Tuesday is here again and the Old Men of the Mountain met on Tuesday the 17th of January, 2017 at the Home Front Café in Altamont.
The other restaurants the OFs visit are restaurants, but the Home Front is a restaurant with a theme. The Home Front pays tribute to the men and women of the 1940’s generation. The Home Front is as well known for that theme as well as the food. The theme suits many of the OFs because they were veterans. However, the talk this morning was not on anything veteran-related. The OFs may be old but at least they are current.

The big argument of the day is what a lynx is, and what a bobcat is. Really! In a good side shot there should be no discussion. One OF brought in a clear picture on his cell phone of a bobcat in a backyard. It was a bobcat; it was large and apparently a male, however, one OF insisted it was a lynx. A quick perusal on Google revealed the following: The most common wildcat in North America, the bobcat is named for its short, bobbed tail. They are medium-sized cats and are slightly smaller but similar in appearance to their cousin, the lynx. Their coats vary in color from shades of beige to brown fur with spotted or lined markings in dark brown or black. So, it was one against 30 and among the 30 were outdoorsmen, trappers (one professional), hunter/fishermen, and a few who have the cats visit them on occasion. But (like many of the OFs) once an OFs mind is set it is virtually cast in stone, hence the well earned phrase “you blockhead”! Anyway, it was just a big bobcat out for a stroll. Or maybe it was his cousin.

Another OF brought in some photographs of the winter of 1957/58 on the Hill with snow banks twice as high as a vehicle and in many areas the plows could not get through and the snow was shoveled by hand to reach the road. Helicopters were used to bring in supplies to stranded farmers, and they even brought in hay. But one OF muttered under his breath that this winter isn’t over yet; we still have to get through March.

Two OFs who sat across from each other were discussing the Silver King Tractor; both OFs each have one and these tractors are in different stages of restoration. Listening to the two yak back and forth was like a history lesson on the Silver King Tractor. The tractor was developed in the early 1900s to augment a company in Plymouth, Ohio that made locomotives and other equipment for moving clay to make bricks. The company (Plymouth Locomotives) had a serious decline in sales because of the Great Depression of 1929-1939. They needed something cheap that people could afford, and they needed to keep their employees working. Aha! the Silver King tractor so named because the silver paint used on the locomotives was good stuff.

The original tractor was designed by the locomotive engineers and was big and cumbersome like a locomotive. This was not what the owners wanted. The company heard of a farmer that made his own tractor from various parts like the Model T and other parts he had laying around his farm. The owners hired this farmer, and voilà, a small inexpensive tractor was born and painted silver with blue wheels. The tractors were intended for farms less than 60 acres and caught on well. But larger farms found they were a good utility tractor and purchased the tractor to save them from having to crank up the big, heavy ones to do Mickey Mouse chores. Farmers once again came to the rescue and with forward thinking by the owners developed this type of tractor which saved the company and the employees. The Silver King was made well into the late 1940s

The OFs were wondering when accidents became crashes. On OF said he hears a crash and he looks for some deliberate act. The OFs said a crash is when someone goes out and drives headlong into a bridge abutment to kill himself…otherwise it is just an accident. No one goes out to deliberately have an ACCIDENT, no matter how plastered they are. More drunks make it home than don’t and the ones that do slam into a tree did not do it deliberately because they were drunk. This was an accident he did not count on. One OF added, “Yeah, if you are peeling potatoes and cut your hand it is an accident, and if you are drunk and cut your hand it is still an accident because it was not planned. Now the same guy may always be drunk when he peels potatoes and he has been doing it that way for years, but one time he cut his hand. This is an ACCIDENT.

The OFs continued to muse about old times and talked about Green Stamps. One OF mentioned he still has an unfilled book with Green Stamps. Some of the OFs mentioned what they picked up at the redemption center. An OF said he still uses one of the items today that he purchased many years ago with Green Stamps. Another OF wondered if the point system used by airlines, and certain stores and credit cards are a version of the old-fashioned Green Stamps. The OFs said there is so much rigmarole needed to redeem these points and what they offer is nothing the OFs want or can use. These “points” don’t even come close to the ease of using Green Stamps, and at the redemption center there were many items that people needed and could use.

The OFs talked about eating, again, and this will not be the last time. This time the chatter was about elderberries ─ making elderberry wine ─ and a couple of OFs have just begun making theirs. One OF garnered 30 pounds of elderberries and the other OF picked 26 pounds and if anyone knows elderberries that is a lot of elderberries. One OF is going to combine some blueberries in his wine. Then the OFs began talking about elderberry pie, and that led to mince meat pies and how our mothers (now you know we are going back a ways) made their own mince meat. The OFs know how to eat.

The OFs that made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont, but none ordered elderberry, or mince meat pie were: John Rossmann, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Ray Frank, Karl Remmers, Bob Snyder, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aelesio, Harold Guest, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Rev. Jay Francis, Wayne Gaul, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Bob Giebitz, Gerry Irwin, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.