The Old Men of the Mountain by John R. Williams
Tuesday 9-3-13, The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. Middleburgh became Middleburgh because it was the middle fort of three forts in Schoharie. It was called Fort Defyance and the only one to hold during the Revolution. The “burgh” was added later on (German for Hamlet) so now you know it was the Middle Hamlet and how it got its name.
The OFs were mentioning again the aches and pains that come with the golden years… ( golden…yeah right!) One OF said he lies in bed as long as he can in the morning because while lying there ─ for the most part ─ he doesn’t hurt. Then the OF said he is forced to get up to leave some of the golden years in the toilet. One OF said he walks bent in half for the first half-hour of the day until all the joints become moveable and then he slowly straightens up like a flower reaching for the sun. Then the OF said he is pretty good for the rest of the day. This OF says each day he doesn’t reach for the Tylenol is a winner, and when he reaches a whole week without the stuff he marks the calendar. Most of the OFs can relate to this. Some though, have the morning Aleve as a routine.
“Ah, tough it out,” one OF said, and another OF said, “Why? The pills are there and if I don’t hurt so what?” No real answer to that one.
Then one OF said that in the hills the marijuana plants are coming in and the helicopters are flying all over trying to find the weed, and it is a weed. One OF raised the question that if the birds and the wind spread these weed seeds like they spread goldenrod, purple loosestrife, milkweed and plants like that, and if there are enough marijuana plants around, will the same thing take place? Or will we have that stuff growing like ragweed, or aster…all over the place. One OF said, “Hey, if that happens and it crops up on your land and you don’t know it, or want it, and get caught with it, will you still wind up in the clink?” “Good question,” an added OF said, “That would be a good thing for some of us to check up on and see how the plant is propagated.”
A few OFs came back with the reply to “just check out marijuana” on the computer to see how it multiplies. Responding were a few “not me, or me ─ with the way the cops and the government are now tied in to each machine the Sheriff would be at your door the next day asking questions.” “Well, check it out in the library, write it down but don’t take the book out because madam librarian may have the same mandate to report to the authorities anyone that checks out these kinds of books.” One OF said, “Yeah, we are way ahead of 1984.”
The subject of the difference between junk and collectibles came up and there is a fine line here. To some what looks like complete junk to others is “Rusty Gold”. Somewhere along the line junk is junk. Piles of completely useless stuff like broken beds, old mattresses, pails with no bails or bottoms rusted out, overstuffed chairs that reek with mold ─ that is junk ─ but a rusty old engine, a one lunger that is salvageable, THAT is Rusty Gold. “Where is the line drawn?” one OF said, “Between hoarding and collecting, and who draws that line? Just because to one person he/she doesn’t like the looks of what another person has lying around, to them and others it is valuable and collectable, and contains a certain amount of history with each piece.” Rusty Gold. Old tires scattered about which are of no apparent or esthetic value can be considered junk, but let some artist do the same thing and it is considered art and people come to look at it and say how great it is. One OF said, “Give me a break. Junk is junk, and Rusty Gold is Rusty Gold, but sometimes it is hard to differentiate, who is to say?” Then another OF said something profound, and that was, “When it starts to become a health hazard to the collector, and the people around, then it is time for a third party to intervene.” That is true. Rats and other vermin bring a lot of nasty things, but the stuff that brings these pests is more likely to be garbage, and stuff like that is not Rusty Gold. Interesting conversation.
There are always two sides to any story and this is one of them. “Is anything really clear cut?” one OF mused. “Well,” one OF commented, “There is death and taxes; that is generally considered to be clear cut.” A different OF said that the other OF had it backwards. “It should be taxes and death,” he said, “Because my taxes are going to be the death of me ─ especially my new school tax bill.”
Those attending the breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, and not coming by helicopter were: Miner Stevens, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, David Williams, Robie Osterman, William Bartholomew, Jim Heiser, John Rossmann, Roger Shafer, Don Woods, Herb Swabota, Bob Benac, Mack Porter, Ken Hughes, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Bill Krause, Duncan Bellinger, Duane Wagenbaugh, Bob Lassome, Joe Liebier, Rich Donnelly, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey and guests Ray Bradt, and granddaughter Rena Bradt and me.