Tuesday, ah Tuesday, particularly the Tuesday of Sept. 29, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. That makes sense, if the Middleburgh Diner were in Duanesburg, that would not make too much sense; conversely, if the Duanesburg Diner were in Middleburgh, that wouldn’t make sense either.
However, it could be that way. There are no rules when it comes to names.
The Middleburgh Diner is just one of the diners the OFs have on their roster and it is one with a very high decibel rating. Some of the OFs suggested that the OFs should all learn sign language, or at least how to read lips.
Some of the OFs are pretty good at the reading of lips because the use of hearing aids in noisy situations like restaurants, parties, and public places where everyone is chatting at the same time, is basically of no help. The OFs have developed certain lip-reading skills (particularly when a person is facing them) to augment their diminished hearing capabilities. The OFs aren’t deaf — just a tad hard of hearing.
Then there is the pitch of voices. One OF said he could clearly understand the OF sitting to the left of the OF directly across from him but the OF directly across from him sounded like Charlie Brown “speak” except at times a few words were understandable.
One OF said for some reason his hearing is pretty good except when his wife speaks, then there seems to be a blockage most of the time. However, for some reason, it generally ends the same way, i.e., “shopping” is an audible word, and “give me some money” is another sentence that rings clear in the OF’s ear.
A study in contortions
Watching most of the OFs sit down is a study in contortions. Most of the OFs have their own way to twist and turn to get their butts into the chairs.
Getting up is the reverse, but most of the time the contortions are different. In this case, there is a lot of arm movement to assist in raising the body to an upright position, and any position is good enough as long as the OF is not prone.
What is surprising is how strong furniture really is. Some OFs get their bodies just about six to eight inches from the chair and drop straight down the rest of the way, and the chair holds.
In getting up, the OFs apply an undo amount of pressure on the edge of the tables to take some of the weight off of the OFs’ legs, and the tables don’t tip or buckle under the weight. Truly amazing.
Timothy Murphy remembered
The Saturday of Sept. 26 was beautiful and there was a lot going on in the Hilltowns. Thacher Park had its Fall Festival, Westerlo had its day with a parade and fireworks, and Vroman’s Nose in Middleburg had its hiking festival.
One of the OFs who volunteers his help working on the Long Path (a trail that goes from Fort Lee, New Jersey to the Adirondack State Park) donned a replica of the clothes Timothy Murphy would wear and guided and talked to the people at the Nose and told them about ole Tim.
Timothy Murphy was a Revolutionary War “hero” in Schoharie County. Murphy was the subject of a novel written by John Bricks titled “The Rifleman.”
At Bemis Heights, during the second battle of Saratoga, Timothy Murphy climbed a tree and from 300 yards, in four shots, dispatched British Brigadier General Simon Fraser and Sir Francis Clarke the aide-de-camp to General Burgoyne.
Timothy Murphy rose through the ranks after joining the revolutionary army and was eventually assigned to Daniel Morgan’s riflemen because of his marksmanship. There is a monument to him in the cemetery in Middleburgh.
Hooked on fishing
We have some OFs who fish for salmon; some go up to Pulaski, and others who go to Mexico Point.
The OFs were covering fishing in that area of New York State and discussing when is a good time to go. When the fish are spawning is not the time. They are just going up the rivers to lay their eggs and die.
The OFs said this was not good eating fish. Maybe for us, but the animals might not mind.
Some of the OFs take fishing excursions out on the lake and fish for salmon on the big water. A chuckle for the OFs was the signs in the motel rooms about no waders in the rooms, and no cleaning fish in the tub or sinks.
Many of the motels have a garage, or shed, or some kind of building out back where that can be done, or some motels will even do it for the OFs.
We are all different
Just listening to the OFs talk about their hobbies or extracurricular activities is like sitting in a classroom with each small group of OFs having their conversation going on with the five or six other OFs who are within earshot and discussing current events, old times, their interests, and hobbies.
Rarely do the OFs discuss diets, but a brief comment was made on dieting. The gist of the comments was there is no such thing as a diet.
There are many, many diets and there is not one diet that fits all people. So if Joe Blow tells the OF to eat this or that so they will lose weight, it may not happen.
The OF may eat this or that and put on weight. The OFs say we are all different, and that is what makes us who we are.
Now, if some were to tell the OFs a sure-fire way to get along with the wife, kids, and grandkids ,the OFs would be all ears and take it to heart.
Those OFs attending the breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner located where it belongs in Middleburgh, New York were: Bill Bartholomew, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, George Washburn, George Gebe, Karl Remmers, Bob Snyder, Frank Pauli, Dave Williams, Don Wood, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Jim Heiser, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Duncan Bellinger, Joe Bender, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jim Rissacher, Rich Donnelly, Duane Wagenbaugh, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Gerry Cartier, Harold Grippen, and me.
On Sept. 22, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville.
The OFs can’t complain about the weather this late in the year. Getting the home ready for winter for most of the OFs is moving right along.
Many of the woodsheds are full and ready for whatever winter has in store. Judging by the goldenrod, the wild apples, the pinecones, and other natural winter indicators, we may be in for a winner of a winter, this winter. The OFs hope it is not like last winter.
The OFs have talked about this a little while ago but now it is more emphatic: “DO NOT” sign up for or get Windows Ten. The thing is a disaster.
One OF says they can advertise all they want but this OF thinks Microsoft should be challenged for false advertising. This OF continued that even computer engineers have problems figuring this version out, and at times are left completely stumped.
Switching topics quickly, the OFs talked about the rebuilding of the Blenheim covered bridge that was destroyed and washed downstream in the flood caused by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The OFs were throwing out numbers of $5 million to rebuild this bridge.
The OFs might not mind if they had enough parts of the old bridge on hand so the antiquity of the bridge would still be part of any rebuild, but, the way the OFs understand it, this bridge will be completely new. The OFs can’t understand the logic in this.
The OFs think that $5 million would go a long way to help those who have not yet recovered from the storm, or help some of the businesses that lost everything and are still struggling to get back on their feet.
It is amazing to this scribe how some OFs can remember their first- and second-grade teachers. Some of the conversations Tuesday morning were on who had what teacher in what grade and how they remembered them.
The OFs wonder if teachers realize what an impact they have on their students, good and bad. Some must, an OF thought, because, as adults, a few of a teacher’s former students will mention to him or her how that particular teacher formed their lives, and that teacher may have been in the lower grades when the OFs brains were still like soup.
Then the opposite is true: There are some teachers who made life a living hell for some of the OFs and they remember this teacher for other reasons.
One OF said, when he graduated, he couldn’t wait to run for the school board to get a chance to fire her a--. Never happened.
Then some OFs couldn’t remember their teacher in the lower grades at all. They couldn’t even recall much of what happened in elementary school.
These OFs did not have a good recollection of teachers until middle school, high school, or college. Some became good friends, and some even dated. Today they both would be put in jail.
“Life isn’t fun any more,” one OF said, “There are too many rules, and too many do-gooders.”
A few more of the OFs who winter in warmer climates shook hands and said it was October and they were heading down to Florida. This seemed to some OFs that it’s too soon for this migration, because it seemed like these OFs just got here.
The OFs leaving are from the area and should know they’re missing one of the best parts of the year. With fall and all its color, and the upcoming fall events, an OF doesn’t even have to leave his backyard to enjoy what fall has to offer.
The OFs said these migrating OFs should hang around until the last leaf falls and then head out.
This latest exodus of OFs talked about where they were going to land in Florida, and it was in a town near The Villages in Florida. One OF from that area said that The Villages started as a trailer park, and that two brothers operate it now.
The Villages, as a development, according to these OFs, is now over 100,000 people and is the largest “city” in that area. The OFs wondered how in the world does one family accrue all the land necessary to construct a development of that size. One OF thought there had to be some political shenanigans involved in order to pull this off.
Some OFs reported that the rules and regulations at The Villages are pretty strict. One OF thought it depended on where you bought into; however, no one really knew for sure.
All this about building homes and how fast they were constructed in The Villages had the OFs talking about building homes here in the Hilltowns. More than one OF mentioned how little “dirt” was over the bedrock.
They discussed building their own homes and having to blast the cellars or make sure the house was on solid rock, lay up the foundation, and then back fill.
One OF said, “You can tell how much dirt is around, or how many cracks are in the rocks by looking at the white pine trees. If they are spread out like shrubs, or have large round trunks but not too high, there is not much dirt. If some are tall and others are short and squatty in the same area, it is safe to assume there are quite a few cracks in the rocks.”
It is possible to learn a lot from an Old Man of the Mountain.
The knowledgeable Old Men of the Mountain that used their knowledge to make it to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, and again using their knowledge to know that this was good place to eat on the mountain, were: Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Art Frament, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bob Benac, Jack Benac, Joe Ketzer, Alvin Latham, Bob Snyder, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Jim Rissacher, Duane Wagenbaugh, Rich Donnelly, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Ted Willsey, and me.
On a beautiful Tuesday morning on Sept. 15, the Old Men of the Mountain had their breakfast at the Home Front Café in Altamont. It was almost too nice of a day to be indoors, but here the OMOTM were having breakfast inside.
This was an unusual breakfast because of the opening remarks by some of the OFs as they came up the ramp to the dining area of the restaurant. Most were chuckling and some were even laughing.
“Did you see the news last night?” was one opening remark, and then a few others would come in and say, “Did you see the paper this morning?”
What was causing all this snickering? It was that someone couldn’t live on $80,000 a year so apparently it was OK for him to steal in order he could take care of his family. All of the OFs said, if someone gave them $80,000 a year, they would be able to live very well.
Some legislator said he could not live on that amount of money, and one OF said, add the per diems to the eighty grand, and committee assignments, and it approaches $100,000 a year. What is wrong with this picture? The OFs would consider half of this pretty comfortable.
“Are these people on another planet?” one OF wondered.
And, apparently, it could be a defense that it was OK to steal if you made $30,000 a year or, if you don’t make enough money (in your mind) to support your family, it would be OK to steal to make up the difference. The OFs use the “wow” as exclamation points on this discussion.
Strange deer habit
The OFs left that topic and segued into hunting. An OF asked the hunters in the group, “Why do deer eat burnt wood?”
The OF said in his backyard fireplace there are pieces of burnt wood and three deer come out nearly every day and gnaw on those pieces of burnt wood. The OF said the same deer come so often he has names for them like pets.
Some OFs gave their opinions on why the deer are doing this. The ideas sounded plausible but for some reason did not seem right. Deer eat a lot of things but gnawing on burnt logs was not on the list.
Waking up is hard to do
The OFs talked a little bit on how the OFs used to behave when they were younger. The OFs were not talking about when they were kids at this time, but by younger they were talking about 60 years old.
At this age, when most of the OFs woke up, they would immediately get out of bed and do whatever they did, put in their teeth, or go to the bathroom, or slip on the slippers — things like that. The OFs got up out of bed right away and started the day.
Now in their 80s, most of the OFs say they sit on the edge of the bed for awhile and contemplate the effort of getting up. Then one foot may hit the floor and the OFs say to themselves, “Well, I’ve gotten this far, I might just as well do the whole darn thing” and then they put the other foot on the floor.
Are they ready for the day? No, but the OFs make themselves ready and, once they get going, it doesn’t seem that bad. All the old friends are there — the aching back, the sore feet, the cramping legs, but the OFs are used to them by now and continue on regardless.
This scribe is amazed at how often the OFs have been to the same places around our great country. This time it was Greenfield Village, and the Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The OMOTM has an OF who, with his wife, is there right now so, when his name was brought up as to where he was, about nine OFs said they have been there and it is some place.
It was concluded that visitors had better have good walking shoes if they are going to do all three things, the village, the museum, and the factory tour. Some of the OFs said they couldn’t make this trip any more unless they stayed a week and took in a little bit each day.
On a more somber note, the OFs talked about the wild fires out west, and how they feel for those people. The OFs think there is really no place to run away from natural disasters.
The fires out West, the tornados in the center of the country, the hurricanes in the South and along each coast, the blizzards in the North and Northeast, and earthquakes anywhere makes it seem like an OF can only run from one mess into another.
An OF says it really is a miracle that the homes is some areas are one- and two-hundred years old. One OF thought a young family starting out should build a geotactic home out of concrete. That, the OF thinks, should handle just about anything.
Jury duty is a discussion the OFs have on occasion but not many have been called to serve on a jury, and then a couple of the OGs have been called more than once. The OFs think that most of the OFs are too old to be on a jury.
Number one is that any one of us could keel over at any time. Many have had heart bypass surgery, and many are walking around with stents in the heart. One OF mentioned that most of the OFs can’t remember where they put the car keys, or even their wife’s maiden name.
One OF joked, “To heck with the wife, sometimes I have to stop and think who I am.”
What a bunch we would make if we were on a jury; we would probably send the judge up the river for life.
“Yeah,” another OF added, “I would have trouble remembering who the defendant was, and might even think his lawyer was the plaintiff. Wouldn’t any one of us cause quite a bit of confusion in the deliberating room? You bet we would — we’d probably say ‘not guilty’ to a guy who stole because he didn’t think he made enough money to support the lifestyle he wanted.”
Hmmm — isn’t this where we came in?
The Old Men of the Mountain would like to thank Steve Dunham from Dunedin, Florida who took the time to send the OFs a lengthy letter of his time on a dairy farm in the Raymertown, New York area.
He included a picture of himself as a young man working at a homemade cider press he built and he is in hip boots. Mr. Dunham states this was to keep the snakes from crawling up his pant legs as he stood pressing the cider
Those attending the breakfast at the Home Front in Altamont which, according to The Enterprise, was the home of the Enterprise at one time, were: George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Joe Ketzer, Art Frament, Miner Stevens, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Roger Shafer, Rich Donnelley, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagenbaugh, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Chuck Aelesio, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Jerry Willsey, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Henry Whipple, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey,. Gerry Chartier, and me.
On Tuesday, Sept. 8, The Old Men of the Mountain trudged (like Alex Rodriguez trudges the bases) to the Chuck Wagon Restaurant in Princetown. It was a very warm morning for the eighth of September, but the OFs were there in full garb.
This has been mentioned before, that originally the OFs would gather at an OF’s home, shoot the breeze for awhile until all were there, then the OFs would head out to the restaurant of the day. The plan was to arrive around 10 in the morning.
By that time, all the people who had to start out early would have left the restaurant, and the noon crowd would not be arriving for some time, so the restaurant on the OFs’ schedule would be in a lull at this time of the day.
That plan worked well until more OFs joined the group and some of these OFs would head directly to the restaurant. These OFs had places to go and things to do so they would arrive a little earlier.
Now we have OFs waiting at the door for the restaurant to open. The group of OFs is not as laid back as it once was.
The OFs who were with the original OF group still come a little later, but other OFs are now much more active even though they are old (and as many of the OFs say “in numbers only”). It must be the meds that keeps these OGs so perky. These OFs have joined the OFs with places to go and things to do, which means most OFs now arrive pretty darn early.
As this is an ad-hoc group with a 20-page book of bylaws, the time of arrival was never entered so the OFs can show up whenever they get up and are properly dressed.
The darndest places
A few of the OFs participated in the Scottish Games held at the Altamont fairgrounds on Sept. 5 and 5. They said the fairground was cooking. The OFs should have weighed themselves before they went to the games and again after they got home. They must have shed a few pounds.
All people, no matter who they are, run into strange circumstances and in the darndest places. One OF had to go to the hospital in Cobleskill, and while there bumped into another OF who was there with both hands in bandages.
The OF with the bandaged hands showed us why they were bandaged, and told us they were bandaged for scheduled operations. The OFs were wondering about going to the bathroom and then washing his hands. That must be some kind of trick with both hands in bandages.
Then one OF said he had a very good friend who had a carpal tunnel syndrome procedure done on both hands at the same time because his friend did not want to go through the operation twice. The friend of the OF admitted after the operation that there was never a thought about the bathroom, showering, getting dressed, and things like that.
At that time, the OF said he was surprised the doctor never brought this up. The friend of the OF said the doctor never mentioned it, and it was more of a problem than originally thought. I guess the lesson is: Always keep one hand free for whatever.
Pricey tickets and goods
The OFs touched a little on baseball, and how much it costs to go to a Yankee game. Just to sit in the bleachers would cost a family of four about 100 bucks, and that is minimum.
There is the cost of getting there, food, kids would want souvenirs, and all those extras. That would be an expensive day.
One OF said, “Go see the Mets; it’s cheaper.”
“Nah,” another OF replied. “I will watch it on TV with the mute button pushed so I won’t have to listen to those commentators run their mouths.”
Everything has gone up, not only tickets for concerts and sporting events, but even those baseball caps for the OMOTM. They are now priced at about $17 to advertise you are an OF.
“Hey,” was an OG’s statement, “I am proud that I am an OF, and I’ve made it this far, so we should get T-shirts that have the OMOTM logo on it.”
“There is a T-shirt out there already,” was a comeback. “It doesn’t quite say that but it’s close. I think it says ‘Old Guys Rule.’ That isn’t strictly true. We can buy shirts that say OMOTM, but it really is ‘Old Ladies Rule’; if you guys think you are the boss in the house, think again.”
Winter’s on the way
Another topic quickly unfolded — winter! Some of the OFs are already planning on joining the migration of other wimps who run away from winter to warmer climes.
One OF showed photographs of his new travel trailer, so new it isn’t made yet — the OF has to wait for it. These trailers are becoming real homes on wheels. They have full-size beds, refrigerators, and electronic gadgets that open and close things, and they make them now so the trailer trails easier. It used to be that pulling a travel trailer was like hauling a load of hay to the barn (with maybe an exception of the Airstream Trailer).
One OF said, “Here it is 90 degrees and you are already planning on going where it is warmer and still 90; you’re nuts.”
Those OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon in Princetown (because the real boss of the hacienda said, “Get out of my hair”) were: Henry Witt, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Chuck Aelesio, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Roger Shafer, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Rich Donnelly, Duane Wagenbaugh, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, and me with my son, Jay Williams.
The first day of September this year was on a Tuesday, and, through a haze mixed with fog, some OFs had to use their windshield wipers (on their way to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg) in the early morning because of the temperature inversion.
The flood of Tropical Storm Irene four years ago (almost to the day) is still causing problems. Some of the localities have seen some improvement and a lot of work has been done but most of this work was done by people helping people.
To recover from all the havoc caused by this storm, it is easy to understand that complete recovery from Irene, like the complete recovery from Katrina, may never happen. What about all these other natural catastrophes all over the planet? Is “recovery” a good word at all?
This discussion was brought about by the work that has been halted on the little Schoharie creek because the work was not being done to specifications, or maybe the contractor was doing what he thought was right but the oversight was poor and the contractor was never made aware of all the mistakes that were being made.
What prompted this dialogue came from the OFs who live in Schoharie County. They are concerned about how the county is going to raise the $10 million to finish this work. The population of Schoharie “tain’t that big McGee.”
How old is an antique?
The OFs talked a bit on a subject they know well, and that would be antiques, especially if something 50 years old is being discussed.
Many people call a particular item an antique. The OFs call them “well-used” because the OFs are antiques themselves and they probably used the item when it was new.
To the OFs, this is not an antique. An antique to the OFs has to be at least 100 years old.
The OFs included cars in this conversation and how many cars have gone by the wayside. One OF said he thought manufacturers had to make replacement parts for cars for only seven years. The OF wasn’t too sure about this but he seemed pretty sure.
Another OF said he thought that it depended on what the object was. “That meant,” the OF said, “if you owned a car made in 2008, it was not necessary for the manufacture to manufacture parts for that car now.”
This is going to send the scribe on a little research trek.
This scribe started looking (googling) into this allegation, and by using the words “seven year requirement on parts” found that this phrase is so ambiguous that even using it as a generic term is not too smart. This scribe found that, in looking (googling) up the information, it is so convoluted a Philadelphia lawyer would have problems, and also probably would give up, as this scribe did.
The OFs started mentioning a few of the cars that they remembered, and some of the OFs had these vehicles, or their parents did, and neither parents nor vehicles are still around. These include Nash, Hudson, Packard, Studebaker, Auburn, Hupmobile, LaSalle, and more.
Modern names are gone too, i.e., Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Saturn, Pontiac, Mercury, which are a few of the later-year car models. The OFs think they might have even missed some because one OF said that they had a Maxwell, and another a Graham Page.
One OF said, “Remember the Jack Benny show, and Rochester driving the Maxwell?”
How about the White and Reo trucks? They were good old, dependable farm trucks.
One OF said, “Throw in the makes of tractors that have disappeared and we have quite a list of major business that have either been gobbled up by other companies or have just closed the doors.” A lot of household names of companies have come and gone in 70-plus years, and many of these were large companies too.
The OFs chatted about the Old Stone Fort in Schoharie and how some of the OFs have just completed jobs around the fort that they volunteered for. Many historical places need these types of volunteers because they represent what and how this area came to be.
Unfortunately, many are under-funded but very important to our local history. In addition to that, only a small section of the populace is even interested in going to these places and supporting them.
The OFs, as stated, are antiques themselves so therefore can equate to the plight of many of these historical sites, locally and around the state. The OFs are all underfunded, and can comprehend exactly what these sites are going through. Some OFs have to apply for a grant so the OF can purchase a new set of bibs.
The OFs can remember $5 jeans, 10-cent coffee, a quarter for a gallon of gas, and, in 1940 or so, a four-door Ford sedan was about $700 brand new. Then one OF interjected the following: “I remember making 50 cents an hour and that was good.”
Another OF said he moved up and was given a raise to $88 every two weeks. “On that,” the OF said, “we went out and bought a house.”
This OF said he and his wife said, if they ever made $100 a week, they could live like millionaires.
The OFs were once concerned that eating establishments on the hill were disappearing but that is now not the case. The OFs talked about two great places to eat on the hill, which are the Township Tavern on Route 146, and Maple on the Lake — the old Scholz- Zwicklbauer’s Hofbrau on Warners Lake Road.
One of the OMOTM plays music on the deck of the Maple on the Lake. So what’s left has been resurrected.
The OMOTM would like to offer their condolences and sympathies to Duncan Bellinger and his family on the passing of his wife, Shirley, after 57 years of marriage.
Those OFs who made it to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg, where the fine breakfasts that came from the kitchen prompted the talk about food, were: Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Miner Stevens, Karl Remmers, Roger Shafer, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Jim Heiser, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Jay Taylor, Bob Benac, Joe Ketzeka, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Ted Willsey, Duane Wagenbaugh, Rich Donnelly, Bob Lassome, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, and me.