One the first day of December 2015 the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh.
With the short days of winter upon us the OFs arrive at the restaurants at dawn. The sun is just coming up, and in Middleburgh the trees that line the main street are still lit with the lights of the season. The OFs get out of their vehicles and walk to the restaurant and the aroma of bacon and breakfast, mingles with the scents of the early morning air; at that moment all seems right with the world. So begins December 2015.
The OF’s conversation of remembrances permeates most every breakfast of the Old Men of the Mountain at one time or another. This morning it was how the OFs graduated from pitching hay by hand to balers, from outhouses to indoor bathrooms, from heating with stoves, to central heat, from cooking on woodstoves, to cooking with gas or electric, from homemade bread and pastries, to sliced bread and Freihofers chocolate chip cookies, from sucking it up with bad teeth, to modern dentistry. When the question was asked, “would you want to go back,” the answer was not qualified. Some of the OFs would go back so they did not have the stress of today. Many of the OFs say they seem to carry the weight of world on their shoulders. One OF said he could not wait to die and get off this d— planet.
That hit the crux of the problem as some of the OFs see it. Life was hard and tough when the OFs were young, and most of the OFs were poor. Not poor by today’s standards but most of the OFs were in the same boat and did not notice that they were any different than anybody else. What was not around while the OFs were growing up was the rapid dissemination of news, gossip, and calamities. Some of the OF’s radios were crystal sets back then. Few of the OFs received the newspaper. The farms did receive in the mail Grit, and the Farm Journal with the cartoon “Peter Tumbledown”.
Today worldwide information is immediate, and the newspapers and news stations live on gore, disharmony, dissention, and mayhem. To the OFs all this does is add stress, and more gore, disharmony, dissention and mayhem.
“Yeah,” one OF said, “I will take the work, and get away from all the rest of it.” “Nah,” another OF said, “Give me today, I like hot showers, indoor plumbing, and no toothaches.” This OF does not watch the news, or get a paper. This OF maintains that if you pick up a paper from 1915, and one from 2015 (except for the price of things) the news would be interchangeable. Nothing changes except all the political correctness. (Enough of that.)
The OF talked about hunting, duh…it is hunting season so why not. An OF said he was out one day and part of another over the holiday and saw nothing, but his kids saw at least ten in the same area. This OF confessed that he has hunted almost all his life and recently had a deer in his sights and it would have been an easy shot, and the OF said he couldn’t pull the trigger. He just watched the deer. The OF feels his hunting days may be over because he just couldn’t kill the animal. Maybe it was a good thing he didn’t see anything because it might reinforce his lack of desire for the kill.
The opposite of that was one OF showed a picture of a bobcat that his son had just shot. The hunter was holding the cat by its hind legs and the feline was almost as tall as he was. This picture returned to conversations the OFs have had before on the sighting of mountain lions in the Hilltowns. One OF reported that a relative of his recently saw either a pair or one of each twice (or the same one 4 times). Another OF has photos of a pair of bobcats in a willow tree in his backyard not 60 feet from his home. Then one OF said that the DEC has introduced fishers back into the wild and they are vicious critters, and very secretive. One OF said this may explain all our conversations on the absence of squirrels, rabbits, woodchucks, and other little animals that scurry about.
One OF mentioned that he has a knee that suddenly started to really hurt, and it has subsided a little but has not really let up, so he called the orthopedic doctor to have it checked out. This OF was sitting directly across from two OFs that have had knee replacement surgery and they said if it is to the point where it is necessary to have it replaced, then have it replaced. The OFs also said it may just need a shot of lubricant. In either case the OFs recommended it be taken care of. The OFs told the other OF it is two weeks of hell but worth it. These OFs do not charge for their advice.
Those OFs that braved the nostalgia of a beautiful late fall morning with its fresh air smells, coupled with breakfast cooking in the kitchen of Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, were: Bill Lichliter, Harold Guest, Henry Witt, Mark Traver, Chuck Aelesio, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, David Williams, Glenn Patterson, Miner Stevens, Wayne Gaul, Bill Krause, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Jack Norray, Jim Rissacher, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Roger Shafer, Henry Whipple, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bill Rice, Harold Grippen, and me.