Would upstate New York be better off without downstate?
Tuesday, Feb. 18, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh.
Right off the bat, this scribe must report that he was not there, but assistant scribes were assigned to gather names — one OF for the early birds and one OF for the late arrivers. When this happens and the appointed scribes do not accrue much information, this scribe is forced to go to his little red, or black, or blue book and look up old notes on conversations that were deemed too racy, too redundant, or, in this scribe’s opinion, not too interesting.
Sometimes, the problem is too many notes (all good) but they would fill half a page of the paper if this scribe used them all. That would make the OFs rather boring, so this scribe eliminates some of the varied conversations.
Occasionally, the OFs talk about upstate-downstate and how there is such a large difference in the two sections of the same state. In the all-knowing Times Union (ooh, my cheek hurts) there was an article of a movement afoot about having two New Yorks. Wow! What a novel idea.
This has been mentioned on and off for many years, and quite often by the Old Men of the Mountain. The OFs, as a rule, when discussing this issue, use Route 84 as the cutoff point. The TU mentioned Westchester County as the cutoff point. The OFs feel there is more money in 10 houses in Westchester County than all of Montgomery County, and the OFs think this is also another electric railroad debacle.
The OFs wonder if those in Westchester County, and New York City, and Long Island even know what the rest of the state goes through in the money department. To the OFs, many feel that downstaters think $1,000 is like $10 to those of us above Route 84.
One OF said that many of them have no idea where milk, meat, eggs, and veggies come from. This OF thinks that they imagine it all comes from the grocery store and “they” (downstaters) have no idea how it gets to the store. This OF assumes that many believe the items just sprout on the shelves.
Another OF thinks New York City is nothing but one big sponge that sucks up all the state resources to keep it going, and leaves nothing for those of us upstate.
Another OF took the opposite tack and opined that upstate cannot stand on its own. This OF feels that we need New York City in order to keep the state solvent. For instance, this OF feels there is not enough tax money upstate to support our portion of the state’s transportation department, or the university system, or maintain the Adirondack Park, and support our portion of the State Police. To this OF, the idea of a separate upstate-downstate sounds good, but he doesn’t think it would ever work and he feels confident enough to say it can’t work.
No fancy funerals
The OFs have an undertone conversation that crops up often. This time, it was on the number of people that the OFs know who have passed on in the last few months. It seems the wave of life the OFs are on is beginning to crash upon the shore.
This time, the OFs mentioned the type of funeral they would like, but the cost of dying is like everything else — getting out of hand. Many OFs say, “Just stuff me in a pine box or the crate the fancy coffins come in — that is all I need.”
One OF said, “Me too, and have the funeral from my living room, with family and friends gathering afterwards right in the house.”
Another OG said, “For me, no organ music. Those dirges sound like you are at a funeral.”
To which two OFs in unison said, “You OB, you are at a funeral, and it is yours.”
The OF that started this little part of the conversation said, “You know what I mean. Play some good old country music, like Hank Williams Jr.’s song ‘There’s a Tear in my Beer,’ or the song by Garth Brooks, ‘Friends in Low Places’; that’s my kind of funeral music.”
Another OG said that he is not going to have a funeral; he is donating his body to science, and bypassing “Digger Odell” altogether.
“Come on,” one OG said. “Science is not going to want your saggy old body; it is all used up. What will they have to experiment with? You are nearly blind; you can’t hear with or without hearing aids; one shoulder, one hip, and two knees are nothing but metal. You might just a well sign yourself over to the scrap yard at the port.”
“Look who’s talking,” the OF answered. “When they place your lard butt in a coffin, they won’t be able to get enough pallbearers under it to pick it up. A hearse will be out of the question for you; they will need a pickup truck and a crane.”
This same topic has been covered before, and will be again, but the scenarios change sometimes from the same OFs. One OF mentioned awhile back that he was going to be cremated, and his ashes put on the manure spreader and spread on the fields of the farm.
Another OF told him that would be a good idea because at least, for once, he would be doing some good.
“Like we just talked about a couple of weeks back,” one OF interjected. “Once we are gone, we won’t have a clue as to what goes on. We will be gone. The family may join in the funeral one-upsmanship, just like weddings, no matter what we want.”
“I can just hear the kids saying, ‘I don’t care what the OF wanted, my dad isn’t going to be buried in a pine box,’ and the kids will go for a casket that costs as much as a car.”
“Not my kids,” one OF said, “I may have a preplanned funeral, and they will take that money, and then wrap me in a sheet, get a shovel, dig a hole and dump me in, and that will be it.”
“Smart kids,” came a remark from a corner of the table.
All the OFs who are still breathing came to the breakfast at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and they were: Henry Whipple, Andy Tinning, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aleseio, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Jim Heiser, Otis Lawyer, Steve Kelly, John Rossmann, Bill Krause, Jim Rissacher, Don Woods, Ted Willsey, Harold Guest, Jack Norray, Ken Hughes, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Garry Porter, Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, and not me — but I am still breathing.