This glorious Tuesday, on July 27th, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Alley Cat Restaurant in Schoharie. The gathering was well attended and the conversation decibel level was quite high; it would have made the polygraph expert Clive Baxter happy.

There is an ongoing discussion, not necessarily argumentative but differences of opinions on what is noise. Even the ones in favor of their (used to be) noisy motorcycles and ATV’s have to admit some are really loud and can be disturbing, which lead us to what are our rights. It breaks down to the fact that we really do not have many out and out rights. What we have are privileges, and privileges are granted, and if abused can and should be taken away, or at least regulated. The OF’s have covered this topic more than once.

A topic we have also discussed before, but this scribe does not think he has reported on it, is couch potatoes. The OF’s say that sitting on the couch, unless there is some physical disability is the worst thing anyone can do. If people who are five, fifty, or seventy-five, they should get up and move was the general opinion of the OF’s. This group attests to this fact because most are busy at something. There are flowers to weed, chickens to feed, lawns to be mowed, gardens to be hoed, walks to walk, and talks to talk. One OF said he can only sit too long then he has to get up off his fat butt and do something. With this OF that is just a colloquium because the OF does not have a fat butt. One OG said it hurts to get up, his knees creak, and his back takes awhile to straighten up, but he eventually does get up and move and he does something, like put the dog on a leash and have the dog take him for a walk.

Another OF said this is easier said than done. Some have nothing planned to do, or no place to go, so this OG said volunteer at something. Another OG added that when some OF shows up to volunteer with their cane in hand they are not looked too kindly upon. This OF said you can almost hear them say, “What is this OF doing here? He will just get in the way.” This may be very true, what someone needs to do is start an OF volunteer organization where they have a roster of OF’s and their talents. These OF’s can be called on to help someone with music, or art, or mechanics, or gardening. The OF suggested not necessarily do the work but help those by tutoring in a specific field that the OF has expertise in. Maybe some of the senior citizens organizations already have a plan like this.

The Old Men of the Mountain are familiar with the product called Watkins. If you remember the very important trades of colonial times called tinkers and coopers, Watkins was like that. The OF’s were recalling that the Watkins man, like the Fuller Brush man came with their trucks (and these trucks were actually the forerunner to today’s van) to the farmer’s home with their products. These guys were not hustlers, they were an important part of society then. The OF’s talked about looking forward to their visits — especially for the Watkins salve. This stuff did wonders. It came in a round tin and cured everything from dandruff to gout. One OF said it really, really did. Watkins products are still around but they are not quite like the ones the OFs remember. There is a common product that is quite similar which can be obtained at most farm stores (and some pharmacies) called Bag Balm and it does much of what Watkins salve did. One OF said people go out and purchase all these creams and lotions for big bucks, when a few applications of Watkins salve would do the same thing. Cracked feet? At night rub them with Bag Balm, or Watkins salve, cover with white socks and go to bed. In three or four days no more cracked feet. Chapped hands? The same treatment, only get some white cotton gloves.

Now for something completely different, the weather. The OG’s said that so far this summer is like the summers we remember when we were young men. Hot, good haying weather; evenings can be spent outdoors. For the past ten years or maybe longer the OF’s say the summers have not been summers. Rain, dreary, a few hot days, and summer seemed just like spring and fall ran together. Now if we can get a few more summers like it has been so far this year it will be like old times and the OF’s will be happy. Well not really because it is harder to take the heat at our ages, but hard or not we will take it. By the way this is not global warming.

Those attending the breakfast at the Alley Cat, and not really going to jump in the local swimming pool to cool off and scare all the kids were: Bill Bartholomew, Steve Kelly, Roger Chapman, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Art Frament, Jay Taylor, David Williams, Bob Dietz, Duane Wagenbaugh, Bob Benac, Harold Eck, Rich Donnelly, Joe Lubier, Walt Hill, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Ted Pelkey, Skip Skinner, Harold Guest, Carl Walls, Carl Slater, Robie Osterman, Rev. Jay Francis (stop by the Rock Road Chapel for breakfast on Wednesday mornings), Ted Willsey, Willard Osterhout, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Don Moser, Arnold Geraldsen, and me.