On Tuesday the 29th of November the Old Men of the Mountain traveled to Kim’s West Wind diner in Preston Hollow to have their last breakfast in November.

Now the month of “Hectic” starts…also known as December. Christmas is supposed to be the time of peace, love and joy but somehow it becomes push, shove, and that is mine. Underneath it all though this time of peace, love and joy does shine through all the hustle and bustle; most of the OMOTM can attest to that.

The OFs that have to travel quite a distance to Kim’s West Wind Diner must get up early in the morning, but most are up anyway so that is not new. On this particular Tuesday the OFs out on the road while it is still dark had temperatures in the high forties and low fifties, and yet many encountered salt trucks spreading salt. They must know something the OFs didn’t.

Usually the OFs skip all over in their conversations, and this morning they did follow the pattern somewhat but most of the conversation was on homes. They spoke of maintenance, the environment’s attack on homes, and how the cost of upkeep is out- pacing the OF’s income. The last part may be because many of the OFs are on fixed incomes and the planned rise of inflation did not match the actual cost of inflation on items that affect many of the OFs such as taxes, medicine, food, and gas. Even the price of paint is way out of proportion to what a gallon of paint cost 20 years ago.

Some of the OFs are in the process of replacing the windows in their homes and they discussed the effort in keeping the older windows clean, and how some of the windows failed because of poor construction. Unforeseen design flaws the manufacturers did not see coming caused windows to leak, sag, and rot. In a previous time the old-fashioned double-hung windows with their ropes and weights could be repaired by the home owner, however, these windows are not very efficient in keeping out the cold and drafts.

The OFs now look to windows that tip in to clean instead of having to leave the outside of the upstairs windows dirty because it takes a 20-foot ladder to reach them. Cleaning becomes a real chore especially if these are six-over-six windows. Another reason is we do not need any OFs falling off 20-foot ladders. They would make an awful splat on the ground and with their ancient bones they would shatter like glass. What a mess!

The OFs topic’s covered painting houses with white lead paint and how long that paint lasted. Some OFs said that houses they painted with white lead 50 years ago are still in good shape, and a properly used pressure washer to clean off the grime makes the house looks like it was just freshly painted. The OFs also noticed that metal roofs are making a comeback. It used to be that a metal standing-seam roof was the roof of choice and those roofs, if painted every now and then, would last a lifetime and maybe one or two more lifetimes.

One OF wondered if the new houses of today will be around 150 or 200 years from now, like many of the houses in the northeast and south. If you drop a marble (in a two-hundred year old home) in one end of a room you might see it roll to another corner in of the room on its own. Some of the doors might not shut tight, but these homes are still being lived in today. Even though a little tilted, the home is still solid as a rock and will probably outlive a home built in the year 2000.

On OF mentioned how the wood on his home is aging. This OF thinks it is causing a dust to settle not only on the windows but on other things on the outside of the home. One OF years ago had a deck painted white on the back of his home facing west-north-west and in a few years the OF noticed a grayish-black coating on the deck, yet the paint was fine. The OF also noticed the same discoloration on the part of the roof that faced in the same direction. This OF had the problem checked out and was told the discoloration was caused by acid rain. This OF said he has not noticed it in recent years.

The OFs also had experiences with housing mistakes where the manufacturers (on mostly rehab jobs) measured wrong, or sent the wrong materials. In almost all the cases the manufacturers did not want the mistakes brought back. Apparently all they would do, if returned, would take up room in their warehouses. What are they going to do with them? One OF said a friend of his selected a prefab home that was stick-built and it was shipped to him on trucks. When the contractor was putting it together he found the company shipped halves of two different houses. The contractor said the OFs friend had two choices. The contractor could jury rig the two-mismatched houses or the friend would have to wait quite awhile for the manufacturer to sort it out. The OFs friend said, “Go ahead, hook ‘em up,” and so they did.

The OFs think at their ages there is a lot to be said for either renting a home, or buying a condo ─ to heck with this house work, let someone else do it.

Those OFs that made it to Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow after they finished the house work were: Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Roger Chapman, Karl Remmers, Bob Snyder, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Don Wood, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Elwood Vanderbilt, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Harold Grippen, and me.