— Photo by John R. Williams

The Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville shares a building with the post office.

Tuesday, Nov. 17, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville.

The OFs enjoy coming to the Hilltown Café and for some it is a hike, and for some it is just on top of the hill. The car pools are as much fun as the breakfasts, and the way the restaurant rotation works out most of the OFs have short rides, then medium rides, and then longer rides. It is only fair, Magee.

One OF told about his information, which he has garnered from research, on the genealogy of his family tree. The OF said what came up in his trek down the family path can be quite interesting at times when the paths of history comes up along with the family research.

Another OF is a member of a church that performs this research for many people.  This information can be done for anyone; it is not necessary to be a member of this church. According to this OF, the church’s collection and resources for genealogy is one of the best sites for obtaining information on a particular family in the country.

The first OF related that he has traced his mother’s side of the family back to a Celtic tribe in Ireland and there he thinks he has run into a dead end because going back this far (especially Celtic tribes) just staying alive was more important than keeping records of who was who.

Magnetic phone poles?

The OFs were making an observation that many people have made. The OFs think that telephone poles have magnetic properties. Many stories were told of vehicles of all sorts running into telephone poles.

One OF said that were he lives the road is as straight as a string and along the road are telephone poles; nothing in between them except grass and brush, there isn’t even a deep ditch or culvert.

“Yet,” the OF said, “inevitably, vehicles will zip down this road and smack a pole, from ATVs to cars, to trucks, to motorcycles.  The only thing that has not whacked a pole is a tractor and wagon. It’s like the poles have arms and hands.

“If the pole wants a little excitement, it just reaches out and grabs whatever is going by. It’s like trying to throw a small stone through a chain-link fence; invariably, the stone will hit a wire while the space between the wires is 10 times the size of the stone. Go figure.”

Green guy

One of the OFs has a completely electric car, which this OMOTM report has written about before. That report told a lot about the vehicle and how far it will go on a charge, etc.

However, on Tuesday, the OFs learned that not only is the car totally electric but at home the OF has solar panels on his roof. The OF says that with these panels he charges the car for free.

With this little setup, and the price of gas, the OF is going have the car and panels paid for faster that you can blow your nose. By the time the hanky is placed back in the pocket, the system belongs completely to the OF — no more payments.

Built to last

The subject comes up quite often about the OFs’ homes, and the home repair — the discussion can be on a minor or major project underway. Tuesday morning, the conversation was on the construction of some of their older homes, especially when really delving in and attempting a modernization or adding a room, or bathroom.

What the OFs will find when they begin tearing down a wall that has been there 100 years or better, can be anything: horsehair plaster that clings to every lathe, spacing that is anything other than 16 inches on center, studs that can be a full 2x4, to even 3x4 or 4x4, or anything close was OK.

They might find studs that can be fish-plated if they weren’t long enough to reach the plates or maybe one nail holding a board, or overkill with 10 nails. They may find completely debarked logs for floor joists at random spacing. These homes are still standing, functioning as they should.

The newer homes, the OFs feel, will not last anywhere near the time this old, basically haphazard, type of construction has proven it will. One OF mentioned that he lives across from a new home with new materials and, within six months, they had to do extensive repairs. Not remodels — repairs.

“But,” one OF said, “what one of us is going to be around in a hundred years to see what these newer homes, with the newer materials will be like?”

Another OF said, “Any home, new or old, has to be properly maintained or it won’t last 30 years.”

A third OF said he would like to live long enough to see homes constructed out of composite materials like those used in airplanes. This OF said, when he goes to build something that requires 2x4s, most of them could be strung with string and used as a bow for a giant’s bow and arrow.

Someday, this scribe mused, homes will be constructed with walls and roofs out of composites, with solar collectors built right in and all directed to a central WiFi system so no wires will be required.  These homes will be heated with microwaves, and cooking and hot water also completed with microwaves. Each home will be its own energy source.

Can happen, this scribe thinks. All waste material will be microwaved and turned to vapor or dust. Can happen. There are probably better ideas out there right now by smarter people than this scribe.

Those OFs who left their humble abodes (no matter how old these abodes are) and some OFs who are still living in tents, made it to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, and hitched their horses and wagons to the hitching post, were: Miner Stevens, Dave Williams, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Lou Schenck, Jim Heiser, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jack Norray, Wayne Gaul, Jim Rissacher, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.


Not only the Old Men of the Mountain can’t beat this weather with a stick we are having in the Northeast, but everyone can get on the bandwagon and not beat this weather with a stick. On Nov. 3, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown.

This scribe will continue about the weather because getting out of the vehicle in the parking lot of the Chuck Wagon’s parking lot was surreal. The sunrise, the feel in the air, did not seem right; this scribe felt he was someplace else; this is November?

The OFs gave the waitress at the Chuck Wagon a break because there were not many OFs at the breakfast.

One has pneumonia but is now on the upside; four have just returned from Las Vegas; one is in Aruba; three were on the wrong time, and just couldn’t get up, so the drivers went on, leaving them home; two were working the polls; one was running for election and was working hard; one was on a trip with the kids; and one was at the doctor’s office after a tick decided this OF was a good place to call home.

As is often mentioned the OFs are old but do have places to go, people to see, and things to do. Only at the breakfast are most of the OFs sedentary.

Where have all the earwigs gone?

A new topic for the OFs at the breakfast was bugs.

Not only have the OFs noticed a decline in wildlife (like deer, rabbits, raccoons, porcupines, turkeys, and some birds and bats), the OFs have noticed that some bugs seem to have vanished, like earwigs.

Fifteen to 20 years ago, the OFs never saw an earwig, let alone knew what that nasty-looking bug was, and then all of a sudden they were here. Turn over a piece of wood, lift up a flowerpot, pick up the water dish for the dog outside and there they were, scurrying all over the place.

Now they seem to have gone for the most part. This year, nary a one. But these, unlike the wild animals, have been replaced with others like the box elder, and the stink bug.

Now where did they come from? The OFs wonder, if they have been here all the time, where have they been hiding? Particularly the stink bug, that thing is aptly named. Squash one of those bugs and you will know it.

Plenty of nuts

This is also a year the OFs notice that many trees have an abundance of fruits and nuts and even pine cones. One OF reported that his oak tree has the lawn so covered with acorns it is like walking on marbles.

Then another OF said that on his walks in the woods he has noticed that under one oak tree it would be like the other OF said, but under one right next to the first tree, practically nothing is there, hardly even one acorn. This OF said he thought this was odd.

The hickory nuts from the hickory trees are also falling from the trees like rain. Hickory nuts are all over the ground like the acorns.

One OF thought it has been a different year. The trees changed color in our area very late, by almost two weeks.

Another OF threw in the comment that the tour buses that bring people to see the color were going to miss it; the leaves would still be green. Now, instead of frost on the pumpkins, the dumb things are still growing.

“That is not entirely true,” one OF said. “We have had a few killing frosts.”

“Yeah, only in the really open areas,” another OF said.

With his plants, he noticed that, if the plants had any kind of protection at all, they are still green, and the grass is still growing.

“We are going to pay for this,” an OF said.

All the OFs thought this OF was right.

Tough jobs

The OFs talked about the current dilemma of being a police officer. One OF thought that the press and most all of the media are presenting the news in such a fashion that it is painting all police officers with the same brush as the few bad ones.

Many people forget, the OFs thought, that police officers deal with the dregs of society day in and day out and are on edge from the time they go to work until they go home. It takes a certain type of person to be a police officer, or to work in a nursing home, or even to work in a children’s hospital where many are dying of cancer and other diseases.

One OF said, “Give me a shovel and let me dig a ditch because I don’t think I could do these other jobs.”

Those OFs who were still around and had the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful beginning of a beautiful day and started it out by heading to the Chuck Wagon in Princetown were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, (whose name was entered incorrectly last week; this was to protect the innocent) Roger Shafer, Henry Whitt, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Harold Guest, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, and me.


On Tuesday, Oct. 20, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie and the way the OMOTM travel to get there is about the only area around here that the trees are still showing off their fall colors.

In the fall, the hunting begins (as we mentioned in last week’s OMOTM report) but some of the OFs reported not seeing as many of the field animals that they have seen in the past

A couple OFs reported that, under one of their barns, a fox had a litter of pups and the OFs would watch these pups come out and play. They also reported that there was both a mom (vixen) and dad (dog) fox that would be around, a regular family.

These OFs also reported that one day a big, ole coon showed up and would pester that den of fox. Papa fox would harass this old coon while the momma fox just stood and watched — she would not go in and help.

The OFs reported that, one day shortly after that coon showed up, there were no more foxes, just the coon. They surmised that this coon had a breakfast, lunch, and dinner of fox. No proof of that — only fur.

The foxes may have scattered because of the coon; however, the OFs don’t know that for sure, but the foxes are gone. These OFs are outdoor OFs and this was just a summation on their part, but the OFs claim big coons can be nasty and it is not a good idea to mess with them.

Many children’s books show raccoons as cute little animals with a black mask around their eyes, and hands that wash their food, but it is not a good idea to have your kids think they can go up and pet one of these animals and they will curl up and purr like a cat.  No-siree-bob, reach out to pet one in the wild and your hand could come back minus a couple of fingers.

Wonders of technology

A few of the OFs who were missing last week had traveled to Maine to get a bite to eat and brought back some pictures on their cell phones for show and tell. As is said over and over, technology is moving so fast it is almost impossible to keep up.

Now just about everyone has a cell phone that will take pictures, videos, and wipe your nose if you have a cold. When interesting events happen while an OF is on a trip, the OF can now let friends and relatives know what is going on in real time whether he is across the street, or with Captain Hook in Never-Never Land.

Thirty years ago, who — except maybe Dick Tracy — would have thought this is the way life would be.

Now the topic turned to discussing the latest technology — drones.  Will the government probably charge a fee and insist people register to own one of these drones?

The OFs say part of the fun of these flying platforms is building them on the kitchen table out of parts you can by at your local hobby store, or Sears, or electronics store (electronics store used to be Radio Shack, one OF added). It is not necessary to go out and buy one.

So if any crackpot wants to raise havoc with a drone he can build at home what good is all that paperwork for guys that want to have one for the fun of it? Like you do with radio-controlled planes, you could purchase the kit and build it at home or buy the parts and do the same thing.

One OF said, “Well, it will generate another governmental bureaucracy and create jobs that will raise taxes and that will insure votes for the ones that vote for all these rules and regulations but for criminal activity these rules won’t mean a thing.”

As the saying goes: You can hoodwink some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all of the time, and you certainly can’t hoodwink the OFs.

One OF thought, if government bodies are going to spend money, they could create better security around airports and governmental buildings and equip the guards with scatterguns and shoot the drones down.

“Hey,” one OF opined, “that is the kind of job I would like — popping those things out of the sky when they are flying where they are not supposed to be.”

Ways of going

The conversation became a little morbid at the end of the breakfast when a few OFs started talking about who would be next to pass away. The OFs were going by physical condition and age.

Really, if the OFs glanced up and down the table, it could be any one of the OFs, including the glancer.

“Then again, when your name is called up yonder, age and physical condition has nothing to do with it,” one OF retorted.

This prompted another OF to say, “Yeah, it does if a ten wheeler is bearing down on me.  I certainly am not in the physical condition to get out of the way, and that is because of my age.”

“Well,” the other OF said, “I am still right, that truck has your name on it, and if it wasn’t the truck, it would be a piano falling from the sky.”

To which another one of the OFs stated that, for him, it would be a bullet fired from the gun of a jealous husband.

“In your dreams,” another OF said. “That scenario would have taken place 40 years ago, not now. The way you are going, your name is written on the bottom of a beer bottle.”

And so it goes.

Those OFs who attended the breakfast at the Your Way Café in Schoharie and one who had to be told where the syrup was when he (not naming a particular name here) had it in his hands were: Harold Guest, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Miner Stevens, George Washburn, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Chuck Aelesio, Joe Ketzer, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jim Rissacher, Duncan Bellinger, Don Wood, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Gerry Chartier, interloper John, Harold Grippen, and me.


On a colorful day, Tuesday, Oct. 13, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café in Schoharie. The drivers of the car pools were at a slight disadvantage because, duh, they had to drive, but the riders had the time to do some real leaf peeping.

There is really no reason for the OFs who live on the Hill (or in the valley for that matter) to travel to Vermont or New Hampshire in order to view fall color and nature at its best, except for the ride. Maybe the OFs who ventured to the coast through the White Mountains of New Hampshire would eventually reach the ocean.

The ocean — now that is different!  Unfortunately locally, where the OFs roam, there is no ocean.

This scribe does not know how true this is but one OF said that an entrepreneurial guy is laminating leaves and selling them.

One OF said the OFs should advertise: Rake your own leaves, five bucks a box. This OF thinks people would do this and purchase boxes of leaves.

This scribe added that this is not original; Joe Gallagher, the weekend guy on WGY, has been advocating this for quite a while. The OFs have to admit that the fall season in the Northeast is unique with the many varieties of hues on the trees and sometimes the same bush will be wearing Joseph’s coat of many colors.

It is fun to notice that the OFs are OFs and they still take rides and trips to view the colors of the season like they have never seen it before.

One OF mentioned he likes this part of fall but it is too short; however, so far this year, it has been a great fall season. Some years, we go from late summer to early winter and skip the fall feeling altogether.

Some OFs thought that fall was a nostalgic time of the year. The OFs said they felt like they had this unexplained empty feeling.

One OF said he just confided in a very good friend that he wanted summer back because there was so much left undone; people unseen; and dreaming dreams, which are still just dreams.  Now he has to wait until spring because, by next fall, he will do the same thing with things undone becoming longer; people not seen now gone; and dreams, well, dreams are dreams, the OF said.

One OF mentioned that, to him, each season has its own aroma. This OF can smell the leaves of fall, the worms of spring, the new-mown hay of summer, and the fresh air of a cold winter’s morning.

“Gone now,” an OF said, “is a fun part of fall, along with Halloween, and Thanksgiving, and that is the raking of leaves and burning them by the roadside — that smell is a thing of the past. We are not supposed to burn leaves now.”

The OF said, “Instead of burning leaves, we burn gasoline in chippers and trucks to pick them up, and cut down trees to make bags to put them in. Doesn’t make sense to me,” the OF said.

Thoughts on hunting

The OFs mentioned that it was the beginning of bow season, and that, at least, is quiet. On opening day of the hunting season, it sounds like World War III is underway on the Hill. By the sounds of some of these things, they must be machine guns.

Unless the hunter is a darn poor shot, maybe two shots should do it, but, when it is pow, pow, pow, one shot right after another, it is a good indication that the hunter has missed the deer. But, if he has hit the deer, the hunter must be trying to make hamburger of the animal before it is dressed.

It is good that hunters do hit the fields and thin out the herd. Not only that, it does put meat on the tables for many of these hunters.

The OF hunters say that this is not cheap meat. All the gear you have to have, plus the travel to where you think the deer are, has to be figured in.

Then one OF said, “And all that beer — that makes for very expensive meat.”

Stewart’s plaza?

The OFs mentioned they have heard that soon Middleburgh will not look like Middleburgh, especially by the school. According to the OFs, Stewart’s has acquired the bank, the dentist office, the chiropractor’s office, and one other building.  These buildings are all coming down and Stewarts is planning on building a Stewart’s “plaza.”

One OF said, “Well, at least the kids won’t have to cross the street now to get to Stewart’s; it will be on the same side of the road and, with no roads to cross at all, the place will be practically on school property.”  Stay tuned.

Forgoing the future

The OFs have mentioned before why we are OFs with ages the OFs never thought they would be, and still having fun. This scribe has covered comments about medicines, food, medical care, and activities.

The topics Tuesday morning that the OFs were covering were geared more to mechanical items like design of homes, and senior apartments with the walk-in showers and tubs, ramps instead of stairs, riding lawnmowers, and now cars that drive themselves.

They like the idea of homes that are now prefabricated, all on one floor, and smaller.  Older couples can still have their own place and basically maintain it, plus the advent of cars that drive themselves will give a sense of freedom that was not around 30 years ago.

The OFs said they are not ready for these homes yet, but they know many that are.  Are they just fooling themselves?

Those OFs who left their three-storied homes and hopped into their standard-shift cars and pickups and drove to the Country Café in Schoharie and had man-sized breakfasts were: Miner Stevens, John Rossmann with his grandson Scott Ciabazttari, Joe Ketezer, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Duncan Bellinger, Bill Krause, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Duane Wagenbaugh, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.


Tuesday, Oct. 6, brought another beautiful sunrise, though the sunrise the day before was more spectacular. The OFs were out taking pictures Monday, and Tuesday morning on the way to Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh it was no different.

The sunrise on Tuesday morning did not hang around in the sky as long as it did yesterday, but there was a little more color on the trees as the OFs rode over the mountain to Mrs. K’s. As the sun clipped the top of the mountains and added its color to the scenery, there were many moments for calendar shots. 

One OF said that, on his computer, he keeps a folder just for sunrises. The OF did not mention sunsets. Another OF has sunrises and sunsets listed in folders also with dates and times when they occurred. As the OFs become older, they appreciate the finer things life has to offer more now than when they were young Fs.

Chickens with horns?

Why does the chicken cross the road? That was not the question of the day but crushing chicken bones was.

One OF just picked up an antique “bone crusher” used to crush up chicken bones to feed back to the chickens. The OFs speculated that it could be used to crush up other bones too.

This is the same OF who has the dehorning cutter. One OF said he didn’t know chickens had horns.

“Yeah, they do,” an OF said, “And you had better watch out for those chickens with horns — they’ll getcha.”

Oh no! No wonder the OFs’ wives don’t want the OFs talking to the grandkids and telling them things like horns on chickens, chocolate milk from brown cows, and how to plant some raw spaghetti to grow spaghetti trees.

Dodging chores

As we have reported before, our suspicions have been confirmed.  One OF came right out and said he is at the breakfast so he can dodge the wife and get out of chores.

This has been suspected for some time and this is why the attendance at the breakfast is so good. This scribe wonders how many OFs use the term “meeting” (which implies they will be doing something important) with their wives when they head out to join us.

The sneaker-and-pipe crowd

A couple of OFs who were familiar with the General Electric Research and Development facility in Niskayuna talked about all the developments that have come out of that place, one being the MRI technology.

They mentioned that there was no such thing as a Friday casual day, as every day was casual day. The OFs mentioned how some came dressed, and how some (when working on something exciting) stayed right at the site day and night.

They had an ambiguous but respectful title for this group called “the sneaker and pipe crowd.” These people developed much of what we use today as routine, especially in the medical field.

Paid for grades

Siena College was discussed, and what a tight-knit group the graduates of that institution are.

One OF mentioned that his son graduated from Siena and going from BKW to the college atmosphere was quite an adjustment for his son. Many kids from small schools are not ready for the college life, and Siena is not that big.

The OF said his son’s grades were not what he expected and related to his son that he would pay for courses where he earned As and Bs but, for the rest, he was on his own. It worked. The studying started and the grades went up.

The kid was not having any of that “I’ll have to pay for it”; he went with “hang it on dad,” There is a lesson here for all us somewhere.

Peerless peach

Sometimes the OFs tell very basic of stories in the most humorous way. This year, the OFs have mentioned how prolific their gardens are, especially mentioning the grape vines and the fruit trees.

There is usually an exception to these stories and this one OF told of his peach tree that produced only one peach. The OF said he watched that single peach develop all year long, then one day last week that peach was on the ground.

The OF said it looked OK to him so he picked it up and ate it. The OF said it was the best peach he ever had.

Another OF said, “No wonder it was so good; it didn’t have any competition.  All that the entire tree had to offer went right into the one peach.”

No surprises

One OF said that his daughter told him that she was planning a surprise birthday party for him and not to tell anyone. Was this so she could do all the planning and the OF wouldn’t take off and go hunting, or take a trip to Timbuktu?

This OF is going off on the next Honor Flight to the war memorial in Washington, D.C. and she probably did not want to prepare two meals, or plan two parties in a row for the same OF. The effort put forth in this would really be redundant for this OF. 

The OFs are wondering who his chaperone will be because this OF is in great shape and he could be some other veteran’s chaperone.  

The OFs were also kidding another OF who is a member of the fire department as one of the fire police. The OFs say he just dons the uniform and goes and blocks roads so he can talk to people in the cars that have to stop.  There is nothing going on and the OF is just flagging them down.

They were kidding him about all the roads that were closed in the Hilltowns, which segued into talking about Pinnacle road with the repairs done and the road just being opened up. The OFs commented how beautiful the view is from Camp Pinnacle.

One OF said, “Yep, just one of many from the Hilltowns, encompassing the Schoharie and Fox Creek valleys.” 

Those OFs who traveled to Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh and made Loretta and Patty happy were: Bill Bartholomew, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Jim Heiser, Mark Traver, Chuck Aelesio, Dave Williams, Glenn Patterson, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, George Gebe, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Roger Chapman, Don Wood, Ted Willsey, Rich Donnelly, Duane Wagenbaugh, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, and me.