Tuesday, November 9th (46 more days till Christmas) the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. This was a busy morning for the diner; it seemed no one wanted to eat at home. Sometimes it is like that.

The OF’s started talking things that they did during the past week, and it is just like every gathering starts. As this scribe listened and joined in, the discussion hit him like a ton of bricks. (That is not hard to do, this scribe get hit by bricks a lot. With this scribe it is a brick and not a light bulb that goes off).

What many OF’s do comes under the category of volunteering, or pushing some activity or another, and the OF’s don’t even know it, it is just something they do naturally, as do many other people that are not OF’s YET.

What the OF’s were talking about is this organization, or that civic group who think their endeavor is the only one out there and everyone else should be involved in the one they are involved in. Not so, according to the OF’s. We can only spread ourselves so thin and that’s it. The OF’s say pick one or two charities and work with them and when the others come begging let them beg someplace else but don’t feel bad when you do. The OF’s say that like the OF’s one can only do so much. This does not mean the others are not good because they are. Contributions to the United Way and the Salvation Army buckets, Veterans, the Heart Fund, and on and on, all good organizations, give to the ones as much as you can that you think fit your situation. Don’t feel guilty about not giving to everyone that comes in the door, or is on the radio or television. One OF mentioned the neighbor that is collecting for the Heart Association and another neighbor collecting for the Cure for Cancer. He said he feels bad if he doesn’t give. Another OF said he gives something to most of these but his time and efforts go to the Fire Department. The OF’s feel that is enough. To some it is church, and some Cerebral Palsy etc. etc. and some of the OF’s say that is all they are going to do. One OF mentioned that some of these people asking for money are so bogus it spoils it for the rest of them. This OF mentioned how much salary and perks the big shots are given in certain charities so he won’t give to those.

The elections are over and according to the OF’s there is more evidence now that we need Route 84 as a dividing line in New York State because we have New York up and New York down — two separate states. Albany seems to be controlled by New York City and Long Island.

The OF’s have many ideas on how the state can save money and these are simple ideas. One relates to the OMOTM column of a week or so ago, and that was leaf burning. How much time and energy is used by towns to run around and collect the leaves. How many tax dollars are spent on doing this? Go back to burning leaves in the ditch or at the edge of the road. Fumes from this smoke are no worse than all the engines running to gather them up and run the big town-owned wood chippers. These trucks and chippers also suck up a lot of diesel fuel or gas just to run them, not counting the fuel used by the workers just to get to work. To burn the leaves just takes a match or two. Let the people take care of their own yards. When did it get so the town and cities had to hold their hands and do all this work that the home owners should be doing themselves? Look at the civic projects schools could do by having service clubs for the students do the yard work for the elderly or shut-ins. This would get the kids outside, doing some good instead of having their noses buried in all those electronic devices which help no one. The OF’s have spoken.

The discussion covered lots of little things that can be done to save tons of money without laying people off. Put the kids to work in the summer at the parks. The OF’s have no idea why this practice was stopped. Let the kids work at various jobs around the cities and towns, not just the parks. There is tons of work they can do.

The OF’s also talked about how hard it is to find a dentist or doctor if something happens to the doctor or dentist that has taken care of them for years and a trusting bond has been developed. Now what? It is tough to start all over. At least with the OF’s most of the references will be with doctors or dentist with a little age to them. Then again if it is a medical group, and the OF is a new patient the OF will probably be shuffled to the doctor or dentist who isn’t even old enough to shave yet.

When the friends of the OF’s and our faithful service people over the years are aging (along with the OF’s) these people begin to retire, die off, or move away. The OF’s circle of acquaintances begins to shrink and to expand that circle at the age of many OF’s is hard. Our wave has crested and the OF’s are headed for their crash on the beach, some to be washed back into the ocean and start over, while others soak into the sand and become some young persons sand castle.

Those OF’s that met at the Middleburgh Diner, and a more charitable bunch than you can imagine, were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Steve Kelly, Frank Pauli, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Dave Williams, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.