— Photo from John R. Williams

Working for fun: Old men re-roof a lean-to on Rossman hill and wonder why the young me aren’t helping. Among the crew members are Harold Guest, at left, and Steve Babbitt, working on the peak.

On the morning of Tuesday, July 12, (a nice day for a ride) the Old Men of the Mountain drove to the Home Front Café in Altamont.  Many deals and major decisions have been done over a meal, and so it is with the OMOTM.  Many deals and decisions were made at the Home Front Café Tuesday morning and more wheeling and dealing will done at the next restaurant on the list, and the one after that.

Some of the OFs are at it again.  This time the hikers volunteered to repair a roof, which was in dire need of repair, of a lean-to on the hiking trail on Rossman hill. (No connection with the OFs’ John Rossmann whose name appears regularly at the end of the OMOTM report.)

According to the OFs who worked on this project, the roof was so bad it had to be completely removed to nothing but the supporting timbers holding it up, so everything had to come off.  The board and shakes had been held on with old 3-inch nails.

The closest the OFs could get the material to the lean-to was about half a mile, then the material had to be hauled by hand the rest of the way, and, of course, it was uphill. Why is that when the OFs look around it is only OFs doing this type of work? Where are the young backs when they are needed?

One OF thought it is because the OFs hang around with OFs, and the YFs associate with YFs. This OF thought there are plenty of YFs doing volunteer work only they are just not in our circle, or traveling on our humanity wave. They seem to be at the crest of the wave, while we are in the trough.

Then another OF thought that they are in the workforce and need break time; however, to us retired OFs, every day is break time and this is fun. “For you maybe, but my back and knees don’t tell me this is fun,” was the retort from a second OF. “My fun is laying in the sun, or shade, whatever the case may be,” he grumbled.

The arrogance of public servants

The OFs discussed an age-old lament that does not only pertain to the OFs, but to all ages and sexes. This is the apparent arrogance of a few of the people who are public servants. One OF said they seem to forget who is their boss.

The consensus among the group seemed to be that we pay them and they forget they are supposed to be working for us. One OF said, “Really, it is a very small percentage of workers that bring this negative feeling on the rest.”

A second OF said that many don’t follow their own rules. Another said that it isn’t the rules, but this OF thought it is specific personalities of some who carry out the rules. The OFs thought many of these people don’t understand the rules of logic, or common sense.

One OF mentioned the Department of Motor Vehicles where the rules are the same but one person is pleasant and will work with you if there is a problem, while another will bite you head off as soon as you approach the window.

Another OF said he must get one of those people every time he goes there, because, before he puts the paperwork down, the clerk bellows, “You haven’t got the right paper work.” Then the clerk grabs another handful of nails so she can spit out the rust.

From substance to nonsense

One OF admitted that he has problems with rules himself. The OF said that he will go down one path and kept going deeper into the woods until he can’t see the end. Then the OF said common sense finally kicks in telling him he never should have started down that path in the first place.

“Man, we have all done this,” commented another OF.

The OFs followed this up somewhat by talking about college with some of the courses offered by some colleges being so obscure they were wondering what in the world are these subjects preparing the kids for. One OF offered that college does prepare you in some cases for your life’s work but in many cases all college does is prepare whoever to think for themselves and to reason things out.

An OF added that he thinks we are getting too many thinkers, and not enough doers, that is what he thinks.

“There you go thinking again, you fit right in the category of  thinkers,” was the observation.

“Well, aren’t we all thinkers?” asked the OF. “I think I need a new pair of shoes, I think I will go to bed now, I think I will go fishing tomorrow, I think I will chuck this wife for a new one.”

This OF maintains we are thinking all the time. (Boy, how subjects change from substance to nonsense in just a couple of sentences).  What it was like when the OFs were in school and what school is like today is like comparing apples with sawgrass — no connection between either one of them.

Those OFs smart enough to make it to the Home Front Café in Altamont and realize the restaurant was the light at the end of the path were: George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Herb Sawotka, Joe Ketzer, Bob Benac, Roger Fairchild, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Lou Schenck, Wayne Gaul, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Rich Donnelly, Joe Loubier, Henry Whipple, Marty Herzog, Richard Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

— Photo from John R. Williams

Mike Willsey recently celebrated his 90th birthday, making him the oldest member of the Old Men of the Mountain. His niece Connie (nee Wolford) Hoffman shares a smile with him and also a heritage — Mike Willsey’s wife is a Wolford.

The day after the Fourth of July, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown.

The Chuck Wagon is the furthest point some of the OMOTM travel to a restaurant, while West Winds in Preston Hollow is the furthest in the other direction. There is a lot of geography in between.

Mountains, valleys, and streams on the rides both ways have the OFs encountering much of the wildlife this area has to offer. Tuesday morning, the OFs were talking about all the critters running about on their way to the Chuck Wagon; it was like going to the zoo early in the morning when most of the animals are frisky.

One OF commented there are so many of them splattered all over the roads that the crows are having a field day; even a couple of turkey buzzards were spotted.

An OF pondered what it must be like to be a rabbit getting ready to dart across the field from one brush pile to another. The rabbit not only must scour the field for cats, coyotes, foxes, dogs, and even good-sized snakes, but he must scan the skies for eagles, or hawks, all just waiting for the rabbit to make his dash across the field hoping he doesn’t become some other critter’s dinner. Then the rabbit must watch for the most dangerous of all, the occasional rabbit hunter.  

Albert Einstein’s theory really comes into play here, “Things are what they are, only in relation to where they are.”

The rabbit in the woods could easily be the rabbit in a cage in little Suzie’s bedroom with a bow around its neck and perfume in its fur; the rabbit with the bow could easily be the rabbit in the woods; it just happens to be who is where.

A left-handed duck

This next conversation was not part of the trips to the restaurants and the wildlife encounters, and road kill, but it fit well with the comments on wildlife and it has to do with a left-handed duck.

One OF asked an innocuous question while a brief conversation on turkeys, birds, and ducks was in progress. “Did you ever see a left-handed duck?” the OF asked.

Well, no one had, and the main comment was, “I never looked or even cared if a duck was left-handed or not.”

The OF then proceeded to tell how he once saw a left-handed duck. It seems that on a large industrial pond some of the workers brought a few domesticated ducks and put them on the pond. These ducks attracted other wild ducks until eventually there were quite of few ducks on the pond because the workers fed them.

One day, the plant manager said to the OF, “Do you want to see a left-handed duck?” to which the OF replied, “Sure.”

The plant manager took a loaf of bread and spread it on the ground by the pond.  Almost all the ducks came out to get the bread. When they left the water, the ducks would spread their wings and shake a bit and then fold their wings back over their backs.

All the ducks would place their right wing over first and cover it up with their left wing except one duck. This duck put his left wing in first and covered it up with his right. Different than all the rest — ergo, the left-handed duck.

Too soon old,

Too late smart

Now to the OMOTM’s standard fare.  OFs and YFs, with some real-time jumping all in one sentence, and complete paragraphs. A good deal of this will be paraphrased.

The OFs discussed life changes that have been brought about just by living, and life will continue to change even as the OFs get older. Many of these changes the OFs have discussed off and on almost since the group started, but this conversation lumped most of them together.

When the YFs worked on the farm (maybe not even a farm, but just worked outdoors) they, at that time, were hatless and shirtless, did not wear sunglasses, or ear protection, or even sunblock. As a matter of fact, some used baby oil just to get a tan. Many of the OFs are paying for it now.

One OF mentioned how his dad was covered from head to toe out in the field. The OF asked him one day why he covered up like that and wasn’t he hot?  His father said he didn’t know why he wore so much clothing, but, since his own father did the same thing, he did it too.

We OFs were too brash and young to tie in any connection between sunburns and cancers. One OF said it might be there weren’t many skin cancers back in the day because people covered up.

Darn! We are too soon old, too late smart.

Another OG mentioned some of these skin-care products were not even invented yet and in our rebellious years we probably wouldn’t have used the protection anyway.

Well, the OFs are paying for it now with trips to the dermatologist to have all these basal cells, and minor skin cancers cut off, or dug out, or frozen. Hearing aids, glasses, and false teeth — much of which, if the OFs knew then what the OFs know now, the OFs wouldn’t need.

“Back then,” one OF said, “We would see, in the National Geographic, pictures of Mexicans in their large sombreros, and covered like our fathers from head to toe, or even American cowboys in the Midwest and Southwest with their large 10-gallon hats, bandanas, and covered from head to toe and the OFs never questioned why they were dressed like that.”

The OFs here missed the hint.

An OF said we never had periods of extended heat like the cowboys and the Mexicans had to deal with. We would get a day or two at a time, so why would we even bother — even today we are not subject to all that oppressive heat.

Then another OF said, “It is not the heat, it is the sun, dummy.”

Still a further OF chimed in that, when he goes to the lake and sees his grandkids swimming, he yells at his granddaughters to cover up. Their bathing suits are only four pieces of string.

“You old prude,” an OF said. “Remember when after haying we would go to Fox Creek and skinny dip?  Four strings is a lot compared to that!”

All the OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and showed up ready to go skinny dipping because none of them brought bathing suits were: (Oh no!  What a sight that would be, count this OF out) Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Roger Shafer, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Herb Sawotka, Joe Ketzer, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Rich Donnelly (along with his son also named Rich Donnelly), Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

JUNE 28

For some reason, Tuesdays are always busy. The OFs think it is because Mondays are such a drag it takes Tuesday to get in gear.

Tuesday, June 28, was no different. The troop of Old Men of the Mountain converged on the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg and (except for the counter and one booth) filled the place up. That is the way most restaurants like it — keep the place filled; also keep the customers filled and happy, then the place will be in business the next day and the day after that.

Some of the OFs traveled to the birthday celebration of an OF who is now our oldest member. Mike Willsey made it to 90, and puts many of those younger to shame.

Mike and a few others joined the three OFs who started this breakfast club many years ago.  It was so long ago that Mike was a YOF, and he has proceeded through the ranks to now become the senior OF.

What many of the OFs have seen and experienced through the aging process (i.e., since they were able to understand what was going on socially, politically, medically, and technologically) is mind boggling.

One of the “way back when” stories that was discussed on June 28 was — you guessed it — vehicles. Back when the OFs were YFs driving down the road and approaching a hill with a truck in front of them, they would try their best to get around the truck because it would slow down to a crawl going up the hill.

Today, the OFs say, they can be on Route 20 going west out of Sloansville and traveling at 55 miles per hour, and see a huge truck going up the hill that will eventually pass them. Things have changed, and the truck driver is not rowing his way up the hill by shifting; he is probably driving on cruise, along with an automatic transmission.

The same thing happens on the New York State Thruway heading west, going up hills, especially the hills by Little Falls. Now the Tesla cars have a warning sticker to tell the driver not to sleep while driving in their cars that drive themselves.

We have even left some of our debris on the moon and Mars, and a probe that has left our universe and is still working. It doesn’t seem that long ago that the OFs like Mike were pulling on the reins and hollering “Whoa!”

The OFs mentioned flying. Back when the OFs were YFs, it was an adventure, planned for weeks, and enough of an experience to be talked about for a year. Today, the OFs hop on a plane like they were on a bus, cuss about the TSA, and the trip is so routine that what happened at the TSA (when the OFs arrives at his destination) is the point of conversation.  The means of travel is coincidental.

Marveling at a long life

Also there was talk about how long some of the OFs have been retired. Many of the OFs have been retired quite some time.

We did not compute an average but the numbers of years is surprising when the OFs started saying them out loud.  Twenty years, 25 years, even 30 years and more — some of the OFs did not expect to reach the age they are now.

One OF said he expected to be shot by a jealous husband.

“Not me,” another OF said. “The demise would be the same, but the assailant would be a ticked-off wife.”

One more OF questioned, “How did we escape all this and make it this far?  It has to be the medications for me because it sure wasn’t my particularly clean living. My early life was not for Ivory soap; it was a Fels-Naptha kind of life.”

Vanishing junkyards

The OFs hang on to many items for long periods of time. However, to keep these old things working, the garages and parts stores no longer carry the parts required to do that.

To many OFs, the junkyard is the parts store of choice because they are the only places that will probably have an old part. These junkyards are also vanishing as a parts store because now they crush the cars or whatever useless items they take in, and then the old items are gone.

What things the OFs are trying to repair are just old, but they are not yet antiques. One OF mentioned (and we have used this before but redundancy fits here) we are of a generation where items had to last; money had a different value because there was less of it.

Today if something breaks, just take it to the dump — oops, transfer station — and go buy another one. The OFs have trouble accepting this attitude.

Some junkyards look like junkyards and the junkyard dog lurks just around the next rusty hulk of an old vehicle or refrigerator. Then again, some junkyards are like shopping at Macy’s. Items are stashed in order and parts that are generally sought after are removed, labeled, and stored.

One OF said that going to a “junkyard/junkyard,” fending off the dog, locating the vehicle that he is looking for and spending half a day removing the part, is like finding gold — that is the fun of it.

But then one more OF said, “After the OF has done all the work, the junk dealer thinks it is gold and charges an arm and a leg for a part that may only have short time of use left in it before it too breaks.”

Son of gun, it looks like planet Earth has already established a portion of its worldly culture on the moon and Mars — the junkyard. Anybody need a part for a Lunar Rover?

Those OFs who made it to the Duanesburg Diner, in Duanesburg (including one birthday OF at 90 years old and nowhere near ready for the junkyard) were: Pete Whitbeck, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Art Frament, Herb Sawotka, Bill Lichliter, Lou Schenck, Wayne Gaul, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Rich Donnelly, Joe Loubier, Richard Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On the June 21, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie and the whole group of OMOTM eventually filtered in.

This sounds like it is bad thing but it is not because the way the OFs show up in dribs and dabs gives the kitchen help and the waitress time to serve all the old goats without too much pressure. It is a good thing the OFs do not have to wait on each other at these breakfasts or there would be so much bellyaching it would soon wind up in a food fight.

At one end of the table, the conversation was so topical that it was ahead of its time. The OFs were talking about the history of Remington Arms in Ilion, New York. Then in the Albany Times Union isn’t there an article about the history of Remington Arms. Remington Arms is America’s oldest factory that still makes its original product — guns — and in the same place.

This was brought up because of a brief discussion on guns and gun control, along with many American products being copied and reproduced by foreign competitors then sold at lower prices.

In the gun-control section, this scribe reflected that he would not be able to purchase a gun because of his name. This scribe cannot order a plane ticket online, nor can he send money to his kids by wire.  The name is a name commonly used by those on the terrorist watch list therefore, though this scribe has argued with many and has in some cases gone to the top person in charge of such rules, it is useless.  This scribe can’t do many ordinary things because of his (common) name.

Politician’s lie

This brought up politicians, not politics. Many OFs think politicians start off with a lie. They say, and this scribe thinks this has been brought up before, “the American People” want this or that, or this or that should be done. That is not true.

According to the OFs, this should be paraphrased with many, some, more, or a few. The American People is all inclusive and in most cases that is not possible.

Walls walks on

Some have asked if the son of the OF who is doing the walk has a blog, or is on Facebook. This scribe checked with the walker’s dad and yes he does.

The blog is “The great and mighty nobody” and he is on Facebook with his name, “Thomas Walls.” It might be fun to keep up with his adventures.

Bucket list

Another OF is leaving in a short while to go out West and complete his tour on our National Parks. His trip points out that, anyone who has a bucket list should make plans to get ’er done before he becomes too old to get ’er done.

Some of the OFs wished they had done some adventurous things years ago, but now the OFs have lost the ability to walk very far, and some have a different kind of list, such as a list of doctors’ appointments. With this list the OF finds it is hard to work any time in to go too far away from where the OF is planted now.

Greatest generation is caught in the middle

One OF mentioned that, when we were young, there was not much guidance in saving, and planning for trips or taking cruises, and retirement for that matter was rarely discussed. Another OF said it wasn’t necessary when we were young because the means of travel wasn’t there.

As for retirement, we were expected to take over the farm; that was our parents’ retirement. After we took over the farm, then we would take care of the parents. The next generation would do the same thing for us.

One OF added, then along came World War II and everything changed. The greatest generation is caught in the middle.

Stuck

The OFs talked about some of the big rigs they have seen not stuck, but hung up.

One group of OFs headed home after the breakfast when they came upon a tractor trailer completely across Cotton Hill. The truck was hung up on the crown of the road, drive wheels off the ground, trailer wheels off the ground, and there it was trapped in the middle of nowhere.

The rig was right on top of the hill just where the hill starts going down into West Berne. The OFs had to turn around and take Treadlemire Road, a dirt road for the most part that was not fit for man nor beast, let alone a car, into Gallupville.

It was the wife’s car to boot because the OF’s car was in the garage.

Hikers’ helpers

Some of the OFs are at it again.  This time they re-roofed a lean-to on a hiking trail. These lean-tos are patterned after the lean-tos that can be seen if you have been to the Adirondack exhibit at the State Museum in Albany, only this particular lean-to is larger.

The volunteer spirit is in most everybody and much of it goes unknown only to those who unselfishly give of their time, money, and talents.     

Those OFs who still haven’t figured out retirement but made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie anyway were: Miner Stevens, Henry Witt, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Bill Bartholomew, Pete Whitbeck, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Dave Williams, Bill Williams, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Otis Lawyer, Don Wood, Art Frament, Herb Sawotka, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Jim Rissacher, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Bob Lassome, Joe Loubier, Ted Willsey, Rich Donnelly, Duncan Bellinger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jess Vadney, Harold Grippen, and me.

On a crisp June 14 morning, with temperatures (at some of the Old Men of the Mountain domiciles) in the middle to upper thirties and the winds a bit more than a stiff breeze — it was wind not a breeze — the OMOTM headed to the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie.

The OFs used the beginning of a gorgeous day to comment on living in the Northeast. The area on the globe where the OFs hang their hats has darn few days where the humidity is low, the sky is blue, the temperature is reasonable, and wind may be at 4 to 8 miles per hour.

That is what one OF said makes these few days so great — they are like playing golf.  The OF said he only gets two or three good shots in a round; the rest of his shots are all over the place.

He said it is the good ones that keep him coming back, trying to drop that tiny ball in a small cup that is hundreds of yards away in as few whacks as possible. It is the same thing with our weather; it is the few good days that keep us here, so the OFs put up with all the miserable days just for a day like Tuesday.

However, the miserable days of June are not unusual. In “100 years ago today” (as reported in this paper), there was a baseball game between the Altamont team and a team for Delmar. The Altamont team complained that their loss was due to nobody there in the stands at the fairgrounds, and the miserable cold weather.

The miserable weather kept the fans away, and hobbled the play in the field. That was on June 9, 1916. Times have not changed in regards to the weather, but the OFs bet the catcher’s mitt sure has changed.

Ketchup bottleneck

One OF, like many of the OFs, enjoys ketchup with his eggs, or homefries. This one OF was shaking a newly filled ketchup bottle, trying to get the ketchup to come out but nothing was happening, so the OF shook harder and faster.

A second OF had enough of that and got up and went over to the OF shaking the ketchup and said, “Here, let me show you how to get ketchup out of a full bottle,” and he took the ketchup from the OF.

With one whack of the ketchup bottle on his wrist, half the bottle of that red sauce plopped on the omelet.

“The secret,” the OF said, “is to stop the bottle from going forward.  The ketchup inside the bottle still has forward momentum and out it comes.”

This little report is from the week prior; this past Tuesday, the same two OFs sat at the same table, eyeball to eyeball. The one OF ordered the bacon-and-cheese omelet with homefries and the ketchup came with the meal, only this time it was in a squirt bottle so the OFs did not get to see how the other OF got the ketchup out of a bottle because this Tuesday all the OF had to do was squeeze. Problem solved.

Cross-country trek

One OF reported that his son is walking from Plymouth, Massachusetts to San Diego, California. This is quite an undertaking. The OF said his son is keeping a regular journal, and a photographic journal of his trip.

So far, the OF said, the hardest walk has been the hill up Route 30A from Route 20 in Sloansville, New York. He then took Route 162 to Canajoharie to do the walking path on the defunct railroad, and then went to the Erie Canal walk as he headed further west. The son reported to the OF that this climb out of Sloansville was more difficult than any he encountered in the Berkshires coming across Massachusetts.

The OF said his son is taking all his gear with him, and will be camping out. Some of the OFs wished they had guts enough to do this when they were younger; now it is completely out of the question. Funny how life has gotten in the way of filling many adventures in the OF’s bucket list.

Owning solar

Another OF, who is an attendee of this group but really not an OF “yet,” is one of the progressive people. His home has solar power. The OF said it is not the rented type of solar system — the OF owns it.

This OF also has a totally electric automobile. With all the tax incentives and rebates, the solar system did not really cost that much and, according to the OF’s calculations, in approximately three to four years, all his power, even running his electric car, will be free because the system will be paid off.

On the car issue, the OF does have two cars because on his electric car the range is not hundreds of miles, but it is quite adequate for around town, and short trips. For longer runs, like up to Lake George, this particular electric car the OF has will not make it. This OF is a great advertisement for solar power.

Many of the OFs feel they are too old to go the solar bit. However, one OF said that his house is going to go to his kids and he will probably be pushing up daisies before he had a solar system paid off.

Another OF said he is putting off getting solar power now because something better may come along in the not-too-distant future. This OF feels that magnetism might be the next advancement and that will be the end of fossil fuels, electric cars, and the whole ball of wax, so this OF is going to wait.

Those OFs that made it to the Country Café, on Main Street in Schoharie, in anything but a horse and buggy were: John Rossmann, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Whitbeck, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Bill Lichliter, Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Otis Lawyer, Jim Rissacher, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Wayne Gaul, Mace Porter, Carl Walls, Art Frament, Herb Sawotka, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Duncan Bellinger, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Rich Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Quite a group of Old Men of the Mountain shook out of bed on Tuesday, June 6. The thunder of this event almost matched the Richter scale measurement of the earthquake on June 6 in the Adirondacks. That quake measured 2.2; the OMOTM getting out of bed was only 1.8. Some of the quakes recorded in the Helderbergs are just the OFs tumbling out of bed to get to the breakfast.

This time of the year, many trees and plants are producing pollen so there will be more trees and plants. The OFs had a brief discussion on this yearly event. With the OFs, the Benadryl, Claritin, Visine, Flonase, saline solutions, and all kinds of sprays are flying off the shelves just so the OFs can breathe.

Some of the OFs complained that all their outdoor furniture, decks, and even their cars are yellow with the pollen of the pine trees. This stuff is so fine that even with the windows up, there are traces of that yellow powder inside their homes and cars.

One OF wondered if ants and bugs are bothered by this stuff. One would think that their wings would become coated with the pollen and those that breathe through their bodies would have a tough time.

Another OF said, “Pollen doesn’t seem to really have any effect on bugs — they fly up my nose along with the pollen so I get a double dose of a bug up my nose carrying the pollen.”

More of the OFs who have wintered in the South have made it back to where they belong and were renewing old friendships. That brought more talk on travel, which is a common topic with the OFs.

This time it was on how many cars were on the road the last few weeks, and the visible presence of troopers patrolling the roads in all states. One OF mentioned that Pennsylvania takes troop cars that are going out of service because of condition or a pre-planned mileage limit and park them in or around congested areas, or trouble spots and this ploy works. It slows people down because drivers do not know which one will be manned, or unmanned.

One OF from Long Island mentioned that New York tried this trick in Amherst, Long Island.  The state even placed a mannequin dressed like a trooper in the car. This did not last long because New York is different; it did not take long before the car was broken into and the mannequin was stolen. The OFs assumed that it is probably in some frat house at a college on Long Island.

One-ups-manship

Quite often, the OFs participate in the age-old verbal competition of “my dog is bigger/smaller than your dog,” or “my kid is smarter than your kid.”  This kind of verbal competition is worldwide.

On tuesday, the OFs (who are older, but not much wiser) perused the same comments about their lawn mowers!  For instance, ‘My lawn mower cost a ton of money,” to another OF saying he got a great lawn mower “for next to nothing”; the “can you top this” just grows.

However, without this form of rivalry, the OFs would not have much to talk about. And like any chit-chat conversation one topic has another OF’s memory jogged and the OF thinks of something this reminds him of, and this reminds another OF of something and he jumps in the conversation and eventually the original topic is long gone.

So it was on Tuesday morning until! bingo!  Here the OFs were starting to talk about cars again!  This time the chatter was about what they paid for a vehicle in the forties and what they cost now.

With the OFs, this discussion is not out of some book but firsthand knowledge, down to the penny. The OFs claimed they could afford a new car easier “back then” than they can now.

The OFs were wondering who has the money to purchase these new cars with their high price tags. No OFs really knew — all they knew was their own circumstances.

This discussion sent this scribe back to Google. From what was found out (and this is by no means a deep study), in the forties, between 48 to 50 percent of an OF’s average salary back then could buy a new car.  Today it takes 75 percent to 80 percent of an average salary to purchase a new car.

It is even worse when purchasing a home. The OFs are right.  Who has this money?  The OFs don’t and neither do the OFs have any friends who do.

Hospital rounds

Many of the OFs who wander into the breakfast on Tuesday morning are bionic, so that doctors and hospitals are another regular morning topic.

This morning, one of the OFs who had a knee replacement a couple of weeks ago was at the breakfast. This OF has been through this before and said that the operation is being done so much differently today than before he wonders if things will turn out OK.

Next to no pain, up and about in a short period of time, the OF was in the hospital barely long enough to see two shift changes of nurses and able to pick one to make a pass at. The OF said they sure kick you out in a hurry, but it seems to be working out fine right now.

Another OF said, “If you are sick, you do not want to be in the hospital — get out of that building as fast as you can because that is where the real germs hang out.”

The OFs who were let out of their cages today and all descended on Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh (those that their keepers were kind enough to let go) were: John Rossmann, Bill Bartholomew, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, Dave Williams, Henry Witt, Roger Shafer, Duncan Bellinger, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Mace Porter, Art Frament, Wayne Gaul, Ray Gaul, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, Don Woods, Pete Whitbeck,  Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Jim Rissacher, Carl Walls, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Jess Vadney, Harold Grippen, and me.

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