In the merry, merry month of May the Old Men of the Mountain met on Tuesday, May 12th at the Duanesburgh Diner in Duanesburgh.
The Duanesburgh Diner has a neat way of keeping track of who has regular, or who has decaf coffee. This restaurant does it with black and white mugs, black for regular, and white for decaf. This way the waitress, or waitresses, do not have to keep asking who has the decaf, and with 20 to 25 guys that is a lot of coffee to keep track of. Then there is always the orange juice or water guys thrown in to mess things up.
It was a great summer-type morning, and the OF weathermen did not complain about our, so far, two-season weather pattern for 2014/2015 of just a nasty winter, right into 80/90 degree summer type days. The OFs commented but did not complain…Yet…
The OFs mentioned all the weather that is going on in the central part of the country. One OF said, “No matter what, weather is going on all over the world. It has to.” What the OF was referring to is the bad weather and tornadoes. Another OF said, “These things have been going on for years, only now we have instant information in real time brought right into our living rooms, and that seems to make it different. Also, there are more people now than seventy years ago to get in the way of these weather systems. The world stays the same, it is the numbers that change and they change the world just so this old planet has a hard job keeping up.”
All that dialogue sent this scribe to check a few things out and as usual the OFs are right. When the OFs were YFs (1940) there were 132 million people in the U.S. Today there are 320 million. The average water usage per person is 80/100 gallons a day. 320 X 80/100 is considerably larger than 132 X 80/100 Now we are talking big numbers. Then there is the irrigation to grow food for 320 million when in 1940 that was not even necessary. The OF was right…it is the numbers. China will scare the pants off you when looking at their numbers. The paper wouldn’t be long enough to support all the zeros behind the initial number.
The OFs did their usual time jumping from 20 to 30 years ago, and on occasion dipped into more recent history and coupled that with current times in quite often the same sentence. The subject of this conversation was businesses and farms that are gone from our area and have not been replaced. The areas included were basically the Johnstown/Gloversville area, and the cities of Amsterdam and Schenectady. The OFs were talking and reminiscing about the places which are no longer here. Places and businesses like Coleco, Mohawk Carpets, all the glove factories, and tanneries, and the small knitting mills. Most of them have vanished into our memories.
One OF said that these businesses are gone but a few others have replaced them, however, even some of the replacements of those businesses are gone now too. “Times change,” one OF said, “But many times the changing of time is not good.” Then one OF opined that, “Life is cyclical; small towns are all painted up and look good, then for some reason many seem to fall into a slump,” then the OF continued, “As long as it keeps a viable core and property becomes cheap it has a resurgence. The problem with us is we are too darn old to see the plus side return to some of the small towns we are talking about.”
The OFs mentioned the tattoo craze that is going on right now, and we mentioned how those things fade as people age, and the only color left in the tat is black. Some of the OFs that were in the military, especially the Navy, got tattoos way back when, and some woke up in the morning and there was “Mom” tattooed on their shoulder and they didn’t know how it got there. Today it is hardly legible and is just a black blob. One OF mentioned it was the stuff they drank from those dark blue tin cups. Not only did the stuff send smoke out of the OF’s ears, it also melted the bottom out of the tin cup. “Whatever it was,” the OF said, “You could cut off my arm and I would have said thank you.”
From this small talk we again turned to Duct Tape. The OFs are beginning to think that the whole world is held together with Duct Tape, or is it now duct tape because the word Duct has become so common place for industrial tape that it is now a generic term like aspirin. Every car, wagon, and tractor, should come with its own small roll of 2 inch wide duct tape…just in case. It is used to hold race cars together at 200 mph, temporarily patch leaks in just about anything, wrap heating ducts, and repair vacuum cleaner hoses. Why, some people have even been known to repair a favorite pair of slippers with it. If it breaks, tape it with duct tape.
“There are a few things duct tape doesn’t work on,” one OF said, “And one of those is carpenter bees.” This OF reported that he has tried taping their holes at night and in the morning there is a bee that has chewed his way through the tape and died, but he had cleared the way for the others. The other problem? Duct Tape does not take to heat very well. One OF said, “Don’t try taping a muffler with it.”
Those OFs that made it to the Duanesburgh Diner in Duanesburgh and missing Red Green (a long-ago TV personality who used to duct tape anything and everything), were: Dave Williams, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Roger Shafer, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gerry Irwin, Art Frament, Bob Benac, Ted Willsey (sling and all), Jim Rissacher, Bill Krause, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Duncan Bellinger, and me.