On Tuesday, March 13, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in the heart of Middleburgh.

Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on which side the OFs were on), this scribe was not there. This scribe was not feeling too well and, not wanting to be embarrassed, decided to stay home.

This gave the scribe a chance to review notes from past meetings and use those for the basis of this report. They will not be current events but will be subjects discussed at the breakfast. The current event will be an observation of the scribe: Enough with this snow and mid-winter temperatures!

This scribe supposes that, as the OFs talk about bus trips, many senior groups take advantage of these excursions. Listening to the OFs talk, you learn there are good bus trips and bad bus trips.

One OF summed it up by saying it all depends on three things:

— Number one: The carrier has to be a reliable, responsible one, with a congenial driver;

— Number two: It has to start off well; if it starts off poorly, it never seems to correct itself; and

— Number three: It is good to go with some friends. If the people on the bus mesh quickly then the trip is going to be a good one.

“If, by chance,” the OF said, “The bus is old and smells of diesel fuel, the driver is a cranky OG, with most of the people a bunch of complainers, then the best thing to do is get off at the first rest stop, rent a car and go home.”

The big “however” here is most of the trips the OFs have been on seem to be very agreeable affairs. Some of these trips are not long. They travel to the casinos in the area.

The OFs go often enough that trip is like taking a city bus from Delmar or Guilderland to downtown Albany. Some go to plays in New York City; some go to see either a Yankee or Mets game. Generally, when the OFs go on one of these trips it is the topic of conversation when they return — good or bad.

When the OFs go to see a play, they may mention the play was OK, but what they really talk about is the bus trip, or where they ate once they arrived in New York. They would talk about who were troublemakers on the bus, and what happened to them, or the OFs would mention just plain bus gossip.

A few of the trips were, at best, endurance trips for the OFs because they were overnights as a rule and were shopping trips for the better half. The OFs say they don’t really need anything, and for anything they do need there is always Tractor Supply, and Wal-Mart.

The OFs maintain they don’t need a 500-mile bus ride so the little lady can spend hours shopping and purchase little. One OF said they have to buy something so the wife can say she bought such-and-such some place in some exotic shopping center.

One OF mentioned that, if they want to go shopping in Kittery, Maine, he is all for that because he can get lost in the Kittery Trading Post. Another OF said that the newer buses are like traveling from your favorite chair at home. They are quiet and comfortable with TVs like airplanes have and, when you’re with a good group of people, it is really the way to go.

Another OF added it is just like flying, or taking a boat ride: What do you do once you get to where you are going? It seems that unless you follow the crowd you are stuck.  “If I can drive,” the OF said, “I am going to drive.”

Another OF jumped in saying, “That is OK on long trips with overnights, but on one-day trips — say to a ball game — give me the bus.  All the driving hassles are gone.”

Size demise

The OFs at one time discussed a rare topic, almost feminine like, and that is what has happened to the sizing of clothes. The OFs say they used to know what size they were and could go and buy a shirt labeled large and it would fit.

The length would be long enough to stay tucked in; the shoulders and arm lengths would be perfect. Now nothing fits all within the same size. T-shirts are shorter and the same size they were 20 years ago is tight.  “Clothing sizes have gone the way of the candy bar,” one OF said.

“Jeans! That is a whole ’nother story,” an OF added.

The zippers used to be long enough to get the dumb things over our hips. However, now the zippers are only four inches long, and width-wise this OF can’t figure out what is going on. His pants say 38 inches but 38-inch jeans lack three or four inches of closing.

“Maybe it is your shape that has changed,” one OF suggested, to which the reply came: “Thirty-eight inches is 38-inches. You can’t change that.”

It used to be a pant leg was a pant leg. Now there are all different kinds of pant legs and, if the OF grabs the wrong one, the OF can’t bend over. Again, the OF’s physical build became the subject: “It is your gut that won’t let you bend, you OG, not the pants”!

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, and thank goodness they all had their pants on, were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Bill Lichliter, Otis Lawyer, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Wayne Gaul, Lou Schenck, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Joe Rack, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and not me.

Location:

This has been a pretty nasty winter so far — except for those few spoiler days in February. Like the letter carriers, neither rain, snow, sleet, hail, blizzard, tornado, flood, nor hurricane will deter the Old Men of the Mountain from their Tuesday appointed restaurant.

This past week, it was the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. Again the weather: Two OGs said they went to Cobleskill to purchase some snow shovels. The OFs went to a couple of stores and there were none to be had, although both stores had rows of lawn mowers. It is like trying to purchase a winter coat in March when all the stores are selling bathing suits.

The OFs talk about strange coincidences (or odd pieces of luck that we all have) and wonder how that happens. One OF said he was in church on Sunday and had the Bible and the hymnal open to the exact page on all the hymns and Bible readings every time. Most of the time, many of the OFs said, while they were fumbling around trying to find the page the hymn is on, the hymn is about over.

One OF said he used to give his kids a job when they first got to church. This OF said he brought pieces of paper to church and the kids’ job was to locate all the readings and hymns, and then put the strips of paper by the page number in the books. then, when the time to sing or read came, they could open the book to the right pages quickly. It also kept the kids quiet until the service started. Smart Dad.

Diving derring-do

What else would anyone talk about on a gray winter’s day other than swimming holes?

The OFs mentioned a few that were in Fox Creek and what dumb and dangerous stunts the OFs did when they were YFs. The OFs remembered diving or jumping off bridges into the water and just missing protruding ledges of rock.

The kids knew these rocks were there, so actually they weren’t jumping blind. It was a great way for getting rid of the hay chaff from working in the fields or getting stuck working in the haymow. There were times when bathing suits were optional. Farm boys had fun in what little time they had for fun.

The OFs also mentioned swimming at White Sulphur Springs on Route 443 just outside of Berne, heading east. That was a popular spot. There was a large lodging building there, and people were brought to the springs by bus. It was also popular with local church groups.

It is all gone now — the building has been torn down and it is just a lawn. Two of the swimming holes in the creek have been bulldozed out by the Army Corps of Engineers to control flooding and they are gone.

Many of the OFs continue to say, “We have lived in the best of times.” And still some question that. Those OFs say there is no best of times, never will be; we have been promised that.

Mysterious messages

The OFs also discussed how many of them have had phone calls from what appear to be local calls, with local numbers. The few who do not have phone-identification on their phones get suckered into answering these calls.

Then they talked about how many of the OFs are getting emails from what appears to be someone they know. The OFs said one of the basic questions they ask themselves or their spouses is, “Why would xyz be emailing us? They never have before.”  So they wisely delete it and never open it.

One OF said, if an email message seems strange to him, he emails or phones the person who the email is from to see if the person actually did send an email. To date none of them have.

This same OF said on his caller ID he received a call from himself. The OF wondered how that happened.

It seemed to him that, if the scammer knew the name of the phone number he was calling had the same name, why would he even complete the call? It has to be some kind of robocall and a machine can’t think like that.

To which another OF said, “Not yet they can’t, but just wait,”

Snowed under

With all the snow we are getting (and the weather guys say there is more coming), the OFs were talking about how much havoc has been done to their property that lies underneath all this snow. They mentioned shed roofs coming down, mailboxes being destroyed, lawns and drives being torn up, shingles ripped off roofs by sliding snow, and branches down all over the place.

What a mess.

The OFs said that we can’t fault the plow drivers. They are out there plowing the drives and the roads and they can barely see. The power crews are also working in really dangerous situations, in the dark.

One OF said the power crews quite often are trying to restore power to everyone who is without power, when they, themselves, may be without power and therefore know the situation everyone else is in.

An OF observed that severe weather anywhere, though disastrous in some ways, is a boon to the economy. It takes material and manpower to get things back up and running, and that does keep money flowing.

“Well, that is one way to look at it,” an OF added, “but I look at the misery so many people go through.”

The OF also wondered how the insurance companies can keep up when in this country alone natural disasters have caused so much carnage.

This scribe thinks it is good thing there are many sides to the same thing, like two people who can’t agree on what rose is the prettiest rose among a hundred different roses. Who cares? Just take the one that is prettiest to you.

There is no simple, single answer to so much.  Just look in the grocery store — one whole aisle is devoted to cereal.

Those OFs who made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, and not one who ordered cereal, were: Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Dave Williams, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Marty Herzog, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On Tuesday, Feb. 27, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow.

Most of the OMOTM start out early in the morning; many of the OMOTM travel over the mountain to get to the diner. All the OMOTM commented on what a beautiful ride it was traveling that way.

At this time of year, around 6:30 a.m. the sun is just coming up. Some of the OMOTM were just cresting the mountain on County Route 358, heading southeast. On the west side of the mountain, there was no frost, on the east side of the mountain there was frost with the early morning sun shining on it.

The air was crystal clear, no wind. The OMOTM thought it was a great time to be alive at this particular spot on the planet.

When we arrived at the diner (with the Catskill creek running right in back of it) and stood at the edge of this water and then smelled the air perfumed by breakfast cooking at Kim’s while listening to this creek as it ran its course to the ocean, well, somehow the sights and sounds made everything seem worthwhile.

Greedy!

The OFs went from sublimity to furious at one table, again to a person, and this cause for dissention is the stunt that Spectrum is pulling with its (question mark) switch to digital TV and the box. Talk about greedy!

It is the OFs opinion that the CEO who jacked up prices on medicine is bad; however, according to the OFs, he is a neophyte compared to what Spectrum is pulling.

The OFs hold the belief that the State Legislature should get into this one. People on fixed incomes, people on low incomes, people in nursing homes, etc. need some support.

Spectrum is in the process of denying much of the population access to television. Plus Spectrum is assuming that everyone is tech savvy, when in fact, many aren’t. Some don’t even know what the H--- Spectrum is talking about.

One OF added that it is not fair to take it out on the reps and techs who work for Spectrum. They are just doing their jobs; they don’t set policy.

Another OF said many people are so upset that they can’t get at the policy makers so they have to vent somewhere and, unfortunately, it is just these people who have to take the brunt of the frustration.

Olympics are for the young

The OFs talked a little about the Olympics, not the events themselves but the opening and closing ceremonies. As for all the events that were shown, there were not many that the OFs watched.

It is the assumption that the OFs are just a little too old for watching this — especially with the time zone changes. Leave it to the younger crowd.

The OFs who missed the opening with all the drones and heard the OFs who did watch it discuss it later on made sure to watch the closing. Some said it was great, and some thought after a while it became a little boring.

Savvy shopping

Now for something completely different. The OFs talked about shopping, and comparison shopping. The OFs discussed how the same chain stores can be so different in different localities. Two of the large stores in the shopping area the OFs used as examples of this difference were Wal-Mart and Price Chopper.

The OFs all said how they like the Wal-Mart in Cobleskill compared to any of the others around, mentioning Albany, Glenmont, and Schenectady. The Cobleskill Wal-Mart is always clean and has different items than the others; it just has a different feel.

The OFs wished McDonalds hadn’t pulled out from Cobleskill because they could get a cup of coffee and sit with friends, or even make new friends, while their better halves shopped. The better halves also liked the McDonalds being there because they did not feel hurried while they were shopping.

Speaking of Wal-Mart, one OF mentioned he used to get his D-Con rat poison there in trays, but the OF said he can’t find it anymore and he has tried some other products to get rid of pesky rodents but these products don’t work.

He wonders why D-Con in trays is not on the shelf any more. One OF said for the same reason they stopped making Dristan — because it worked.

The OFs opined that different grocery stores carry different items from store to store, even within the same chain. Again, the OFs were comparing Price Chopper Slingerlands to Price Chopper Cobleskill — different items in different stores.

One OF referred to a specific product (which this scribe did not write down and now cannot remember) but the gist of his story was Cobleskill PC did not have it, and Slingerlands PC did. We do not know if the reverse would be true on another product.

Required cans are a burden

One topic seemed to stimulate the OFs (especially those members of fire departments) and that was the new gas cans the fire departments are required to use. That was as animated as this scribe has seen these OFs get in some time.

The OF said for $175 they are almost impossible to use, and the OFs can’t see where they are any safer than the old safety cans.

Condolences

The Old Men of the Mountain offer their condolences to Elwood Vanderbilt whose wife passed away last week. The Old Men of the Mountain’s thoughts and prayers are with Elwood in this time of sorrow.

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow (without running out of gas) were: George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Marty Herzog, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, and me.

Location:

Tuesday, Feb. 20, will be remembered for how warm it was for this time of winter. The Old Men of the Mountain mentioned temperatures in the forties at 6 a.m. with a warm breeze, fog, and smell of spring in the air.

Fog encased the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown as the OMOTM arrived for breakfast and being OM they knew this weather was not going to last and they were sorry to see the fog, because fog in February means a wet, cold May. That is an old farmer’s weather guide.

One OF said that doesn’t mean a whole lot because there always is fog in February. Now all the OFs are going home to mark their calendars for the month of May and see what happens.

One OF, who still farms, was bringing a round bale of hay on the forks of his tractor down a road north of Berne when an elderly couple in a van pulled up alongside and asked him to stop.

The OF stopped and the driver in the car said, “Sir, I am not lost but I just can’t remember where I am.”

That took the OF back a bit and he stuttered out “Berne, New York.”

The driver said, “Thanks” — and took off.

“Hmmm, what a strange way to put that,” the OF said.  

Warts vanish

Another topic that the OFs talked about was a strange comment made on how some of the OFs work on repairing equipment or building this or that. One OF made a new tailgate ramp for another OF’s trailer that he uses to pick up equipment.

The OF was telling almost all the steps and care he went through to construct the ramp. As he told about welding it together, he said he was starting to get a couple of warts on his left hand and he stuck out his hand for those at the table to see there were no warts on it.

This OF said, “Welding gets rid of warts.”

That was it, just the five-word sentence, and then the OFs started talking about something else. Another Hmmm.

Slowing down

The OFs began a conversation that is dear to all of their hearts.

This topic was how old an OF was when he noticed he had really slowed down. The age was not the same for all the OFs, but the age span would be somewhere between 68 and 84.

This scribe thinks the 80-year guys are stretching it a bit but, then again, some of the old goats do seem to be on always the go — whether the OG is doing anything or not is another question.

All the OGs say that it now takes four days to do what they used to do in one — a common senior lament.

This next exchange was more specific. Some of the comings and goings brought up were work and chores. The other was fun stuff like hunting, fishing, boating and hiking, taking long drives, going to the picture show, square dancing, woodworking, painting, and activities like that.

One OF summed up this discussion with a little narrative.

He said he used to get his bow ready for bow season (deer hunting) a couple of weeks ahead of the season’s opening. The OF said he would be out of the house at the crack of dawn and not come back until late in the evening.

Now, he says, he goes out around 10 in the morning and is back around two in the afternoon — and that is if he goes out at all. We all slow down but we found out some slow down later than others.

What was the key that kept the late ones being active later in life? This scribe has brought this up before on how active the OMOTM group is compared to many others.

But, as we found out at Tuesday’s breakfast, the OFs can’t keep up a super-active pace forever.

One OF told about his uncle who walked everywhere — even when he had a car. By walking, the OF meant from Berne to Altamont, or Berne to Albany, or Berne to Schoharie.

That was really walking, but all that recommended exercise did not help him reach the age of most of the OMOTMs. Unexpectedly, he died of a heart attack at age 77.

Another OF added that, for himself, he did pretty much what he wanted to do. He ate what he wanted, but did give up smoking, and that decision gave him something like a permanent shot of adrenalin.

The OF continued, saying that he never exercised a day in his life, although he worked hard all the time, and he was outdoors most of the year — summer and winter. This OF says he doesn’t understand all the hype about exercise and diet.

This OF’s motto is, “Stay away from processed foods.” If you want a piece of pie with ice cream, eat it.  If you want steak and eggs eat them. If you want spaghetti and a side of French fries, eat that too.

Nevertheless, you have to move and get fresh air, ignore the diet hype and skip the stress it brings, and then (according to this OF) 80 will be just a number.

Warm weather, salted roads

The OFs discussed the upcoming few days of predicted warm weather and were quick to add that winter isn’t over yet. The OFs said they would hate to see it get warm for an extended period of time, that is, eight to 10 days.

This, the OFs say, would fake out the trees and shrubs and they would start budding. The OFs said that much warmth so early would be disastrous.

Then the OGs talked about how much salt was spread on the roads and how all the dampness caused by cold ground and warm air, plus any rain or drizzle, turns the highways into a saline solution that raises havoc on vehicles. One OF thought there is collusion between the highway department and body shops.

Those OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown through the salted rivers call roadways were: Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Rev. Jay Francis, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Marty Herzog, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Most of the Old Men of the Mountain found their way to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the OMOTM almost filled up the restaurant, so this scribe believes most of the OFs got the message of the restaurant change.

What to do when you are old?  The OFs are quick to insert that little nuance “age by numbers only,” which was more or less a theme of this morning’s breakfast.

How do you manage your “stuff?”  This “stuff” includes your property and your money. When the OFs reach an age where anything can happen and the OFs want to protect their assets from the clutches of the courts and the government, what course should they follow?

After all, as one OF put it, he worked a lifetime to acquire what little he has, and in this lifetime he spent much time dodging the grabbing hands of said government. He felt the government did all it could legally do to grab his money while he was working, and he wasn’t going to let them win out in the end because he felt the government took more than its fair share the time he was working.

One OF suggested it is not only the government, it is nursing homes and other institutions that want it all. Sometimes, if you ticked off your kids, they, too, might want to get their hands on whatever you might have acquired.

One OF said, “Let them fight over what I have. There is not much money and the rest of the ‘stuff’ they may wind up taking to the dump because I was going to anyway.”

Some of the OFs have their financial arrangements taken care of, and some don’t quite know what to do. One OF suggested at this stage of life it might be a good idea not to be too secretive about what he has.  For instance, other people (whom the OF knows he can depend on) should know about the OF’s situation and those people will know if something out of the ordinary is going on.

Pain meds

Still in the aging theme, another topic the OFs touched on was pain medication. The OFs talked about over-the-counter medications; one suggestion was, “What the heck? At our ages, take what works.”

The OFs discussed the advantages of one over the other and it seemed that Aleve works much better than Tylenol — at least for many of the OFs. Aleve is not supposed to be taken when taking some other particular meds.

The OFs are not doctors and are not prescribing anything. However, some OFs say taking Tylenol is just like taking a glass of water, or a handful of gumdrops. It is interesting to note how the OFs agree on these items, but can’t get together on which lawn mower is the best.

The OFs discussed hydrocodone and found most could not take the stuff. One OF said that, after a particular surgery, the first set of pills he was given in the hospital contained hydrocodone. This OF said he had hallucinations that scared the living daylights out of him.

He said he felt like he was walking, and would swear he was walking, only when he looked at his legs they were perfectly still. Then he said he felt like one of his arms was at the side of the bed hanging down, and the other was across his chest.

They weren’t, of course. One was at his side and the other arm was in back of his head; however, all situations were so real it could have been the other way around. At one point he thought he had four arms.

The OF said he refused the next pill and said he would take the pain — to heck with that stuff. The OF said the doctor changed the hydrocodone to Tylenol 3, which he understood was codeine. That worked and he only took the Tylenol 3 twice.

Kids ask for everything

The last topic was geared to kids and the times. The OFs say they don’t remember when they began giving in to their kids. Somehow it seems the OFs think they must have. The OMOTM’s kids are worse (in some instances) than the OFs think they themselves were.

The OFs to a man did not remember asking their parents for anything. The OFs took what they got and were more than happy with it. Some remember getting help purchasing their first car or motorcycle, but they worked for it. Mom and Dad did not just up and give them a vehicle.

Today, it seems kids are asking for everything from $150 sneakers, to cell phones, to TVs, so they can play their games, which can also cost in the hundreds of dollars. The OFs think they must have started this with their kids, but don’t really remember when.

The OFs have often traced this (what may be called a problem) back to Fifth Avenue marketing along with well-designed advertising, creating a demand. This has been coupled with the rapid development of communications, and World War II mixing all kinds of people together and finding the farm boy wants what the city boy has.

One OF thought it really wasn’t us wanting things; it was that we did not know there were things to want. Maybe a shotgun, or high-top boots, but not much else.

Those OFs who made it to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville (because they wanted to) were: Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Karl Remmers, Bob Snyder, John DeMis, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Lou Schenck, Ted Feurer, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter (Welcome back, Mace), Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray, Marty Herzog, Jake Lederman, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Jim Rissacher, Wayne Gaul, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On Tuesday, Feb. 6, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café in Altamont. The Home Front was out of sequence because the restaurant that usually follows the Duanesburg Diner was closed for vacation so we swapped the two restaurants around.

The way this winter is going we can’t blame them for being away for awhile, but the OFs will be back there next week. See how congenial and flexible the OMOTM are?  Just as long as the OFs get fed they are good with it. There is a big “however” here and that is: Did all the OGs get the message?

The big news of the day was noted and for the OFs this is really big news! A couple of OFs came in with a news report that McDonald’s French fries promotes the growth of hair.

That got the OFs’ attention because at the ages of these OGs there are not too many full heads of hair. Some are fortunate enough to have some hair, and even some of those have thick wavy white hair.

To most though, the hair has gone the way of the comb, brush, or stuck to the inside of knit winter caps, and even the pillow has collected some. One OF said he wore his off on his bed’s headboard.

The OFs who reported this news did not mention if the hair was specifically grown on the top of the head. It was questioned that maybe it was elsewhere on the body, and not wanted there. This scribe wonders how many of the OFs are going to go to McDonald’s and have just a double order of French fries with a cup of coffee every day and see what happens.

The reporters did not mention if the report they heard said how long the study was, or how long anyone had to wait to see results, and what about the ladies? Maybe they would have to shave their legs twice a day to keep up with it. The OFs have not heard of this complaint though.

A quick glance at Google showed that it’s not eating the fries that makes the hair grow, but it’s a chemical that is added to the fries (in order to prevent the cooking oil from splashing), which is used to stimulate hair growth.

Winter woes

The OMOTM were concerned about people they know who are dealing with cancer and other maladies this winter. This prompted the OFs to discuss cancers that the OGs and their spouses have had — cancers that hit close to home.

It was surprising how many were part of this group and how the newer treatments work. One OF suggested that maybe all these campaigns, and fundraisers for research on cancer is beginning to pay off.

An OF thought it might not even be a medical person that comes up with a major breakthrough but some computer geek who is working in the same field who could hit on a solution and find how these things get started.

An OF brought to the attention of the OFs the dangers of antifreeze. This OF mentioned about having animals die from ingesting antifreeze. Other OFs joined in and mentioned that they have had a cat die from eating the stuff.

One OF had a relative who was an alcoholic and this relative was unable to get hold of some alcohol to satisfy the craving and he drank the antifreeze and died. This prompted some OFs to check their supply of antifreeze to be sure it is where it is not easy to get to, and one OF said he was going to see if there is the required skull and crossbones to advise people that it can be poisonous.

One OF mentioned the antifreeze does not have to be fresh. They had a car that leaked antifreeze unbeknown to them. The antifreeze was in the vehicle well over a year. Their cat was seen licking it and a couple of days later it was found dead on the back porch.

Apparently, there are two basic ingredients in antifreeze. One is ethylene glycol. That is the nasty one where very little ingested by your pet can do it in. The other component is propylene glycol. This takes a lot more to make them sick or have their four paws to the air.

Spice of life

Buried in many of these columns are what specific items the OFs use and how each OF insists the items he uses are the best. Collectively, it is another OF microcosm of the general populace from soap, to cereal, to bedding, to vehicles (and tractors, of course), to grass seed, to clothing including shoes, to household cleaning supplies, to choice of music and types of movies, to types of tools, to choice in women.

The OFs identify with “variety is the spice of life.” Each one insists that what he chooses is the best. Sometimes an OF will admit he made the wrong choice and claim “it” is a piece of junk, whereas another OF will disagree and say “it” (that item the first OF just complained about) is the best ever.

Most of the OFs agreed that on hand tools Craftsman tools were one of the best. They don’t know what is going to happen now that Sears has sold off the Craftsman line. Is the lifetime guarantee for the OF’s life, or the life of Sears? One OF said there are a gazillion Craftsman tools out there and in use every day. Well, we shall see who has the guarantee.

Those OFs who understood that the switch of our restaurants had been made and who showed up at the Home Front Café in Altamont were: Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Low Schenck, Jack Norray, Chuck Aelesio, Mark Traver, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Rev. Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Guest and guest Carolou Kristofik, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

January was just about to give way to February when on Jan. 30 the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner. We were not too far from the day when the guys in their top hats drag the groundhog from its slumber in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

The OFs can’t remember when this oversized rodent was ever right on how long the winter will last. Winter hangs on for six weeks no matter what.

One OF has just returned from some time in Jamaica at the Montego Bay resort. He reported that he had a great time at the resort, but he added that they are having a problem in Jamaica with some type of uprising and that 73 people have been killed since the first of the year.

From the first of the year until when the OF got there were only about 20 days. He said there was so much to do at the resort that he did not feel it was necessary to wander off the property into town.

The eyes have it

The OFs continued their previous discussion on eyes — particularly the common cataract surgery. All the OFs around where this scribe was sitting have had good luck with this procedure but in varying degrees.

Some experienced immediate recovery from the surgery, while some took more time to heal. The OFs who had to wait for their vision to come back said it eventually exceeded expectations.

The OFs said that eye drops were required but the need was not the same for all the OFs. One OF at this scribe’s section of the table claimed he was not too religious about using the drops. After a while, the OF said, his eyes seem so normal he often forgets to use them at all for three to four days.

Another OF also said he did not have a routine for putting in the drops, but his eyes do tell him that they need to be fed.

Avoid cooking, eat out

Many of the OFs asked one another if they have tried the new store in Knox, which (as of this writing) is not yet a store but a take-out restaurant. There are also some tables so that you can order in and eat there.

Most of the OFs said it should become a great place to stop and get something for supper on the way home from work. Another OF mentioned that, if you and the little lady had a tough day, it was a good place that is close to many on the mountain, so the OF and the aforementioned little lady can go and grab a bite. Then no one has to cook!  

This not-cooking bit is great for the OFs because the wives of many OFs have had way too many years of cooking for these OGs. Actually, some of the OFs themselves don’t mind cooking and are good cooks (especially from late spring to early fall) when they can fire up the ole grill and char up a few burgers.

No dress code

The Old Men of the Mountain are a microcosm of the general population — at least those in the Northeast and north central parts of the country — in how they dress. It was not the warmest day when the OFs were at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg, New York but how the OFs were dressed coming into the diner, and once there, varied. Some came with coats like they were going to top of Mt. Washington; others came in simple jackets, and still others had on a couple of layers with light jackets.

Once inside, some took off their coats, while others kept them on; some sat at the table in shirt sleeves, and one was even there in a short-sleeved shirt open at the neck. This is the way they were decked out even though the temperature outside was the same for everybody, and the temperature on the inside was the same for everybody.

It is easy to understand why in a large or small office building it is tough to satisfy everyone with the thermostat.

Down in the dumps

Another topic touched on was town transfer stations, also known affectionately as the “dump,” and this is where most of the interaction of the mountain people takes place. It is the social center of the towns. Some might think it is the school, or the church, but it really is the “dump.”

Quite often on dump days, some of the OFs are known to advise another OF that he is going to the dump and would this OG have any trash to go. The atmosphere is generally very friendly as well as informative.

It is amazing to some of the OFs what some people consider trash but to the OF it is a treasure. However, some things really are just trash and should have been taken to the dump long ago.

One OF mentioned the barge of trash from Long Island that no transfer stations would take and the barge of trash just meandered around the ocean — for how long this OF did not know. For all this OF knows, it is still plying the waves of the ocean looking for a home. More information can be found by Googling “Long Island garbage barge.”

Before the world became a global economy, most products and food were manufactured or produced close to home and did not need all this packing that we have today. An OF said, "if we are going to ship apples two- or three-thousand miles away, we had better pack them very well. If we are going to get grapes from two- or three-thousand miles away, they also should be packed pretty well."

This OF feels that the basis of our whole trash problem is the global economy and way too many people to feed and provide for.  

One OF said he just bought a new vacuum cleaner, and the box and packaging weighed almost as much as the vacuum cleaner, and the instructions were like a small novel in size because it was written in so many different languages. This substantiates the trash problem (assumption of OF number one).

The world is now one global economy, and tractors made in the United States going to other countries are passing ships on the oceans with tractors made in other countries coming to the U.S. This may be a good thing or a bad thing, but it sure keeps money in circulation.

Those OFs who made it to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg to share the wealth in our own little pinprick of the planet were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Roger Shafer, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Marty Herzog, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Rev. Jay Francis, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

 

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Tuesday, Jan. 23, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie to break bread together. It is a darn site more than bread that becomes broken when the OMOTM get together.

Eating is one thing all the OFs do together on Tuesday morning at our round robin of restaurants. Some of the OFs eat more slowly than they used to because swallowing for them is not like it used to be. The old esophagus is getting tired and some foods become harder to choke down but, as one OF suggested, it is good to get the swallowing bit checked out and make sure that’s all it is — the OF has an aging esophagus.

One general question asked on Tuesday morning was, “What have you been doing this last two or three weeks?” This scribe was a little surprised at the answers because this usually active group (for the most part) said “nothing.”

Some have come to the breakfasts and just hung out when they returned home; they did not go to their shops, or barns, or “man caves.” The weather and clouds shut them down.

As this scribe listened, it became clear this phenomenon was definitely weather related. For some reason, at my end of the table, the blahs really took hold. I predict this circumstance won’t last long — these OFs have too much to do and are not a bunch to let projects pile up.

Mechanical spies

If we didn’t have new techno toys, the OFs would not have much to talk about. We would be back to cars, trucks, tractors, and boats. Trips, kids, and shop work would be thrown in for good measure.

However, this time the conversation centered on people talking to gadgets that talk back and give answers, or can be programmed to have some other gadgets work for you so the OF won’t have to get up from his favorite recliner. The OFs, for the most part, are dead set against these round, mechanical spies.

“What if the machine decides not to listen?” the OFs said.

If you ask it to unlock your garage door and the device decides not to unlock the door and every time you went to open the door mechanically the device re-locks the door. The device has programmed all doors to lock, and it has also programmed all electrical appliances to turn on and overheat.

The only way out is through a window and it is impossible for you to shut any of it down. You stand on your lawn and watch your house burn to the ground and a maniacal laugh comes from the coffee table in living room.

Remember “Hal” in the movie “2001 Space Odyssey” or the people in the Pixar movie “WALL-E” who did nothing for themselves?

This brought the OFs to mention the cameras in China that use face recognition, and how they can track anyone in a city of over one million people. The camera was demonstrated to a reporter from the BBC and and he was shown the operation center where all this tracking is done.

The demonstration was definitively scary. From knowing nothing about him but (for this demonstration) considering him a person of interest, they took a picture of him from a camera at an intersection and in seven minutes he was surrounded by police at a bus station.

The OFs covered many details of the demonstration that would take up too much space here. One OF said, “It wouldn’t work on me. My face is so ugly it would break the camera.”

Going the way of the dodo

This conversation continued, telling how the OFs who are mechanics and the OFs who are handymen are being pushed to extinction because the technology of today requires tools that are in the $1,000 to $10,000 range.

How can the OGs who drive newer models afford tool prices like this to tinker with their vehicles, like changing their own oil?

One OF mentioned that we are getting to be like our grandparents when vehicles were taking the place of horses. How about our grandmothers when the washing machine came out?

An OF said his mother told him that her mother was actually afraid of the first washing machine, which was run with a small gas engine. His grandmother told his mom it didn’t get clothes clean and she used a round tub, washboard, and wrung her clothes out by hand, and dried them on the line, until she was unable to do laundry.

One OF added, “That is just like many of us OFs with the self- driving cars, and the electric cars. We don’t trust them and the younger generations can’t wait to get their hands on one and these kids wish the technology would hurry up.”

Send me out to sea

Then we started checking up on the OFs who are ill and we were brought up to pace on their well-being. This led to a discussion on nursing homes.

The OFs, to a man, said from what they have seen of these places they do not want to have to go there. The Eskimos might have the right idea: Give me some food, put me on an ice floe, and send me out to sea.

One OF said, “Why, in so many cases, does life have to end like that?”

There was no answer.

Another OF said, “If we were smart, there are insurance policies that provide for 24/7 home care until you enter the tunnel of light. I don’t know what the premiums would be but I bet they would be substantial.”

The Old Men of the Mountain who met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie — with the early birds receiving a thorough art lesson on an original painting hanging on the wall in the restaurant — were: Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Karl Remmers, John DeMis, Mark Traver, Glenn Paterson, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Wayne Gaul, Jim Rissacher, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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Darn!  It is still January and on the 16th of the month the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie.

Again, the Old Men of the Mountain were there just as the doors opened. The way some of the OMOTM get up in the morning, dressed and ready to work, would make any employer eager to get their hands on some of these OFs.

As mentioned last week, some of the OMOTM were businessmen and some are still in business. One OF who is in this category related this story of a customer who regularly frequented his shop.

It seems this specific gentleman was from Germany, and fought for the Germans in World War II as a spotter for enemy troop movements. He surveyed the situation from church towers and the like — at least he did that until he was captured by the Russians.

Like most prisoners of war (on either side), he was not taken to the Waldorf-Astoria. The German friend would tell the OF some of his war experiences.

One day the OF asked him how he came to eventually settle in the United States, especially in this area. The old German told him that, when he was in the war (including the time spent with the Russians), there were boxes all over the place left by the Allies.

All the boxes had printed on them, “Made in Schenectady, New York.”  These boxes were used for big equipment, even tanks. He told the OF that he made up his mind that, if he ever got out of the war alive, he was going to go to Schenectady, New York because it must be a great place. That is how he arrived in the U.S. and in our area.

It really pays to advertise.

Dangerous work

This scribe has reported on how many of the OFs have worked in the woods especially when they were on the farm. When the OFs were young, wood was their main source of heat.

Many of those OFs who worked on the farm had their out buildings made of wood cut from their own woodlot, taken to the mill, and milled to what the OFs’ parents or the OF themselves needed for construction of a particular building. The OFs knew at the time this was dangerous work. It required muscle and dexterity.

At the breakfast tables, the OFs sometimes tell woodlot stories of injuries, intelligent horses, and deaths that took place in this routine activity of the farmer. Tuesday, the OFs again brought up some logging anecdotes that happened way back when because of a simple little notice in the Albany Times Union that logging is the most dangerous industry in the country. The OFs can attest to that.

Brrrrr!

The OFs discussed the cold weather again and began comparing the amount of wood burned this year to the last few years; the same with fuel oil and electricity. At least the OFs are savvy enough to know how to protect their pipes from freezing and none of the OFs have complained about that.

Some of the OFs discussed how much more kerosene they have burned this year than normal. The interesting part of this conversation was the OFs who burn kerosene all travel to Cobleskill to purchase the fuel.

These OFs claim that this is the closest place to get good, clean kerosene; most of the other stuff is “junk” (the OFs term) and gums up everything and smokes.

This little tidbit of information came up without coercion — none of the OFs knew that other OFs were getting their kerosene from the same place, and for the same reason. This scribe found that interesting.

Maybe, instead of the OFs all going to Cobleskill separately, they can kerosene pool. One week one would go and purchase kerosene for all of them, and next week it would be someone else who would make the trip. That would work unless going for kerosene is an excuse to get out and do something else.

Orwellian reality

Technology! Another subject! Technology is all around us and the OMOTM keep bringing it up.

“All around us” is a good euphemism for the OMOTM — the OMOTM are out of the loop. Technology is developing at such a pace that the OFs think that many in the techno-crowd themselves have a hard time keeping up.

The OFs talked about TVs that roll up, and people having chips put in their children so they can be found should it become necessary. One OF mentioned the book that came out when the OFs were in school, and it talked about “Big Brother” controlling people.

Well, y’all, it is here, according to the OFs. One OF said, “Let them rattle their sabers with talk about ballistic missiles. That’s not where the next war is going to be.”

This OF thinks the next war will be over mind control. This OF thinks there won’t be a shot fired; it will all be done with computers and AI (Artificial Intelligence).

One OF thought a good business to get into would be the tailoring business, and one might make lead-lined suits, like the jumpsuits worn on Star Trek. That show may be way ahead of its time. Perhaps that is what the writers were thinking of when they came up with the costumes.

Who knows what unwanted crap comes with an app. Some dangerous privacy spy program might be inserted into an innocuous name of a simple app. The OFs are not smart enough to figure this one out; it is not a bulldozer, tractor, or truck.

The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café in Schoharie and this scribe can vouch for those named who are not AI’s loaded or robots, or clones, or aliens; they were:  just earthlings Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Otis Lawyer, Wayne Gaul, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Rev. Jay Francis, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Harold Guest, and me.

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The Old Men of the Mountain made it to Week Two of the New Year; on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh.

The days are slowly getting longer but it is still dark when many of the OFs gather at the restaurant of the week. The OFs have mentioned this before: The light from the restaurant’s window on the sidewalk and the smell of eggs and bacon cooking early in the morning for some reason is a peaceful sensation.

A natural beginning topic for just about any group that meets on a regular basis is the weather. It is no different with the OFs. The OFs did much comparing at Tuesday morning’s breakfast and, although the weather guys are talking about setting records this month, the OFs remember winters that have been much worse, at least to date.

One OF remembered throwing water into the air and having it freeze before it hit the ground. Others remember cutting ice on the pond and having the water start to freeze right behind the OFs as they hauled the blocks of ice off to the sled.

Most all the OFs said they could handle the cold a lot better when they were younger than they can now. A big “Amen” was added to that little pronouncement, though many of the OGs said, if we dressed for the weather, it isn’t that bad.

One OFs said, “We don’t need anybody to teach us history, we remember it.”

And another added, “The worst part of January is February.”

Ghost towns

Because of the New Year, the OFs talked about some of the new state regulations going into effect and the OFs feel that there is going to be such an exodus of businesses from New York (let alone people) that there will be quite a vacuum formed behind them as they leave.

This is too bad because above Route 84 New York is a beautiful state. The Adirondacks, the Finger Lake region, the Catskills, and our own Helderbergs along with many other local areas, are one calendar picture after another.

To see many of the small towns become like ghost towns in these areas is sad. The OFs in their remembrance of history remember these places as they were 25 or 30 years ago.

One OF said the towns should have all progressed to one extent or another, not decayed.  Another OF thought it was not just a New York State problem but a problem for many parts the country, which are in the same situation.

One OF thought the whole thing comes down to dollars and cents, and this OF thought we were giving too much away. The OF continued that, when his first two kids were born in the 1950s, there was no such thing as insurance for having kids.

The insurance companies said that pregnancy was not an illness, or a disease; it was of choice and for that reason was preventable. Pregnancy could be avoided so therefore the insurance companies would not insure a pregnancy. Now look at what it costs to have a kid — the cost went from 0 to out-of-sight; there isn’t even a percentage number for that.

When troopers were like stern fathers

The OFs were reliving history again without having to study it. This time it was on how simple times were, and this was associated, as it often is, with cars.

The OFs on the farm learned to drive at an early age and they drove on equipment where it was necessary to know how to drive, and not just drive. There was no power steering, the machinery had mechanical brakes, which in the winter might freeze. One line might have ice around it, and the other wouldn’t — little things like that.

Then along came a state regulation called — license to drive.

That law did not deter the farm boys. The young farm lad, 13 or 14 years old, could hear the following instructions from Dad: “Take the truck down to the spring in Gallupville and fill some milk cans with water from the spring.”

Off the kids would go. Once they were stopped by a trooper and asked for the license, and the big joke going around now about “What license, we ain’t got no license” was said in earnest.

The OF said the trooper told them, “You kids get that truck home right now.”

There was no threatening language, or even a hint of getting a ticket. “Just like their own father being a little stern,” the OF said.

Things are different today.

What is young?

That followed along with what many talk about today. If you were disciplined at school, the OF didn’t expect sympathy at home; more likely the OF was disciplined at home worse than school.

One OF added, “That attitude is sure screwed up now. Look at all the problems that society and schools have with conduct today; this may be part of the reason why, the tail is wagging the dog.”

“This argument has been going on for a long time,” an OF suggested, “and will probably continue until all of us OFs are gone.”

“That won’t be too long,” an OF said, then another OF, looking around the group, chimed in, “It may be longer than you think because we have some young guys in this group now who are young by our standards anyway. To me, 60 is pretty young.”

"Young to me,” another added, “is if you can shower, shave, and get dressed without groaning and complaining. That is young enough”.

The OFs think they are all young, and young enough to make it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh were: Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Elwood Vanderbilt, and me.

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