On Tuesday, October the 12th, Twenty-ten, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner on route 20 in Princetown. The Old men of the Mountain find their rides to the restaurants we visit a nice part of the breakfast (for the most part, it all depends on the weather). Many get to ride and gawk at the scenery without any wifely backseat driving or shouting, “turn around you missed that garage sale.” Sometimes the OF’s say no wonder there are man caves.

The first conversation hit most of us, and it was about Social Security not sending out any COLA’s this year, and, it was noted, that they didn’t last year. (COLA is not something many people drink; it is Cost Of Living Adjustment that is tied into the rate of inflation for senior citizens). According to our big Government inflation was not a problem this year, to which the OF’s all say, “Oh yeah, what planet are you guys on?” Do they not notice the price of gas, food, heating oil, TAXES, sending a kid to college, painting your home, price of lumber, or a pair of shoes? The people in Washington don’t drive themselves, or put gas in their automobiles, or go to the grocery store, normal stuff like that. They are too busy spending their time being schmoozed at parties being put on by lobbyists to get them to vote in favor of the lobbyist’s pet project.

This led to one of the OF’s favorite topics, farming. Another large farm in our area has thrown in the towel. To which Albany County will probably be very happy because it is not a farm-friendly county. As the population of the country grows, the land available to grow food shrinks and farmers are being driven to the wall. Problem there is no easy fix. The OF’s say that the small farms, and even many family-owned larger farms, are going the way of the Dodo bird. Large conglomerates are taking over, and many of these conglomerates are backed with foreign money and they are using many chemicals to make cows produce more milk, beef cows become larger, faster, and land (through the use of chemicals) produces more per acre. One OF said, “Follow the money.” The big farms are owned by the chemical companies, which are in part owned by foreign companies. So there! The OF’s have said it.

To continue on with the farming theme, the OF’s discussed drunken cows because it is a problem when pasturing cows in an orchard in the fall when the apples are falling from the trees. Cows love apples and they do get a little tipsy if they eat too many. The scribe does not remember if this OF’s story has been reported or not, but if the scribe can’t remember then probably no one else does either.

One time when one of these OF’s were younger (YF) his dad told him to pick up all the dropped apples in the orchard and put them in the rag bags and they would press them for cider. Then the YF’s dad said he could let the cows into the orchard to pasture. The YF did exactly as he was told. He gathered up all the apples and put them in the rag bags and set the bags of apples on the other side of the fence. (There were 3 YF’s doing this and one female YF from a farm up the road, so the job went fast.) Then the YF’s let the cows into the orchard to pasture and went on to other chores.

The cows found those apples over the other side of the fence, and ate them like eating grain in the manger the rest of the afternoon. Needless to say come milking time the whole herd was snookered. These cows were making strange mooing sounds, could not really walk straight; they were swaying from right to left. Upon coming to the manger door they were so inebriated that the lead cow just milled around in front of the door making strange sounds and did not go in. Finally another cow stumbled past and found its way in but could not locate its stanchion. More cows went in and they could not find their stanchions so they milled around inside the barn, bumping into each other and making these funny mooing sounds. Oh! They were pooping all over the place, and it was more like dark colored water than anything else, and stunk to high heaven. After much work the OF said they finally got the drunken cows in their proper stanchions and milked; the milk was rank. It took three days before they could ship the milk.

Then there is the story about getting the chickens drunk on purpose, however that is for another time.

One of the OF’s brought in some interesting old photographs. The photos were taken in the late 1800s and one of them was of two people in one frame and they were distant relatives of the Willseys who faithfully attend our breakfasts. The lady in the photograph looked like she belonged in the early 1800s, but the man in the photo looked like he was one of us sitting at the table this morning. He could have been walking down the street today and no one would notice. Women’s fashions have really changed but men’s styles look pretty much the same. On the men the coat lapels become wider, or thinner as do the ties, however, a beard is a beard is a beard. Even with guys the hats have stayed pretty much the same, only in earlier days the men were smarter than the men today and they wore hats all the time,  today not so.

Those OF’s that met at the Chuck Wagon, and chucked it down with many stories and chuckles were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Henry Witt, Carl Slater, Miner Stevens, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, John Rossmann, Ted Pelkey, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Maynard Porter, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Duane Wagenbaugh, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, Willard Osterhout, and me.