Duanesburgh Diner – March 7th

Tuesday March 7th was a gray and dreary day, at least early in the morning ─ freezing rain, fog and just plain rotten. The Old Men of the Mountains endured all this by traveling to Duanesburgh for the comfort of the Duanesburgh Diner to have breakfast.

For some reason the weather spiked conversation about cutting ice from frozen ponds in the winter to be used in the summer. One OF mentioned that his family owned Warner Ice Co. and they cut ice from Warner Lake and stored it in large ice houses with sawdust to sell in the warmer months. Some of the early OFs remember the ice house on the farm where they cut ice to use in the summer ─ especially for the milk cooler. Cutting the ice from ponds was hard work, and the ice just looked cold with the blue-green color of the fresh cut ice squares. How times have changed.  Now our refrigerators dispense ice through their doors, or we just place a glass in the door of the refrigerator and cold water comes out.

The OFs discussed how many of them still have these ice cutting saws stashed away someplace. If there ever happens to be a disaster that knocks out the power in the winter some OFs still will be able to resort to the old ways and cut some ice. However, if the problem happens in the summer there will be lots of bad food out there. It was added that with the increasing use of wind and solar power the problem will be less likely that refrigeration or heat will shut down because many people will have their own source of power.

The storing of food, and the life style on the hill, means most of those on the hill do have rather large stashes of food because they can’t run to the store every day and many have to shop for weeks in advance. Some of the OFs have extensive gardens and can or freeze this produce. The OFs put up jams and jellies, veggies, turkey, chicken, sauces, maple syrup and even some OFs make their own brew. Listening to these conversations on conservation this scribe had a sudden thought.   Wouldn’t it be neat if in these large apartment complexes that rise many stories in the air would have on every fifth floor nothing but dirt, and each four floors could have their own community garden? Nah! This would never work, because those floors of dirt would not make enough money for the owners of the building.

The OFs continued to discuss food but this time it was how much less they eat as they get older. They all said they could not pack it away like they used to. But one suggested that’s because they don’t do anything to work off all those calories the OFs used to suck in. The analogy used was an idling engine does not use as much fuel as one going sixty miles an hour and we are all in idle mode right now. “Not me,” one OF said, “My mode is ‘I am completely shut down’. But  I still need my can of beans every now and then.”

The OFs then talked a little bit about their educations and how they learned to do what it is that they do. The OFs said some of their knowledge came from schooling but a good part of it came from watching and learning. One OF said his father did not talk much and was a very hard worker, at which most OFs chimed in that was the way with their dads also. The OFs felt that to be on the good side of dad was to learn how he did things and then the Young OF would do it the same way. There were no how-to books thrown around, or Google to run to, so the Young OF had to SOR (see, observe, and remember)…That little phrase this scribe has on the bottom of his handout to the students in his art class, but it also applies to how to make an apple pie along side mom at the table, or how to weld two pieces of metal together along side dad in the garage.

As the OFs entered the diner in Duanesburgh there was a new sign on the door. This sign caused some of the OFs to mill around outside waiting for other OFs to show up. The quandary here was the sign read “No Pets or Animals allowed in Diner except service dogs.” The OFs that were staying outside were considered animals and were waiting for an owner which would be another OF to bring them in as “service dogs”.  This attested to some of the OFs having a well-deserved reputation as being animals, although at their ages now the animal OFs are completely harmless.  (It takes so little to amuse us).

The Old Men of the Mountain that made it through the freezing rain and fog to the Duanesburgh Diner in Duanesburgh were more than expected and they were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Roger Shafer, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Glenn Patterson, Jim Heiser, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Andy Tinning, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Bob Benninger, Bob Fink, and me.

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Your Way Cafe – February 28th

Well, it is Tuesday, the last day of February 2017, and the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie.            This scribe generally calls the restaurants a day ahead of when we are supposed to be there to warn them the OFs are coming. Sometimes, when they ask how many will show up, this scribe takes a stab at it. When advising the Your Way Café this particular morning this scribe guessed 20 to 25 people would be there. Boy, did this scribe throw the Your Way Café a curve! Sorry Your Way.

The OMOTM held the restaurant to its name (Your Way Café) and they ordered their bacon medium or burnt to a crisp, their eggs like rocks or just warm, and their sausage with which some have links, and some have patties. The guys are even fussy about their home fries, and again, some wanted them with onions, some wanted them really crispy, while some wanted hash browns, and even a few wanted them with horseradish. Some of the OFs watch what the waitress scribbles down and say it is a wonder the cooks comes up with anything close to what they order. Yet most of the time the OFs get exactly what they order so there must be some kind of standard to eggs over easy, or crispy bacon, or the difference between light, medium, and dark toast.

The OFs stick to much of the by-laws ─ especially the ones about no politics, no religion, and no tattling on why one OF or the other is in the pokey ─ however, they did wander a little bit into politics with a few comments. These comments were not too controversial such as how tough it is for a red guy to be in a blue state, county or city, conversely it is tough for a blue guy to be in a red state, county or city.  No one got bent out of shape over these observations.

The OFs talked about how their shopping mainstays have either bit the dust and are no longer around, while some others are starting to show signs of joining the group. Sears and Roebuck, Montgomery Wards, Macy’s, Woolworths, Kresge (which became Kmar,t then Kmart purchased Sears). The OFs remember all these stores when they were places to shop, especially Wards and Sears for the farmer. Both sold tractors and tractor supplies, both sold chickens, and ducks, plus they were the places to go for tools, and tires.  All good stuff and all made in the USA. Camping equipment, guns, hunting and fishing supplies, including boats, were all available at Sears and Wards. The customer could buy a violin, a motorcycle, or even a car, at the same place. Going shopping (for the OFs) is not fun anymore.

The OFs talked about the new Dollar Store distribution center which is being built in Amsterdam. A few OFs said they would believe it when the earth movers move in. Some of the OFs were wondering why the chose that particular site until they realized that there are train tracks to that section of town so the location began to make sense.

To add to this is the proximity of the Thruway ─ the exit will be almost like the I-88 exits for Walmart trucks and other haulers getting off the interstate and going through Central Bridge to get to the Walmart distribution center in Sharon Springs. The OFs were wondering why Walmart doesn’t sponsor a NASCAR Racecar as Dollar General did, or does. One OF suggested that Walmart is supposed to appeal to rednecks, so what better way than thru NASCAR?

The OFs discussed the storm that rolled through in the early evening on Saturday the 25th and the church in Cobleskill that had lightening strike the church tower from that short nasty storm. The OFs that live in that area said it lit up the whole town, and they could feel the thunder clap. Some of the other OFs didn’t know if it was that exact strike or not but there was one rumble of thunder that seemed very low and shook everything. This clap was felt in Schoharie, Middleburgh, and up on the hill in Berne and Knox. The timing, according to the OFs anyway, did place the clap at about the same time as the strike on the church steeple in Cobleskill.

A dialogue that solidified what many conversations of the OFs have on some Tuesday mornings was on how people work, particularly the OFs.

Some OFs want to work alone, they don’t want any help. Some like company while they work and these OFs continue to work on whatever project the OF has underway.  Others like all the help they can get when they have a project going and when another OF shows up he had better have work gloves with him because the OF will put him (or them) to work.

Then there is the OF that likes people to help because most of the time these OFs think the OFs helping knows more about what is going on than he does. These are very good examples of whatever floats your boat, eventually the boat will get the OF to shore.  Also, there is the OF who knows what he is doing, but if another group of OFs come to “help”, after they are gone the OF goes and does a lot of it over because it didn’t pass muster.

Now comes (and the OMOTM don’t have any of these) a different group of people that would rather have anyone else do the work but them. These persons are good pointer-outers of what has to be done but don’t ask them to do it. Yep, many ways people, and not only the OFs, work.

The OFs filling the Your Way Café in Schoharie up on a very unusual winter’s day were: Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Ray Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Roger Schafer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Dave Williams, Roger Chapman, Jim Heiser, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Marty Herzog, Sonny Mercer, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Don Wood, Ray Kennedy, Mike Willsey, Warren Willsey, Rev. Jay Francis, Ted Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

Country Cafe – February 21st

On February 21st the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie.

While the early arrivers of the OMOTM gathered on the sidewalk outside the restaurant on this early Tuesday morning in late February, they talked about what Schoharie was like in the forties, fifties, and sixties.

This conversation was carried inside and it was decided that the Country Café was the old Badgley & Wheeler’s soda fountain with booths and various sundries. Many seniors would walk to Badgley’s from the Schoharie School on the hill at lunch time and eat junk food for lunch. Those were the days. Reminiscing is fun, and the reality was fun because then there weren’t so many rules and regulations. The brains of the OFs were working overtime trying to reconstruct the village in the 1950s and 60s.

Like the OF’s conversations of a week or so ago about Gloversville/Johnstown, Schoharie too had stores, bars, a bowling alley, and a theater, all gone now and nothing there to replace them. One OF blamed Walmart for much of the demise of the little shops, while others blamed the flood, but another OF said the demise of the village was before the flood. An additional OF mentioned that if politics would get out of the way, and someone with bucks would restore the Parrott House, the village would be a different place. We are now all OFs; some even miss the clutch and shifting lever, raw milk, and Schoharie County Jumble cookies that everyone’s mother and grandmother once made.

Part of the conversation was where the driver’s tests were given so the young farmers could obtain their driving license. Most of the OF’s vehicles were of the clutch vintage, hand out the window for signaling turns, and maneuvers like that not even considered now. The OFs remember having to drive up the hill by the theater, stop the car in the middle of the hill, and go forward by letting in the clutch and not rolling backyards. Many of the OFs that were raised on the farm had been driving since they were 9 or 10 years old and could back up a 4-wheel wagon-load of hay and still had to take the test over a couple of times. One OF wondered what the new tests are like; an OF thought the driving part may be the same except for stopping on the hill and sticking your hand out the window for turns, however, some of the rules of the road may now be somewhat different.

The OFs remembered a few illicit activities that went on in the county when the OFs were YFs. One was cock fighting, and the other was the “stills in the hills”. The smoke from an operating still could be seen from across the hill; this was not an easy thing to hide. If a casual passerby could see the smoke so could the law, but brew was legal so this stuff was made mostly for family and friends. None of the OFs could remember a bust on still.

Occasionally the cock fights would be chased down but there were more fights than those caught. When they were caught though the law did get tough on those running it; the chickens were confiscated, and little knows what became of those chickens. Those Bantams were beautiful birds like something out of the rain forest. The OFs don’t hear of these two events going on now and haven’t in a long time.

A continuing conversation from a couple of weeks past was on the new Rivers Casino in Schenectady. The consensus of opinion was the casino in Schenectady is designed for the high rollers. One OF said he had a small sandwich and a soda and it cost 17 bucks. The OF about fell over.  To get in on a table game also requires a few dollars one OF said.   This scribe checked the menus out on Google and has to agree that this is no place to stop in and get a cup of coffee. The restaurants around the place have nothing to worry about unless they see what the casino is charging and jack their prices up to meet them. According to the OFs this is a Boston, New York City type of place, not a Schoharie, Amsterdam, Gloversville, Johnstown, Canajoharie, Ballston Spa, Pittsfield, Bennington type of place.  One OF thought the casino is a good idea for Schenectady.  That city may get some of the money from the high rollers that might come from the big cities in their boats to the casino on the river. These OF said let the gamblers from the smaller towns go to the Turning Stones, or Foxwoods, but have the big bucks come here. There are two sides to everything.

The Old Men of the Mountain that found time to wander to the Country Café in Schoharie and fill the place up with their bodies and their chatter were: Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Frank Ray, Chuck Aelesio, Dave Williams, Otis Lawyer, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Jim Rissacher, Ted Feurer, Wayne Gaul, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Elwood Vanderbilt, Richard Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and Miner Steven who used the occasion to be accompanied by just a few of his kids and grandkids to make a table of 4 generations of Stevens’ including Bradley McLaughlin (grandson), Erika Gibbons (granddaughter), Olivia Gibbons (great granddaughter), Debbie McLaughlin (daughter), and me.

Mrs K’s – February 14th

The Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh on Valentines Day; they did not bring their wives or girl friends. Some of the OMOTM’s were going to take their wives out to eat in celebration of the day. The OFs planning this get to eat out twice on the same day.  This ingenious plan saves on dishes and electricity, and cleaning up after the meal. No one mentioned flowers, however, some mentioned cards and candy, while others said “What’s Valentines Day”?

Some OFs say they clean up the kitchen in the evening after the last meal of the day and that is a lot of work. One OF said he thinks his wife takes advantage of his doing this and uses every pot and pan in the cupboard to prepare the meal. The OF continued his complaining by saying when he grills in the summer time, he does the whole ball of wax, the preparation, the cooking, and the cleaning up afterward. One OF said, “Your wife has trained you well. “It’s too late now,” the OF continued, “You are stuck.”

“Naw, he ain’t,” a second OF added and then the second OF told the first OF just to let everything pile up, and don’t do the cleanup, and then when she goes to get a pot to cook with and can’t find any clean ones she will get the idea.

“Not my wife,” the OF said “H*** she will just go out and buy some more pots, and get paper plates with plastic flatware and serve the beer in a red plastic cup”.

Topic One:  The OFs talked about how when the OFs were YFs on the farm we all had animals.  Other than cows, horses, pigs, and chickens, we had our pets like cats and dogs. None of the OFs could remember running them to the vet, or even getting the cat or dog special food. The cats had better earn their keep by catching rats, mice and voles. One OF said there was always an old milk can lid filled with fresh milk daily and the cats would gather around that lid in the morning to lap it up. The dogs ate leftovers from what we ate. These animals seemed to be healthy, live long, be great companions and we didn’t have mean dogs either. Some of the OFs remember going out to get the cows on an early summer morning and the dog or dogs running along with them. It was a great time. One OF mentioned that he remembers the vet coming to the farm. Another OF said their vet came at specific time which the OF now knows was arranged by his dad but at the time when he was a kid the vet just showed up like magic.

Topic Two:  The new Rivers casino in Schenectady was discussed with many of the OFs saying they are staying as far away from that as they can. A couple of the OFs mentioned they will visit it just to see what it is like because there has been so much hoopla about it. Another OF said he doesn’t think he can afford this particular casino, while others said now they don’t have to travel to Turning Stone in Verona (central New York). One mentioned he still likes the atmosphere of Saratoga. One or maybe more OFs suggested that their better halves like the slot machines. One OF said he can’t drive by a casino without his wife nudging him to turn in.

An OF pointed out that some of the casinos have nothing around them so there is nothing to do except be at the casino. The plus for the one in Schenectady is there is plenty to do outside of the casino. If you like boats the OFs said, there is supposed to be a marina at the site, or if you like sports Goldstock’s Sporting Goods is across the bridge and right up the road. There are lots of other shopping places, gyms, Mohawk Honda, and M&S Cycle (for motorcycles and scooters) just a little further from Goldstocks. Guy stuff…drop the wife off…and the OF might come back with some new skis, or maybe even a new car. That’ll teach her; then again the wife might just win enough to pay for some of these unexpected purchases. If the OF is interested in history there is the Stockade area of Schenectady with a little park where the OF can sit in “peace” and watch the river, while feeding the squirrels.

Topic Three:  The problems with the dam in Northern California were discussed, which brought up dialogue about our own Gilboa dam in Schoharie County, however, the dam in California seems to be much worse in scope. This brought up the discussion of what the OFs would take if they had to evacuate in a hurry. Many answers were alike, such as important papers, medicines, photos, and some cash. A few OFs had some interesting add-ons like water, and one said to be sure to take the wife. Another OF had a keen idea. This OFs suggestion was if you live in an area prone to flooding or natural disasters to have a small lightweight and tight trailer. Keep your records in there, your photos, water, blankets, and whatever else you deem necessary, sleeping bags, camp stove with fuel etc., so when the evacuation notice comes all that required is to hook it to the vehicle and take off. The medicines should be all that would be necessary to grab. That sounded like a cool idea.

The Old Men of the Mountain who hit the highway for Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh expecting to have snow-covered highways, and who were pleasantly surprised by how well the highway crews had cleaned them, were: John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Ray Frank, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, Jim Heiser, Chuck Aelesio, Roger Chapman, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Marty Herzog, Sonny Mercer, Ray Kennedy, Mace Porter, Pastor Jay Francis, Don Wood, Ted Willsey, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Mike Willsey, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen and me.

Middleburgh Diner – February 7th

On Tuesday, the 7th of February, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh.

This was a morning when the weather guys and gals were predicting some nasty winter weather but the OFs headed out anyway. Those that arrived had nice weather but when it came time to leave the diner the freezing rain and sleet had begun. The OFs that lived below 1400 feet had only the rain and sleet ─ those over 1400 feet had large wet snow flakes thrown in for good measure, at least in the Helderbergs.  The OFs are in the hills west of the Hudson so that is the geography the OF use as reference.

The OFs were wondering how National Grid comes up with the report they send out on how your use of electricity compares to your neighbors. The OFs said they look around at their neighbors and they see the neighbors have as many lights on as they do, only according to NG these neighbors are using less electricity.

One OF said his neighbor across the street is a graveyard. He said those guys really don’t use much electricity. His other neighbor lives there only part of the year so he does not use much. The other neighbor is a vacant building so of course he is using more than that neighbor. Another OF said three of his neighbors are on solar power and this OF wonders if his usage is based on a comparison with them. The point is the OFs don’t know what neighbors they are being compared to. One OF suggested there should be a little map with an arrow pointing to his place and little dots or something denoting what neighbor(s) he is being compared to. The report says it compares your home to approximately 100 homes of the same square footage as the OF’s home and uses the same type of heat. Many OFs say that is a lot of real estate to find 100 homes close to his home. The OFs look at this notice, found it interesting in a way, but still look at it and then say “so”.  The report says this OFs house is 1500 square feet and electrically heated.  He has never used the electric heat. In the beginning he used a wood stove, but converted to oil quite a few years ago. The OF said the wood had become just too much work.

One OF mentioned this notice from National Grid is a good idea.  The OF can use it as ammunition to show his wife that they are using too much power and she should turn off the lights when she leaves a room. The OF maintained his house is so lit up that planes use it as a beacon; it is even listed on aircraft routing maps.

The OFs discussed traveling to Binghamton or Oneonta prior to the construction of Route I-88 and after. Using Route 7 before the interstate was completed was interesting but took some time to get to places. I-88 did not do as much damage to the small towns along Route 7 as the Thruway did to the towns along Route 20. Many OFs say it is still faster to come from Syracuse to Albany on Route 20 than it is to use the Thruway. The OFs claim I-88 is only a late spring, summer and early fall road. It is a dangerous highway in the winter. A couple of the OFs said it is a dangerous highway any time of the year in bad weather. Some OFs said it is the wind, while another said it is the wind, but it is also the deer, and he continued with comments concerning the sun.   The sun never shines on the highway through some of the cuts in the hills that were made when the highway was built.

One OF thought it was not maintained as well as the Northway or the Thruway because there is nobody on it.  Another OF said that he sometimes thinks he is still in his driveway because there are stretches where he can drive for miles and be the only car on the road. “My kind of road,” one OF added.

This scribe mentioned the optical illusion for about 3 or 4 miles where the road appears to be going downhill when actually it is necessary to apply pressure to the accelerator to maintain speed because the road is in fact going uphill. The scribe also added the driver wouldn’t notice this if the car is on cruise control.

At one end of the table there was some discussion on where we come from, and are we really are who we think we are. Included in this was some discussion on Warner Lake and Thompson’s Lake.  The OFs said the fishing on Warner Lake was not as good as it had been in previous years. It could be the open winters one OF thought.

Then followed a dialogue when one OF was informing the other OFs how, after precise instructions were dictated by the manufacturer of his home, the foundation and yard grading had to be exact before they would deliver the home. The OF related that when the home came the trailer was moved into position and beams were laid; then one man came and pushed the house onto the foundation with one hand. This should have been a Kodak moment, or even a video moment. One OF said a bare house with nothing in it really doesn’t weigh that much.

Those OFs that made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, NY., ahead of the freezing rain and sleet, and whatever else was coming, were: Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, Don Wood, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Mike Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Marty Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Warren Willsey, Ted Willsey, (with Denise Eardley Ted’s private chauffer. If you have a Hilltown Willsey gene be prepared to have a long, productive life, so behave yourself when you are young because if you do anything stupid and go to jail for a life it is going to be a very long time.) Harold Grippen, and me.

Kim’s West Winds Diner – January 31st

On the last day of January 2017 the Old Men of the Mountain met at Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow.
Why is Kim’s Diner here, why is Preston Hollow here, why is Livingstonville where it is? It would be interesting to know why all these small towns dot the countryside. The OFs come out of the mountain like flies attracted to decaying meat to go to breakfast on Tuesday mornings. A better analogy would be like bees to goldenrod in the fall.

The OFs maintain that the restaurants should have fans a little way from the restaurants (and on either side) that would waft the aroma of eggs and bacon towards the highway. The OFs feel this would induce passersby to whip in and order up breakfast even if they were not that hungry. Kim’s is such a place right on Route 145 at the edge of a small town.

The OFs discussed how many small businesses have left the area over the years. This time we discussed specifically Johnstown and Gloversville. Both of these towns were full of small businesses. The knitting mills, glove and leather producing factories are now gone. This area in Fulton County in its heyday had 300 leather factories; today there are only about a dozen and some of those just do the leather. The OFs used to take trips to that area to shop. Johnstown Knitting mills was one where the OF said you could hear the mills running in the back. The OFs purchased gloves, wallets, leather jackets, etc., all right at the factory that made them. They are gone. Now when the OFs look to purchase a pair of gloves they all say made in China. One OF added there is a reason (he thinks) for this. He opined that if the gloves were made here a twenty-dollar pair of gloves would cost one hundred dollars.

One OF whipped out his wallet to leave a tip and pay for his breakfast. The wallet appeared to be one he received as a graduation present when he graduated high school. An OF queried, “About time for a new wallet isn’t it?” The OF replied, “Nothing is falling out of it yet so it is still functional, and if it functions why get another one?” Tough statement to argue with. A few of the OFs agreed with the OF with the old wallet. One OF said he received a new wallet from his wife who was embarrassed by his other old one, and this OF said he could not get all the stuff from his old wallet into his new one. Some of the OFs had to agree that change is not always good. These OFs were of the opinion that if is not worn out why change, and if it ain’t broke why fix it.

This conversation went back to Gloversville and Grandoe leather where the St. Thomas wallet and bags among other name- brand high-quality leather goods were made. (One of those leather places that is no longer there.) This OF and his wife like other OFs did some of their Christmas shopping in Gloversville as mentioned above. Grandoe Corp. would have a factory sale that was so popular they would have people on the outside guarding the doors and when some people came out they would let the same number in. The room under the factory would be packed.

“One of the factories,” another OF said, “That made gloves, 30-years ago made the gloves for the Air Force, and they also had a small section of the factory where at Christmas time they had factory sales. The OF said people showed up at this glove plant in tour busses. To get to this factory outlet it was necessary to walk through part of plant where people were sizing gloves over hundreds of metal hands protruding from a table. The employees would stretch a glove over a protruding hand, push a lever with his foot, and steam would come out of holes in the hand to shape the glove. This factory is also gone.

Some of the OFs with Time Warner received a notice in their bills that starting late winter/early spring it will now be necessary to dial 518 for every number in the 518 area code, and 838 if you are assigned a new number in the 518 area code. Now all counties in the 518 and 838 area codes will have ten digit phone numbers. One OF said to call his neighbor he will have to dial 518-123-4567, but if he gets a new neighbor who gets a phone this neighbor might also get a number as 838-123-4567. There’s a chance that business cards, letterheads, signs, truck lettering, and the like might have to be changed. Another OF complained that life is not easy anymore. Who keeps messing things up, why can’t I just get up have breakfast, pack a lunch, take my old boat out to the lake and go fishing, come home have supper, watch a little TV, or read a book then go to bed. NO! Now I have to think all the time, they keep changing all kinds of rules. I can’t keep up.

The Old Men of the Mountain who some had to push the covers off a little earlier to get to Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow were: Bill Lichliter, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Karl Remmers, Roger Chapman, Bob Snyder, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Dave Williams, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Don Woods, Chuck Aelesio, Frank Ray, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, and me.

Hilltown Cafe – January 24th

On January 24th the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. At this meeting the pickings were slim. The weather was a major factor but some brave souls made the trek. One OF didn’t make it because he was instructed by his better half that he had better not go and leave her alone when the power went out. The power didn’t go off so the OF missed the breakfast. The OF was headed out the door on his way when the OMOTM thought the better part of valor would be to return.

From the informants who braved the weather and made it to the breakfast it was noted that for some reason part of the conversation was on the Civil War. This was from knowledge gained from books, and not actual participation, although with some of the ages of these OFs, they just missed it.

President Lincoln’s inauguration was the most hostile, and guarded inauguration in history. He was known to many as the “ape” from Illinois and the gossip was that he would never take the reins of the government alive. The carriage which he rode from the Capitol to the White House was so guarded by the military that he was barely visible, and the Army was employed to keep the crowds at bay. The sharpshooters on the rooftops were given orders to shoot anyone that approached the carriage. Politics are still alive and causing discussion among “We, the People.”

Our weather was also a topic, of course. With the exception of the temperatures in the Hilltowns not being quite as high as the Carolinas, this much of the winter so far, has been like the Carolinas with all the ice. One OF mentioned that what they have in the Carolinas is lots of ice, but the days warm up so fast (for the most part) the ice is gone by late afternoon. “Not always,” one OF added, “It (ice) can hang around, and get inches thick, and just like us here in upstate NY, everything will shut down.

The white pine trees in the Hilltowns are bent over from the ice buildup on the tree’s branches, and so far this year this occurrence has happened twice. One OF mentioned that the white pine shed branches in ice storms like deciduous trees shed their leaves in the fall. One OF said that even though they drop branches as large as six inches in diameter it does not seem to affect the tree; that weed of a tree just keeps on growing.

“Yes,” one OF commented, “In the fall we have to contend with all the pine needles that fall, and in the spring we have to haul all the branches away that fell during the winter.” To this OF it is a double whammy. Then the yellow pollen in the spring shows up and that stuff goes where water won’t. However, his wife insists that the tree supplies cover to lots of blue jays so let the trees be.

The OF claimed he and his wife sit on the porch and watch the birds fly full tilt through the white pines and never ruffle a needle. They wonder how these fliers manage to do this because the various birds’ wing spans can be from four inches to twelve inches plus across.

Another OF wife complains when her beloved OF clears brush and tries to eliminate the wild grape vines because that is where the cardinals live. The OF says his home is full of the red of cardinal plates, cardinal wall hangings, cardinal figurines and sundry cardinal knick-knacks.

The OFs discussed the eye, and how tough an organ that is. Many of the OFs have had eye surgery. The OFs have many of the eye problems of all OFs, and OFsess, (i.e., princes & princesses) like dry eye, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and a few other ailments like scratchy eyeballs, and tearing. But the eye is tough; many of the OFs have had numerous black eyes, One OF said he had two black eyes at the same time. Bugs, dust, thistles, and all kinds of stuff whack the OFs in the eyes and for the most part, after a short time, the eye is back to normal. One OF said he had a battery blow up in his face and he thought he was going to be blind, but after a while his vision was back and normal. To which another OF added, “You are one lucky s.o.b., that could have been the case and you would now be using a white cane.”

Those hardy few that made it to the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, and probably left Amanda with a few extra eggs, a couple extra pounds of bacon, and extra bowls of pancake mix, because of the short supply of OFs were: Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, Rev. Jay Francis, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Elwood Vanderbilt, Jim Rissacher, Harold Grippen, Marty Herzog, Ted Willsey, (Denise Eardley), and not me.

Home Front Cafe – January 17th

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.

Chuck Wagon Diner – January 10th

It is January 10th 2017 already and the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, NY and this scribe does not have a clue as to what went on because this scribe was not there. This will give the scribe a chance to expand on or use some of the notes from previous breakfast conversations. Some of what the OFs talk about is a very short, and generally quick, banter back and forth that may only be one or two sentences long and then a nippy retort. Many of these are not newsworthy or fit for a paper but are very common place. Locker room talk of the senior citizen type.

Last week one of the topics not covered was water. On the hill many, if not most, of the wells have sulfur water. This is great stuff. There are many kinds of water softeners that take care of the sulfur in the home if owner does not want it. Many on the hill prefer it and when going off the hill and drink the water in Delmar, or Guilderland or any community that has a water plant the hill people can smell the chlorine almost immediately. Some of the OFs say it is almost like drinking Clorox. Some of the OFs that have softeners have a by-pass line that goes to a faucet on the sink that takes the untreated water directly to that faucet. This water they use for drinking and cooking. Some direct the sulfur water directly to a holding jug and let the water aerate. That is good water and spoils the OFs (and most people who drink it) from drinking other water. One of the many advantages of living on the Hill, but not all the wells are sulfur. Some wells tap into a good stream of water before it travels through the limestone and that too is great water.

The OFs, say they are OFs because well DUH, they are old and most of the OFs became old by eating the right stuff and the OFs did this naturally. The OFs keep getting reports on how people should be eating and as the OFs look at these suggestions many say what is this stuff? The OFs say that they did not eat the good stuff all the time but when they got off track it was only occasionally.
When many of the OFs were growing up their meals came from items grown in the garden, and butchered on the farm. One OFs said you can’t get any fresher than that, and it was chemical free. Eggs, meat, and potatoes with veggies and fruit, although some OFs said their fruit came in the form of pies and jams. A couple of OFs said their fruit came in the form of wine. Home canning, and curing you own meat, was a food process more than one OF mentioned, “We used plain stuff like salt, or stuff you could pronounce.” One OF said they were poor, to which another OF quickly added we were all poor, anyway, this particular OF said he didn’t start to eat well until he went into the service.

“We still eat the same way,” an OF said, “Only we get it from the store, and we consume all the chemicals they use and don’t see any difference.” However, another spoke up and said, “Most of us had a good start before the agriculturists started using all these growth hormones.”

Looks like this scribe did not consider eating and drinking interesting because for any of us to be here we have to eat and drink. To this, this scribe says, it must be more interesting than he thinks because of all the cooking shows on TV and all the cookbooks in the bookstores.

The question becomes, as one OF put it, “Suppose we ate like they tell us to eat now would we be older OFs, and function better at 90 or 100, than we are now at 80 and 90?” “Only time will tell,” another OF thought, “But who wants to be on this planet that long?” This is the same OF that wanted to get off this planet awhile back.

Those OFs that made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown and still adding weight to this sphere were: Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Pastor Jay Francis, Roger Shafer, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Warren Willsey, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jim Rissacher, Marty Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and not me.

Duanesburgh Diner – January 3rd

Well, on the first breakfast of the New Year (and by the way Happy New Year from the OMOTM) the OFs good weather for driving to the restaurants ran out. The drive on January 3rd 2017 was not fun. There was drizzle at the freezing point and thick, heavy fog and it was a dark day, but this did not hold many OFs from getting out and enjoying the comradery of all the other OFs. The OFs discussed the weather in Duanesburgh because this morning the OMOTM were at the Duanesburgh Diner in that village. Duanesburgh has a weather system all its own and it generally has nothing to do with the rest of us.

This morning this scribe had copious notes because the subjects were varied and all over the place ─ they covered New Years Eve, Mariah Carey, trapping, aquariums, zoos, self-driving cars, clever crooks, sulfur water, guarantees, computer spying, the non-word “overspread”, warts, spots, wrinkles, babies, mice and ticks, the flu and a few others. This scribe can only pick a few of these to expand on.

Quite a schooling was given on the art of trapping. It does take time to learn and it is done by going as an apprentice with an experienced trapper. Book larnin tain’t gonna cut it. The critter of choice for this lesson from the trapper was the fisher. The fisher is a nasty animal and will eat just about anything. Squirrels, mice, rabbits, birds, cats, skunks, and even the parents of the aforementioned animals, and also their young, and their eggs, according to the OF outdoors-man and trapper. This is a ferocious little animal. The OF said that during this trapping season, with the few traps he set out he managed to trap two fishers. The OF said he does not use leg traps.

We found out in many of our conversations that the OFs have been to places that most of the other OFs have been to. This time it was aquariums. The aquariums the OFs talked about were the ones in Mystic, Conn., in Boston, in Bush Gardens, and the one in Myrtle Beach. The one that is now open in the old Rotterdam mall was what brought this up. One of the OF’s kids was going to take his kids and some friends of theirs to the aquarium at the mall in Rotterdam on the school winter break, but when he checked the cost that was soon scratched off the list.

The OFs were wondering who would be at fault and who would the lawyers sue if two self-driving vehicles collided with each other. Would they have to sue the company, or the people who owned the cars? The people that owned them were not driving them so how could they be responsible? How about the guidance system that was directing them? Supposing they were both using the same guidance system, what then? How would the police fill out the accident report? What kind of answer would they get to, “May I see your license and registration please?” The OFs think the questions that could come up might be endless. “What fun,” as one OF put it.

The OFs talked about clever crooks, and the crooks that stole the diamonds with 7000 police officers a couple of blocks away. One might admit they had one heck of a decoy with the revelry of one of the largest New Years Eve parties in full swing. These crooks could have even used jackhammers and no one would have noticed. One OF thought all of the officers were looking in one direction trying to spot any sort of trouble so the people partying would be safe, however, none must have looked behind them. One OF added two blocks away in New York is quite a distance so even if the police officers looked back they probably would not have seen anything. The one crime that was not made by a stupid crook, but rather stupid people who were transporting a tremendous amount of gold. There was so much gold that this one individual saw just sitting in a bucket in the back of an unattended truck ─ again New York City. He picked it up and walked off with it. Who the heck was at fault on that deal one OF wondered?

Then there was the local guy that went after an ATM machine with a big hammer that was not big enough. The guy went home and came back with a sledge hammer and started beating on the ATM machine but it did not break. This shows one thing. These machines are well built! If anyone is going to steal one of these things they should take lessons from the crooks that used a forklift and placed the ATM machine on a truck and hauled it away. It might be a good idea if the manufacturers of these machines installed a GPS tracking device in the machines along with the cameras.

Some time ago the OFs discussed manufacturer’s errors, and this time the discussion was on warranties. Many of the OFs have had appliances, tools, outdoor equipment and other items that are used in and around the home and these items fail within the warrantee period. Depending on the supplier, and what the product is, sometimes the OGs try and fix the problem, but sometimes the suppliers just say take another one, and when asked what to do with the one that doesn’t work, often these suppliers say keep it. This is because the dealer doesn’t want to mess with it and neither does the manufacturer. Now the OF that bought it is stuck with it and has to take it to the dump…er… transfer station. However, some of the OFs that have kept various and sundry of these pieces of failed whatever have used them for spare parts, made planters out of them, and in some cases cobbled them up and made them serviceable again. The OFs have come to the conclusion that over the years we have really become a throw-away society.

Those OFs that made it to the Duanesburgh Diner in Duanesburgh (and the OFs are original production runs and not castaways) were: Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Chuck Aelesio, Ray Frank, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Herb Bahrmann, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Mike Willsey, Marty Herzog, and me.