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On Tuesday May 1st, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner, in Duanesburg and it was a foggy, dreary morning when the OF’s gathered, but inside the restaurant conversation was light and cheery. Even though the opening conversation was how dreary it was outside.

It is hard for the OFs to get together and not at some point use as a reference point something that happened while the OF’s were working, or in the military. To tie those experiences in with what is currently being discussed is very fluid; it just seems to fit. The OF’s working part of their life is the larger part of their lives. If the OF was a farmer the working part starts when the OF was eight or nine years old. If they left the farm and went into the workplace right after school and they retired at sixty-five and the OF is seventy-five now, that means the OF has had just about eighteen years out of the seventy-five for himself. “Hey!” As one OF put it, “The last five haven’t been much fun either.”

The OF’s have their senior moments more than they would like to admit. The OF’s car pool which has been mentioned many times previously (and the car pooling is a lot of the fun) also leads to some of the interesting things that happen at the breakfast. This dank morning after the breakfast, as the OFs were leaving, a few of them were standing under the eave by the entrance to the restaurant. So this one OF asked as he was leaving, “What’s up?” The reply was, “Look over there,” so the OF did but saw nothing strange or unusual. Then the first OF said, “See that blue car over there, with the OF in it?” The other OF said, “Yeah — so?” “Well,” the one standing there and watching said, “That is the wrong car, and we are standing here until he realizes that it is the wrong one.” Apparently that event never happened; they had to get the attention of the OF who was sitting in the wrong car to go to the right one.

To the defense of the OF in the wrong car — the car he was sitting in was identical to the car he came in and only one car removed from the one he came in. Both happened to be blue Hondas, same make and model, so duh – this can happen to anyone.

The OFs started discussing one of their favorite topics, and don’t try to second guess us…it was not women. The conversation was cars, trucks, tractors, boats, ATV’s, planes, and then hunting and fishing are thrown in for good measure. After that comes gardening, farming, home repairs, kids and grandkids. Subjects rarely discussed are sewing, furniture, clothes, and then maybe on a very rare occasion it might be women. We are OF’s as they say.

This morning it was car engines, and how much better they are today than just a few short years ago. It used to be fifty to sixty thousand miles on a car engine when overhauls were in order. Today just routine care of an engine and that little four cylinder thing will run one hundred to maybe one hundred and fifty thousand miles and still not use a drop of oil. The OF’s were conceding that the vehicles of today are better and last longer. BUT when things go wrong, they really go wrong and it costs a fortune to fix them. The days of carrying wire, panty hose, electrical tape, (duct tape had not been invented yet) a few tools and the OF was able to perform a motor job on the side of the road. These days are gone.

Flats nowadays are rare but when the OF’s were young spare tires were a necessity. Many of the earlier cars had two spare tires. The Christmas Story experience of coming home with the Christmas tree is about what it was like.

The OF’s mentioned even trucks. When the OF’s were younger and driving Route 20 to Buffalo some of those hills would slow a loaded truck to a crawl, and with a standard transmission the drivers in cars behind these trucks were actually rowing the cars up the hill because they were constantly shifting. Today a loaded rig will blow the OF off the road as it passes him going up the hill.

Yep, the OF’s have to concede this one. Tractors, trucks and cars are much better in most all respects than those prior to the 1980s/90s, except for one thing and that one thing is style. The OF’s maintain no matter if it is a Lexus or a Yugo the vehicles today have no character. Fifty years ago if an OF had a Packard, or a Model A, each vehicle would have its own character and this character was obvious.

Then the OF’s started talking about people, and their vehicles. This somehow led to the discussion of the specific characteristics of the owners. One OF said, “You know, we are people and we are one of ‘them’ and they are probably talking about the OF’s and their characteristics. It is tough to judge people with their foibles and eccentricities because we are one of them.”

Those OF’s that are one of them that met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Jim Heiser, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Garry Porter, Jack Norray, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Don Moser, Arnold Geraldsen, Ted Willsey, Willard Osterhout, Jim Rissacher, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.

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