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Tuesday, we met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. On our restaurant clock the Chuck Wagon is the farthest away the OF’s travel to the north. Rensselaerville is the farthest to the south and Middleburgh/Schoharie farthest to the west, and there really is no east.  Altamont seems to be in the middle, so it really isn’t a round clock, but one of those goofy clocks shaped like a triangle, or more like an amoeba.

The OF’s gather because most of the OFs are old; so a brief inventory was taken as to the OF’s who still had hair on their heads. It was surprising how many did. The OFs who were short on the hair supply did not mind…it was decided among the hair impaired that the less hair you had the easier it was to take care of, and less expensive. Fewer trips to the barber were required, no shampoo was necessary, hats fit better, and (the little downer here is that in many cases hats are a necessary part of the outdoor attire. Any bald person will attest to a drop of water hitting a hairless head is like getting hit on the head with a hammer, and a sunburned noggin is no fun.)  The ones with little or no hair can wash their face, head, neck, and ears, all at one time, then dry it with a towel and the OF is ready to do battle.

One OF reported seeing a snow owl in the field which is in the back of his home in Middleburgh. The OF said that it was quite a ways away and at first he thought it was a hawk. The OF decided to use binoculars to check it out; that is when he knew it was an owl. The OF said that he did take pictures but the bird was way out there.  Maybe the picture will be more distinguishable when cropped, and the area enlarged in Photoshop.

Another OF brought in a few pictures of his first airplanes — these were interesting to see. The OF said his first plane cost only three hundred dollars; (back then three hundred would be like three thousand today, cheap at that.) The plane was in pretty rough shape but the OF brought it back to life. He said his wife ironed the skin in the house, and the OF stretched, and doped it himself. It looked good in the photograph. The OF had pictures of himself repairing his second plane in front of his garage. He has no idea what happened to either one of these airplanes or where they are now. The OFs said it is hard to know what to keep and what to let go. Some of the vehicles the OFs owned are now classics, and these planes are now hunted by collectors to restore and fly again.

Flying used to be fun, but with all the regulations added by the FAA, with more in the pipeline all the time the fun of flying, at least to the OFs, is gone. It is by far safer to be in a small plane than to be on an ATV.

Some of the OF’s will be missing for awhile because they are going in for operations to make them more bionic. The OF’s discussed how many of them are patched up and still running, just like a faithful old truck that is welded together, and kept running because it is something that the OF loves and wants to have around. One OF said, “Yep, and we do that with our wives too — keep them patched up because we want to have them around.”

The OG’s feel it is necessary to keep the wives around long enough so the OG goes first. One OF said that his wife has been part of him for so long he can’t imagine living without her there. This really knocks the old bravado that the OFs generally espouse about their better halves.

This conversation continued into how prepared the OFs are for their own death, or the death of their spouse. Is the will up to date; have all the bad pennies been weeded out? What funeral home, what type of funeral, what to wear, is cremation a factor, is all this information written down somewhere so the kids can find it. Important papers, with deeds, stock and bonds, bank accounts, car title — that information, if not easily found by the one or ones left, can be a nightmare to figure out. The OF’s maintain that we are on the short end of the ruler of life and this type of thinking is essential so when the time comes, if the information is handy, it is easier on our loved ones.

One OF said he is so ticked off right now at the family that he is going home and hide it all.  “That’ll fix em; it’ll take em years to straighten it out.”

Now that hunting season is in full swing the subject of hunting with black powder came up. It takes quite a hunter to bag a deer using black powder. This brought up the rash of people who call themselves hunters but who jack deer, and set out salt licks, and all that kind of stuff. One OF reported that he is friends with a few game wardens who have a mechanical deer that they set up at night to catch deer jackers with lights, or those who shoot from their cars. They related that they made an arrest on two hunters, and reset the mechanical deer and were heading back to their blind when another car pulled up and tried to whack the mechanical deer before they even got back. And they arrested a group for doing the same thing. The OFs were wondering why people can’t play by the rules. Where is the challenge in all these deceptions? These people cannot call themselves hunters. The OF’s were just wondering.

Those OF’s attending the breakfast at the Chuck Wagon in Princetown, and collectively not a group anyone would want to see hunting in the woods right now, were: Steve Kelly, Henry Witt, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Jack Norray, Miner Stevens, Ted Pelkey, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Jim Rissacher, and me.

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