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On September 23rd the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. The streets of Middleburgh are lined with bright-colored yellow mums, and they can’t be missed. Schoharie has their main street lined with flowers in those half simulated wine barrels. This makes for a very colorful ride through parts of the Schoharie valley just prior to, or during, the fall color season.

The OFs were talking about a ride out through the valley that would be very picturesque and thought that instead of heading to Vermont people would see similar views here…only better. The OFs have talked about traveling through the Helderbergs on many occasions but the rides are still worth the travels. Starting in Altamont, (Home Front), through Knox, to Rock Road, to county Route 1, to South Berne, just past the little village of South Berne is a Church on a hill to the left, and 408 goes to the right take that to Route 85 to Rensselaerville, (Hilltown Café), to County Route 353, through the little town of Hauverville, to Route 145 Livingstonville, to Middleburgh, (Middleburgh Diner, & Mrs. K’s Restaurant), to Route 30 to Schoharie, (Country Café, and Scho-Co Diner) to 443 to Gallupville, Route 146 and back to Altamont. That is a nice ride with good places to eat, and in Middleburgh at the light, one could go across the bridge on Route 30 to Shaul’s and Barber’s farm stands, or continue a short ways beyond Route 443 on Route 30 to the Carrot Barn, or the Apple Barrel, and it becomes ─ Vermont eat your heart out!

This is just one of many little day trips through the hills where the OFs reside, and quite often the carloads of OFs headed to a restaurant will take the time to stop and enjoy the views. There are also many chances to duck off on a country road, and take the road less traveled and see where the little road that beckons takes you. Small adventures abound.

The OFs often mention where they have had the opportunity to grow up and how great it would be if it wasn’t for the extremely high taxes, and the circus put on in Albany from basically January to June or whenever the clowns decide to show up for work. The OFs say now the price of gas, heating oil, economics and politics takes the bloom off the once great state of New York, and really drives many New Yorkers away to places where they can afford to live. One OG said that you have to be either poor, and on welfare, or really rich to float your boat in New York…those of us in the middle are really wacked on.

The scribe checked his notes for this report: rabbits, travels, old tractors, New York, Florida, Navy ships, closing day, and hawks were what was written. But there was a sundry of other discussions where this scribe did not make a note, however, with some Navy OFs, and an Air Force OF sitting together there was much naval and military talk and the only note was “military”.

According to these OFs the Navy of today is not like the Navy they were in many years ago. This scribe can insert that the Navy the OFs were in was not like the Navy with the Merrimac, and the Merrimac Navy was not like the Navy of the Constitution. Times keep on-a-changin.

The Air Force OF flew on the C-130, and brought up that it is not that glamorous of a job. The planes were cold and noisy, the OF said, and if anything happened over water the plane would sink like a rock. The Navy guys who talked about their ships told stories one OF of being on a ship with about 65 guys, while the other OF was on the aircraft carrier the Wasp. The OF on the Wasp said he recently had a tour of the new carrier, the George H.W. Bush. This OF told about some of the differences between these two carriers. First, the Bush basically holds no guns; second, it was so large that three of the old Wasps would fit inside it.

An old WWII navy guy said that when they went to war in the Pacific they were in a fleet of 11 ships and he thought that was the largest flotilla he had ever seen. At the war’s end the OF returned home in a convoy of over 100 ships. He said they went from horizon to horizon in all directions ─ battleships, aircraft carriers, destroyers, everything was a-float, and the OF remembered how he started out and was amazed again.

The OF on the Wasp said that for his time their carrier was so large that one night (with the way navigation lights on the carrier were placed) the lights were so far apart that another ship thought it had gone by and sailed right into his ship and punctured a gapping hole in the carrier. They brought in repair divers by helicopter to patch the hole so the carrier could limp back to dry-dock. (One of the OFs who also was in the Navy was one of these divers. He wasn’t at the breakfast. This OF is one of the snowbirds. This OF is one snowbirds that have already flown.)

The OF on the Wasp telling the story said when they returned there was another carrier being built, and the bow was about ready for the new carrier. What they did was cut the bow away from the Wasp, and attach the bow that was built for the new carrier onto the Wasp and sent her back out. Now the Wasp was a patched up ship that served well. Like a hot rod, it was remade from multiple parts.

This scribe wonders how many stories are out there that should be collected and written down by someone who would interview the OFs, other than just hearing snippets of tales which are only parts of normal conversations, and where others add their stories at the same time. Now each story is just a glimps of stories that would take a lot more space to report.

Those OFs that attended the breakfast at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, and have their minds in shape to relate life’s events lucidly were: Art Frament, Miner Stevens, Otis Lawyer, Robie Osterman, Karl Remmers, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Harold Guest, George Washburn, Dick Ogsbury, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Bob Benac, Roger Chapman, Chuck Aleseio, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Don Wood, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Joe Loubier, Rich Donnelly, Duane Wagonbaugh, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, Gill Zabel, Harold Grippen, and me.

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