thinks this virus needs a unified worldwide three-pronged approach. One for a cure, two for a vaccine so we don’t get it, and three to find out where the heck it came from and destroy it.

If this virus comes from where this scribe’s wife says it comes from, destroying it will be kind of tough. She thinks it comes from extraterrestrial life, which the dictionary says is of or from outside the Earth or its atmosphere.


Back to the self-style quarantine type of living and how beauty salons, or barber shops still have to remain closed. As the OFs have mentioned before, their hair is really getting long and scraggly. If it gets much worse, one OF and this scribe began a scenario conversation on grooming.

The OF and this scribe do not have much hair on top but still enough to grow; the edges are over our ears, and the back is down our necks. Pretty soon the OFs will fit the characters of the Hatfields and the McCoys, or Li’l Abner, who are all like real OFs.

All the OFs will need to do is put on their bibs (OF-speak for their bib overalls), take the musket off the wall, go and sit in the chair on the porch with the dawg, and wait for them revenuers. That is about all we can do. The OFs can’t go down to the store and whittle — tain’t allowed no more.

Home brew

Speaking of revenuers, the scribe can remember way back when in the hills of Schoharie County (and a couple in the hills of Albany) there were stills cranking out home brew. A few may have been for profit but most just for kicks and giggles.

Traveling the short distance on Route 443 from Berne to Schoharie, it was common to see smoke from the stills drifting into the air. But then it wasn’t bibs and bandanas, it was tight jeans neatly folded at the shoe tops, with T-shirts and a pack of Camels or Pall Malls rolled up in the shirt sleeves, and duck-tail haircuts.

That was the dress for the still runners in the OFs’ younger days. On Saturday nights, they would grab their instruments and lightbulbs and head to Lasalle Park in Schoharie. There they would play, dance, sing, and check out who had the best ’shine. Oddly enough, the most drinking was store-bought beer.

At that time, the jail and the sheriff’s office were in back of the Parrott House, and Lasalle Park was further up the hill in back of the jail and sheriff’s office. When the weather was right, these places were within shouting distance of each other.

This scribe cannot remember a fight breaking out, but there were some pretty loud arguments, and most of those were about cars and women.

 In preparation for, and trying for, inspiration to write this column, this scribe was wondering why music was coming from his printer. Apparently the paper was jamming.


“The Two Rogers Solving the World’s Problems in Front of Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow” was painted by John R. Williams, and features Roger Shafer on the left, and Roger Chapman on the right. “Kim’s place is no longer in business and the OFs almost had a wake when we heard that news,” says Williams.

The week that this retroactive OMOTM report is being worked on has not been an April month. Those cooped up with quarantines have not had much good weather to even open the windows and listen to the birds and peepers, or let fresh air in.

This COVID-19 is as nasty as are most viruses that get going. It seems they have a natural instinct like most newborns. They search out host-to-host and, once one is gone, the virus hunts down another, just like it knows what it is doing.

The virus has a general behind it, conducting the battle in an attempt to take over. The president calling it a war is correct — that is just what it is. Right now, we are in a retreat mode until our new generals and their troops come up with something to stop its progression. We need a new weapon, or maybe an old one modified.

The OFs did mention how blessed those of us on the Hill are. None of them, this scribe included, can understand how a person under full quarantine, living in a 900-square foot apartment on the 14th floor, is handling the situation.

This scribe thinks the most effective weapon we have in this battle is prayer — prayer that the researchers find a way to defeat the virus soon.

This scribe still receives phone calls and messages to hear how the OFs are coping with the stay-safe, stay-at-home attack on the virus.

Swallows confound

One OF had a different problem than the others in a way, and sent an email to describe his problems with barn swallows.

This scribe thinks we have covered this before but the scribe can’t remember when it was. The writer of the email answered his own question and this scribe thinks the OFs came to the same conclusion.

It was how to control those darn barn swallows. The bird makes mud nests all over. This scribe has never seen a barn swallow nest in a tree; it always seems to be in some shed we have made and the nest is under the eves.

This scribe does not know about the other OFs but some kind of swallow takes over this scribe’s bluebird houses. These swallows, too, have the pointy wings and dart around snapping up bugs.

The writer also commented that after complaining about all the fertilizer they leave around (and they do) the bird must eat well because they are really prolific in their droppings. The OF said the bird does eat its share of bugs.

Beyond the to-do list

A couple of other OFs said they are catching up on so much they left undone because it was not critical at the time. Now the OFs are getting things done that were not even on the to-do list.

Some said that, when the weather is decent, they are spending their time clearing brush around the pond, or working on lawn mowers and equipment that were just stuck in the barn when they became problematic.

One OF mentioned he has four old cars that just pooped out so he purchased another used car to carry on. Now he is fussing with those things and, if this virus goes on much longer, he may have four working vehicles.

Another OF mentioned his hair, and also his wife’s hair. They both need to be taken care of; however, his wife offered to cut his hair. That offer was not accepted. As soon as the re-opening of businesses is announced, barber shops and beauty parlors are going to be inundated.

Old days

The OFs who were farmers continue to go back in time and then jump to now and think of major earth-shattering events to change the lifestyle of everyone on the planet and not all of the troubles were of a medical nature.

They are able to remember the Great Depression of the 1930s, the dust bowl, and World War I and World War II — problems like that.

Some of these OFs remember back when they were younger and they went with their dad to purchase a horse. Their father would teach the OF the way horse dealers would sometimes try to pull a fast one before the deal was concluded.

The father would go all over the horse and even look at the horse’s teeth. The last thing his dad would do would take his knee and punch the horse in the stomach.

Now, if the horse passed gas, the longer and louder the better, his father would say, “Good horse.” Then using the name the Old Men of the Mountain are so fondly called (OFs) he would tell his son: 

A farting horse is the horse to hire

For a farting horse will never tire.

Deal made.


What now? This scribe and his wife have been in the house for a few weeks; the column and my painting has kept me busy, and actually this scribe has bit off more than he can chew.

I’ve been reading backwards in the little black book, which is filled with notes from the OMOTM’s breakfasts, and now it is interesting to try to conjure up what in the world the OMOTM were talking about when this scribe made one-word notes. Also, there are some notes that are not for the paper.

It is almost like going through old photographs and finding pictures that bring up the question, “Who the heck is that and what are they doing in our photograph album?” The same with these notes.

From Nov. 26, there is a note “Witch Hazel,” which this scribe remembers some of. But the major problems that the OFs were talking about that day were hemorrhoids. This remedy is not used by many, and even the term “witch hazel” is not used often.

One OF told the other OF (who had the problem) he wouldn’t know if witch hazel would help but the OF said change of diet might. Hemorrhoids are a malady that is mighty uncomfortable and if witch hazel would help, then use it; however, as some other OFs mentioned, there are plenty of creams on the market that are made just for this problem.

One OF said his parents always had a bottle of witch hazel in the medicine chest.

Another note on the same page that this scribe is sure he did not use is “teeth duct tape.” This scribe has no idea what that means. The OFs must have talked about it, or it meant something that would tie into a conversation — but what?

A few pages past that is the word “cloning.” This scribe remembers that topic a little bit and that chatter was: Would the OFs want to be cloned?

“Not now,” one OF said. “Why would I want to be cloned at 80 years old? If I could be cloned without  aches and pains, plus know what I know now about life, and my mind went with it, why not?”

A certain OF said the other OF missed the conception of cloning. His thought was, “If you are cloned, the other you starts out as a baby, so you would have to live 160 years to see yourself at 80.”

 “To heck with it,” the first OF said. This scribe thinks the whole concept of cloning is missed by these old goats.

The scribe found a note on a page going back to May 1, 2019 that fits right in with the project at hand. This bit of information is the making of a note that is OK for the immediate future like the one-word note but probably not good enough for tomorrow.

Things like phone numbers without names or comments on why these notes were written down, it is just the number. Directions to some place, and again, that is all it is — directions. No mention of who, or what, or where it is, just directions that could be to someplace important, or nowhere at all.

A note to look something up and when it is found wondering why it was there to be looked up because now it has no meaning. Why was it done? Just like this scribe’s book — why was that note there?

A one-word note on Jan. 7, 2020 was the word “names.” Now this scribe does remember what that was about. As we age and get to be OFs, many of the OFs see a person that they have not seen in awhile. The OF knows who they are but can’t put a name with the face.

The name is on the “tip of the OF’s tongue” yet it won’t come out. The OFs say they are stumbling to say something and all they do is make noises that sound like words. One OF said he reminds himself that he is like his grandmother who would run through the whole litany of grandkids’ names until she hit on the right one.

Then the reverse is true. Someone will mention Uncle Charlie, and the OFs know the name but can’t come up with the likeness, and the rest of the OFs could sympathize with that dilemma too.

One OF commented that we all have that problem. This particular OF said it is because the older we get, the more rubbish we have in our brains. In order to get information out, what we want to say has to sift its way through all that extraneous junk to find its way out and that takes time.

This OF said, “Sometimes days.”

This scribe might find more notes to share with you next week. In the meantime, there is this breaking news: Wearing a mask inside your home is now highly recommended. Not so much to prevent COVID19 but to stop eating.


The Old Men of the Mountain did not meet again this week — only in thought.

When they do get together (after being cooped up for weeks), this scribe feels there won’t be many stories to tell, only how or if they went out for groceries, or how many trips they made to the bathroom, and how their snacks have increased in size and quantity.

A few who commented they used to watch very little TV, now seemed to be planted in front of it.

Also, a few of the few said how hard it is to find anything to watch on TV and they are tired of seeing nothing but the virus, and how many TV stations seem to be wallowing in how many are sick and how many died.

One OF said it is almost like keeping score in a ball game. 

Another OF has gotten so tired of this baloney he does not watch the news; he watches cartoons, and the old good sitcoms, or maybe a good old movie on TCM.

TV mores

Speaking about TV, this scribe found an article in the old notes that he hadn’t written about. This was an item about kids on TV.

The OFs remembered back when they were kids, 9 to 16 years old or thereabout, and the fact that they would never-ever sass back to their parents the way that kids are portrayed in the sitcoms of today. Even their language would not be tolerated.

The kids portrayed today show very little respect to their parents, and seem to be complete wiseguys/girls. One OF mentioned that the kids on TV are more on a par with their (TV) parents even when these kids seem to be very young.

To this OF, the TV show-parents seem to encourage this type of encounter. This OF said, in our day the kids did not seem to open up with the parents on their feelings — they went to other kids. Many were actually afraid of their parents.

This OF thought there were two ways to look at this change in today’s attitudes. This OF added that, with his kids today, and his grandkids who are not kids anymore, he really doesn’t know which way is best.

For instance, he feels that the portrayal on TV today might be a good thing because his grandkids, even when they were young, could carry on a conversation with adults and were not afraid of them. However, the lack of respect for adults, and the appalling language is very concerning to him.

COVID diet

A current event, which a few OFs mentioned, is on the self-quarantine that is recommended during this run of the COVID-19 virus. This virus has had some real side effects, other than a touch of boredom, and that is some are putting on weight.

No getting out and about — walking up and down the driveway doesn’t seem to be cutting the mustard. This scribe thinks the few are speaking for many of the OFs in their eighties and beyond.

Some of the readers and some of the OFs might have seen this recommended diet that may or may not help. Here goes:

— Breakfast: 1/2 grapefruit, 1 slice whole-wheat toast, 8 oz. of 2-percent milk;

— Lunch: 4 oz. lean broiled chicken breast, 1 cup steamed zucchini, 1 Oreo cookie, herbal tea;

— Mid-afternoon snack: Rest of the package of Oreos, I quart Rocky Road ice cream, 1 jar hot fudge;

— Dinner: 2 loaves of garlic bread, large pepperoni-and-mushroom pizza,1 large pitcher of Pepsi, 2 Milky Way candy bars — and, to finish it off, entire frozen cheesecake eaten directly from the freezer.

There, that should do it!

Now the scribe thinks he will go and get something to eat.