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On July 1st, 2014 the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. The OFs have complained about the weather almost all winter and spring rightfully so, however, the OFs have not had any complaints about the last two or three weekends, with one exception i.e., the ground is still wet.

One OF overheard part of a conversation at a mall where three people were discussing someone the three all seemed to know and as far as the OF could ascertain was a common friend. These three were commenting on how little he knew, and how stupid he was. This prompted a conversation on stereotyping a person which is earned by their actions, but has nothing to do with how smart they are or how dumb, and the definition of dumb and smart.

How about a plumber, or an electrician, who won’t have anything to do with cell-phones, or computers? The computer savvy person will comment that one or the other is as dumb as a post because they have no idea what a mouse is, or what a cursor is. He thinks these guys think a mouse is something that skitters around the basement and has to be trapped, and a cursor is someone running around all day swearing. Yet this same guy will stand and watch his toilet overflow while banging his head against the wall moaning, “What’ll do, what do I do???” Which one is dumber? One OF commented, “Well, he can call an OF.” “Oh wait,” he added, “The OF is out on a job and not home to answer his phone. Dear, dear what a pity.”

Then one OF just went with the flow and said, “Like me with my new TV. I had no idea how to get started. The (dumb) TV had all the instructions on the screen and I had no idea what it was trying to say.” Whoops, now it is time to call the guy standing in the water with the overflowing toilet. The lexicon of dumb, and smart, has nothing to do with intelligence or education. The OFs in their wisdom have spoken. (Gee, that is smart).

The topic of social disparity cropped up, and this scribe thought we should add it after the above. This is because some of the OFs maintain that society is ruled by those that have ─ not how smart they are. The OFs had no idea the type of water they were getting themselves into, but with this discussion the OFs were just sticking their collective toes in the kiddy pool.

When many of the OFs were farming, when an animal became injured, or really sick, the OF at that time humanely disposed of the animal in pain and generally with a well-placed bullet, or with a larger animal, stunned, and throat slit. Many times the OF would be in tears but he knew it was for the best, and it was the most humane thing to do, and as kids (this scribe can report from first hand experience) we would be upset for weeks.

Now-a-days it is required that you have to take your animal to the vet and have it euthanized, which is not a bad idea, but not everybody has the money to see a vet. Many do not have money to spend on a cat that has cancer, or some other disability. The OFs are not saying that vets are not necessary, and the vets do the best they can, but the underlying social problem is that only rich people can afford to have pets. Many rules, regulations, and laws apply if you have the means to comply; if someone doesn’t have the means then they either are out of luck and can’t enjoy some of the basic pleasures of life (like giving a kid a kitten to take care of) or they have to break the law.

One OF interjected that taking a sick animal to a vet is a very smart thing to do. What if the animal has a disease that is highly communicable and someone takes matters into their own hands and does not dispose of the animal properly and it makes other animals sick, then what? What another Catch 22.

Continuing this discussion revealed the fact that many places charge a fee to discard replaced tires, and to some people the fee charged to dispose of these tires is more than they can afford for used tires to put on their vehicles. So what is left, the OF said, chuck the old tire on the side of the road along with the rest of the beer cans?

“I don’t know,” was a reply, “It just seems so many of the rules have a tendency to push people – who have problems – down a little further.”

The OFs chatter away and quite often do not realize that in many cases the OGs are being quite profound and informative by relating their family relations and family history or discussing social problems from the kiddy pool.
At the Chuck Wagon one OF came over to another table to answer a question that an OF asked about a mutual acquaintance. While this OF was at the table answering this question, another OF asked if he was related to anyone with his family name in the town of Breakabeen, a town just southeast of Middleburgh, NY, on Route 30. The first OF said he thought he was a relative of the name in question and he started naming names of who was connected to who going back four generations. The OF that asked the original question began to talk about some of his ancestors that lived in that area, and there might be some connection between the two. The OFs were having a little trouble connecting all the dots and so at this point no real conclusion was reached.

Then one OF, who is really up on the history of the Schoharie Valley and the families living in the county, asked if they were talking about the family with the same last name that fought in the Civil War. This OF reported that the father and two sons enlisted and the father spent considerable time in the hospital. The other two OFs drew blanks, but thought the name being discussed was particular to the area and concluded they may have been talking about the same family line but really didn’t know.

If all this information could be knitted together like some crazy quilt then these two OFs would be related. “It’s A Small World After All” may be apropos.

Then came the typical after-40 lament, (maybe it is after-50 with all the vitamin supplements people now consume) when the OFs find it takes them longer to do the same things they used to do. What the OFs did in one hour now takes three. But what the OF wants to know is: why am I slowing down, but time is speeding up?

Those OFs attending the breakfast at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, not eating any slower than they usually do, were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Henry Witt, Karl Remmers, Dick Ogsbury, Jay Taylor, Herb Sawotka, Roger Shafer, Art Frament, George Covey, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, George Washburn, Frank Pauli, Bill Krause, Duncan Bellinger, Jim Heiser, George Aleseio, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Ted Willsey, Joe Loubier, Rich Donnelly, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagenbaugh, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen (2X), Elwood Vanderbilt, and me.

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