Tuesday, April 8th, The Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. The OMOTM sat at the tables and watched the tearing down of the old NAPA store across the street from Mrs. K’s. This shows some confidence in the village after the flood.
The Army-Navy rivalry popped up its little head at the breakfast this morning. One of Mrs. K’s specialties is creamed chipped beef on toast. That tasty combination is – or was – a staple in the Army. One OF related this fact, as a couple of the OFs were served up their orders of the culinary delicacy. One of the OFs who was doled out the specialty is a Navy man through and through. He promptly picked up on the slightly disparaging remark and said that the Navy only received good food on board ship. The “real stuff,” the Navy OF said. The Army OF said they got powdered eggs, but the Navy OF said they had real eggs and real meat. The Navy OF said that they sent to the Army what they didn’t want. For once the Army OF said he had to agree.
However, the Navy guy wanted to have his bill cut in half because the toast was (in his opinion) burnt on the bottom. All the other OFs said he was nuts and the toast was perfect. The Navy OF was angling for a less expensive bill. The toast was fine. You have to watch these OFs ─ they are pretty clever.
This led right into the character of many of the OFs, if not all of them. Because of their age most of the OFs are set in their ways. It is my way or the highway, or that is the way it has always been done, or – and this is the best one – it is the way my mother/father always did it so it is the right way, and that is the way I do it ─ end of argument. If my toast is golden brown everybody’s toast should be golden brown.
The OFs even discussed sawing a board. Now, one would think there was really only one way to do that, but the OFs found out differently. Really no matter how it was done the board was still cut, square, and it fit. Washing dishes was another dialogue; this one was typical especially when it came to washing coffee pots. A few OFs said that they wash the pot thoroughly with soap and water. The other OFs said no, that ruins the pot, and no matter how the pot is rinsed the taste of soap comes through the next time the pot is used and the coffee tastes awful. These OFs insisted that the pot should just be well rinsed and when the coffee pot or carafe starts turning brown one should run some vinegar through it and rinse it well. These OFs maintained soap ruins a coffee pot and a cup of coffee.
There are many habits and ways of doing things cultivated by the OFs and as the years go by the OFs become more vocal on what they think is the right way to do things. If Dad did it, then that is the way I will do it. If Dad chewed tobacco and spit it out the right side of his mouth, then by golly, I will chew tobacco and spit it out the right side of my mouth.
One OF related a story that points out how stupid much of this is. There was a young lady who, before cooking a roast, always cut the end from it. One day her daughter asked why she did that. The reply was because her mother always prepared a roast that way – by cutting the end off. The little girl went and asked her grandmother why she cut the end of the roast off, and the grandmother said that it was because her mother always cut the end of the roast off. Fortunately, the little girl’s great-grandmother was still alive so she went and asked the great-grandmother why she cut the end of the roast off, and the great-grandmother said, “I had to, because the pan was too short”.
Now you know how dumb many of these traditions are, and remember there is also Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof touting in song ─ TRADITIONS.
This scribe, as an OF, thinks that all this may be true but there is another side to this story. Many OFs become freer and the axiom “when I am old I will wear purple” squeezes itself in there someplace. The OF will go out in public with red sneakers, black socks, white pants that are too short, and a plaid flannel shirt, with a tie, and think he looks fine. This scribe thinks Dad would never wear this outfit (maybe bibs, white shirt and a tie) but then Dad would be in Central Bridge at the livestock auction…that isn’t that bad.
Those OFs that made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, and all properly attired, were: Henry Witt, Roger Chapman, Andy Tinning, Roger Shafer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Dave Williams, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Jim Heiser, Otis Lawyer, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Steve Kelly, Miner Stevens, Bill Krause, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Don Wood, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gil Zabel, Mike Willsey, and me.