The Old Men of the Mountain by John R. Williams       

            This Tuesday March 24th, 2009 it was cold – cold enough to freeze a you-know-what as the Old Men of the Mountain trudged off to the Alley Cat Restaurant in Schoharie. The first thing one OF mentioned was that he thought it was going to be a cold summer. Now how does he know?  Spring hasn’t even sprung yet. Pessimist. When this OG goes into a tunnel they close the door on the other end, because for him there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

            With this early spring cold snap, and these 25 to 30 mile per hour winds, working out doors is a challenge.  The OG’s, being rather fastidious individuals, attempt to keep their yards and buildings up to snuff, so they are out in this weather raking and picking up branches left from last winter’s ice storm. One OG says he has to rake double because the wind blows from his neighbor’s home toward his place, and all the leaves blow with it, so he winds up raking his leaves and his neighbor’s leaves.  On the cold windy days we just had the wind was blowing pretty stiff from a different direction…from his place toward the neighbors. This OF braved the cold and went out and raked the ditch in front of his place so that the wind blew the dust, stones, sticks and leaves across the road and into his neighbor’s yard, and though he was cold he chuckled all the while he was doing it. The OF said he even flicked this debris high in the air so the wind could really get into it. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is the Golden Rule, however, the coal rule is, as others do unto you, do unto to them…only double.

            The OF’s  continued to discuss trying to work outside and most came to this conclusion, “What are we, crazy?” and went back in and found something else to do…like take a nap.

            Some of the OF’s were talking about the economy and the current obsession with things green and said what a bunch of baloney (or is it bologna?) They discussed how all of a sudden the automobiles ads are touting mileage and quality.  They opined that these cars have not changed – most are the same pieces of junk they always were.  These ads seem to imply the new vehicles will go across the country on one tank of gas and they will last until your grandkids are driving the same car. If you believe this then there is some beachfront property in Mesa, Arizona the OF’s will sell you. Cheap.

            Another turnoff for us is the political ads. The OF’s maintain it is impossible to trust a politician, or his or her ads. To a man the OF’s would like to see the current ads off the radio, and off television, and give us a break. One OF said they are so hateful and spiteful he is wondering what kind of people are running the country.  Most would not be friends with either one of those bombarding the air waves, the way these current ads are being run, and if you believe either one’s portrayal of the other, neither one is a very nice person.

            Then we talked about grocery store ads, particularly the big grocery stores, each one saying that if you fill up your cart with groceries at their store you will save 25 – 30% on your purchases. The OF’s concluded with this one that if you needed $100 worth of groceries you should go with your list to store #1 where they say “Sure, at our store you cart’s worth will be $70”.  Then proceed to market #2 and tell them what market #1 said and market #2 will say, “Oh yes, with us it will be $49 for your cart of groceries.”  Then at store #3 the OF would mention store #2 and they should say, “Oh yes, with us your cart of groceries will be only $34.30.”  Now like this will ever happen.

            Many times the OF’s do discuss shopping and they think the wives are driven by the hunt and not the savings. As the OF’s put it – when a gas station has gas for $1.99 a gallon, and the one across the street is $2.00 a gallon – purchase it where you are comfortable.  Twenty gallons of gas at a penny’s difference is only $.20. Hey, most people drop more than that in the penny cups at many store cash registers. In the same vein if store #1 has lettuce for $l.20 a head and a store five miles away is offering lettuce at

$ .99 a head when you are at store #1…buy the stupid lettuce.  It will cost more in gas to get the $.99 head than 10 heads at the buck twenty, yet our wives will chase after that $.99 head. It is the hunt!  The OF’s say it has nothing to do with common sense. Oh dear, the scribe may be looking for a place to sleep tonight again.

            The OF’s conversed about the economy and they have many opinions, but none really know where and how the collapse started, and none of these talking heads do either. One OF said that they all think they do and they don’t. This scribe has a jumble of notes on this topic and one of these days will attempt to sort it out. This scribe will lay you dollars to doughnuts that somewhere in those notes hides the cause and solution to our economic woes. The Old Men of the Mountain have the combined knowledge of approximately 1,400 years among them and within this collective background in years lies the answer to many problems, from raising kids, to finances, to sex, to religion, to the weather, to sex, to gardening, to farming, (they are different) to sex, to tractors, cars and trucks, to housing, to sex, and finally to something they really know nothing about, and never will even if the combined knowledge climbs to 2000 years….women.

            Those showing up at the Alley Cat Restaurant in Schoharie and really enjoying their breakfast sandwiches (which at the Alley Cat are a meal) were Dave Williams, Ted Pelkey, John Rossmann, Skip Skinner, Robbie Osterman, Harold Grippen, Frank Pauli, Roger Chapman, Carl Slater, Miner Stevens, Arnold Geraldsen, Don Moser, Bob Benninger, Steve Kelly, Roger Schaffer, Paul Paulsen, Ted Willsey, Harold Grippen, Willard Osterhout, Jim Rissacher, and Jim’s companion, and me.