Here we are into September, the kids are back in school and the school busses are out picking up the little darlings, and on Tuesday September 6th, 2016 the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown.
The OMOTM need a school bus of their own to gather the OFs up for their trips to the restaurants. The kids and grandkids of the OFs would be out there with their cameras on the first day the OF bus made its rounds to pick up the OFs. They would have to get pictures of them getting on the bus with their canes, or having the little lady pushing them up the stairs onto the bus so the OF could get on. It would be so sweet; there would be tears in the eyes of the grandkids as they watched grandpa board the bus.
An OF came in this morning with a great greeting, he placed his hand on the shoulder of an OF already at a table and said, “Good morning, who ya mad at today?” Great.
Many of the OFs not only use hearing aids, and have false teeth but they also wear glasses. Misplacing teeth and hearing aids is tough to do but misplacing glasses is rather easy, especially for the OFs. The OFs were talking about how many pairs of glasses they have had to replace because they were lost. One OF said the trouble in losing his glasses is because he can’t see to find them once they are gone. Many of the OFs said they have dollar-store reading glasses that seem to work fine, and for only a buck they are able to have pairs all over the house. One OF said when his prescription changes he has a couple pair made and put in the cheapest frames the eye doctor has. One pair he places where he knows he can find them and then when one is lost in the house he goes and gets those so he can locate the other. One OF said he tried using the glasses with a chain attached to them that goes around the neck. This does not work, the OF said, because when he is working and doesn’t need the glasses they are always in the way when he bends over, or because the glasses hang right where he holds stuff to his chest to carry. The OF said he has crushed more glasses than he has lost.
Another OF said he has his glasses that are made with those foldable frames and when he takes them off he just folds them up and put them in his pocket and for him it works great. The OF hasn’t lost a pair since. As this scribe added this is just one more problem that adds truth to the statement, “You gotta be tough to be old”, along with the aches and pains, the OFs can’t hear and they can’t see.
The OFs remarked that no matter which way you travel in our area, the Schoharie Valley, the Mohawk Valley, the Hoosick River Valley, the Hudson River Valley, or even into Vermont and beyond all you see is corn. Acres and acres of corn. It seems that even gentleman farmers with just ten acres have these acres planted to corn. This is corn for ethanol or so the OFs have been told. It is not cow corn for silage (although some may be). One OF noted that he sees these acres of corn growing all over but he doesn’t see any cows. When the OFs were farming the garden had a few rows of sweet corn and the fields had the corn for the silo. Some OFs remember eating the cow corn especially when it was not quite ready ─ it was not bad. If you put enough butter and salt on it when it was a little older it still wasn’t bad.
Most of the OFs that farmed remember filling silo and it was a fun time. Farmers got together and they filled each other’s silo, and generally there was a large spread afterwards. These spreads were like church pot- luck dinners, all the ladies brought the best of what they made. How it worked out the farmers did not quite know because seldom were there any duplicates.
Actually, silo work could be very dangerous. Some farmers were known to pass out when working in the silo because of the gases formed and limited air space in the silo. Back in the day, safety guards on spinning equipment were few and far between, if any at all, and in filling a silo there were lots of belts flapping, flywheels whirring, PTOs (power takeoffs) spinning,choppers chopping, blowers blowing, and nary a guard. Not a place for kids, but they were there ─ not toddlers ─ because when the OFs were on the farm it you were eight or nine years old you were out there and had better be earning your keep.
An OF mentioned that back on the farm it was nothing to see a young lad 10 or 12 years old repairing an old (at that time it wasn’t so old) hit and miss one-cylinder engine. Today, as another OF mentioned, he still looks for the even younger kid to come fix his stupid phone, computer, or TV. Times they are a-changing ─ both the people and their paraphernalia.
The OFs continued with their old farm tales on how things used to be done and in some cases may still be done the same way. Raising turkeys for Thanksgiving was one of these memories. None of the OFs said they did this anymore because it is cheaper to get a turkey all ready to go at the store than it is to try and raise them. What did they do you may ask? Well, for one thing, after the turkey met the chopping block it was hung in the shed for a few days. This made the bird much easier to pluck and clean. One OF said that his father would cover the birds with grain sacks to keep the flies off them. However, dunking the turkey or even chickens in hot water to start the plucking was the worst smell on the farm.
Much of farm life had its own particular aroma, most of which is not bad. Today they have added one that is a winner. An OF said he can’t stand the smell of the new way of seasoning manure before it is spread on the fields ─ that is a rank odor, the OF opined.
One OF spoke up, “Do you guys have to bring all that up now? We are eating here ya know.” To which another OF added, “Suck it up. I once ate my lunch at the bottom of the septic tank we were cleaning because I didn’t want to climb out and get all cleaned up to go eat and then have to climb back down to finish the job.” Ugh!
This scribe would like to say that last part was made up, but the scribe knows for a fact it wasn’t.
Those OFs that were able to live through farming in the early years and make to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, where the smell of breakfast is not bad at all, and the OFs just sit there and get waited on, were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Henry Witt, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, John Rossmann, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Jack Benac, Joe Ketzer, Roger Shafer, Low Schenck, Jack Norray, (who was serenaded and received a muffin with a candle for making it to 82 today) Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Andy Tinning, Bob Lassome, Duane Wagonbaugh, Rich Donnelly, Don Chase, Gary Bates, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Pastor Jay Francis, Richard Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jess Vadney, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, Harold Grippen, and me.