On the 11th month, on the 10th day (and that was a Tuesday) the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. It must have been coincidence, or maybe it was timing of another sort, but there was another small group of men at a table. I hesitate to use the term old, but they were kinda, and their conclave was six guys. The OF’s then started showing up and this morning we numbered 21 if the scribe counted correctly.
The little restaurant on the hill handled everyone quite efficiently, them, us, and the onesy-twosies, that would go in one door for the post office, and then open the other door and stop in for a cup of coffee and a muffin.
According to the OF’s at the scribe’s table, the OF’s that had pancakes said the Hilltown Cafe must have the griddle at just the right temperature because the pancakes were great, also the OF’s like this place and the pancakes because they serve real sausages, and not those dinky brown and serve things.
This morning the OG’s must have fallen into the “leaves from the trees gone” syndrome and winter a comin on phase that associates a certain type of melancholy with this time of year and nostalgia filled the conversations for most of the morning.
We combined then and now with ease, and wondered if things totally collapsed how would the current 30-something’s cope? This scribe thinks quite well but the OF’s wondered if this was so. All those at our table said we do miss the simple ways of when we were young. Going out to get the cows in the early morning, going to the barn to milk, the farm breakfast, and the farm routine and how relaxed it was basically because each person knew what they had to do.
One OG said that he went out to get the cows on early fall mornings (and the sun was not quite up yet) barefoot. He said that as the cows got up the grass was warm where they lay and he would go and stand where the cow was laying and warm his feet on the warm ground. Farm kids aren’t dumb.
After morning chores all would come in for breakfast and we discussed how great these first meals of the day were. A continual batter for flapjacks was always on the back of the stove, real maple syrup, eggs, sausage, or pork chops, and warm bread with real butter and sugar on it. All waiting when chores were done, and back then whatever was on the table the OF’s ate, not once did anyone say I don’t like that. If you didn’t like it you didn’t eat. No matter what the meal, what was prepared was it.
This morning the OF’s recalled butchering and making head cheese, taking the weekly bath, and helping your mother in the winter take frozen clothes from the line, and spreading them around the stove to thaw out. Clothes would be drying in the kitchen and in the parlor adding pleasant moisture to the air. Often times snow would blow into the bedroom when the OF’s got up and in the morning there would be snow on the floors. In most cases the bedrooms were not heated.
These conversations were not can you top this but a mind exercise for the OG’s memories. This morning the OF’s were painting great pictures of the past and how none of us complained. We were all poor. Would the scribe want to go back? Yeah, if youth would go with me, and the aches and pains would disappear, but right now this scribe enjoys his creature comforts.
On OF described the temper tantrum his teenage granddaughter threw when her hair dryer wouldn’t work because the power was out. The OF said it was completely uncalled for. She was blaming her mother and father because there was no power and wanted them to do something right away. She said she couldn’t live without that device, and if she had to go out her life was over. My goodness! Give that kid a canteen of water and a boot out the door and tell her to come back in a couple of years.
The problem with all this is that the OF’s are and were country folk. What about those in the cities where thousands live in one building? Coping with power outages and disasters are different and the OG’s suppose can be quite stressful, beyond what we can imagine. We can build a latrine in the woods, but what do you do with two hundred thousand people on only 500 acres and these people are newborns to octogenarians, for water, food….my what a different set of problems. So the OF’s concluded it really isn’t fair to lump everyone into one group and able to fend for themselves off the land.
Those attending the breakfast at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, and ready to invite the other group to join us but this group was ready to leave when the thought occurred were: Frank Pauli, George Washburn, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Gerd Remmers, Robie Osterman, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Bob Snyder, Skip Skinner, Alvin Latham, Gary Porter, Don Moser, Arnold Geraldsen, Willard Osterhout, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, Dennis White, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, and me.