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On Tuesday, December 20th, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café, along with a restaurant full of other OF’s. Ladies night out would have trouble competing with the all the OG’s that meet for coffee in the morning. Although ladies night out seems to be a younger crowd than the OF’s are for breakfast.

The old photographs of the late eighteen, and early nineteen hundred show the women in their little sewing cliques, or quilting bees, and having their tea and cookies at these events. Many times the OF’s mention that they either are in a funk, or have their minds on their own aches and pains and the Tuesday breakfasts lift them out of the doldrums. This scribe thinks everyone needs this time to socialize with others and talk about kids, whether it is tea, thread and needle, or ham and eggs, and talk about old trucks.

Sometime back the OF’s talked about Old Central Bridge, and Central Bridge. One OF from that area brought in some interesting information on the two hamlets in Schoharie County. Old Central Bridge in the beginning was called Smithville and was in the land purchased by Johann Kniskern from the native Indians Arrundias and Oquarady Soanistiowan in the early seventeen hundreds (note: one OF in the in the early fifties worked at North American Cement in Howes Cave and his first boss was Phil Kniskern, and Phil is the middle name of Johann) and a bridge was built at the dorf where Route 7 now crosses the Schoharie Creek. An innkeeper by the name of Smith in 1824 built an inn at the bridge and the village of Smithville started to grow.  A Post Office was established and the first postmaster named the Post Office “Central Bridge”.  It appears that the post office was in the Inn, which burned and was eventually rebuilt as the home of Wallace Sydney and is still standing with a marker in front of it. This home is owned by the family of one of the OF’s. It’s a small world after all. (If you have ever been to Disney World in Florida and gone through the ride that has that song… eventually the song will drive you batty.)

An aside to all this talk about Old and “New” Central Bridge is that the bridges were at three locations (Esperance, Central Bridge and Schoharie) and they were all taken out by a spring freshet and had to be rebuilt, and were rebuilt as covered bridges. Hmm.

The OF’s who have lived on the hill for generations have personally touched much of the history in our area.  In this part of the country that history is very early, going back to the Palatines who settled the area in the early seventeen hundreds.

Some of the OF’s have parked their cars — either sold them outright or have given them to their kids.   By giving the car to their kids the OF won’t feel so obligated when he asks the kids to haul him around. When the OFs were young the motorized age was just beginning. The OFs remember trucks with solid rubber tires and chain drives. They remember cranking cars, trucks, and tractors to start them and along with this (in this era) much farm work was still done by horses. One thing about horses the OF’s said, is that the horses had memories, and you could talk to a horse. When the OF’s parents were old, if they could get in the wagon the horse knew the way home, so nobody had to take the horse away, unlike today when many young people have to take the keys to the car away from the OFs. No one thought about taking the horse away from grandpa; the only concern then was that grandpa may fall off the wagon and can’t get back on. (Darn hard cider)

Some OFs have quit driving at night (because of the lights and not necessarily poor eyesight) now their eyes do not adjust to the lights of night driving like they used too. The OF’s, however, can still shoot a squirrel out of tree at fifty paces, and on the run also.

One OF mentioned that the OFs are becoming like soldiers on the battle field, i.e., guinea pigs for the medical profession. Everything on the OF’s is wearing out and falling apart, but doctors keep the OF going in order to get a chance to practice all kinds of new procedures. The OF’s go in to the doctor and then the hospital (and some are in right now) getting complete knee replacements.  With some the ole hip gives out, or the shoulder quits rotating and in they go to become more bionic, and then they have to carry cards saying they will set the metal detectors off at the airport even if the OF walks through naked. If the OF’s stood in a line naked it would stop a charging Rhino, and they can’t see either. One OF said even though he sounds like the tin man when he moves, if he doesn’t hurt that is a darn good trade off. It must be the weather because it was another Tuesday with conversations drifting to the aches and pains of the OF’s. This scribe’s report will be much shorter if he starts to eliminate this part of the Tuesday talk.

Those OFs clanking their way into the Home Front Café in Altamont and looking for the oil can were: Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Ted Pelkey, Carl Slater, Miner Stevens, Dave Williams, Steve Kelly, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Henry Witt, Lou Schenck, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Arnold Geraldsen, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Gerd Remmers, and me. The OMOTM hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and we extend our wishes for all to have a happy and healthy New Year.

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