Andy Rooney is retiring and he is ninety-two years old.  Does that mean this scribe has about twelve more years of this before he can retire? Holy cow! Digger O’Dell will have to wait.

          On Tuesday, September 27th, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon restaurant in Princetown, and by now the readers have probably guessed it.  The OF’s continued to talk about the flooding, and more stories are coming out about the trials and tribulations of those affected by the flood, and now it includes people close to the OF’s. The initial shock has worn off, and now the real “what the heck do we do now” is starting to set in. Multiply this by Vermont, New Hampshire, PA, and the Southern Tier (along with many other areas thrown in) and the magnitude of the storm’s damage borders on overwhelming.

          To hear some of the stories makes one wonder how much is fact, and how much is embellishment of the fact, or how much is just rumor. Some of the OFs discussions in the early stages of cleaning up after the storms and what some of the businesses and people were going to do with their properties were not even close.

          What is beginning to develop is that there seems to be a need for adequate supplies of necessities to keep people going so they can clean up, and beyond that what is really needed is money. Money to repair or rebuild and this money will have to come from agencies as out and out gifts, or really, really cheap loans. Many of these people were strapped to begin with. The OFs can attest to this and we have in some of our reports the normal cost of living, everything out-going is going up exponentially while that which is coming in is stagnating, or even on the minus side.

          One OF said that he thought life had taught him to be prepared.  He thought he was with his papers saved in a water- tight box, food for months, extra gas, a generator with enough fuel for quite awhile. Rarely, he said, did he let his car get below half a tank, and he was ready to run, and the OF did move to higher ground but he was not prepared for something of biblical proportions when upon returning home found his house had been full of water and mud, and knocked off its foundation. To the OF there was no way he could have been prepared for this.  

          An aside (continuing to listen to the OG’s talk) it is hard for this scribe to imagine standing on a patch of green grass, that used to be a lawn, looking at a pile of lumber that used to be a house, contemplating how to move what used to be a car, full of mud and won’t run, trying to find photographs of the family, wedding pictures, important papers, licenses, shotguns, and jewelry and there is none to be found. Someone comes up and says, “buck up me boy it was just stuff, at least you are all alive.” That is one big whoop. You are not alive.  You are existing like a blade of grass you are standing on…just existing. Stuff is what makes life — life. The pictures, your wife’s grandmother’s china, your dad’s watch, the shelf your son made in shop, the doll your daughter had all those tea parties with. That is not just stuff…that is life and it is gone.

Sure if you have the wherewithal you can replace the car, and you can buy new dishes but what is that going to remind you of?  How you lost all your grandmother’s STUFF, only in this case it is the flood that swept it away? That is one great memory you want to live over and over don’t you? Stuff is life, without stuff you just exist, you breathe air, turn around and breathe more air, and continue doing that over and over.  Life does not begin until you have stuff to give, and there is stuff to get, stuff with pleasant memories. Do not make light of stuff it is all too important. Part of life ends with the loss of stuff and you have to start over; yet there is a large hole in your heart where the stuff of memories was stored. This hole may shrink but will never fill in.

          Don’t get the scribe wrong, there is a thing as too much stuff, and stuff for stuff’s sake; now we are talking junk and that is different.

          End of scribes aside. Oh.  An aside to the aside. This scribe thinks that we have no future if we neglect or forget the past. What happened yesterday is as important as what will happen tomorrow. We and it are all connected in the huge quilt of history no matter if that history is global, or if it is our own piece of historical thread sewn into it.

          Now to continue with our regularly scheduled programming all ready in progress.

          The OFs were wondering (those OFs that are Yankee fans, and many are) how the New York Yankee’s managed to take first place. Their pitching is mediocre at best and they have only one hitter hitting over .300, but not by much. They do have excellent position players, and as one OF said, “As far as that goes they have another complete team of excellent position players on the bench.” “Well,” another OG said, “Wait until the playoffs and they run up against teams like Detroit or Philadelphia and we will see if their luck hold out.”

          Maybe it is our ages or social class, but not many of the OFs are not into football, or basketball, or hockey. The only thing they know about hockey comes from Don Rickles.

          Those OFs attending the breakfast at the Chuck Wagon (and still wondering what’s going on all over not only storms but now because people are dying just from eating cantaloupe…what’s next?) were: Robie Osterman, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Joe Loubier, Duane Wagenbaugh, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Rich Donnelly, Dick Reed, John Rossmann, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Gerry Chartier, Miner Stevens, Carl Slater, and me.