The Old Men of the Mountain by John R. Williams
Ah Tuesday morning, and a beautiful start to a beautiful day on August 20th, 2013, at least in the little corner of this planet that the Old Men of the Mountain call home. The OFs can imagine there are parts of this sphere where it wasn’t quite so nice to wake up this morning. However, whatever it is, wherever it is, the OMOTM met at the Home Front Cafe in Altamont and covered many topics…fishing being one of them.
Not all the OFs fish but some do, and just like any hobby fishing is great for those that are retired; also like any hobby it costs a few bucks, one of which is the time and gas to get to the spot where it is legal to drown worms. Listening to these OFs talk one realizes that where they fish in some of these streams and lakes require overnights (and then some) especially those that chase to Pulaski to fish for salmon in the Salmon River.
Then there are the OFs that trudge off to far regions of the country to fish. The travel to Alaska, or go the oceans, or cast upon the Great Lakes, and they go to Florida for the tarpon. This last mentioned fish is considered one of the great saltwater fishes, not only because of their size, but also because of their fighting spirit when hooked; they are very strong, making spectacular leaps into the air. These fish are very bony and inedible so fishing for them is usually catch and release. In many cases this is not a chump change hobby. Just like a golfer has the expense of clubs, greens fees, and sometimes memberships when pursing this hobby, the fishermen need all their gear, and sometimes a boat.
At the breakfast this morning the OFs were talking about where to fish ─ what streams, ponds, and reservoirs had the best spots. This also included what permits were required to fish where. To listen to them and the knowledge the OFs had on all the requirements to fish was somewhat like listening to lawyers prepare a case.
This is what makes a hobby a hobby. The OF’s minds are active, the OF’s bodies are moving, and time is not stagnant. For many of these hobbies the OFs are outdoors in all kinds of weather, except maybe golf. The odd part about this is that some of the OFs participate in all of these hobbies. Some have to hurry home from their golf game to get ready to go fishing, or hunting. The OFs said that golf is their wuss sport. If it starts to rain the OFs run to the clubhouse. “Well,” one OF said, “When it is really raining hard we get on our carts and race to the clubhouse so we can spend more time at the 19th hole.”
According to the OFs fishing in a stream is another thing. Fishing in the rain is the best, and many times to get to where we are headed we are crawling over logs and through the woods, where in golf we ride a cart, on manicured grass, and swing a stick every now and then.
One OG said. “You guys are all talking about reasonably healthy, ambulatory OFs ─ not all of us can do that.” Then another OF said, “Most of us keep busy only we don’t call it a ‘hobby’.” This OF said he was out in his workshop all the time building something, another said he weaves every day, and others did other things that all took time and talent but they never called these hobbies.
“I guess most of us are into something and maybe more than one something ─ my real hobby is coming to the breakfast and associating with all you OFs. No, that is not a hobby that is a chore,” the OF said. “One thing I know,” he continued, “is that no matter what your hobby is, or how old or young you are, to me, hobbies are a major contributor to the nation’s economy.”
What is the lure of auctions? One OF was telling about going to an auction and bidding on stuff he didn’t need, or want but it was the challenge of the bid. This OF said he wound up with a collection of farm equipment that went for next to nothing. The OF has about 13 acres and has enough farm equipment now to work 500 acres. The major problem was going home and telling his wife that there is going to be a tractor here with a baler behind it but don’t worry, it is ours, along with a hay bind, a corn planter, etc. etc. etc. Don’t let this OF go to England he would probably come home with the crown jewels. Is this a hobby? The OF said the auctioneer started out at 500 dollars, and then went backwards to get an opening bid, and when he got down to 100, or 50 dollars the bidding started. Someone bid 50 dollars, and this OG said 55 then he looked around and noticed the bidding had stopped and he now owned whatever it was. “Maybe I was the only one there with money,” he mused.
There is just a hint of color on the trees and some of the OFs have said their goodbyes…they are already off to their winter hide-a-ways. These OGs are missing the best part of the year. Warm days, cool nights, and nice travel weather for day travel to places like Manchester VT, or to take a ride on the Erie Canal, travel out to the wine country, or go to Horseheads, NY and take a ride in a sailplane. Most of these can be done in a day, and the kids will be in school and out of the way. Then the OFs can escape to their winter homes.
The OFs that made it to the Home Front Cafe in Altamont, and who considered it their hobby trip of the day were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Jay Taylor, Art Frament, Roger Fairchild, Herb Sowabta, Bob Benac, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Dave Williams, William Bartholomew, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Ken Hughes, Henry Witt, Duane Wagenbaugh, Bob Lassome, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.