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The Old Men of the Mountain by John R. Williams

On September 4th 2012, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, New York. So many people the OF’s run into from either the city of New York, or people outside of the state think that New York is a city, and it is all concrete. To be called Old Men of the Mountain to them is a misnomer because there are no mountains in New York. Surprise, Surprise! Try navigating down one of these non-mountains in the winter time when they are covered with ice!

What to do with stuff…that was the discussion of the day. Some of the OFs are neat freaks, but not many. That leaves the rest of the OFs and, like many people, these OFs accrue stuff. Some of the OFs admit that the reason they have so much stuff is that they do not want to throw it away because some day they may need it.

One OF thought it was because when we were young there was a thing going on called a Depression and then we neither had stuff or was there stuff to be had. Then, the OF continued, when we were a little older there was a thing called WWII and at that time most everything was rationed and even if there was the ability to have it, it couldn’t be had. So this OF maintains that at our ages we are conditioned to say, “Gee, I can get this or that and have the wherewithal to do it,” and not being able to do this when they were younger the OFs just go for it.

Most of the OFs admitted that they have a garage full of stuff that right now they will never use. One OF said his wife likes to go to garage sales and he tags along saying there is nothing we need but she still like to go. The OF said there will be something that catches his eye and he says to himself, “Self, I can use something like that” and there it sits. It may cost $.50 or even 5 dollars and that is just about the price of a gallon of gas or a pack of cigarettes so the OF haggles it down to $.25 or 3 bucks and hauls it home. Whatever that thing is, it is never going to get used. After a little while the OF might haul whatever it was off to the dump.

So another OF says, “Now we are all paying to take somebody else’s junk to the dump.” “I guess so”, said the OF.

This continued on to items like tires. With the mounds of tires that we see along the road there now seems to be efforts made to use them. We can grind them up for fertilizer, use them for making artificial reefs or breakwaters, boil them up for extracting the fuel oil and use that as fuel in co-generation plants.

Then one OF said, “What happens to all this exercise equipment that we see at garage sales?” Answering his own question, “This equipment ultimately winds up in landfills. Many garage sales have these things in the free pile.”

One OF said his whole house in one big garage sale. “My kids don’t want any of our old junk.”

“You know,” one OF piped up, “A lot of what we are calling junk is not junk, it is history.” “Nah,” another OG said, “We aren’t talking mementos, or keepsakes, we are talking about all these plastic toys, old tires, old electronics that are now useless, broken chairs, old mattresses, stuff that smells bad, and stuff with black mold on it. This is just junk.”

“Well,” an OG said, “I find stuff at the dump that people throw out and it looks OK to me so I bring it home, fix it up, and it works great. I have 3 or 4 lawnmowers, and a half dozen chain saws and things like that and they all work now.” The question was asked, “What do you do with all this? You can only use one mower at a time, or one chain saw.” The OF said, “I eventually give these items away to people who don’t have any and who need them.”

Then an OF said, “What about five thousand years from now when an archeologist in the year seven thousand and twelve digs up our places?” All the iron will be rusted and gone, the wood rotted and all that will be left is the plastic stuff…plastic bags with nothing in them, some aluminum cans etc. the rest gone. That archeologist is going to have one heck of time trying to piece our generations together.”

Those OF’s who managed to pull themselves from their stuff and make it to the breakfast at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville were: Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jim Hauser, Herb Sawocka, Harold Guest, Duane Wagenbaugh, Jim Watson, Frank Pauli, Joe Loubier, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Don Moser, Arnold Geraldsen, Mike Willsey, Ray Bradt, (Rena Bradt, Mike’s granddaughter) Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Roger Chapman, Bob SSone and me.