This Tuesday, Aug. 27, was the day to shuffle off to Rensselaerville, and it wasn't raining or snowing, but there was elevation fog in spots, which maintained the weather conditions for the ride to the Hilltown Café in the hills of Rensselaerville. The OFs are sure the weather is saved just for the Tuesday when it is the Old Men of the Mountain’s turn to attack the Hilltown Café.

Tuesday morning, the OFs were talking about cows getting drunk on apples. Some of the OFs had the same experience and it is when cows eat lots of apples that have some degree of rottenness, and alcohol is already forming in the apple. One OF told how his father told the OF and his brothers (who were YFs at the time) to clear the orchard of the fallen apples because he was going to pasture the cows there.

Reasonable request — so the YFs went at it. The OF said they had quite a collection of rag bags on a wagon to put the apples in. The YFs filled rag bag after rag bag and dragged them to the stone-wall fence that separated the orchard from the farm road that went down to the creek and fields out back, and then they set these bags on the other side of the fence.

The cows were then let into the orchard — but did they graze on the grass?  No! 

These cows went right to the stone-wall fence and ate apples out of the rag bags like eating grain at the manger. When the cows were brought into the barnyard to be milked, they were drunk out of their minds, because the apples had a chance to ferment in the rag bags and were just about pre-apple jack.

The mooing was not just moo, but moOOooOO..Ooooo; then they would start over and most of them were doing the same thing, mooing like some animal sing-along.

The lead cow would walk up to the barn door, and not go in the barn; it would stagger around and try again. The other cows would just wobble from side to side and wait for the lead cow to go in, and still it did not.

The Yfs’ father was going nuts, hollering at the cows, hollering at the kids, then hollering at the cows again. Finally, one cow went through the door but it wasn't the lead cow. The other cows followed but, once in the barn, they were confused as to which was their stanchion and so they just milled around inside the barn, pooping all over the place with runny, awful smelling excrement.

There were a couple of pluses to this, the cow barn was in need of being white-washed anyway, and the bedding straw was a couple of days old, because the cows had no intention of using the gutter.

Once the cows were in the stanchions and milking began, another experience started.  The cows never stopped swishing their manure-soaked tails, and getting swatted in the back and face with one of these things is no fun. 

The milk had a weird aroma. It was three days before the milk could be shipped.

The OF said that, as YFs, they did what their father told them to do; he never told them what to do with the apples once they were in the bags and out of the orchard.

Another OF had the same experience but not quite to the same degree. Their cows ate the apples off the ground and the ones that again were starting to rot were ready to go into pre-applejack so the cows became a little tipsy and were laying down under the trees with stupid looks on their faces.

Making applejack

A couple of OFs mentioned that they have their cider presses ready to roll and then they will actually press cider as the apples become ready. One has an old wooden press, and the other has a more modern stainless-steel press.

Other OFs could remember pressing cider with the old wooden ones and a large hand crank that drove a screw to press the apples. The apples that got the cows drunk with the pre-applejack led to stories of the real stuff.

One OF told the story of making applejack, and he made it by leaving the cider in the keg until it froze solid. Only it doesn't freeze solid. As it keeps freezing, the alcohol content keeps increasing and that doesn't freeze.

The keg had a copper tube going to the center that had screw caps on it.  One cap was on the outside of the keg and one on the inside so that no fluid would get in the tube. When the keg was sufficiently frozen, the plugs were unscrewed and out came applejack. Proof content of the alcohol is anybody’s guess, only whatever alcohol content it was, that applejack was potent.

Some OFs used the skimming process where the ice on top was skimmed off and the jack would freeze again. The skimming was done until how much ice was formed on the top led to what the alcohol content might be.  The more ice, the lower the alcohol content.

The brother of one OF was building a new house up on the side of a hill with quite a drive going up to where the house was being built. When they were pouring the foundation for the house and the pour was finished, the OF’s brother invited the last concrete truck driver in for a break before he went back to the plant. The OF said his brother offered the truck driver a sip of his homemade applejack. (The tube to the center of the keg-type applejack is how it was made.) By the way, applejack looks like crystal-clear water.

The OF said his sister-in-law said she didn't think this was a good idea, but the OF’s brother said, “Hey, just a spoonful won't hurt.”

The truck driver took the spoonful and commented on how smooth and good it was and asked if he could have another sip. The OF’s brother got a glass and gave the driver a quarter of a glass full, and the driver sat at the table and slowly drank the applejack as they just sat around the table and talked about the job. The truck driver then said he thought he should be getting back and went to get up and found he couldn't move.

Applejack has that way of sneaking up on the drinker. The concrete-truck driver forced his way up by pushing on the table so hard it almost flipped, then he stumbled, semi-walked, and finally crawled his way to the truck.

The OF’s brother said he should wait awhile before heading out. All the while, the OF’s sister-in-law was jawing at them both, with a whole bunch of “I told you so's” and “You are going to get the man killed.”

The truck driver never made it down the driveway; he drove the truck off the side of the driveway and it rolled over, wheels in the air. The driver was not hurt because the whole event happened in slow motion.

The concrete company had to send out a huge wrecker to right the truck, which really wasn't hurt because, once it was back on its wheels, they were able to drive it back to the plant, but not with the truck driver who delivered the load of concrete.  He still had trouble standing up.

To top it off, the OF said his brother said the tow truck operator said, “I want some of what he had.”

The sister-in-law threw up her hands and went back in the house. 

This happened all because of a simple little glass of applejack. An apple a day will keep the doctor away, but the OFs said three or four bags of apples squeezed and fermented and nothing added, just apples, will bring the doctor in a hurry. Or worse yet, even only halfway to jack can cause the farmer to lose three or four days pay from the milk check.

Other topics

Other topics of the day were Christmas gifts, and kids, and how hard it is to break traditions once the kids get older.

Talk then resumed around Lyme disease (again) and also retirements out the window when the recession hit in the 1980s; New York State, and local taxes; and legislators who just don't care, because if a homeowner gets ticked and says he will move out of the state, someone will buy his house and nothing changes, so the legislators say “So what, go.”

Plus other topics, like always, and those OMOTM who traveled to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville to participate in these conversations were: (There are so many names here that it could be the column by itself) Bob Benac, Jack Benac, Herb Swabota, Art Frament, Roger Fairchild, Jay Taylor, Bill Krause, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Ken Hughes, Steve McDonald , Duane Wagenbaugh, Bob Lassome, Rich Donnelly, Joe Lobier, Ted Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jim Rissacher, and me.

Location:

Ah Tuesday morning, and a beautiful start to a beautiful day on Aug. 20, at least in the little corner of this planet that the Old Men of the Mountain call home. The OFs can imagine there are parts of this sphere where it wasn't quite so nice to wake up on Tuesday morning.

However, whatever it is, wherever it is, the OMOTM met at the Home Front Café in Altamont and covered many topics — fishing being one of them.

Not all the OFs fish but some do, and, just like any hobby, fishing is great for those who are retired; also like any hobby it costs a few bucks, one of which is the time and gas to get to the spot where it is legal to drown worms.

Listening to these OFs talk, one realizes that where they fish in some of these streams and lakes require overnights (and then some) especially those that chase to Pulaski to fish for salmon in the Salmon River.

Then there are the OFs who trudge off to far regions of the country to fish. They travel to Alaska, or go the oceans, or cast upon the Great Lakes, and they go to Florida for the tarpon.

This last mentioned fish is considered one of the great saltwater fishes, not only because of their size, but also because of their fighting spirit when hooked; they are very strong, making spectacular leaps into the air.  These fish are very bony and inedible so fishing for them is usually catch and release.

In many cases, this is not a chump-change hobby. Just like a golfer has the expense of clubs, greens fees, and sometimes memberships when pursing his hobby, the fishermen need all their gear, and sometimes a boat.

At the breakfast Tuesday morning, the OFs were talking about where to fish — what streams, ponds, and reservoirs had the best spots. This also included what permits were required to fish where. To listen to them and the knowledge the OFs had on all the requirements to fish was somewhat like listening to lawyers prepare a case.

This is what makes a hobby a hobby. The OFs’ minds are active, the OFs’ bodies are moving, and time is not stagnant.  For many of these hobbies, the OFs are outdoors in all kinds of weather, except maybe golf.

The odd part about this is that some of the OFs participate in all of these hobbies. Some have to hurry home from their golf game to get ready to go fishing, or hunting.

The OFs said that golf is their wuss sport.  If it starts to rain, the OFs run to the clubhouse.

“Well,” one OF said, “when it is really raining hard, we get on our carts and race to the clubhouse so we can spend more time at the 19th hole.”

According to the OFs, fishing in a stream is another thing. Fishing in the rain is the best, and many times, to get to where we are headed, we are crawling over logs and through the woods, whereas in golf we ride a cart, on manicured grass, and swing a stick every now and then.

One OG said. “You guys are all talking about reasonably healthy, ambulatory OFs — not all of us can do that.” 

Then another OF said, “Most of us keep busy only we don't call it a ‘hobby.’”

This OF said he was out in his workshop all the time, building something; another said he weaves every day, and others did other things that all took time and talent but they never called these hobbies.

“I guess most of us are into something and maybe more than one something — my real hobby is coming to the breakfast and associating with all you OFs. No, that is not a hobby; that is a chore,” the OF said

 “One thing I know,” he continued, “is that, no matter what your hobby is, or how old or young you are, to me, hobbies are a major contributor to the nation’s economy.”

The lure of auctions

What is the lure of auctions? One OF was telling about going to an auction and bidding on stuff he didn't need, or want but it was the challenge of the bid.

This OF said he wound up with a collection of farm equipment that went for next to nothing. The OF has about 13 acres and has enough farm equipment now to work 500 acres.

The major problem was going home and telling his wife that there is going to be a tractor here with a baler behind it but don't worry, it is ours, along with a hay bind, a corn planter, etc. etc. etc.

Don't let this OF go to England; he would probably come home with the crown jewels.

Is this a hobby? The OF said the auctioneer started out at $500, and then went backwards to get an opening bid, and when he got down to $100, or $50, the bidding started. Someone bid $50, and this OG said $55; then he looked around and noticed the bidding had stopped and he now owned whatever it was. 

“Maybe I was the only one there with money,” he mused.

Color comes, Old Men go

There is just a hint of color on the trees and some of the OFs have said their goodbyes — they are already off to their winter hide-a-ways.

These OGs are missing the best part of the year. Warm days, cool nights, and nice travel weather for day travel to places like Manchester, Vt.; or to take a ride on the Erie Canal; travel out to the wine country; or go to Horseheads, N.Y. and take a ride in a sailplane.

Most of these can be done in a day, and the kids will be in school and out of the way. Then the OFs can escape to their winter homes.

The OFs who made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont, and who considered it their hobby trip of the day were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Jay Taylor, Art Frament, Roger Fairchild, Herb Sowabta, Bob Benac, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Dave Williams, William Bartholomew, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Ken Hughes, Henry Witt, Duane Wagenbaugh, Bob Lassome, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey,  Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Restaurant in Princetown on Tuesday, Aug. 13, to have their weekly day or morning out. This scribe was not in attendance because of his once-a-year legal excuse; however, there was no assistant scribe in attendance so there will be no names at the bottom of this report.

In checking with a couple of OFs who were at the breakfast, the consensus of opinion was that the regular group of OFs was there. So, if any OFs tell those at home they were at the breakfast, they probably were.

Because this scribe was unable to listen in on current conversation (duh), this scribe will refer to his notes from previous breakfasts and clear out some conversations that took place at these earlier breakfasts — and there are enough of those notes left unreported, and some probably never will be; it is a family paper after all.

Bird seeks a larger house

Last week, we discussed the change of critters in the areas where many of the OFs live. This report is on strange critters that get into the house. Birds, bats, and snakes are some of the more off beat while mice and squirrels are more common trespassers.

One OF said he and his wife were coming home one evening and opened the back door to go in and a bird flew right by their shoulders and into the house. The OF said the bird started flying around the kitchen and the bird looked like it was just a sparrow of some sort. The OF and his wife tried to chase the bird out by leaving the door open and shooing the bird.

However, that tactic did not work

The OF said the bird made a couple of loops around the kitchen, ignoring the open door, and then it flew down the hall and managed to find its way up the stairs to the OF’s bedroom. The next plan was to close the bedroom door, open the windows, and again try to shoo it out the windows. This strategy did not work any better than the kitchen plan.

After quite awhile of this nonsense, the bird was getting a little tired and would occasionally rest on the top of the headboard of the bed.

The OF said a couple of times he tried to cautiously catch it but, as he got a few feet away from that group of flying feathers, it would take off so the OF and his wife would start flipping the pillow cases to get the thing to go out the window. No dice.

Then finally, huffing and puffing, the bird lit again on the headboard and the OF was able to catch it. He gently carried it to the window and let it go.

The dumb bird made a complete "U" turn and flew back into the bedroom through the window, past the OF, and the chase started all over. Once again, the OF was able to catch the bird and again he carried it to the window very carefully and let it go.

This bird must have had a mental problem because the OF said it made the same "U" turn and was back in the house.

The OF said that the bird did a few more loops around and he finally caught it but this time the OF said he took and held onto it like a baseball and he then went to the window and threw that feathered thing like he was throwing from center field to home plate.

This time, the bird made a few flips in the air before it got its wings together so it could fly, and by that time the wife had slammed the window shut, while the OF ran and shut the other window.

The bird flew back towards the closed window, the OF said, and made a couple of fly-bys, then took off. They haven't seen it since, or so they think, the OF said because he has so many of that type of bird flying around they don’t know any of them by name, and wouldn't be able to pick from a line-up the one that decided it wanted a larger bird house.

Going batty

Many places have their problems with bats, but another OF had a different kind of bat problem. The OF has a wood-burning stove in the living room and, at this particular time, the stainless-steel chimney had a regular cap on it.

One day, his wife said she heard something like a squeaking sound coming from the stove. The OF listened but he did not hear anything.

The next day, the OF said to the wife that he heard a rustling sound coming from the stove, and this time she heard it, too. The OF said he opened the fill door to the wood stove to see what was going on and a bat flew past his shoulder.

The bat was panicked; it was covered with ashes and soot, which trailed behind this swooshing bat like the contrail of an airplane.

Panic now reigned everywhere — panicked bat, panicked wife screaming and running into the bathroom and closing the door, and one confused OF.  

Trying to catch bats on the fly with their super-sensitive radar is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. The OF said he decided to open the door and just watch and see if the bat would find its way out.

The bat was much smarter than the bird and eventually did find the open door and was gone.  Oh, the OF said, there is now a chimney cap with a screen in it on top of that stack.

There is another bat story that would take a whole column to report on so we will save that for another time.

Those OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner/Restaurant in Princetown is anybody’s guess, _______ _______ ______; you can fill in the blanks because this scribe wasn't there so this time it is “and not me."

Location:

On Tuesday, Aug. 6, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner, and the OFs filled up the back room. In the good ole summer time, our numbers are growing, but in the throes of winter the OMOTM group is smaller, and understandably so.

It is early August and already the OFs reported seeing one tree turning color.  One OF said it is not turning color — it is just one stressed-out tree. Then someone else said he thinks, because of the wet spring this year, the trees are all done, and the fall color will be early this year. 

These hardworking trees need to take a break from all that photosynthesizing. When leaves change color from green to yellow, bright orange, or red, you'll know that trees are beginning their long winter's rest.

A healthy portion of the OFs are members of the Berne Masons, and they did a lot for our recent event concerning the C-130 plane that is often seen in the Hilltowns. Now these OFs are involved with the history of the Hilltowns, and who else would know the history of the Hilltowns other than those who have lived here 80 years or so and have seen things go from horse and buggy to jet planes and men on the moon, to talking picture shows.

My goodness!  The wonders the OFs have seen.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, these Berne OFs are going to be part of a History of Berne Festival and the OFs who come to our Tuesday breakfasts, and who are Masons, along with other Masons are going to put on a breakfast at the Masons’ Lodge in Berne. This is another open-to-the-public event; all are welcome to come and see what else will be going on in Berne.

Wondrous happenings

From breakfast to breakfast, it seems like not much happens, then, as the OFs start talking, we realize that quite often a lot really does happen in those seven days from one week till the next.

We have one OF who is building a new home, and on some Tuesdays he brings in a progress report, complete with pictures on his phone. Another OF is planning a trip, and still another is planning a major life move.

The OFs are conditioned to watching a particular group of OFs arrive at the breakfast, and we know who they are as soon as their vehicles pulls up.  Sometimes we see a different automobile and then all of a sudden the same group starts piling out of a different vehicle driven by the same OF.  This denotes another change.

Kids move, grandkids and great-grandkids are born. The days between breakfasts are not stagnant because wondrous things are happening all the time.

Where are the bugs?

The OFs talked about how few bugs are around this year. It used to be that, when leaving a light on by the porch door, one would attract all kinds of millers, moths, and flying insects. This year, the OFs are saying, “Where are they?  The bugs are not here and it’s possible to get in the house in the evening with the light on and have to deal with only a few nasty flying things.”

There are a lot fewer swallows chasing what few bugs are around, one OF noticed.  The same with the size of the robin flocks. When this OF used to see 20 to 30 robins in a group, now he is seeing only 10 or so.

Then there is the snake.  One OF said he has not seen a snake around his house in two years; some said they have seen a few but nowhere near what they used to see.

Where are they? Where are birds? One OF wondered out loud, could it still be Irene, and Lee.

This scribe offered that it could be that pesticide use has caught up with us, and another OF said it may just be a local thing, maybe all these critters have moved somewhere else.

One thing we do have on the Hill, at least in the northeast corner of Schoharie County and southwest corner of Albany County, is rabbits — we do have rabbits.

Changing landscape

This conversation prompted this scribe to e-mail one of his many nephews.  This particular nephew is a professor at Keuka College, which is located on the shores of Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York.

This nephew’s doctorate was presented in the area of the OFs questionings. Taken from his reply are some answers to the OFs’ queries and wonderings. The OFs did not take actual notes, but did take notice, and were using recollection of their observations.

The professor said, “I wish more people took notes on changing habitats.” A lot can change in 80 years.

He goes on to say, “The landscape has changed dramatically since the OFs were young.” (And, boy, has it, especially in the Hilltowns where many of the small farms have disappeared and the grazing land and pastures have turned into brush and wood lots.) “There are more trees and taller trees, which generates a different composition than 50 years ago. That change has brought a change to the critters that live in it.”

Continuing with his reply, he suggests that pesticides in the smaller “critters” have had some effect, and he suggests that there are similar reasons, all of which are related to people, knowingly, or otherwise, changing the environment to the detriment of the animals in it.

“These are too many and too common to list but certainly could be part of the problem,” he said.

He stated the OMOTM might recognize the increase in other animal populations, such as bear, moose, and porcupine that were not around 20 years ago, like they are now. Ravens are breeding all over the state, and some other animals have increased in abundance, all due to the changing landscape.

In the end, Professor Brown also suspects the general abused conditions of the environment have not changed that dramatically in the past few years, it is just that the OMOTM are starting to catch up with it. This change is natural due do plant succession from field to brush, from brush to forests, and therefore the critters are going to change with it.   

Guys and gals and implanted chips

The next topic (really not next because these things are chosen at random; sometimes this scribe has trouble reading his notes) was on driving. Driving is a common discussion with this group, but this conversation was about the accident that was on the news recently, and the driver had 10 or so violations, and his license was revoked.

One OF said revoking and taking away a license doesn't mean a thing to a lot of people; they will just hop in another car and take off, and, if they get caught again (driving without a license), they will do the same thing. We have to do more than that.”

“Well,” one OG said, “We can't lock them all up — we won't have enough cells to hold them all.”

One OF said, “All cars should have a chip in it, and it would be activated when the offender would have a corresponding chip implanted in his shoulder so that, once the car detects that chip, it won't start.”

Another said, “That won't work, the guy will just go and have the chip removed from his shoulder.”

Then there was a response from the original OF who suggested the idea, and this OF said the chip could also be programmed to notify the issuing police department that the chip has been tampered with and the cops can go and round him up again.

Then from nowhere came this statement, “You guys are saying guys all the time.  Are guys the only ones driving without a license?  Not on your life — the gals are just as guilty.”

That led to another discussion on guys being all inclusive — kind of genderless, so to speak. So the OFs were off on a completely different tangent.

Those OFs that made it to the Duanesburg Diner, in Duanesburg, and making us guys genderless, like “youse guys better clean up your act,” were: Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Krause, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Harold Guest, Lou Schenck, Art Frament, Herb Swabota, Jay Taylor, Roger Fairchild, Gary Porter, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Ken Hughes, Henry Witt, Duncan Bellinger, (with guest Alex Cipperly) Frank Pauli, Don Moser, John Rossmann, Bob Giebitz, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagenbaugh, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Gerry Cartier, Harold Grippen, and me.

The day of July 30, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Blue Star Café in Schoharie. It might be the weather, but many of the OFs are getting up earlier, and earlier.

As mentioned before, the original meeting time was 9 a.m. or so. Then, as the group grew larger, more of the OFs had things to do other than lay in bed and go to eat in the middle of the morning, so some OGs started coming earlier so they could get things done.

Now it almost seems that some should have keys to the restaurants so they can open it up and at least get the coffee ready.

This is a good thing!

It shows the OFs are out and about with projects to get done, and not rocking-chair bound. However, some of the OFs do show up not shaven, and look like they just tumbled out of bed, met their ride, and made it to the breakfast. This scribe wonders how many of the OFs are going to crawl back in bed when they get home from the breakfast.

What’s in a name?

Many parents agonize over what to name their kids. The parents, and their grandparents interfere; friends make suggestions. The new parents purchase books on names.

Some parents make sure the initials don't come up with something really screwy, or obscene. Most of the OFs have gone through this (as did their parents for them), trying to get the name right.

One OF mentioned that names can affect a person into adulthood and beyond; some names are a hindrance for getting ahead in life no matter how smart or talented the kid is. Then there is always the pressure to name them after Uncle Charlie, or Aunt Sarah.

One OF said he has two friends that changed their names for just that reason. The parents of these two tried to be too cute and hung a moniker on one of them that plagued him all through school.

This man said he changed his name as soon as he was legally able to do so. To get away from these memories, he joined the military. Now that his name was legally changed, everything had his new name on it and that is how everyone knew him. His life changed immediately and for the better.

One OF mentioned that he was in the third grade before he knew his name was John, and not Jack.

The names reported on the bottom of this little report carries some OFs’ names that, if you went to look them up in the phone book by the name listed, you would never find them, but that is the name they go by and people know them.

Another OF said that, when he was young, all he knew was the name his grandparents called him, and subsequently his own parents, and, when he went to school, the teacher called him by his real name and he did not answer because he thought it was somebody else. After all the names were called he told the teacher she didn't call him.

The teacher then asked him, “What is your name?”

He told her the name he went by and was used to; the teacher put two and two together and never called him by his real name again. Good for her.

Another group of OFs were talking about the exploits of a common friend and it was assumed that maybe they were talking about two different people.  However, once the conversation was sorted out, it turned out they were talking about the same person after all.  The person in question had one name that was given as a first name, but he went by his second name.

Yet another OF has a relative that has the real name of “Hugh,” but no one used that name; they used his middle name. When this young lad went to school, again the teacher called him by his given name “Hugh,” and at first the young man did not know who she was talking to. (Similar to the above scenario.)

But this teacher continued to call him Hugh, enough so that the kid was not too happy about going to school. When the mother noticed this reluctance to go to school, she asked him why.

The little boy said, "That teacher won't call me by my name she keeps calling me ‘Few’.”

So his Mom went and had a talk with the teacher, but by that time the kid had decided that "Few" was OK and when his mother told him she had a talk with the teacher, he told her, “That's OK, because I told the teacher it was OK to call me "Few" if she wanted to.” 

One OG said, “How about people with only one name? Look at Liberace or Cher, and a whole wagonload of others.”

This prompted the scribe to look these two up, and with a name like Wladziu Valentino Liberace or Cherilyn Sarkisian, the scribe might also have decided to go with only one name.

One OG mentioned that, when he was younger, he didn't mind being called Johnny, but, when he got older and in the service, he hated being called Johnny, and wanted to be called John.

Another OF said that happens a lot — Ron and Ronnie, Sam and Sammy, Ted and Teddy. To this OF, a “y” sound at the end of your name sounds like people are calling the cat.

Still another OG said, “That’s not so bad. How about Johnny Carson or Sammy Sosa? Some even called President Regan ‘Ronnie’.”

Then there are nicknames.

One OG said, “For the most part, we have no control over that. The use of initials is something else we have no control over.”

TJ, and BJ, and JB, are some friends of his and now this OF has to think hard to remember what their real names are. It is a wonder anyone can keep track of us.

Now one practical OG had to chime in, “No matter what we call ourselves, or what other people call us, the IRS will find us no matter what we are called.”

Fair time

It is fair time, and the OFs were talking about the fairs in the area — like the Sunshine Fair going on right now in Cobleskill. The problem is that this fair and the Saratoga fair are a little early for produce to be shown because much of it isn't ready yet.

The OFs say the term “country” has gone out of a few of the fairs. Cobleskill is the closest fair that still caters to farmers.

It is the opinion of the OFs the Altamont fair, located in Albany County, is definitely not farm friendly.  The OFs feel that those in charge seem to want to turn all the land in the county into housing developments, and they are doing their best to make it hard on farmers who will eventually give up and leave the farm and then the developers can take over.

Many of the OFs now go to the fair to eat grease. Fair time equates to the stomach growling and rumbling to the beat of "feed me grease, feed me grease," and it keeps doing this until it is satisfied with a fair-made sausage and pepper sandwich, followed with fried dough and a Coke.

One OF said he goes and spends a ton of money to get into the fair, and then he spends twice as much on a sausage-and-pepper sandwich (which has grease running out of it and down his elbows) as it is worth, and then asks himself, “Am I having fun now?”  He answers himself, “Well, now it is a habit, but 10 years ago it would have been loads of fun, and back then I wouldn't need the Prevacid.”

Those OFs who made it to the Blue Star Café in Schoharie, and not eating sausage and peppers for breakfast, were: Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, (and me) with our guests ( Art Williams, Hugh Williams, Jarrett Williams), Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Glenn Paterson, Otis Lawyer, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Jay Taylor, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Herb Swabota, Bill Krause, Ken Hughes, Don Moser, Lou Schenck, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Don Woods, Duncan Bellinger, Duane Wagenbaugh, Bob Lassome, Rich Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Gerry Chartier,  and Steve McDermott.

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