On a crisp June 14 morning, with temperatures (at some of the Old Men of the Mountain domiciles) in the middle to upper thirties and the winds a bit more than a stiff breeze — it was wind not a breeze — the OMOTM headed to the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie.

The OFs used the beginning of a gorgeous day to comment on living in the Northeast. The area on the globe where the OFs hang their hats has darn few days where the humidity is low, the sky is blue, the temperature is reasonable, and wind may be at 4 to 8 miles per hour.

That is what one OF said makes these few days so great — they are like playing golf.  The OF said he only gets two or three good shots in a round; the rest of his shots are all over the place.

He said it is the good ones that keep him coming back, trying to drop that tiny ball in a small cup that is hundreds of yards away in as few whacks as possible. It is the same thing with our weather; it is the few good days that keep us here, so the OFs put up with all the miserable days just for a day like Tuesday.

However, the miserable days of June are not unusual. In “100 years ago today” (as reported in this paper), there was a baseball game between the Altamont team and a team for Delmar. The Altamont team complained that their loss was due to nobody there in the stands at the fairgrounds, and the miserable cold weather.

The miserable weather kept the fans away, and hobbled the play in the field. That was on June 9, 1916. Times have not changed in regards to the weather, but the OFs bet the catcher’s mitt sure has changed.

Ketchup bottleneck

One OF, like many of the OFs, enjoys ketchup with his eggs, or homefries. This one OF was shaking a newly filled ketchup bottle, trying to get the ketchup to come out but nothing was happening, so the OF shook harder and faster.

A second OF had enough of that and got up and went over to the OF shaking the ketchup and said, “Here, let me show you how to get ketchup out of a full bottle,” and he took the ketchup from the OF.

With one whack of the ketchup bottle on his wrist, half the bottle of that red sauce plopped on the omelet.

“The secret,” the OF said, “is to stop the bottle from going forward.  The ketchup inside the bottle still has forward momentum and out it comes.”

This little report is from the week prior; this past Tuesday, the same two OFs sat at the same table, eyeball to eyeball. The one OF ordered the bacon-and-cheese omelet with homefries and the ketchup came with the meal, only this time it was in a squirt bottle so the OFs did not get to see how the other OF got the ketchup out of a bottle because this Tuesday all the OF had to do was squeeze. Problem solved.

Cross-country trek

One OF reported that his son is walking from Plymouth, Massachusetts to San Diego, California. This is quite an undertaking. The OF said his son is keeping a regular journal, and a photographic journal of his trip.

So far, the OF said, the hardest walk has been the hill up Route 30A from Route 20 in Sloansville, New York. He then took Route 162 to Canajoharie to do the walking path on the defunct railroad, and then went to the Erie Canal walk as he headed further west. The son reported to the OF that this climb out of Sloansville was more difficult than any he encountered in the Berkshires coming across Massachusetts.

The OF said his son is taking all his gear with him, and will be camping out. Some of the OFs wished they had guts enough to do this when they were younger; now it is completely out of the question. Funny how life has gotten in the way of filling many adventures in the OF’s bucket list.

Owning solar

Another OF, who is an attendee of this group but really not an OF “yet,” is one of the progressive people. His home has solar power. The OF said it is not the rented type of solar system — the OF owns it.

This OF also has a totally electric automobile. With all the tax incentives and rebates, the solar system did not really cost that much and, according to the OF’s calculations, in approximately three to four years, all his power, even running his electric car, will be free because the system will be paid off.

On the car issue, the OF does have two cars because on his electric car the range is not hundreds of miles, but it is quite adequate for around town, and short trips. For longer runs, like up to Lake George, this particular electric car the OF has will not make it. This OF is a great advertisement for solar power.

Many of the OFs feel they are too old to go the solar bit. However, one OF said that his house is going to go to his kids and he will probably be pushing up daisies before he had a solar system paid off.

Another OF said he is putting off getting solar power now because something better may come along in the not-too-distant future. This OF feels that magnetism might be the next advancement and that will be the end of fossil fuels, electric cars, and the whole ball of wax, so this OF is going to wait.

Those OFs that made it to the Country Café, on Main Street in Schoharie, in anything but a horse and buggy were: John Rossmann, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Whitbeck, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Bill Lichliter, Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Otis Lawyer, Jim Rissacher, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Wayne Gaul, Mace Porter, Carl Walls, Art Frament, Herb Sawotka, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Duncan Bellinger, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Rich Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Quite a group of Old Men of the Mountain shook out of bed on Tuesday, June 6. The thunder of this event almost matched the Richter scale measurement of the earthquake on June 6 in the Adirondacks. That quake measured 2.2; the OMOTM getting out of bed was only 1.8. Some of the quakes recorded in the Helderbergs are just the OFs tumbling out of bed to get to the breakfast.

This time of the year, many trees and plants are producing pollen so there will be more trees and plants. The OFs had a brief discussion on this yearly event. With the OFs, the Benadryl, Claritin, Visine, Flonase, saline solutions, and all kinds of sprays are flying off the shelves just so the OFs can breathe.

Some of the OFs complained that all their outdoor furniture, decks, and even their cars are yellow with the pollen of the pine trees. This stuff is so fine that even with the windows up, there are traces of that yellow powder inside their homes and cars.

One OF wondered if ants and bugs are bothered by this stuff. One would think that their wings would become coated with the pollen and those that breathe through their bodies would have a tough time.

Another OF said, “Pollen doesn’t seem to really have any effect on bugs — they fly up my nose along with the pollen so I get a double dose of a bug up my nose carrying the pollen.”

More of the OFs who have wintered in the South have made it back to where they belong and were renewing old friendships. That brought more talk on travel, which is a common topic with the OFs.

This time it was on how many cars were on the road the last few weeks, and the visible presence of troopers patrolling the roads in all states. One OF mentioned that Pennsylvania takes troop cars that are going out of service because of condition or a pre-planned mileage limit and park them in or around congested areas, or trouble spots and this ploy works. It slows people down because drivers do not know which one will be manned, or unmanned.

One OF from Long Island mentioned that New York tried this trick in Amherst, Long Island.  The state even placed a mannequin dressed like a trooper in the car. This did not last long because New York is different; it did not take long before the car was broken into and the mannequin was stolen. The OFs assumed that it is probably in some frat house at a college on Long Island.

One-ups-manship

Quite often, the OFs participate in the age-old verbal competition of “my dog is bigger/smaller than your dog,” or “my kid is smarter than your kid.”  This kind of verbal competition is worldwide.

On tuesday, the OFs (who are older, but not much wiser) perused the same comments about their lawn mowers!  For instance, ‘My lawn mower cost a ton of money,” to another OF saying he got a great lawn mower “for next to nothing”; the “can you top this” just grows.

However, without this form of rivalry, the OFs would not have much to talk about. And like any chit-chat conversation one topic has another OF’s memory jogged and the OF thinks of something this reminds him of, and this reminds another OF of something and he jumps in the conversation and eventually the original topic is long gone.

So it was on Tuesday morning until! bingo!  Here the OFs were starting to talk about cars again!  This time the chatter was about what they paid for a vehicle in the forties and what they cost now.

With the OFs, this discussion is not out of some book but firsthand knowledge, down to the penny. The OFs claimed they could afford a new car easier “back then” than they can now.

The OFs were wondering who has the money to purchase these new cars with their high price tags. No OFs really knew — all they knew was their own circumstances.

This discussion sent this scribe back to Google. From what was found out (and this is by no means a deep study), in the forties, between 48 to 50 percent of an OF’s average salary back then could buy a new car.  Today it takes 75 percent to 80 percent of an average salary to purchase a new car.

It is even worse when purchasing a home. The OFs are right.  Who has this money?  The OFs don’t and neither do the OFs have any friends who do.

Hospital rounds

Many of the OFs who wander into the breakfast on Tuesday morning are bionic, so that doctors and hospitals are another regular morning topic.

This morning, one of the OFs who had a knee replacement a couple of weeks ago was at the breakfast. This OF has been through this before and said that the operation is being done so much differently today than before he wonders if things will turn out OK.

Next to no pain, up and about in a short period of time, the OF was in the hospital barely long enough to see two shift changes of nurses and able to pick one to make a pass at. The OF said they sure kick you out in a hurry, but it seems to be working out fine right now.

Another OF said, “If you are sick, you do not want to be in the hospital — get out of that building as fast as you can because that is where the real germs hang out.”

The OFs who were let out of their cages today and all descended on Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh (those that their keepers were kind enough to let go) were: John Rossmann, Bill Bartholomew, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, Dave Williams, Henry Witt, Roger Shafer, Duncan Bellinger, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Mace Porter, Art Frament, Wayne Gaul, Ray Gaul, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, Don Woods, Pete Whitbeck,  Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Jim Rissacher, Carl Walls, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Jess Vadney, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Quite a group of Old Men of the Mountain shook out of bed on Tuesday, June 6. The thunder of this event almost matched the Richter scale measurement of the earthquake on June 6 in the Adirondacks. That quake measured 2.2; the OMOTM getting out of bed was only 1.8. Some of the quakes recorded in the Helderbergs are just the OFs tumbling out of bed to get to the breakfast.

This time of the year, many trees and plants are producing pollen so there will be more trees and plants. The OFs had a brief discussion on this yearly event. With the OFs, the Benadryl, Claritin, Visine, Flonase, saline solutions, and all kinds of sprays are flying off the shelves just so the OFs can breathe.

Some of the OFs complained that all their outdoor furniture, decks, and even their cars are yellow with the pollen of the pine trees. This stuff is so fine that even with the windows up, there are traces of that yellow powder inside their homes and cars.

One OF wondered if ants and bugs are bothered by this stuff. One would think that their wings would become coated with the pollen and those that breathe through their bodies would have a tough time.

Another OF said, “Pollen doesn’t seem to really have any effect on bugs — they fly up my nose along with the pollen so I get a double dose of a bug up my nose carrying the pollen.”

More of the OFs who have wintered in the South have made it back to where they belong and were renewing old friendships. That brought more talk on travel, which is a common topic with the OFs.

This time it was on how many cars were on the road the last few weeks, and the visible presence of troopers patrolling the roads in all states. One OF mentioned that Pennsylvania takes troop cars that are going out of service because of condition or a pre-planned mileage limit and park them in or around congested areas, or trouble spots and this ploy works. It slows people down because drivers do not know which one will be manned, or unmanned.

One OF from Long Island mentioned that New York tried this trick in Amherst, Long Island.  The state even placed a mannequin dressed like a trooper in the car. This did not last long because New York is different; it did not take long before the car was broken into and the mannequin was stolen. The OFs assumed that it is probably in some frat house at a college on Long Island.

One-ups-manship

Quite often, the OFs participate in the age-old verbal competition of “my dog is bigger/smaller than your dog,” or “my kid is smarter than your kid.”  This kind of verbal competition is worldwide.

On tuesday, the OFs (who are older, but not much wiser) perused the same comments about their lawn mowers!  For instance, ‘My lawn mower cost a ton of money,” to another OF saying he got a great lawn mower “for next to nothing”; the “can you top this” just grows.

However, without this form of rivalry, the OFs would not have much to talk about. And like any chit-chat conversation one topic has another OF’s memory jogged and the OF thinks of something this reminds him of, and this reminds another OF of something and he jumps in the conversation and eventually the original topic is long gone.

So it was on Tuesday morning until! bingo!  Here the OFs were starting to talk about cars again!  This time the chatter was about what they paid for a vehicle in the forties and what they cost now.

With the OFs, this discussion is not out of some book but firsthand knowledge, down to the penny. The OFs claimed they could afford a new car easier “back then” than they can now.

The OFs were wondering who has the money to purchase these new cars with their high price tags. No OFs really knew — all they knew was their own circumstances.

This discussion sent this scribe back to Google. From what was found out (and this is by no means a deep study), in the forties, between 48 to 50 percent of an OF’s average salary back then could buy a new car.  Today it takes 75 percent to 80 percent of an average salary to purchase a new car.

It is even worse when purchasing a home. The OFs are right.  Who has this money?  The OFs don’t and neither do the OFs have any friends who do.

Hospital rounds

Many of the OFs who wander into the breakfast on Tuesday morning are bionic, so that doctors and hospitals are another regular morning topic.

This morning, one of the OFs who had a knee replacement a couple of weeks ago was at the breakfast. This OF has been through this before and said that the operation is being done so much differently today than before he wonders if things will turn out OK.

Next to no pain, up and about in a short period of time, the OF was in the hospital barely long enough to see two shift changes of nurses and able to pick one to make a pass at. The OF said they sure kick you out in a hurry, but it seems to be working out fine right now.

Another OF said, “If you are sick, you do not want to be in the hospital — get out of that building as fast as you can because that is where the real germs hang out.”

The OFs who were let out of their cages today and all descended on Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh (those that their keepers were kind enough to let go) were: John Rossmann, Bill Bartholomew, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, Dave Williams, Henry Witt, Roger Shafer, Duncan Bellinger, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Mace Porter, Art Frament, Wayne Gaul, Ray Gaul, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, Don Woods, Pete Whitbeck,  Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Jim Rissacher, Carl Walls, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Jess Vadney, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

The end of May was on a Tuesday and the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh.

There was one OMOTM not there and it was this scribe. This was known in advance so a substitute roll-caller was asked if he would gather all the chickens in the coop and let this scribe know so he could protect the innocent by having the roll call at the end of the column.

The stand-in OMOTM said he could do this and he  performed the task in spades. This scribe received not only the names that attended the breakfast but many of those who did not, all on a spreadsheet. This scribe doesn’t even know how to make a spreadsheet. Like we keep reminding everyone, there are many talents in this group of OFs.

None of what follows happened at the breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner. This scribe used his little blue book where he takes notes and he made use of notes in this report that have not been included in reports from breakfasts in the past. This scribe does not take the conversations or names and place them on a spreadsheet — he scribbles them in a little cheap pocket spiral notebook.

Some of these notes are as terse as just two words and, when this scribe gets home and tries to put these words to a conversation, there is much consternation when nothing comes to mind that will tie these words into what was said. Unfortunately, now they just become wasted words because this scribe can’t remember them and so can’t use them to form a conversation and report on what was said; these exchanges might have been some of the cleverest discussions of the whole morning.

Big ears and noses

Wrinkles!  The OFs have discussed wrinkles before, but the big ears and noses that accompany getting old is a note scribbled on this scribe’s cheap note pad, but not included in a previous column. The OFs did not complain about their ears getting larger because the process is so slow that early on it’s hardly noticeable.

Now some of the OFs in their middle to high eighties notice how large their ears are, and they wonder if the ear stays the same and the face gets so wrinkled that it shrinks. One OF mentioned that, if he kept on practicing wiggling his ears, he could probably now be able to flap them and fly.

Another OF said he did not really notice his until he was shaving one day and said his ears reminded him of Dumbo (the elephant).

Even with the larger ears on the outside, the inside seems to do the opposite and shrink because many of the OFs have to use hearing aids.  This bit of information has been reported many times because this is one invention that seems to work at certain times and at other times hearing aids only seem to make the situation worse.

One OF said it is not only his ears that looked larger but his nose was wide enough to use as a hangar and park a small plane in it. To go along with the size was the lament that breathing wasn’t any easier. As a matter of fact, the OF said his outsized nose now was even plugged up more, and he went through a box of tissues in a week.

This scribe checked out information about the nose and ears growing as we age.  This really doesn’t happen — it is just gravity,  like the OFs’ butts and guts. Gravity takes over because the cartilage relaxes as we age.

So the big ears and noses that are already with us are neatly packed with youth, then age takes over and all that youth tightness just sags. The OFs will just have to live with it; there is no exercise or magic pill that is going to hold back gravity. The OFs are just going to have to get used to big ears and large noses and watch out when shaving that these larger appendages are not nicked in the process.

Those OFs that made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh (and this scribe has no idea how they got there) for this report were: Roger Chapman,  Robie Osterman, Miner Stevens, George Washburn, Don Wood, Glenn Patterson, Bill Lichliter, Roger Schafer, Harold Guest, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck (Thank You Lou), Art Frament, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Chuck Aelesio, Duncan Bellinger, Joe Bender, Warren Willsey and guest Danielle, Harold Grippen, and not me.

Location:

— Photo by John R. Williams

Simple pleasures: Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow provides outdoor seating where some of The Old Men of the Mountain enjoy the spring weather. Next time they visit the eatery, some of them plan to bring fishing poles.

On Tuesday, May 24, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow. Kim’s sits practically in the Catskill Creek because this creek flows so close to the back of the diner.

On a tree on the bank of the creek about 30 feet from the diner, at the edge of the of the diner’s parking lot, is a small sign the reads “Fishing Permitted.” When fish is ordered at the diner, it should be fresh. Creeks are fun and quite romantic until they flood; then they become angry torrents.

Some of the OFs lingered as they left the restaurant and enjoyed the early morning hours at the tables outside the diner. They discussed many topics while listening to the sounds of the creek as it is wending its way to the Hudson.

Ah! Some of the simple pleasures of being retired. At this age, the OFs are not wasting time chasing women, running off to play ball, or just going to work. The OFs are out enjoying what God has put here for the OFs’ pleasure.

No longer naïve

As usual, at the table Tuesday morning, much of the discussion centered around what the OFs did when they were working, even prior to that, or in the military. Some of the OFs mentioned how life is different in larger cities and how most of them found this out while in the military.

The Hilltown OFs did not realize how naïve they were, nor how poor they were, until they ran into these guys. One OF said that at home no one locked their doors, or locked their cars, but in the service this one OF said you had to put your shoes on fast or others would steal the socks right off your feet. These experiences are carried over till this day.

Another OF mentioned that his experiences in the military ran along the same lines and originally caused a camaraderie between the city folk banding together and the country folk doing the same.  The OF said it took awhile before the country folk and city folk could sort each other out, and friendships began to develop across the city-country cultures.

However, this OF said that to him the tag of “country hick” stuck with many of the hay foot-straw foots even after many of the country boys turned out to be better soldiers, sailors, or marines, than the city slickers.

Stereotypes are earned

Stereotypes, they are traits that are earned!

For instance, the Welsh can sing, the Irish can fight, the French can love and cook, and the Spanish can paint. The Italians can cook but, unlike the French, love is not what they are noted for — all they can do, so the stereotype goes, is pinch.

However, we all know a Welshman that can’t sing a note, an Irishman that won’t fight, a Spaniard that can’t draw a straight line, an Italian that can’t boil water or won’t pinch even if the opportunity presented itself, and a Frenchman — well, maybe that one is hard to top. The OFs think all French are good at their designated stereotype.

Applying the past to the present

The OFs talked about taking the experiences they accrued over their lifetime so far and applying it to how they live life today.

One OF thought his mind hasn’t changed much, but there are certain things he did “back then” that he does do differently today, while another OF said he can’t remember how he did it “back then”; he only knows how he does it today. This OF claimed he does not dwell on the past; he claims today is all that counts.

Then the other OFs said, “Well, how did you know how to do what you do today if you didn’t do some version of it ‘back then’ and altered it?”

The OF retorted, “If you clutter your pea-pickin’ brain up with all the way-back-whens, it gets in the way of learning anything new. I am not going to be an OF that says, ‘Well, that ain’t how we used to do it.’  Forget how we used to do it, do it the way it is done today, so there!”

Another OF said, “I agree with that OF who says it’s not the way we used to do it. If the key to start the car is always on the righthand side of the wheel, don’t go sticking it on the left. I had enough trouble learning that to dim the headlights when I didn’t have to push a little button on the floor between the clutch and the brake.”

Yet another OF said, “Hey, you still holler, ‘Whoa!’ and pull on the steering wheel when you go to stop your truck.”

To which one more OF interjected, “We get too young stupid, and too old smart.”

Those OFs who made it to Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow (and when Kim’s restaurant’s time comes again in the OFs’ rotation of fine eating establishment, they are going to bring their fishing poles) were: Dave Williams, Harold Grippen, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, Don Wood, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Art Frament, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Gerry Irwin, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Pete Whitbeck, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jess Vadney, Harold Grippen, Harold N. Guest Jr., and me.

Location:

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