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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One-ups-manship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hospital rounds

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

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

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

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

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

Location:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One-ups-manship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hospital rounds

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

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

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

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

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

Location:

The end of May was on a Tuesday and the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh.

There was one OMOTM not there and it was this scribe. This was known in advance so a substitute roll-caller was asked if he would gather all the chickens in the coop and let this scribe know so he could protect the innocent by having the roll call at the end of the column.

The stand-in OMOTM said he could do this and he  performed the task in spades. This scribe received not only the names that attended the breakfast but many of those who did not, all on a spreadsheet. This scribe doesn’t even know how to make a spreadsheet. Like we keep reminding everyone, there are many talents in this group of OFs.

None of what follows happened at the breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner. This scribe used his little blue book where he takes notes and he made use of notes in this report that have not been included in reports from breakfasts in the past. This scribe does not take the conversations or names and place them on a spreadsheet — he scribbles them in a little cheap pocket spiral notebook.

Some of these notes are as terse as just two words and, when this scribe gets home and tries to put these words to a conversation, there is much consternation when nothing comes to mind that will tie these words into what was said. Unfortunately, now they just become wasted words because this scribe can’t remember them and so can’t use them to form a conversation and report on what was said; these exchanges might have been some of the cleverest discussions of the whole morning.

Big ears and noses

Wrinkles!  The OFs have discussed wrinkles before, but the big ears and noses that accompany getting old is a note scribbled on this scribe’s cheap note pad, but not included in a previous column. The OFs did not complain about their ears getting larger because the process is so slow that early on it’s hardly noticeable.

Now some of the OFs in their middle to high eighties notice how large their ears are, and they wonder if the ear stays the same and the face gets so wrinkled that it shrinks. One OF mentioned that, if he kept on practicing wiggling his ears, he could probably now be able to flap them and fly.

Another OF said he did not really notice his until he was shaving one day and said his ears reminded him of Dumbo (the elephant).

Even with the larger ears on the outside, the inside seems to do the opposite and shrink because many of the OFs have to use hearing aids.  This bit of information has been reported many times because this is one invention that seems to work at certain times and at other times hearing aids only seem to make the situation worse.

One OF said it is not only his ears that looked larger but his nose was wide enough to use as a hangar and park a small plane in it. To go along with the size was the lament that breathing wasn’t any easier. As a matter of fact, the OF said his outsized nose now was even plugged up more, and he went through a box of tissues in a week.

This scribe checked out information about the nose and ears growing as we age.  This really doesn’t happen — it is just gravity,  like the OFs’ butts and guts. Gravity takes over because the cartilage relaxes as we age.

So the big ears and noses that are already with us are neatly packed with youth, then age takes over and all that youth tightness just sags. The OFs will just have to live with it; there is no exercise or magic pill that is going to hold back gravity. The OFs are just going to have to get used to big ears and large noses and watch out when shaving that these larger appendages are not nicked in the process.

Those OFs that made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh (and this scribe has no idea how they got there) for this report were: Roger Chapman,  Robie Osterman, Miner Stevens, George Washburn, Don Wood, Glenn Patterson, Bill Lichliter, Roger Schafer, Harold Guest, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck (Thank You Lou), Art Frament, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Chuck Aelesio, Duncan Bellinger, Joe Bender, Warren Willsey and guest Danielle, Harold Grippen, and not me.

Location:

— Photo by John R. Williams

Simple pleasures: Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow provides outdoor seating where some of The Old Men of the Mountain enjoy the spring weather. Next time they visit the eatery, some of them plan to bring fishing poles.

On Tuesday, May 24, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow. Kim’s sits practically in the Catskill Creek because this creek flows so close to the back of the diner.

On a tree on the bank of the creek about 30 feet from the diner, at the edge of the of the diner’s parking lot, is a small sign the reads “Fishing Permitted.” When fish is ordered at the diner, it should be fresh. Creeks are fun and quite romantic until they flood; then they become angry torrents.

Some of the OFs lingered as they left the restaurant and enjoyed the early morning hours at the tables outside the diner. They discussed many topics while listening to the sounds of the creek as it is wending its way to the Hudson.

Ah! Some of the simple pleasures of being retired. At this age, the OFs are not wasting time chasing women, running off to play ball, or just going to work. The OFs are out enjoying what God has put here for the OFs’ pleasure.

No longer naïve

As usual, at the table Tuesday morning, much of the discussion centered around what the OFs did when they were working, even prior to that, or in the military. Some of the OFs mentioned how life is different in larger cities and how most of them found this out while in the military.

The Hilltown OFs did not realize how naïve they were, nor how poor they were, until they ran into these guys. One OF said that at home no one locked their doors, or locked their cars, but in the service this one OF said you had to put your shoes on fast or others would steal the socks right off your feet. These experiences are carried over till this day.

Another OF mentioned that his experiences in the military ran along the same lines and originally caused a camaraderie between the city folk banding together and the country folk doing the same.  The OF said it took awhile before the country folk and city folk could sort each other out, and friendships began to develop across the city-country cultures.

However, this OF said that to him the tag of “country hick” stuck with many of the hay foot-straw foots even after many of the country boys turned out to be better soldiers, sailors, or marines, than the city slickers.

Stereotypes are earned

Stereotypes, they are traits that are earned!

For instance, the Welsh can sing, the Irish can fight, the French can love and cook, and the Spanish can paint. The Italians can cook but, unlike the French, love is not what they are noted for — all they can do, so the stereotype goes, is pinch.

However, we all know a Welshman that can’t sing a note, an Irishman that won’t fight, a Spaniard that can’t draw a straight line, an Italian that can’t boil water or won’t pinch even if the opportunity presented itself, and a Frenchman — well, maybe that one is hard to top. The OFs think all French are good at their designated stereotype.

Applying the past to the present

The OFs talked about taking the experiences they accrued over their lifetime so far and applying it to how they live life today.

One OF thought his mind hasn’t changed much, but there are certain things he did “back then” that he does do differently today, while another OF said he can’t remember how he did it “back then”; he only knows how he does it today. This OF claimed he does not dwell on the past; he claims today is all that counts.

Then the other OFs said, “Well, how did you know how to do what you do today if you didn’t do some version of it ‘back then’ and altered it?”

The OF retorted, “If you clutter your pea-pickin’ brain up with all the way-back-whens, it gets in the way of learning anything new. I am not going to be an OF that says, ‘Well, that ain’t how we used to do it.’  Forget how we used to do it, do it the way it is done today, so there!”

Another OF said, “I agree with that OF who says it’s not the way we used to do it. If the key to start the car is always on the righthand side of the wheel, don’t go sticking it on the left. I had enough trouble learning that to dim the headlights when I didn’t have to push a little button on the floor between the clutch and the brake.”

Yet another OF said, “Hey, you still holler, ‘Whoa!’ and pull on the steering wheel when you go to stop your truck.”

To which one more OF interjected, “We get too young stupid, and too old smart.”

Those OFs who made it to Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow (and when Kim’s restaurant’s time comes again in the OFs’ rotation of fine eating establishment, they are going to bring their fishing poles) were: Dave Williams, Harold Grippen, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, Don Wood, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Art Frament, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Gerry Irwin, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Pete Whitbeck, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jess Vadney, Harold Grippen, Harold N. Guest Jr., and me.

Location:

It’s Tuesday May 17, and it’s me again Margret (heh-heh-heh) with the weekly report of the Old Men of the Mountain.

On May 17, the Old Men of the Mountain were as high as they get at any restaurant they visit because the restaurant was the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. As usual, the OMOTM have their morning greetings and weather reports, and this morning it was mentioned that not many of the OFs had ventured out the past week because of the wind, and the fact that they were cold.

The OFs bet that the hummingbirds that have returned wish they stayed down south a tad longer.

This is a continuation of one of the discussions of the Tuesday prior (really many Tuesdays) only this further dialogue delved into other things besides just cars, tractors, and trucks.

This chatting was the lack of being able to work on, and repair, many appliances that the OFs used to repair with common household tools. Parts for the appliances could be bought at the hardware store or where the appliance was purchased.

It used to be (what a worn-out phrase but true) the OF could put brushes in an electric motor or power tool, or change a trigger, or replace a lead. Now the OFs can’t even find the screws to take the things apart.

One OF said the reason they can’t find the screws is because there aren’t any — a lot of these appliances and tools (once the innards are done) are encased in plastic; there is no way to take them apart.  So then you can just chuck it in the trash can.

Raise the hood of a car, and the OFs say they need $10,000 worth of special tools just to get at what needs repair. The backyard mechanic is long gone.

To work on just about any small appliance today, the OFs say it is necessary to apprentice somewhere, go to a factory training school, or attend BOCES to learn how to do appliance maintenance or repair.

One OF had a new energy-efficient furnace installed with a small stack that was just warm to the touch when the furnace was running. The original oil man looked at it and said, “Don’t call me to fix this thing.  It looks like a TV set inside that cover.”

The OF said it used to be (note the phrase) that he could put a new nozzle on the burner and adjust the air by himself; now half the repairmen who come have to call in an expert even when they are supposed to be heating and air-conditioning technicians themselves.

One OF said that many small appliances, and economically priced tools are not meant to be repaired — they are throw-aways.

Another OF said that goes for cars, too. Some of the upholstered roller skates they call automobiles these day are throw-aways. It costs more to fix them than the car cost.

NEAT dinner is really neat

Some of the OFs live alone, like many seniors, and they travel around to find meals that are cheap or free.

One they find particularly good is the NEAT (Not Eating Alone Tonight) dinner at the Reformed Church in Berne. According to the OFs, the NEAT dinner is really neat and they look forward to that one on the third Monday of the month.

This scribe did a little follow-up on this and found that the meal is served at 5 p.m., and requires a phone call to say you are coming.  That phone call is really appreciated. They have room for 95 people, and it is just one setting.

This meal is by donation. If you can afford it, drop something in the bucket; if not don’t worry about it, that is really what the meal is for.

Brother’s keeper

Walking to school: Here is a topic one can only appreciate if you are of a certain age. The OFs go back a ways (1930s to ’40s) to when the Hilltowns were dotted with one-room school houses and the OFs had to walk to school.

One OF said that, on his way to school in the springtime, the swamp on the side of the road would fill up with the spring rains and snow runoff, then the swamp would cover the road. This OF said his older brother would carry him and his other siblings through the swamp. The older brother went to school wet while all his brothers were nice and dry.

Some OFs were picked up by horse and wagon and sleighs in the wintertime, and some trudged their way two miles or so to go to school.

Back then, most of the one-room schools also had only one outhouse, so LGBT was not a problem — just lock the door.  Also back then, not many bothered locking the doors; they were farm kids and nature was natural to them.

The outhouses did not have heat either so there was no lingering when you got permission to go to the privy in the wintertime. There was no running water either; there were hand pumps with a bucket and a dipper. Some teachers gave the job of getting water from a creek to various students.

In the wintertime, some students were also given the job to go to school early to start the fire, and make sure the ice was broken if the water were frozen. No wonder many OFs look at the kids of today and say, “What a pampered bunch.”

One OF mentioned one winter was so bad that the school was held at his house for about two weeks. The house was on flat ground and the teacher and the kids could get that far. No snow days back then.

But now, when the OFs go to the hospital, they want the best of the “pampered bunch” to go and grab his laser to operate on the OFs back even if the doctor performing the operation isn’t old enough to shave. Go figure.

Those OFs who made it through their one-room schoolhouse days and who found their way to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville in their late-model chariots were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Ted Willsey, Karl Remmers, Bob Snyder, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Otis Lawyer, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Jim Rissacher, Art Frament, Bill Rice, Henry Whipple, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Pages