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The Old Men of the Mountain by John R. Williams

The day of July 30th, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Blue Star Restaurant in Schoharie. It might be the weather but many of the OFs are getting up earlier, and earlier. As mentioned before, the original meeting time was 9:00 a.m. or so. Then, as the group grew larger, more of the OFs had things to do other than lay in bed and go to eat in the middle of the morning, so some OGs started coming earlier so they could get things done. Now it almost seems that some should have keys to the restaurants so they can open it up and at least get the coffee ready.

This is a good thing! It shows the OFs are out and about with projects to get done, and not rocking-chair bound. However, some of the OFs do show up not shaven, and look like they just tumbled out of bed, met their ride, and made it to the breakfast. This scribe wonders how many of the OFs are going to crawl back in bed when they get home from the breakfast.

What’s in a name? Many parents agonize over what to name their kids. The parents, and their grandparents interfere; friends make suggestions. The new parents purchase books on names. Some parents make sure the initials don’t come up with something really screwy, or obscene. Most of the OFs have gone through this (as did their parents for them) trying to get the name right. One OF mentioned that names can affect a person into adulthood and beyond; some names are a hindrance for getting ahead in life no matter how smart or talented the kid is. Then there is always the pressure to name them after uncle Charlie, or aunt Sarah.

One OF said he has two friends that changed their names for just that reason. The parents of these two tried to be too cute and hung a moniker on one of them that plagued him all through school. This man said he changed his name as soon as he was legally able to do so. To get away from these memories he joined the military. Now that his name was legally changed everything had his new name on it and that is how everyone knew him. His life changed immediately and for the better.

One OF mentioned that he was in the third grade before he knew his name was John, and not Jack. The names reported on the bottom of this little report carries some OFs names that if you went to look them up in the phone book by the name listed you would never find them, but that is the name they go by and people know them. Another OF said that when he was young all he knew was the name his grandparents called him, and subsequently his own parents, and when he went to school the teacher called him by his real name and he did not answer because he thought it was somebody else. After all the names were called he told the teacher she didn’t call him. The teacher then asked him, “What is your name?” He told her the name he went by and was used to, the teacher put two and two together and never called him by his real name again. Good for her.

Another group of OFs were talking about the exploits of a common friend and it was assumed that maybe they were talking about two different people. However, once the conversation was sorted out, it turned out they were talking about the same person after all. The person in question had one name that was given as a first name, but he went by his second name.

Yet another OF has a relative that has the real name of Hugh, but no one used that name, they used his middle name. When this young lad went to school, again the teacher called him by his given name Hugh, and at first the young man did not know who she was talking to. (Similar to the above scenario.) But this teacher continued to call him Hugh, enough so that the kid was not too happy about going to school. When the mother noticed this reluctance to go to school she asked him why. The little boy said, “That teacher won’t call me by my name she keeps calling me ‘Few’”. So his Mom went and had a talk with the teacher, but by that time the kid had decided that “Few” was OK and when his mother told him she had a talk with the teacher, he told her, “That’s OK, because I told the teacher it was OK to call me “Few” if she wanted to.”

One OG said, “How about people with only one name? Look at Liberace and/or Cher, and a whole wagonload of others.” This prompted the scribe to look these two up, and with names like Wladziu Valentino Liberace, and Cherilyn Sarkisian the scribe might also have decided to go with only one name.

One OG mentioned that when he was younger he didn’t mind being called Johnny, but when he got older and in the service he hated being called Johnny, and wanted to be called John. Another OF said that happens a lot ─ Ron and Ronnie, Sam and Sammy, Ted and Teddy ─ to this OF with a “y” sound at the end of your name it sounds like people are calling the cat. Still another OG said, “That’s not so bad, how about Johnny Carson or Sammy Sosa; some even called President Regan ‘Ronnie’”.

Then there are nicknames. One OG said, “For the most part we have no control over that. The use of initials is something else we have no control over.” TJ, and BJ, and JB, are some friends of his and now this OF has to think hard to remember what their real names are. It is a wonder anyone can keep track of us. Now one practical OG had to chime in that, “No matter what we call ourselves, or what other people call us, the IRS will find us no matter what we are called.”

It is fair time, and the OFs were talking about the fairs in the area ─ like the Sunshine Fair going on right now in Cobleskill. The problem is that this fair and the Saratoga fair are a little early for produce to be shown because much of it isn’t ready yet. The OF say the term “country” has gone out of a few of the fairs. Cobleskill is the closest fair that still caters to farmers. It is the opinion of the OFs who think the Altamont fair, located in Albany County, is definitely not farm friendly. The OFs feel that those in charge seem to want to turn all the land in the County into housing developments, and they are doing their best to make it hard on farmers who will eventually give up and leave the farm and then the developers can take over. Many of the OFs now go to the fair to eat grease. Fair time equates to the stomach growling and rumbling to the beat of “feed me grease, feed me grease,” and it keeps doing this until it is satisfied with a fair-made sausage and pepper sandwich, followed with fried dough and a Coke.

One OF said he goes and spends a ton of money to get into the fair and then he spends twice as much on a sausage and pepper sandwich (that has grease running out of it and down his elbows) than it is worth, and then asks himself, “Am I having fun now?” He answers himself, “Well now it is a habit, but ten years ago it would have been loads of fun, and back then I wouldn’t need the Prevacid.”

Those OF that made it to the Blue Star cafe in Schoharie, and not eating sausage and peppers for breakfast, were: Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, (and me) with our guests ( Art Williams, Hugh Williams, Jarrett Williams), Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Glenn Paterson, Otis Lawyer, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Jay Taylor, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Herb Swabota, Bill Krause, Ken Hughes, Don Moser, Lou Schenck, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Don Woods, Duncan Bellinger, Duane Wagenbaugh, Bob Lassome, Rich Donnelly , Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, and Steve McDermott.

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