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The Old Men of the Mountain by John R. Williams

On Tuesday, October 1, the first day of the new month, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg. It takes about an hour for the OFs to dribble in. This is a good thing because by the time the late comers arrive some of the early birds have flown the nest. This makes room in the restaurants, and the waitresses and the cooks do not have get twenty five to thirty breakfasts ready all at once.

This scribe was pursuing his notes for the OMOTM report and thought it might be interesting to list what he has on his little 3×5 note book. The notes start out like this: dreams, dying, sunrise, farming, road-side farm stands, construction, getting dressed, slept in house, weather, Walmart, prices of groceries and gas (again, where the best place is to buy it) and that is just some of the topics. At least the ones this scribe put notes to ─ on paper─ because this scribe was running out of room on his little pad. Now to try and relate what these notes pertain to.

The note on getting dressed referred back to a discussion the OFs had about when they were younger how they threw on what they were going to wear in about 90 seconds. Now it is completely different. The shower takes some of the time but for some reason this process seems shorter than when the OFs were younger, but this is the only process that does seem to be shorter. The OFs stand at the end of the dresser with their shorts in their hand and wiggle around a bit…doing a little dance to get the first leg through without falling over. OK ─ the OF is that far, then he leans against the wall or dresser and thinks a little bit, then flings his other leg up, gets this leg through the leg hole in the shorts, and now the OF is ready to hike the shorts up, AND he finds they are on backwards! The fly is to the rear. It is going to one of those days. Then the undershirt is pulled over his head and back, and it gets all balled up and won’t pull down, so after the exercise of the shower the OF now has the exercise of tugging at the shirt with considerable force to get it down. OK! Now all the OF has is shirts, pants, socks and shoes to complete the ensemble and the OF looks at this pile of fabric and leather like they are an enemy. However, the OF is ready to attack each one with abandon and win these battles even if it takes half the morning.

It seems that not long ago that this scribe reported on one OF building a new home and the wet weather causing problems getting things done. That was early summer. At this morning’s breakfast this OF reported that Monday night he and his wife slept in their new house. It is finished and most all the furniture is moved in and they are ready to go. They will now celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas in their new home. That must be a great feeling. Everything is new ─ no more leaky faucets, or having an old furnace conk out, or old storm doors that don’t shut. But just wait, there are bugs in that new home waiting to pop up that will need to be attended to. No matter how new a place the OFs move into the first things to be moved are the OF’s tools.

The OFs talked about their dreams, and along with that… sleeping. A couple of the OFs have gone through the sleep studies for sleep apnea. One OF stuck it out for two days, and one gave up in just a couple of hours. The one that stuck it out said these studies worked great and he now sleeps well at night. The other OF says he still wakes up early, but to this OF that is a good thing because he gets a lot done in the wee hours of the morning. Both these OFs said being involved in these studies is quite a process, i.e., trying to sleep with wires stuck all over your head. Some OFs say they take a sleeping aid to go to sleep, while others claim they are asleep before their heads hit the pillow.

Some of the OFs said they dream some real nasty stuff and don’t like their dreams; others said they are just dreams, and some say they don’t dream at all. Well, they probably do dream but just can’t recall the dreams. One OF mentioned that suddenly he started having dreams that were so bad he was afraid to go to sleep at night. This OF said that at one of his bi-annual check-ups at the cardiologist he happened to mention this just in passing. The cardiologist said oops, don’t take another pill (now the OF couldn’t remember which pill it was) and the cardiologist replaced the pill with something else and the dreams stopped immediately. This OF suggested to the OF that was having those constant bad dreams to check his meds.

The OFs do not know where the government gets the idea that there is very little cost of living increase, so the cost of living index is small. The OFs would like to know what planet they are living on. One OF thought that it might be because we are living in New York, and other states do not see the increases in taxes, gas, food, heating fuel, that we see here and they base their information on the country as a whole for this index.

With a quick glance at the internet this scribe found the following information. For instance, gas in South Carolina is $3.06 per gallon, Michigan $3.36, New York $3.67, and California is $3.87. The average of these four states is $3.49. Just by using gas prices as an example we found that bread, and a pair of (same brand) jeans averaged out about the same. However, with the average income in the same four states NY ranked 4th with $52 thousand per year, California ranked next at 15th with $45 thousand per year, Michigan comes in at 35th with $37 thousand per year, and South Carolina comes in at 48th with an average income of $34 thousand per year. South Carolina has the least disparity from rich- to-poor while NY and California have the highest disparity from rich-to-poor. In the states of NY and California it then makes the people like many of the OFs on fixed incomes because fewer people are holding the big bucks and that skewers the facts and the little guy is left holding the bag…more Information than you want.

Therefore, someone making $52 grand a year does not have the same problem paying $3.67 for a gallon of gas than the people making $24-$25 grand a year…big difference and there are a lot more of the $24 to $25 grand a year guys than there are the fat cats.

The OFs have spoken…and this is a close to politics as the OFs get. The OFs do get in to some weighty stuff that has to be checked out, and this is so convoluted the reader is invited to go to the net and get their own information. The by-laws of the OMOTM are designed to keep harmony in the group limits discussions on politics, religion, wayward women, and making overt passes at the waitresses.

Now for dying. This is short. The OFs would rather have a weak internal system than a strong internal system. It seems some OFs drag out the dying process by having strong constitutions and they are in wheel chairs, in pain, on oxygen, or in nursing homes for years. Many of the OFs say have a bad ticker and when it ticks its last tick you are done. The OFs don’t want any of this prolonged, agonizing hanging around where the OF just becomes a burden to his kids, or a human guinea pig for the doctors.

Those OFs that made it to the breakfast at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg, and none planning on dying any time soon, were: Miner Stevens, Henry Witt, Roger Shafer, Roger Chapman, Steve Kelly, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Frank Pauli, Harold GUEST, John Rossmann, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Ken Hughes, Lou Schenck, Duncan Bellinger, Bill Lassome, Rich Donnelly, Bob Benac, Jim Rissacher, Joe Loebier, Duane Wagenbaugh, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, and me.