On Tuesday the 12th of April, 2011, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville.

The OF’s arrived safely at the Hilltown Café after traversing a few miles of road approaching Rensselaerville that this long hard winter has not been kind to. Like the village of Berne there are areas of the highway (in that section of the Hilltowns) where it becomes necessary to drive in the opposite lane because some of these holes could swallow a small car. The driver has to drive like he has had a good shot of whiskey (only it is just the opposite) and he has to be especially alert. At night these holes must be fun.

Then again it may be deliberate on the part of the town to slow down traffic, and if this is their plan it is working.

As is the case so many times with the OF’s, we discussed the weather and commenting on yesterday’s 80 degrees it was the number one conversation starter. One OF commented that at his place it was like someone was out with a can of green paint, painting the grass. It was changing from brown to green so fast he could see it. Ah photosynthesis.

Along with the phenomenon of spring and new birth the OF’s were talking about how much we have shrunk in height as we have aged. Some OF’s said they have shrunk as much as two inches and some maybe a little more. It is so odd, the OF’s said, that we know where most of our shrinkage has gone. It has gone to our ears, and nose, and eyebrows, and all that wrinkled up old skin. One OF said we haven’t really shrunk, things are just shifting around. Another OG said, “No, I really have shrunk. I used to be short, but now I am a midget.” Still another OF said, “I used to be six feet tall, now I am five feet, ten and a half inches, but that does not bother me, it is that doggone testosterone shrinkage that bothers me.” “Well, we all have to deal with that,” an OF replied. “Not all,” another OG stated, “that is not my problem.” Braggart or liar was a unison reply from some of the OF’s. Bragging was his answer. The OF’s just chuckled, they knew differently…they have been in the men’s room with him.

To go along with this the OF’s began talking about the age of dying. When the OF’s were young old people were younger, or so it seemed. Fifty years old seemed old to most of the OFs, and one OF said it was. To some it seemed people younger than 50 were “old”, and in many cases, to the OF’s, teachers were old, and some of these teachers might just have been out of college. One OF said today the single teachers are dating the seniors in high school, and they are not that far apart in age so the OF’s can understand that. But not when the OF’s were in school because back then to us the teachers were OLD and their word was law, and what they said went…there was no talking back. The OF’s said that talking back to a teacher would be like talking back to your mother, and all the OF’s knew the consequences of that.

At our ages we are considered old. However, at these ages we are strongly learning that age has nothing to do with numbers. It is how the OF’s think and feel. To us an OF can be young at 90.

Now our conversation turned to television. Some of the OF’s watch a couple of shows on TV called Swamp People and Swamp Loggers. Neither job is of any interest to the OF’s, not now anyway. The OF’s discussed the work involved to find these logs under the silt, and murky water and then bring them up so they can be used. In this conversation no one mentioned what they were used for, or why they brought so much money. The scribe will have to check that one out. (The check-out indicated that the logs are basically used to make veneer for high-end furniture manufacture.) Swamp People is about people in the swamp areas who harvest shrimp and alligators. Shrimp, the OF’s could understand, but is there really any use for alligators other than for items of vanity.

Next the OF’s were in familiar territory…old cars. Some good old names were brought up of cars the OF’s had once owned. One was the Hupmobile. That was a big car, and a nice car. One OF had one that had curtains with tassels that pulled down in the back windows. It was dark green with wooden spokes in the wheels. The other one was the Pierce Arrow. That was another especially nice automobile at the time and most of these vehicles were black. The Nash was another car discussed and some younger people might have seen some of these cars, but we don’t think the early, early, ones have been seen on the road lately. Nash cars were basic in design and more people bought them as opposed to the other two mentioned. Then there were Reo Trucks. Some farmers had these and they were a good truck, but like many of the old automotive manufacturers these all have gone the way of the dodo bird.

Those Old Men of the Mountain that made it to the Hilltown Café and did not die along the way because of their ages or the potholes were: Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Frank Pauli, Ted Pelkey, John Rossmann, Mace Porter, Garry Porter, Miner Stevens, George Washburn, Gerd Remmers, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Gerry Chartier (who reminded us that the 12th of April was the Anniversary of the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin in 1961), Willard Osterhout, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Jim Rissacher, and me.