A 1939 Hupmobile

A 1939 Hupmobile could be fixed on the spot if it broke on the road, one of the Old Men of the Mountain fondly remembered. John R. Williams recalls his family’s earlier model was dark green with wooden spokes in the wheels. “That vehicle was a limousine; it had shades, with fringe and tassels that could be pulled down in the back, but the car had a sad ending,” he said.

The Old Men of the Mountain, at breakfast when they were together, talked many, many times about the vehicles they drove when they were younger. These vehicles are considered collectibles today, as are much of what the OFs used brand new when they were in their teens and twenties.

If they purchased these vehicles used, some of these items would be 100 years old today. Even the OF is now a collectible.

This vehicle memory came up in two conversations this week. One OF’s grandson purchased a new vehicle and the OF, of course, gave it the once-over with the required OF hmms, here and there.

The gist of the conversation was, when the OFs were young, many cars and tractors came with a repair manual and a set of tools, and the owner was expected to be able to repair the vehicle himself. Well, those days are long gone.

Today, the OF said, the new owner of a new car better take roadside assistance, and belong to AAA.

The OF said looking at the new car he couldn’t even find where to start the engine; everything seemed to be hidden. To him it looked like it was necessary to take half the car apart just to change the plugs — if the car even had any.

The other OF commented that, even with a newer car today, he is a little leery when starting out on a long trip to somewhere where he is not too familiar. In the old days (in the 1940s,’50s, or ’60s?) if the car should have problems he could jump out, figure out what is going on and probably fix it right there with the emergency repair box that he would have in the trunk.

This is not a fairy tale; it was done by the OF and this scribe, actually more than once. This scribe has a story about a broken spring but that will be for some other time.

Today, the number-one thing, the OF said, he would have to have is a cellphone and know how to use it, and that phone only works if there is reception in the area where the car happened to decide to give the OF problems.

These new vehicles are so full of artificial intelligence that, if the owner doesn’t treat them right, the car will wait for some godforsaken place in the middle of the night to say, screw you and quit.

One OG said, “My 1939 Hupmobile wouldn’t do that, but if it did, most of the time I could fix it right there with the parts and the tools I carried, and a flashlight. But today all I could do is look at the thing and scratch my head; heck, trying to fix a flat tire is a circus.”

The stories continued about how the OFs had problems with vehicles when we were younger; however,this scribe interjected, “The vehicles today seem to go many more miles than they used to, before there are problems.”

The scribe got from one OF a cryptic comment, which seemed to mean much more than these four little words: “Don’t count on it!”  We did not go into that because it seemed like deep water.

Checking with the online car guy it seems that remembering how things used to be also included a reminder of how many weekends we used to spend on Project Cars. Back then, clean fingernails, free weekends, intact knuckles, and financial stability were totally overrated.

Hilltown vaccine

One OF said it looks like the Hilltowns are finally getting some attention regarding the COVID shots. The sheriff’s department is taking care of Knox and Berne with vaccine PODs. The OF commented that “we” (OMOTM) have been saying there should be something like this for the old people that can’t get around. 

This scribe mentioned it must have been short notice and happened rather quickly because this OF knows he doesn’t live in a cave but he had not heard about it until the day of one taking place and the day before the other came to pass.

Either way, the scribe was glad to see it happen. The conversation continued on that both the OF and the scribe hopes this type of vaccine distribution is going on in the Adirondacks and some of the other sparsely populated counties.

Young county

This drifted into another thought — that New York State may be having an increase in age of the median population of the state; then again, maybe not. So this scribe decided to check out some statistics. Hello, Google.

In Albany County, the ages of the Old Men of the Mountain are rare. Albany County is a young county with the average age being 31.

In Hamilton County, the average age is 56; in Schoharie County, it is 45; in New York City (the five boroughs), it is 37, and going up — and the United States national average is 38; all this is as of 2019. That was a fun little project.

Breaking out?

One of the OFs spoken to said he had to go out, and took a chance (because he has not had his shot, at least at the date of the phone call). At the restaurant where he stopped to have a bite, he bumped into a couple other OMOTM having lunch there.

An interesting coincidence or are many of us getting antsy and wanting to venture out of our cages?

Condolences

The Old Men of the Mountain are sad to report that they have lost another OMOTM member. Bill Krause passed away on Feb. 28. The OMOTM offer their condolences and prayers for the family and friends of Bill.

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to also offer our condolences and prayers to the family and friends of another faithful Old Man of the Mountain, Jim Heiser, who passed away on March 6. Both of these men’s families have our deepest sympathies. 

Now that some of the Old Men of the Mountain are in the process of getting the COVID-19 shot, the group is getting anxious to get back together and tell stories back and forth, but the main thing is getting out of the house without worrying about catching anything that keeps the undertaker busy.

This scribe thinks this is not going to happen till the end of the year.

The discussion this week with the OGs that were spoken to, was on the weather. Not the weather outside the window right now, but the type of weather we have at this time of year and how it is conducive to some outdoor activities for the OMOTM — like ice fishing.

It has been cold enough for the ponds and lakes to be frozen long and hard enough so the ice is safe. It will take some time for the ice to thaw at the temperature it is now, but nice enough to be reasonably comfortable outdoors for long periods of time and not moving around much.

One OF said that he was planning to ice fish for smelt on Lake George the last day of February. Smelt are a small fish that are really good.

This OF said he has been jigging for smelt since he was a little kid. The OF said he has some rare smelt fishing tip-ups that were hand-whittled by an Indian guide when he was a youngster.

The OF added that was many years ago (being 70 to 75 years ago), back when the OF fished for smelt on Lake Champlain. This OF said that back then the Indian had a little shanty that they used made out of cardboard. Today, some of these shanties are like homes away from home; back then, not so much.

The Indian also taught this OMOTM how to jig with both hands and not get the lines tangled, especially when the smelt are running and they were catching the little fish right and left. “It takes a lot of the little buggers to make a good meal,” the OF said.

This scribe remembers taking his kids ice fishing at Basic Reservoir and the scribe never got a chance to get his hook wet. The scribe spent all his time digging holes and freezing, baiting hooks and freezing, setting tip-ups up and freezing — but the kids had a good time.

The other interesting tidbit the OF mentioned was that, as time went on, there were more and more people enjoying ice fishing and there were, at one time, 30 to 40 shanties on the lake. One entrepreneurial guy would come around and tow your shanty to a new place for a couple of bucks.

The scribe mentioned to the OF, “Just like the movie, ‘Grumpy Old Men,’ with Jack Lemon and Walter Mathieu.”

The OF replied, “Yeah just like that, except we never met anyone like Ann Margaret.”

The OF added that it is activities like this that shorten the winter quite a bit. Skiing and snowmobiles do the same thing.

 

Trapped inside

Another OF spoken to is trapped indoors for the most part. This OF does brave an occasional trip out but, like many of us as we age, some of the things we did as kids show up when we get older.

But this conversation has been held before and the summation is that, when the OFs were younger and knew what it was going to be like when they became older, they vowed they would do the same thing all over again.

As one OF said, he wasn’t “going to live in a bubble.”

This OF is paying now for what he did when he was young, that is, playing basketball and getting injured. Back when his injuries occurred, he said, there was not the medical technology around that there is today.

This OF thinks that, if the same thing occurred today, it would be handled differently and, when he got to the age he is now, he would not have the problems he is having.

We, (the OF and the scribe) thought this was true. In many cases, there have been numerous advancements in 70 years. Some of the medicines and procedures were not even thought of 70 years ago.

One OF mentioned, “What do you think it will be like a thousand years from now?”

There is a thinker for you.

 

Time-jumping

The following discussion was in progress when the OFs were still gathering at the breakfast table. The scribe is time-jumping here in one conversation.

One OF interjected, “You mean if we all don’t blow ourselves up first.”

Then another OF suggested medicine will just be a small part of it, and this OF thought we would be traveling through space like going to Aunt Bette’s today for Thanksgiving and medicine will be like Star Trek. Well that’s a thought.

Back to the phone conversation.

The scribe and the one on the phone think that today’s progress is exponential in many fields and, even as old as we are, we still have time to take advantage of much of it, and in our later years lifetime will be of better quality, once we are through this COVID craze.

Aside from Velcro, time is the most mysterious substance in the universe. You can’t see it or touch it, yet a plumber can charge you upwards of $75 per hour for it, without necessarily fixing anything, said Dave Barry.

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? — so said Dr. Seuss.

The OMOTM aren’t the only ones to have this discussion in their spare time.

This little report is a capitulation of current conversations, and a couple from way back, when a pair of the OMOTM had to give up farming. This happened to one because of sickness, and the other because the government (in a way) forced him into it.

The current conversation was of two completely wasted pieces of good farm land by developers. The haphazard destruction of good farmland is very short-sighted in the opinion of some of the OFs. One OF said that this planet is not getting any fewer people it is getting more, and by the day.

The current pandemic might give some people pause, but one OF said he would bet, if the population clock showed deaths and births, the births would still win out. This scribe could not argue or take the bet because this scribe has not seen such a graph, or clock, to compare the correlation between worldwide deaths and births, no matter what the cause of deaths were. The cause of births is well known.

According to this OF, all of the bodies on the planet, which are growing in number, are going to have to be fed, and, as far as he knows, what dirt is here, is here; we aren’t making any more dirt! Well maybe that which we can’t wash out of our ears.

Then again, the scribe chimed in that his own father, in the early forties, had a garden in the cellar of the house that grew vegetables and there was no dirt, just fertilizer and water. The OF jumped in with, “Ah chemicals, we use too many chemicals.”

These discussions can go on and on. This conversation could go on infinitum.

The OF mentioned developers will build a whole new mall right alongside of an existing mall that is failing and decaying. Why is that? Why not tear the old one down and rebuild a new one — leave the land alone.

Right around here, good land is being ruined all over the place. For instance, in Voorheesville, right by the golf course, beautiful farmland now features nothing but houses.

It seems solar farms are being developed everywhere and now the land cannot be used and it is all open ground. “Look at all the energy and material it takes to build one of these things,” the OF said, “and we will never get that back.”

This OF thinks there are waterfalls and tides that can produce energy. The OF would like to see graphs or reports that show how much energy is really produced and saved by these developments. He concluded that he would rather eat than blow his hair dry.

No mention was made of fossil fuels. Now we need to go on to the opposite position.

This scribe then remembered a conversation quite a while ago from one of the OMOTM who has since passed on. This OF had a series of strokes and had to give up farming.

He had the opportunity to sell some of his land, so he did, and a couple of houses were built on it. This OF was chastised by a certain do-gooder in public for selling his land and not keeping it.

This OF was a feisty little guy and stated that he retorted that it was his land, he paid taxes on it for years, he maintained it and worked it since a young man and didn’t need anyone to tell him what to do with it.

The OF told the other OFs that the ones complaining about him had nothing invested in his land. In fact, he didn’t even know them and, if he wanted to sell to someone who was going to build a skyscraper, it was nobody’s business but his and the one who wanted to purchase the land.

This scribe remembers how everyone jumped in on this conversation with a supporting comment that the government put the OG out of business and now all his land is going fallow. The OFs remarked that he might just as well sell the land to developers and let them build houses on it.

According to some of his supporters, the big shots don’t really care anyway; the big shots think peas come in a can and are already in the grocery store. Many city people have no idea how they got there in the first place.

It is easy to see why there is such a division among people on the same topic with a different approach to the same problem and coming up with different answers. These conversations are extremely condensed but the gist is there.

 

Closed in

One newer phone conversation was on the pandemic and the virtual approach to so much entertainment and outdoor activity, especially now that we are at the end of February and March is coming up with baseball, and NASCAR, and tons of outside events, parties, and picnics, and just plain old visiting.

The OFs are really beginning to feel closed in; one OF used the word claustrophobic — the OF said he felt like he was trapped. This OF said that, with his health and age, he is afraid to go anywhere.

The OFs comment was, “Why is God so mad at us?”

And so ends another week without me becoming unexpectedly rich.

The phone calls this week centered on youth and age, and with the Old Men of the Mountain this is a common thread, as it is with anyone over 50. Youth does not consider age because they don’t think they will get old, but age considers youth because they know they won’t get any younger.

The OMOTM consider they were young once so they know where they are coming from on this one. Young people  think anyone over 30 is old and basically in the way.

Old people consider gangs of young people dangerous and don’t have a clue what is going on. It seems when old people get together and talk about when they were young they remember how they thought their parents knew nothing and old people were in the way.

However, now the OFs know differently — they really know differently.

When the young were quite young they depended completely on older people to take care of them. Now that the quite young have grown quite old they depend on the younger people to take care of them.

The Old Men of the Mountain spoken to today were not in the best of shape and cannot get around like they used to. In fact, some of them getting around and doing what they used to do was literally out of the question.

Fortunately, these OFs all had families with brothers and sisters, and they all had kids, and the kids were raised in the family atmosphere. Not just moms and dads, but aunts, uncles, and cousins, and grandmas and grandpas.

Now that the OFs need help (some just because they are creaky OFs, and others because of medical conditions) the kids are pitching in. The kids are basically doing this because of a strong bond with the parents; this is called love.

The kids do not know where this type of love is applied or what a relief it is to the OFs. The OFs say to themselves, “I guess changing those diapers is paying off.”

This continuation of love quite often is not verbally expressed but is shown with tender touches, soft words, and running kids here and there and seeing that they are protected.

It is too late that the OFs did not realize this when they were young and had youngsters, but for the young who are going to venture into young adulthood and start having young ones of their own it is not too late.

So remember how you treat your young ones because one day you will be sitting at the table as an Old Man (or Woman) of the Mountain, and doing routine things won’t be that easy.

 

Snowed under

All the OMOTM thought this has been a pretty tough winter so far. The snow has been on the ground for some time.

One OF mentioned that his kids have constructed quite a hill for sledding at their place for their kids and kids around the area. The OF said his 2-year-old granddaughter has a great time sledding down this hill.

The OF said he thinks some of these sleds reach 60 to 70 miles per hour! That deserves maybe a five or six hmmmmmm.

And on her little plastic sled, the little tyke must really be whipping down the hill. Of course, she can’t haul the sled back up to go back down; someone has to carry her and the sled to the top so she can do it all over again.

The son has his generator running about 20 lights down the hill so the kids can sled at night, and they have a bonfire going at the bottom so they can warm themselves. The OF relating the story was having as much fun telling about the sledding as if he were able to do it himself.

This reminded this scribe of when he and his brothers were young and the farmer on Cole Hill did the same thing for skiing.

This farmer had a Farmall “H” tractor running a simple rope tow to take the skiers to the top of the hill, and we would ski down on long wooden skis with wool socks in felt-lined winter barn boots, and simple spring binders on the skis and down the hill we would go.

As the scribe and the OF remembered, the only color ski was brown. They had hot chocolate in a little hut at the bottom too.

 

Sign of spring?

As the scribe and the OF talked, the OF mentioned that the bluebirds were back. The OF said he had a whole bunch of them in his yard.

The scribe said he thought the bluebirds didn’t go anywhere, and the OF said they did and the males come back first, about three to four weeks ahead of the females.

This was news to the scribe but, if this is supposed to be a harbinger of spring, those birds are in for one heck of a surprise.

The scribe mentioned to the OF that robins returning didn’t mean much to him because, as long as the scribe has lived where he does now, he has robins year round.

In talking to the OFs they not only would like the COVID thing to be over, but now they want the winter to be over also.

Winter seems to be getting to the scribe’s wife also. She found a note in a recent magazine that addresses some of her problems with this scribe.

She is asking “prayers for my husband, who, very tragically, got me nothing for our anniversary when I specifically told him I wanted nothing for our anniversary.” She believes most women will understand this dilemma.

OK, this is complaint time by the few Old Men of the Mountain spoken to, plus just plain old folks that are not partakers of the past breakfasts, but could be because they are the age of this scribe, which puts them in the category of older than dirt, fire, and water.

The complaint is trying to either get on a list or make an appointment for the COVID vaccination shots. Many of the seniors in the Hilltowns and remote areas of Albany County find this futile or darn near impossible. 

A couple of the OFs mentioned one particular rule or protocol that makes no sense at all, and that is: Why can’t a husband and wife be vaccinated at the same time?

These OFs were told that the husband can make his appointment and then the wife must make hers, or the husband can make hers but it must be a separate appointment. Hmmm.

One OF explained that his may be on April 15 in Utica, and hers on April 20 in Plattsburgh. Duh, and who knows where and when the second shot will be. Come now, does this make any sense, or are the OFs hearing it wrong?

Next complaint. The OFs opined that calling the 4-4-7 number, as outlined by the county, is a waste of time. The OFs spoken to get the routine answer that all the personnel are busy so leave your name and number and someone will get back to you.

There must be no one there by the name “someone” because that “someone” never calls back. One OF commented that obviously no one works there — only a phone machine with the message that all the personnel are busy etc., etc.

One OF said he sees on TV people getting shots all over the place, and he wonders how in h--- do they do it and who do they know? Is there a secret number that is circulated by an elite few?

This scribe found that the people spoken to are well into the senior age, and most have underlying conditions, like heart trouble, cancer etc., and there they are hung out in limbo.

Most of the OMOTM are doing what they are supposed to be doing (that is most, not all). The OFs are staying home, limiting their outdoor activities to grocery shopping, and going to the doctor’s.

One OF suggested that is where he thinks vaccines should be sent — to their doctors because they know who their senior patients are, and what medical situations their seniors have. One OF even had it all planned out for them so the doctors would not have to worry about shelf-life of the vaccine.

This scribe keeps reporting that, within the Old Men of the Mountain, there is years-on knowledge in many fields, not being a doctor or having a medical degree, but the logistics of handling large groups of people in the most effective way.

This is enough of these complaints. When the number of people in the whole world is thrown into the mix, it makes the problems of the handful of people in Albany County, in the state of New York, in the United States of America, in the Northern Hemisphere, seem like a pimple on the butt of an elephant.

Doing without

This pandemic has shown that many people can do without a lot of things and that may be a good or bad thing. It takes stuff to make the world go around, stuff keeps people making stuff, and people buying stuff.

Even the OFs buy just stuff, but somebody had to make that stuff, whatever it is, or even if the OF needs it or not, but now the OFs are learning to live without stuff because (particularly older) people are afraid to go to the stores and shop, and that puts people out of work.

Virtual church

Even going to church in many cases is now different. In speaking to the Old Men of the Mountain, this scribe learned that many are going to church virtually. They are doing this via Zoom or YouTube.

This seems to work quite well for the church part but the OFs (just like the ones going to the breakfasts) are missing the human part, and to an OG they miss the personal contact. One OF mentioned missing the personal information of the families that are not on his list of close friends but in the OF’s church family.

That is very hard to do when they get together just once a week and stare at a glass screen to see what is going on.

Hope

At one point, one OF mentioned he was hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccinations but these shots don’t seem to be happening right now.

Another OF claims there is hope. He said dark is nothing; darkness cannot put out light for, as dim as it is, light can only go out by itself. So, as long as there is a glimmer of light, it will penetrate the darkness and right now there is light at the end of the tunnel — only it is a long tunnel. So say the OFs.

Even though it sounds like the OFs are growing exhausted from this situation they can’t control, this scribe recently received an email from an OF who sent a kitchen hint.

To wit: You know when you buy a bag of salad how it eventually gets all soggy and brown. Cookies don’t do that.

Phone calls this week wielded more topics than usual. One was a subject used many times but this one included the pandemic and being holed-up and not going anywhere.

By doing the holed-up, it meant the family vehicle sat idle for long periods of time. This OF never left the house only to go grocery shopping and the occasional doctors’ appointments, so basically, the car just sat, and so did the OF.

The OF said he noticed the brakes were acting funny and the car was not stopping like it should. The OF took the car to his dealer and they said the brakes were rusted and one was completely frozen.

The dealer asked, “How long has this car been sitting around?” and the OF replied, “It has not been driven much.”

The dealer said the OF needed a complete brake job. One brake was frozen so bad they had to “break” the brake to get it off. The OF said this really ticked him off because the rear brakes had only 9,000 miles on them.

The OF never had this type of problem before and did not believe it should have happened. The OF said he argued to no avail and it cost him a grand to get the job done.

The dealer suggested the OG run the car every couple of days just to keep it loose and this wouldn’t happen. The OF said again, “It has never happened before.”

The OF said he then asked a lot of questions. One question was, “What do you do about your own cars on the lot?”

Whether true or not the OF has no idea, but the dealer told him that they check each one before it leaves the lot and sometimes they do have to do a complete brake job before the customer receives the vehicle — hmmmm.

The OF came home and sputtered to his wife, “Remember when we used to go to Wards and for 25 bucks get a whole kit for doing two brakes, and the kit came with all the fixings. Then we would take it home, jack up the car in the driveway, and in an hour or so have repaired the brakes on two wheels. What has happened?”

 

The only game in town

In another phone call, Spectrum got raked over the coals. One OF complained that Spectrum brought the internet as far as their neighbor’s house and then stopped, and said it was too expensive to continue on down to them.

The OF and this scribe thought there was some kind of agreement with the state and Spectrum that Spectrum; in order for them to keep their contract with the state, they were supposed to supply internet to all the homes in rural areas.

Apparently that is not the case. Spectrum can do what it wants and the state does nothing about it.

Another OF also complained about those guys too. This OF said his bill jumped by $15.50 in one month. That is an 11-percent jump in one month. The OFs thought that was ridiculous.

Then the other OF said, “Well, they are the only game in town; what are we going to do?” The OF was right.

 

The sky’s not falling

Of course ever one who was talked to commented about the weather. Almost to an OG, they commented on how the weather people treated the oncoming cold like it was getting ready for the atom bomb — it was a larger problem than the virus. It was almost like we have never had cold temperatures and high winds.

One OF did say each station has a seasoned meteorologist that has been with the station for so long he is like a personal friend. These guys surely know the Northeast and what weather we have had (and can have) and it is normal to our section of the country.

One OF said they must be aiming the weather report on newcomers to our area of the country who are not familiar with how our weather can fluctuate from the tropics to the North Pole in just a few hours. Except for this scribe, many OFs went for their morning walks like usual.

One OF said, “So what if it is 6 degrees and the wind is blowing — been there, done that.”

This OF even said that one day it was 8 degrees below zero with high winds, and he took the manure out. Once on the field to be spread, he stood on the wheel of the manure spreader and warmed himself up over the heat of manure.

It is cold, and it will be cold again, but gee-whiz — the sky’s not falling.

 

Smells like home

It is funny (but then again not that funny) how some of the OFs spoken to are still burning wood. This scribe gave that up a few years ago.

For him, it is now too darn much work, but there is nothing like the farmhouse smell that a woodburning stove adds to the home. A wood fire crackling in the stove in the living room, cinnamon buns in the oven, coffee perking in the percolator, all these beautiful aromas mixing together makes a house smell great.

The new way is to have deodorizers to neutralize the house aromas to nothing, then burn candles to simulate the aroma of choice. Makes no sense to this scribe — except maybe for the cat box after the animal has urinated, which is a tough smell to get rid of.

 

I am a seenager

(Senior teenager)

Older people often go to another room to get something and when they get there, they stand there wondering what they came for. This is not a memory problem; it is nature’s way of making older people do more exercise.

Well, this is one ticked-off scribe, because of his own stupid lack of action. For the second time today, Jan. 23, the power was off on my TV and the computers for less than a second.

This time, the scribe was at the computer typing the column and had one page done when — click — off went the power, but not the lights. The scribe deduced it had to be Spectrum. Maybe it was the wind and a limb from a tree, who knows.

Needless to say, because the article was not saved, it is gone, and this scribe is starting page one all over again.

This scribe does have a mental rule to himself that he mutters to save promptly. However, now with the OMOTM column lost, this rule is going to be changed to “as soon as the scribe enters the title, etc.” Let’s see, what did I have written down when the power went off?

The scribe was avoiding writing about COVID as much as he could, but that seems to be what all the OMOTM wanted to talk about. This was not so much about the virus but about the confusion surrounding the vaccinations.

The OG that is getting over the bout with the virus the scribe understands he got the shot, at least that is the way the scribe understood it. However, none of the others have gotten theirs yet.

The OFs who did not have their shots are all on a list of one kind or another; one has his name listed in two counties. The OF explained how this happened (but the scribe still does not understand it). Even so, like a lot of us, so far his name is only just on a list.

This “listing” is beginning to mean not much to the OMOTM, and whether they are well into their nineties or mid-eighties with underlying situations does not seem to mean much to those in charge.

After hours of waiting on the phone (and hours is literal), someone takes the OF’s information, and the info is minimal, and then they tell the OF that he and his wife are on the list, and that is it. So far, all the OFs spoken to are told the same thing

They are out of vaccine. They will be notified by phone as soon as they receive more.

The OFs are now in limbo, waiting for the phone call. One OF described in much detail of two days and long hours on the phone each day before he was finally put on a list.

This OF does not want to go through the same thing to follow up on the questionable phone call of where he is supposed to be once he is advised the vaccine is in. The virtue of patience is being well tested among the OMOTM and many, many others.

One thing the OGs realize is they are on the bottom of the B-list and rightfully so. Those that are on the front lines dealing with this virus should get their shots first.

 

Nasty visitor

A couple of the OFs mentioned how tough a year 2020 had been for them, with or without the COVID-19 virus. One OF mentioned, along with some other problems, that he picked up our nasty visitor and at first did not know what it was because he had no fever or headache.

This OF did have the loss of taste, smell, and energy, and, with the food not having any taste, the OG didn’t eat. The OF said he got down to nothing but skin and bones, so the OG went to the doctor and was immediately put in the hospital.

At that time in the hospital, he said, there was only one other guy there with COVID. The hospital gave the OG three little pills and some goop to eat and watched him for a day and he started feeling better so they sent him home.

The OG says he feels pretty good now and his appetite is back but he still tires easily; the tiredness seems to be going away slowly. The OF said he just went back to the hospital for a check-up and there were six people there with the same problem. The OF thought this virus must be gaining ground.

 

Distribution advice

A couple of the OFs had an idea that they thought would work on this “who gets vaccinated next” list. The OFs still have the problem of location and the county should handle the logistics of this like they do with senior meals, and other senior functions.

The OFs feel the county has all the information it needs for sending out information on where, how, and when. The county also has information on all the seniors, at least those who are part of senior centers.

One OG said, “At least we have filled out enough information for the country on many other things. The county probably knows when we go to the bathroom, how much toilet paper we use and what kind.”

The scribe thinks (along with these OFs) that the whole distribution of the vaccine, and the vaccinations should have been turned over to five or six major hospitals throughout the state.

Let’s keep the state out of it where all the politicians are trying to make brownie points and screwing everything up in the process. Let private industry do it and it would probably be all over in a month.

Another OF thought that the planning is done by young people who think everyone has a set of wheels, can walk five miles, has a smartphone and knows how to use it. Tain’t so, Magee!

The group of people that this virus goes after does not fall in that group. This group needs help, and understanding; many don’t have either a smartphone, or a computer. Ollie, what a mess you’ve got us into now!

 

Let us joke

Humor is an essential coping tool for surviving tough times. Ran out of toilet paper and started using lettuce leaves. Today was just the tip of the iceberg, tomorrow romaines to be seen.

The scribe has mentioned this many times because it is true: This is the Old Men of the Mountain because most of the group is old — that is, if you call those in their eighties and nineties old. The OFs in this group don’t want to be called that, but let’s face it, those are old numbers.

The OF’s minds may think they can still do things they did in their sixties but their bodies say, “Not today, fellas; you are old.”

The points that point this up are not the quantity of grandkids the OF has, but the great-grandkids. In the discussions on the phone calls this week, the grandkids kept coming up, and your own kids are now retired, and have been for sometime.

The OFs remember when they retired they considered it a major milestone, like when they were married. Now they can talk to their kids on their retirement, and they do. Talk about equals, yet most of the OFs still call them their kids.

Last week (or maybe the week before) the age was 90; this week the age is 93 of one spoken to. Having minds and desires sharp as tacks and bodies that won’t let the OF fulfill those thoughts is oftentimes frustrating.

Getting dressed, which at one time was not even thought about, the OF would be carrying on a conversation with a brother or buddy and all of sudden, and in short order, the OF was tying his shoes without even knowing he had just showered, shaved, and gotten dressed with only a few minutes gone by on the clock. Well, that has sure changed.

The first part has to be thought out; the bathroom has to be 80-degrees plus, the water hot with everything in order. Then there is putting on the clothes; a lot of that procedure has to be sitting down because the OFs can’t stand on one leg anymore to get the other foot through their shorts.

Those of us who wear compression socks (and these socks work) need help getting them on, but at least no help is required to get them off. The OFs discussed an ad on TV for compression socks that go on easy. It doesn’t look that easy to us OFs.

 

A love-hate relationship

Some of the OFs have homes in Florida, North and South Carolina, Arizona, and Texas. Several of these OFs report how much lower their taxes are in these states than their home in New York, and not by just a few bucks.

These OFs pay taxes in both places and, though they complain about New York, these OF like the change of weather, have family in New York, and like it here for many other reasons. The scribe thinks the older we get the more family means to us. New York does have a lot to offer even though it is expensive to live here.

Quite often, the OMOTM discussed the trials and tribulations of New York but for some reason do hang on. The attraction has many OFs somewhat confused. They have the means to leave but don’t.

The OFs will just grumble along with most everyone else. One OF said, as he gets older it becomes cheaper for him to live and, like the OF on the phone who has family taking care of him, that is a big help.

Most of the time it comes down to family, and a little side note: The Helderbergs are noted for how long people live here up on this mountain.

 

Saving money

The older we get, and when we have our health, it becomes cheaper to live. That is not true if the OF winds up in a nursing home.

It takes a lot of planning to get into your late eighties and nineties but the car sits in the garage, so there is less money on gas. The older we get the less we eat, and eating out at fancy restaurants is not required because the old gut can’t hold that much, or all the fancy creams and spices don’t seem to agree with us, so that is a waste of money.

Shoes last for years, and we seem to be in the same type of clothes day after day if the OF even bothers to get dressed. All this saves money.

As was said in the beginning, the mind says to the OF, we are going to do this or that, and we don’t do this or that. It might be we just run out of time because after the OF gets dressed there isn’t any time left in the day, and the OF just is worn out and not ready for any challenges.

 

Worries

The few phone calls made confirm the OFs are worried about two things.

Number one is how and when they are going to get their vaccination shots. To an OF they knew this confusion was how it was going to wind up anyway. No matter who was in charge, the numbers are too big for things to run smoothly.

The second item the OFs are worried about is the inauguration, which will be over when this Enterprise is on the streets, but the OFs are still concerned.

This scribe visited his old friend Maxine (who lives on the internet) for some words of wisdom concerning the aging process.

Maxine said, “Getting older is like visiting an all-you-can-eat buffet. What should be hot, is cold; what should be firm is limp; and the buns are bigger than anything else on the menu.”

It is obvious this is the first column of 2021 so, as always, time marches on. With the march of time come many changes and new experiences; none of us really know what they will be, and neither do the Old Men of the Mountain.

Every OMOTM spoken to misses the Tuesday morning gatherings and can’t wait for this virus thing to be over. Sometime (hopefully sooner rather than later) it will be over, and that way we can get ready for the next disaster and that one might be so the group will be able to get together again sans the worries of catching something that may eventually cause the OF’s demise, maybe just warts.

Time marching on brought up two conversations. One was that, during a phone call, the chime of a clock signaling the time sounded and the OF on the other end of the phone heard it. The clock played a little tune and then sounded the time with chimes.

The OF must have been paying little attention to the words of the conversation because he questioned the correctness of the clock’s chimes. After all, it was definitely 10 a.m. but the OF on the other end of the phone distinctly heard 11 ding-dongs.

The OF commented to this scribe that the clock had the wrong time because he heard 11 ding-dongs and the OF knew it was 10 a.m. This scribe said the OF was correct on both counts. It was 10 a.m. and the OF did hear 11 ding-dongs.

While the OF was resetting the clock after changing the batteries, he held the button down too long and went past the correct time by one ding-dong and it was a real pain in the butt to go back and change the time. Now everybody in the house when hearing these chimes subtracts the number by one and the clock is right on the money for telling the time with the ding-dongs.

This brought up another story for the OF about a cuckoo clock. The cuckoo clock was given to his in-laws by this OF way back when. The in-laws hung the clock on the wall in the living room where, when properly wound, it performed its cuckcooing duties right on time.

One time, when the OF’s brother-in-law was quite little, he became quite ill. This illness caused the little one to become very fussy and the only time he really stopped was when he was able to get to sleep, but for some reason the sleep never lasted very long.

The reason for this happening, the father-in-law deduced, was because of that infernal cuckoo clock. Every time it cuckooed the little brother-in-law would wake up and start hollering. The father-in-law at times had a short fuse, and at other times was as calm as could be with all cane breaking around him. 

This was not one of those times. The clock came off the wall and was hurled against the other wall, and smashed. That ended the little cuckoo’s role of announcing time to the world. It cuckooed no more, and the young brother-in-law found longer times of restful sleep. 

This scribe found out what happened when he went to gather up the pieces of the broken cuckoo clock, put them in a brown paper bag (no plastic in those days) and brought it home.

With some string, rubber bands, and carpenter’s glue, the decorative case was back together, but the little bird came out very limp, and when he finished announcing the time his little head was looking at the floor, then it would spring back and retreat behind his crooked little door until the next time.

This scribe thinks that clock is still around some place waiting to cuckoo once more.

 

Life saver

Another thing about time and the phone calls. When speaking to one of the OFs the OF let the scribe know that 2021 put him one year closer to 100 years old.

Except for driving, the OF is as alert as ever and a good conversationalist. Just to remember that fact is interesting in itself. This OF saved the life of this scribe way back when we were a lot younger. This was in the middle forties and the scribe was about 12 years old or so.

We were working filling a silo with the corn being pulled automatically from the wagon. It was getting close to the end of this load and this scribe had a pitchfork and was raking the tailings onto the table that carried the corn to the chopper.

Unexpectedly his sweatshirt became caught in the chain and was pulling him onto the table to the chopper. This scribe could not pull back hard enough nor could this scribe reach anything to shut it down. Just then, the OF that is close to 100 came around from the side of the wagon and saw the situation.

This OF grabbed the scribe, pulled him back, and shut down the equipment seconds before the scribe was on his way to the chopper. Ah, the fun of farming.

 

Good kisser

Soon after the original three OFs that started this group, the OF approaching 100 and this scribe joined the three of them for breakfast and the OMOTM was underway.

As this phone conversation was ending, the OF told the scribe, “Give your wife a kiss from me.”

Locating the wife in her most un-favorite spot near the laundry room this scribe complied with that request. When the startled wife asked why she was the recipient of the kiss, the scribe related the phone call, to which she replied, “Wow, Mike is sure a good kisser.”

You may not know this about me, but years ago I was diagnosed with a sleep disorder and was prescribed sleep equipment. Sound familiar? In talking to a few of the Old Men of the Mountain, I learned a good night’s sleep is very important as to how you are going to feel the next day.

As the OFs got (and are getting) older, a good night’s sleep is hard to find. (Aches and pains, dreams, night sweats, seem to keep us awake).

The topic of sleep not only came up in a couple of phone calls, but this time it was on naps and the night’s sleep put together. Naps, when the OFs were younger, were something taken when on vacation, and a nap would be snuck in here and there.

As the YFs are now OFs, naps are part of the required daily regime. The scribe has notes on sleep in his little notebook so the OFs must have spoken about this when they were still meeting together.

Sleep must be important or it would not be brought up among the group so often. The term the OFs are looking for is a “good” nap in the afternoon, and as the scribe has written before, a “good” pre-sleep in the evening, and then a restful night’s sleep. That would be great according to the OFs, but unfortunately, does not happen that often.

In the Bible, Acts 2-17 says basically, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God …. your old men shall dream, dreams.” Well, the last days must have started long ago, because old men have been dreaming dreams for quite a while.

About 1800 B.C., Joseph interpreted Egypt’s Pharaoh Necho’s II bad dreams, so that makes the last days coming in from at least 3,800 years, and way before that.

The OFs of 2020 have some whoppers they could lay on you. Dreams go way back to Abraham, and what about dreams of the season like we are in right now with another Joseph, the step-dad to Jesus, and the dreams the Wise Men had that sent them home another way so they wouldn’t have to mess with Herod? All important dreams to the Christmas season.

Some of the OFs claim at times they are afraid to go to sleep because their dreams are so bad. One OF decided to check with his doctor because bad dreams could be caused by a medication the OF was taking.

The scribe, on this conversation way back when, said he wondered what dogs and cats dream, or even what the Neanderthal’s dreamt (those must have been some whoppers) or what do lions, tigers, and bears, Oh my, dream? Elephants, whales, and snakes must have some screwy dreams.

Sleeping was the topic of the day and sleeping seems to be important to the OFs. However, it’s not only the OFs; sleeping is important to all of us. One OF said he was checked for sleep apnea and couldn’t take it since he had to be hooked up to equipment that measures your heart, lung, and brain activity plus blood-oxygen levels, etc.

The OF said he took all that “junk” off and told them he was going home and did. The OF never finished the test.

This scribe was tested for sleep apnea with all the attachments, but the scribe was shown how to put them on and did the test at home. It wasn’t too bad, but it was necessary to pay attention and follow the instructions and do it right for the test to have any value.

The OFs said that having arthritis has quite an effect on getting to sleep, and staying asleep. One OF mentioned this must be a common problem because of all the sleep aids out there. Not only nightmares give him a problem but so does pain.

Again, we hear the adage, “Ya gotta be tough to get old.”

An OG added to that: “When I was young, I never saw it coming” because his parents never complained — they just put up with it. “Now I recognize, to some extent, this situation, also I only complain to you guys because you understand.” What a therapy group this group is.

 

Out with 2020

In phone calls, the year 2020 comes up most of the time and the OFs will be glad to see this year go. The OFs spoken to will be glad to see 2021 come in, and hope it is different than 2020.

One OF mentioned that, with the advent of vaccines, he thinks, once they get spread around, 2021 will be different in many ways.

This OF mentioned his kids working from home and if that becomes normal they will designate a room just for that, and use this room as a tax deduction. (“Hopefully,” the OF added to the sentence, “because the government will find a way to eliminate that perceived benefit” — of that the OF is sure).

The OF said his kids are used to the world changing every week or so, but the OF can’t get used to it. Right up to a few years ago, the OF said it took quite a while for changes to occur and he was able to see them coming and adjust and he really didn’t know exactly when it happened but he was ready for it.

Now, the OF said, he goes to bed at 9 and wakes up at 6 the next morning and everything has changed. The OF said, “I am there at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee, scratching my head and muttering what the h--- just happened?”

What did?

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