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Tuesday, May 8th, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. In front of the restaurant in one of the parking spaces was an old Thunderbird car; it looked like it was circa 1962. Parked along side this bird was a Honda Accord. The Thunderbird made the Honda look small — just the hood of the T- bird would make two of the Honda. “How things have changed,” one OF said.

Those that are familiar with Schoharie County and the Hilltowns of the southwest corner of Albany County know that most of this geography is farming country (or was farming) in Albany County. Currently Albany County is not farm friendly. According to the OF’s Albany County wants all the land in the county turned into building lots and taxed as such. One OG said, “Ask a kid in the city where milk comes from and they will say the grocery store.” This OG added that he was not talking about some five or six year old either. The OF went on to say that if you ask where does milk really come from these kids don’t have a clue, and this includes eggs or cheese, even the cereal in the box…no clue. This, the OF rationalized, carries over into adulthood where farms are just something out there with red barns, green grass, white fences, and a horse or two. The grocery store will always have milk, eggs, and bread, to those types of thinkers. All the land should be turned into malls, gas stations, golf courses, and ball stadiums so then they can have their playgrounds and places to obtain gas for their vehicles on their way to the next rock concert. The OF said, “We need a lot more of the ‘No Farms, No Food’ signs and bumper stickers.”

One OF added that schools allow part of their budgets for hauling kids to ball games, and field trips to museums, and art galleries. These are well and good, even necessary, but this OF thinks they should include field trips to working farms as part of the itinerary, because if the attitude on farming and farms continues this whole country is going to be in a ton of trouble.

All this was precipitated by the report of one OF that he noticed some plowing being done on the flats in Middleburgh, and out Route 30 towards Gilboa. He commented on the newer tractors with four wheel drive and how big they have become. This OF said these tractors go almost as fast as the cars on the highway while pulling at least a five-bottom plow.

One OF mentioned how the OG’s would look at a ten acre hay field and get ready to drop the 6’ hay cutter bar behind a Fordson tractor with a sibling, or in some cases the OF would be on the mower while his father was on the tractor. The one unfortunate enough to be on the mower would get ready to drop it down for the first cut and a real long day in the sun. The OF said you knew you were going to be there for a while. Another scenario was plowing the same ten acres with a Farmall H and a two-bottom plow. That was big time then. Today’s equipment will have the ten acres done in a couple of hours. Times they are a changin.

This talk about new and old ways of doing the same thing led to some interesting conversation about what happened to all the advancements made in the in the early Greek, Roman, and Turkish rule, with all the improvements made in the Coliseum, like toilets, efficient crowd control, creative lighting and the like. Highways that were built then are still in service today. The ancients had natural air conditioning using water evaporation and the use of light and dark to reflect and absorb heat. Where did all this knowledge go? We learned about the dark ages in school but where did all this prior knowledge go. None of the OF’s could remember. Maybe we were taught it but at that time not only were our brains sponges, but they were also sieves, so collectively the OF’s at our table had the sieves working at the same time. The OF’s mentioned mud roads, how the streets were the bathrooms, dark, dank castles, and mud houses with straw roofs were the norms in the quote “dark ages”, even the plague.

One OF brought up the fact that we know all about Spartacus and how he died and we also know a lot about the people in early times like from 800 BC on and Rome evolving into a republic. What prompted the loss of all this knowledge? One OF said he knew about the political side and the downfall of Rome and the OF added he believes that the U.S. is headed that way now, but as for the technical side this OF didn’t have a clue. There it is…that sieve working again.

Referencing the outhouses of a few weeks ago, one OF mentioned that the concept of current toilets is no different than the ones in the Coliseum in Rome. Where did this knowledge go in the dark ages? Hippocrates around 480/490 BC named cancer and some other names of diseases which are still used today, but the Egyptians had cancer nailed around 1500 BC and even some crude treatments to kill the bad cells. Where did this information all go so that now we have to start over? The OF’s were wondering.

One OG asked, “How come we know more about people who lived thousands of years ago and now I can’t trace my grandfather back more than 4 or 5 generations?” A different OF asked, “Where did all those records go?”

Those OF attending the breakfast at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and wondering if they were really there were: Robie Osterman, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Roger Shafer, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Harold Guest, Ted Willsey, Harold Grippen, Gerry Chartier, and me.

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