It was an unbelievable Tuesday morning on Oct. 18. Some of the Old Men of the Mountain were at the Country Café in Schoharie in shorts and sandals. All were in short sleeves later on as some came with jackets but removed them when it became really warm as the morning wore on.

Global warming was dismissed because, the OFs said, we have been here before (meaning the temperature) but wearing shorts and sandals in the Northeast in the middle of October?  

Some of the OFs said they are stocking up on ammunition, and some are upgrading their guns. These are OFs who are hunters, and a few are avid hunters. The OFs feel that this sport will be taken away along with many of our other freedoms as time goes on.

“But,” one OF said, “how long do you expect to live?  Why are you even worrying about it? The revolution has already started — get me off this planet. I don’t want to go through all the hassle of learning Chinese or Arabic.”


A few of the OFs come up with clever ways of answering greetings of the day with salutations that are really funny. A couple of weeks ago, one was reported as the greeting.

This week the retort was in reply to a greeting. The reply was, “Oh I am better now, but I have been worse.”

That sums it up in a nutshell for the OFs — we are better now but we have been worse.

Respect for our flag

Thanks to one OMOTM, the OMOTM are handing out six American flags in small wooden stands to all the restaurants the OMOTM visit.  The restaurants can use them in their table settings, or they can give them to other people who visit their restaurant, or they can take the flags home for themselves.

The OMOTM not only appreciate and respect the flag, but also all the restaurants that put up with us on Tuesday mornings.

No aid to hearing

Over and over again the OFs discuss hearing aids; some wear them to the breakfast but have to turn them off. It seems that virtually none of them work in these situations.

It makes no difference if the hearing aids come from Wal-Mart, or a real high-class hearing-aid place where a hearing aid is no larger than a quarter and can cost thousands of dollars. To the OFs, neither one works any better than the other.

One OF who has nerve deafness, and it has impaired his hearing since he was a kid, said that, when he was inducted into the Army, they gave him a hearing test. The nerve deafness, of course, showed up but that did not deter the military from conscripting the OF.

The OF said, “And where did they put me?  They trained me and made me a radio operator!”

To which the other OFs said, “Radio operator? A deaf guy as a radio operator?”

“Yep,” the OF said. “It was a good thing that deafness is all that it was; if I had bad vision, they probably would have put me in the Army Air Corps as a pilot.” (Scribe’s note, you can tell our ages by our use of the term Army Air Corps, the forerunner of the Air Force.)

No why required

Some of the OFs attend auctions, or go to flea markets. Many of the items that go up for sale at auctions or are on tables at flea markets, the OFs use on a routine basis at home. Tuesday morning, the OFs talked about some of the acquisitions they have recently purchased.

“Why,” some of the OFs inquired, “do you buy all this old junk?”

Like many things in life, why the OFs do this or that does not have much of a rationale — the OFs just do it. To the OFs, it doesn’t require a why.

Where are the bugs?

The OFs were commenting on the lack of bugs this year, and the lack of hornets. A few stink bugs, a few lady bugs, no earwigs; ants are still around but seemed normal.

Maybe it is our location; maybe other areas are inundated with bugs but for the Hilltowns and surrounding areas not much. This is at least by observations of the OFs, and we all know how that goes since the vision or hearing of this group could be greatly improved upon.

“However,” one OF said, “maybe my glasses are thick, but I know when I get stung, or bit, and that has not happened this year.”

Another OF mentioned that the honey bees seem to be more prevalent than the last couple of years, thank goodness. The OF said that, on his walks, the white and blue pearly everlastings were humming with bees.

One OF offered the suggestion that it might be because of the mild winter. These bugs kept waking up, and then got put back into the deep freeze so frequently that they had no time to reproduce, and, when or if they did, the young froze before they could develop.

But, then again, that is just a guess; what do I know? Only that we need bugs if we are going to have birds to help pollination.

Pirate ship in dry dock

Briefly mentioned were pirates and pirates’ ships, due to the interest of one OF. The OFs were not concerned about treasures or treasure maps, just the pirates, and their ship, and maybe the “plank.”

The ship has reached a point in construction and has apparently stopped. This may be that the interest of Captain Jack has waned, or the “Black Pearl” is lying on the bottom of the sea cavorting with the “Little Mermaid” and not bringing in any plunder.

Either way the OFs’ pirate ship still sits in dry dock.

The crew for the pirate ship showed up this morning at the Country Café in Schoharie and they were: Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Richard Frank, Roger Shafer, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Sonny Mercer, Ray Kennedy, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Marty Herzog, Jim Rissacher, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Randy Foretuin, Harold Grippen, and me.


The breakfast for the Old Men of the Mountain was held Tuesday, Oct. 11, at the restaurant called Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh.

Many of the OFs like going to Mrs. K’s because the proprietor was a classmate of some and she is like a female counterpart to the OFs. She still rises early in the morning, works hard, and is the same age as many OFs. Since she’s known many of the OFs from when they were still in knickers, she takes no snot from any of them.

The OFs were talking about their annual flu shots, which most of them get. It was being bantered around that a few of the OFs have heard that older people should get their flu shots later this year.

None of the OFs who were talking about this knew the reason why. The OFs offering the advice of taking the shot later because of this information had no takers.

The OFs said, for the most part, the shot works for them, and they have not had the flu, so they were going to take the shot when they always take the shot, or when their doctors advise them to, not when some OF tells them it is time.

Evacuating to France

Hurricane Matthew was a topic that kept creeping into the conversations. Almost all the OFs knew of someone who was in the way of this nasty weather.

One OF has a friend who lives near Hilton Head, South Carolina. So out of concern the OF emailed this friend to see how he was doing. The OF said he received a reply in a couple of hours that he was OK and in France.

The OF said his friend’s message was they were given plenty of advanced notice and then a mandatory evacuation was issued, so they evacuated to France, and that is where the OF’s friend was at that time of the emails.

One OF said, “Well now, that is what I call an evacuation escape route.”

While the people along the coast are having all those awful weather conditions, we in the Hilltowns are having a gorgeous fall. The OFs can imagine the destruction because of what our area went through with Irene, only Matthew came in on a much larger scale.

Some of the OFs have homes in the affected areas and they are up here with all the other OFs at breakfast. Those OFs have checked with friends and all reported that their homes are fine. This is good news to all the OFs.

Being prepared

All this prompted another conversation on how prepared the OFs are in case some really bad catastrophe comes along like the time the whole East Coast was without power. The OFs mentioned that they are more prepared now than they were then with generators (the whole house type) and the smaller portable ones.

They have food in cans and mom’s type canning to last for quite awhile. Many of the OFs have prepared like this for years because that was the way they were brought up.

One OF mentioned that, if you were the sort who took your family camping (and the OF said he meant tent camping, not these motor homes that are like houses on wheels), you were used to cooking on the campfire or a Coleman stove, and having mantle lanterns (which were the source of light for this type of camping) and knew about self preservation.

Even backpacking, carrying everything you were going to need for days on your back, was another way to learn the same thing.

“Now,” one OF said, “if the girls can’t power up their hair dryer and the guys can’t access the latest football game, they are lost.”

Like zombies

The OF also touched on gated communities, and senior living where there are so many rules all the people can do is sit around and play hand and foot. (Yes, Martha, this is a real card game that amuses many retirees.)

They are like zombies trapped in their own little community. One OF was checking into some of these communities and found that one of the rules involved the number of cars, boats, trailers, etc., that an OF was allowed to have.

Furthermore, he could not cut his own grass; it would be done by the yard crew, for which there was a charge. The grandkids could not stay overnight.

The OF said these rules went on and on; it was worse than being in jail. Definitely not for him — he would rather live in a normal area and take his chances with the occasional burglar.

“Hey,” one OF said, “you might catch him in an attempted burglary and he might turn out to be a neat guy. I bet the crook could show you a better way around town that would be a lot more fun than some old geezer on his three-wheel bike.”

(This scribe chuckled to himself listening to these conversations knowing that the people talking were older geezers than the old geezer they were talking about. It is all in the mind.)  

One OF mentioned coming to the breakfast as a rider in a car where the driving OF announced audibly to the car ahead of him, “Come on, you old goat, get a move on,” and the driver of the car the OF was riding in was 84 years old. It is, as has been stated, all in the mind.

This rider was riding in a car headed to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh where they were going to meet with the other OFs, and they were: John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Sonny Mercer, Roger Shafer, Otis Lawyer, Lou Schenck, (welcome back), Mace Porter, Don Wood, Jack Norray, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jess Vadney, Richard Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.


What’s in a seal? The Old Men of Mountain tell the story behind the horse in Schoharie County’s seal.

As the Old Men of the Mountain traveled over the hill to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh some were wondering how the tour buses handle the lack of color that the tours have been scheduled for in our area. The OFs say they are still keeping up with mowing the grass, a few trees have changed, and the white pines are still hanging onto to their needles.

On Tuesday, Oct. 4, with all the leaves that remained on the trees, the OFs remembered the October snow storm of Oct. 4, 1987 when a freak snowstorm fell with leaves still on the trees and the trees came crashing down.

One OF reported he was in the hospital having his gallbladder removed (this was when they cut you from stem to stern to remove the diseased bladder, and this OF has the scar to prove it) when the snows came. The OFs said that his doctor had a huge tree come down against his home and one across his driveway.

The doctor could not get his car out and borrowed a neighbor’s chainsaw to cut his way through the trees so he could get to the hospital. The doctor had a heart attack in the process and passed away. The follow-up and the rest of his care, the OF said, was by doctors he didn’t know or had anything to do with the operation. They must have done OK because the OF said he is still here.

That snowstorm some mess, but it doesn’t look like it is going to happen this year at least on Oct. 4 because, by the time this hits the paper, the 4th will have come and gone.

A real whopper

The case of “the one that got away” from the State Police in Schoharie was talked about.  It was commented that the Troopers and the police departments had better be careful in handling these farm girls — these girls seem to be able to escape on a regular basis.

One OF mentioned it is no wonder the girl in Schoharie slipped her handcuffs off since the pictures of her on the news seemed to indicate she is no bigger than a mite, and the OFs think that the cuffs might not go small enough to really fit the young lady.

Another OF opined she went from a rinky-dink type of crime to a real whopper. And finally one OF said she must be real stupid, or real frightened, to pull a stunt like that.

Dry season

The OFs mentioned that the area really needs rain — a good rain! Many of the creeks are just dribbles of water.  It’s hard to imagine from what the Fox Creek and the Schoharie Creek look like now, that we had a flood — Tropical Storm Irene — of such magnitude five years ago.

One OF said, even though it is dry, he sees farmers still out cutting hay, probably their third cutting.  A second OF mentioned some farmers were out cutting the day before the breakfast; this is nice looking hay.  

County seal

A few weeks ago, this column had a section in it about history, and part of the history of Schoharie County is contained in the county seal. The seal is of a horse. The OFs talked about this at that time but no one could quite come up with all the facts.

At Tuesday morning’s breakfast an OF brought in a book on the history of Schoharie and this accounting was in that book with names of who owned the horse and how it came about. The following is a paraphrase of the story.

This horse is very important to early settlers of the valley and the Hilltowns. At that time, after the grain was harvested, it had to be taken to Schenectady to be ground into flour and this was the job of the women, to haul these sacks of grain to the mill and return with the flour.

It wasn’t only flour but other staples that were required by the community that was transported in this fashion and by the women. If only they had a horse to haul the loads, it would be easier and they could do more.

One day on the way to the mill, they spotted a horse for sale and mentioned it when they returned home. The horse was more expensive than they thought they could afford but with what money they could round up, they went to inquire about purchasing it anyway.

The owner of the horse pulled a switcheroo and brought out an old nag instead of the stallion they first saw. The owner was bargained down to what money they had brought with them and he told them it was still a good horse.

On the way home, the women weren’t sure the horse would make it back, but it did. The next morning, when they went to check on the horse, they found it had given birth to a spry, perky foal. Now they had two horses, and in a year the foal would be big and strong.

Some looked on it as a miracle and said they were being taken care of by a greater being. This event became the seal of Schoharie County.  


The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their condolences to the family of Paul Giebitz with the passing away of Paul in a tractor accident. Our thoughts and prayers go with them as Paul joins the other OMOTM at the table in the clouds.

Those OFs who will take this kind of weather right up until spring so they can make it to restaurants like the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh were: Miner Stevens, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, Sonny Mercer, Ray Kennedy, Don Wood, Ray Gaul, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Marty Herzog, Jim Rissacher, Bob Giebitz,  Ted Willsey, Duane Wagonbaugh, Roger Shafer, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.


Some Old Men of the Mountain still can’t find their way through these hills, and wander all over the place. Some blame it on the signs on county roads not marking north, south, east, or west on their route numbers. If you are not paying attention when driving, it is easy to miss things.

Some of the OFs can’t talk or chew gum while they are operating a motor vehicle. The OFs, when doing these normal functions, are apt to turn left instead of right, or drive past a turn they know they should take, then wonder why they are where the heck they are.

On Tuesday morning, Sept. 27, on the way to Kim’s West Winds Diner, some OFs headed over the hill in the dark of early morning and in some pockets of fog they drove around in circles twice in the hills where many of the OFs have lived for 70 or 80 years and they have even hiked some of the areas they were wandering around in. The OFs tempered this with how beautiful a morning it was and a great day for a ride anyway.

Leaving leaves

Some of the OFs who summer in warmer climes are beginning to leave and some have already flown. So far this year, the summer and early beginning of fall have been one of the better times, although it has been a little on the dry side. One OF who is leaving said that it is a good idea to close the place down now because a cold snap can come when least expected — then it is hurry-up-time to shut things down.

This OF would rather leave when it is still nice and take his time in buttoning up the place. Look at all the beautiful fall scenery the OF will be missing by abandoning the ship so early.

He said he has seen enough fall colors in his lifetime and raked enough leaves and it does not break his heart to leave. (This scribe just typed that sentence and looked at leaves, and leaves. Boy, the English language to newcomers must offer a challenge. There is no connection between the two words spelled exactly the same way.) Some of the travelers to Florida commented that the state is getting so crowded it may break off and sink.

Polling the OMOTM on the presidential debates

In a question about the debates, not the debaters, just the debates, it was found by the respondents and those at the breakfast that the OFs may be a microcosm of the nation with about a 60/40 split, with the 60 not bothering to watch and the 40 really interested, watching either 80- to 90-percent of the debate or all of the way through.

For the most part, all the OFs vote, for whatever that is worth. Many of the OFs already have their minds made up, and have trouble with all the political ads that bombard the airwaves around election time each year. Many OFs are confused with the logic of wasting money to run these ads.

One OF said he can understand why some people take a gun and shoot out the TV. He comes darn close to it when four and five of these ads follow one another on the screen.

A few other OFs mute the ads when they start and that includes all of them even the ones from Raymour & Flannigan, and Huge. They do click the sound back on occasionally if the ads from Geico, or the ads with the duck are sandwiched between a series of political ads.

When pranks were fun

The OFs have delved into this topic before and it generally sticks its head out around Halloween. The mischief the OFs took part in when they were young about this time of year would land them in jail today.

The pranks when verbalized were harmless and funny. Some of the pranks took a considerable amount of time to plan and execute. None of the OFs considered any of these pranks vicious or mean. The general populace expected, for the most part, many of the pranks and people even prepared for them as if they, too, were part of the game. Today it seems that some pranks go over the top, which spoils it for everyone else.

The OFs remembered good ole fashioned “hornings.” When a young couple married, a horning was planned by friends and neighbors.

The young couple had no idea when this was going to happen but, through the advice of their parents, they made preparations for it. Being young, broke, and newly married, the couple generally had help from their parents in putting in a good stock of beer, cheese, and crackers, and pepperoni for when it happened.

The day of reckoning of a horning was kept a secret better than any surprise party. When the day came, and the midnight hour rang, all cane broke lose — shotguns fired in the air, horns blasted, old large sawmill circular saw blades suspended on steel bars beat with hammers, torches lit, and the friends and neighbors marched around the house — then the party began.

The party generally broke up by the time for milking and the farmers had to get to the cows. That was usually about 4 or 4:30 in the morning. Try doing that today!  Every cop and trooper in the surrounding area would be there shutting that thing down. Gee, it’s no fun anymore.

Thin skins

Then the OFs started talking about a much more serious topic and that was: Why does a banana skin get thinner as the banana becomes older? Where does it go? The banana actually becomes softer and smaller.

One OF suggested the banana skin loses air.  He thought the skin, when new, is full of air and the air escapes and the solids fill in the voids.

What happens to the rest of the banana was a question asked. It is like a balloon, one OF thought, and, as when the air leaks out of a balloon, it becomes smaller and squishy. Hey, could be.  

The OFs who made it to Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow to escape the political ads were: Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Marty Herzog, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Glenn Traver, Karl Remmers, Bob Snyder, Don Wood, Sonny Mercer, Ray Kennedy, Otis Lawyer, Bob Benac, Don Gates, Jim Rissacher, Duane Wagonbaugh, Ted Willsey, Rich Donnelly, Jessie Vadney, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.


It’s Tuesday morning — time to shake off the covers, sit on the edge of the bed, wiggle the toes and feet, squeeze the hands, and if everything works head out to the breakfast with the Old Men of the Mountain.

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, breakfast was at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. Many of the OMOTM got an early start because there was dense fog all around. However, as the OFs drove up the hill to Rensselaerville, they drove out of the fog (just like Brigadoon) and at the Hilltown Café the sun was shining.

This was great way to start the day, only there was no young lady picking flowers along the path as in Brigadoon, but there was a young lady flipping pancakes in a small kitchen, in a neat café that would fill the bill. On a morning such as this, there is stiff competition between enjoying the scent of moist-laden flowers in the morning, as opposed to the satisfying aroma of bacon and eggs on the grill.

Tales of roots

The OFs discussed many topics on Tuesday morning; one was the origin of the horse as the seal for Schoharie County. This is an interesting tale; along with this, the OFs discussed the origin of the Plank Road turnpike, another interesting tale.

The OFs talked more history that is not really taught in the early years of formal schooling. They talked about the Isle of Shoals and how the English and French were using those waters for fishing and trading with the Indians years before the Pilgrims set foot at Plymouth Rock. This explains why the first Native American to greet the settlers strolled right into camp speaking English and knew many of the habits of the Pilgrims.

Much of what is taught in school, the OFs are finding out, is just a smattering of what really goes on; primarily it is to pique the interest of us (when we were students) in many things such as science, history, art, music, and much more.

The OFs thought that, when each individual wanted to know more of what interested him, he had some inkling of how to go about finding it, and where to go to retrieve this information. American history is one subject that anyone can get into and go deeper into areas such as naval history, political history, medicine, etc.

As mentioned in last week’s report, certain organizations cover specific interest, like the American Revolution, the Civil War, and artists’ and writers’ groups and clubs. There is much that goes on that keeps the mind active right up to being OFs. Most schools offer continuing education, and many of these classes are filled with the OFs that occupy the chairs at the breakfasts.   

Hearty harvest

The OFs reported that the produce from their gardens this year is great, especially with some plants. The corn this year seems to drip with sugar.

One OF reported his peppers are as big as soccer balls. That may be a stretch, but even close makes the peppers quite large. Some said their tomato plants have so many tomatoes that the plant is red, not red and green. The OFs mentioned that this is a little odd because it has been so dry.

Bionic men

The OFs have another of our group out for a few weeks for some bionic work — this OF is having a knee replaced. My goodness, if the OMOTM wanted to travel somewhere by plane as a group it would take them forever to get past the metal detectors.

Past relations

As part of the normal conversation of the OFs, it is typical of them to bring up their parents, aunts and uncles. These people were sucking in oxygen many, many years ago.

One OF mentioned that his uncle worked on the cog railway that brought people from New York City up the mountain to the Catskill Mountain House in Palenville. The Otis Elevating Railway started operation in August 1892, and the OF said his uncle worked for this railway for 40 years.

Birthday boy

The OFs today had the celebration of Elwood Vanderbilt’s 89th birthday, so another muffin with a candle and another birthday song was sung on a Tuesday morning.


The OFs also have to offer their condolences to the family of Joe Loubier, one of the snowbird OFs from Woodstock, who passed away recently. Our thoughts and prayers go with both Joe, and Elwood, only on different levels.

All the OFs that have passed away are becoming more in number than the OFs wandering around down here on our dot in the universe. Those OFs amassed in heaven must be having a ball if they are continuing the Tuesday morning gatherings on rotating clouds in that same heaven. The OFs that trod this planet wonder if Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John is acting as a scribe and writing a column for the “Heavenly Gazette.”

Those OFs on this side of the sod, and able to get to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville were: Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, Pete Whitbeck, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Bob Benac, Gary   Bates, Don Wood, Sonny Mercer, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Duane Wagonbaugh, Rich Donnelly, Ted Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Ray Kennedy, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, and me.