(The Town of Keene's Medicine Doctor)
My cousin, David Edmonds, who was three or four years older than I, had asthma. He also was a chain smoker and drank many cups of strong coffee each day. Dave died at the tender age of 54. I didn't ask any questions, but I thought he might have had serious lung trouble, possibly cancer of the lungs.
My cousin, Dave, having died so young, made me apprehensive that I too might have lung trouble because I had smoked a lot since my second year in college. I went to see "Doc" during his office hours and told him I sometimes had funny feelings in my chest. Without further fuss, Doc said, "If YOU have funny feelings in your chest, quit smoking and go to drinking." The day I became 50 years of age, I gave up smoking cigarettes and never started again.
Later, I became a member of the No-Mis Hunting Club in Piercefield, New York, west of Tupper Lake. Before dinner and in the evening at the camp, I drank three or four "shots" of bourbon whiskey - much more than usual. I became so lame it was difficult for me to get in and out of cars and difficult to walk in the woods. Visiting "Doc" Goff and asking him why, he said, "You DAMNED old fool, don't you know that alcohol aggravates arthritis?" After that reminder, I took on much less bourbon and walked with much less discomfort.
At one period when my building and real estate affairs were very pressing, I visited Dr. Goff and explained that I often felt a very definite tenseness in my chest. He directed "Polly", his nurse, to take a blood sample and have it tested. Then "Doc" did something he had seldom done before: He listened to my chest with his stethoscope for a long time both in front and in back. Without making any comment, he made out a prescription and then said, "Get these pills, take them as described and if you don't feel better by the time of my office hours next Saturday, come back and see me."
"Doc" having listened to my chest for what I thought was a long time, making no comment, giving me a prescription for pills and telling me to come back by Saturday if I didn't feel better, quite frankly, scared the hell out of me.
Within a half hour, I was in the drug store in Ausable Forks where I got the pills and took them for the next few days as directed. By Saturday I felt like a new man, full of "pep", vigor and ready for action.
However, even though I felt better, I went back to "Doc's" office on Saturday. I said, "Doc, I'm fully aware, knowing you as I do, that you may have given me a bundle of sugar coated pills, but I'm here to tell you I feel great."
In response to his question, Polly told him the blood test was negative. "Doc" looked at me and said, "GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE. I GAVE YOU SOME TRANQUILIZERS. KEEP TAKING THEM. I TAKE'EM MYSELF."
On another occasion I tried to get "Doc" to take an x-ray of my chest. He ignored me without comment. This annoyed me. A short time later I went to the local hospital where Grace Bigelow, whom I had known all my life, was the superintendent. I said, "Grace, 'Doc' has gone on a hunting trip. I want you to take an x-ray of my chest." Grace replied, "Adrian, get into that x-ray room and take off your shirt. I'll be in in a couple of minutes."
Grace took one or two x-rays and said, "I can't tell you anything about these pictures until our specialist comes to read them. I'll let you know what he says."
About 10 days later, Grace met me in the post office and said, "I've got some news for you! That specialist, when he looked at your x-rays, said "WHATEVER IS THE MATTER WITH THAT MAN IS NOT IN HIS CHEST."
Everybody sought free medical advice from Doc. At times, he would deal with these situations very quickly and effectively. For example, Herb Sumner was a heavy drinker. One time when Doc stopped at his garage in Upper Jay, "Herb" mournfully complained of great discomfort in his head and in his stomach Doc felt "Herb's" pulse a long time, looked in his throat, poked him at various points in the abdominal area and asked, "Herb, what kind of flowers do you like?" The distressed mechanic said, "Why in the hell do you want to know that?" "Well", Doc replied, "Herb, you're gong to die and I would like to send flowers to the funeral". "Herb" sobered up for a very long, long time!
One time, when Doc stopped at the Keene Valley Garage, Jim Brown approached him and complained of pain in his abdominal area. Doc punched him and poked him in several places following which he said, "Jim, all that's the matter with you is you've got a fart crossways!" With that, Doc turned and walked away. Jim lived into his 90th year!
"Doc" Goff knew our grandparents, parents, our aunts and uncles, our brothers and sisters and.......our good and bad habits of life. He could look at us, poke us and pinch us in certain places and with an uncanny sense of diagnosis and good judgment , he could tell if we had cirrhosis of the liver, gall bladder trouble, appendicitis, hernia, ulcers, tumors or cancer. In fact, he ran the whole Town of Keene, politically, by knowing who was going to live and who was going to die. More about that later on (and not on this web site-Ed. note)!
Dr. Goff, as I have indicated, made every conceivable effort to care for the health needs of the people, not only in the Town of Keene, but in the neighboring towns and hamlets of Wilmington, Jay, Black Brook, AuSable Forks, Lewis, Elizabethtown, New Russia and North Hudson.
The amazing paradox to his remarkable devotions to the preservation of human life was his seemingly compulsive desire to kill any other form of life that could crawl, walk, run or fly. He always carried one or more guns in his car. No animal or bird was safe along the many roads of his travel. Their only salvation was to move quickly out of range or, perhaps, occasionally be spared by his rather poor marksmanship. Crows, hawks, kingfishers and partridges were the more common birds of prey, with once in awhile a migrating duck or a goose becoming an added victim. Woodchucks, squirrels, raccoons, rabbits and foxes were the animals which he shot at every opportunity. For years he had a good long legged deer hound, a blooded black and tan fox hound, and a beagle rabbit dog.
After a night of "Jacklighting", I can remember Doc and his companions (including my father) coming to our shop with five deer in the car!! In the mid spring and following the haying season, "Doc" would take one or two friends in his car and drive for miles through the farming country shooting woodchucks.
Doc was no still hunter. He did not have the skill, the patience or the woodcraft knowledge to be a still hunter in the character of a local native who was in search of meat for the family table. Doc did not need meat for the family table. He only had need to satisfy a lust to kill by driving along the Town and County highways, along the back roads and the woods roads. By traveling miles and miles with his auto or his Jeep, Doc could possibly see more game on a favorable day than an experienced woodsman could see in a whole legal season of hunting. For Doc, indiscriminate killing was a necessary relaxation and an obvious pleasure!
One evening in the fall of the year, Doc came to Father's and Mother's home after his office hours. He had a big black cigar in his mouth and he strutted around the kitchen with his thumbs in the sleeve sockets of his vest. My brother said, "Well, what the hell have you done now?" Doc replied, "On my way to evening office hours, I shot a very big buck in Langmann's Orchard." To which Elmore said, "And now you want someone to gut him, drag him, skin him and cut him up!" To which Doc responded, "Right-O".
Two unmarried school teachers lived in the house which Wardner Pelkey and his wife now own in Keene Valley Doc decided to put that buck in the young ladies cellar. The game wardens would never think of searching there! The girls would have plenty of meat for the winter and he would have a well-cooked meal of venison when ever he had occasion to visit their home!
Bringing the whole carcass of the buck to the house in the car, Doc and my brother decided to slide him into the cellar through one of the small windows on the north side of the building. After all, Dick Wright, a tolerant, quiet, old hunter lived in the neighboring building on that side, while two wise and not- so-quiet ladies lived in other neighboring houses - one on the south side and one on the opposite side of the street. After all, what might these neighbors think, if they saw two men dragging the whole carcass of a deer across the front porch and into the home of two innocent and very proper school teachers? That would be a very fertile subject for local gossip!!
The hind legs and the rump of the buck were first entered into the cellar window. Everything else went through the window, except the large antlers of the old buck! Twist and turn them as they did, there was no way they would slide through the hole! My brother, Elmore, had to go into the basement, boost the butt of the buck up while Doc pulled him back through the hole and out on to the ground.
How did they get the buck back into the basement? They wrapped him in a big blanket, turned off all the lights in the house, carried him across the screened porch, into the house and down the cellar stairs! Two neighboring ladies were totally unaware of the best topic for local gossip of the evening!
Doc Goff Takes a Bride
"Doc" Goff married a quiet, shy Vermont girl who had become a nurse where "Doc" was taking his medical training at the University of Vermont.
Joyce was uneasy living here in Keene where, instead of Vermont farmers, there was a generous mixture of Adirondack hillbillies and stump jumpers.
"Doc" often made emergency calls at night and Joyce sometimes locked the door of their home when he was away.
Late one night "Doc" came home finding the house dark and the door locked, he decided to enter by way of the second floor bedroom window. He shimmied up the tree by the corner of the building, scrambled along the porch roof, and opened the window, As he was crawling inside, Joyce, being frightened by all the strange noises, uncovered her head and said,"Is that you Doc?" Doc said, "Why yes, who in hell did you expect?"
Doc Goff owned a horse, many cars and an airplane. He drove all the cars very, very fast on these country roads. One day, a State Police Officer overtook Doc and stopped him. "Let me see your pilots license young man", the officer said. Doc picked his pilots license from the papers in his wallet and handed it to the officer. The trooper, realizing he had asked the wrong question, handed the license back to Doc and said, "Okay, take off and happy landing!"
Dr. Goff on a Stormy Night
Dr. Goff, on a very dark and stormy night, was driving fast on the winding Tracy Road while on his way to make an emergency call in Mineville. As he rounded a sharp corner in the road, "Doc" collided with another auto coming in the opposite direction. It was a real "fender bender", but no one was hurt!
When the vehicles came to rest, each driver got out. The stranger said, "Only a damn fool or a Doctor would be out on a night like this!"
"Doc" Goff, grinned and shook hands with the stranger and said, "Glad to meet you, I am a Doctor!"
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