When the Old Men of the Mountain arrived at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg, it was wet snow and fog on Tuesday, Nov. 13. This caused some of the OFs to ask if this scribe has kept track of the weather on Tuesdays, and how many have been miserable.

In fact, this scribe does keep a sloppy journal and the first note in the journal is the morning weather. When the scribe arrives in the kitchen and looks out the kitchen window, the scribe makes a note, then the scribe looks at the weather on the atomic clock and notes both in the journal. Upon hearing the OFs comment of the weather on Tuesday mornings, it prompted this scribe to go back and check.

What this scribe found out going back just seven weeks in his journal there was only one Tuesday out of the seven that the weather was a limited OK; for all the others, “completely miserable” is the best term for early in the morning.

This Tuesday morning, one OF mentioned how he drove Route 88 behind a tractor trailer because the road was slushy snow and the truck’s wide tires were clearing it down to the pavement so there the OMOTM stayed, driving on just wet pavement.

The OF said the truck was also cruising right along at about 65 to 68 miles per hour, and still in the fog and slush vehicles were passing them like they were standing still but at least on Route 88 the driver does not have to worry about oncoming traffic.

Food lures help?

One OF said he had some work to do and was looking for some help. It was not difficult work; it was just stacking wood. (Here we go with the wood thing again.)

The OF he couldn’t get anyone to come help. One OF said the way to do that is to offer free food. That way, the OF said, he would have tons of help.

The OF said he tried that and quite a few guys did show up and he had coffee and doughnuts ready for them. He said they hung around, shot the bull, ate all his doughnuts, drank all the coffee, and went home.

Not a stick of wood was chucked. So that idea doesn’t work. Then one OF said the only thing left is to add beer to list and don’t bring that out until all the wood is stacked. All you did was take a good idea and poorly implement it; try again.

Go-to guys

The OMOTM have a lot of go-to guys if you have a problem with this or that. One of these guys has acquired a rather large piece of equipment to go with his other pieces of equipment.

One OF said he had use for something like what the OF had just obtained. The OF said he would show him how to run it but he wasn’t about to do the work.

Then the OF at that end of the table thought this OF should have an excavating school. This way, the OFs could rent, or borrow the equipment (borrow here is a term for barter) and know how to run it to get the job done.

The OFs with all these special talents and tools could make a rate schedule of their talents to pass around. Then one OF said the first price should be zero; the OF would just pay for fuel when it is a piece of equipment and take the owner out to dinner, and not Burger King.

Lawn art to teach a lesson

An OF took the suggestion of lawn art one step further and is planning such a piece of sculptor with a car and a pickup truck, but he is going to take old clothes and stuff them with hay, and put a cap on a soccer ball for one of them and hang the hay figures out some of the windows on the vehicles.

He is going to title it “Don’t Drink and Drive.” Cool idea, some of the other OFs thought.

Drone discourse

The OFs talked about the recent passing of the Google plane to record the topography of at least the Capital District. They mentioned how the graphics are so much better.

The plane must have been covering the area around August 2018 by what the OFs noticed. This led to a discussion on drones and how sophisticated they have become with cameras attached and how cheap the drones are now.

One OF said he was sitting at his kitchen table and this thing went flying by his window and he had no idea what it was. Then it came back and went by again.

He said he was ready to get the shotgun and blast it out of the sky. He did go outside to see what was going on and it was his grandson playing with a new toy.

They are quite the thing, but one OF said, once it is flown 10 times, won’t the novelty wear off and it is just another thing to take up space in the closet.

A few of the OFs said they thought drones were great for businesses like surveyors, real-estate people, contractors, people like that, and law enforcement.

Again, we heard stories that raise the eyebrows. One OF said that a group was flying a drone over at Warners Lake, and one of the eagles over there came down and grabbed that thing out of the air and took it someplace — maybe to its nest; the OF didn’t know.

Maybe the eagle thought it was something invading its territory. Could be but it is a, hmmmm.

Those OFs who made it through the slush, fog, drizzle, and darkness to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg just to have bacon and eggs were: Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roger Shafer, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Joe Rack, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Rev. Jay Francis, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Guest, and me.

Location:

This little report of the Old Men of the Mountain has been hitting the printed page for about 23 or so years, and every Tuesday of those 23 or so years the Old Men of the Mountain have met at one restaurant or another. This Tuesday was no different; so on Tuesday, Nov. 6, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

This scribe does not know about other hearing-aid wearers (or should that be other people who wear hearing aids) but this scribe and other OMOTM who wear them say the same thing: Hearing aids do not work well in a crowded or noisy restaurant.

This Tuesday, the scribe forgot his and actually heard better than if he had worn them. This scribe thinks leaving them on the kitchen table may become a routine because, when they are in the ears, while driving to the eating place, all the scribe hears is the car engine and road noise, and very little conversation going on in the vehicle.

With them out of the ears, the scribe hears more of the conversation and says “what” when he can’t make it out and it is repeated more loudly. This works well.

Wood talk rekindled

Separated by a week, the wood conversation continued, only this time it was on pellet stoves, how they work, and what they cost, and deals that are out there. In essence, with these stoves, the OFs are still burning wood.

It is like a printer who gets ink in his veins, as does a writer who gets words in his brains. Wood-burners get wood in their veins, and smoke in their nostrils. If the house catches on fire, does a wood-burning aficionado think it is a natural smell and pays no attention to it? Hmm.

Cash conundrum

Next the OFs started talking about money, and who has it. The OFs looked up and down the table and arrived at the conclusion that none of them have any.

Then they started talking about 1,000-dollar bills, and one OF said you can’t get one anymore. That OF is right. The government stopped printing any bills higher than $100 in 1969. If you are lucky enough to have a few 1,000-dollar bills hanging around they will still be honored by the bank.

One OF who is in business for himself required a good sum of money to make a purchase on a large piece of equipment in a cash-only deal at an auction. This OF went to the bank and the OF said the request was for 10 grand in cash.

The OF claimed the bank could only scrape up 54 hundred bucks. The OFs all looked at the OF, telling the story like this is a bunch of hooey, but the OF insisted it was factual.

The grass is greener

Now that it is early November and the grass in the geography the OFs travel is greener than springtime, the OFs started talking about still having to mow the lawn, even though many have winterized their mowers. However, some of the OFs say, to heck with it.

One stated, “I am not mowing the lawn while everything is so wet; let it grow!”

Another added he doesn’t want to mow the lawn in a mackinaw and mukluks. “Amen to that one,” was the general reply.

This brought up (for some reason) lawn tractors that die in the middle of a mow. The OFs say they go by many homes where the old lawn mower sits in the yard right where it quit and grass is growing up around it. The owner has purchased a new one and just mows around the old one and there it sits.

Ah! Lawn Art!

One OF said, “Hey it is Lawn Art. Stick a potted plant on the seat and give it a title and there you go.  Heck, we have lots of OFs that have good examples of Lawn Art. Some by accident, and some by design. If you get a couple of junk cars, put some flowers on the roof, and vines around the bumper — bingo! There’s your Lawn Art.”

The OF continued, “If you have to replace the john, take the old one and put it alongside the driveway, stick a pole in the tank, and a sign on it with your name and house number — voila!  There it sits, a clever icon for your home that is not going to blow over.”

The OF continued with lots of what we consider junk and how he could turn it into Lawn Art with just a little imagination, time, and very little money.

If you have two junk cars, put them on the front lawn, front end to front end, and jack up the back a couple of feet. Then hide some speakers inside one or the other vehicle, go purchase a sound-effect CD of crashes and explosion and have a ball — Ah! Lawn Art!

“With Christmas coming up,” this OF said, “look at the possibilities with the lights or old Christmas trees.”

The OF thought maybe we could use an old top-loading washer. Take a motor, some plywood, and any cheap thing to use as a couple of rods. Put a two-foot lighted tree in it and have the lid push up, and have the tree rise up at the same time and then go back down like a jack-in-the-box.

Of course, it would need Christmas music coming out of it. The OF thought that would be slick. Ah, Lawn Art.

Another OF came up with having two johns do the same thing with Santa hats on the tops, the lids going up and down with music playing. Why, three in a row could be choir. Ah, Lawn Art.

Those OFs who made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie, and are going home to search for Lawn Art were: Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Rev, Jay Francis, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Mine Willsey, Winnie Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

The breakfast was on Tuesday, Oct. 30, one week before Election Day. Thank goodness! Election Day can’t come soon enough.

Those OMOTM who watch the news are so sick of the political ads they are ready to shoot the TV, or just give up watching it altogether until the election is over. Many of the OFs who have digital video recorders have recorded the shows they like and they will watch them later and skip the ads.

One OF said he thought it was a concentrated effort from all parties to keep the vote down so they can control the voting. This way, only the party faithful will go to the polls.

The OF is so disgusted by all of these ads he said, “How can we trust any of them?”

This OF said he just can’t vote for any of the people running for office because these ads are so intruding, unnecessary, and vulgar. How can their family and friends put up with these ads? Why would any decent person want to run for office?

After the venting settled down, at least we can report that Tuesday morning all who showed up at the Country Café in Schoharie (the waitress was nice enough to open up before the opening time and at least get the coffee going) did so without getting lost by road closures, or fog.

Christmas catalogs cause confusion

This time of year, the OFs are getting tons of catalogs that have (most of the time) mostly useless items in them and all the items seems to be priced at $14.99. Every now and then, one of the items will have a different or cute twist to it that just fills the bill for someone on the Christmas list and orders are made. This is all it takes to continue the flow of these catalogs.

A few of the OFs had the same experience and got snookered into a legitimate scheme used by the catalog companies to get the unsuspecting OF ordering into a “Free Shipping” program. Most of the time (this scribe heard), it was the wife doing the ordering. The OFs themselves think that these catalogs are comic books and they just look at them and emit the occasional chuckle from time to time.

Almost all these catalogs have a shipping trap in their order form and some of the OFs have been caught in that. One form to order so much in dollars, and that dollar amount is not much, so it is easy to get to it, then they will ship free when the box for free shipping is checked. That is a big whoop.

The OF found a charge on his credit card from a certain company and he had no idea what it was for. In checking with his credit-card company they researched it and found it was a shipping company from a catalog and the OF had signed up for that company to pay the shipping.

The charge would come every month and the shipping from that catalog would be free. “Say what!” That offer was killed in a hurry by the OF.

The other OF had his problem hidden in the order form (off in a corner space) and it offered basically the same thing. If you order so many dollars in merchandise, you receive free shipping.

However, this form said, if you do not want the free shipping, check the box. That is clever. Sure you want the free shipping — so the OF said to himself, why check the box? Then the same thing happened.  

The OF had this charge from some company he did not know, but the charge was small and he thought his wife bought something, so he paid it. The next month, the same company and the same charge so then the OF called the credit-card company.

Same scenario as above and, as the conversation went on, the OFs found out the amount being charged was the same in all cases. As one OF said, “It is always buyer beware.’”

Ahoy!

The Pirate Ship was again a short topic of discussion as it is now in the water. The OF has the ship decorated for Halloween with life-sized skeletons waving to the passers-by with knives and swords in their hands.

This thing is getting to look more like the Flying Dutchman from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Best of times

The OFs — at one section of the table — jumped off the Hill for awhile and talked about what the small towns of Central Bridge and Howes Cave in Schoharie County were like in the late forties to the early seventies. They were much different than they are now.

North American Cement was thriving big-time, and supporting smaller little businesses that were around the area from Cobleskill to Schoharie and Middleburgh. Even Albany and Schenectady shared in what was required to keep the plant running.

Central Bridge had tons of businesses: a hardware store, a lumber and coal yard, a good-size grain mill, a hardware and fuel-oil company, a car dealership, an engine-reconditioning plant, and assorted stores. Since the demise of the cement plant, most all is gone now.

The OFs still think they lived in the best of times; however, these OFs will pass on and other OFs will take over and those OFs will think they lived in the best of times.

The OFs who think they lived in the best of times may be right as they are still able to make it to the Country Café in Schoharie and some were waiting at the door like cows waiting at the gate to go to the barn. Finally, the farmer’s daughter came and let them through, and these OFs were: Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Wayne Gaul, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Kenny Parks, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Gerry Irwin, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Tuesday — and the month of October is almost gone because it was the 23rd of the month when the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Family Restaurant in the center of the town of Middleburgh.

It is fun and encouraging to see the OMOTM filter into each restaurant and see they are still OK and ambulatory. The early morning chatter was on the subject of the morning entrances because we have a couple of OFs who are not able to make it. Concerns for these regulars who are having a tough time was deep and heartfelt.

Here it is October, and the OFs haven’t even had a chance to go trick-or-treating (using their own ugly faces as masks) nor have they even had a chance to put out the Thanksgiving decorations and they were talking about Christmas. This scribe feels it is Madison Avenue brainwashing and what brains the OFs have left fall right into it, including this scribe’s.

Many of the OFs are giving up traditions that used to be looked forward to with happy anticipation. Now it all seems like work.

One of these “traditions” was burning wood. Some of the OFs are chucking it in and are not going to burn wood any more. A few of the “younger OFs” who have wood lots are still going to heat with this renewable fuel source.

Of course they would; except for the time, fuel, and equipment, it is free. (English: a simple, but confusing language. For instance “Would wood be the answer to build those shelves?” is just one such English example.) The cost of a cord of wood today is another reason the OFs named for giving up heating with wood.

According to the OFs in this discussion, a cord of wood is about the equivalent of 100 gallons of fuel oil. A cord of wood today, according again to the OFs, is from $300 a full cord to $240 or $270 a full cord.

Now, one OF said, it is approaching, and in some cases exceeding, the price of fuel oil and with fuel oil the supplier pumps it in the tank, and the furnace burns it. All the OF has to do is change the filter every now and then.

“Look at what I have to do to burn wood,” the OF continued. “I have to stack it, store it, haul it in, put it in the stove, burn it, haul out ashes, make sure they are dumped in a safe place, and clean the chimney every now and then. The glamour is gone,” the OF said.

Trees fade away

Now comes Christmas and the Christmas tree! Here too, the OFs said, the kids are gone, and there are still the grandkids, but with many of the OFs, the grandkids are ready to be parents themselves, and some are.

This leads to the demise of going out and getting a tree. Taking the kids out in the snow to cut a live tree was an integral part of Christmas.

Later on, putting up the big seven-foot artificial tree (after the kids left home) was the next step. That, too, became a lot of work, and just finding a place to store the big tree was another hassle.

Some missed the nostalgic feeling of the tree, real or not, and hanging all the ornaments, but it finally broke down to all the work involved in hauling all these ornaments out of the attic or basement, and putting them away.

One OF thought this was part of the fun and they really decorated the tree and the house for Christmas. Then, the OF said, after the kids moved all over the country, they cut way back on their decorating.

However, the OFs said, they still get the urge, and still have most of the stuff. But this OF said he is ready to join the others with the three- to four-foot table trees. Only a few of the OFs said they have no tree at all now. It is quite a tradition, and business, too, for that matter, that the Germans started years ago.

Winning ways

The huge lotteries out there right now were a lively topic the OFs discussed. “What would you do?” the OFs asked each other, “if you won all that money?”

The OFs basically had no idea. Most said they would spread it around the family, and donate it to their favorite charities, or church.

Some of the OFs had their own lottery-winning stories. One OF said that a friend of theirs from high school days moved away and became quite wealthy on their own. They won a big lottery, in the millions, and, before even accepting it when, the taxes could be taken out, winnings were immediately donated —  half to a hospital where they worked, and half to some charity (the OF forgot which one).

Because they never accepted the winnings and all the money went to charities, the state was not able to tax it, the friend said. This OF doesn’t know if it was maintained or not, or if the state was able to wrangle their paws around what they say is their share.

The OF said he never followed up on that point. It would be interesting, now that the OFs were talking about lotteries, to see how that would work in New York, or if any state would have in place a sneaky little law or rule just to cover this to make sure the state got its chunk of the pie.

Of all the OFs at one end of the table who discussed the lottery, none of them said they would share it with the Old Men of the Mountain, and all OMOTM who attended the breakfast at Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh were: Harold Guest, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Jim Heiser, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Jake Lederman, Wayne Gaul, Roger Shafer, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Duncan Bellinger, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Harold Grippen, and me.

By the way, this year, everyone is the same age. Take the year you were born, add your age and the answer is 2018. Try it with any age 75, 25, or 5 years old. 1932 plus 86 = 2018.

Location:

A beautifully restored 1933 M.G., like this one, was a standout at a huge car show recently attended by some of The Old Men of the Mountain.

Finally! A Tuesday when it wasn’t foggy, with rain or drizzle, hampering the drive to whatever restaurant was on the list for Tuesday.

This past Tuesday, it happened to be the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, and still a couple of carloads of Old Men of the Mountain were left wandering around the hills because of unexpected detours, twisting the OMOTM around. As one OF put it, it is election time and some the roads are being fixed or at least patched.

At Tuesday morning’s breakfast, some of the OFs reported on a boat trip they made up the Hudson River from Coxsackie to Albany on one of the OF’s boats. From their report, the weather was perfect and a great day for boating.

This was rare; the OFs said we have not had many of these lately. The captain of this crew said one of the OFs took the trip for just what it was supposed to be. He sprawled out on the back seat and took the whole seat up for the entire trip.

He did perk up when they were passing a huge beautiful yacht. The OFs had quite a time reporting on how large this yacht was; the OFs said it was painted gold.

It was also, according to these OFs, decorated in the Art Deco style, and was being piloted by a couple who apparently considered clothes optional. It was that aspect that perked up the old gent in the back seat.

The captain reported he was unable to partake in this short show because at the time they were passing the yacht there was a tug boat approaching and he had to navigate the waters with the swells from these larger boats, and he was trying hard not to run into either one of them.

When cars and phones were simpler

This gets so redundant but, with a bunch of OFs, it is to be expected. Again, some of the OFs attended a huge car show in Pennsylvania.

And to these OFs the hit of the show was a 1933 M.G. This was beautifully a restored vehicle. To the OFs, one would think it would be something more upscale that caught their eye.

One OF said that when he was younger — much younger — sports cars were his thing, The OF said that he went through the ranks and graduated to a Jaguar XK 120 CM (coupe modified), which is a vehicle he should have kept, but being young, “What did I know?” the OF asked. That car could be his retirement today.

Another OF said we all have cars we would like to get back. The new ones may be nice, but they don’t seem to have any character. Another OF brought up that he thinks that goes for just plain older folks — not only for vehicles but other items also.

Then one old goat said, “Don’t go into the past” because he likes things the way they are now.

Some thought the OG may be right in a way because, when we were in our forties, we would always show up at the dealerships and see what the newest vehicles were and what they could do differently, etc. However, somewhere along the line things changed and the new didn’t seem that new or interesting. Then it got out of hand and we wanted the vehicle we had in the 1950s.

Another example cited was the old-fashioned rotary phone. They were easy to understand. Just insert your index finger in the hole on the dial and twist — that was it. It wasn’t necessary to go to school to learn how to use your phone.

Dealing with critters and crickets

The OFs began talking about the amount of small critters we have this fall like field mice, chipmunks, squirrels, and assorted other beetles and bugs that want to get into the house to keep warm this time of year.

One OF told of a nest of chipmunks he had in his place and, after a little patience and pest-detective work, he found where they were getting in and he plugged up the hole with a piece of tin. That, the OF said, worked for a little while, then he heard them again in the same spot where they must have returned to the nest.

This time, through the same detective work, he found they worked their way up through the cellar. It was suggested he get some live traps and haul those suckers away.

One OF suggested rat traps. Another, who spoke from experience, said the chipmunks just haul those things away and then they die someplace and smell like a dead rat.

A second OF said, “What do you do with them after you trap them in a live trap?”

The other retorted, “I’ll haul them to your place — you have 20 acres.”

“Yeah right,” the second OF said. “You start pulling that stunt and I’ll trap skunks and bring them to you.”

Oh, the comradery of this group called the OMOTM.

It went from this to trying to locate a cricket in the house, and the OFs mentioned how much damage those bugs can do once they get in. A couple of OFs agreed, but this is one of the insects the OFs said they have not seen much of lately.

A cricket in the house can be a tough one to locate even though they advertise quite loudly where they are. One OF thought they were ventriloquists, because when they announce where they are, they show up someplace else.

Grasshoppers were another creepy-crawly that an OF said he thinks are on the decline because he has not noticed many.

Those OFs who are planning on being the mighty great hunters of mice, chipmunks, and crickets and who made it to the Middleburgh Diner were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Roger Shafer, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Rev. Jay Francis, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Duncan Bellinger, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

My goodness, Magee — last week, there was fog and drizzle and there it was again this week, Tuesday Oct. 9, when the Old Men of the Mountain met at Pop’s Place (formerly the West Wind Diner) in Preston Hollow.

The Old Men of the Mountain had this miserable driving condition the whole way. With a detour on the mountain that was unexpected, and in no man’s land with the fog and drizzle, two carloads of OMOTM got lost in the hills. Another carload missed a turn they take almost daily because they could not see and they had no idea where they were in the dark and fog.

Just like last week in the fog and drizzle, some were driving by the entrance of the restaurant because the OF doing the driving did not know where they were, and did not even see the restaurant, let alone the driveway to the parking lot.

We are talking early morning here; the sun hadn’t even had a hint of showing up yet. This last carload had to do the same thing the OFs did last week — find a building with lights on and turn around.

The OMOTM think the weather being sleep-in weather was the reason for a low turnout at Pop’s Place.  Most of the OFs who didn’t show also had missed the experience of getting cows for milking many times (in their farming days) on the same type of morning.

Some of the OFs did not get to really enjoy the experience of hearing the cows mill around early in the morning before the sun comes up, or seeing cows waiting at the gate in the fog of late summer to early fall. For the ones who missed that occurrence, there was something about it that made the world feel like everything is going to be all right.

The OF who was returning to his winter home and had the snake problem brought lots of talk about snakes, and snake incidents at Tuesday morning’s breakfast. It appears that most everyone has one snake story or another to relate — some in size, others in quantity, and others in location.

The discussions centered on if the snakes were of the nasty kind, or if they were just the regular garden variety. These were the major topics. The OFs have had their run-in with rattlers, both here and in the South. Some of the OFs told of signs in the western part of the country advising people to stay on the provided path because of these critters.

One OF told of such signs at the Very Large Array in New Mexico that not only advised visitors to stay on the path because of these snakes but their sign also warned visitors to be aware of lightning strikes.

This OF and friends wondered how anyone could do that. The snake they could see but, with a lightning strike, by the time they noticed it, it would be too late to do anything about it.

The OFs wondered why so many people are leery of snakes. Some of the OFs say snakes don’t usually bother them, but can when they are not expecting them to be around. If one wiggles across his path, the OF is startled.

One OF mentioned finding a nest of rock snakes. These snakes are in our area but rare. They are harmless and beautiful; finding a nest of them is rarer yet.

The OFs discuss snakes on occasion but Tuesday morning the OFs covered the black snakes, garter snakes, milk snakes and, of course, the kind the OFs don’t want to mess with — the copperheads and the rattlesnakes. Those two can be found in the OFs’ territory but fortunately they are rarer than the rock snake.

One OF said he developed a relationship with an average-sized garter snake while painting the sunny side of his barn. The OF said he noticed the snake curled up in the sun in front of the barn and paid no attention to it. The snake stayed there while he worked around it.

The next day, he put the cat’s milk dish out where the snake was and the snake came to it, curled up, and stayed there while he painted. Each day for six days, the OF and the snake met to paint the barn.

Schoharie intersection

Outside of the diner on nice days some, if not most of the OFs, gather and continue to shoot the bull. Tuesday morning, a group discussed the tragedy in Schoharie, where a limo crashed, killing 20 people. Most of the OFs know this intersection well and the OFs’ conversation went back to when the intersection was a Y at the bottom.

The OFs agree this T-intersection is much better. Some of the OFs have come down this hill with an old K9 International Truck loaded with hay and had to make that turn and then look through the cab to the right in order to continue on to Schoharie.

Way back then, it was a trick to pull out onto Route 30. Some OFs had just been down that hill and the T-intersection with no problem.

Common ailments

A common thread that sews old people together is their health, their doctors, their aches and pains, their operations, and their spare parts. Sometimes the thread could be kids, but not all old people had kids, but aches and pains they all have.

Sometimes this thread is food, but so many old people have diet restrictions food is not the thread, but doctor visits they all have. So it is with the OMOTM.

Tuesday, there were discussions on operations and, in this case, one OF has had one knee done and the other knee requires the same type of repair.

“No way,” this OF says.

He is going to do without it. Right now, he handles the pain by keeping off the bad knee, and using Tylenol when he has to go someplace where walking is necessary.

This sentiment was echoed by other OFs who have had some similar operations, put up with them for years, and now are questioning if the operation was worth it. Some, however, say the operation may have stiffened them up some but the pain is gone.

It is a Catch-22. One OF said it all depends on your sawbones — if he knows what he is doing or not.

One OF suggested it is the OFs themselves. If the OF does not do the physical therapy completely, he is going to get stiff, and may still have some hurt.

“Look,” one OF said, “it is the practice of medicine and the doctors are all still practicing.”

The OFs groaned at this because they have heard it so many times. However, most of the OFs are happy with the doctors they have.

Condolences

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer our sympathies, condolences, thoughts, and prayers to all those who lost their lives in the accident at routes 30 and 30A in Schoharie. It is tragic and was completely preventable.  

Those OFs who made it to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow, regardless of their physical conditions, were: Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Wally Guest, John Rossmann, Pete Whitbeck, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Marty Herzog, Jim Rissacher, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter (it’s a small world after all, Amy is the cook and runs the diner and Mace is her great-uncle), Herb Bahrmann, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Harold Grippen, and me.

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The Tuesday of Oct. 2, the Old Men of the Mountain headed to the Chuck Wagon Diner.

The Chuck Wagon in Princetown is one of the furthest that the OFs who live in Middleburgh and beyond have to travel to have breakfast. This Tuesday was almost completely shrouded in dense fog.

Some OMOTM leave at 5 or 6 in the morning and, in this “soup,” that is dedication. One set of OFs drove right on by the diner because of oncoming traffic and not having a clue to the surrounding geography and where they were.

Actually, the OFs knew where they were; they just didn’t know where the diner was. These OFs had to drive all the way to the bank in Duanesburg where there was enough light to negotiate a turn-around once they realized they missed the restaurant’s parking-lot entrance.

Military habits

At the table where this scribe sat, one of the topics talked about was the Korean War, but not the battles, as these were Navy men. These OFs discussed what conditions were like when they were onboard ships.

One OF was on a ship like the Slater (which is now docked at Albany) and another OF was on the aircraft carrier, the Wasp, and the conditions they experienced then is nothing like the experiences now. One connection, no matter the branch of service, was these experiences and comradery that developed by serving in the military. These friendships carry over, and in many cases lifelong friendships developed.

One thing that did develop was the habit of smoking. The OFs mentioned they picked up the problem of smoking while in the military, whether it was Army, Navy, or Marines. Cigarettes were made plentiful, cheap, and often times encouraged. Those in charge considered the cigarette a stress reliever and a good way to keep the OFs alert while on watch.

The OFs at this scribe’s table all picked up the habit and continued it even after their discharge. One OF admitted he became a three-pack-a-day smoker of unfiltered Camel cigarettes.

All of the same OFs at the table are now non-smokers and quit quite a while ago. The OF who was a three-pack-a-day smoker said he looked at a cigarette he was about to light, took it, and threw it away.  The OF has never smoked since.

All said there was almost an immediate change in their health for the better. The earliest sensation the OFs noticed that improved was energy, taste, and smell. This scribe thinks that is why they are now part of this group.

This scribe has never smoked, but then again, he was never in the military. When he went with a group of buddies to sign up, the military didn’t want him, and classified this scribe as 4F.

This scribe was deeply disappointed and thought the board was wrong; only later on, he found out they were right. How the problem eluded this scribe’s doctors for years (and it wasn’t until this scribe was 60-something) before the problem was found and corrected.

Rattler alert

These reunions and get-togethers covered most of the conversation Tuesday morning, with a few side conversations thrown in. These were the typical exchanges on who saw the biggest car show etc., and then one snow bird who was preparing to leave the next day said that the place where they go (which is near Disney) sent a notice to all who were returning to be prepared for some changes.

One was that they were to keep pets indoors unless being walked. When out being walked, the pets and the people walking them were to stay on the pavement, be careful, and not get off in the grass. This is because the grass is now infested with rattlesnakes.

Well, there is a big whoop! We think this OF should hang around here for awhile longer until they (whoever they are) solves that little problem. By the way, rattlesnakes are not an endangered species and the snake skin makes good belts and boots.

Travelers’ tales

It is always interesting when someone travels and they meet someone that has been to where they have been and the traveler can say, “Did you do this or that,” or, “Stay here, or eat here,” and the person can say, “Yes, I also did that.”

This is the case of one of the OFs at the table. An OF said, “While in Mississippi, did you eat at The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint in Ocean Springs?”

The other OF said, “Yes, we did. Isn’t that some kind of place? The food was great.”

So these OFs started telling the rest of us all about The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint in Mississippi. If anyone is interested in what these OFs were talking about, you could Google it at the shed.com.

It is not necessary to type the whole thing; as soon as you start, it pops right up. This place does look unusual. Both OFs say it is like eating in a clothing store and a junkyard at the same time, and it is all open to the elements. Sounds like the OFs’ kind of place.

Those OFs that are still able to travel and who are ambulatory and willing to share their stories to the rest of the OFs are much appreciated.

All the OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, travelers or not, were: Roger Shafer, Pete Whitbeck, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Art Frament, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Warren Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Rev. Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazzo, Harold Grippen, and me.

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It was another rainy Tuesday on Sept. 25 when the Old Men of the Mountain traveled to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg.

In the direction that many of the OMOTM travel, they are bucking early morning traffic of those hustling off to work in the cities. The early morning brings its share of headlights greeting the OFs as they head in the other direction.

Add the flip-flop of the windshield wipers as they swish back and forth, wiping the water off the windshield when it is raining, and the OFs have a dark, early morning motoring challenge. The OFs aren’t complaining; the OFs thank all these cars on the road headed to work — saying, “Thank you, keep those Social Security checks rolling; we did this (work) for many years.”

The OMOTM by name have, over the years, accrued many items and most were necessary purchases. The problem is some, if not most, of these “things” are no longer necessary or have worn out, and where are these items now located? Well, surprise! The OFs have still got them.

At Tuesday’s breakfast, the OFs were talking about lawn mowers that do not work and have been replaced by newer ones, and TVs in the garage that are so obsolete that they are not even good for parts. The same goes for computers, hot-water heaters, and washers and dryers.

For one OF, it is shoes and boots. The mantra that was being displayed at this breakfast was, “I don’t want it!”

“So take it to the dump,” came a somewhat unison reply.

One OF said that he has hung on to some of this junk for so long it will now take a truck to haul it to the dump. Another OF thought it would be slick to gather all the old appliances, old chimney caps, old wood stoves, just plain old this and that, and pile it in the front yard.

Then have a few people look at it and arrange the pile into what in the OF’s opinion would be interesting, give it a name, make a sign, stick it in front of the pile and in the name of art call it (free form sculpture) and leave it there.

One OF picked up on this and said, “I have some stuff that I could bring and add to this pile.”

“Hey,” said the OFs, “we all could contribute to this, take pictures of it, and put it on the ’net.”

Some of the OFs thought this would be cool.

One OF said, “The pile could be built around an old telephone pole I have, and the OFs that have big bucket loaders could lift up an old decrepit riding lawn mower with a mannequin driver and cap the whole business.”

This met with considerable approval. The drawback was: What OF would let this so-called work of art be constructed in his front yard? The OMOTM have the collection, and the wherewithal, but ran short when it came to location.

So it still came down to “Take it to the dump.”

How colorful will the leaves be?

At the scribe’s end of the table, the conversations were quite redundant — e.g., hunting, boats, lawn mowers, old cars, old-car parts, model Ts, hearing aids, the weather, and then seasonal questions came up like: “What are we going to do this fall?” and “What do you think this fall will be like?”

One OF thought it should be exceptional because of how much the foliage grew this summer with the almost tropical weather we had in our area. If all these trees turn color without a heavy rain storm or high winds (when they are at high peak in changing), it is going to be a great fall to have the camera ready.

Others thought this fall would be like the summer — warm, wet, and dull.

This is one topic where we should make notes to see who is right or wrong; however, we all have to wait and see how it turns out. One OF says there is an area near his place that is about a quarter-mile stretch of road lined with maples and a couple of oaks.

He has taken pictures of this vicinity from the same spot for about five or six years. The trees grow some each year, but it is hardly noticeable.

Still, this year it is different — the growth is noticeable. Previously, the color of the trees, no matter what, was about the same. This year the OF thinks it will be no different — the color will be about the same.

Fooling the calendar

Another OF mentioned that many people with boats go by the calendar and take their boats out of the water when the calendar says to do so. This OF said that this year it is still good boating and fishing weather and his boat is still in the water. Even in past years, he has done the same by keeping the boat in the water longer then the calendar suggests.

Another OF said that is like buttoning up the house for winter, and putting up the outdoor furniture. Some do it way too soon and miss the nice warm days of fall, and enjoying a fire in the outdoor fireplace.

The bugs and mosquitoes are gone, the evening is darker earlier, the fire seems to crackle better, and this OF said it just seems nicer.

Others don’t like fall at all. They know what is coming and don’t like plowing and shoveling snow. Each to his own. That is what makes life so interesting.

Those Old Men of the Mountain filling up the back room and them some at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg, on a foggy, rainy Tuesday were: Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Shafer, Bill Bartholomew, Art Williams, David Williams, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Allen DeFazzo,  Harold Grippen, and me.

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September — and there is a touch of color on the trees, at least in the area the Old Men of the Mountain trod.

On Tuesday, Sept. 18, the Old Men of the Mountain trod in the fog and the rain to the Your Way Café in Schoharie. The number of OFs has dropped some because the snowbirds have already chickened out and headed to their winter haunts. One is still hanging out with us but eventually he, too, will head out.

The OFs commented how green it is this late in the year. One OF, though, mentioned that the bright green and all the yellow of the goldenrod looks like where John Deere took the idea to paint its tractors.

Another OF said it is the Year of the Goldenrod, and the bees should be happy.

Many of the OFs have friends and relatives living in the Carolinas, and the area of the country where Hurricane Florence visited. These OFs have been texting, emailing, and calling to see how they were doing. Fortunately, all received good reports concerning the ones being followed up on.

The OFs recalled Irene, the hurricane of 2011, which hit Schoharie very hard, and how by looking at all the pictures on television (even as bad as it was for our area) most of the pictures of Florence made our storm look like a shower by comparison.

One question was brought up: How are the government and the insurance companies able to keep up with all these recent disasters?

The fires out west and the floods in the South and East have consumed lots of real estate and upset thousand upon thousands of people. These are certainly sad events.

Farming: Past, present, future

There was more conversation on farming (when the OFs were farming) and how it is being impacted now. The OFs only have information now of farmer friends and relatives that are still in the business, along with what they read in the newspapers.

One OF said, “Forget the news on TV.  It is so short on many topics and says nothing that is informative.”

The conversation jumped from farming to political ads on TV and how most of the OFs mute them; one even shuts off the TV, and then turns it back on. A couple of OFs said they basically are done with TV until November. Then it went back to farming.

To go along with how this report has mentioned the demise of many small or medium farms in the past, one add-on is that, in the recent past, the air waves were bombarding us with how bad dairy products and red meat are for you and you shouldn’t be eating this produce.

One OF brought up the fact that many people are going organic so they won’t eat products that have been raised by fertilizers with a load of chemicals added to kill weeds, to add size, and to increase yield. This may be the right path.

Another OF mentioned that, when we were raised, these chemicals were not around. Our fertilizer was good old-fashioned manure, i.e., horse, cow, pig, chicken, and natural compost. The OFs drank milk from the cow or goat; made their own cream and ice cream; and ate red meat, many times from cows raised just for that purpose. No chemicals here.

As the world population grows, it is going to be tough to feed all these people without the use of some of the chemicals to increase the yield of both produce and milk. Maybe as the population continues to expand and people consume more of these foods that have these growth hormones added, they will adjust and develop a tolerance for them.

In years to come, this could be the norm, and possibly people will be living healthier and more productive lives much longer. The OFs think we are living in one gigantic experiment.

Soaked

Most everyone in our area knows it rained hard last Monday night thanks to Hurricane Florence. The OFs with weather instruments were reporting from two to three inches of rain fell.

One OF returned home Monday with a van load of stuff he had to unload. Monday was a beautiful day so the OF came home with the windows down. It took some time to unload the van.

The OF said he went into the house after the van was unloaded. He left the van outside and was going to go out after supper and park the van in the barn. This did not happen.

The OF said he completely forgot about it. Then Tuesday morning, the OF said, he went to go out with the flashlight to get the van to pick up his passengers to go to the breakfast. The OF said when he saw that the van was still outside, he immediately remembered the windows were all down.

Front and back seats were soaked, water was in the door-closing wells, rugs were soaked, and he had passengers to pick up.

The OF said he put pillows on the seats. This did not work and the OF and passengers showed up with wet bottoms because the water soaked through the pillows.

A great way to start the day! Come to find out, the OF found that most all the other OFs have had the same experience at one time or another. Thank goodness for pals! That took some of the sting away from the embarrassment incurred by one OF being so stupid.

The OFs who made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie and who spent a lot of time discussing things of the past and the way they are today were: Pete Whitbeck, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Art Frament, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Roger Chapman, Duncan Bellinger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazio, Harold Grippen, and me.

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It was on a Tuesday 17 years ago that the Al-Qaeda faction of the Sunni sect of the Islamic religion, through suicide radicals, attacked the United States by hijacking planes and flying them into major buildings in our country.

The attack on the World Trade Center in New York was successful, the attack by Flight 77 into the Pentagon was also successful, but through the bravery of those on board Flight 93, the attack on Washington was not.

This Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, the Old Men of the Mountain met for breakfast at the Country Café in Schoharie and remembered a Tuesday 17 years ago and how it not only changed our country, but also the world.

Life goes on, as it should, but life is full of remembrances. That is what makes it life. Some remembrances are sad, but, thank goodness, most are mundane and happy ones. At the  breakfast, we took some time to reflect on the sad memories; however, most thoughts are the happy ones.

All around Cock Robin’s barn

Tuesday morning, the talk was on how to get around the closing of Route 157 through Thacher Park. The detour signs direct the uninitiated all around Cock Robin’s barn.

Traveling east from East Berne or west from New Salem on Route 157, there is Beaver Dam Road. (Be sure your brakes are in good working order when heading east.) However, if you are driving a big truck or camper or hauling a trailer, this is not the road for you.

One OF told of how he once met a big truck at the turn getting onto Route 157 from Beaver Dam Road at the bottom of the hill.  He had to get out of his car to help guide the truck around the turn. He also had to hold up traffic so the truck could enter Route 157. The truckers and campers better follow the detour signs.

Remember the old song that tells of the singer’s regrets for the choices made in life.

Detour, there’s a muddy road ahead,

Detour, paid no mind to what it said,

Detour, oh, these bitter things I find,

Should have read… that Detour sign.

Ill-gotten treasures

The OFs started telling tales on themselves. When young people are traveling in groups or just standing around, adults have a tendency to keep an eye on them — as they should.

However, according to the OFs, when the seniors (let’s say over age 65) are in groups and go traveling together hither and yon, it is a good idea to keep an eye on them also. Snitching something to keep as a free souvenir is not beneath them.

One OF said, “And I don’t care how many diamond rings they have on their fingers, they still think nothing of snitching a little something.”

Another OF said, “And it is the ladies. When they get back on the bus, they take the silverware, or fancy napkin, or fancy glass out of their pocketbooks and start giggling like schoolgirls over their ill-gotten treasures.”

You gotta watch those seniors.

The nose knows!

On the way to the Country Café, most OFs have to cross the bridge that travels over the Fox Creek. On Tuesday morning, just on the Schoharie side of the bridge, a skunk had been hit. This little altercation was recent because the smell brought tears to the eyes.

Some of the OFs commented by saying, “Did you get a whiff of that skunk by the bridge?” or “That was so strong, I thought I hit the thing.”

But there were a couple who never smelled it. One OF said he has lost his sense of taste and smell; another one said that he gets so full of allergies that he can’t smell much at all. This OF said that, when he starts out each day, he makes sure he has a pocket full of tissues.

Then there were a couple of the OGs who said they smell everything — pleasant or unpleasant. One OF thought we have glasses to help us see, hearing aids to help us hear, but nothing to help us taste or smell. The OFs wondered what a smell aid would look like.

Scottish Games

The OFs are — for the most part — an active lot. One of the OFs is heavily involved with the Scottish Games at the Altamont fairgrounds. It is his band that sponsors the games at the fairgrounds each year.

To pull off an event like the Scottish Games takes a lot of work by all members of the band. Being in a group like pipe bands, fife and drum corps, or drum and bugle corps take dedication from those who have joined them and also from their families.

The Scottish Games at Altamont, according to this OF, can have from 20 to 40 bands, and 40 to 50 vendors and sutlers at the event. (To clarify the term “sutler,” it is an old expression for a civilian merchant who sells provisions to an army).

To round up all these people is no easy task. For those who have not heard the massing of the bands playing altogether at the end of the day, you are missing a very stirring time.

One OF thinks that, with all the costumes, and the music, and the drilling, this is theater at its best. This OF suggests it is like the arts where there is no generation gap.

A talented 15 year-old can play alongside a seasoned veteran and be on a par, behave the same way, and talk the same language as one who is twice his or her age. Becoming involved in the arts and in music is something you can do until you meet the big band in the sky.

Playing football, you are limited to age 35 if you make it big, or until you are out of high school or college if you don’t (make it big). The OFs bit of philosophy for the day — learn to play the fiddle.

Those OFs who made it to the Country Café in Schoharie today and headed home without the shock of 17 years ago were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Roger Shafer, Pete Whitbeck, Art Frament, Marty Herzog, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Wayne Gaul, Rev. Jay Francis, Duncan Bellinger, Jim Rissacher, Warren Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

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