Tuesday, Sept. 9, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville.  Unfortunately, this scribe was not in attendance, and this scribe had a bona fide excuse.

On Sept. 2, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café in Altamont, and the countdown to Christmas begins.

Many of the older gents of the Hilltowns and their environs look forward to one particular day of the week.  This day is looked forward to by many of the ladies of the Hilltowns and their environs

At our routine Tuesday morning breakfast, we gathered at the Duanesburg Diner, in Duanesburg. For most of us, the ride over to Duanesburg was like an early fall morning; the air was crisp and clear with areas of patchy fog. Some of the OFs said they could see their breath around 5:30 to 6 a.m., and it is August. 

This made for breakfast chat of bringing in wood, and telling ways of keeping warm for the winter. One OF said he was going to get another dog.  There may be a three-dog night coming up soon.  To the OFs, it is too early, yet some said it is never too early to prepare for winter. To some OFs, that is not a cheery thought. 

A few of the OFs heard the late summer locusts singing, but they thought these little bugs are in for a surprise if it stays like this in the weather department. How would we start conversations if it weren’t for the weather?

Money matters

The OFs had a brief discussion on money and how much of it is really around. This was brought about by how much money the wife of a Russian billionaire recently received in her divorce settlement. Either she had a darn good attorney, or her ex-spouse really wanted to get rid of her.

Her settlement was reported to be 4.5 billion (that is billion with a B) American dollars. There must have been a conversion for American readers because rubles were not mentioned. 

The OFs maintained they are satisfied when they have enough to pay for breakfast, leave a tip, and buy gas to get back and forth from the restaurant. The OFs brought up how much money the United Arab Emirates have and, with the most populous city of Dubai in the emirate, how much money they control.

One OF said that, if you want to have your house on an island, and you are a big shot in Dubai, all you do is pump in sand and make your own island and go ahead and build your house on it. (On Christ, the solid rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.) Hmm.

Those Arabs that control Abu Dubai are not dumb; they have set themselves up pretty good, one OF said, because, when the oil runs out, the Dubai operatives will be able to control the high-tech plants, like Global Foundries, which is fully owned by the Abu Dhabi government.  The OFs know about that company because of this company’s involvement in the Capital District. 

Old days and old ways

Depending on where this scribe plops his butt, the conversation basically gravitates to the interest of the people in that group: hiking, conservation, work projects, farming, farm equipment, old times (that includes most all the OFs), and travel are among the most frequent, general topics for discussion.

This week, the banter encompassed old times, farming, and old equipment all in one. This happens a lot.

There are some OFs who collect items that will not fit in their living room, i.e., old farm tractors, and equipment. The OFs were discussing what they have, and what process some of the OFs are in of negotiating for some old tractors.

These tractors are vintage machines from the 1920s or so. Included in the conversation was who has what old oil can and who has the most oil cans, and who has the oldest oil cans.

The OFs discussed oil, particularly GLF (Grange League Federation) oil. Two OFs said they own some of these cans. GLF is a farming cooperative, and these cans were from the Petroleum Division of the Cooperative GLF Exchange Inc. in Ithaca, New York.

Many oil containers way back when, were not in cans, but glass bottles and it is a miracle that any of this type of container survived yet they are all over the place with their pour spouts still intact.  

When listening to these OFs talking and paying attention to what they are doing now — collecting, maintaining, and restoring — part of our agricultural history makes these OFs accidental historians. These OFs could tell book-type historians what past possessions were really like.

Some of the OFs’ homes are like museums for what they have collected and saved from the dump or scrapyard. It is not only large agricultural equipment collected or restored by the OFs but cars and boats should also be included in the large-collected-items category. Ah, and then there are the smalls — that is another story.

It has been brought up from time to time whether the OFs are hoarders or collectors. There is one big difference: Hoarders just pile junk upon junk and have no idea what it is or what they are going to do with it. The OFs are collector-restorers.

They purchase with a specific purpose in mind like spare parts, or restoration, or they might even disassemble for needed parts at a swap meet. Thank goodness for us OFs — we are of the pre-throw-away culture.

The OFs motto is: Build it to last, not build it with timers installed that make whatever it is quit in a prescribed length of time so it is necessary to go and purchase a new one of whatever. The OFs have spoken (for now anyway). There is another way to look at building something to last.  

The OFs who attended the breakfast at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg (and none showed up in a Duesenberg) were: Roger Chapman, Dick Ogsbury, Karl Remmers, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Art Frament, Herb Sawotka, Bob Benac, Roger Fairchild, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Mark Traver and guest Tanner Spohn, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Joe Loubier, Rich Donnelly, Bill Krause, Duncan Bellinger, Andy Tinning, Duane Wagonbaugh, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gill Zabel, Harold Grippen, and me.


On Tuesday, Aug. 12, The Old Men of the Mountain met at the restaurant they were supposed to be at.