On June 10th, 2014 the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie. Interspersed throughout much of the morning conversation at one corner of the restaurant, were discussions on what Schoharie was like in the 1940s and 50s.
This was prompted by three or four of the OFs who were sitting by the window of the restaurant which looks out across the street to the Court House, and the Parrott House. The OFs remembered the movies in the street, setting pins in the bowling alley, and, at that time, the Parrott House was the place to be seen. A couple of the OFs remembered the Glass Bar, but that will be that ─ let it be said that there was a place called the Glass Bar.
The village has changed, the Parrott House has changed, and the times have changed, but really nothing has changed. The OFs are still sitting and eating, getting out of their vehicles, and walking within the same five thousand or so square feet of the planet they did umpteen, ump years ago, even though most have been all over the country, and some all over the world; here they are just like salmon, back to the same dirt on the bottom of their shoes that they had there when they started their travels.
Our discussion on the history of Schoharie (as the OFs remember it) only goes back 60, or maybe 70 years ago. Not a history like history books, nonetheless, first-hand accounts of the past. The proposed work that is going to be done at the intersection of Routes 443 and 156 is what prompted the next conversation. The hamlets of Knox, Berne, West Berne, and Gallupville were bustling little communities with hotels, stores, gas stations, restaurants, and tourist destinations like White Sulphur Springs in Berne, most just memories now.
The OFs mentioned that this was the year of the dandelion. Now, at least in the valley of Schoharie and the Hilltowns, it is also the year, so far, of green and phlox ─ these wild flowers are everywhere.
The OFs do not know how many remember the ice cream destination of “Dutcher’s”. This was a place outside of Altamont on Route 158, not far from the reservoir, where the proprietors of Dutcher’s made their own ice cream. It is now the home of The Elegant Touch catering service. Many of the OFs remember going there in the 1950s and 60s and the amount of ice cream that was dished out. One OF remembered the banana splits, and claimed that was a meal. It wasn’t only the quantity ─ but the quality ─ similar to the Bears restaurant, one OF said. Dutcher’s still remains one of the many ‘gone but not forgotten’ places that were pluses in the realm of the OFs.
The topic which comes up quite often with the OFs is our grandchildren. One OF has a relatively new grandchild and it his first. It was obvious how tickled he is, however, he sat across from another OF that has eighteen grandchildren! The new grandfather has a lot of catching up to do.
Talking about kids one OF noticed how another OF came in and sat down. This OF sat down with a plump ─ he just dropped into the chair. This was not because the sitting OF wanted to, but with OF knees, hips, backs and legs, many times this is the only way to accomplish the maneuver. Getting up out of the chair is not much easier either, there has to be a darn sturdy table at the ready to push on in order to become elevated.
The OFs remember telling their kids to sit without plopping into a chair or couch. They remember telling their kids the furniture in not a trampoline. One OF mentioned he remembered his parents telling him the same thing that he harangued his kids for. Now that the OF is of the age he is, he has a tendency to fold and plop, and then hope he can get back up.
Some of the OFs discussed the horse race at Belmont (and the rant about the Triple Crown that came up after the race). The OFs are in agreement with the co-owner of California Chrome, but not quite how he handled it. One OF mentioned that the owner was not one of the high-class horse-owner mucky-mucks. He seemed to be more of a people person just like the OFs are who speak their mind (while not always politically correct) yet they are more honest most of the time.
The OFs also covered another current topic…chickens and chickens as pets! Chickens make good pets, and are better as a teaching tool for your kids than cats or dogs. Chickens make far less noise than some yappy little poodle that barks all day. Clucking hens are very relaxing similar to a purring cat. Who hasn’t been startled out of bed by a cat fight right outside your bedroom window? Talk about noise! Any pet takes a lot of care no matter what it is, even if it is a pot bellied pig, or miniature horse, they all have to be looked after. One OF said he has a large pet that needs a lot of looking after, and nobody complains about that. It is called a wife.
Those attending the breakfast at the Country Café in Schoharie and really filling up the place with good old Hilltown and Valley dirt were: Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Jim Heiser, Otis Lawyer, Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Karl Remmers, Dick Ogsbury, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Roger Chapman, Jay Taylor, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Herb Sawotka, Miner Stevens, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Bill Krause, Ted Willsey, Bob Lassome, Jim Rissacher, Henry Whipple, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, and me.