Frisco man’s lifestyle a relic of tough times
Ryan Summerlin November 30, 2008
Just a block and a half off modern-day Frisco’s Main Street, Walter Goff’s log cabin stands an anachronism, where his memories of the tough times from the Great Depression are manifest in his packrat lifestyle.
Dozens of abandoned lawn mowers stand in his front yard like statues.
The warped boards of his rickety wooden porch are stacked with lawn furniture.
Inside, the place is cluttered with knick-knacks, newspapers and other items that simply couldn’t be discarded because they may be of use someday. There’s a faded photograph of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower with troops by his side hanging over his kitchen. A calendar on the kitchen wall dates from 1920. Hundreds of dusty videotapes ” mostly Westerns ” are stacked in the corner of his bedroom. A rack in his living room is lined with 25 or 30 top hats.
Goff’s affinity for holding on to his stuff stems in part from a handyman quality ” he likes fixing things up. It is also due to early hardship in life and 88 years of experiences.
Growing up on a farm near Chesapeake Bay as the youngest of 11 children, Goff vividly remembers the thin days of the Depression.
“It was a tough time keeping clothes and shoes,” he said.
He learned his lesson once. Goff laughingly tells of how, shortly after retirement, he bought “30-something pair of shoes” and a “100 pair of trousers and shirts … in case the Depression comes back.”
Although today’s tough economic times don’t rival the Depression, Goff retains those values.
He hardly watches television because he picks up only two stations ” he sees no need in getting cable ” and his cabin doesn’t even have running water. About once a month, Goff drives up to the natural spring just below Arapahoe Basin ski area and fills up 10 five-gallon jugs.
Goff arrived in Frisco from the Denver area in 1957. Drawn west from his home state of Virginia five years earlier by the respiratory benefits of Colorado’s dry mountain air, Goff stayed in the now non-existent Main Street Motel the first four years he was in town.
He ended up in Summit County lured by the construction work on the Eisenhower and Roberts tunnels.
In his 51 years of residency, Goff has witnessed Frisco transform from a backroads mountain town of around 300 people to a growing and thriving tourist destination of nearly 10 times that population.
“The streets were just dirt and gravel and didn’t have names,” Goff said. “The buildings weren’t painted. It’s changed a lot, I can tell you that.”
Never married, Goff has outlived all 10 siblings and most of his friends. He is kept company by his dog Didi, a Sheppard-mix he picked up at the Humane Society, and by several of his neighbors.
He was recently discovered and contacted by a more distant relative, who sent him a scrapbook of some pictures from Goff’s past.
“He said he found me online, whatever that is,” says Goff of his diligent nephew.
Goff keeps active, waking “anywhere from 3 o’clock on down” and spending much of his day puttering around the property that he acquired in 1961.
As familiar as it is to him, Goff also loves to hit the road.
He travels all the way to Idaho Springs to get a haircut and finds plenty of other excuses to leave town.
“I go just for the trip. It’s a nice drive over there and back… Oh, about once or twice a week I head out… Buena Vista, Kremmling, Leadville,” he said.
Typical of his light-hearted personality, when asked about what draws him out of town, Goff joked: “Oh… Most of the time it’s on business. Monkey business.”