Chuck Wagon – May 16th

Tuesday May 16th The Old Men of the Mountain traveled to the Chuck Wagon on Route 20 in Princetown. This was an unusual event because the OMOTM were very curious as what that “glow” was in the sky. Early in the morning it lit up the “backroom” of the diner so the blinds had to be closed. This was not common so the OFs had to re-introduce themselves to the sun.

The first topic of most mornings is the weather; this morning it was the wind. The winds did blow and the OFs were asking each other if they had to chase anything down and bring it home. The OFs did not remember any of the forecasters saying it was going to blow like this so the OFs should batten down the hatches.

A common discussion as always is farming and this time it was combining then and now. This was brought about by the animals that were taken from the small farm in the Hilltowns. The OFs said unless they were missing something those horses looked fine to them, and so did the goats. A horse, when it sheds in the spring is normally a ratty looking animal, and a muddy barn yard is normal. A pig is in pig heaven when the pig is wallowing in mud. Maybe there is something more going on here that the OFs missed. The place could have been kept up a little better. The OFs only know what they read in the papers.


Loons!  The OFs began talking about loons, one saying that he was watching them dive underwater and had no idea where they would come up.  Another OF said that loons have trouble walking on land because of the position of their legs and feet. The OF said the legs of a loon are placed way in the back of the bird. This, the rest of the OFs did not know. The OF said they appear to raise themselves up a little and then push themselves along the ground, then collapse on the ground after going about a foot to a foot and half, then they start the whole process over.

The OFs said there are laws protecting loons and their nests. The wake of a boat can flood a loon’s nest and it is then destroyed. This OF continued, “The nest is built at the waters edge and not only a boat can wreck a nest but a strong storm can wash one away, or a drought can lower the level of the lake and loons can’t make it to the nest.”   It is tough to be a Loon.

One OF said they were on a lake in New Hampshire standing on a dock and loons were swimming in clear water only a few feet from the dock. The OF said they could see the loons under the water and he said they are fast swimmers and dart all over the place after small fish. The OF thought they could stay under for about two minutes and would come up nowhere near where they went down. This OF said it was a rare sight and many do not get a chance to see it.

Does hard work help you live longer, or does hard work bring on an early demise?  The OFs were wrestling with this dilemma to see why most of the OMOTM are OMOTM. The OFs could not come up with a real conclusion. Many of the OFs worked hard when they were younger. The definition of hard work the OFs were talking about was physical hard work, i.e., lifting bales, hauling rocks to a rock boat, lifting milk cans, swinging pick axes, using shovels, that type of work, and doing it day in and day out. Then there is hard work like driving a bus, the actual physical work is not much, but the mental, nervous energy is hard work. So who is going to make it to 80 and still be mobile and alert? The OFs considered work as work is a crap shoot. No one really knows.

This conversation sent this scribe to the net to do some research. The OFs considered life style. A bad life style and hard work (the OFs think) makes viewing grass from the brown side come pretty early, and the same goes for the mental hard work with the bad life style. The OFs were beginning to think it is life style and not what type of work the OF did for a living.

What this scribe found out is that going by the numbers, the numbers show playing by the book is the way to go. That is if you are a gambling man. The averages work better for those trying to live a healthy life style than those who don’t. It isn’t that hard to do it right, only it is expensive. To live healthy costs money and many underprivileged persons don’t have the means to get on that band wagon.


One OF mentioned a relative that smoked, drank, and caroused, beyond the dirty old man age and still lived into his 80s, while another relative had a life style basically clean as a whistle and passed away in his mid 60s. A second OF added, “When your number is up, it is up, no matter what.” In this OFs opinion life style had nothing to do with it. Another discussion that can go on and on.

The Old Men of the Mountain that made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and ate what they wanted because, dog-gone-it many of the OFs are in their 80s and they didn’t get here by making too many bad choices, they were: Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, (and it was Guest last week instead of Grippen), Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Art Frament, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Mike Willsey Gerry Chartier, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Jess Vadney, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Duanesburgh Diner – May 9th

On a rather chilly day for the month of May, on May 9, 2017 the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburgh Diner in Duanesburgh.

Duanesburgh is quite a hub basically in the middle of nowhere. This is where two main highways intersect − Route 20 which travels east and west, and Route 7 which also travels east and west.  Both highways will bring the traveler to Route 81 − Route 7 at Binghamton, and Route 20 just below Syracuse. However, Binghamton is southwest of Albany and Syracuse is about due west of Albany. The OFs are very familiar with both roads because the OFs were traveling in these directions way before Route 88 and Route 87 (the Thruway) was built. The OFs were rowing their cars on Route 20 going up and down the hills to Syracuse, and navigating all the small towns along Route 7 to Binghamton.  The construction of Routes 87 & 88 eliminated most of the dreaded curves and hills.

This time of year the bugs start to make their presence known. One which is not really a bug (but the OF tossed it into the mix of bugs) is the carpenter bee. There were two suggestion of how to get rid of these bees which can do considerable damage with their ability to drill perfect ½ inch holes in wooden trim and siding of the OFs houses, sheds or garages. The one that sounded like a sport (if the OF has the time) is to take a badminton racket and stand where these bees are hovering.  When the bee shows up to find out what the OF is doing there, the OF can swat it with the racket. “Works every time,” the OF that offered this suggestion said. Made sense to the rest of us. Anything that will get rid of them so the OFs do not have to use sprays and poison.

The other non-poisonous way was to wait until evening when the bees are all in their holes, then take fine steel wool and duct tape and plug up the hole. Most will die but some of them might start another hole and chew their way out. According to the OF this does not happen very often.

The OFs were a little upset about all these people that use pesticides and lawn chemicals so they can have lawns that look like carpets. These chemicals are decimating the bee population and other insects that pollinate the fruit trees, vegetables and flowers. Some of the OFs feel that using these sprays also adds to the recipe of chemicals that pollute the air we breathe.

What did we do before duct tape? There was friction or electrical tape but that was nothing like duct tape. It is amazing to see a NASCAR car slam into a wall at 180 miles an hour, get mangled, and when brought into the pits the pit crew sticks the sheet metal back together with duct tape. The car then goes back onto the track and races to the end, again at 180 miles an hour, and nothing flies off the damaged car. One OF said you couldn’t do that with friction tape. What ever happened to “The Red Green Show?” the OFs want to know.   He was the duct tape guru.

The OFs talked about how small the world really is, and they were wondering how two people who know each other sometimes meet in the strangest places. There are 7,500,000,001 (about) in the world yet the OFs say they can be 3,000 miles from home, go into a restaurant, and there sits an uncle the OF hasn’t see in 15 years.

The above is hypothetical but the following is actual. One OF said that his sister was on a plane in Dallas, Texas and a man came and sat next to her and this man turned out to be her nephew who she had not seen in about 20 years.  She had lost all contact with him and found out that this nephew now lives in Pittsburgh.

Another OF said the same thing happened to him when they were in Hawaii. The OF said they were in checking in a hotel and the wife said, “Isn’t that Uncle Bill?” The OF said, “It looks like him but he moved to Las Angles and you know how we all have doubles wandering about that looks like someone we know”. The wife said she was going to get closer and check; she did and it was Uncle Bill.  He was checking into the same hotel. It’s a small world after all, or maybe there is a parallel universe and every now and then we jump from universe to universe and don’t know it.

To some of the OFs shopping is a drag, unless the OF is in a hardware store, so many of the OFs, when taking their wives to Kohl’s, take a nap in the car. This scribe would like to report that this is a rare happenstance; however, it is a common event. The OFs started telling what goes on in the parking lots of some of these places while the ladies are shopping. According to the OFs it is a lot more fun in the parking lot than in the store.

One OF said he was sitting in the car drinking a soda when a car pulled up in the line in front of him and stopped. There was only one person in the car but he did not get out. Shortly after that another car pulled into a space about 4 cars down and this young lady got out and went to the car with the guy in it. What went on the OF recalled, cannot be printed in black and white in a family paper, but the couple were definitely not mad at each other. After awhile (quite awhile, the OF thought) the young lady got out of his car, went back to her car and left.  Neither one went into the store. The OF was asked if he got the license plate numbers, and the OF said, “Darn it no, I didn’t think of it.”  Apparently it is more fun in the parking lot. The OFs wonder if the people doing whatever in the parking lot knew most parking lots are now on camera.

The OMOTM that hauled out of bed and made it to the Duanesburgh Diner in Duanesburgh, and none were wiping the sleepy dirt from their eyes, were: Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Roger Shafer, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Chick Aelesio, Ray Frank, Marty Herzog, Ted Peterman, Ted Feurer, Harold Grippen, John Rossmann, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Mike Willsey, Gerry Willsey, and me.

Your Way Cafe – May 2nd

On May 2nd 2017 the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.

You can’t miss the Your Way Café.   It is on the left hand side of “Main Street” going into the village past the Old Stone Fort and Fox Creek end of the village, and it is painted bright yellow.

This is to answer all the questions the OFs get like “Where did you guys have breakfast today?” when bumping into friends later on Tuesday or the next day. Almost all the inquirers then say “Where is that?” and the OFs have to explain with the addition of “You should try it, it is really good.”  The OFs don’t go to bad restaurants.

As one of the OFs was leaving the restaurant with a couple other OFs a patron going into the restaurant singled out an OF he knew but he did not know the other two OFs, and they didn’t know him. His greeting was “Hey (name) when did they throw you out of jail, how the h—are ya?” The other OFs said they had to remember that one.

Most all the OFs wear jeans.  One or two continue to wear the bib-type overall (this is not in the least unusual) because jeans are the pants of choice for both men and women these days. The OFs mentioned how when they were young (and that was just a little time ago) a good pair of jeans cost five to nine bucks. “Today,” one OF said, “They are selling artificially mud-colored jeans for 425.00 dollars.” All the OFs said they have three or four pairs of clean dirty jeans anyone can have for twenty dollars. They are all broken in and won’t turn your legs blue the first time you wear them, and the zippers work. “Holy cow,” one OF said, “I can buy a brand new lawnmower for $425.00 and look how much work goes into making one of those.” How much effort does it take to sew in 4 pockets, 6 or 8 belt loops, a zipper and one button with a button hole? Makes no sense to me; next thing you know they will be adding ‘real barn smell that will not wash out’.  Can you picture the ads for these?”

The OFs mentioned how many times they have mowed their lawns so far. As of May 2nd the tales were from two times to one OF who mentioned he has had to mow his lawn four times already. One OF listened as all the OFs were discussing the time spent on their lawns and he just kept turning his head to each OF as they spoke, finally this OF said he has mowed part of his lawn once and had to do that because some of the lawn had a few high spots in it. This OF said his lawn was 12% grass, 30% weeds, 18%rocks, 20% roots, and 20% moss and dirt. The OF said he mows about 3 acres of this concoction, and from a distance, “Hey, it looks pretty good.”

One OF said he wouldn’t mow his lawn at all.  He is a closet naturalist and what ever grows, grows. However, the wife has other ideas, so he mows the lawn and keeps it looking good; he also has no plantings close to the house. This OF said tall grass and shrubs are where the bugs hang out that get into your house. If you have cluster flies, mow your lawn and they will be gone, and ants and other bugs live on the shrubs and peonies and they get in the house by themselves or your cat and dog bring them in.

One OF said that he has a back room that is seldom used at his place and the occasional mouse has gotten in there so he keeps setting traps. At one time there was a mouse in the trap and when he removed the dead rodent from the trap a deer tick ran out from under the mouse and down the trap. The OF said he had gloves on and was able to kill the tick, but the OF said that animals not only bring in routine pests but they can bring in some nasty ones also.

The OFs somehow started talking about supply and demand. The OF know of this little formula for living very well by many having been working for themselves − mostly as farmers. The OFs think that a lot of what we purchase, especially if it is something everyone uses, or needs, industry builds in a planned obsolescence so whatever it is will break down or run out in a predetermined time frame.  This means the dumb thing won’t work and the OF has to go get a new one, and that generates a perpetual demand.      The OFs think the one exception to that rule happened by accident.

That is the Farmall tractor!  Those things ran forever, and many that were made in the forties are still running and working today.  That tractor was so simple and dependable the farmer could fix it with baling wire, friction tape, and a large pair of channel locks. (There was no duct tape then.)  When the 1940s began, International Harvester’s Farmall was the most popular tractor brand in the U.S. But during the decade their market share was challenged.   Just before the war, IH had to respond to the introduction of the inexpensive Allis-Chalmers Model “B.” IH had already been experimenting with small tractor designs. So as the decade began, they quickly introduced the second generation of Farmalls – the famous “Letter Series” tractors. (Thanks Google). What happened is the Farmall (as it once was) is no longer made.

Those Old Men of the Mountain that made it to the Your Way Café, and yes they know the way, it is in Schoharie as they say, and not too hard to find, unless of course you are blind.  The color is yellow bright, so the OFs can find it at night, and the OFs that found it on Tuesday were: Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Ray Frank, Harold Guest, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Chuck Aelesio, John Rossmann, Miner Stevens, Dave Williams, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Sonny Mercer, Don Wood, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Duncan Bellinger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Ray Kennedy, Harold Grippen, and me.

Mrs K’s – April 25th

On Tuesday April 25th the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh.

Mrs. K’s is just down the street, towards the creek, from Middleburgh Central School. When the little darlings are going to school, particularly in the morning, traffic is held up so the buses can leave and enter the school discharge area. In the street are two traffic wardens holding up traffic in either direction so this can be done. The lines of traffic that are held up both ways makes the OFs wonder if there are any cars left in the county. This morning when some of the OFs left the restaurant, the cars on the street went from the school, to the bridge (and over it) that crosses the Schoharie creek in Middleburgh.

To continue with the early morning of the 25th the weather was great, but about 2 days prior to the 25th the OFs talked about scraping ice and frost off the windshield. No wonder so many people have the sniffles, the OFs say, their old bodies don’t handle this 70 degrees one day, and 30 degrees the next, then back to 70, then down to 40 the next day very well.

One OF said that with this weather spring has sprung (and that is what it is doing, acting like a spring and bouncing all over the place) and he was digging large holes for transplanting shrubs. One of the shrubs the OF mentioned was the Beauty Bush. The other OFs around our end of the table could not picture what would be called a Beauty Bush and they had no idea what it was. The OF said that for some reason when he was digging the hole to have a good earth ball on the plant he found the ground (where that shrub was planted) was very dry. When he lifted the shrub out of the ground all the earth fell off the earth ball that was supposed to cling to the plant and the OF was left with just a collection of roots. The OF planted it anyway and hopes it will take hold. There is such a thing as a Beauty Bush and a characteristic of the bush is its perfume-like fragrance when in flower.  According to Google, the Latin name (in parenthesis) for the shrub is Kolkwitzia Amabillis. The OFs may have seen this bush but had no idea what it was called, again it was those at this one section of the table.

Does pepper help in the aging process? Many of the OFs douse everything in pepper…well, almost everything. To see some of the OF’s plates at breakfast it makes other OFs wonder if their colon is made of cast iron. No matter what they order from the kitchen the first thing these OFs do is make it black with pepper. We have yet to see these OFs order oatmeal, but if they did, they would probably cover it black with pepper. With all the pepper in the air used by many pepper shakers being shaken no one sneezes. There is one OF that uses so much pepper that the other OFs around him either grab it first so they can also have some, or hide it so he can’t get to it before their meals come out. If this OF can’t find the pepper shaker he goes and snitches one from another table.

The OFs are close to the end of having to get up in the morning so a discussion was had on how to provide for the kids when the time comes for the morning of all mornings. The discussion was not on stuff, but on all the legal hassle, paper work, burial arrangements, and all the entanglements that can ensue.  The conversation wound up nowhere because even though some of the OFs have been through it and think they know what to do and how to set it up there always seems to be problems, and all of it costs money with nothing to show for it. There must be some way, the OFs think, that upon their passing through the pearly gates their kids are not bogged down in legal entanglements and they realize their parents really did their best to try and avoid problems and thought they did all the right things.

That is one thing the OMOTM does not have in the group.  An attorney that is crowding the end of light to give us advice on what he as done, and what the OMOTM should do.

There was also another discussion that was somewhat like the aforementioned, and this again is events that are life changing and how that can turn a jovial person into an old crank. But as a member of the OFs there is much support to prevent this from happening because so many are in the same boat. Operations that can go wrong, and operations that are just are operations. One OF mentioned he went from working out in the gym, to doing 4 to 5 mile walks, to doing nothing in one day. The OF said, “Thank goodness they have stuff other than rat poison to thin the blood now.” Some of the OFs knew exactly what he was talking about. So sitting across from people who truly understand the OF’s predicament is a big help. Much better than sitting home and going “woe is me.” Going to the OFs and doing your “woe is me” here you still won’t get any sympathy because you will be out-woed.  (Does anyone think that should be “woe am I”?

Those OFs that made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and who beat the morning small town rush hour were: Miner Stevens, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Roger Chapman, Otis Lawyer, David Williams, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, George Washburn, Jim Heiser, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Don Wood, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Jess Vadney, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Harold Grippen and me.

ALERT! Very clever credit card scam! This is a new one!

This is very clever.  `I would probably fall for it if not warned.  Very Clever Credit Card Scam!

Give this wide distribution.

This scam is actually very clever.

Just when you thought you’d heard it all.

Be very careful out there!

Beware of people bearing gifts.

The following is a recounting of the incident from the victim:

Wednesday a week ago, I had a phone call from someone saying that he was from some outfit called: “Express Couriers,”(The name could be any courier company) He asked if I was going to be home because there was a package for me that required a signature .

The caller said that the delivery would arrive at my home in roughly an hour. Sure enough, about an hour later, a uniformed delivery man turned up with a beautiful basket of flowers and a bottle of wine. I was very surprised since there was no special occasion or holiday, and I certainly didn’t expect anything like it. Intrigued, I inquired as to who the sender was.

The courier replied, “I don’t know, I’m only delivering the package.”

Apparently, a card was being sent separately… (the card has never arrived!) There was also a consignment note with the gift.

He then went on to explain that because the gift contained alcohol, there was a $3.50 “delivery/ verification charge,” providing proof that he had actually delivered the package to an adult (of legal
drinking age), and not just left it on the doorstep where it could be stolen or taken by anyone, especially a minor.

This sounded logical and I offered to pay him cash. He then said that the delivery company required payment to be by credit or debit card only, so that everything is properly accounted for, and this would help in keeping a legal record of the transaction.

He added couriers don’t carry cash to avoid loss or likely targets for robbery.

My husband, who by this time was standing beside me, pulled out his credit card, and ‘John,’ the “delivery man,” asked him to swipe the card on a small mobile card machine with a small screen and keypad. Frank, my husband, was asked to enter his PIN number and a receipt was printed out. He was given a copy of the transaction.

The guy said everything was in order, and wished us good day.

To our horrible surprise, between Thursday and the following Monday,  $4,000 had been charged/withdrawn from our credit/debit
account at various ATM machines.

Apparently the “mobile credit card machine,” which the deliveryman carried now had all the info necessary to create a “dummy”  card with all our card details including the PIN number.

Upon finding out about the illegal transactions on our card, we immediately notified the bank which issued us a new card, and our credit/debit  account was closed.

We also personally went to the Police, where it was confirmed that it is definitely a scam because several households had been similarly hit.

WARNING: Be wary of accepting any “surprise gift or package,” which you neither expected nor personally ordered, especially if it involves any  kind of payment as a condition of receiving the gift or package. Also, never accept anything
if you do not personally know or there is no proper identification of who the sender is.

Above all, the only time you should give out any personal credit/debit card information is when you yourself initiated the purchase or transaction!

PLEASE   Pass this on, it may just prevent someone else from being swindled.

Country Cafe – April 18th

This week the Old Men of the Mountain managed to meet at the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie on Tuesday, the 18th of April, 2017.

At this breakfast we were taken care of by a new waitress who apparently was not familiar with the OMOTM. When the first 8 or 10 of the OFs arrived at the Country Café and had seated themselves, the waitress came introduced herself and asked what we wanted to drink.  She had a carafe of regular coffee in her hand then asked who wanted coffee; the answer from the OFs was a typical OF answer. Out of 8 or 10 OFs some wanted regular, some wanted decaf, one wanted ice water, and one wanted OJ. The waitress was about to find out there is nothing simple when dealing with old people.

After taking care of the early riser’s coffee requests, the waitress asked a normal chit chat question. “Just what do the Old Men of the Mountain do?” she asked pointing to the OMOTM caps on some of the OFs. In unison, like singing a song, the OFs replied nothing, we do absolutely nothing. This took the new waitress back a little ─ here is a group of OFs that get together and do nothing. The long and short answer is yep…you got it, nothing is our thing, we do nothing is our motto. However, we do have a 22 page set of by-laws to keep everything civil and on track so doing something does not get in the way of our nothingness.

Many of the OFs are actively getting ready for spring.  This includes making sure all the small engines that are used during the spring, summer, and fall, are in good working order and will start when they should. When all these little engines are put together an individual OF will have quite a few. There are the lawnmowers, the weed whackers, the chain saws, the leaf blowers, the

roto-tillers, the tractors, the debris pumps, a generator, and who knows what else that has some little engine attached to it, plus in the winter time it is the snow blower.

As mentioned in previous columns we have a few OFs that repair small engines, one in particular performs small engine repair as a business. This OF is now putting people on a list that is two weeks out because he is so busy. This OF must be really good at his job because his hands look like a surgeon’s hands. They are clean and not all nicked up with cuts and bruises.

This led the OFs into talking about tools of the trade and how OFs that do a lot of woodworking, metal work,  hobby/craft work, or work in the woods, have much better tools, and the right tool instead of the OF that does it only once or twice a year with a hammer and a crowbar. The crowbar will be three times larger than required, or the OF will need one three times larger than the one he is using. The same goes for the hammer, or maybe the saw with teeth that are as smooth as the back of saw.

The OF said that having the right tool for the job, and having that tool in good condition is key to making any job fun and easy. One OF said it cuts down on a lot of cussing and swearing, nicks  and bruises, trips to the doctors and hospital, and finally wasted time and a good reason for divorce.

The OFs talked a little bit about what they did to make a living when they were younger. If some of the shenanigans that went on at work were true it is a wonder many of the OFs weren’t sacked.

Within this conversations were snippets of what may have precipitated the shenanigans. One was politics where one OF described an attempt to imitate a German accent on an employee (where he worked) opinion of politician’s work ethic even then as trick and swindle. This may or may not be true but seems to be a common trait today by some. The other which brought agreement, (and this scribe realizes this is in the paper) they didn’t trust the press then, and even less now.

One OF added, “I don’t know about you guys but I worked the farm; the hours were long, the work was hard; I was the boss and the hired hand. I didn’t pay any attention to either of them. If I had any free time the wife and I would go to a farm auction or a square dance.  Life was simple and fun but at the time we did not know it.”

This scribe does not know how many topics of conversation at the table get started or when they end, so this causes much head scratching at the computer to figure out how to interpret some of the notes on this scribe’s little pocket pad. If the notes are truly in sequence the OFs went from the topics above to Easter diners and what to do with leftovers.

One OF described in much detail what was done with the leftovers at his place. This OF said after the meal they prepared the leftovers so they could be used for many meals later on. They took the ham and cut all the meat off the ham and left the bone for making soup. They took the slices from the ham and prepared them for sandwiches. They took the meat close to the bone and cut it plus the ham sauce to be part of the ingredients for making macaroni and cheese. If enough was left from that they placed chunks in plastic bags for ham salad.  The mashed potatoes were pre-prepared for making potato pancakes. The OF said in the morning they would cook up the potato pancakes, fry up some eggs and bacon, plop them on top of the pancakes and that is good eating!

One OF said, “It sounds like you had a meal with a 10- pound ham for only 3 or 4 people. At our place after we pass out some paper plates for some to take home there is not much food left over for leftovers.”

Maybe the OFs should sit down with the wife and write down some of their recipes, and special meal preparations, and  even include some of the OFs parent’s recipe collection and make their own OF’s cook book. That could be a collection of recipes going back to around 1885 plus with the ages of the OFs that would be a collection of recipes that would be doggone healthy, because we made it to be OFs!

Those OFs that made it to the Country Café in Schoharie because of the healthy eating of days gone by were: Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Dave Williams, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Otis Lawyer, Jim Heiser, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Rev. Jay Francis, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Herb Bahrmann, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jess Vadney, Harold Grippen, and me.

Middleburgh Diner – April 11th

The next stop on the clock for the Old Men of the Mountain was Tuesday, the 11th of April, at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. And Happy Happy Birthday to our assistant scribe Bill!

This was a beautiful morning; a little after six most of the OMOTM noticed a beautiful sunrise starting in the East, and a full moon to the West which was encased in a pastel yellow-orange glow, and was sharing in that sunrise. Then those OFs headed off to meet with other OFs for breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner and have a laugh or two ─ what a great way to start the day.

One of the OF lives by Warner Lake so close that when the OF gets up his feet are in water told a story that took place about this time of year. The Canada geese are returning for their summer stay in the locale of the OFs. For many of these geese it is not far from their winter gathering places. These geese now make their way to Cornwall, Cornwall-on-Hudson, Carmel, and Lake Carmel where they are really not welcome because they make a mess of just about everything. One OF who made business calls in that area said when pulling into a parking lot that was by a pond he stepped out of the car and was surrounded by geese. The OF then would have to walk in a 10-to-12-foot circle of geese all the way to the door of the main office building that he was calling on.

Back to the OF with the geese at Warner Lake. This OF said the geese landed on the lake and overnight the lake froze with a skim of ice and most of the geese got out OK. However, one goose was trapped and could not get out no matter how hard it tried. Another goose that was able to free itself from this situation watched the predicament of the goose flailing to get free. After awhile the goose that was free went over and started pecking at the ice around the trapped goose. Eventually the goose that was pecking at the trapped goose was able to free it, and the trapped goose took off.

Then another OF picked up on the recounting of the Warner Lake event and  told how the Canada goose was responsible for our lakes, ponds, and waterways being populated with fish. This OF said that many years ago thousands of Canada Geese landed on a very large pond that was loaded with fish. It was the beginning of winter and just like the Warner Lake situation there was an extreme drop in temperature during the night and all the geese were frozen in this large pond.

The OF said that in the morning when the sun came up the geese, one by one, tried to extricate themselves from the ice. This did not work and for some reason all the geese tried to free themselves at the same time.  Ultimately, the geese all took off in unison taking the fish laden ice with them.

The geese flew encased in ice trying to find a place to set down and free themselves.   As they flew over the lakes, ponds and waterways fish fell from the ice into these lakes, ponds and waterways. These falling fish populated all the lakes, ponds and waterways they fell into.

This OF said eventually the ice melted and all the geese were free and they separated and settled into many different bodies of water. The geese quest to free themselves from the ice took them over much of the surrounding landscape and they covered many square miles dropping fish as they sought to fly free from the ice before they became exhausted and crashed to the ground.

The OF said, “You can thank the Canada goose for all the fish that are in our lakes, ponds and waterways today”.

“Yeah,” one OF retorted, “I will remember that each time I have wiped the purple goose poop off the bottom of my boots.”

“My heart knows what the wild goose knows

And I must go where the wild goose goes.

Wild goose, brother goose, which is best

A wandrin’ foot or a heart at rest.”

Now there is an old song that will put our teenage grandchildren’s knickers in a knot.

There are many signs of spring like the Red-winged Blackbirds returning, the stink bugs beginning to show up, of course the geese honking as the penetrate the sky, some of the early flowers poking their heads through the snow, and the peepers. Most of the OFs heard the peepers for the first time Monday night. Some of the OFs thought these harbingers of spring were a little late this year. “These little frogs are amazing,” one OF mused, “For the size of them they make a lot of noise”. The OF also said that when you approach the marshy area where they are peeping they all shut up at the same time like someone turned off a switch, and once the OF said he walks a certain distance away from them they all start in again. The OF said he has placed a stick in the ground from when the peepers stop, and where the peeping starts again and looks for some kind of trip wire.  At night when the peeping usually stops there are generally a few frogs that did not get the message and they do a few little individual peeps and then it is quiet.

The OFs able to break away from the beauty of the sunrise/moonset at the same time and make it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh were: John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Marty Herzog, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, David Williams, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Jim Heiser, Ken Parkes, Roger Shafer, Sonny Mercer, Ray Kennedy, Don Wood, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Ted Willsey and chauffer Denise Eardley, Harold Grippen, and me.

Kim’s West Wind Diner – April 4th

Tuesday, the 4th of April of 2017, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Kim’s West Wind Diner on Route 145, Preston Hollow.

The OFs that took the long way around on the flats, made better time than the OFs that came over the mountain. There was quite an elevation fog that made the mountain trek much slower. Generally over the mountain is a nice way to get to the diner because the views coming down the mountain from Rensselaerville are spectacular.

This question was asked by one OF:  why is Preston Hollow here? This scribe found little information, the population as of  the 2010 census was 366 souls, down from the 2000 census which showed that the roads were trodden by only 748 human feet kicking up dust.

It seems that a fellow from Connecticut, Dr. Samuel Preston settled here in 1789.Why? Beats us. Then 4 years later, (Dr. Sam must have lived like a hermit) in 1793 along came Henry Couchman who found the nearest mill was in Leeds (by Catskill) {that’s a hike from Preston Hollow} and the nearest apple tree was in Schoharie {again another hike}, the connection between the two points again beats the OFs, however, Henry did purchase a bushel of apples from the tree in Schoharie and brought them to Preston Hollow and started an orchard. This is about all you could do here because there are hills on both sides of the Catskill creek at Preston Hollow; actually from Middleburgh to Catskill along Route 145 there is really very little flat land ─ the mountains are like a vertex of an isosceles triangle at the creek.

With the creek running pretty full in back of the diner one of the topics at the table was fishing, and the opening day of fishing this year. Unfortunately, none of the OFs at my end of the table were out casting their lures in the water this year. “At 27 degrees outside I’m staying in,” one OF said and the others concurred. Leave it for the kids was the consensus of the older guys.

However, then they began talking fishing stories mostly fishing the Salmon River around Pulaski, NY. One of the reasons for taking this trip according to OFs was that not only was the fishing great, but it was an easy drive, and did not take too long.

One OF mentioned how slippery the rocks are on the banks of the river and it is a good idea to have spikes on your waders. This scribe is NOT a fisherman so he had no idea spikes came with waders. If this scribe was walking with spikes on slippery rocks the first thing this scribe would do is fall in. Spikes on wet rocks did not seem to compute.

The OFs that fished the Salmon River did fall in at one time or another. One was carried downstream a few yards and did not drop his pole. Which comes first, drowning or saving your fishing pole?  In this case it looks like drowning wins out ─ save the pole. One OF fell in and his waders filled with water so he was soaked from head to foot and the OF did not bring extra clothes. He said he was soaked from head to toe and froze the rest of the day. The lesson learned here was even if the OF was going fishing only for the day it would be good to bring extra everything (in the way of clothes) just in case.

In Pulaski, the salmon fishermen are lined along both sides of the river for miles and in the river there are islands.  One OF said lots of fisher people go out to the islands to fish. However, when on an island and hearing a siren going off, it is not a fire, it is time to clear the islands because the water is going to rise. When the siren does goes off and you don’t clear off the island then the fishermen on that island can plan on spending the night there, and on some of the islands those that did not heed the warning will have to scurry to high ground. One OF said there you are on that island, in waders, no porta-johns and you are going to be there for the next 12 to 15 hours.

What becomes of the fish that are caught the OFs didn’t say. The OFs never mentioned bringing coolers to bring them home, or if the salmon were even any good. To hear their stories, even when they fall in or get soaked, it sounds like all the OFs that head to the Salmon River to fish have a lot of fun.

This scribe’s only contact with fishing was taking his kids fishing (years ago) and this scribe spent the rest of the day untangling lines and baiting hooks; in the winter it was digging holes in the ice and setting up tip-ups, plus freezing,  so never once has this scribe cast a line. However, the “kids” who are now adults in their fifties still fish.  Hmmmmm.

The OFs that made it to Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow and watched the rushing brown water of the Catskill Creek come very close to the back of the diner were: Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Richard Frank, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, Chuck Aelesio, Don Wood, Ray Kennedy, Sonny Mercer, Karl Remmers, Bob Snyder, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Pastor Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Harold Grippen, and me.

Hilltown Cafe – March 28th

On Tuesday the 28th of March (thank goodness this month is almost to the end) the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville.

The following OF report will be from notes that did not make previous reports because this scribe has one of the hardest colds he thinks he has ever had and so he did not make the breakfast. One reason was because he had so much Coricidin in him that the drousy bit was really working; the other reason was that he would not want any of the other OFs to catch it, for some of these old codgers it would do them in and the scribe would feel real bad about that because this scribe now hates to get dressed up.

This scribe is going back to March 7th, on a topic of buzz saws. One of the unusual uses of a large 36” buzz saw was at a horning. The OFs have conversed many times about what we used to do in the forties and fifties that was considered fun but would have the OFs arrested today. When young couples got married in small country towns generally a horning was planned. This was not a secret to the young couple because they may have participated in a few horning’s themselves. They also knew that when the horning was to happen was a closely guarded secret. The Pentagon could take lessons on how well the farmers handled this secret.

The young married couple would take part of their wedding money to prepare for this event. The OFs remember having a damaged buzz saw hung in the machinery shed on a farm just for this event. The night of the horning, the buzz saw was put to good use. The saw was placed on a pry bar, or a length of heavy duty pipe which was brought to the horning location. Two guys would hold up the saw and another guy would pound on it with a good size hammer. Big Ben would not ring through the night as loud as the buzz saws ring.  We have long and fond memories of these (now obsolete) gatherings.

This next subject we discussed, and was found in our backlog of topics, is one not used from January 31st, and the note in the book is just noise. This scribe remembers what this was about but does not remember how the OFs came to talk about this. The feeling that people say they are going out to the quietness of the country are in for a rude awakening especially when the milking machines start running at four in the morning, and the milk truck makes its first stop around 5:30 or 6 am. The country is not quiet. The noises are different balers pounding, tractors running, blowers whining, belts slapping, fans whirring, and all kinds of other unexpected noise. Then there are the noises of the night. It is just like the city only different.  There does come a time at night when the country becomes eerily quiet, and those not familiar with this sensation wake up wondering what has happened.

February 14th was a discussion on the Metric System versus our Fractional system. The OFs wonder why the whole world can’t be one or the other. Why hasn’t the United States ever converted to the Metric System?  Short answer:  It’s complicated.  One OF mentioned that Thomas Jefferson tried to convert us to this quite a few years back and it never took hold.  When they attempted to have the US go to the Metric System it ran into many problems. The OFs were taught a smattering of metric at one time, but so little that it soon was forgotten about. Now there seems to be more metric labeling and equipment built overseas that incorporate some metric, however, just some of it is rubbing off on the OFs.

“Today,” one OF said, “If you are going to do any mechanical repairs it is necessary to have two sets of tools: one metric, and one fractional.”   “Yeah,” another OF said, “When looking at a nut which I think is ¼ inch but half the time it turns out to be 6 mm.”  Another OF commented that he had put a bucket on a John Deere tractor he owned the tractor was metric, and the bucket turned out to be Wentworth, which measured sizes in inches. What a mess that was. The OF said the bucket and attachment’s fasteners had to be taken out, holes re-drilled and Helicoils (a metric coarse thread repair kit) were put in with fractional threads. One OF said when we ship overseas we have to use the dang metric system, but when they ship goods over here they use metric, and not our fractional system, which makes for a very unlevel playing field.

Yep, what they are doing by osmosis is so that eventually this country will go metric. Doctors talk metric, i.e., it is a 2 liter bottle, and speedometers now have both metric speed and fractional speed per hour. “It will be a long time before it is complete ─ if ever,” one OF said. “Look at all the old tractors and hit-and-miss engine clubs that are around. Old cars and trucks that people keep running will still be fractional.”  One OF said he would never get used to 34-26-34 being 91.44-56.04-91.44, cm, or they might just call it 92-57-92.  What a shame when they change that!

The Old Men of the Mountain that met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, and this scribe has no idea how they got there but at least they did, were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Chuck Aelesio, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Otis Lawyer, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Ted Feurer, Herb Bahrmann, Wayne Gaul, Lou Schenck, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, ( with guest Amy Willsey), Gerry Chartier, ( with guest Winne Chartier), Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Frank, Harold Grippen, and not me.

Home Front Cafe – March 21st

Tuesday the 21st of March 2017 was a much better Tuesday than March 14th 2017.

On the 21st the Old Men of the Mountain were able to make it to the Home Front Café in Altamont. The 14th was the first time the OMOTM did not make it to a restaurant since the OFs have been getting together like this. It takes a full blown blizzard to stop the OFs.   This storm even stopped the US post office at some zip codes. Hey, even some bars were closed! The OFs said this was labeled a blizzard and the wind attested to that, but it still can’t top the blizzard of 1993 according to the OFs.

A few of the OFs can do small engine repairs, as well as getting some rusty old heap of a bull dozer repaired and running, and we have mentioned before how many OFs are capable of restoring old tractors. These OFs (including one that does the small engine repair as a business) say this weather brings out people purchasing snowblowers and generators, and then as spring really takes over they return them to where they bought them. These OFs can’t quite understand this viewpoint. If people thought they needed this equipment while being pelted with snow what makes them think they won’t need it in the not to distant future? Do they think it is not going to snow again? After all, it is the Northeast and our particular area is where two valleys and two rivers meet at about 90 degrees. Even the weather itself does not know what to do when it meets the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers at the Cohoes/Waterford area. With the hills from Little Nose (near the Village of Sprakers) on down towards Schenectady following the Mohawk river basically east and west, and the Helderbergs with the hills of Rensselaer county running basically north and south, any good weather system stops and scratches its head at these points pondering what to do.

The OFs think every home should have a snow removal tool of some kind, including a young back to work it.

The OFs discussed when to retire and that discussion had many opinions. This debate broke down into a few basic steps such as finances, health, and what to do when someone retires. These steps take pre-planning when you are young enough to do so. Many of the OFs did not do this because when they were YFs it was not emphasized as much as it is today. One OF said when we were YFs it was thought we would be dead before we got the chance. So far the OFs have managed pretty well. More important than money, in most cases, is what to do when the retirement time comes. The OFs mentioned volunteering or developing a hobby that can be done without too much physical effort. Join a group that has a similar interest for you, or find religion. The worst thing is to just sit and turn to rust.

An OF mentioned that his wife takes care of his activity department with a job list under a magnet on the refrigerator. This OF said she keeps on his case until these chores are done, but then she keeps adding new ones. The OF said that as he completes one job or the other he dutifully crosses it out and marks that job done. The OF said one day there were 5 or 6 jobs on the list, so he hustled and got them all done in one day but this time the OF did not cross off the jobs that were done.

In about 3 days the OF said his wife got on his case to work on the to-do-list and the OF said he would get after them. In about a week his wife was still after him, and the OF said he had a weeks complete reprieve of not having to do any of the dumb things she came up with, and it proved to him she never checked if they were done anyway, she just noticed the jobs were crossed off so she just came up with new ones to add to the list. This is just like the Amish Friendship Bread people just keeping passing around the starter and the one who receives the starter keeps adding to it and passes some starter to the next sucker…err friend.

This column keeps reporting that many of the OFs are veterans and this year the Kiwanis is attempting to have a good contingent of veterans who live in the Hilltowns of Berne, Knox, Westerlo, or Rensselaerville to be a part of the Hilltown Memorial Day Parade in the town of Berne. They would like to have all veterans (who are able) to participate so they are requesting any veterans in these towns to contact them at 518-894-8589 and let them know, who you are, if you prefer to march, prefer to ride, or are in a wheelchair, and if you need assistance getting in or out of a vehicle. The Kiwanis guarantees there will be no snow. The Kiwanis will take care of you no matter how you get about.

The OFs talked about shopping and how most people who work in stores are pleasant and helpful, while others should find another line of work. These people are grumpy with some almost surly, like they are doing you a favor by being there to take care of you. One OF attributed it to when you run into one of these “woe is me” characters that they are just having a bad day. One OF said that isn’t always the case here because every time he goes into a certain store and happens to have a certain person wait on him the personality is the same. Then one OF offered, “It may just be karma and you two do not connect, however, to the next person in line this employee might be just as bubbly as the next one.” This OF said he does not know how many places would keep a person who is really miserable all the time in a job where they had to deal with the public. “Who knows?, another OF thought, “This particular person may be a relative and can’t get a job anywhere else.”  Another OF said he has a friend that isn’t happy unless he is miserable. The OFs don’t think there is a cure for that.

The OFs that were glad to get out and about and who made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont were: Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Marty Herzog, Russ Pokorny, Warren Willsey, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Ted Willsey, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Henry Whipple, Harold Grippen, and me.