On Tuesday June 2nd, 2015 the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville; wondering who the wise guy is that took summer?! The OFs know we went from winter into August with cracked clay and all, but on Monday, June the 1st and Tuesday, June the 2nd , the OFs had to retreat to the plastic bins (where the winter clothes have been stored away for the summer) to get something to wear. The OFs are just commenting not complaining.

The OFs have mentioned many times about what happened to them while in the service. When these experiences are enumerated back and forth it indicates how many OFs are veterans of different branches of the service and many different campaigns. One OF veteran mentioned that he was selling poppies in Cobleskill (by the Stewarts store across the street from the college) when a mother with two little girls about six years old said the girls wanted to know if they could hug a veteran. This blew the OF away and the OF said sure, if the mother would too. You can’t beat an OF, especially the ones that are veterans of taking advantage of every opportunity.  The OFs learned that in the military.

The OFs talked about how we really do not domesticate animals, it is the animals that take a shine to us, and we cater to them. Who is the domesticated one, the cat or the person? The cat gives nothing except an occasional purr and catches the occasional mouse. For that the cat gets a roof over its head, groomed, fed, vet services, and pampered no end. The cat’s claw marks are even tolerated.

That discussion brought up the topic of wild birds that just fly in and take up residence with whomever. How does the bird know he is not going to wind up on the dining room table surrounded by carrots, and potatoes? But on occasion they do drop in, from crows, to wild geese, to ducks, and even wild turkeys. The OFs were talking of ducks that followed one particular OG around and pecked at his shoes for food; another OF said a clutch of turkeys kept coming to his back yard and he would have to chase them away by going right into them and jostle them to the woods with a little switch.

One OF had a Canada goose just drop in and hang around and come right up to the family members and rub against their legs for attention and it even made attempts to follow them into the house. It must be these birds and even some so-called “wild” animals have a sense us OFs don’t know about.  They have learned early on how to pick on certain people that are not going to hurt them and they seem to be able to follow this instinct.

The OFs touched a little bit on real current events, one of which was the Bruce Jenner transformation. The OFs are OFs and do not quite understand this. The OFs remember him/her when he was a he and a great athlete in the Olympics. The OFs just can’t get a handle on this. The younger generation might understand this better just because of the numbers of people around now. The percentage may be the same as it was in “our” day but the numbers will be greater in 2015 than 1940 or so. Then there is the advent of so much information now being in real time makes what was once hidden now out in the open with little chance to manipulate it.

When many of the OFs were YFs marching in parades was something many of them did. Some OFs marched because they had to ─ there was some burly sergeant making sure they did. But many of the OFs were in their school bands, or they were Cub/ Boy Scouts, or some were even in the Grange. Now many of the OFs have to think about putting one foot ahead of the other without adding the added thinking of which one it was supposed to be, right foot or left foot. Some of the OFs would still go by hay foot, straw foot marchers.  (A note from American Heritage magazine:  In the mid-19th century, the drill sergeants repeatedly found that among the raw recruits there were men so abysmally untaught that they did not know left from right, and hence could not step off on the left foot as all soldiers should. To teach these lads how to march, the sergeants would tie a wisp of hay to the left foot and a wisp of straw to the right; then, setting the men to march, they would chant, “Hay-foot, straw-foot, hay-foot, straw-foot”—and so on, until everybody had caught on. A common name for a green recruit in those days was “strawfoot.”)  However, there are still a few OFs that do get dressed up and march in parades and for these  few this marching happens quite often. Marching is better than going to a gym to keep the OFs in shape. At least in marching there is a change of scenery, plus bringing a certain kind of joy to people the OFs don’t even know, especially the kids.

The OFs that garden are slimming down. This scribe thinks he knows why; this is called “old backs.” That may be why those that still get out and plant gardens has changed some of these OFs into doing their gardens in raised beds. One OF said that he has gone to raised beds but not for the entire garden. Then one OF said that all his garden is now is raised beds. One OF said that he made a series of stepped beds for his wife’s herb garden but the rest of it is still, till the ground, plant the seed, weed the garden when the plants begin to sprout, and then at harvest time the garden can feed the deer, rabbits, and mice and what is left over they can put on the table around one of the turkeys that wandered in.

One of the gardeners also made a brief comment on the watering of gardens saying that rain is better than watering a garden with a hose. The OFs that garden said there are different kinds of “wet water”. Rain water is better water, and is wetter than water from the sprinklers or the hose. Hmmmm.

Those OFs that made it to the top of hill and the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville and are all talk (because at their ages the testosterone level has dwindled to almost a negative number) were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Karl Remmers, Dick Ogsbury, Bob Snyder, Al Latham, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Jay Taylor, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Chuck Aleseio, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Bill Krause, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Gerry Chartier, and me.