On Jan. 24, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. At this meeting, the pickings were slim. The weather was a major factor but some brave souls made the trek.

One OF didn’t make it because he was instructed by his better half that he had better not go and leave her alone when the power went out. The power didn’t go off so the OF missed the breakfast. The OF was headed out the door on his way when the OMOTM thought the better part of valor would be to return.

From the informants who braved the weather and made it to the breakfast, it was noted that, for some reason, part of the conversation was on the Civil War. This was from knowledge gained from books, and not actual participation, although with some of the ages of these OFs, they just missed it.

President Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration was the most hostile, and guarded inauguration in history. He was known to many as the “ape” from Illinois and the gossip was that he would never take the reins of the government alive.

The carriage in which he rode from the Capitol to the White House was so guarded by the military that he was barely visible, and the Army was employed to keep the crowds at bay. The sharpshooters on the rooftops were given orders to shoot anyone who approached the carriage.

Politics are still alive and causing discussion among “We, the People.”

Ice is not nice

Our weather was also a topic, of course. With the exception of the temperatures in the Hilltowns not being quite as high as the Carolinas, this much of the winter so far has been like the Carolinas with all the ice. One OF mentioned that, what they have in the Carolinas is lots of ice, but the days warm up so fast (for the most part) the ice is gone by late afternoon.

“Not always,” one OF added, “It (ice) can hang around, and get inches thick, and just like us here in upstate New York, everything will shut down.

The white pine trees in the Hilltowns are bent over from the ice buildup on the trees’ branches, and so far this year this occurrence has happened twice. One OF mentioned that the white pines shed branches in ice storms like deciduous trees shed their leaves in the fall.

Another OF said that, even though they drop branches as large as six inches in diameter, it does not seem to affect the tree; that weed of a tree just keeps on growing.

“Yes,” one OF commented, “in the fall, we have to contend with all the pine needles that fall and, in the spring, we have to haul all the branches away that fell during the winter.” To this OF it is a double whammy.

Then the yellow pollen in the spring shows up and that stuff goes where water won’t. However, his wife insists that the tree supplies cover to lots of blue jays so let the trees be.

The OF claimed he and his wife sit on the porch and watch the birds fly full tilt through the white pines and never ruffle a needle. They wonder how these fliers manage to do this because the various birds’ wing spans can be from four inches to over twelve inches.

Another OF’s wife complains when her beloved OF clears brush and tries to eliminate the wild grape vines because that is where the cardinals live. The OF says his home is full of the red of cardinal plates, cardinal wall hangings, cardinal figurines, and sundry cardinal knickknacks.

Tough eyes for tough guys

The OFs discussed the eye, and how tough an organ that is. Many of the OFs have had eye surgery.

The OFs have many of the eye problems of all OFs, and OFsess, (just like princes and princesses) like dry eye, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and a few other ailments like scratchy eyeballs, and tearing.

But the eye is tough; many of the OFs have had numerous black eyes. One OF said he had two black eyes at the same time.

Bugs, dust, thistles, and all kinds of stuff whack the OFs in their eyes and, for the most part, after a short time, the eye is back to normal. One OF said he had a battery blow up in his face and he thought he was going to be blind, but after a while his vision was back and normal.

To which another OF added, “You are one lucky s.o.b., that could have been the case and you would now be using a white cane.”

Those hardy few that made it to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, and probably left Amanda with a few extra eggs, a couple extra pounds of bacon, and extra bowls of pancake mix, because of the short supply of OFs were: Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, Rev. Jay Francis, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, Marty Herzog, Ted Willsey, (Denise Eardley), and not me.

Location:

Silver King tractors, like this one, are being restored by two Old Men of the Mountain.

Tuesday is here again and the Old Men of the Mountain met on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Home Front Café in Altamont.

The other restaurants the OFs visit are restaurants, but the Home Front is a restaurant with a theme.  The Home Front pays tribute to the men and women of the 1940s generation.

The Home Front is as well known for that theme as for its food. The theme suits many of the OFs because they are veterans. However, the talk Tuesday morning was not on anything veteran-related.  The OFs may be old but at least they are current.

The big argument of the day is what a lynx is, and what a bobcat is. Really!

In a good side shot, there should be no discussion. One OF brought in a clear picture on his cell phone of a bobcat in a backyard. It was a bobcat; it was large and apparently a male; however, one OF insisted it was a lynx.

A quick perusal on Google revealed the following: The most common wildcat in North America, the bobcat, is named for its short, bobbed tail. They are medium-sized cats and are slightly smaller but similar in appearance to their cousin, the lynx. Their coats vary in color from shades of beige to brown fur with spotted or lined markings in dark brown or black.

So, it was one against 30 and among the 30 were outdoorsmen, trappers (one professional), hunters and fishermen, and a few who have the cats visit them on occasion. But (like many of the OFs) once an OF’s mind is set, it is virtually cast in stone; hence the well-earned phrase “you blockhead”!

Anyway, it was just a big bobcat out for a stroll.  Or maybe it was his cousin.

Snowed under

Another OF brought in some photographs of the winter of 1957/58 on the Hill with snow banks twice as high as a vehicle and in many areas the plows could not get through and the snow was shoveled by hand to reach the road.

Helicopters were used to bring in supplies to stranded farmers, and they even brought in hay. But one OF muttered under his breath that this winter isn’t over yet; we still have to get through March.

Tractor talk

Two OFs who sat across from each other were discussing the Silver King tractor; both OFs have one, and these tractors are in different stages of restoration. Listening to the two yak back and forth was like a history lesson on the Silver King tractor.

The tractor was developed in the early 1900s to augment a company in Plymouth, Ohio that made locomotives and other equipment for moving clay to make bricks. The company (Plymouth Locomotives) had a serious decline in sales because of the Great Depression of 1929 to 1939.

They needed something cheap that people could afford, and they needed to keep their employees working. Aha! the Silver King tractor so named because the silver paint used on the locomotives was good stuff.

The original tractor was designed by the locomotive engineers and was big and cumbersome like a locomotive. This was not what the owners wanted. The company heard of a farmer that made his own tractor from various parts like the Model T and other parts he had laying around his farm.

The owners hired this farmer, and voilà, a small inexpensive tractor was born and painted silver with blue wheels. The tractors were intended for farms less than 60 acres and caught on well. But larger farms found they were a good utility tractor and purchased the tractor to save them from having to crank up the big, heavy ones to do Mickey Mouse chores.

Farmers once again came to the rescue and with forward thinking by the owners developed this type of tractor, which saved the company and the employees. The Silver King was made well into the late 1940s.

When did accidents become crashes?

The OFs were wondering when accidents became crashes. One OF said he hears a crash and he looks for some deliberate act.

The OFs said a crash is when someone goes out and drives headlong into a bridge abutment to kill himself — otherwise it is just an accident. No one goes out to deliberately have an accident, no matter how plastered they are.

More drunks make it home than don’t and the ones that do slam into a tree did not do it deliberately because they were drunk. This was an accident the drunk did not count on.

One OF added, “Yeah, if you are peeling potatoes and cut your hand, it is an accident, and, if you are drunk and cut your hand, it is still an accident because it was not planned. Now the same guy may always be drunk when he peels potatoes and he has been doing it that way for years, but one time he cut his hand.  This is an accident.”

Recalling the lure of Green Stamps

The OFs continued to muse about old times and talked about Green Stamps.  One OF mentioned he still has an unfilled book with Green Stamps.

Some of the OFs mentioned what they picked up at the redemption center. An OF said he still uses one of the items today that he purchased many years ago with Green Stamps.

Another OF wondered if the point system used by airlines, and certain stores and credit cards are a version of the old-fashioned Green Stamps. The OFs said there is so much rigmarole needed to redeem these points and what they offer is nothing the OFs want or can use.

These “points” don’t even come close to the ease of using Green Stamps, and at the redemption center there were many items that people needed and could use.

Elderberries in wine and pies

The OFs talked about eating, again, and this will not be the last time. This time, the chatter was about elderberries — making elderberry wine — and a couple of OFs have just begun making theirs.

One OF garnered 30 pounds of elderberries and the other OF picked 26 pounds and, if anyone knows elderberries, that is a lot of elderberries. One OF is going to combine some blueberries in his wine.

Then the OFs began talking about elderberry pie, and that led to mincemeat pies and how our mothers (now you know we are going back a ways) made their own mincemeat. The OFs know how to eat.

The OFs who made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont, but none ordered elderberr or mincemeat pie, were: John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Ray Frank, Karl Remmers, Bob Snyder, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Rev. Jay Francis, Wayne Gaul, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Bob Giebitz, Gerry Irwin, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

On Jan. 10, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, and this scribe does not have a clue as to what went on because this scribe was not there.

This will give the scribe a chance to expand on or use some of the notes from previous breakfast conversations. Some of what the OFs talk about is a very short, and generally quick, banter back and forth that may only be one or two sentences long and then a nippy retort.

Many of these are not newsworthy or fit for a paper but are very commonplace — locker-room talk of the senior-citizen type.

Last week, one of the topics not covered in the Enterprise report was water. On the Hill, many, if not most, of the wells have sulfur water. This is great stuff.

There are many kinds of water softeners that take care of the sulfur in the home if owner does not want it. Many on the Hill prefer it and, when going off the Hill and drinking the water in Delmar, or Guilderland or any community that has a water plant, the Hill people can smell the chlorine almost immediately.

Some of the OFs say it is almost like drinking Clorox. Some of the OFs who have softeners have a bypass line that goes to a faucet on the sink that takes the untreated water directly to that faucet. This water they use for drinking and cooking.

Some direct the sulfur water directly to a holding jug and let the water aerate. That is good water and spoils the OFs (and most people who drink it) from drinking other water. Thi is one of the many advantages of living on the Hill, but not all the wells are sulfur.  Some wells tap into a good stream of water before it travels through the limestone and that, too, is great water.

OFs ate health food down on the farm

The OFs, say they are OFs because well, duh, they are old and most of the OFs became old by eating the right stuff and the OFs did this naturally. The OFs keep getting reports on how people should be eating and, as the OFs look at these suggestions, many say: What is this stuff? The OFs say that they did not eat the good stuff all the time but, when they got off track, it was only occasionally.

When many of the OFs were growing up, their meals came from items grown in the garden, and butchered on the farm. One OF said, you can’t get any fresher than that, and it was chemical-free: Eggs, meat, and potatoes with veggies and fruit, although some OFs said their fruit came in the form of pies and jams.

A couple of the OFs said their fruit came in the form of wine. Home canning, and curing your own meat, was a food process more than one OF mentioned. “We used plain stuff like salt, or stuff you could pronounce,” said one.

Another OF said his family was poor, to which another OF quickly added, “We were all poor.” Anyway, this particular OF said he didn’t start to eat well until he went into the service.  

“We still eat the same way,” an OF said, “only we get it from the store, and we consume all the chemicals they use and don’t see any difference.”

However, another spoke up and said, “Most of us had a good start before the agriculturists started using all these growth hormones.”

Food and drink is essential

But is it interesting?

Looks like this scribe did not consider eating and drinking interesting because, for any of us to be here, we have to eat and drink. To this, this scribe says, it must be more interesting than he thinks because of all the cooking shows on TV and all the cookbooks in the bookstores.

The question becomes, as one OF put it, “Suppose we ate like they tell us to eat now. Would we be older OFs, and function better at 90 or 100, than we are now at 80 and 90?”

“Only time will tell,” another OF thought. “But who wants to be on this planet that long?”

This is the same OF who wanted to get off this planet awhile back.

Those OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and are still adding weight to this sphere were: Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Pastor Jay Francis, Roger Shafer, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and not me.

Location:

Well, on the first breakfast of the New Year (and, by the way, Happy New Year from the OMOTM), the OFs’ good weather for driving to the restaurants ran out. The drive on Jan. 3 was not fun.

There was drizzle at the freezing point and thick, heavy fog and it was a dark day, but this did not hold many OFs from getting out and enjoying the camaraderie of all the other OFs. The OFs discussed the weather in Duanesburg because Tuesday morning the OMOTM were at the Duanesburg Diner in that village. Duanesburg has a weather system all its own and it generally has nothing to do with the rest of us.

Tuesday morning, this scribe had copious notes because the subjects were varied and all over the place — they covered New Year’s Eve, Mariah Carey, trapping, aquariums, zoos, self-driving cars, clever crooks, sulfur water, guarantees, computer spying, the nonword “overspread,” warts, spots, wrinkles, babies, mice and ticks, the flu, and a few others. This scribe can only pick a few of these to expand on.

Learning to trap

Quite a schooling was given on the art of trapping. It does take time to learn and it is done by going as an apprentice with an experienced trapper. Book larnin’ tain’t gonna cut it.

The critter of choice for this lesson from the trapper was the fisher. The fisher is a nasty animal and will eat just about anything: squirrels, mice, rabbits, birds, cats, skunks, and even the parents of the aforementioned animals, and also their young, and their eggs, according to the OF outdoorsman and trapper. This is a ferocious little animal.

The OF said that, during this trapping season, with the few traps he set out, he managed to trap two fishers. The OF said he does not use leg traps.

Something fishy

We found out in many of our conversations that the OFs have been to places that most of the other OFs have been to. This time it was aquariums.

The aquariums the OFs talked about were the ones in Mystic, Connecticut, in Boston, in Bush Gardens, and in Myrtle Beach. The one that is now open in the old Rotterdam mall was what brought this up.

The kid of one of the OFs was going to take his kids and some friends of theirs to the aquarium at the mall in Rotterdam on the school winter break, but when he checked the cost that was soon scratched off the list.

Legal questions on self-driving cars

The OFs were wondering who would be at fault and who would the lawyers sue if two self-driving vehicles collided with each other. Would they have to sue the company, or the people who owned the cars?

The people who owned them were not driving them so how could they be responsible? How about the guidance system that was directing them? Supposing they were both using the same guidance system, what then?

How would the police fill out the accident report? What kind of answer would they get to, “May I see your license and registration please?”

The OFs think the questions that could come up might be endless.

“What fun,” as one OF put it.

Crazy crimes

The OFs talked about clever crooks, and the crooks that stole the diamonds with 7,000 police officers a couple of blocks away.

One might admit they had one heck of a decoy with the revelry of one of the largest New Year’s Eve parties in full swing. These crooks could have even used jackhammers and no one would have noticed.

One OF thought all of the officers were looking in one direction, trying to spot any sort of trouble so the people partying would be safe; however, none must have looked behind them. One OF added that two blocks away in New York is quite a distance so, even if the police officers looked back, they probably would not have seen anything.

The one crime that was not made by a stupid crook, but rather stupid people who were transporting a tremendous amount of gold.  There was so much gold that this one individual saw just sitting in a bucket in the back of an unattended truck — again New York City.

He picked it up and walked off with it. Who the heck was at fault on that deal one OF wondered.

Then there was the local guy that went after an automated teller machine with a big hammer that was not big enough. The guy went home and came back with a sledge hammer and started beating on the ATM machine but it did not break.

This shows one thing. These machines are well built!

If anyone is going to steal one of these things they should take lessons from the crooks that used a forklift and placed the ATM on a truck and hauled it away. It might be a good idea if the manufacturers of these machines installed a GPS tracking device in the machines along with the cameras.

Warranties

Some time ago, the OFs discussed manufacturers’ errors, and this time the discussion was on warranties. Many of the OFs have had appliances, tools, outdoor equipment, and other items that are used in and around the home and these items fail within the warrantee period.

Depending on the supplier, and what the product is, sometimes the OGs try and fix the problem, but sometimes the suppliers just say, “Take another one.” And, when asked what to do with the one that doesn’t work, often these suppliers say, “Keep it.”

This is because the dealer doesn’t want to mess with it and neither does the manufacturer. Now the OF who bought it is stuck with it and has to take it to the dump — er, transfer station.

However, some of the OFs who have kept various and sundry of these pieces of failed whatever have used them for spare parts, made planters out of them, and in some cases cobbled them up and made them serviceable again.

The OFs have come to the conclusion that, over the years, we have really become a throwaway society.

Those OFs who made it to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg (and the OFs are original production runs and not castaways) were: Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Marty Herzog, and me.

 

Location:

On Tuesday, Dec. 27, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie. This was a sad meeting because the OMOTM were advised of the death of Loretta Kennedy.

Loretta was the proprietor of Mrs. K’s Country Kitchen in Middleburgh and a good friend of many of the OMOTM. Some of the OMOTM sat next to Loretta in many of her classes when she was at Schoharie Central. She was in the same class as this scribe and graduated with him in 1952.

As reported last week, the OMOTM were at Mrs. K’s for their annual Christmas party and Loretta was taking orders and conversing with all the OMOTM and doing all this while supporting herself with a cane. The OMOTM’s thoughts and prayers go out to Patti and her family at this time of sorrow.

The sorrow is for all of us but not for Loretta. God already has put her to work waiting on all the OMOTM who have gone on before (and that is a big group) on a cloud held especially for the OMOTM and their heavenly breakfast.

Lowlifes

This scribe does not know how much of the news becomes information for the OFs because so many of the OFs claim they don’t watch the news (and some do not even get a newspaper) but again many OFs were upset about the lowlifes who steal Christmas presents particularly those intended for the needy. What kind of person would do this?

The OFs wonder what kind of rock they crawled out from. One OF suggested it isn’t a rock; that is too good a home for them. It must be they oozed from some festering cesspool to pull stunts like that.

Many of the OFs don’t understand why anyone takes something that belongs to someone else in the first place. What happens to them when, or if, they get caught was a rhetorical question. Nothing, was the basic reply.  At least the OFs never hear of them getting caught.

Logman

In the Your Way Café was a neat snowman made out of pieces of logs. The bottom of the one in the window was about 12 inches in diameter; the middle was about 9 inches and the head was about four-fifths of an inch. All the pieces were about 2 inches thick, and of course the hat was wood as was the nose and extremities. It had a scarf, too.

The OFs thought it would be possible to make a whole family of these for the front yard; they thought it looked like a fun, easy project that the whole family could get into.

“But,” as one OF said, “only if you have a chainsaw.”

Unwelcome vines

Maybe the OFs have mentioned this before but they think they have a use for kudzu. Now all we need is a good use for wild grape vines other than making wreaths.

The OFs talked about what a nuisance this stuff is. The more the OFs cut it back, the more it grows. The OFs wonder if it does any damage to the trees that it weaves its wicked vine around.

The plant crawls along the ground and starts new shoots that search for trees to climb. It is difficult to control especially along hedgerows and fences where it gets a start. If only grape vines that grows grapes for harvests were as hardy and productive.

Car complexities

The OFs drifted into one of their generic topics — cars.  This time, the talk was on how complicated they are becoming.

There seem to be more dashboard lights, buttons, and switches than ever before.

The touch screens are like computers with no “oops” button in case the OF inadvertently touches the wrong part of the screen or the screen time is not long enough for the OF to interpret what it is and what to do with it. By the time the OF decides that is what he wants, it changes to something else just as the OF is ready to push it.

The OFs still maintain all they need are a few simple toggle switches: one for lights with the dimmer on the floor, and a two-position toggle for the wipers — one for slow, one for fast. A horn ring without the horn button hidden someplace in the center of the wheel because now, when the OF pushes where the OF thinks the horn located, nothing happens. A simple key to start and lock the car.

The wipers would have simple double-toggles: one for the heater and one for the air, with a simple knob to turn that indicates warmer and cooler. The radio would be on/off with a volume knob, and a tuner knob.

The OFs think that should do it. And to boot whatever happened to the small triangle windows on the front windows that could be pushed out to scoop air in as you drove?  Those little air-scoop windows worked better than air-conditioning.

Now in some of these vehicles the OFs need a master’s degree in computer science just to turn the dumb thing on. Careful, one OF suggested, you have just admitted the car is smarter than you are.

The OFs who made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie in their new fancy cars with all the gadgets and managed just fine, regardless of their grumbling, were: Ted Willsey, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, (with his daughter Amy who brought some information that might bear watching about an outbreak of flu in cats in New York City. So far there is only one suspected case of it being transmitted to humans. Something else for the OFs to worry about), Chuck Aleseio, Ray Frank, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Harold Guest, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feruer, Don Wood, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Rev. Jay Francis, Gerry Chartier, Russ Pokorny, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Marty Herzog, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Pages