Tuesday, Nov. 28, and still no snow to bother the Old Men of the Mountain as they make their appointed rounds.

This round was the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown; as a matter of fact, the weather was quite nice. The Chuck Wagon sits on the crest of a hill on the south side of Route 20.

The Old Men of the Mountain used to meet later in the morning — now the major part of the group is there at the doors waiting for the restaurants to open up. This puts the OFs on the road the same time as most of the crazies who are hustling off to work.

Most of the OFs are heading west on Route 20 while most of those going to work are heading east right into that early morning blinding sun. The OFs notice the drivers going east on Route 20 are hunched over the steering wheel and peering under the pulled-down sun visor, while going over 60 miles an hour just to keep up with traffic.

This is just one of the many reasons the OFs are glad they are retired and don’t have to do that shuffle off to work any more.

The OFs, at times, do vent to each other on the public utility companies; Tuesday morning, it was what used to be Time Warner and is now Spectrum. The general consensus and opinion of the OFs is that Time Warner was not the best but compared to Spectrum it was aces.

The OGs say that Spectrum is like a big bully — it likes to take its own sweet time getting back to you. Spectrum has taken away shows the OFs were accustomed to and replaced them with nothing. QVC is one of these shows and it was one of the major channels for the wives of the OFs.

The OFs are not on the fast track for the big bucks so they do not understand why Time Warner sold out to such a schlock outfit. At least (in our area) Time Warner had a lock on cable viewing as it was the only game in town. This was the end of the tirade.

Tech talk

The OFs discussed the pros and cons of drones. This new craze has a lot of ironing out to do.

Some OFs said if they see one of those things flying over their house or land they will shoot it down. One OF said it is bad enough that Google flies over and has cars going up and down the streets spying on everybody.

The statement “your home is your castle” is not true anymore. Any pervert can Google your place from the street or from the air then Google puts it on the net so people in Afghanistan can see your place, get the coordinates right down to the seconds. The OFs question how all of this is legal.  

This scribe thinks we have covered this topic before but not quite like Tuesday morning. One OF sees lots of pluses for the use of this new, fun technology. This OF said, in the case of fires, fire departments can use a drone to see the fire from above, and this, he said, will aid the firemen in fighting the flames more safely.

He said it will also help in locating people if they’re trapped in the fire and show the safest way to get them out. He mentioned that, when people get lost in the woods or hurt while hiking in the wilderness, these drones can go where people can’t. All this made a lot of sense to the OFs.

Another OF thought many trades could now use drones as a tool like loggers, surveyors, highway engineers, farmers, and probably many others. The OF said it is the idiot that uses them as a new level of peeping toms, or flies them around airports, which makes it seem like there is always a few that spoil it for everyone else.

Plum Island

A couple of OFs spoke about an Island off the North Fork coast of Long Island, east of Orient Point, Long Island. This island is called Plum Island.

According to the OFs, this is a rather nasty place. It has its own private ferry to take workers there and back. This ferry can carry just a few vehicles and no private individual or vehicle can board this ferry.

The OFs mentioned that, when fishing this area, there are patrol boats that keep their boats from getting close. These patrols function 24/7/365.

What this scribe understands is that this is a government-run animal disease-control center, whatever that means. Maybe the OFs who go fish those waters should think twice about catching any fish there, let alone eating them.

Shopping styles vary with gender

’Tis the Christmas season, and that means Christmas shopping, and that means the OFs have to find new hiding places so their better halves can’t haul them off to the malls. The OFs complain that we are surrounded by malls. The OFs say they see themselves sleeping with their heads in their hands in the chairs that run up and down the center aisle of major malls, or else they are out in the car, taking a snooze.

One OF said that his wife,  in malls and grocery stores, has approached many OFs thinking they were the OF she is married to. This OF said his wife said we all look alike.

Well, the reply was that trying to find our wives in the mall is tricky because all the older ladies look alike with the same hair-dos and the same clothes. This comparison goes both ways.

Most of the OFs agree the ladies shop; the OFs say they run in the store, grab the closest item to what the OF is looking for, pay for it and run out — shopping complete. Locate item, pay for item, and out in 15 minutes, whereas the OF’s lady spends 15 minutes looking at one item and then doesn’t buy it and goes to the next one three feet down the aisle and repeats the same process. The OF’s lady will spend two hours in the store and come out with nothing.

Those OFs who made it to Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and showed their way of shopping by ordering their breakfast without looking at the menu were: Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Wayne Gaul, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Mace Porter, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Rev. Jay Francis, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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On Tuesday, Nov. 21, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg.

The OMOTM piled into the back room in an orderly fashion and, because of their ages, could not do otherwise. It would be fun to watch many of the OFs try to enter the restaurant in an unruly fashion.

They would be falling over their canes, crashing into one another, picking a few up off the floor, and unable to park their butts on the chairs. It would be fun, similar to drunken cows trying to find their stanchions.

A natural topic for the breakfast at this time of the year was the holiday of Thanksgiving. There were OFs who were traveling, who were staying home, who were having it catered, who were going to a restaurant, who were invited to friend’s or neighbor’s, or who were joining relatives close by.

Somehow Thanksgiving is all planned around a meal like the Pilgrims and the Indians had. Some of the OFs volunteer to serve others who would not have a meal at this time, and for some of those enjoying the food of Thanksgiving served to them by volunteers, meals are scarce many times for those being served.

On-the-job dangers

Here we go again with mechanics, only this time one of the mechanic OFs came to the breakfast with quite a sore hand from a typical mechanic’s malady called the slipped-wrench syndrome.

One OF said that anytime he grabs a wrench he is ready for the wrench to attack; either it is the wrong size, or the head or nut has been rounded off, or the nut has rusted on, or it is metric and the OF thought it was fractional, or the wrench was not wiped off and is oily, or the fastener is splattered with oil.

All of these conditions await the OF and then, from a completely unsuspected source the evil wrench has hidden up its sleeve, it will attack the OF mechanic anyhow.

Some of the OFs who are mechanics are also handymen contractors on a regular basis. For some, it is a way of making a living. For others, it is just a way to add to the retirement income so the OF can purchase some really big boy toys.

The OF will put up with all the head knocks, cut and bruised hands and knuckles plus a few other aches that go with being a mechanic. One of these OFs also added, “It is fun though, working with other people’s money.”   

One of the disadvantages, with OFs continuing to work after retirement, is having the OF’s reflexes slow down. This normal aging process brings on its share of scrapes, cuts, and bruises.

Another OF at the table Tuesday morning had quite a cut and bump right between the eyes. After the normal kidding — was it the wife or a jealous husband that caused that gash? — it was found out that the OF walked into a forklift.

That is not an even clash. The forklift probably weighs five tons, and the OF about 180 pounds. Guess who wins? The OF claims he saw the lift but could not either stop, or duck quickly enough. Ouch!  That whack had to smart. The OFs wonder if this OF saw stars.

Another OF said these normal bangs, cuts, and scrapes are signs of an active person. This OF said, “Thank goodness these guys are up to being able to work and take their chances. It is better than the rocking chair and TV.”

Lessons learned camping

The OFs harkened back to a time in their youth when many of them, as kids, were taken camping. Then the OFs as YFs took their families camping so they could develop into responsible adults.

The OFs who participated in this family endeavor recommend it highly for many reasons. The youngsters learn to live without all the necessities of home — there are only cold showers, no hair dryers, toast was made on a fork over an open flame, and a skunk could have the run of the campsite while the family just sat there and watched.

Taking hikes, going fishing,  making new friends, Mom and Dad can teach their kids a lot about living with less, the same as the OFs learned from their parents. And, to the OFs’ parents, it was not camping —  living with less was a way of life.

Stuff with strings attached

Another thing about getting older is how hard it is to downsize. The OFs talked about how, as they grew older, their bodies became magnets.

“Stuff ”just came to them; how they accrued so much junk they have no idea. Now the problem is how to get rid of it. It is too good for the dump (according to the OFs); the kids don’t want it — in fact, nobody wants it, the OFs say. For example: the infamous pool table, and the old piano. This is just “stuff,” but good “stuff.” (Maybe.)

One OF said, “It’s ironic how the OFs claim much of what is made today will not last, and here we are trying to get rid of it because it has outlasted its usefulness.”

Another OF added it is not the “new,” which he has no qualms about hauling to the dump; rather, it is the “old stuff.”

An OF spoke up and said, “If you haven’t used it in 20 years and it is just there taking up space, and it has been there so long you don’t even see it, you OG, haul it to the dump!”

The first OF replied, “I can’t do that; ‘stuff’ is part of me.”

The other OF said, “Go on a cruise for a couple of weeks and have the kids come in and clean house and I bet you won’t even notice most of it is gone.” One of the many frustrations of growing old is getting rid of the old.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who found their way through the maze of their accrued treasures to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg were: Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Harold Guest, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Jim Heiser, George Byrnes, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.

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It isn’t even Thanksgiving yet and already Christmas music and decorations are in the stores. Are the trappings for Thanksgiving going to be forgotten? Trappings like the turkey, the Pilgrims, the Indians, the Mayflower, and especially the giving of thanks for the country we live in.

It seems the Christmas season is well underway. It is getting close though, but hey, what’s the rush?

Tuesday, Nov. 14, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie and Christmas conversation never really came up; then again, neither did Thanksgiving.

The saga of the pool table continues. The pool table is still in the OMOTM’s cellar and waiting for the rope to drag it outdoors. The table is bolted together and the OF just does not want to take time fussing with it.

This OF claims he has bigger fish to fry, like finishing his pirate ship. One OF said that, if the removal of the pool table takes as long as building that ship, the pool table is going to be in his cellar for a while longer. The OFs were surprised that no one wants the table just to get the piece of slate on top.

Winter driving

This time of year, the OFs are considering switching the tires they are running now to tires for winter.  This is to be sure they are ready for snow and ice.

Some change tires from summer to winter tires while others go for the all-tread design and some for the studded snows. An OF suggested the best attack for winter driving is to stay off the doggone roads.

Holes in the floor boards

Driving for the OFs is not the fun or the challenge it used to be. One OF said he thinks today’s drivers have become more crazy than ever.

Another suggested it is the handling of (and how much more quiet) new vehicles are than the ones the OFs used to run — old cars where the driver was able to see the road roll by through the holes in the floor boards.

These newer vehicles give a false sense of security to the driver so the driver has a tendency to have mind lapses and unknowingly make more stupid diving mistakes like following too close, too fast, or blowing through stop signs, etc. The drivers know better, but the tunes take precedent over their driving.

Too bright

The OFs have complained about this before, and are now finding out it is not only OFs, but many people the OFs talk to about the white lights on vehicles — especially pickup trucks. The lights are blinding.

They may be fine for the driver of the vehicle that has them, but they are extremely dangerous to oncoming traffic. The incident of drivers’ having to pull over and stop because they are blinded by these lights is increasing, and they are not all OFs.

Maine glories

One of the waitresses at the Your Way Café was wearing a Maine sweatshirt and it is interesting to note how many of the OFs have been to that state. In the Northeast, more of the OFs have been to Maine or Vermont than the other New England states.

Some have mentioned they have been to Massachusetts, Connecticut, or maybe New Hampshire, while none of the OFs have ever mentioned Rhode Island or Delaware. Maine seems to be the spot.

The OFs who were talking about it say the best time to hit the state of Maine is after kids go back to school. The OFs are not inclined to be ones who are going to charge into the ocean just to watch themselves turn blue in the water off the coast of Maine.

The OFs are more inclined to go to the southern part of Maine at this time when it is possible to drive the highways at a speed of more than 15 miles an hour.

One OF mentioned how ethereal it is to be awakened early in the morning (when sleeping in a cabin close to the ocean) and hear the horn of a lighthouse off in the distance moan its way through the mist of the first light of day.

Or at night listen to the gentle slap of the ocean on the shore while the lighthouse sounds its warning to ships at sea in a slow constant rhythm.  

One OF complained that it is now hard to find old Maine. It seems all the entrepreneurs and developers from the big cities have ruined most of the southern part of Maine; however, many still travel there, trying to reminisce about how it used to be.

Again, one OF remarked — just like going to concerts or football and baseball games — the little guys have been priced out. These outings now are mostly for the upper class, and the upper middle class.

The buzz on bees

As this scribe has reported on various occasions, one of the OMOTM is a keeper of bees, known as an “apiarist,” and, as reported before, he transports his bees to a little town south of Raleigh, North Carolina for the winter.

The place where he takes his bees was involved in a hurricane that came through the state as a tropical storm last summer. This OF reported that all the bees of that beekeeper were lost as they all drowned in the water and mud caused by the storm.

The weather can be detrimental to an industry rarely given any thought and, as industries go, this one of the bees is at the top of list in being the most important one of all.

Many people do not consider that, if it weren’t for farmers, there would be darn fewer people trotting this sixth rock from the sun (they have taken away Pluto and, if it weren’t for bees, there would be nothing for farmers to grow.

It is amazing how all life goes back to one simple but intricate and amazing insect. Even the dinosaurs had to depend on a few simple insects and birds to pollinate the plants.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie and partook in a friendly atmosphere and lively chatter were: John Rossmann, George Washburn, Mark Traver, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Richard Frank, Otis Lawyer, Chuck Aelesio, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Jim Heiser, Roger Chapman, Gerry Irwin, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jim Rissacher, Jerry Willsey, Ted Willsey, George Byrnes, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

The first Tuesday in November is a very important day no matter what the year. Number One (and the most important) is that the Old Men of the Mountain meet to eat, and, Number Two, it is Election Day.

This Election Day the OMOTM met at the Country Café in Schoharie, and the Knox Reformed Church held its 100th continuous Election Day chicken supper. Someday someone should compute how many chickens met their demise to serve all those people for 100 years, and how many chickens had to lay how many eggs for the OMOTM to have at their breakfast for at least 22 years.

My goodness! The plight of a chicken is amazing. Just think how many chickens are needed every day since nearly all the people in the world use them in one form or another.

The OFs began talking about their purchasing power as they become older, and how the marketing people seem to think that, once anyone is over 25 years old, they don’t spend any money.

The OFs have news for them. There is a lot of money in the pockets of the OFs. However, over the years, the OFs are smarter about the way they spend it and how they spend it. The OFs (for the most part) buy what they like and to heck with labels.

The OFs know through experience what is junk and what will last, but they do have preferences. The OFs (again for the most part) have a few pairs of shoes — not a closet full — a couple of good dress shirts, a few ties, and maybe a suit.

The youngsters fall for all that marketing and pay astronomical prices for a pair of jeans, when all they are paying for is the name. The denim, buttons, zippers, and threads all come from the few suppliers that manufacture these items.

The same people in China or Indonesia sew the fancy name on those that are purchased at the high-end stores, and then sew the standard names on the same ones for Wal-Mart, Kohls, or Target. The same goes for sneakers.

The OFs purchase much smarter so the marketing people skip the old folks and go right to the airheads who will buy anything that is highly advertised and endorsed by some celebrity. The OFs have spoken.

Labors of love

Old mills that are still running were another topic the OFs jumped into. The OFs were impressed with how 200 years ago people managed to construct these mills with the tools and materials they had back then.

There are some old mills running that are within driving distance of the Capital District. These mills are located in Delaware County, Schoharie County, and there is even one mill in Rensselaerville in Albany County.  The Rensselaerville mill could be running but it is in need of a “penstock.” (The penstock is a sluice or pipe that carries water to the wheel from wherever the water source is.)

The mill in Rensselaerville is located right in the village. To reconstruct this waterway, the Rensselaerville mill has to garner around $50,000 to complete the final phase to make the mill completely functional

The work on the mill and the expense for this comes from donations, with the work being done by volunteers. It is good that there are OFs around who take an interest in keeping history alive and who work on projects like these old mills.

They also work on old trains — maintaining the tracks, and rolling stock. Labors of love.

High school reunions

The OFs covered some high school graduations and, going back to when the OFs graduated, it is a real step back in time. To some, it is the late forties, and early fifties.

The record books for those who have passed away are becoming larger than those in attendance. It is interesting to the OFs that most of the memories are of the good times; it seems many of the bad things that happened are tough to recall and they are few in number.

At these reunions, age and distance makes it hard for some to attend. As the OFs talked, one OF divulged that he went quite a distance to renew acquaintances from his high school days.

It is also interesting to find that, in most of the reunions, many of the students did not travel far from home, but now there are those that are all over the globe. The OFs did not get into the magnet that keeps most close to home, and even draws those that reside hither and yon back to these reunions just to check in and see if that part of their life was real.

The big contest is to see how many the OFs can recognize and recall their names without name tags.

Following this theme, and maybe a pickup from the talk of reunions, was a dialogue about traveling to other countries and spending enough time there to find how different their cultures are. As one OF put it, many things some of these countries do and practice are unsanitary, unhealthy, and unsafe. This was not in any way spoken about disrespectfully — just questioned.

Smart people

This led to a question that this scribe wrote in his little note book and, upon reading the note “smart people,” this scribe thinks he should get a larger notebook. The gist of the conversation was that the OFs think that smart people are not necessarily the most educated by schooling, or the best dressed, or the ones in bib overalls, or the ones with tons of money, or the ones just getting by.

The OFs think smart people are just smart people because they are smart people.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who are all smart people because they met at the Country Café in Schoharie were: Professor John Rossmann, Professor George Washburn, Professor Roger Chapman, Professor Bill Lichliter, Professor Robie Osterman, Professor Harold Guest, Professor Chuck Aelesio, Professor Richard Frank, Professor Glenn Patterson, Professor Mark Traver, Professor Jim Heiser, Professor Roger Shafer, Professor Mace Porter, Professor Jack Norray, Professor Gerry Irwin, Professor Marty Herzog, Professor Jim Rissacher, Professor Bob Fink, Professor Bob Benninger, Professor Mike Willsey, Professor Gerry Chartier, Professor Winnie Chartier, Professor Elwood Vanderbilt, Professor Harold Grippen, and student me.

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Oct. 31, All Saints Day 2017, was a Tuesday, and as the scribe looked around at the Old Men of the Mountain in Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, this scribe was hardpressed to find any saints.

There were many people there this scribe knew, but as for being saints — this scribe doesn’t think so. There may have been some saints in the form of other patrons in the room but this scribe is not even sure about that. Then again, they all may be saints. Who is this scribe to judge who is a saint and who is not?

Unwanted furniture heaven

Most people run into this following dilemma every now and then. That is trying to remove a large item from the house that no one wants, and it is too large, or heavy, or won’t go through the doorway to get it out of the house.

A couple of OFs have, and have had this problem. One OF had a player piano that was falling apart, and did not work at all. The rolls were all chewed up by squirrels and mice. The instrument was in such bad shape, it wouldn’t even make a good piece of furniture if the guts were removed and shelves were put inside it to turn it into a conversation piece, as well as another place to store chotskies.  

The OF managed to shove the piano to the patio doors because it was on wheels that really did not want to roll. With a little OF persuasion, the OF made it. The OF thought it was almost like the piano knew what was going to happen — that is why it refused to roll.

Lastly, he tied a rope around the piano and pulled it out with his tractor and the piano immediately broke into pieces when it hit the ground. The OF said eventually it made a nice bonfire.

The other OF has a pool table that no one wants. This is current; the table is resting in his heated basement as the column is being typed.

This OF asked at the breakfast if anyone wanted the table. He said it weighs about 800 pounds and has a felt-covered slate top. He also said it should be taken apart to move; otherwise it is going to meet the piano in the same way that the piano met its demise in the unwanted furniture heaven.

This OF is currently waiting to see if he has any takers on his offer. Anybody want a pool table?  

Gone like the Dodo

The OFs next discussed the Corvair automobile. One OF had owned one and he said it was a great vehicle. The OFs started a discussion on the design of the car and said that the addition of some sort of sway bar would prevent the propensity of the vehicle to roll over.

Another OF said the vehicle had another problem — the motor mounts would rot off and the engine would fall out. That is another whoop, but it seemed to other OFs that both problems would have been easy fixes.

Sadly, the Corvair is no longer around like many other car models and manufacturers. One OF said, “In a few years, people are going to say a Chevy, or Ford, or even a Chrysler will all be gone like the Dodo bird.”

Many of the OFs mentioned cars that they really liked and would like to have back. One OF said, “It isn’t only cars — it can be shoes, hats, jackets, and lots of other things.”

A second OF said, “Yeah, how about old girlfriends?”

“Thin ice,” some OF shouted!

Speaking of old things, the OFs thought the reason we wanted old things back is because they were made better. One of the reasons the OFs think that way is because they (whoever they are) are using plastic instead of metal where metal should be used.

Plastic is OK, one OF thought, but not in all circumstances.

Another OF offered some sage advice: “We are around to see that cars, trucks, tractors, planes, old tools, and appliances, made in the ’30s and ’40s are still around and functioning, but will we be around when something made in the years of 2000 to 2017 will be around 70 years later?”

“I think not,” the OF said.

Yet another OF added that some of the junk built today that is supposed to last that long craps out in five years.

At that rate, there isn’t going to be anything to check on in 70 years. The technology of today wasn’t around in the ’40s, and ’50s. Many of the components connected with this new equipment could last 100 years. However, we will never know because the technology behind this manufacturing changes from day to day and makes the products obsolete from day to day.

How are we going to tell how long these items will last when their usefulness lasts such a short period of time?

Costs go ever upward

As usual, the OFs talked about the cost of living now and back in the day when jeans were five bucks. This time, it was on the expected power hikes, and the projected increase in Social Security.

It was thought by the OFs that the Social Security increase was going to be about 2 percent. Then, the OFs think, there is going to be an increase by some government agency to negate that 2 percent. It always does.

One OF thought that the timing of the power hike and the Social Security increase is no coincidence. This scribe did a little research, (darn little) but interesting.

There are about 61 million people on Social Security. Using a figure of $1,000 at 2 percent is twenty bucks. Multiply that by 61 million and you have a whopping number coming out of the treasury.

Those OFs who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in the heart of downtown Middleburgh, and using the proposed Social Security increase to purchase half a tank of gas to get there, were: Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Jim Heiser, Roger Shafer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Jerry Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Marty Herzog, Jim Rissacher, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, and me.

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