Here we are into September: The kids are back in school; the school buses are picking up the little darlings; and on Tuesday, Sept. 6, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown.

The OMOTM need a school bus of their own to gather the OFs up for their trips to the restaurants. The kids and grandkids of the OFs would be out there with their cameras on the first day the OF bus made its rounds to pick up the OFs.

They would have to get pictures of them getting on the bus with their canes, or having the little lady pushing them up the stairs onto the bus so the OF could get on. It would be so sweet; there would be tears in the eyes of the grandkids as they watched Grandpa board the bus.

An OF came in Tuesday morning with a great greeting; he placed his hand on the shoulder of an OF already at a table and said, “Good morning, who ya mad at today?”  Great.

OFs are tough

Many of the OFs not only use hearing aids, and have false teeth but they also wear glasses. Misplacing teeth and hearing aids is tough to do but misplacing glasses is rather easy, especially for the OFs. The OFs were talking about how many pairs of glasses they have had to replace because they were lost.

One OF said the trouble in losing his glasses is because he can’t see to find them once they are gone. Many of the OFs said they have dollar-store reading glasses that seem to work fine, and for only a buck they are able to have pairs all over the house.

One OF said when his prescription changes he has a couple of pairs made and put in the cheapest frames the eye doctor has. One pair he places where he knows he can find them and then, when another pair is lost in the house, he goes and gets those so he can locate the other.

Another OF said he tried using the glasses with a chain attached to them that goes around his neck. This does not work, the OF said, because, when he is working and doesn’t need the glasses, they are always in the way when he bends over, or because the glasses hang right where he holds stuff to his chest to carry. The OF said he has crushed more glasses than he has lost.

Another OF said he has his glasses made with those foldable frames and, when he takes them off, he just folds them up and put them in his pocket and for him it works great. The OF hasn’t lost a pair since.

As this scribe added, this is just one more problem that adds truth to the statement, “You gotta be tough to be old”; along with the aches and pains, the OFs can’t hear and they can’t see.

Remembering silo work

The OFs remarked that, no matter which way you travel in our area, the Schoharie Valley, the Mohawk Valley, the Hoosick River Valley, the Hudson River Valley, or even into Vermont and beyond, all you see is corn. Acres and acres of corn.

It seems that even gentlemen farmers with just 10 acres have these acres planted to corn. This is corn for ethanol or so the OFs have been told. It is not cow corn for silage (although some may be).

One OF noted that he sees these acres of corn growing all over but he doesn’t see any cows. When the OFs were farming, the garden had a few rows of sweet corn and the fields had the corn for the silo. Some OFs remember eating the cow corn especially when it was not quite ready — it was not bad. If you put enough butter and salt on it when it was a little older ,it still wasn’t bad.

Most of the OFs who farmed remember filling silo and it was a fun time. Farmers got together and they filled each other’s silo, and generally there was a large spread afterwards. These spreads were like church potluck dinners; all the ladies brought the best of what they made. How it worked out the farmers did not quite know because seldom were there any duplicates.

Actually, silo work could be very dangerous. Some farmers were known to pass out when working in the silo because of the gases formed and limited air space in the silo. Back in the day, safety guards on spinning equipment were few and far between, if any at all, and, in filling a silo, there were lots of belts flapping, flywheels whirring, PTOs (power takeoffs) spinning, choppers chopping, blowers blowing, and nary a guard.

Not a place for kids, but they were there — not toddlers — because, when the OFs were on the farm, if you were 8 or 9 years old, you were out there and had better be earning your keep.

An OF mentioned that, back on the farm, it was nothing to see a young lad who was 10 or 12 years old repairing an old (at that time it wasn’t so old) hit-and-miss one-cylinder engine. Today, as another OF mentioned, he still looks for the even younger kid to come fix his stupid phone, computer, or TV. Times they are a-changing — both the people and their paraphernalia.

Farm tales and smells

The OFs continued with their old farm tales on how things used to be done and in some cases may still be done the same way.  Raising turkeys for Thanksgiving was one of these memories.

None of the OFs said they did this anymore because it is cheaper to get a turkey all ready to go at the store than it is to try and raise them. What did they do, you may ask?

Well, for one thing, after the turkey met the chopping block, it was hung in the shed for a few days. This made the bird much easier to pluck and clean.

One OF said that his father would cover the birds with grain sacks to keep the flies off them.  However, dunking the turkey or even chickens in hot water to start the plucking was the worst smell on the farm.

Much of farm life had its own particular aroma, most of which is not bad. Today they have added one that is a winner.  An OF said he can’t stand the smell of the new way of seasoning manure before it is spread on the fields — that is a rank odor, the OF opined.

One OF spoke up, “Do you guys have to bring all that up now?  We are eating here ya know.”

To which another OF added, “Suck it up.  I once ate my lunch at the bottom of the septic tank we were cleaning because I didn’t want to climb out and get all cleaned up to go eat and then have to climb back down to finish the job.”  Ugh!

This scribe would like to say that last part was made up, but the scribe knows for a fact it wasn’t.

Those OFs who were able to live through farming in the early years and make it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, where the smell of breakfast is not bad at all, and the OFs just sit there and get waited on, were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Henry Witt, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, John Rossmann, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Jack Benac, Joe Ketzer, Roger Shafer, Low Schenck, Jack Norray (who was serenaded and received a muffin with a candle for making it to 82 today), Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Andy Tinning, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagonbaugh, Rich Donnelly, Don Chase, Gary Bates, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Pastor Jay Francis, Richard Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jess Vadney, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On Tuesday, Aug. 30, with the summer of 2016 is almost gone, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg. It was a beautiful beginning of a rare day in the Northeast, slightly crisp, and clear.

The OFs discussed the five-year anniversary of the devastation to our area and others by Tropical Storm Irene. The OFs still cannot understand what is happening in Schoharie with the slow-poke construction going on around the county buildings. One OF said he hopes this isn’t a cost-plus job.

Studebaker needs a new home

What to do with an old car, a really old car? One OF has in his barn a 1932 four-door Studebaker Dictator. This OF has no intention of restoring it and is looking to have this rare vehicle find a new home.

This is a good decision because if he isn’t going to do anything with it, why should he have such a piece of history sit in his barn and rust away? The OF already has a 50-year old Allis-Chalmers which once was all seized up and is now freed up and running.

The OFs are antiques themselves; maybe someone should take the OFs under their wing, free them up, and get them running. Not that the OFs are not running, but many could be running a lot better.

Downsizing

The trend now is downsizing. Some of the OFs are finally taking that to heart.  At one time, the OFs hauled around abandoned objects that have been left in their fields and have even had trees growing through them.

They brought these relics home and had the hard-earned excitement of getting some of these beasts belching smoke again. This is better than just letting these pieces of equipment sit in the field and rot, or Mother Nature turn them to rust. However, now comes the problem of downsizing

After the OF’s head is resting on the pillow in the casket, or his ashes are blowing away in the wind, what happens to all these collections? When is the time to get the family together and ask, “What do you want, or this is yours?”

There is a big “if” that could pop up, and, according to one OF, has, and that is the statement, “I don’t want any of this old crap.”

Ho-boy now what?

The old adage, “One man’s treasure is another man’s trash” is more than a statement, it is a truism.  Many of the OFs are at the age where this is a problem to be considered.

One OF inquired, “Are museums just an upgrade of what many OFs have in their barns?” That is a good question.

Exploring the mysteries of working together

The OFs discussed a social problem that is universal.  This problem is why some people can work with other people, and the other people cannot work with people. Then there is the one guy who can’t work with anybody.

The OFs did not think it odd that one person can work with another person doing the same job, and can’t with another. They thought it was personality clashes and not that each one was doing a bad job, or that one thought the other was lazy and not pulling his weight.

The OFs could not quite understand it, when one OF commented that he could not work with Joe Blow, while other OFs thought Joe Blow was a great guy to work with. One OF thought it had nothing to do about work; it was that mysterious phenomenon called karma.

A quick Google check tells us that one definition of  karma is we receive what we give. That means all our actions reflect back upon us, either in this world or in the subsequent ones.

For one reason or another, sometimes the karma of two people doesn’t connect.

An OF said, “Don’t give me that hocus-pocus karma stuff; I just can’t work with him. We can go out and get drunk together, but work with him — no way.”

The same OF said that he does everything opposite. For instance, he said, “If I go to flip a piece of plywood to the left, he starts going to the right.” The other OF insisted it was the karma not connecting.

The first OF responded, “Then why is it that with most other people when (without saying anything) we both start flipping the same way, no stress, no fighting each other, a piece of cake — the plywood is flipped. However, if I ask Joe Blow to hand me a hammer, he hands me a nail, and vice-versa; for some reason, if he asks for a hammer, I will hand him a nail. No one is yanking anybody’s chain — I just can’t work with Joe Blow.”

One other OF said, “That is what makes a team — everybody automatically working together and in sync with each other. A super player can come from someplace else and be better than anyone else on the team but, if he doesn’t fit in, and his karma doesn’t match, instead of making the team better,it becomes worse because it is not working as a unit.”

The other OF bristled, “It is not ‘karma.’  It’s just that the other guys would prefer playing with the guy he replaced, so the new guy dances around the outside and is not included.”

This discussion could go on forever but this scribe hopes you get the idea of what the OFs were talking about, and this debate finally (thank goodness) drifted to something else.

Cocky cocks

That something else was the following question: Can hens keep a rooster from becoming mean?  The answer seemed to be no.

Some of the OFs said they were chased out of the henhouse by a mean rooster. Most reported that they were kids at the time and were there to gather the eggs.

These roosters were surrounded by hens, so having hens around didn’t help. The OFs reported that, as adults, if the rooster behaved like that, they would catch that bird and ring his bloody neck.

The OFs that made it all the way to the Duanesburg Diner, in Duanesburg, and not on tractors that were 50 years old, but many in flashy new cars were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Marty Herzog, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Roger Shafer, Duncan Bellinger, Joe Bender, Otis Lawyer, Jim Heiser, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Art Frament, Herb Sawotka, Pete Whitbeck, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Don Chase, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagonbaugh, Rich Donnelly, Pastor Jay Francis, and me.

Location:

On Aug. 23, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie. Many of the restaurants, diners, and cafés the Old Men of the Mountain have on their rotational clock are places (when you are traveling) you might have a tendency to drive right by. They are local hangouts, but the meals are good.

Many travelers (the OFs included) are in this group of driving on by. But, and this is a big but, if these small out-of-the-way places have a good number of cars around them, it is a good bet the restaurant  has excellent diner food at reasonable prices.

One OF remembered a trip to the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where the OF said he and his wife took advantage of arriving early and signing up for a park ranger to drive their car around the site.

At that time, the charge was not very expensive and the ranger was with the OF for the whole morning. The OF asked the ranger where there was a good place to eat, and the ranger told him of a little place in town.

This place was within walking distance of the parking lot but not the direction the tour buses and tourists went.  In fact, it was just about 180 degrees the other way out of town. The OF said when they got there it was full of locals, and not a tourist in sight.

It was not fancy, the food was great, and it was inexpensive, just like the OMOTM’s roundtable of eating establishments.  The Your Way Café is just one of those along with all the others. (This is not a paid advertisement — just the facts ma’am).

Flying pests

Are the Canada geese gathering early to go downstate? The OFs have noticed the geese cueing up. The OFs think these birds are getting so people-friendly they are becoming about as much of a nuisance as the droppings these feathered manure spreaders leave behind on their visits.

One OF thought they are about as dumb as mourning doves; at his place it becomes necessary to shoo them out of the way before he can open the car door. They also parade up the OF’s driveway at a goose’s pace and don’t move right or left. These flying pests must think the honking of the OF’s horn is a mating call.

One OF suggested shooting a couple of these birds and putting them in the freezer for Thanksgiving. This OF also suggested he could pass them off as turkey when the holiday rolls around because no one would know the difference, just like making all your coffee decaffeinated and giving it to people who drink regular — most don’t know the difference anyway.

The question still remains: Are the geese cueing up early, and may this be an indicator to the coming winter? Only time will tell.

Scottish Games

This Labor Day weekend, the Scottish Games will be held at the Altamont fairgrounds. The OFs were talking about this because one of our members is really involved with this event.

One OF mentioned one time taking a couple of friends to the games on Saturday (the games are a weekend event) and the OF, his wife, and the couple had a great time.  On Sunday, this couple decided to go back to the games.

Lo and behold, one came back (the macho one) with a complete outfit (starting with the kilt) right down to the scabbard and knife in the sock. Some sutler (camp vendor) was glad to see this couple stop at his fly.

Senior Day at the Altamont Fair

Discussions about experiences at the fair continued from last week’s talk of experiences at the fair. What could be gleaned from all this talk about the fair has nothing to do with the fair but the truth is that the OFs are getting old.

The discussion was about how long it took the OFs to get around the fair, and the people they met sitting on the benches. One good reason for this is that many of the OFs went on Senior Day, so what did they expect to see other than more seniors wandering around the fair looking at stuff and commenting, “Oh, we had this (or that) when I was young.”

Some even said that some of the items came after they were young; they were using older items than those on display when they were younger.

Some OFs were heard to say, “Look Mildred, there we are,” and the retort, “Look, you old goat, that’s us” as they watched other older couples walk by with their canes, arm in arm, helping each other tour the grounds. The OFs are wondering if the older generation is getting more numerous, or is it that the OFs hang out with other OFs so everybody seems old?

As mentioned, this was Senior Day and, if the OFs were to go on a Friday night, they might be out of place. The OFs would see all the young people showing off their skimpy clothes with their belly buttons hanging out and many of these buttons should never see the light of day.

“That could be why they are out at night,” one OF added.

Maybe the OFs should start dressing like that — this would then scare the living daylights out of the younger generation and in defense they would start covering up. The OFs can hear it now: “Grandma, you can’t dress like that and go out!”

The OFs can hear the reply, “Hey kid, it is not illegal; Grandma can strut her stuff too, you know.”

The guys are just as bad, with ratty-looking beards on guys who, if they lived to be 100, could never grow a beard. They sport unwashed hair, and butt cracks are on display.

So here comes Grandpa at the fair, with at least a beard that is a beard, unwashed hair, teeth out, and hairy butt crack on display. The OFs bet that, if there were parades of the kids’ parents, and grandparents in the attire some of the kids wear, there would soon be an end to the strange get-ups that can only appeal to those who are dressed like them.

This scribe didn’t even mention the tats that will soon be nothing more than black blobs. The fair is a lot of fun sometimes, just for sitting on a bench and watching humanity pass by. Ah yes, and the OFs are part of it.

Proprietary products

The OFs elevated their topic of discussion to proprietary products. Manufacturers that make a product many other manufacturers make will construct this merchandise so that the expendable parts fit only their machine, or product.

The OFs discussed lawn mowers in particular. Most all rotary mowers use blades; the way blades are attached to the machines are all different.

Some have a hole; some have a diamond; some have a helix; some have a large hole with two smaller holes, or even three smaller holes; some are raised in the center — it goes on and on. The OFs think there should be one type of blade that is universal to all mowers.

There is so much more that this can apply to. The OFs were thinking of chainsaws and proprietary chainsaw blades. So much of what many products use are expendable and have no real function in how these creations work, the OFs are wondering why this can’t be done.

Look what happened to Kodak, Polaroid, Beta, and many other companies because they were bull-headed and insisted that their expendable products would only work on their equipment. They then constructed their own goods so other manufacturers of expendable equipment would not work on their equipment.

One OF who works on lawn mowers brought up not only blades, but drive wheels on self-propelled lawn mowers (for the most part) being different. “They all do the same thing,” this OF said, “One does not give better performance than the other — just like blades.”

A second OF said this can carry over into so many other products like vacuum cleaners, coffee makers, mixers, and many household products, and even tools.

All aboard

The discussion changed to boats as one OF told of going to a regatta in the Thousand Islands. The OF reported taking a ride in a seven-passenger Hacker boat — exactly what model he did not say. (This scribe was sent to the Internet, and searched Google images for Hacker boats.  Wow! What boats!)

The OF reported that, on the trip, they came upon a large tanker plying the river and the ship was generating a huge wake. Judging by how high the OF held his hands from the floor, the other OFs estimated the wake was four to five feet, and the OF reporting the story said the waves from the wake were close together.

He noticed that the pilot of the boat made no attempt to maneuver away from the wake; instead, he headed right into it. close to the ship itself. The OF also said the pilot did not gun the engine to raise the bow of the Hacker so he hit the first wave dead on.

The OF said the second wave washed over the boat and soaked everybody, plus this wave placed a couple of inches of water into the boat. The OF said he asked why this pilot made no maneuvers to avoid the wake, or why he did not gun the engine to raise the bow. The pilot answered only one of these questions and said gunning the engine on a Hacker does not raise the bow.

The OFs were wondering how old this skipper was and if that tactic was not maybe just a tad on the deliberate side. The OFs hoped this OF did not tip the pilot.

Now for the alibi report and this scribe’s wife suggested that it should be reported everyone was here but it’s easier to look it up and report who was not here. This scribe thought that would not sit well with law enforcement. All the OFs who got up and made it to the Your Way Café on a beautiful day were: Miner Stevens (who opened the place up), Roger Chapman, Henry Witt, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Pete Whitbeck, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Tanner Spohn (Mark’s grandson), Roger Shafer, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Jim Rissacher, Don Wood, Sonny Mercer, Duncan Bellinger, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Herb Sawotka, Art Frament, Gary Bates, Bob Benac, Rich Donnelly, Bob Lassome, Ted Willsey, Duane Wagonbaugh, Mike Willsey, Gerry Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Tuesday, Aug. 16, the Old Men of the Mountain were sitting on the benches of the Country Café in Schoharie waiting for the proprietors to open the doors.

So often it is said, “You can take the boy out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy.”

Another take on the saying can be, “You can take the man out of the military, but you can’t take the military out of the man.”

Each of those scenarios require both the man and the boy to get up early. So there they are — OFs waiting for the restaurant to open.

One OF showed up with a box of new hats for the OMOTM, so you may see more of the gray and black hats with the “OMOTM” letters on them. When you see some OF with one of these hats on, be kind to him, because that person will fit the first two letters, Old and Man.

This gentleman may be wobbly on his feet (though not drunk) or he may walk into the wall and miss the door because he has only one eye that works most of the time, or he may know you and then again might not, or he may be wandering around the parking lot looking for his car, and then again he might be standing right beside it and not know it.

He may even be trying to get into your car thinking it is his and giving you an argument. If you happen to notice he has on one of the gray and black hats with the OMOTM label, take it easy on him; the OF is doing the best he can.

The hat advertises that the person under it has eyes that may be a little dimmer, the hearing may be fading a bit, the gait may be slower, but the heart beats with the same passion for living as it did 50 years ago.

One OF suggested that there should be a club in school that researches the elderly in the community and helps them out with routine chores. Another OF thought that there are such clubs, and maybe the OFs are too active for these clubs to notice.

However, it would be nice if a club researched and found older people still quite ambulatory but living alone and then these younger folks could go mow their lawns, help with cleaning their houses, and even perform some simple routine maintenance like changing light bulbs, give painting a touch here and there, and fix the broken hinge — things like that.

In cleaning the house, this club would really be a big help because there comes a time in the aging process where the older people may be able to get down but getting up is another matter. Scrubbing the tub and shower is one chore that requires the getting down and getting up.

The OFs say it is just a thought, and, like one OF mentioned, in many places this type of volunteering may be going on, but it gets no press.

Fond fair memories

It is fair time and the OFs discussed these country fairs, for example, what they are now and what they used to be. The OFs can’t relate to the fair as it is now and one OF assumed it’s because we are of another generation, to which this scribe suggested he try another word here because it is likely more than one generation. The OFs are so antiquated that generations is a more likely word.

The complexions of the communities have changed from agricultural to suburban.  Farms are few and far between, half the people attending the fair (the OFs think) only know a cow from picture books and probably think chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

To which one OF told the story of how his brother brought some friends of his from college home to their farm in Schoharie. They were from the city, and the OF said his brother had them convinced that this cow story was, in fact, the way it was.

This farm had a mixed herd, and some of these cows were Jerseys (one of the smallest breeds of dairy cattle and definitely brown in color). The OF had his father place some cocoa at the bottom of a bucket and then the OF’s brother hand-milked a Jersey and the milk turned, you guessed it, brown.

In the milkhouse, the OF’s brother had a strainer on a milk can with a taped-on sign noting, “This can for chocolate milk only.” The OF wonders if those two guys still think chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

The OFs remember showing animals and bringing produce to the fair. They remember their Future Farmers of America projects at the fair, having their crafts presented in the 4-H building, and their parents working together with other farmers on their Grange presentations. Spending the week at the fair, taking care of the livestock, was tons of fun.

The OFs hope the fairs keep on going so their grandkids can have the same experiences; most will. However, it is more likely some of these programs will be offered in different ways.

Things have changed a lot in the generations the OFs have trod this planet. At one point, the OFs who are Catholic discussed how they had to behave and how they had to dress at the parochial schools they attended as youngsters.

One OF said he doesn’t think that has changed much over the years. The OFs knew that they had to wear knickers, shirts, and ties — and boy! when a nun spoke, the OFs listened.

The OFs remembered practicing the Palmer method to learn cursive writing. One OF said he does not think that many kids today write in cursive.

Another OF said, watching the kids today, he thinks that over the years the pointer finger and the index finger will turn into thumbs. Another OF added he didn’t think so; the technology of today is moving so fast that the technology of tomorrow won’t require thumbs.

Some of the OFs said that is the way the fair will go; if it is to maintain itself, it has to cater to the younger generation. The OFs are now out of the loop even though they hope that in some places there will still be the old-fashioned country fair.

Casino debate

Along with a lot of people in the area, the OFs joined in the discussion on the casino that is being built in Schenectady. Some think it will work fine; others think it is going to bring problems.

Some OFs think it will hurt Saratoga, and also the Turning Stone casino. One OF said there is only a certain number of gamblers to go around. Another OF added he thinks there will be quite a marketing attack to entice younger people to take up the habit so they can introduce more people to gambling in order to have a larger gambling pool.

One OF said that he has heard that there are some that are going to run river cruises from the New York City to the casino. That, to some OFs, sounded like a neat idea and will probably work, although one OF said that will be more than a day trip to the casino.

A boat coming up the river from New York City and that area is not going to be like coming by train or bus.  A boat will take awhile and, unless that is one really fast boat, those people will have to stay over.

Wild weather

The OFs were discussing the recent weather disasters, and they really are disasters, bombarding the South with the rains coming from the Gulf, and the fires in the West that are burning up half the state of California.

The views they show on the news remind the OFs of Katrina, and our own Tropical Storm Irene. The water in Louisiana nobody can do anything about.  If it is going to rain, it is going to rain, but the fires in California appear to have been set.

The OFs are not too sure about that yet but the authorities allegedly have an arsonist in custody. If this is proven to be true, what damage this guy has done! One OF said they are going to need a small army to protect this character because there are thousands of people who will want to hang him from one of those burned-out trees.

One OF said he wouldn’t want to wade in the waters in Louisiana because he would be afraid of running into a snake or an alligator trying to get to the same high ground as he was.

“That is one thing we don’t have to worry about with floods in our neck of the woods,” an OF added.

“Where does all this water go down along the Gulf?” one OF asked. “That area is already at sea level. It can’t run off; it has to sink into the ground or evaporate. I will take a good old snowstorm on my mountain any day.”

The OFs sitting on the benches in front of the Country Café in Schoharie added a touch of yesteryear to the streets of Schoharie as they watched a man travel to each hanging plant that lined the streets, watering them. This would be reminiscent of early risers watching the old lamplighter putting out the lamps in the morning. The OFs that gathered there were: Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Dave Williams, Harold Guest, Bill Bartholomew, Marty Herzog, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Roger Shafer, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Roger Fairchild, Herb Sawotka, Jim Rissacher, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Duncan Bellinger, Joe Bender, Rich Donnelly, Don Wood, Sonny Mercer, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagonbaugh, Ted Willsey, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On Tuesday, Aug. 9, as the summer marches on, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Family Restaurant in the heart of the village of Middleburgh.

At one time, the OFs discussed driving — not actually driving — but driving directions. This topic is great fodder for cartoonists and movies but in this case many of the situations people get into is like art imitating life.

To illustrate, one OF directed another OF on how to get to a particular place and the OF who needed the direction did not completely understand these directions. The phenomenon of not clearly understanding with the OFs is common because many can’t hear, and those who have hearing aids don’t have them in or on.

The OF will go to another OF and ask for directions to the same place, and the directions the second OF gives makes the original OF wonder if they are talking about the same location.

Then the two OFs who know how to get to the setting the OF wants to go to start arguing about which way is the best way. When this happens occasionally a third OF will enter the fray.

Now this OF was never asked how to get to the particular spot in question but he comes up with a totally different way to get there. No wonder the OFs are lost most of the time.

One OF made a statement that is very true.  All three ways may get you there and each way may be the best to each OF because they are familiar with that particular way, which is why it seems shorter and the best, when, in fact, it may be the farthest in distance and longest in time.

Taking a trip to Florida brings this discussion to some real interesting ways of getting to a familiar area like Daytona Beach.  Going to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina the way the one OF is used to going is always the best even if it fits the above criteria of being the farthest and longest.

It is what the OF is used to, so trying to change the OF’s mind to your way at best is a waste of good lung usage. The arguing OF can haul out all the Google trip maps, regular maps, AAA triptiks, and GPS directions he wants, but the OF still thinks his way is best and that is the way he is going to go.

To quote Hillary, “What difference does it make?” The OF is going to get there anyway.

Then there is the more adventurous OF who tries a different way, or combination of ways each time he heads south, just to see and experience something a little more stimulating.  Others are so set in their ways that they stop at the same points and stay in the same motels so the whole trip feels more like the OF is on his home turf.

This way everything is familiar — the gas stations, the rest areas, etc. — so the OF knows what to expect. There is something to say for both sides of the discussion; it depends on the OF’s temperament.

Face-to-face fun

To continue on with previous reports of life in the Hilltowns in the forties, fifties, and early sixties, and discussions of ice ponds, the fact was brought out that Knox used to have an ice pond for ice in the winter and recreation in the summer. The OFs, when they were kids, in the summer would head to the swimming hole and hang out and have fun, whether it was the pond in Knox, or Fox Creek in Gallupville, or any clean farmer’s pond that would be handy.

In that period, the OFs would talk and socialize face to face, and could carry on a conversation with an adult. The OFs lament that today very few kids can tell a story, or associate with an adult, and they seem to have trouble looking the OF in the eye.

Luckily, however, there are some that can still do this, that is, carry on a conversation that makes sense and is coherent. One OF said this is just an observation not a complaint; if the OFs were young, they would be just like the kids the OFs are commenting on.

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh this Tuesday were many. The scribe does not know why so many were there.  The scribe could only assume that it was to establish an alibi of some sort, to escape from an upset ex, or a really, really upset suitor of someone the OF was getting to know too well, yet it may be just to get out of chores, better yet avoid a bill collector, or a summons processor.

For whatever the reason there were many OFs at the restaurant and they were (Are you ready for this?): Dave Williams, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Don Wood, Sonny Mercer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Chuck Aelesio, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Otis Lawyer, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Wayne Gaul, Lou Schenck, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Jess Vadney, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Duncan Bellinger, Joe Bender, Bill Bartholomew, Pete Whitbeck, Rich Donnelly, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagonbaugh, Ray Gaul, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Ted Willsey, Richard Frank, Roger Fairchild, Harold Grippen, but not me.

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