The Old Men of the Mountain gathered together on March first (on the hill March roared in like a lion during the night; the wind rattled the windows ─ welcome March) at the Chuck Wagon Restaurant in Princetown. The sun was shinning so bright in the morning that the blinds had to be shuttered because of the glare.

The Chuck Wagon is on Route 20 which runs east and west in NYS.  The windows on one side of the restaurant face just about due east, and while enjoying the breakfast at the restaurant early in the morning the OFs can welcome the sun as it eases its way over the hill.

One OF found that using the microwave to boil sap is not a good idea. The steam generated started to loosen the wallpaper in the kitchen. The OFs remembered renting steamers, or making steam on their own to do just that ─ loosen the wallpaper ─ so it becomes pliable, and then with wide putty knives the OFs could scrape the wallpaper off the wall. Then they would hang new

wallpaper. That was back when wallpaper was popular. Some of the OFs still prefer wallpaper to paint. One OF said with the

wallpaper there is still the insulation aspect of the paper on the wall.  The OFs that know how to apply wallpaper would rather do that than apply paint.

How this next topic came up (this scribe did not catch the beginning) about wax in their ears, which is normal, but a rather curious conversation at breakfast.  However, the OFs continued on by pointing out that they had gotten bugs in their ears. The range covered most flying insects, from the no-see-ums, regular cluster flies, the occasional small moth, and lightening bugs, to the really bad bugger…a hornet. Inside the ears is no place anyone would want to be stung.

The OFs that live on the hill said with all the water problems that seem to cropping up in other areas they are glad they live up here with the trees and rocks. The Helderbergs do not have much dirt and except for the areas that will support a pond and a few small lakes there is not a lot of water on the hill to support industry. One OF mentioned the prevailing winds blow across a lot of open real estate before it reaches the Hilltowns. This, the OFs thought, also allows the Hilltowns to breathe fresh air. One OF mentioned that the few that want to bring industry to the Hilltown are thinking more of the buck, than of the health of those that live here. As time marches on the OFs are beginning to see there is a considerable downside to many industries as far as the general health of the public is concerned. The OFs were in a preachy mood on this subject.

Some of the OFs say they are going to make a change to stainless steel, glass, or cast-iron cookware now, and not use anything covered with Teflon.

It seemed strange that after this subject was covered the OFs went on to chat about something else and the topic was funerals. None of the OFs want to experience a funeral from the inside. One OF mentioned how some funeral directors lead the family to purchase the best caskets.  An OF thought this was easy to do because of the state mind the family is in due to the death of a family member. It was a form of conjecture on how the OFs have their ducks lined up in case the OF’s foot meets the bucket.

One OF thought that if you know you are going to die it is a good idea to get the family together and straighten things out so they are not left with a mess when you do enter through the pearly gates. On the other hand, if your demise is sudden, and the OF is in good health, the family is left with this type of mess unless the OF has taken the time to show someone in the family where the paperwork is, and what kind of funeral the OF wants, and what kind of casket, etc. It seems the OFs have covered this before but this time it seemed to come from a different angle and be a bit more practical.

The OFs discussed how much technology is now crammed into a little Smartphone. They mentioned how clear the tiny little speakers are. One OF said he can put his phone on speakers, put it in his shirt pocket, and have a conversation. The OF said people can hear him, and he can hear them. Some of the OFs said that is where they carry their phone but most of the time they can’t hear it when the ringtone is calling them. They also mention that when the phone is on vibrate it needs to be close to them or they can’t feel the vibrations. The OFs said that though the technology is beyond their understanding the age-old idiom that as the OF gets older the sense of hearing is dimmed, and the sense of feel is beginning to migrate from the body. This may be the reason for their complaints, the OFs can hardly hear Big Ben, or sense the vibration of a concrete leveler.

Many of the OFs are antiques, and it stands to reason that many watch the Antique Road Show on PBS. Quite often the objects some people bring in are what the OFs have hanging around the house or are still using. One OF suggested someone should bring him in and see how much he is worth as an antique. I’ll give you five bucks was a reply to which another reply was that it was too high.

Those OFs that made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and all still very much alive and ambulatory were: Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Bill Tinning, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Lou Schenck, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Chuck Aelesio, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, ELWOOD VANDERBILT, HAROLD GRIPPEN, and me.

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