The day after the fourth of July the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown.

The Chuck Wagon is the furthest point some of the OMOTM travel to a restaurant, while West Winds in Preston Hollow is the furthest the other direction. There is a lot of geography in between. Mountains, valleys, and streams on the rides both ways have the OFs encountering much of the wildlife this area has to offer. This morning the OFs were talking about all the critters running about on their way to the Chuck Wagon, it was like going to the zoo early in the morning when most of the animals are frisky. One OF commented there are so many of them splattered all over the roads that the crows are having a field day, even a couple of turkey buzzards were spotted.



An OF pondered what it must be like to be a rabbit getting ready to dart across the field from one brush pile to another. The rabbit not only must scour the field for cats, coyotes, foxes, dogs, and even good-sized snakes, but he must scan the skies for eagles, or hawks, all just waiting for the rabbit to make his dash across the field hoping he doesn’t become some other critter’s dinner. Then the rabbit must watch for the most dangerous of all, the occasional rabbit hunter.

Einstein’s theory really comes in to play here, “Things are what they are, only in to relation to where they are.” The rabbit in the woods could easily be the rabbit in a cage in little Suzie’s bedroom with a bow around its neck and perfume in its fur; the rabbit with the bow could easily be the rabbit in the woods, it just happens to be who is where.

This next conversation was not part of the trips to the restaurants and the wildlife encounters, and road kill, but it fit well with the comments on wildlife and it has to do with a left-handed duck. One OF asked an innocuous question while a brief conversation on turkeys, birds, and ducks was in progress. “Did you ever see a left-handed duck?” the OF asked.

Well, no one had, and the main comment was, “I never looked or even cared if a duck was left-handed or not”. The OF then proceeded to tell how he once saw a left-handed duck. It seems that on a large industrial pond some of the workers brought a few domesticated ducks and put them on the pond. These ducks attracted other wild ducks until eventually there were quite of few ducks on the pond because the workers fed them.

One day the plant manager said to the OF, “Do you want to see a left-handed duck?” to which the OF replied, “Sure.” The plant manager took a loaf of bread and spread it on the ground by the pond.  Almost all the ducks came out to get the bread. When they left the water the ducks would spread their wings and shake a bit and then fold their wings back over their backs. All the ducks would place their right wing over first and cover it up with their left wing EXCEPT one duck. This duck put his left wing in first and covered it up with his right. Different than all the rest…ergo, the left-handed duck.

Now to the OMOTM’s standard fare.  OFs and YFs, with some real time jumping all in one sentence, and complete paragraphs. A good deal of this will be paraphrased. The OFs discussed life changes that have been brought about just by living and life will continue to change even as the OFs get older. Many of these changes the OFs have discussed off and on almost since the group started, but this conversation lumped most of them together.

When the YFs worked on the farm (maybe not even a farm, but just worked outdoors) they, at that time, were hatless and shirtless, did not wear sunglasses, or ear protection, or even sunblock. As a matter of fact some used baby oil just to get a tan. Many of the OFs are paying for it now.

One OF mentioned how his Dad was covered from head to toe out in the field. The OF asked him one day why he covered up like that and wasn’t he hot?  His father said he didn’t know why he wore so much clothing, but since his father did the same thing, he did it too. We OFs were too brash and young to tie in any connection between sunburns and cancers. One OF said it might be there wasn’t many skin cancers back in the day because people covered up. Darn!  We are too soon old, too late smart. Another OG mentioned some of these skin care products were not even invented yet and in our rebellious years we probably wouldn’t have used the protection anyway.

Well, the OFs are paying for it now with trips to the dermatologist to have all these basal cells, and minor skin cancers cut off, or dug out, or froze. Hearing aids, glasses, and false teeth much of which if the OFs knew then what the OFs know now the OFs wouldn’t need.

“Back then,” one OF said, “We would see in the National Geographic pictures of Mexicans in their large sombreros, and covered like our fathers from head to toe, or even American cowboys in the Midwest and Southwest with their large ten gallon harts, bandanas, and covered from head to toe and the OFs never questioned why they were dressed like that”. The OFs here missed the hint.

An OF said we never had periods of extended heat like the cowboys and the Mexicans had to deal with. We would get a day or two at a time, so why would we even bother ─ even today we are not subject to all that oppressive heat. Then another OF said, “It is not the heat, it is the sun, dummy.”

Still a further OF chimed in that when he goes to the lake and sees his grandkids swimming he yells at his granddaughters to cover up. Their bathing suits are only four pieces of string. “You old prude,” an OF said, “Remember when after haying we would go to Fox Creek and skinny dip?  Four strings is a lot compared to that!”

All the OFs that made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and showed up ready to go skinny dipping because none of them brought bathing suits were: (Oh no!  What a sight that would be, count this OF out) Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Roger Shafer, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Herb Sawotka, Joe Ketzer, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Rich Donnelly (along with his son also named Rich Donnelly), Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.