— Photo from John R. Williams
Gearing at the head of these dehorning clippers lets them open and close with ease; they are not rusted shut. “The square head bolt, with a square nut have been long gone,” says John R. Williams. The clippers are among old farm tools bought by one of the Old Men of the Mountain.
The Your Way Café in Schoharie was the restaurant under attack by The Old Men of The Mountain on Tuesday, Aug. 25.
Many of the OFs arrived at the Your Way Café at the same time Tuesday morning; four or five cars entered the parking lot just about simultaneously. The OFs unfolded out of their vehicles like most OFs, slowly, and with purpose.
The OFs greeted each other with the congenial “Good morning (enter name), you’re looking good this morning.” Most of the time that was true but there were the occasions when it was a lie.
This is similar to the OF’s reply when other OFs ask, “Hey (enter name), how ya feelin’?” or, “How ya doin’?” The standard reply from the OGs is generally, “Great,” or, “Top shelf,” or, “If I felt any better, I would be dead.”
As a rule, this is a bunch of malarkey, too. Most of the OFs have aches and pains too numerous to mention so listing them all would take way too much time, so “I’m fit as a fiddle” will do.
Old farm tools
An OMOTM breakfast would not be complete if the OFs did not discuss farming. Tuesday morning, the OFs discussed dehorning cattle (mostly cattle); no one mentioned goats or other animals with horns. However, this dehorning is also a practice with them, especially when goats get rambunctious.
What brought this up was the piece of information from one OF who bought perhaps a couple of wagon loads of old farming equipment and one of the items among the “stuff” was an old pair of dehorning shears.
These types of shears are still being used for dehorning today, along with saws, wire, and caustic chemicals. The saw of choice today is a “Sawzall”; however, back in the OFs’ day, it was a hacksaw.
No matter what, farming is a bloody business.
Great Depression recalled
Tuesday was the first morning after the big drop in stocks, and some of the OFs said their spending cash will be a little short, but none of the OFs seemed really concerned. As one OF mentioned, he has so little in the stock market that it doesn’t matter which way Wall Street goes — up or down.
Many of the OFs remember the Big One (Depression Era: 1929 to 1939) and how eventually it took World War II to get us out of it. During World War II, the whole country experienced the process of government rationing.
This was not too hard to take because the rationale of the Depression and not having anything anyway just carried over into a different word for not having anything. Only this post-war time there was money around, but during rationing the OFs had nothing to buy.
Many of the OFs went through this time in our nation’s history, and as one OF said when explaining this part of the home front’s effort in World War II to his grandkids, they had no idea what he was talking about.
The OF said, “What do they teach in school today?”
Another OF said “They teach them how to land a Rover on a moving asteroid that is not very big and it is moving at least a gazillion miles an hour.”
The USA wasn’t the only country that was affected by the Great Depression. It was worldwide.
This recent market drop supposedly started in China, but the OFs say this country has so much Chinese money loaned to us it won’t last long. Another OF said, if they ever ask for their loans back from our country in a hurry, the good ole US of A is in deep do-do.
The OFs who have computers were talking about the “new” operating system, Windows 10. The OFs who do not have Outlook Express think it is great, and in some respects those OFs who do have Outlook Express agree, saying that many aspects of 10 are like Windows 7.
One OF said he still has Windows 7, to which another OF said, “Keep it.”
One OF recommended that, if you have Outlook Express, don’t take Windows 10 until Microsoft arrives at a solution to that problem. It really screws up the email as it will not open any hyperlinks.
Parrott House redone
The OFs realize that The Enterprise is geared to Guilderland, the Hilltowns, New Scotland, Slingerlands, parts of Delmar, and not much to the other side of mountain into Schoharie and that area. However, the OFs’ circle of schools was Berne-Knox-Westerlo, Schoharie, and Middleburgh.
Those who are familiar with this bit of geography know of the Parrott House in Schoharie, and the problems it has been having. Finally someone has taken over this building and appears to be doing extensive work on the structure.
One OF reported that it is being completely gutted all because of the flood from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The antiquity of the place, including the bar, has been taken out.
The OFs who are familiar with this situation say that is sad because, if refurbished, the character and history of the Parrott House, once again, could result in quite a tourist attraction for the county.
On the other hand, maybe, if it were clean and new, the Parrot House could start a history of its own. This scribe, as on OF, can see one dining room devoted to the original history of the hotel, and another dining room devoted to history of the hotel after the flood, including pictures of the flood.
The Old Men of the Mountain who were able to make it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie, and bring half their breakfast home to their wives, were: Chuck Aleseio, Roger Shafer, Miner Stevens, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Otis Lawyer, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Bill Lichliter, Bob Benac with his guests Kaleb Bsandoin, and Skye Benac, Rich Donnelly, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagenbaugh, Bill Krause, Charles Jones, Jay Taylor, Art Frament, Joe Ketzeka, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Duncan Bellinger, Don Wood, Joe Becker, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, and me.
The Old Men of the Mountain recently met at the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie. It was a warm Tuesday morning on Aug. 18 and many of the OFs were at the Café before seven — probably couldn’t sleep, or the wives gave them the boot so they could get their work done in the cool of the morning without the OF in the way.
Last week, the OFs discussed the many ways of reaching the southern climes of the country. Tuesday morning, an OF was relating his trials and tribulations on Route 95. He was attempting to head to Route 17 and cross over to Route 81 to come up to Albany.
This OF said it took over four hours to get through Richmond and Fredericksburg, Virginia to get to Route 17 and then onto Route 66 and then Route 81. This OF apparently missed last week’s conversation.
Then another OF mentioned that his stepson made it to the Daytona area in just 19 hours a couple of days ago. This scribe checked Google (what else) and found that Google reports it is approximately 1,200 miles and driving straight through is roughly 17-and-a-half hours. Allowing for true departure and arrival points, the 19 hours is not bad.
Rotten tomatoes and sinister snakes
The gardener’s report is that their garden produce is coming along nicely, except for their tomatoes. According to the OFs, the tomatoes are ripening very slowly, and they are having blight, and rot problems. So much for that.
Quite often, the OFs talk about snakes, and how the OFs handle them. Some don’t like them at all, and others consider them quite helpful.
There are a few OFs who place even rattlesnakes and copperheads in the “they are helpful” category. Other OFs think differently when it comes to those that are a tad on the nasty side and can make you sick if they happen to get their fangs into you.
This was brought up again by an OF who said one of his kids caught a coral snake at their place in Florida and had it in a bucket. This OF said it was a coral snake but some of the OFs were skeptical because there is a snake that mimics a coral snake.
This OF should know the difference though because he has been in Florida quite some time. There is a rhyme that goes: Red touches black, safe for Jack. Red touches yellow, kills a fellow. (Let alone the rhyme, don’t mess with either one).
Also, with the coral snake, the round-eye allegory is out the window. This scribe was taught, at least up in the Northeast, if a snake has a round eye, it is harmless but, if a snake has a flat eye, leave it alone. Who is going to get down and look a snake in the eye to check that one out?
The OFs began an unusual conversation about the drink Mathusalem. No OF knew how to spell it and what was in it.
The OFs sent this scribe to Google once more. (“Google” is now a verb.) The scribe found there is such a drink and it is champagne and is very expensive. In 2012, at auction, a bottle of 1996 Don Peron Rose Gold Mathusalem went for $500,000 to a buyer in Hong Kong.
This champagne is made from well-ripened nectarines and “wild” strawberries. The OFs should get a case of this drink and give it out as Christmas presents.
The OFs observed how many people have time on their hands (and an expensive lawn mower). Just traveling around this area, the OFs wonder who has the money for gas to mow the edges of the road so they look like manicured lawns for thousands of feet. Not that the OFs are complaining because it makes the highway look like the OF is driving through a park, but it is also safer, especially on turns.
This year, the sweet clover grew like trees and at times does hamper the OFs’ vision. The asters, like everything else in the plant world this year, are prolific and taller than usual. These plants grow along the side of the highway and are tough.
If only grass could take the weather changes like these two plants. This year, the OFs commented that the sides of the roads not mowed are like driving down the aisles in a florist shop — more so than previous years.
With the temperature 90 degrees outside, the OFs were talking about the winter and how the roads are maintained differently now than they were in the 1950s and ’60s or even the ’70s. Back then, most cars, trucks, and buses carried chains, and used them.
Today, many young drivers don’t even know what chains are. (They think “chains” are something you wear around your neck.)
One OF attributed this to the over-use of salt on highways, which the OFs maintain ruins the roads. Not only does the initial price of salt cost the taxpayers tons of money, but so does repairing the roads and filling potholes because of using so much salt.
One OF mentioned that he thought, up north, especially at the Tug Hill Plateau, they use mostly sand and let the snow pack down and these areas seem to get along very well without using a lot of salt. The OF also added, “Up there, they get snow.”
Those OFs who made it to the Country Café in Schoharie without having to put on chains to get there, were: Miner Stevens, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Chuck Aelesio, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Jim Heiser, Duncan Bellinger, Roger Shafer, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Jack Norray, Art Frament, Jay Taylor, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Roger Fairchild, Bob Benac, Joe Ketzeko, Mark Hollobaugh, Duane Wagenbaugh, Rich Donnelly, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Bill Krause, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, and me.
On a wet, and rainy (is that really a word) Tuesday, Aug. 11, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh.
This scribe must report that he was not there. This scribe was called by someone higher to be someplace else.
However, this scribe took a few notes at previous breakfasts concerning what the OFs are talking about, what they have done, what they plan on doing, and their opinions on this and that. Many times, there are too many topics to include in this OF report.
This scribe tries to keep it to five typed pages, but this scribe’s wife says that is too many; she maintains that two paragraphs is all that is needed to say anything these OGs have to say.
What this scribe is getting at is that, in this report, it will cover a few of the topics that did not make other reports. Also, while the scribe is making a confession of sorts, some of the notes jotted down are not suitable for a family paper.
Maybe the notes would be suitable for the National Enquirer, but not The Altamont Enterprise. OK! Now for some past topics which will bring us up to date.
The good ole U.S. of A. is a large country with some of our states being larger than many countries. For instance, the country of Italy is just slightly larger than the state of Arizona, yet the OFs talk of traveling to parts of our country as if they were day trips.
It is common to be talking about running to Florida like it is just traveling to Cobleskill for a cup of coffee. Jaunting off to Maine is like running to the post office, or some OFs just hop in the car and pop up to Montreal to go to a ball game.
To take some of the trips in other parts of the world, the OFs would need a pocket full of passports, and a fist full of funny money just to travel from one city to another. In last week’s column, the OFs were talking about this very same phenomenon by discussing the various ways of getting from the Hilltowns to spot “A” in Florida.
Another conversation awhile back was on visitors. Some of the OFs are of the type that people just drop in on.
What draws them to a certain OF’s domicile is not really known. Are the dropper-inners, actually freeloaders because the OF always has cold beer in a refrigerator in the garage, or is it just the OF’s karma?
Other OFs said their wives raise quite a fuss if people drop in unannounced and they can’t get the house looking like a page out of Better Homes and Gardens. One OF admitted he was not the type that people dropped in on, saying, “Even my kids are rare visitors.”
Some OFs, though, are just stay-at-home type of guys and don’t care either way. The OFs were not sure what generated the category a particular OF will fit in, but it is noticeable that this is some kind of observable fact and all the OFs maintain they do have the proper hygiene.
“A gathering of misfits”
Then the discussion centered on organizations like churches, social clubs, Parent Teacher Associations, ball teams, or whatever, and it was noted these groups all have their own little cliques within the main body of the basic group.
One OF said it is a good idea to join any group with a group of your friends rather than trying to join alone. Another OF likened it to square dancing, saying that it is a good idea to show up at a dance with your own square rather than to show up alone.
This OF said, even if it is just you and another couple, somehow it seems to work better.
One OF added, “This advice works for those from other clubs coming to your dance.”
To this OF, it was OK to show up alone at your own club’s dance.
An OF asked a question out of the blue wondering if “square dancing is now as popular as it once was.”
One OF said that, if any organization becomes too “cliquey” and gets to the point where newcomers really feel unwanted, the whole organization might just fold up.
But another OF said, “Did you ever notice that some people have the type of personality that they will fit in anywhere?”
Then one OF said he understands, and sometime wonders what he is doing “hanging out with all you OFs.
To which another OFs said, “It is because nobody else wants you, you OG; we are the only ones that will put up with you.”
“I guess you are right,” the OF said. “This whole group is a gathering of misfits.”
To which another OF added, “If this is a gathering of misfits, that’s fine with me; I like this group of misfits who do not prejudge anybody.”
Those OFs who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and chatted about who knows what on Aug. 11 — because this scribe was not there to eavesdrop — were: (according to the appointed Chief Assistant Scribe) Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Duncan Bellinger, Dave Williams, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Jim Heiser, Otis Lawyer, Steve Kelly, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Bartholomew, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Jay Taylor, Herb Sawotka, Art Frament, Bob Lassome, Bob Benac, Jack Benac, Joe Ketzeko, Ted Willsey, Duane Wagenbaugh, Rich Donnelly, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, but not me.
Logo logic: The Minnesota Twins baseball team has a TC logo, which stands for Twin Cities — St. Paul and Minneapolis — and was adopted by the Washington Senators in 1961 when the team moved to Minnesota. It’s the same logo as Twin City tractor, which was built by the Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Company until 1929.
The Old Men of the Mountain decided to gather at the Middleburgh Diner, in Middleburgh, on Tuesday, Aug. 4, and already there are a few trees changing color. The OFs think that this is noted every year, and there is nothing unusual about it.
It is a little disheartening, though, to see it and realize, with the shorter days and the beginning of the colors of autumn touching the leaves, that summer is on the wane. Many OFs have not caught up with the wear of last winter’s repairs yet.
Tuesday’s breakfast was catching-up-time with people the OFs remembered from school and work.
One OF would say, “Have you heard how so and so is doing? I haven’t seen or heard anything about him for years.”
Some other OF might know and fill in the blanks, or maybe all the OFs were in the same boat and the person in question, as far as this discussion goes, could be either dead or alive. If none of the OFs knew, then the one in question just seemed to have evaporated.
Still others were on the “where are they now list,” and an OF might say that they just saw them a little while ago, and would proceed to mention how they were doing.
The OF who inquired would say something like, “Have you got his number? I would like to get in touch with this OF.”
This scribe noticed, after checking his notes, and trying to recall the conversations (and that is a challenge), that all the inquiries were about men, no requests were made to find where or how the distaff side was doing.
As the OFs get older, they find out they are more like a machine than first thought. The OFs started putting things together like a tractor.
First the OFs need fuel — that is why the OFs come to a restaurant; it is the body’s gas station. Next thing, we have to do is get started — ah, the battery.
The OFs considered the brain and nervous system the battery and electronics. The stomach is the gas tank, and the heart is the fuel pump, and so it went.
Now the OFs added age to this machine and then things start to wear out ─ like knees, hips, back, eyes, shoulders etc. etc.
The OFs soon equated doctors to mechanics, and hospitals to garages. The OFs don’t know how fair this is but it seems to them that the analogy was right on the money.
One OF’s brother was here on a visit from Seattle, Washington and a weather comparison between the Northeast and the far West was a natural. That area of the country has seen “about a quarter inch of rain, if even that much,” the guest said, “since April, and the air is dry.”
No wonder that section of the country is such a tinderbox, the OFs commented.
One OF was told by someone who lived close by to where many of these fires are, that in situations like what is happening now, the pine trees are loaded with “sap” and they become superheated. The weather is bone dry, the fire, as it approaches these trees, heats the trees up more; the closer the fire edges toward a tree or trees, all the heat brings the sap to its flash point then all it takes is one spark or ember and the tree explodes.
The OF said that a firefighter can be in close proximity to one of these trees ready to go and just like a bomb the tree erupts in flames. An OF remarked, “I will take my 10- to 15-below-zero any day rather than go through fire like that.”
The Seattle visitor prompted some discussion on the best way to get to Florida. The OFs will have to make their own maps.
The consensus was that they should take the less-traveled road and avoid the stress of the well-used highways. It may take longer — but not much.
The OFs also talked about how they used to make the trip down south by driving straight through. Not now. The OFs take their time and a few more days and stay over.
Now the OFs don’t have a bunch of fussy kids in the car, and some have accrued more money and do not have to make the trip by sustaining themselves on orange juice and crackers.
As most people who read this little gossip piece are aware, some of the OFs collect and restore old tractors. Some of these tractors are really old and the OFs get them cranking and going, brought to life by some tender, loving, care — thrown in among a bevy of colorful cuss words when things don’t go right.
One OF has quite a collection of toy tractors and this OF noticed that the logo for the Twin City tractor, which was produced in the early 1900s had a TC logo. The New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins were recently playing baseball and the toy collector noticed that the Minnesota Twins’ logo and the Twin City tractor logo were identical.
Now there is a bit of information that is totally useless to anybody but the OFs.
For more useless information. the OFs that made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh and again chased all the waitresses away so there was only one left, were: Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Art Williams, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Jim Guest, Glenn Patterson, Miner Stevens, Duncan Bellinger, Robie Osterman, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Joe Ketzeko, Don Wood, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Herb Sawotka, Roger Fairchild, Elwood Vanderbilt, Ted Willsey, Rich Donnelly, Bob Lassome, Bill Krause, Duane Wagenbaugh, and me.
The Old Men of the Mountain column most generally is one week behind. This week, the Old Men of the Mountain met on Tuesday, July, 28, at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville and the group filled the place up — not completely filled up with OFs, but close.
The OFs do appreciate the restaurants that put up with us. It must be like waiting on a collection of people from The Home.
A topic that is broached on occasion is traffic in the city. This topic is not the cities of Albany, Schenectady, or Troy but real cities — not sample cities. One OF compared it to the common remark when seeing someone walking a miniature schnauzer or a Cairn terrier or Chihuahua, the coarse person may blurt out, “Why don’t you get a real dog instead of a sample dog?” or something uncouth like that.
When approaching cities of a million people or more — now that is getting to be a real city and traffic is to be expected.
The OFs know now there is going to be traffic, and it is a good idea to have a full tank of gas because the OFs said traffic jams are common and do not untangle right away.
One OF’s grandson has a girlfriend that lives just outside the City. To those of the uninitiated, the OFs are supposed to know what city is being spoken of. To these people, there is only one city and its abbreviation is NYC.
The grandson of the OF had to explain to the girlfriend the difference in traffic. “In the City, traffic is traffic by the numbers,” the grandson told the girlfriend. “And the traffic where I live is a tractor on the road.”
One OF, who traveled a lot when he was still working, said that the city of Albany and other cities around us are neat. The OF said he could be in downtown Albany and in a 15- to 20-minute drive, he realizes that he is counting cows.
The OF said, “Even going through the cities of Troy and Albany combined, from one end to the other, it is only about a 40-minute ride.” Plus the OF noted, “That is a lot of geography covered in 40 minutes.”
Another OF added, “Most of us who live in the country do not encounter much traffic, but those that live in Clifton Park and work in Schenectady or Albany might disagree with us that there is not traffic.”
“Try going to Saratoga in August,” was another reply and there is always the “yeah but”: One OF said, “Yeah, but that is just a few days out of the year — how about twice a day every day.”
“Touché,” the first OF answered.
That is one thing we didn’t have to worry about on the farm; it was a short walk from the house to the barn and you were at work, and the machinery shed was just as close.
One OF said he even had a place to sleep in the manger because it was warmer in the winter than his bedroom in the house. The OF said all he did was splash some water on his face in the milk house, grab a class of milk from a can in the cooler, and he was at work.
“What is traffic?” he asked.
Green thumbs prevail
The OFs continued their garden talk, and they are still speaking about how well their gardens are doing. One OG said his tomato plants were like trees; another raved about his celery.
Those OFs that “can” better purchase some more jars. This scribe thought they call it canning, when actually it is jarring. This scribe does not know any OF that cans anything.
The OFs talked about the solar panels that are being placed on the roofs of homes, and wonder what those panels do to the roof. What about the added weight, and then add the snow that collects on the collector.
The OFs have seen people sweeping the snow off the panels so it does adhere to them.
How about the expansion and contraction of the fasteners that hold the panels in place? Are they going to create holes for water to get in under the shingles, or even leak and rot the roof from underneath?
What about the space between the panel and the roof? Won’t that be damp most of the time and generate mold?
“Yeah,” one OF said, “wouldn’t that space be an ideal area for birds to build nests, or for other insects like wasps or ants that find it a great place to hang out? What happens to the warranty on the shingles if a leak happens — who is responsible?”
An OF surmised many of these questions must be covered on the contract when anyone has one of these collectors installed.
“I’m sure,” the OF continued, “we are not the only ones to think of these problems that may occur.”
Those OFs who gathered at the Hilltown Café (and it is called that because it is a neat little restaurant nestled in the village of Rensselaerville, which is located among the hills of the Helderbergs) were: Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold GUEST, Alvin Latham, Bob Snyder, Karl Remmers, Art Frament, Jay Taylor, Joe Loubier, Bob Benac, Herb Sawotka, Roger Chapman, Dave Williams (with his son Bill), Miner Stevens, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Bill Krause, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Joe Ketzeko, Roger Fairchild, Bob Donnelly, Bill Rice, Henry Whipple, Rich Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.