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Tuesday, the 13th of November, The Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. Cars coming off the mountain had about 1½ to 2 inches of snow on them. In the early hours of the morning the cars gathering the OFs who come to breakfast saw a mixed bag of precipitation picking up their riders and driving to Mrs. K’s. Snow, rain, sleet, and little ice pellets; this is just a foretaste of the winter to come. Skiers, snowboarders and winter folks are happy but the OFs are more apt to be those that hunker down and enjoy the woodstove or fireplace with a large pot of coffee steaming in the kitchen, and fresh homemade doughnuts still a little warm for dunking. Then these OFs are all set. Unless of course it is Tuesday morning, then the OFs play mailman and venture out in the rain, snow, or searing heat to make the breakfast, but for the rest of the time let winter roll, we’re ready.

The OFs said they are not anxious to jump out and do any Christmas shopping if they do any at all. “Why bother?” one OG said, “On December 22nd the world comes to an end anyway so what is anybody going to do with all that stuff ─ no one is going to be around to give it or get it.”

One more OF said, “What a kill joy you are. I like Christmas shopping because I use it as a way to atone for all my do-nothings throughout the year, like forgetting birthdays and anniversaries.” An additional OF chimed in, “I always thought you were a cheap son-of-a-gun and now I know it, but what a clever way to cover up for not getting presents or cards on all those other days. Can I borrow your idea?” “Be my guest,” the other OF said. “I haven’t franchised it yet.”

The OFs began one of their usual topics talking about the OFs that were not at the breakfast this morning. Those that were not here because it is too hard to shovel all that dirt away never will be at this earthly breakfast, but are enjoying the breakfast dressed in their white robes on cloud nine. One of the stories was told on one of the OFs that wasn’t there (but still is on this side of the sod) about landing his plane on Warner Lake where it sank slowly to the bottom. Eventually it was fished it out, and it flew again.

One OF said he remembers his very first plane ride; it was on a moose hunting trip. He said the plane was small and carried only about 8 people. All the hunters were there and the plane was loaded. The OF said he was a little apprehensive while they waited for the pilot. Finally he noticed this short, older fellow (who seemed to have a very bad leg) show up and the OF did not recognize him as one of the hunting party. He asked another hunter with the group who he was and the hunter told him that was the pilot. The OF said his heart skipped a beat, because this guy looked like he needed a pillow to sit on so he would be able to see through the wind screen in order to have any inkling of where he was going. .

As they were boarding the aircraft the OF said he got his nerve up to asked this midget who was going to fly the plane what happened to his leg. The pilot said that while attempting to land once he kinda misjudged and clipped the tree tops. This bit of information, needless to say, caused a rather rough landing, but the pilot said any landing that you walk away from is a good landing even if later on it is necessary to walk with a limp.

The OF said he wanted to back out right then and there but didn’t and he was on pins and needles all the way to their hunting destination in the middle of nowhere, but everything turned out fine for the whole hunting party, and the near-midget pilot with the bad leg landed the plane with no problem. One more OF asked if after all this he got a moose, and the OF said no, on that trip no one got a moose. They all went home empty handed.

The above story included a lot of what was the topic of discussions this morning…old-timers. The OMOTM are beginning to accrue old-timers at a rate that soon there will be more old-timers than regulars. However, the OFs did touch on some topics that we have been talking about for years. One subject was people that know how to work the political system and in the end we have to pay for this, and these people vote. Some of the stories were told as first-hand accounts from relatives or friends and are so ridiculous they didn’t seem real. For instance, taking a two-hundred dollar cab ride to the hospital while on welfare and having a practically new car in the driveway. Now that car in the drive may not be registered, or maybe no one has a license or something like that. The car might be there but no one can run it. The OFs are still paying for that cab ride though. Many other stories were brought up, and the OFs are wondering who is watching the store.

One of the other topics was Social Security, and since we are the Old Men of Mountain that couple of words is quite important to us. The OFs do NOT consider it an entitlement ─ a healthy chunk from all the OF’s paychecks was taken from them each week for years to fund this program, and this deduction was not a donation. The OFs and millions like us paid into the program with the premise that it was an investment that would earn interest and when the OFs reached sixty-five it would start paying off. Well then, it is an investment and not an entitlement so don’t mess with it Charlie Brown. The OFs have spoken.

If all the free-loaders were filtered out the OF’s tax burden would be a lot less. One OF’s thought ran like this, “How do you filter out those of real need and those along for the ride?” This OF thought it is better to bite the bullet on financing the free-loaders in the system so we protect those that are really hurting. What a mess.

Those OFs that didn’t let a little bit of snow deter them as they traveled to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh were: George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Carl Slater, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Roger Shafer, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Steve Kelly, Jim Heiser, Don Woods, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, and me.

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