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On the 10th of March, 2015 the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café in Schoharie. Finally some decent weather, but the OFs that make the breakfast ─ make the breakfast. Not many will come out of the woodwork just because it is nice out, they will come anyway. The places that the OFs frequent are always staffed, the cooks are there, the waitresses are there, the restaurants are open and warm ─ all this regardless of the weather. Dedicated people own and operate these establishments (they have to be) because the OFs start banging on the doors at 7 a.m., canes in hand and hungry.

The local area has seen its share of fires during this miserable winter. Each time winter stories come up the OFs say this, “We have seen bad winters before but for some reason this one is a doozy”. The latest go round was the fire on Jay Street in Schenectady, then the one in the town of Bethlehem at the industrial park…two biggies on the same night. Then there was a fire in Reidsville about the same time. The OFs are wondering where the next one is going to pop up. Some of the OFs say they are double checking their woodstoves, wood piles, furnaces, and many are unplugging their electric appliances. The OFs are just being cautious, but not paranoid. One OF mentioned the strain this must put on organizations that assist people in these types of personal tragedies.

One OF mentioned how neighbors help out when something like this happens. The OF said it is not only small communities like the Hilltowns, but the individual neighborhoods of larger cities (all seem to this OF anyway) possesses the helpful spirit for those in need. One OF noted that neighborhoods are similar to a collection of small towns bunched together to form a city, so he could see why this impulse to help those you know that are in trouble happens. It doesn’t make any difference if the one in trouble is on a farm in the Hilltowns, or in the middle of Manhattan, or Tokyo, or Sao Palo.

The OFs started talking about playing cards, especially Pinochle. Some of the OFs travel to visit another OF who is having serious physical therapy and does not have the use of his legs, so the OFs visit and play Pinochle with him. Some of the OFs were saying that the OF that can’t walk partners up with a relative and they think these two have secret signals because the remaining OFs have yet to win a game. These OFs said they came close to winning the last time but didn’t make it.

Pinochle was a card came popular in the military, and at the work place, hands are fast and challenging. At lunch time it was possible to get many hands in before it was time to go back to work. The OFs said that the pinochle game was a form of release on the troop ships going over to the front. Most of the soldiers spent their time on “deck” to get away from the smell of the “hold.” That sentiment was echoed by other OFs in the same boat. One OF said they came around every morning and swabbed the sleeping areas, but it still smelled like “puke.” Another OF said he spent only one night in the hold and along with almost everyone else he slept on deck and played Pinochle.

There is another card game played by seniors that these OFs have heard of, but they did not play it. That game is called Hand and Foot and one game might last for hours. It’s a very popular game in Florida and is played by many retirees.

The coming event of cameras at the red lights in Albany was another topic of discussion. This morning the OFs were all over the lot with their thought processes, time jumping from one minute to the next from going to battles of an enemy way back when the OFs knew what they were up against, to red light cameras not even installed yet. Quantum leaps have nothing on the OFs; they do it all the time. The OFs seldom go to Albany anyway but now they will be especially sure the trip is really necessary. Trusting government, outside of where you can go to the town supervisor’s home or the local town board member’s and hash out your problem, is not in the OF vocabulary. This is Big Brother big time. The officials can give all the holly golly they want on what these cameras will do to protect the public, but trust them? No way. One OF said it is just a money grab. This OF says they will adjust the yellow to just a quick flash, then nail you for running the red light. Another OF thinks they can alter the film and if they are not making enough money they will have the camera showing a car running red when the light was actually green. One OF suggested staying out of Albany altogether, or find alternate routes that may take a little longer, but at least the OF will be able to avoid those cameras and not get caught in their nefarious trap.

Many of the OFs have mentioned how ad-hoc organizations like the OMOTM have certain camaraderie among those that belong to these made up groups. These factions are just like the Elks, or Moose, or Masons, or the VFW, or the American Legion (to name a few) including churches or the local bridge clubs which have an unmentioned togetherness. One OF mentioned he would like to thank the group for being the group. In essence what the OF was talking about was how many take the familiar for granted for those we know, and fail to say thank you for being there. This scribe thinks this is way too true and agrees with the OF that brought this up; this OF and all the other OFs should thank each other just for being there.

Those OFs that hauled their aged butts to the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie and plopped them down for a hearty breakfast were: Dick Ogsbury, Karl Remmers, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Mark Traver, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Roger Chapman, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Miner Stevens, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Ted Willsey, Gerry Chartier, and me.

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