As it stands right now, the Old Men of the Mountain are going to attempt to start up our weekly trek to the restaurants that will have us. The next report shall be from multiple sources and, true or not, from actual visual and verbal connections. Will it be any different? We shall see.

However, right now we will continue with some of the phone calls. Before that, this scribe was contacted by two gentlemen in Altamont that want to do a book on the paranormal of Altamont and the surrounding area.

They asked if any of the Old Men of the Mountain had any encounters, or know of anyone who did have interesting or real ghost stories to tell of the immediate area, so that they could include these in the history they are trying to collect. These gentlemen considered the Old Men of the Mountain because they are the Old Men of the Mountain and have collective years under their belts, and those anecdotes of their friends would be a good place to start.

This scribe is sure that the information does not have to stop at the OMOTM, but they would be interested if anyone has a story of their own, or in their family history. For complete information, anyone can contact The Enterprise and they would fill you in on all the particulars and put you in touch with the two fellas that are assembling all the stories and putting them in readable form.

This scribe, for one, would be interested in reading such a book. Altamont and the Hilltowns should be replete with tales of spirits wandering around occasionally making themselves known.

Because of the scribe’s own experiences, the scribe has a tendency to take some stories with the “Hmm, could be so” attitude; however, many others have made the common comment, “Really?”


Where are the April showers?

The OFs spoken to are glad to see the weather in April as it is. However, a few spoken to said it is too dry too soon.

The warm air and the breeze are nice but don’t help with the next growing season. One OF said the so-called miserable weather in April we generally have is very necessary to keep the ground moist if not wet.

Another OF mentioned snowfall disappearing too fast and it was not sinking into the ground. Many of the OFs, as previously reported, were farmers and know how this old planet works. The OFs were taught by the best teachers and from the best schools, the school of hard knocks, their parents, the animals, and life.

This scribe mentioned to one OF that the OG was right. If too much snow goes from the top and not the bottom, there may be problems ahead if not enough rain comes to make up the difference.


Swap University

This scribe wonders, after talking to the OFs, if there should be a school called “Swap University.” At this school, the semesters would change instructors.

One semester would have teachers 80-years plus. These older instructors would teach nature the way it really is, weather the way it really is, animal husbandry, etc. and students would be your typical freshmen. The next semester, the students would be 80 and above, and the instructors would be the typical freshmen, and they would teach the 80-year-olds how to use a cell phone, how to use the TV, and how to use a computer so an 80-year-old can understand it.

The 80-year-olds could teach how to drive a shift car, and freshmen could teach how to drive these new cars for which it is not even necessary to use a key to start. The degree would not be a bachelor of arts, but a “living life” degree. The graduates would now be ready for whatever came along.

This education would go along with what one OF mentioned way before this pandemic started and it almost now sounds prophetic. The OF said that too many of the young people live only for today; even though they might make tons of money some have a tendency to spend their money on pot and good times.

This OF said there should be something set aside for when things go wrong. This OF thought everyone, boys and girls, should learn to be handy: Guys should know how to cook, and girls should know how to fix a faucet and be able to do so.

This OF thinks the young folks should have two plans. One would work before retirement, and the other for when the market, or whatever their money is invested in, collapses. Make plans for their money and investments one way, and food, water, fuel, shelter, and medicine in the cellar in case of the other.

This scribe answered that he thinks to have young people make these plans is much easier said than done. Those who live in people-packed cities may have a tad of a problem having a store in the basement just for them, and a garden in the backyard, when they don’t have either a cellar or a backyard.

The scribe is now looking forward to our first meeting in almost a year where we can have more of these interesting discussions and solve life’s problems. Some days I amaze myself, and other days I look for my phone when I am talking on it.

This column is basically about being old; that is the reason for the so-called title. There are many books, articles and cartoons about being old. Maxine comes to mind, and oodles of others pertaining to the category of becoming old.

The fact of the matter is, as soon as we are born, we start getting old; there is no getting around it. However, there is old, and there is old.

To wit: One Old Man of the Mountain called and related this heartwarming story to another OF. It seems the OF was grocery shopping with his wife and they were checking out. In front of them was an elderly gentleman who had just checked out and was struggling with two bags of groceries and trying to maneuver putting his change in his wallet.

He was having quite a time of it. The Old Man of the Mountain finally decided to help the old gent out and so he helped put the bags in the old gent’s cart.

After doing this and asking the man if he wanted him to go with him to his car, the old gent told the OF no, he could handle it from there. The OF said the old gent thanked him and the old gent further said that not too many young guys would step in like that and help out an older fella.

Then, the OF continued, the elderly gentleman said to him, “Getting old is tough; just wait until you get to be 72 and you will see how hard it is.”

The OF almost said out loud that he was 84, but thought the better of it and let it go. There is old and there is old.

This scribe does not know how many of these events happen but they can sure boost your spirits when it does.


Together again?

Some of the OFs have asked if now that many of the OMOTM have had their shots, and restrictions have been lifted a little on the restaurants, maybe we could start getting together again. Some of the OFs have been gathering right along at a couple of the restaurants but this scribe has contacted some of the other restaurants and so far not getting much response.

One mentioned that the restaurants are not set up for big crowds and don’t think they could handle us yet. One said maybe we could change the day to Thursday as they are now closed on Tuesdays.

This scribe does not know how large a crowd we will be. Maybe that is a survey this scribe will have to take before he starts calling again with a little more solid information.

Boy, the scribe can’t wait as he and the wife still practice the stay-at-home protocol even though we have had our shots. This is getting boring.


Phone calls

When calling the OFs, most of the time the scribe found the phone is answered right away because almost everyone is at home. It used to be this scribe spent a lot of time talking to a machine. That is the way it should be because it shows people are out and about spending money.

The phone calls this week were mostly about the weather, or if someone was born or passed away. None of the OFs have been out causing trouble, getting arrested for one thing or another — now the problem is just loitering.

One OF did say a year ago he and the bride were talking about getting another car, but heck, the OG said, “We haven’t put any miles on the one we have, and the doctor is just about around the corner so that doesn’t add many miles either. That idea has to be put on hold for awhile.”

Another problem this scribe has run into is that he is finding more of the OFs are ill, or their spouses are ill, so the scribe has to think twice before picking up the phone. These OGs have to get out and move around; also it might be necessary to give the little lady a break from the OGs.


Road trip?

One outside event that was discussed is the OFs just go for a ride to nowhere and back. Pack a lunch and take a longer ride — just get out of the house; it’s making the OGs sick.

One OF did mention that he has taken rides on roads he has never been on before right here on the Hill. The OF said there was no reason for him to be on those roads because they didn’t go anywhere he was headed at any time.

However, this idea sounds like it might be fun. You can go to your area on Google and list the road not traveled and then travel on them to check them out.

One OG added that, if we do that, make sure it is not a dead end and the folks living in the last house don’t come out and meet you with a gun. In any case, the scenery won’t change much because the OF will still be wandering the hills. This scribe thinks he will take his own advice and do this a couple of times.


Wake-up call

One OF answered the phone at 3 p.m. and sounded like he just woke up, and it turned out that, in fact, he did. The OF was glad for the call because, he said, he has been sleeping too much.

His comment about the stay-at-home pandemic advice was that he sleeps too much, he was not much of a reader to begin with, so all he does is eat, watch TV, and sleep. This OG thinks he is going to get sick just staying home. He could be right; check paragraph above.


Time warp

All this discussion on age made this scribe realize that his birthday will be coming up shortly. Age is a relative term. All my relatives keep reminding me of how old I am.

Well, I am so old that I have actually dialed a rotary phone connected to a party line, while listening to a black-and-white TV with aluminum foil on its rabbit ears, and chewed Black-Jack gum. I am sure none of my grandchildren have the slightest idea of what I am talking about.

Once upon a time many years ago, some male babies were born. At that time, these young babies did not know that much later they would become old men, and most would have babies of their own.

Also, little did they know they would eventually become members of the Old Men of the Mountain. Nor did they know what kind of life the years would bring.

These mysteries would shape the memories of their formative years. As the memories are related today, many details are as sure as if the event happened yesterday. A couple of the stories tied with current events made this hard to sort out from the forties and fifties, or the current century and 2020.

What prompted this was a discussion on high school and the kids in the class, who are now senior citizens. These stories had the kids in school, still the kids in school; this is how the OMOTM talked about them and this scribe actually believes they truly saw them in their mind’s eye.

The girls are vivacious, and the guys are young athletes, when in fact, the guys are probably bald and fat, wrinkled and bent; the women are also fat, wrinkled, and bent. But the OFs who have not seen them in years do not picture them this way.

One OF told the story of haying with the gang from Berne all day long and then taking off and going swimming. The OF mentioned he had not seen many of these guys in years and wondered what they were doing.

He remembered young and virile people, and it was possible to tell this by the sound of his voice. This OF mentioned one of the girls in the group and wondered where she was and what she was doing, and the OF would like to see her again.

Not wanting to spoil the illusion, this scribe thought to himself as the OF carried on, if the lady in question is still alive. It is interesting what the OF’s remember and how they do it and in what context.

Recalling some of the antics the OFs pulled when they were kids have many of those in the group discussing how we did some dumb things when we were kids. In a way, the OFs take it easy on some of the things kids do today.

However, one OF said, “If you recall, much of what we did back then was mischief; it was not mean.” 

“Today,” this OF continued, “A lot of what the young people pull is downright mean. There is a difference.”

This scribe retorted, “Some of our exploits might have put us in jail today, instead of just getting scolded, if we were caught, even though most of the stunts were just nonsense.”

That phrase started a certain memory.

“I remember the time when there were five of us in a coupe and we raided Middleburgh for girls because apparently there were no girls in Schoharie.”

That is not all that coupe of boys raided, but again it was nonsense, and not mean by any measure. It was one of those things that could be very funny, but the culprits dared not be around to take part in any of the fun, they just had to talk about and imagine what was happening and what the reaction would be.

With this stunt, the perpetrators would want to be long gone. There was really not much sense in hanging around because, if caught, they would be tarred and feathered at least.

This scribe asked the question, “Was our youth more fun than now, or even back a few years, to our adulthood?”

The answer for the OF was: H--- yes.

Whoever said old age (and we are old, there is no getting around that) was fun?

A common reaction received from one OF was: “I ache from the bottom of my feet to the top of my head; all my friends are in the same boat. They either have cancer, or heart trouble, or are deaf with blurry vision, have arthritis in every joint, and have had their car keys taken away. What fun is there in any of that?”

“Yeah,” another OF answered. “It is more fun to remember being young, than it is to be old. 

“Boy,” the scribe thought, “Did I call the wrong guy!” 

Come to find out this is more a product of the pandemic than the way the OF really felt. Being cooped up with no release, the scribe thought, is more of what is going on than the “down in the dumps” recitation, because usually the OF is upbeat no matter the situation.

In a way though, remembrances are fun even if in our 80-year-old minds we still see our high school mates as if they were in their teens. The girls are still young and pretty and the guys all have hair and muscles.

This scribe agreed with the OF and added that he still sees his kids as in their teen years, even though they are in their sixties with kids of their own. What about the OFs who have more great-grandkids than some OFs have grandkids? How do they still see their kids?

We have survived spankings, lead paint, rusty playgrounds, second-hand smoke, toy guns, no seat belts, no helmets, and drinking from the hose. And we still have memories of childhood that are the dreams that stay with you after you awaken.

It has been suggested that, as many of the Old Men of the Mountain get their shots, we discuss how those who have already had their shots can get together. This is not a bad idea for those who have them or have appointments to get them.

The first thing this scribe did was check Albany County for current restaurant protocols. The answer was simple and ambiguous

In essence, it said 50-percent seating capacity and mask, and with the typical six-foot distancing. However, it also said to call the restaurant to be sure it is open and how it is handling the COVID virus now.

Well, that is not too bad. This scribe will have to get on the phone and start there. Maybe writing the column will be a lot easier and more entertaining if enough of the OFs can get together to make it so.

The phone calls this week had many different ideas; however, there were a few common threads. The main one was to be sure all those in attendance had their shots, and they had observed the two-week waiting period after their second shot.

This scribe thinks again that the Old Men of the Mountain are in the age bracket where this virus likes to hang out and the virus is not playing any games.

As mentioned a few columns back, the OFs do want to get out but don’t want to be dumb about it. One OF mentioned that there are some out there who don’t believe in the vaccination or that it does any good.

The reasoning behind this is poor at best. The feeling behind this seems to be that no one knows where this virus came from and that it will eventually disappear and no one will know where it is going.

In that phone call, it was pointed out that the OF should look at all the vaccinations that work. This is not rocket science; there are plenty of vaccines out there preventing all kinds of diseases so at least the medical researchers had a starting point.


Celebrating birthdays

Somehow, on one of the phone calls that were made to the OFs, we started talking about birthdays (maybe because this scribe has one coming up) and this discussion came up with a neat idea for those who have a number of kids with birthdays falling close together: Have one birthday party for all of them at the same time.

The OF said he couldn’t do that because he would have to rent a hall. The OF’s reasoning was that, if he allowed each to invite their friends, he would have to hire a cop for crowd control, and with everyone bringing presents, the chaos would be worse than Christmas

The other thing would be sorting it all out at the end of the party, whose presents belong to whom, etc. etc.

Then, as the OF and this scribe talked, the conversation switched to the COVID problem again and when this particular OF and this scribe thought the pandemic would be over so we could have normal birthday parties again.

The OF thought (hoped) by the end of summer, and this scribe commented he doubted if the world would ever be over it. It may pop up like the flu season, or the cold season, and soon we will have the COVID season. This scribe thinks we will have to regularly get the COVID shot, just like the flu shot.


One planet

This scribe suggested to the OF that he doesn’t think the world is going to be made up of countries, the way they are now, for much longer. The way we travel here and there, and we carry different germs all over the place, pretty soon conditions are going to be tough to avoid germs around the world.

This would also apply to invasive species of all sorts, like bugs, plants, spiders, and snakes, whatever, as well as germs. Eventually, that way we will be one planet even to the point where true cultures and races will be gone — whether we want it or not, or even like it or not, also that may be a good thing or not.

This remains to be seen, but the scribe added, the OFs won’t be here to see it, nor will our kids, or their kids, even the next generation of kids, but this scribe feels it surely will happen.

Again, the OFs are accused of getting too deep into these types of discussions. This must be a byproduct of being cooped-up all the time — too much time to think.

Then one OF said, “Thinking hurts my head, I’m too used to comic books and cartoons. Give me a horse and a plow slowly plodding along turning over the sod and sniffing the aroma of the earth as it becomes exposed and I am happy.”

To others, the OFs suppose it is the smell of the exhaust of the tractors doing the same thing.

As the OFs have been saying all along, they just want to get back to some kind of routine. At one point, this OF wondered if there is going to be a COVID baby boom, to replace all those that were lost to this pandemic.

In 2033, will there be a whole bunch of quaranteens? Just wondering.

Further wondering — we never thought the comment, “I wouldn’t touch them with a six-foot pole” would become a national policy, but here we are!



It is with great sadness that we must report that John Rossmann, another faithful member of the Old Men of the Mountain, passed away around 10 a.m. on Monday morning at his home in Huntersland. We all offer our prayers, and condolences to the family of John.

A 1939 Hupmobile

A 1939 Hupmobile could be fixed on the spot if it broke on the road, one of the Old Men of the Mountain fondly remembered. John R. Williams recalls his family’s earlier model was dark green with wooden spokes in the wheels. “That vehicle was a limousine; it had shades, with fringe and tassels that could be pulled down in the back, but the car had a sad ending,” he said.

The Old Men of the Mountain, at breakfast when they were together, talked many, many times about the vehicles they drove when they were younger. These vehicles are considered collectibles today, as are much of what the OFs used brand new when they were in their teens and twenties.

If they purchased these vehicles used, some of these items would be 100 years old today. Even the OF is now a collectible.

This vehicle memory came up in two conversations this week. One OF’s grandson purchased a new vehicle and the OF, of course, gave it the once-over with the required OF hmms, here and there.

The gist of the conversation was, when the OFs were young, many cars and tractors came with a repair manual and a set of tools, and the owner was expected to be able to repair the vehicle himself. Well, those days are long gone.

Today, the OF said, the new owner of a new car better take roadside assistance, and belong to AAA.

The OF said looking at the new car he couldn’t even find where to start the engine; everything seemed to be hidden. To him it looked like it was necessary to take half the car apart just to change the plugs — if the car even had any.

The other OF commented that, even with a newer car today, he is a little leery when starting out on a long trip to somewhere where he is not too familiar. In the old days (in the 1940s,’50s, or ’60s?) if the car should have problems he could jump out, figure out what is going on and probably fix it right there with the emergency repair box that he would have in the trunk.

This is not a fairy tale; it was done by the OF and this scribe, actually more than once. This scribe has a story about a broken spring but that will be for some other time.

Today, the number-one thing, the OF said, he would have to have is a cellphone and know how to use it, and that phone only works if there is reception in the area where the car happened to decide to give the OF problems.

These new vehicles are so full of artificial intelligence that, if the owner doesn’t treat them right, the car will wait for some godforsaken place in the middle of the night to say, screw you and quit.

One OG said, “My 1939 Hupmobile wouldn’t do that, but if it did, most of the time I could fix it right there with the parts and the tools I carried, and a flashlight. But today all I could do is look at the thing and scratch my head; heck, trying to fix a flat tire is a circus.”

The stories continued about how the OFs had problems with vehicles when we were younger; however,this scribe interjected, “The vehicles today seem to go many more miles than they used to, before there are problems.”

The scribe got from one OF a cryptic comment, which seemed to mean much more than these four little words: “Don’t count on it!”  We did not go into that because it seemed like deep water.

Checking with the online car guy it seems that remembering how things used to be also included a reminder of how many weekends we used to spend on Project Cars. Back then, clean fingernails, free weekends, intact knuckles, and financial stability were totally overrated.

Hilltown vaccine

One OF said it looks like the Hilltowns are finally getting some attention regarding the COVID shots. The sheriff’s department is taking care of Knox and Berne with vaccine PODs. The OF commented that “we” (OMOTM) have been saying there should be something like this for the old people that can’t get around. 

This scribe mentioned it must have been short notice and happened rather quickly because this OF knows he doesn’t live in a cave but he had not heard about it until the day of one taking place and the day before the other came to pass.

Either way, the scribe was glad to see it happen. The conversation continued on that both the OF and the scribe hopes this type of vaccine distribution is going on in the Adirondacks and some of the other sparsely populated counties.

Young county

This drifted into another thought — that New York State may be having an increase in age of the median population of the state; then again, maybe not. So this scribe decided to check out some statistics. Hello, Google.

In Albany County, the ages of the Old Men of the Mountain are rare. Albany County is a young county with the average age being 31.

In Hamilton County, the average age is 56; in Schoharie County, it is 45; in New York City (the five boroughs), it is 37, and going up — and the United States national average is 38; all this is as of 2019. That was a fun little project.

Breaking out?

One of the OFs spoken to said he had to go out, and took a chance (because he has not had his shot, at least at the date of the phone call). At the restaurant where he stopped to have a bite, he bumped into a couple other OMOTM having lunch there.

An interesting coincidence or are many of us getting antsy and wanting to venture out of our cages?


The Old Men of the Mountain are sad to report that they have lost another OMOTM member. Bill Krause passed away on Feb. 28. The OMOTM offer their condolences and prayers for the family and friends of Bill.

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to also offer our condolences and prayers to the family and friends of another faithful Old Man of the Mountain, Jim Heiser, who passed away on March 6. Both of these men’s families have our deepest sympathies. 

Now that some of the Old Men of the Mountain are in the process of getting the COVID-19 shot, the group is getting anxious to get back together and tell stories back and forth, but the main thing is getting out of the house without worrying about catching anything that keeps the undertaker busy.

This scribe thinks this is not going to happen till the end of the year.

The discussion this week with the OGs that were spoken to, was on the weather. Not the weather outside the window right now, but the type of weather we have at this time of year and how it is conducive to some outdoor activities for the OMOTM — like ice fishing.

It has been cold enough for the ponds and lakes to be frozen long and hard enough so the ice is safe. It will take some time for the ice to thaw at the temperature it is now, but nice enough to be reasonably comfortable outdoors for long periods of time and not moving around much.

One OF said that he was planning to ice fish for smelt on Lake George the last day of February. Smelt are a small fish that are really good.

This OF said he has been jigging for smelt since he was a little kid. The OF said he has some rare smelt fishing tip-ups that were hand-whittled by an Indian guide when he was a youngster.

The OF added that was many years ago (being 70 to 75 years ago), back when the OF fished for smelt on Lake Champlain. This OF said that back then the Indian had a little shanty that they used made out of cardboard. Today, some of these shanties are like homes away from home; back then, not so much.

The Indian also taught this OMOTM how to jig with both hands and not get the lines tangled, especially when the smelt are running and they were catching the little fish right and left. “It takes a lot of the little buggers to make a good meal,” the OF said.

This scribe remembers taking his kids ice fishing at Basic Reservoir and the scribe never got a chance to get his hook wet. The scribe spent all his time digging holes and freezing, baiting hooks and freezing, setting tip-ups up and freezing — but the kids had a good time.

The other interesting tidbit the OF mentioned was that, as time went on, there were more and more people enjoying ice fishing and there were, at one time, 30 to 40 shanties on the lake. One entrepreneurial guy would come around and tow your shanty to a new place for a couple of bucks.

The scribe mentioned to the OF, “Just like the movie, ‘Grumpy Old Men,’ with Jack Lemon and Walter Mathieu.”

The OF replied, “Yeah just like that, except we never met anyone like Ann Margaret.”

The OF added that it is activities like this that shorten the winter quite a bit. Skiing and snowmobiles do the same thing.


Trapped inside

Another OF spoken to is trapped indoors for the most part. This OF does brave an occasional trip out but, like many of us as we age, some of the things we did as kids show up when we get older.

But this conversation has been held before and the summation is that, when the OFs were younger and knew what it was going to be like when they became older, they vowed they would do the same thing all over again.

As one OF said, he wasn’t “going to live in a bubble.”

This OF is paying now for what he did when he was young, that is, playing basketball and getting injured. Back when his injuries occurred, he said, there was not the medical technology around that there is today.

This OF thinks that, if the same thing occurred today, it would be handled differently and, when he got to the age he is now, he would not have the problems he is having.

We, (the OF and the scribe) thought this was true. In many cases, there have been numerous advancements in 70 years. Some of the medicines and procedures were not even thought of 70 years ago.

One OF mentioned, “What do you think it will be like a thousand years from now?”

There is a thinker for you.



The following discussion was in progress when the OFs were still gathering at the breakfast table. The scribe is time-jumping here in one conversation.

One OF interjected, “You mean if we all don’t blow ourselves up first.”

Then another OF suggested medicine will just be a small part of it, and this OF thought we would be traveling through space like going to Aunt Bette’s today for Thanksgiving and medicine will be like Star Trek. Well that’s a thought.

Back to the phone conversation.

The scribe and the one on the phone think that today’s progress is exponential in many fields and, even as old as we are, we still have time to take advantage of much of it, and in our later years lifetime will be of better quality, once we are through this COVID craze.

Aside from Velcro, time is the most mysterious substance in the universe. You can’t see it or touch it, yet a plumber can charge you upwards of $75 per hour for it, without necessarily fixing anything, said Dave Barry.

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? — so said Dr. Seuss.

The OMOTM aren’t the only ones to have this discussion in their spare time.

This little report is a capitulation of current conversations, and a couple from way back, when a pair of the OMOTM had to give up farming. This happened to one because of sickness, and the other because the government (in a way) forced him into it.

The current conversation was of two completely wasted pieces of good farm land by developers. The haphazard destruction of good farmland is very short-sighted in the opinion of some of the OFs. One OF said that this planet is not getting any fewer people it is getting more, and by the day.

The current pandemic might give some people pause, but one OF said he would bet, if the population clock showed deaths and births, the births would still win out. This scribe could not argue or take the bet because this scribe has not seen such a graph, or clock, to compare the correlation between worldwide deaths and births, no matter what the cause of deaths were. The cause of births is well known.

According to this OF, all of the bodies on the planet, which are growing in number, are going to have to be fed, and, as far as he knows, what dirt is here, is here; we aren’t making any more dirt! Well maybe that which we can’t wash out of our ears.

Then again, the scribe chimed in that his own father, in the early forties, had a garden in the cellar of the house that grew vegetables and there was no dirt, just fertilizer and water. The OF jumped in with, “Ah chemicals, we use too many chemicals.”

These discussions can go on and on. This conversation could go on infinitum.

The OF mentioned developers will build a whole new mall right alongside of an existing mall that is failing and decaying. Why is that? Why not tear the old one down and rebuild a new one — leave the land alone.

Right around here, good land is being ruined all over the place. For instance, in Voorheesville, right by the golf course, beautiful farmland now features nothing but houses.

It seems solar farms are being developed everywhere and now the land cannot be used and it is all open ground. “Look at all the energy and material it takes to build one of these things,” the OF said, “and we will never get that back.”

This OF thinks there are waterfalls and tides that can produce energy. The OF would like to see graphs or reports that show how much energy is really produced and saved by these developments. He concluded that he would rather eat than blow his hair dry.

No mention was made of fossil fuels. Now we need to go on to the opposite position.

This scribe then remembered a conversation quite a while ago from one of the OMOTM who has since passed on. This OF had a series of strokes and had to give up farming.

He had the opportunity to sell some of his land, so he did, and a couple of houses were built on it. This OF was chastised by a certain do-gooder in public for selling his land and not keeping it.

This OF was a feisty little guy and stated that he retorted that it was his land, he paid taxes on it for years, he maintained it and worked it since a young man and didn’t need anyone to tell him what to do with it.

The OF told the other OFs that the ones complaining about him had nothing invested in his land. In fact, he didn’t even know them and, if he wanted to sell to someone who was going to build a skyscraper, it was nobody’s business but his and the one who wanted to purchase the land.

This scribe remembers how everyone jumped in on this conversation with a supporting comment that the government put the OG out of business and now all his land is going fallow. The OFs remarked that he might just as well sell the land to developers and let them build houses on it.

According to some of his supporters, the big shots don’t really care anyway; the big shots think peas come in a can and are already in the grocery store. Many city people have no idea how they got there in the first place.

It is easy to see why there is such a division among people on the same topic with a different approach to the same problem and coming up with different answers. These conversations are extremely condensed but the gist is there.


Closed in

One newer phone conversation was on the pandemic and the virtual approach to so much entertainment and outdoor activity, especially now that we are at the end of February and March is coming up with baseball, and NASCAR, and tons of outside events, parties, and picnics, and just plain old visiting.

The OFs are really beginning to feel closed in; one OF used the word claustrophobic — the OF said he felt like he was trapped. This OF said that, with his health and age, he is afraid to go anywhere.

The OFs comment was, “Why is God so mad at us?”

And so ends another week without me becoming unexpectedly rich.

The phone calls this week centered on youth and age, and with the Old Men of the Mountain this is a common thread, as it is with anyone over 50. Youth does not consider age because they don’t think they will get old, but age considers youth because they know they won’t get any younger.

The OMOTM consider they were young once so they know where they are coming from on this one. Young people  think anyone over 30 is old and basically in the way.

Old people consider gangs of young people dangerous and don’t have a clue what is going on. It seems when old people get together and talk about when they were young they remember how they thought their parents knew nothing and old people were in the way.

However, now the OFs know differently — they really know differently.

When the young were quite young they depended completely on older people to take care of them. Now that the quite young have grown quite old they depend on the younger people to take care of them.

The Old Men of the Mountain spoken to today were not in the best of shape and cannot get around like they used to. In fact, some of them getting around and doing what they used to do was literally out of the question.

Fortunately, these OFs all had families with brothers and sisters, and they all had kids, and the kids were raised in the family atmosphere. Not just moms and dads, but aunts, uncles, and cousins, and grandmas and grandpas.

Now that the OFs need help (some just because they are creaky OFs, and others because of medical conditions) the kids are pitching in. The kids are basically doing this because of a strong bond with the parents; this is called love.

The kids do not know where this type of love is applied or what a relief it is to the OFs. The OFs say to themselves, “I guess changing those diapers is paying off.”

This continuation of love quite often is not verbally expressed but is shown with tender touches, soft words, and running kids here and there and seeing that they are protected.

It is too late that the OFs did not realize this when they were young and had youngsters, but for the young who are going to venture into young adulthood and start having young ones of their own it is not too late.

So remember how you treat your young ones because one day you will be sitting at the table as an Old Man (or Woman) of the Mountain, and doing routine things won’t be that easy.


Snowed under

All the OMOTM thought this has been a pretty tough winter so far. The snow has been on the ground for some time.

One OF mentioned that his kids have constructed quite a hill for sledding at their place for their kids and kids around the area. The OF said his 2-year-old granddaughter has a great time sledding down this hill.

The OF said he thinks some of these sleds reach 60 to 70 miles per hour! That deserves maybe a five or six hmmmmmm.

And on her little plastic sled, the little tyke must really be whipping down the hill. Of course, she can’t haul the sled back up to go back down; someone has to carry her and the sled to the top so she can do it all over again.

The son has his generator running about 20 lights down the hill so the kids can sled at night, and they have a bonfire going at the bottom so they can warm themselves. The OF relating the story was having as much fun telling about the sledding as if he were able to do it himself.

This reminded this scribe of when he and his brothers were young and the farmer on Cole Hill did the same thing for skiing.

This farmer had a Farmall “H” tractor running a simple rope tow to take the skiers to the top of the hill, and we would ski down on long wooden skis with wool socks in felt-lined winter barn boots, and simple spring binders on the skis and down the hill we would go.

As the scribe and the OF remembered, the only color ski was brown. They had hot chocolate in a little hut at the bottom too.


Sign of spring?

As the scribe and the OF talked, the OF mentioned that the bluebirds were back. The OF said he had a whole bunch of them in his yard.

The scribe said he thought the bluebirds didn’t go anywhere, and the OF said they did and the males come back first, about three to four weeks ahead of the females.

This was news to the scribe but, if this is supposed to be a harbinger of spring, those birds are in for one heck of a surprise.

The scribe mentioned to the OF that robins returning didn’t mean much to him because, as long as the scribe has lived where he does now, he has robins year round.

In talking to the OFs they not only would like the COVID thing to be over, but now they want the winter to be over also.

Winter seems to be getting to the scribe’s wife also. She found a note in a recent magazine that addresses some of her problems with this scribe.

She is asking “prayers for my husband, who, very tragically, got me nothing for our anniversary when I specifically told him I wanted nothing for our anniversary.” She believes most women will understand this dilemma.

OK, this is complaint time by the few Old Men of the Mountain spoken to, plus just plain old folks that are not partakers of the past breakfasts, but could be because they are the age of this scribe, which puts them in the category of older than dirt, fire, and water.

The complaint is trying to either get on a list or make an appointment for the COVID vaccination shots. Many of the seniors in the Hilltowns and remote areas of Albany County find this futile or darn near impossible. 

A couple of the OFs mentioned one particular rule or protocol that makes no sense at all, and that is: Why can’t a husband and wife be vaccinated at the same time?

These OFs were told that the husband can make his appointment and then the wife must make hers, or the husband can make hers but it must be a separate appointment. Hmmm.

One OF explained that his may be on April 15 in Utica, and hers on April 20 in Plattsburgh. Duh, and who knows where and when the second shot will be. Come now, does this make any sense, or are the OFs hearing it wrong?

Next complaint. The OFs opined that calling the 4-4-7 number, as outlined by the county, is a waste of time. The OFs spoken to get the routine answer that all the personnel are busy so leave your name and number and someone will get back to you.

There must be no one there by the name “someone” because that “someone” never calls back. One OF commented that obviously no one works there — only a phone machine with the message that all the personnel are busy etc., etc.

One OF said he sees on TV people getting shots all over the place, and he wonders how in h--- do they do it and who do they know? Is there a secret number that is circulated by an elite few?

This scribe found that the people spoken to are well into the senior age, and most have underlying conditions, like heart trouble, cancer etc., and there they are hung out in limbo.

Most of the OMOTM are doing what they are supposed to be doing (that is most, not all). The OFs are staying home, limiting their outdoor activities to grocery shopping, and going to the doctor’s.

One OF suggested that is where he thinks vaccines should be sent — to their doctors because they know who their senior patients are, and what medical situations their seniors have. One OF even had it all planned out for them so the doctors would not have to worry about shelf-life of the vaccine.

This scribe keeps reporting that, within the Old Men of the Mountain, there is years-on knowledge in many fields, not being a doctor or having a medical degree, but the logistics of handling large groups of people in the most effective way.

This is enough of these complaints. When the number of people in the whole world is thrown into the mix, it makes the problems of the handful of people in Albany County, in the state of New York, in the United States of America, in the Northern Hemisphere, seem like a pimple on the butt of an elephant.

Doing without

This pandemic has shown that many people can do without a lot of things and that may be a good or bad thing. It takes stuff to make the world go around, stuff keeps people making stuff, and people buying stuff.

Even the OFs buy just stuff, but somebody had to make that stuff, whatever it is, or even if the OF needs it or not, but now the OFs are learning to live without stuff because (particularly older) people are afraid to go to the stores and shop, and that puts people out of work.

Virtual church

Even going to church in many cases is now different. In speaking to the Old Men of the Mountain, this scribe learned that many are going to church virtually. They are doing this via Zoom or YouTube.

This seems to work quite well for the church part but the OFs (just like the ones going to the breakfasts) are missing the human part, and to an OG they miss the personal contact. One OF mentioned missing the personal information of the families that are not on his list of close friends but in the OF’s church family.

That is very hard to do when they get together just once a week and stare at a glass screen to see what is going on.


At one point, one OF mentioned he was hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccinations but these shots don’t seem to be happening right now.

Another OF claims there is hope. He said dark is nothing; darkness cannot put out light for, as dim as it is, light can only go out by itself. So, as long as there is a glimmer of light, it will penetrate the darkness and right now there is light at the end of the tunnel — only it is a long tunnel. So say the OFs.

Even though it sounds like the OFs are growing exhausted from this situation they can’t control, this scribe recently received an email from an OF who sent a kitchen hint.

To wit: You know when you buy a bag of salad how it eventually gets all soggy and brown. Cookies don’t do that.

Phone calls this week wielded more topics than usual. One was a subject used many times but this one included the pandemic and being holed-up and not going anywhere.

By doing the holed-up, it meant the family vehicle sat idle for long periods of time. This OF never left the house only to go grocery shopping and the occasional doctors’ appointments, so basically, the car just sat, and so did the OF.

The OF said he noticed the brakes were acting funny and the car was not stopping like it should. The OF took the car to his dealer and they said the brakes were rusted and one was completely frozen.

The dealer asked, “How long has this car been sitting around?” and the OF replied, “It has not been driven much.”

The dealer said the OF needed a complete brake job. One brake was frozen so bad they had to “break” the brake to get it off. The OF said this really ticked him off because the rear brakes had only 9,000 miles on them.

The OF never had this type of problem before and did not believe it should have happened. The OF said he argued to no avail and it cost him a grand to get the job done.

The dealer suggested the OG run the car every couple of days just to keep it loose and this wouldn’t happen. The OF said again, “It has never happened before.”

The OF said he then asked a lot of questions. One question was, “What do you do about your own cars on the lot?”

Whether true or not the OF has no idea, but the dealer told him that they check each one before it leaves the lot and sometimes they do have to do a complete brake job before the customer receives the vehicle — hmmmm.

The OF came home and sputtered to his wife, “Remember when we used to go to Wards and for 25 bucks get a whole kit for doing two brakes, and the kit came with all the fixings. Then we would take it home, jack up the car in the driveway, and in an hour or so have repaired the brakes on two wheels. What has happened?”


The only game in town

In another phone call, Spectrum got raked over the coals. One OF complained that Spectrum brought the internet as far as their neighbor’s house and then stopped, and said it was too expensive to continue on down to them.

The OF and this scribe thought there was some kind of agreement with the state and Spectrum that Spectrum; in order for them to keep their contract with the state, they were supposed to supply internet to all the homes in rural areas.

Apparently that is not the case. Spectrum can do what it wants and the state does nothing about it.

Another OF also complained about those guys too. This OF said his bill jumped by $15.50 in one month. That is an 11-percent jump in one month. The OFs thought that was ridiculous.

Then the other OF said, “Well, they are the only game in town; what are we going to do?” The OF was right.


The sky’s not falling

Of course ever one who was talked to commented about the weather. Almost to an OG, they commented on how the weather people treated the oncoming cold like it was getting ready for the atom bomb — it was a larger problem than the virus. It was almost like we have never had cold temperatures and high winds.

One OF did say each station has a seasoned meteorologist that has been with the station for so long he is like a personal friend. These guys surely know the Northeast and what weather we have had (and can have) and it is normal to our section of the country.

One OF said they must be aiming the weather report on newcomers to our area of the country who are not familiar with how our weather can fluctuate from the tropics to the North Pole in just a few hours. Except for this scribe, many OFs went for their morning walks like usual.

One OF said, “So what if it is 6 degrees and the wind is blowing — been there, done that.”

This OF even said that one day it was 8 degrees below zero with high winds, and he took the manure out. Once on the field to be spread, he stood on the wheel of the manure spreader and warmed himself up over the heat of manure.

It is cold, and it will be cold again, but gee-whiz — the sky’s not falling.


Smells like home

It is funny (but then again not that funny) how some of the OFs spoken to are still burning wood. This scribe gave that up a few years ago.

For him, it is now too darn much work, but there is nothing like the farmhouse smell that a woodburning stove adds to the home. A wood fire crackling in the stove in the living room, cinnamon buns in the oven, coffee perking in the percolator, all these beautiful aromas mixing together makes a house smell great.

The new way is to have deodorizers to neutralize the house aromas to nothing, then burn candles to simulate the aroma of choice. Makes no sense to this scribe — except maybe for the cat box after the animal has urinated, which is a tough smell to get rid of.


I am a seenager

(Senior teenager)

Older people often go to another room to get something and when they get there, they stand there wondering what they came for. This is not a memory problem; it is nature’s way of making older people do more exercise.