The Old Men of the Mountain can’t believe it but it is August already, and on August the second the OMOTM met at the Middleburgh Café in Middleburgh. Patches of fog, and a freshly scrubbed earth greeted the OFs as they made their early morning trek to the Middleburgh Diner.

The OFs talked about the storm that hit on this Tuesday morning…it was a waker-upper. The storm was gone when it became time for the OFs to hit the highway to apply the fuel at breakfast for the OF’s energy. One OF summed up what many other OFs have said, i.e., the rainy days were much needed but the timing was miserable.  Another OF said, “Our area may have its share of the afore-mentioned miserable weather, but we don’t REALLY have miserable weather like many other parts of the country ─ just listen to the news”.

The news has reported the existence of counterfeit money in Schoharie County. At least that is as far as it has gotten. One OF had the experience of receiving a counterfeit ten dollar bill in change in Schoharie County but he did not realize it until he went to use it.  Then, the person receiving the bogus bill was more astute than the one who it was given to in Schoharie County. The OF said they confiscated his ten dollars. The reports advised the money being passed were ten and twenty dollar bills. One OF said he wasn’t sure of this but he did not think it was being generated in Schoharie County.  This OF thought the funny money was coming up from NY City via Route 145. Another OF blamed it on the college kids not being crooks, but being cute. If it is a college town and anything goes wrong blame it on the kids. Well duh, it is generally a good place to start because many times it is kids just trying to see what they can get away with.

The OFs joined in a discussion of chemicals with strange sounding names which are reduced to letters, like PFOAs and PCBs.  There is also lead and asbestos. The OFs have ingested these chemicals and never knew they were harmful until recently. This column has listed some of these various substances before like mercury, and the lead and asbestos. Now the OFs have to add the PFOAs in Teflon, and the PCBs in the rivers and streams ─ let alone the runoff from pastures and barnyards that made it to the streams. How much of this is really as harmful as many say may be questionable. The OFs have a rather high number for an average age and we have been subjected to all this stuff.

One OF said, “Maybe it’s not good and if someone is susceptible to any of the chemicals in question it’s probably a good idea not to use these particular chemicals”.

To that another OF said, “Many of these chemicals, when developed, are considered to be the best thing since sliced bread and at the time are not known to cause any problems.  In some cases problems arise much later on”.

“Yeah,” one more OF piped up, “Whoever knew that the manure we spread on the fields for fertilizer would cause problems when it got into the water”.

“Heck,” was the reply, “We used to swim in the cow pond”.

“You are lucky,” an OF answered back.

One OF remembered how some young people were getting sick in Esperance in the 40s and 50s and the local doctor, Dr. Walker, traced it to swimming in the Schoharie Creek which the doctor said was polluted from manure being put on fields by the creek.  The runoff from this manure eventually ran into the creek. The doctor had the Health Department shut the creek down to fishing and swimming and the sickness stopped. That was a long time ago, however, from the astuteness of one small town local doctor the problem was known but nothing seemed to come from that until much later on when people started correlating what was going on around the creeks and rivers to people’s health.  An OF added, “And we still haven’t cleaned up many of these bodies of water”.

The OFs are a traveled lot, which this scribe has mentioned before. At the breakfast this morning it was found that many of the OFs have been to the same places at different times and found how interesting it is to find people all over that are from this region. Many of these people are living in the areas the OFs are visiting, and some of these places are just stop-overs and not the final destination of the OF and are not tourist areas.

Checking in at a half-way point motel on the way to the vacation area XYZ, the clerk in the motel says, “Oh, I see you are from Berne, do you know (fill-in-the-blank)?”  The OF says, “Yes I do”, and the clerk says, “They are my cousins, I am from Coxsackie”.

Or another case of being in the deep south, and a guy working in the store reads the name on the OF’s hat and pronounces Cobleskill right. Right off the bat the OF knows this guy has been there; after some small talk the OF finds out the guy owns the place but he had once worked in Cobleskill, moved south and bought this little shop. It’s a small world after all.

Those OFs  travel all over but on this particular Tuesday they traveled to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, and those OFs were: Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Jess Vadney, Richard Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Henry Whipple, Rich Donnelly, Duane Wagonbaugh, Bob Lassome, Ted Willsey, Don Wood, Sammy Mersa, Bob Benac, Joe Ketzer, Art Frament, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Marty Herzog, Dave Williams, Miner Stevens, George Washburn, Bill Bartholomew, Roger Chapman, Pete Whitbeck, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Harold Grippen, and me.

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