The phone calls today brought information that some of the Old Men of the Mountain are gathering in small groups of three to five people. There appears to be three groups of these OMOTM getting together.

However, they are not combined as a unit. One group of three gathers every now and then; this is a group of guys that have a common interest. Another group apparently meets on Friday, and another holds to Tuesdays.

The communality of the groups looks to be like interests and the desire for socialization. This is a strong feeling for all the OFs, including those who are still hunkered down.

 

Coping with storm aftermath

There were other conversations (and the conversations were few) concerning the problem the OFs thought affected just about everybody in the surrounding area. That was the storm that visited our region on Wednesday, Oct. 7. Some of the OFs reported being without power for four days, and for others the power was off for about one-and-a-half days.

Much of this dialogue was how prepared they were for such a situation. With the OMOTM, again, it was a few who were quite well prepared with whole-house generators, stored water, and quick meals in the freezer.

One did not have a whole-house generator but he had a generator that would run most of what he needed. This OF would run the refrigerator and freezer for a while, then he would run the furnace. He could not run the pump in the well, but they had stored water for washing, and using the toilet. The OF said they had bottled water for cooking and drinking when needed.

Another OF said that he thinks everyone should have a list made for medicines, hygiene, clothes, and food for at least a couple of weeks. Make a place to keep this list, and a system for use, then replace used items to keep it well stocked, but not stale.

It was surprising for this scribe to see in these few calls how many of the OFs have something like this going already. This scribe guesses it is because they have been through it before. Especially on the mountain when those living here had to experience the winter of 1957.

That was some experience in 1957. The farmers could not ship their milk because the roads were impassable. Buildings were collapsing because of the weight of the snow.

Farmers were getting food and hay for the livestock dropped by airplanes. Farmers with animals were digging tunnels to the barn to get to the cows that had to be milked.

This scribe has pictures of snow so high that his brother stepped from the snow to the roof of the barn. The plows in many places could not push the snow; huge truck-driven snow blowers were brought in to clear the roads.

In places on the roads, the snow was so deep that volunteers stood on top of the snow and shoveled it into the snow blowers. In places also the snow covered the power lines, and all this was reported in three sections of the towns of Wright, Knox, and Berne, let alone what other towns the local residents could not experience.

One OF who worked at the cement plant in Howe Cave related how the cement plant had to shut down, and sent out all its heavy equipment with operators and helpers (who lived right around the plant) to help clear the roads. So that snowstorm would include the towns of Cobleskill and Schoharie also and maybe others.

It was the type of event which many people count other events by — like World War II, the birth of a baby, or a wedding, or funeral.

 

Changing weather?

The OFs mentioned that we don’t have winters like that anymore. Winters when the OFs were younger seemed to be different.

They seemed shorter, with lots more snow, and easier. Now the winters seem to have less snow, longer, are more bitter, and no fun at all. To which this scribe replied maybe it is because our old bones and thin blood, with a low rate of metabolism, makes it seem like that. The OF didn’t think so.

The OFs say the weather is changing. One OF asked the question, “Have we ever had a storm like the one which came through on Wednesday?”

The scribe had to reply not that he could remember. The scribe and his wife, and a house guest watched it come from the west, over the trees in back of their home and slam into the house as they watched out the kitchen window.

It bordered on scary as it approached and hit. A few minutes later, the lights flickered and went out. That was it for about three days. Fortunately, the generator kicked in.

Now will this be the time event that is used to measure other events by? Nah, this is just a blow compared to 1957.

A little groaner from the internet will close this column’s final thoughts on power outages and weather: When I was younger, I was scared of the dark. Now, when I get my electric bill, I am afraid of the light.

The OMOTM and friends on a spur-of-the-moment jaunt to Bath, Maine, stop at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.

Boy! The news of the day politically might change some opinions both ways. A few of the Old Men of the Mountain I talked to commented that both sides of the fence are filling up.

This little report keeps advising that, in many cases, age is just a number. That is quite two-sided. Sometimes age creeps up and the genes are really rotten. All the advice about what to do to keep your health comes with a grain of salt.

The OMOTM can and do attest to that. Some OFs are 80 years old and carry on like they were 50 or 60 while others can be 50 or 60 and carry on like they were 80. In many conversations, this scribe has ascertained that it has nothing to do with lifestyle; it is genes.

Some of the OFs had it tough in the beginning. They smoked, drank, ate all the wrong stuff, and got only about three hours of sleep on a good day. Now they are 80 and doing basically the same thing.

Others, who had the chance to live basically right in the beginning, and who are still trying to do so, are now 70 and have trouble getting out of bed. These same OFs keep many doctors in practice.

It is a matter of who has the genes and who doesn’t. At least that is the way it looks to this scribe.

There is one big BUT here and that is: With eating right, getting exercise, and enough sleep, it may be possible to beat the gene thing, or at least improve on it. Maybe, if done often enough, it may help change the getting- old-quick-gene to getting old less quickly for your kids. The scribe really doesn’t know if this is how it works or not.

This scribe, in an answer (or maybe it was a discussion) that most did not know, and that dialogue was, where is the cut-off point? Or is there even a cut-off point?

 

On the road

What prompted the scribe to remember the discussions on this topic (which had to be pulled out from all the truck, tractor, and car bits) was recently an OMOTM reported on two motorcycle trips that he took that covered many days and miles.

The first one was over 1,500 miles-plus some days with a group of friends. The second one that the OF just returned from was to Bath, Maine. One day, they just thought it would be great to go to Maine for some chowder and lobster.

This trip included various stops along the way with sight-seeing taken in. Side point: It is fun to be retired and able to do things like this, and have the right genes to pull it off.

According to the OF, this trip was planned and laid out by a friend of his who is 77 years old. Now this theme harkens back to the gene bit at the beginning. Not many people 77 to 80 years old can sling their leg over a motorcycle and head out on a four- or five-day trip.

Is it careful living in the beginning, or is it genes?

According to the OF, the trip was great, and the weather was great, and there were no incidents like flat tires or little bumps in the road that generally happen when this type of experience takes off. As a rule, something is bound to happen that puts a little damper (or sometimes a big damper on) excursions like this.

The group did have a bear cross the road in front of them but that is not an intrusion but part of the adventure. The scribe thinks maybe breakdowns are also part of the adventure.

Though there was some color, the OF reported the leaf peepers were not out yet so the ride was very comfortable in that regard. The little group traveled back roads and made many stops; the OF said they were not in a race. The scribe thinks they were too old for racing anyway.

It is noticeable the group followed a column written a little while back about camping, and sleeping bags, and putting up tents; however, the photograph shows this group was motel-ing it.

There, again as reported, a few of the OFs are getting together (this scribe now wonders if the word “together” was developed by groups of ancient chauvinist guys who gathered in groups and were out after the female sex and would say, “OK, guys lets go out ‘to-get-her’” which shrunk down to the guys going out together — hmmm). Back to original thought.

As the scribe read somewhere online: Young motorcycle riders pick a destination and go. Old riders pick a direction and go. There are drunk bikers. There are old bikers. There are no old, drunk bikers. 

 

It is tough to know where to begin. The few Old Men of the Mountain this scribe has spoken to are just like the scribe. None of them have really gone anywhere.

The OMOTM’s outings have been either for groceries, or for doctors’ appointments. As mentioned last week, a few have gone out to restaurants but not all (at least the ones spoken to) have yet. Some are planning on it.

The drive-through chicken barbecues have been frequented by some, and these BBQs are clever in the way the customers are handled. Some need to have reservations made and others have first-come, first-served until all are gone. Pizza is another favorite to-go food; just call, then go to pick up your pizzas, or have them delivered.

One good thing that is happening is the OFs’ domiciles are being spruced up. This is happening because many people now have time at home. This scribe has not checked with the whole list of OFs but he probably should. One day the scribe should put the list in front of him and start with the A’s. So the scribe finally did.

On the top of the list is Bill Bartholomew and that is very sad because Bill’s wife passed away a little while ago. The funeral service was held in New Smyrna, Florida, and an interment ceremony was held at the Breakabeen Cemetery in Breakabeen last weekend. The Old Men of the Mountain offer their condolences and prayers for Bill on the loss of his wife, Sylvia.

 

Colors pop

At this time of year, the fall colors pop out, and it seems that a few days ago, as the colors were just starting, one OF said he went for groceries with the wife. When they finished shopping and headed home, the trees had changed by 50 percent just while they were in the store.

The OF, and the scribe, agree fall has some nice weather and in the Northeast we get some beautiful color from the trees, but it doesn’t last long. As the scribe types this, the weather report says rain is on the way, and the temperature will drop.

What happens fall after fall just as the leaves become really beautiful? Along will come a cold rain, and then wind, and all the leaves are blown away. We really don’t get to enjoy them for very long. As the OF on the phone said, we all know what fall is the harbinger of.

 

Happy campers?

The OFs that are, and were, campers say early fall is the best time to go camping, but most of the time it has to be on weekends because the kids are in school. One OF said that his kids liked camping in the summer because of boats, and swimming, and this seemed strange that kids would even notice it, but they also noted the longer days.

The adults liked the fall because the heat and humidity generally were gone, and the air was crisp (but not really cold) in the evening and the campfire seemed to just crackle a little more. Snuggled under a throw or blanket in front of the fire, conversation, even with the kids, seemed quieter and deeper.

Now that the OFs are “old OFs” camping is not the best thing in the world. The damp air of the evening makes the ole arthritic joints really ache, and the “8-hour arthritic Tylenol” does not help much. Neither does crawling inside a sleeping bag; the back won’t let the OF reach down and pull up the zipper.

But it is really nice to have camped for quite a few years when younger. One OF said he guessed, if he now had a motorhome, or big tow-behind, it wouldn’t be that bad. Another Of added that he would have to be a guest because they won’t let him drive anymore.

As long as the OFs are able to be OMOTM it is not that bad, but being OFs keeps a lot of people employed in order to take care of us.

 

Play ball

In one conversation, the topic was baseball and that was unusual. Years ago, the OMOTM had a diehard Yankees fan. This OF has been gone for many years. Carl Slater knew and followed the Yankees inside out.

This present discussion was on the shortened 2020 season and the current Yankees and money. The OF and this scribe were on the same page on this one. The OF thought that the Yankees with their high payroll should win just about every game they play.

This does not seem to be the case. It seems even the team that has the lowest salary budget on any given day will clean the Yankees’ clock. Both the OF and this scribe think football players, basketball players, baseball players, and other athletic players are way overpaid and not worth it.

But this is only the opinion of a couple of OFs; then again, maybe the OFs are just jealous.

This scribe loves autumn. It gives him a chance to sit at home and watch the World Series. Kind of like the Yankees. Well, at least the Yankees are trying. They installed a new pitching machine the other day. Unfortunately, it beat them, 4 - 1.

Location:

We all wish, hope, pray for this “pandemic” to be over. The disruption is getting to be a real pain. Pretty soon it will become commonplace; however, the OMOTM are still around and waiting.

It is getting close to hunting season. This is one thing that people can do and social distancing is almost automatic. Most of the time, the hunter is out there alone with his gun. Some of the OMOTM are hunters. The scribe knows this from all the stories told by the OFs and their conquests bantered around the table many times from previous years.

Out hunting with these guys must be an experience. Handling a cane and a gun at the same time is not the easiest thing to do. So one OF may be out with another OF in the woods, one has one eye, and the other has arthritis and both are carrying loaded shotguns. Now this is a combination anyone else in the woods would not want to run into because both of the OFs have hearing aids and a tendency to fire at whatever rustles.

The other eventuality that could happen and often does happen, according to the OMOTM: They do manage to bag what they are hunting for. Now comes the problem of getting the prey out of the woods. This is a real huff-and-puff situation, with many stops to let the heart get back into rhythm or catch their breath. At least with all this work it gives the OFs something to talk about at the next Tuesday’s breakfast. At times, there have been some nice show-and-tells of exploits completed with a trophy.

 

Fishing

Fishing is better; this is another activity many of the OFs partake in and now it can be done with no worries about social distancing because in most cases again it is automatic. This is unless the OF decides to go to Pulaski and the Salmon River when the salmon are running. There, this river becomes shoulder-to-shoulder with anglers at this sport so distancing is out of the question, because any vacant spot is soon filled in with another fisherperson with their poles ready to go.

But going to a creek, or taking your boat out on the lake or pond with maybe another OF having a grand time, singing the great Johnny Russell song “There is no place I’d rather be than right here, with my rednecks, white socks, and Blue Ribbon beer.”

OK, now substitute “old friend” for redneck, add a beat up ole rowboat with a little 10-horsepower mercury on the stern, a full can of worms, a packed cooler, and go out on the Vlaie Pond (note: a tributary of Catskill Creek in Schoharie County. Vlaie or vly is a term brought to us from the Dutch and its meaning is swamp).

Fishing any of the local lakes or ponds for whatever would bite would be a great way to spend the day while practicing social distancing.

 

Hiking

Some of the OFs hike, and many would like to go for a long walk in the woods, but the OFs’ hearts, legs, lungs, or feet won’t let them do it.

One OF explained, before all this started, that he was really discouraged because he was a hiker, and even maintained some of the local trails but his body won’t let him do it anymore. Now his eyes won’t even let him work in the shop.

 

Writing 

This OF has led quite a life, and he should begin to write it down, if not for everyone else, at least for his kids. It might be a good suggestion for many OFs especially while all the faculties are still there, and the kids are still around to help out.

The problem is where and how to start. 

How about: “The first thing I can remember without help is” and go from there, backward and forward. 

Well, I just changed my password to “incorrect” so that, whenever I forget what it is, the computer will say, “Your password is incorrect.”

Location:

Some of the Old Men of the Mountain are taking chances and are going out to a few restaurants; however, this scribe is not one of them nor are many others. As ancient as we may be, many of the OMOTM are learning to be “virtual.” This is really no fun because there is nothing like person to person, eyeball to eyeball, heinie to heinie, or any other of those people-connecting terms.

One thing about virtual ability is, if the conversation becomes a little testy and one of the ones in the virtual group says something the others don’t agree with, the OF that uttered the offensive or wrong words can’t be slugged, whereas in a real group situation the OF might have to defend himself.

This has never happened in the OMOTM for two reasons. The OFs are too old to get their arms up to slug somebody, plus most of them can’t hear anyway and sometimes disparaging remarks go right over their heads or they just hear them wrong.

We all say age is just a number and that may be so, but our bodies react differently. In many discussions, the OFs say they can’t do this or that anymore and they still try, but a few things get in the way. Arthritis is one of these things, and depth perception is another (few people realize how important this depth perception is). One can hurt like crazy (the arthritis), and the other is painless and creeps in without the OFs knowing it.

 

When everyday life is too much like work

Another item is, for some reason, the OFs become tired easier and earlier. Of course the other ailments let the OFs know they are around, and sometimes the OFs fail to acknowledge their existence, but the body doesn’t.

In conversations with the OGs, the indication that some of the above is taking hold, and in some cases not slowing the OFs down, but it is just the words used. For instance, one OF complained about how long it takes him to get showered and dressed.

According to this OF, he thought it was just part of the daily routine. The OF would do both, go down have breakfast and go about his business. Recently he noticed that the shower took more time and, when he got out, it was like he had just finished some work.

Then, the OF continued, he rested a bit before he got dressed, and it was just until recently he was able to do that without much complaining. Then, suddenly, getting dressed was a form of work, and he just recently realized that also.

To add to this (and again it was a recent add to the morning routine), he sat down to put on his socks. His question was: When did all this happen? He feels just the same, and he does pretty much the same thing but now this bit of everyday life is getting to be too much like work.

Some of the OFs agreed with this guy and a few of those admitted having the same thing begin to happen to them. An OF said he was checking the clock just the other day because he thought he was having breakfast later, and the OF found that he was a whole half-hour later.  

One OF added to the conversation: “Just wait until one day you begin to notice the ache in your hands doesn’t go away. What you thought was because you bumped your hand is not what is hurting,” the OF said. “It is the beginning of arthritis. Welcome to getting old.”

This was the term the other OFs did not want to accept. They insisted they would continue to do what they were doing. The OFs agreed this was the thing to do, and so most of them try to keep on keeping on.

 

The thick of things 

As this scribe keeps reporting on the OFs activities, the OGs for the most part, are still in the thick of things. A few have had to slow down because the ailments and doctor appointments get in the way. One OF said, if you looked at his calendar, it looks like the OF is a pretty busy guy, but most of the dates are doctors’ appointments, or physical-therapy appointments, mixed in with a few birthdays and social events, and church work. 

Today, this scribe wonders what the calendar would look like minus the social events and church work. This scribe knows it is becoming rather boring hunkering down and not seeing all the OMOTM, the table laughter, and the discussions. The scribe keeps mentioning the hobbies of the OMOTM, but as with this scribe, the human connection is very important; soon the hobbies become more like work and not as much fun.

 

Flying high

We have one OF who really knows about social distancing and he is keeping the other OFs that are joined on Facebook with him interested in what will be his next local aerial presentation. As long as the weather is good, this OF takes his plane, flies over the area, and on Facebook posts his latest shot.

If the OFs who get his pictures and then save them to photos and then enlarge them, it’s fun to see what the OF is able to pick out. Like we mentioned above, some hobbies do keep us occupied.

 

OFs’ texting decoded

And another thing. We hear that some senior citizens have taken to texting with gusto. Texting keeps them in touch with their friends and even their grandchildren. These OFs have their own vocabulary:

— BFF: Best Friend Fainted;

— BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth;

— CBM: Covered by Medicare;

— FWB: Friend with Beta-blockers;

— LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out; and

— GGPBL: Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low!

The OMOTM will continue with some of what the OGs did 30 or 40 years ago — maybe even longer. When the group was just beginning (before the OMOTM ever dreamed they would be a larger group of old guys) we, at that time, did not consider the group as old. The assemblage would all fit in one car and we took turns being the chauffeur.

No one minded the others driving until we had an OF join the group that everyone knew. He was a nice enough OG even though he was a hay dealer, as well as a farmer. Farmers were really OK guys until they had the distinction of being a hay dealer added to their résumés. The hay dealer bought and sold hay from farmer to farmer.

Herbie Wolford sold his own excess hay. That was a big difference. This particular OMOTM, who is being remembered here (name withheld) purchased hay from other farmers and re-sold it to still other farmers. A lot of this OF’s business was in Canada; the OG did cart it all over the place.

Most of the time he hauled it himself, so he was gone a lot from the farm. This may be one of the reasons his wife ran off with the hired hand. That is another story.

One would think the thousands of miles he put behind the wheel of a hay truck would make him a good driver, and he did have to know what he was doing because, as far as the OMOTM know, this OF never had an accident, or a citation. Nevertheless his driving with the OFs was atrocious.

When it was his turn to drive, everyone one shuddered; some did not want to go if they had to ride with him. No one wanted to sit up front. It was not speed that was a factor; it was the fact that he considered both sides of the road to be his. The solid yellow line meant nothing; neither did stop signs, sharp turns, or slow-moving tractors.

One day, it was this OF’s turn to drive and the restaurant that particular Tuesday happened to be the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. At that time, a young couple was just getting the restaurant started and the OMOTM wanted to help. That the young lady getting it going was sociable and pretty didn’t hurt.

The OFs were in no hurry to leave Herbie’s residence and the last one out had to sit up front. The route the OFs took to Rensselaerville was (anyone familiar with the Hilltowns will be able to follow this, the others will have to use their imaginations) Pleasant Valley Road to Rock Road, Rock Road to Switzkill Road (County Route 1).

From Rock Road to County Route 1 there is a little connector road about 1,000 feet and it crosses Helderberg Trail, State Route 443, by the cemetery on the hill outside of Berne. Going toward Rensselaerville there is a blind curve coming from Gallupville that goes around the cemetery. This intersection crosses Route 443 at this point.

The driver that morning for the OMOTM took that route and approached this intersection on the connector road at full speed. He did not slow down or stop or even look right or left, but zipped right through the intersection crossing Route 443 like it wasn’t even there.

One could hear a pin drop in that car for the next five miles. The first words spoken came from Herbie in the back seat. “Anybody got dry pants?” he asked.

The final incident that had the OFs request that this OF save the gas, plus wear and tear of his vehicle and asked not to drive any more was on Old Stage Road just outside of Altamont on top of the hill. Again, anyone that knows the road knows that there is a section that is very steep, and winds up as part of the escarpment that is Thacher Park.

The OF who is being talked about was the driver for the day and he was dropping off riders as they headed back to Herbie’s home after breakfast. The OF was headed up Old Stage Road when he quickly approached a pickup truck that was overloaded with plywood as it was making its way up into the first turn.

Per usual, this OG approached the truck at full bore when all the sheets of plywood started sliding off the back of the truck (the load was not tied down in any fashion) onto the road right in front of the OFs who were holding on for dear life.

This driver whipped right around the mess and truck with no regard to any traffic coming down the hill and proceeded up the hill on the wrong side of the road. This time there were comments!

The riders wanted to know if he wasn’t going to stop so the OFs could help out by putting the plywood back on the truck and clearing the road, or at least stop traffic coming down the hill or going up, because after the driver losing the plywood realized it was no longer on the back of the truck he was quite a ways up the hill.

The OF’s driver’s comment was “H--- no; if he is stupid enough not to tie that kind of load down, let him pick it up himself,” and he kept right on going.

That was the last straw. The OMOTM gathered enough courage to suggest to him that he did not have to drive anymore.

This driver has long since passed away, but those who witnessed these shenanigans have long remembered these early OMOTM days and it gives us something else to talk about.

The scribe, from past experience, can pass on to you these words of reality. Enjoy yourself. These are the good old days you’re going to miss in the years ahead.

— Photo from John R. Williams

Herbie Wolford, right, shares a smile with John Williams.

The Old Men of the Mountain are going back in time with stories from their youth. Some will include one of the OMOTM’s founding members. Unfortunately, the founding member has passed away but we can use his name, and his name is necessary for these stories.

Herbie Wolford was a man that enjoyed life and was not easily rattled. Herbie would go to the — at that time — “landfill” which was really the “dump” and recycling was not even thought of yet, so everything went.

This was all to the chagrin of Barbara (Herbie’s wife) because quite often Herbie brought more home from this “dump” than what he brought there to dispose of. He justified this by remarking, “All of these things could be used some day.” Since Herbie passed, it seems that much of what was brought home to be used someday, well, the someday still isn’t here.

Herbie had many belts hanging in his milk house; some were new, and some not so new. Herbie’s philosophy was someday he would become a certain size and then they all would fit. This was odd thinking because the young OFs at that time who knew Herbie never saw him wear a belt. He always held his pants up with a piece of rope.

One day, following this same philosophy, Herbie brought home one brand new shoe, and Barbara said Herbie told her that it fit perfectly and one day there might be another shoe for the other foot left at the dump.

Herbie not only had a good-sized productive farm but he also cut and sold hay, especially for the horse farms downstate. He trucked this hay down on a K9 International. In the farm next to Herbie’s, just past Line Road in Schoharie County, lived three young boys. (One of these “boys” is now a member of the OMOTM). At this time the now-OMOTM member was about 15 years old, he was helping Herbie load the K9 in the field with baled hay ready to head downstate.

The load was not tied down and Herbie told the now-member of the OMOTM and another lad that they would tie it down when they loaded up on Line Road. He also told the neighbor lad to take the truck out of the field and out on the road.

Even at age 15, the neighbor kid sort of questioned this maneuver because the field road to get the truck out had quite a tip to it as it approached Line Road, but Herbie insisted so the neighbor kid went to the truck and headed out of the field.

When the lad started up this field road the truck started to tip, and slowly, slowly, the truck tipped over on its side spilling the whole hay load back onto the field. When the neighbor kid crawled out of the rider’s side door, Herbie and the other hired hand were laughing their heads off.

As was reported earlier, nothing much bothered Herbie, even after it took tons of work to get the truck back on its wheels, load the hay onto wagons, and haul them to the truck and reload it while it now sat on the road. According to the 15-year-old, this is the way it should have been done in the first place. All this didn’t bother Herbie in the least.

Quite often Herbie would have the neighbor kid ride with him while he took the hay downstate. As qualified sources reported, the kid did not ride, he drove while Herbie slept. The neighbor kid did not have a license — he wasn’t even old enough to apply for one.

One day, Herbie and others were working on a barn he was building. They were working on the rafters when Herbie accidentally drove a nail through his shoe, just nicking his toe. Herbie slid his foot out of the shoe, and drove a couple more nails through the shoe nailing it into the rafter.

He finished the rest of the day with a shoe on one foot and a sock on the other. Herbie told those working with him that he guessed he would have to go to the dump and find another shoe.

Those are just a few of the stories gleaned from one of the three founding members of the Old Men of the Mountain and, as far as the OMOTM know, that shoe is still part of the barn.

In these stressful times, it helps us to have had friends and remember the good times. Friends are like bras — close to your heart and there for support.

Sometimes the heading “The Old Men of the Mountain” is a misnomer because some of the OMOTM are not that old, by the group’s standards anyway. In this case, one of the OMOTM reported that he and a few of his friends (who still play with their bikes) went on an 800-mile motorcycle trip to Alexandria Bay on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. They were gone about three days and had a nice ride because, as the OMOTM reported, the weather was great.

This shows it is still possible to have fun and take great trips without leaving the state so having to quarantine is not necessary. The OMOTM reported they also visited the Eisenhower Lock, and visited about a dozen American Legions in the area but found only a few open.

A person has to be younger than this scribe to pull a trip like this. A three-day trip like this would take the scribe a three-month recovery session to get over it. It did sound like fun for those who can, and should, take a trip like this.

Another OF in a conversation mentioned that he was going to schedule time to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower and he did. The OF said he went out three times during the night to view the heavens in search of the meteors. The OF reported that he spotted only three; he did not mention if all three came at one time or it was one each time he went out. One hundred an hour must have been someplace else — not where the OF was.

One thing that the OF did notice was the absence of bugs. We (the OF and this scribe) started talking about the absence of bugs, and the few birds we have seen. Both the OF and this scribe said even wasps, mosquitoes, millers, and the like are not around as much; there are a few but not like they should be, and neither are the birds that feed on them.

The OF and the scribe discussed the absence of these birds; neither of us can remember seeing a cedar waxwing in a couple of years. They may be around but the OFs haven’t seen them or the swallows this year. In the evening, these birds would be darting all over the backyard but haven’t been around last year or this year as far as we can tell.

The swallows used to take over the bluebird houses; now they are empty for us. The other things on the wane are the small undomesticated animals; they seem to be disappearing also. The OF brought up how he has not seen a snake in a long time either.

One OF added to this conversation that we should just watch what might happen next year. We are probably going to be overrun with insects, bugs, wasps and little critters so much so they are going to be a pain in the — neck.

 

Some OFs meet

A few of the OMOTM are meeting at some of the local restaurants but this scribe is not one of them. The scribe’s wife is 85, and the scribe is 87 with a few stents in the heart and both of us are on meds. Still, both of us are very careful, and if we do go out it is well planned and not very often.

What we will need to help the column is to have one of the group, who meets with some of the determined others who are very fearless, email the scribe with who was there, and where, along with what they discussed.

There are some topics that have been done to death in the column i.e., old cars, trucks, tractors, doctor visits, and the virus. If anyone can come up with interesting topics other than those, like who was just let out of jail, or who took the challenge of skydiving, or who has the virus (that is different than the coronavirus in general) or who ran away with the woman next door, that all would be neat for the column.

So for now, this small bit will have to do. 

 

Aging

Here are some signs you’re getting older:

— All of your favorite movies are now revised in color;

— The car that you bought brand new becomes an antique;

— Conversations with people your own age often turn into “dueling ailments”;

— Frequently you find yourself telling people what a loaf of bread used to cost;

— “Getting lucky” means you find your car in the parking lot;

— The gray-haired person you help across the street is your spouse;

— It takes a couple of tries to get over a speed bump;

— Lawn care has become a big highlight of your life;

— One of the throw pillows on your bed is a hot water bottle; and

— A sexy babe catches your fancy and your pacemaker opens — the garage door.

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1934 military fire truck

— Photo from John R. Williams

Karl Remmers restores tractors, and rescued a 1934 military fire truck.

The weeks seem to fly by; it is time for another column, and soon it will be time for another one, etc. etc. As we all grow older day by day it is nice to have a project that keeps us busy; the old men have many of those.

The scribe has reported on these over the years. One project that is rather constant is the restoration of old things, as in the case of the bridge builders, removing, repairing, reinstalling and even starting from scratch with their bridges so hikers can safely enjoy the paths that wander through the Hilltowns.

There is a group of OMOTMs that restores and preserves old equipment — stationary or mobile. These types of projects require movement (body), study (mind), and execution (satisfaction of a completed job).

Put all these together and with the OMOTM it makes age, and attitude, just a number. To show what these OMOTM have accomplished through their own work, or work to be done, and even purchases that have to be maintained, here are just a few of them.

Some projects that the OMOTM start now take much longer than when the interest was first initiated.

Usually this scribe does not name names in the column to protect the innocent, and in our case it may also be the guilty. For this, the scribe will name names but only in this one category. The OMOTM also have many more in the group that have interests and talents which require clear heads: musicians, pilots, artists, gardeners, etc.

The OMOTM have Pete Whitbeck and his cars, one a running Model T; Bill Lichliter and his restoring old military vehicles; Karl Remmers restoring tractors, and rescuing a 1934 military fire truck, and maintaining it; Roger Chapman and his tractors plus a 1933 Hudson to be restored. The OFs live what they talk.

Now that many of the OFs are enjoying the extra time at home, things are getting done around the house. One OF said he did two things. One was eventually learning how to use and then using a smoker he purchased quite a while ago. The OF said he bought it because he thought it was the thing to do — everyone else was buying them.

In this time while at home, and not running all over the place, he has learned how to use this specific piece of BBQ grill, and now uses it all the time. The OF has made special trips into his woodlot to cut hickory sticks to use in it and the OF said that food from this cooker is real gooood.

Another thing that is getting done is yard work, and exterior and interior painting of the ole château. This should help the paint, and paint-accruement manufacturers, but can lead to some surprises.

For example, one OF who was pulling weeds in plantings around the house had a huge surprise. After pulling the weeds, the OF said he had a pile of them and so carried them out to his compost pile. Just as he was ready to throw them on the pile, he saw the biggest snake he has ever seen in his compost.

The OF said the snake had to be three inches through and at first he could not see the head, so he carefully cleared away some of the compost and saw that it was a round head with round eyes and round pupils (if anyone cares to get close enough to check this out), which generally means it is harmless.

The vipers generally have an arrow-shaped head with flat eyes, which can have slits in them. (Again, if anyone wants to go eyeball to eyeball and check it out, go ahead. Lesson for today).

The snake must have been logy or full because it did not scurry away. It stayed still in the compost long enough for the OF to take a picture of it and send it to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

The OF said they returned with information on the snake. It is quite uncommon in our area; however, it is a northern water snake, and the water snakes are one of the most common snakes in the lower 48 states and are very beneficial and harmless.

 

Exercise for seniors

The scribe, after perusing the net for more activities for the home-bound, found the following helpful advice on exercise for seniors:

— Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side;

— With a five-pound potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them as long as you can, then relax;

— Each day, you’ll find you can hold this position longer. Try to reach a full minute’

— After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-pound potato bags and then 50-pound potato bags. Eventually you will be able to lift 100-pound potato bags and hold your arms straight for a full minute. (I’m at this level now);

— After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each bag.

This scribe has contacted a few of the Old Men of the Mountain and one Old Man of the Mountain who is not a member of the gathering, but really is an old man of two mountains because he owns the top of one mountain in Richmondville. Anyway, the main topic in discussions is the pandemic situation. So here we go again.

One of the OFs thought that the virus was brought here by aliens from another planet, just like explorers years ago from another continent brought smallpox to the Indians. This OF thought it wasn’t aliens that brought the virus but the supposed virus is the aliens themselves.

He feels that their spaceship landed somewhere in the east and the aliens were brought by this landing and that is why we are having so much trouble with the virus and it spread worldwide so fast, because it has a brain and a plan.

So this scribe thinks the OF is only half right. The scribe thinks the virus is the alien. The alien is traveling the universe, looking for a planet it can inhabit and take over. The main plan is first to eliminate as many of the inhabitants of the planet as they can in the shortest period of time. Then they will have free run of the rest and can take care of them in their own time.

Once this is done, they will have control of the planet and it will be their home. With the planet Earth, the aliens ran into a serious problem that they had not planned on. The problem is called oxygen. The aliens can’t handle oxygen.

So, as the president says, we are in a real world war, and our weapons are simple masks, and social distancing. Social distancing is a cube or a box the alien can attack from front, back, sides, top or bottom so we must be prepared from any direction.

As the alien reaches out to grab another victim, and there is too much space between the launch point and the victim, the alien will take in too much oxygen so the alien weakens and can’t reach the victim and dies.

The aliens have found they have another problem with people on the planet Earth. For the most part, earthly people wear clothing and the alien has a problem working its way through the clothing to attack a bodily fluid, and the alien also found that the bodily fluids are also protected by an outer layer of skin and this skin is waterproof and can be cleaned easily.

However, there are voids in the skin where bodily fluids are exposed and, if they can get to those areas of the body, there is a chance it can eliminate that one body of the earthly species. However, this planet has an unusual liquid that is made up partly of oxygen, and when combined with soap, the oxygen and soap does the alien in.

So the battle rages on with the alien trying to take over, and the populace fighting back with PPE’s, soap and water, and spacing themselves apart and surrounding themselves with a space of oxygen. If there is enough space (six feet) the alien won’t make it across.

The aliens are finding out this earth is not as easy a target as they thought, but they keep fighting on because their ship was found and destroyed so there is no retreat, and no escape. It is a fight till the end.

We are at war, my friends, and the enemy has attacked the old people first because they are the ones with the smarts. Take that, William Shatner.

 

Missing breakfasts

Also, in talking with the few OFs (we have discussed this before), we find the OFs really miss the breakfasts; on top of that, the OFs are old and they miss their routine. What they also miss is telling all the other OFs what their plans are for the week and what they are going to do.

The thing is, all the other OFs know most of this is wishful thinking because each one does the same thing and what really happens is maybe 20 percent of what the OFs tell each other they are going to get done, gets done. The rest is nap time!

A part of each conversation also is a deep and heartfelt concern for those out of work, and small businesses that have no business and are struggling. All the OFs desire a quick solution to the pandemic so things can return to some kind of normal, even if it isn’t the old normal.

And now, a final word from the internet. It seems this scribe recently got a senior’s GPS. Not only does it tell me how to get to my destination; it tells me why I wanted to go there.

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