On Tuesday the 28th of July, our last meeting for this month, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café in Altamont. The size of the group is getting rather large. We may have to rent a Red Man’s Hall, or an Odd Fellows hall to hold us. Or maybe we can all go to Mike’s house; parties there just seem to grow. All kinds of people stop at his house when they see a bunch of cars parked outside and figure there is a concert of some kind going on and just pull in. That is OK because with Mike the more the merrier. The stranger soon becomes a friend.

Quite some time back we mentioned that a few of the OMOTM had spotted a mountain lion. The OF’s at that time were told (when they reported it to DEC) that it must have been a large cat because the mountain lion was not native to our area and there were none around. As in the case of Pentecost when the apostles were accused of being drunk because everyone heard the message in their own language, Peter said, “Ah, come on these guys are not drunk, it is only 9 a.m.” so it is with the OFs who saw what they saw and they were not drunk. Many of the OF’s dare not take a drink with all the medications they are on so being inebriated is out. Well it has happened again – the big cats have been seen again. Cats…this time with an “s”.

Maybe it is like a few columns ago when the OF’s talked about rabbits and woodchucks bringing fox and coyotes, just maybe, these four legged fodder are bringing the big cats also. That would be fun; these are beautiful animals.

The OG’s started talking about giving directions, and getting directions from local people who get to where they are going without knowing a turn, street name, or route number. Just like a Freihofer horse which knew the route as well as the delivery man and rarely did you ever see anyone driving the Freihofer wagon. The horse also knew which way to turn the wheels so the wagon would not run away when it was facing up or down hill.

One OF said he was given actual directions to get to (oops the scribe can’t remember, and did not make a note of it) well somewhere. “Yeah mister…ya go down the road about 2 miles to the stop sign and make a left, the stop sign ain’t there anymore, but you will see Magee’s place on the right, make a left there. Go down that road about 2 more miles and ya will see a tree shaped like a sling shot, only they cut one-half off 4 or 5 years ago because it was hanging over the road but it looks almost the same only different, make another left, and just about another mile you will see a big county sand pile on your right. Right about now most of it is gone though, but it will be back come fall, make a right there, and Adam’s place is the third or fourth house on the right.” A reply might be, “Duh…OK, thanks for the help, and does Magee have a closet?”

Another OF related directions he got when visiting his cousin for the first time in their new home. The directions were right on the money until the cousin said, “Go all the way through town and make a left where the mill is on fire.” Son of a Gun, the cousin was right. When the OF got to the end of town he saw smoke, and sure enough the mill had burned to the ground during the night and was still burning when the OF got there. As instructed he made a left and proceeded to the cousin’s home following the rest of directions right to their door.

We asked the OFs how to give directions in the hilltowns, and boy if you can follow them you are doing well – and we know where we are. Maybe that is why we OF’s still get lost trying to get to some the restaurants when we attempt to take a route that is not the normal road traveled. So if you are lost in the hills don’t ask any of the OFs.

In our group there are OF’s that help work on, and maintain, the Long Path and who also hike the high peaks of the Adirondacks and the Appalachian Trail and they don’t get lost. Some actually act as guides, however, once there is concrete or asphalt involved watch out…their mental compasses go wacky and they can’t be trusted.

Those OF’s meeting at the Home Front Café in Altamont, and strangers when they met, and friends when they left were: Arnold Geraldsen, Dave Williams, Bob Dietz, Robie Osterman, Henry Witt, Roger Chapman, Steve Kelly, Roger Shaffer, Walt Hill, Carl Slater, Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Ted Pelkey, Frank Pauli, Jay Taylor, Bob Benac, Bill Thorpe, Art Frament, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Paul Paulsen, Harold Grippen, Willard Osterhout, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Bob Snyder, Gerry Chartier, Duane Wagenbaugh, John Brooks, Jim Watson, and me.