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The Old Men of the Mountain by John R. Williams

On a glorious Tuesday morning, July 10th, 2012 the Old Men of the Mountain made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont. At this morning’s gathering the OFs were made aware that Cindy Pollard was in the hospital with both of her feet broken. The OFs told Jack that he has to keep her out of his shop so the large tank parts can’t fall on her.

Cindy can’t find fault with Jack too much because he did OK in seeing that the OFs were taken care of. Actually Jack didn’t have too much to do with it…it was the kitchen help. The OFs do wish Cindy a speedy recovery; as a group the OFs can sympathize with the poor lady because with many of the OFs it is “been there, done that”.

The talk then turned to refrigerators. On the refrigerators in most of our homes (those that are not stainless steel anyway) are doors decorated with keepsakes. Well, maybe some of the newer stickem stuff will adhere to stainless, but magnets won’t because the stainless is non ferrous. That still leaves the other types and these particular refrigerators have many messages, photos, and little sayings that are given by kids and grandkids. Or as one OF said given by people that don’t know what else to get for a little gift. So not to embarrass these friends, on the fridge the little curio goes; the OF may or may not look at these knick-knacks but the people that gave them (particularly the kids) notice if their novelty is there or not. The OF’s were talking about how decorated the appliances are and once the do-dad has been stuck there generally it is never really looked at again. One OF said that is where his reminder lists are. One is for the grocery store, one is for Wal-Mart type items, and one is the to-do list.

The OF said if they need bananas it goes on the grocery list, if he needs coat hangers it is on the Wal-Mart list, and the other one is the wife’s favorite, take down dining room curtains, fix light in bathroom — little chores like that. In this OF’s home the refrigerator is the daily bulletin board. One thing the OF said he learned quickly is that pens do not write uphill for very long.

The OFs did discuss the weather…what else? Most of the OGs were concerned about the old people and with this hot spell people should be checking in on them. When one OF piped up and said “What the H— do you think we are? Is anybody checking on us?” then another OF retorted, “We are not old, YET, but on the way.” It was decided that most of the OFs can’t take the heat (or the cold for that matter) like we used to. The OFs remembered the old fashioned summers that were like this, and the OFs would be out in the fields putting in hay. One OF said, “Yeah, and the poor guy, or guys, that drew the short straw and had to mow the hay when it was 90 degrees out, would have the chaff dust stick to the sweat on his body, and siphon up his nose every time he took a breath. Some of these sneezes would lift the barn roof up.” This was fun??? Were they really the good old days??? “Oh yeah, they were,” one OF said, “Because we got tired but we didn’t hurt, and we could see, we could run, and we could….you know. Now we can’t do any of that, and we hurt all the time.”

Another thing the OFs mentioned is that this dry spell has the ground on the hill as hard as concrete, and we have clay gaps one inch wide or better. One OG mentioned that we haven’t seen those gaps in a few years. The dry spell is beginning to have a serious effect on the crops and gardens, and some ponds are beginning to shrink. Another OF said, “It is either feast or famine.” The OG also commented that he bets this phrase has been used a lot lately, particularly in our area of the state. “Singing in the Rain” would be a nice tune to whistle right about now.

Those OF’s that met at the Home Front in Altamont, and if it doesn’t rain are planning on doing a rain dance in front of the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville next Tuesday were: Captain Roger Chapman working on his “Black Pearl” (which is currently in dry dock), Miner Stevens, Henry Witt, Robie Osterman, Art Frament, Jay Taylor, Bob Benac, Roger Fairchild, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Duane Wagenbaugh, Jim Rissacher, Joe Loubier, Rich Donnelly, Justin Stevens, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Don Moser, Arnold Geraldsen, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Jim Watson, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier (Gerry brought his wife because it was their 36th wedding anniversary. This OF has his priorities straight as this was their outing. Congratulations Winnie Chartier), Harold Grippen, (who the OFs were glad to see because last week he was in the hospital with a stroke. It is tough to keep these OF’s down) and me.