On a wet, and rainy (is that really a word) Tuesday, Aug. 11, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs.

The Old Men of the Mountain decided to gather at the Middleburgh Diner, in Middleburgh, on Tuesday, Aug.

The Old Men of the Mountain column most generally is one week behind.

A few days of summer so far, and on Tuesday, July 21, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café in Altamont.

Tuesday, July 7, was almost a summer morning when the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg. It is fun to watch the OFs pile into the restaurant of the week.

For once, this scribe was early enough to see most of the OFs arrive; when the OFs entered the diner, they were greeted by name with the typical, rhetorical comments along with the, “Good Mornings,” and the “Heys.” Faces light up with the well wishes of the morning.

The OFs who garden were in full bloom Tuesday morning — the basic conversation was on how well their gardens are doing. One topic, though, was a little different and that was how the gardeners are now keeping the deer from using their gardens as smorgasbords.

The new way (and the gardeners claim this works) is special lights. One gardener mentioned that his lights are continually changing colors, and another gardener said his lights were flashing lights set at the height that the average deer’s eyes would be.

This noiseless and no-chemical new gardening gizmo sounds like an effective and harmless way to control the problem. Now all the OF gardeners have to do is discourage the rabbits, mice, voles, and moles.

Beef beefs

The OFs segued from gardens and pesticides to organically grown products, especially beef. The OFs said this (organic beef) is very hard to do unless whoever is growing the beef makes their own grain from their own corn, wheat, and other grains that are also organically grown.

One OF said, “Go ahead and eat the chemicals.  How else are we going to supply food for the world without bumper crops? Eating the chemicals will develop a strain of people resistant to the chemical and become stronger because of it. We can’t be afraid of progress.”

“The people of the world are growing exponentially,” another OF said, “And therefore food has to keep pace. More people, less land, means the world is going to have to go up, not spread out. Organic is not going to cut it. Right now, organic is only for the higher income people because it does cost more.”

Boy, there are arguments on both sides!   

Hot potato

The OFs discussed (and to some it is their home away from home) the new location of the Schoharie County jail. All the OFs can agree with the locals that the location currently under discussion gives no consideration to those who will live in the proximity of the jail, and, as one OF said, it is not just a few, but this particular location will affect many homes and people.

There is much vacant land in Schoharie that is out of the floodplain, and there is no rule that says the jail has to be in town or anywhere near it, just someplace in the county. This is a political hot potato according to the OFs, and that potato just came out of the oven.

One OF ventured money and politics will win out over common sense and the will of the people — it always does.

Stable staffers

The OFs noticed that, at most of the restaurants the OFs visit, the staff remains the same year after year. Either the owners are good to work for, or the pay is good. A few of the restaurants do seem to have a rapid turnover, so the OFs think there is a hitch in the git-along at the establishments with the quick turnovers.

The OFs who made it to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg and ate their sausage, bacon, home fries, and eggs with no concern about being organic, were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Chuck Aelesio, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Jack Norray, Joe Loubier, Bob Lassome, Ted Willsey, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Joe Ketzeo, Roger Fairchild, Herb Sawotka, Duncan Bellinger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gil Zabel, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, and me.


On Tuesday, June 30, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the “Your Way Café” in Schoharie with 42 OFs at the breakfast.  It was one of the largest groups of OFs to date.                          

When at church or at a meeting at the Lodge, or Legion, the chatter of friends greeting each other as they gather for the meeting is what it is like at the breakfast. There is one exception, though; no one has to shut up because church is going to start, or the meeting is going to get underway.

The OFs can chatter about this or that until each group decides they have had enough, their bellies are full, and it is time for them to go. There are a few OFs who hang around until it is time for lunch. No one is hollered at, chastised, or criticized; they all have had their say, and everybody is caught up, and they are ready for the day.

Now take 42 OFs chattering away with many of then requiring hearing aids but not wearing them, and it becomes a lot of fun with a lot of laughs because many think they hear what is going on but only get half of it and then they pretend they got it all.

No pity party

Anyone who wants to become encouraged about their physical condition or the problems they are having health-wise should come and watch the OFs enter the restaurants and then try and listen in on their conversation.

Yeah, many are with canes and have their problems, but the OMOTM are not a group of pity partiers. One OF came in chipper and ready to talk and, when entering the restaurant, just mentioned, “Oh, I had a heart attack last week, and was in the hospital, for something else and didn’t even notice that I had one.”

The OFs have many credos — one of which is: If you are lame but can move, get up and get out.

Like on June 30, the OFs talked about the two fellows who escaped from the prison in Dannemora. The OFs are glad that both were not shot.

With at least one able to talk, there will be many holes filled in about how they made their escape and who helped and who didn’t. One OF mentioned that, with this type of information, the book and the movie will be much better.

Another OF said, if the movie is made with a high quality director and actors, he would go to see it, especially if it is shot on location like the movie “Iron Weed.” Many of the OFs have been in that part of the North Country and in the small towns up where it is really upstate.

The OFs were hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, climbing the peaks, bac packing, and especially canoeing the lakes and streams. These are big draws to the North Country. One OF mentioned there are some great places to eat in that part of the state also — nothing fancy, just real food, OMOTM food.

When junk becomes collectible

The OFs who go to flea markets often go not for the fleas but to see how much the junk, i.e., collectibles, they have in their barns is now worth. Some of the OFs go to auctions and antique stores for the same reason.

Much of what the OFs purchased to use years ago is now in antique shops. From lamps, to dishes, to picks and shovels, just about any toy and appliance they bought and kept 60 to 65 years ago is showing up in these places.

One OF said he has seen some of the stuff he has in his shed that he bought for one or two bucks is now worth one- or two-hundred bucks if in good shape.

We have mentioned before that, what some consider junk, someone else may consider collectibles. More than one OF comes home with more items from going to the transfer station (i.e. dump) than what he took from home.

One OF came home with a lawn mower that a guy was throwing away and this OF happened to be there and he asked the owner what was the matter with the mower, since it looked brand new.

The owner said, “Nothing is wrong but it mows too high and won’t go any lower.”

The OF looked at it and saw that the mower deck was as high up as it would go. The OF put it on the trailer and brought it home from the “transfer station” along with some other items he picked up there.  He adjusted the mower down, pulled the rope and away it went.

Hmmmm. What you can find at the dump — er –—transfer station, is all a matter of timing.        

Those OFs who attended the breakfast at the Your Way Café in Schoharie and are each thankful that the wife has not put him in an antique store with a for-sale sign on his forehead, were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Bartholomew, David Williams, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Karl Remmers, Dick Ogsbury, Bob Snyder, Alvin Latham, Jim Heiser, Roger Shafer, Duncan Bellinger, Steve Kelly, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Herb Sawotka,  Joe Ketzko, Gerry Chartier, Don Wood, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Henry Whipple, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Bill Krause, Gerry Irwin, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gil Zabel, Harold Grippen, and me.