What a sunrise on Tuesday morning, March 27! Most of the Old Men of the Mountain mentioned it when they arrived at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

As the OMOTM funnel into the café from their homes scattered about, they have been on the road from about 6 to 7:30 a.m. and many headed west. At this time of day, the OMOTM encounter many vehicles driving in the other direction on their way to work. One OF suggested these cars should be saluted because they are probably loaded with working people who are contributing to Social Security, which right now keeps the OFs afloat.

One OF mentioned that he had to advise people to stop sending him email, and why they didn’t get any emails from him for awhile was because he was on vacation. Another OF piped up, “On vacation from what?”

This brought the first OF up short, and he was speechless. What was he on vacation from really? The OF has been retired for years. The OF finally came up with, “From you guys. What else?”

This is true if the OFs go someplace exotic for an extended period of time. It is only a trip. The day after the retirement party, the OFs are on vacation, unless they take another job. If the OFs do that, they are not really retired; they have just left one job on the best of terms to go to another.

The OFs have covered this topic before about those who have breakfast with the OFs, but are not quite in that OF category yet. These are the few that are in business for themselves and are attempting to slow down.

Some of these OFs are having trouble accomplishing that because they are good at what they do. Tuesday morning, they discussed how paperwork in New York is making working as an individual entrepreneur harder than the work. On top of this, collecting money for work done is also becoming harder, and even trying to do business with suppliers on a cash-only basis is getting difficult.

As one OF put it, he likes to purchase parts, pay for them, and leave. Some of his suppliers want it done on a credit basis, paperless, and on the computer.

The OF says the suppliers are confused if he orders a couple hundred dollars worth of parts, and hands them two-hundred dollars. The clerk just looks at him with the look of “now what.”

The OF says he has tried it “their way” with some suppliers and “their way” doesn’t work for him. If one of the parts is bad or doesn’t work, he has to return it for another, and if he has to pick up something else while making the trip to the supplier, things start getting wacky.

This has proven to be true especially if he has other items on backorder. Maybe one of these parts has come in, then the wackiness begins to get worse.

Drivers as dunces

The OFs who have had occasion to work at jobs that required them to work on highways around the state started talking about what foolish mistakes drivers make, and they wonder what in the world these drivers were thinking.

One OF said, “That is the key — they weren’t thinking.”

The dangers highway crews face include just doing routine jobs when along comes some dork and drives right into them. Regardless of all the signs and warnings to move one way or the other because there is road work ahead, some drivers just ignore the signs and keep on cruising right toward the work area.

The OFs who have worked on these roads, summer and winter, said that the workers should get hazardous-pay stipends for doing this work. A couple of the OFs commented that it is getting worse because the new cars are practically driving themselves and drivers are unconscious to the fact they are driving a ton-and-a-half guided missile.

If the vehicle becomes out of control, consciously or unconsciously, there is trouble ahead, Matilda.

Hare warfare

When it was time to pay up for our meal, some of the OFs received their bills with a rabbit picture on the back. This started a rabbit battle as to who got a rabbit and who didn’t.

This scribe thought the OFs were going to come to blows over rabbit or no rabbit. It even came down to who got a smiling rabbit, and who got a mad rabbit.

“My rabbit is not a happy rabbit,” an OF muttered.

“At least you got a rabbit; I didn’t get one,” another OF stated.

Then the no-rabbit OFs started to pester the waitress because they wanted a rabbit. Those OFs had to continue with their pouting because they weren’t going to get a rabbit, so they paid their bill and went home.

One OF offered to pay the OF’s bill across from him so he would have rabbit. The other OF wouldn’t swap even though his bill was higher with the rabbit on it.

This all started because at the restaurant there are two young ladies that take and bring out the orders. On one side of the long tables the OFs sit at, the waitress drew little rabbits on the back of the tabs and the other waitress doesn’t.

As one OF noticed he had a rabbit, all the other OFs started looking at the back of their tabs, and the war was on. The odd thing is no one gets to keep the bill; once paid, it is stuck on that spike by the register.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Your Way Café, and who did not drive off the road looking at the sunrise were: Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Dave Williams, Robie Osterman, Miner Stevens, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Jim Heiser, Allan DeFazio, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Warren Willsey, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey with middle daughter Amy, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

This scribe shook out of bed early on March 20 (the first day of spring) to gather a rider and head to the Country Café in Schoharie along with many of the Old Men of the Mountain.

When this scribe and the rider left the Hill, it was 8 cold degrees. When we arrived at the Country Café in the valley, we found out we were the warm ones. There were reports of 0 to 3 degrees from those who lived in the valley. This is the first day of spring?

One OF commented that, when he watches the weather on TV and it shows the traffic around us, for instance, headed up the Northway and Clifton Park, or the Thruway at Coxsackie, there is not even a snow bank. “Is God mad at us on the Hill?” he muttered under his breath.

It is fun to watch the OFs as they all converse, and it isn’t only this scribe who does it. At Tuesday morning’s breakfast, it was noted that the other OFs watch all the other OFs as well as listen to them as they talk.

It was found that the OFs are just like everyone else — some sit with their arms folded while they talk; others, when they go to interact, lean forward when they speak. Some just lean back and talk, and it was found most of the OFs who did that were the ones with naturally big voices. Others do as much talking with their hands as they do with their words; some move in and out with their chairs.

Tuesday morning, a hand talker was speaking and his hands were moving in rhythm with the conversation, so much so that another OF commented on it. The interesting part was the OF using his hands kept them moving with his conversation while unconsciously raising them over and around objects on the table.

The OF never hit a thing! The ketchup stayed upright, and the coffee urn remained vertical. Nope! Not an object was disturbed.  

Spectrum of diligence

The OFs have discussed this topic before but, as with many repeated topics, the approach was different. This subject was about hard workers. The OFs who were in on this conversation were all in agreement.

The OFs used their own experiences to draw their conclusions and it was found that working for people with different concepts of work is hard. It is hard to work for a hard worker because the hard worker expects everyone to work as hard as they do.

At times, work is an obsession with the hard worker and is that worker can be unreasonable. The OFs came to a social conclusion that only other people that are work obsessive can keep up.

They went from that discussion to talk about people who don’t do anything, and in this they found that many kids today are so into their electronic devices that they don’t know how to work. Every now and then, the OFs said, a good kid comes along and keeps his nose to the grindstone.

The others work a little, text a lot, work a little, text a lot. The OFs are out of the loop, they say, and this way of working might become the next norm. One OF suggested when the OFs were young and on the farm, digging a ditch might take four hours.

Today’s kids digging the same ditch may now take six or seven hours. Then one OF piped up and said, “It is not fair to dump all kids in the same brew. Some kids are darn good workers.”

Then another OF said, “Watch out for them — they will turn into the obsessive ones.”

Dressed for success

Last week’s column was a tweak on fashion according to the OFs. This week, part of the conversation was in the same vein, i.e., how the OFs dressed when they were working and how they dress now.

One OF remembered that when he was young his father told him to buy one dark suit for weddings and funerals. The OF said he still goes by that today.

All he owns is one dark suit, with one pair of shoes to match. That suit is older now and a little out of style and a little tight but still manages to fit the bill.

Another OF alleged he never owned a suit. Most noted they have a dark blazer and a couple of nice shirts, and one pair of khakis along with another pair of gray pants to go with this blazer. They have one tie for each pair of pants and these OFs maintain that will get them anywhere.

Pay based on locale

Many of the OFs have worked in other parts of the country other than New York. The OFs found that there is quite a disparity between what workers get paid for the same job.

New York City seems to have the highest paid workers for the same job; however, it also costs a ton of money to live there. The OFs thought even though people made less money for the same job in other localities they made more money in the long run because it costs so much less to live in other places than it does in New York City.

One OF said it’s not only New York, but he thought that, in other major cities, the pay would probably be more. That OF also was of the opinion that what could be done with the money in the bigger cities would actually be less.

The OFs who made it to the Country Café in Schoharie, regardless of what the cost of living is in New York, were: Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Ray Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Gerry Chartier and his wife, Wilma Chartier, and me.

Location:

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:

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