On Tuesday the 30th of August, the first full day after Irene, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café in Altamont.

A neighbor of this scribe was going off the hill on Monday, and would get some gas for this scribe’s generator. The neighbor had an errand to do so this scribe asked him if he would also scope out the Home Front Café in Altamont and see if they had power. He returned with the gas and a “yes” on the Home Front being open and having power. This was a big relief to this scribe because without a phone or computer, it would be hard to contact all the OF’s and come up with a plan B.

          The OF’s did gather at the Home Front in Altamont, along with everybody else, a packed house, and one waitress. The waitress started out fresh but by the time many of the OF’s were cashing out she looked a little tired. No wonder.  However, all the OFs were taken care of in a timely fashion and this scribe thinks even the other patrons were included. Thank goodness, some things do work out. The Home Front was open, the kitchen help was able to get to work, and a waitress was able to get there too.

          The talk of the day was the weather, and this time it was not just a fill-in to get conversation started. This time it really was the WEATHER, and what stories there were. Almost all had water in their basements or more, some had trees come down on their homes or in their yards. The OFs were checking on other OFs to be sure they were OK.

          The OF’s discussed the town of Berne which had some real damage come from the raging Fox Creek. The bridge in town by the Agway, and The Fox Creek Store, was severely damaged, and made the roads impassable from both directions. The Agway store (which was at one time Hart’s Mill) was almost in the creek. The office part was in a twenty foot hole. The house on the other side of the bridge by the creek is gone…as in not there anymore.

          Hart’s Mill was one of the oldest deeded properties in Albany County when the county was much larger. The deed given to the Harts by the Van Rensselaers was number “one”, and along with the mill the deed included the mill pond to be used when the water in the creek was at low ebb. The water could be let out of the pond to allow the mill to continue operation. Late in the summer the water in the creek was down; that is also when the grain was being harvested so the pond was very necessary. This pond is now called Warner Lake, which is still on the deed for the mill. Not many know this. (This is more useless information that will pass through from ear to ear and not lodge between them for very long.)

          The OFs talked about their generators and how they were being used now. Those that had whole house generators had different opinions on how to run them. Some OFs had large storage tanks so they could run for extended periods of time. The OFs with smaller tanks (like 50 to 100 gallons) ran theirs intermittently to conserve fuel, so they would be able to run lights and watch television at night.

          A couple OFs loaned their generators to people who were worse off than they were. We were missing a few OFs and were wondering how they were making out.  Upon making inquires of those at the breakfast the OFs found out the other OFs were doing OK, even though one OF in Huntersland was completely cut off and could not get out. The OFs know this person has a bulldozer but don’t know if it is running.

          From viewing the pictures of Middleburgh on television, and going to the high country and looking down at the villages of Schoharie and Middleburgh the OFs were concerned about Mrs. K’s Restaurant, the Alley Cat, and the Middleburgh Diner. One OF said that he didn’t think they had a chance in h— to be open. The Middleburgh Diner is on our schedule for next Tuesday (September 13th) and Mrs. K’s the week after that, and then it is the Alley Cat. This scribe thinks the OMOTM phone list will be well used in the coming weeks.

          It is funny that in a recent column we mentioned how people seem to relate time and special happenings in their lives to certain events, well now those in many states in the northeast have a whopper of an event to relate to.

          The OFs commented on how the storm faked many of the OFs out. The rain let up and many thought the storm was over. Wrong. Then came the wind, and that wind blew until three o’clock in the morning. One OF said, “Can you imagine if this storm hit us on January 10th.  Holy cow”.  But another OF said he would rather deal with a blizzard than this rushing water that washes away homes.  At least when a blizzard is over most homes are still standing, yards are intact, and even though the trees may lose some branches they are still there.  Yep, I will take a blizzard any day. 

          Those OF’s attending the breakfast at the Home Front Café in Altamont (and glad that it was the next one on the list) were: Bob Benac, and his grandson Kaleb Beaudoin, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Jim Watson, Jay Taylor, Duane Wagenbaugh, Joe Loubier, Art Frament, Roger Fairchild, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Arnold Geraldsen, Don Moser, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, Jack Norray, Steve McDermitt, and me.