Tuesday, the 27th of November, the Old Men of the Mountain marched to the Blue Star restaurant in Schoharie. Come to think of it in that way, many of the OFs have done their share of marching. A few have just stopped, but one still is marching to the beat. This one that is still marching has to march along at 125 beats. This OF must be glad when the parade stops because some bands like to put on a little show in front of the reviewing stand.
Quite often the OFs are amazed at how they ever became OFs. As one OF put it “when we did the things we did when we were young it is a wonder we made it into our mid twenties.” “Oh yeah,” another OG said, “We ate a half-dozen eggs, with at least a quarter pound of bacon at breakfast, and drank glasses of milk right from the cow that came nowhere near being pasteurized, and our toast was nice and dark from homemade bread with real butter.
“Climbed ladders made of two by fours, and drove tractors when guards were someone who watched the prisoners in jail.” The OFs raced their cars on country roads with smooth tires, with the cords showing and an inner tube bulging out the sidewall. Real candles were on the Christmas tree, and a shot gun was propped up against the wall by the door that went to the woodshed and the shells (for the gun) were on a shelf right by the gun so they would be handy.
There was very little indoor plumbing so the adage of the once-a-week bath was not fiction, and the chamber pot was not fiction either. “How in the world did we ever make eighty years old?” one OF inquired of no one in particular. “Also, many went off to a war where the death toll was ten to fifteen thousand in a day, and yet, here we sit,” the OF continued, “hale and hearty.”
“You know,” an OF commented, “it made us tough; nowadays there is too much emphasis put on this causes that, and that causes this, and the air is dirty, and the water unclean…so what…it couldn’t be any worse than what we had, and now that I think back, we had it even worse.”
One OF said that he thinks we are over cleaned and are so sanitized that one germ will knock us out. Load up on those germs and chemicals, build up your body’s natural immunities and when a real nasty germ comes along you are so loaded with anti-bodies that germ doesn’t stand a chance and will have to search out someone who showers twice a day ─ then that germ can fly up his nose and knock him out. Again, the OFs said, you have to be tough to be an OF. (Psalm 90: vs 9-10)
With all that one OF said he thought we have lived through the best of times. Today things seem to be regulated, and then regulated again…everything is bad for you or against the law. When we were kids the parents ruled the roost, and we were mentored, taught, and corrected by our parents, they were not our friends. Now it seems that parents want the schools to do it all, since they both work and the kids are in daycare or in school. When parents get the chance they want to spend quality time with their children. The OF continued his reminiscing, “nobody spent quality time with me, all my parents did was show me the right way and they used love to do it (plus a big boot to kick me in the butt to get to work).”
One OF asked, “When did you realize your parents considered you an equal?” A second OF answered his question like this: “That is a great question because my brother and I talked about this when we were married and had kids of our own. We both remembered the exact day. My father looked at the hills across the valley early one morning and said there was some weather coming in and what was in the fields had better be brought in. This was before chores so he and my uncle headed out to do just that and he glanced over at my brother and me as they left.
“My brother and I went to the barn and did all the chores, came in had a quick breakfast and went back out because we saw Molly and Punch all leathered up. My brother and I hooked them to a wagon and took breakfast out to the fields for my dad and uncle and worked till about 2 in the afternoon because the weather did come in and we made it. We were not told to do anything, or how to do it, nor even when to do it…we just did it. From then on things seemed to be different and I was only about eleven.”
On somewhat a different topic the OFs got quite a chuckle out of the supposedly ‘ticker tapes’ that fell on Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. These tapes had personal information of people on them when they fell to ground; many even had the criminal past or offenses listed on these 3/8 inch wide strips of paper. “Not too much of a joke if you happened to be one of those people whose name was on one of those strips of paper and it came back to haunt you,” one OF said. “What a screw up, just somebody not thinking,” said another OG. “I can see that happening.”
Those OFs attending the breakfast at the Blue Star Restaurant in Schoharie and who still remember their parents as mother and father, or mom and dad, and not by their first names were: Carl Slater, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Jim Heiser, Robie Osterman, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, David Williams, Don Woods, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Jack Norray, Arnold Geraldsen, Don Moser, Lou Schenck, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, Bill Krause, and me.