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This past Tuesday the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg. We had a large gathering for a winter meeting.  Maybe the early spring-like weather was a reason; with no bad roads, no cold air (for those with stents in their body) and no fog or rain, all the OF’s shook off the covers and ventured out to the Duanesburg Diner.

After the flood conversation the OF’s started talking about the businesses that were in Middleburgh and Schoharie in the forties and fifties. Two OF’s, sitting side by side at the breakfast, both set pins in the bowling alley under the Parrott House.  One worked there when he was in high school in Schoharie, and the other (it wasn’t mentioned when he set the pins) but he went to Berne Knox and went to work earlier than the first OF.

The OF’s mentioned getting their hair cut by Garland Miller who had his shop by the bowling alley. The bowling alley had only two lanes, but it was lots of fun.  Other places of business that were mentioned were Badgley and Wheeler, where some of the Schoharie seniors ate their lunches of chocolate hot fudge sundaes, the five and dime store, and the drug store by the court house — all right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

As the OF’s spoke of the five and dime it reminded one OF about J.J. Newbury’s in Cobleskill and he related a story of the clocks they sold there. Newbury’s had a good part of the store in the basement, and in the basement section was where they had the clock display and inventory. This OF’s wife was shopping and he was a tad bored and it was getting late. This OF said he stood by the clocks and started to wind up as many as he could so they were running (which the OF said were quite a few). Then the OF said he set the alarms to go off five minutes before closing. The OF and his wife left and the OF said he could just imagine the hullabaloo that this caused when they all started to ring at the same time. The OF said he wished he was a fly on the wall on that one.

The OF’s collectively have performed many community service acts. At one table they were talking about their scouting activities as scout masters and leaders — taking the boys on many camping trips and some of the experiences they had along the way. Some of the chances the leaders took with the kids would make their parents cringe. Really the more adventurous the leader the better that leader was, and the more fun. Some of the OF’s that became scout masters and leaders remember their own scouting experiences and in essence just carried on with them.

For instance, camping out in weather that would make a polar bear take cover, traveling in canoes on large lakes so loaded with gear that there was only about two inches of freeboard and teaching the scouts to fend for themselves, developing skills that would last a lifetime. The OF’s think scouting should almost be a requirement to graduate. As one OF put it, “What good is it to know all the stuff in books, and how to work your way around a computer, if and when things go wrong the kids don’t know how to keep warm, take care of a wound, cook, make a crude shelter, swim, all the self preservation that is learned in scouting, and so much more.”

The OF’s also talked about dancing…square dancing, and live music. When the OF’s were in school there were lots of local bands, and square dance callers calling to live music. There were phonograph machines and some dances were called to records, however, those new fangled things were just becoming popular. The OF’s talked about one band in particular that was pretty good, and quite popular and the leader was Pearly Brand. There were others but the OF’s couldn’t quite come up with names on the spot. Glen Easton was a popular caller, but he used records.

The OF’s mentioned how much fun it was to go with your parents to a dance when they were kids and just watch and learn. The Gallupville House was a regular place to go for square dances, as were fire house halls, and some large bar rooms. Pat’s Ranch was another popular square dance hall. Now the OF’s say that can’t even get make their arms move for an allemande left, and swing your partner is completely out of the question.

Those OF’s attending the breakfast at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg, and singing a rousing Happy Birthday to Mace Porter who was 83 on the 24th, were: (Now apparently I left off not only one but two names last week…darn interruptions…so this scribe has made a list and checked it twice just to see who has been naughty or nice, and since no one has been nice it would be OK to skip everybody) Steve Kelly, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Lou Schenck, Robie Osterman, Dave Williams, Ted Pelkey, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Carl Slater, Harold Guest, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Steven Porter, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Willard Osterhout, Gerry Chartier, and me.

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