Marion: Fond Memories of a Hard Worker

Marion with her children Ernie, Cindy, and Butch in September, 2020, when she was honored with the Boston Post Cane as North Yarmouth’s oldest citizen.

Some were born and bred in North Yarmouth. Others got here just as soon as they could! We were lucky that Marion Goff made it here in good time, back in 1946.

Marion Averill Goff passed away on October 30, 2022. She was 98.

Growing up, Marion lived in Portland. Her father was a WWI vet who had sustained serious injuries after being gassed in the war. He passed away in 1938 when Marion was 14. Her mother was left a single mom with six children. As Marion later remembered, “We all had to chip in to keep going and stay together.”

She met Vern Goff at Deering High School when she was 15—she was a sophomore and he was a year ahead. Once she graduated, Marion and Vern discussed getting married. She was a city girl and worked at Woolworth’s but she loved animals—she was certain that she wanted to farm. So Marion and Vern started buying cows, even before they were married.

In 1946 they found a farm to buy on Route 115 in North Yarmouth, past the Congregational Church. It had 125 acres, a shed and a barn. But the front part of the farmhouse itself had burned down. The owners had fixed up the ell that was left as best they could, with a kitchen and bedrooms and living room. No indoor bathroom. Still, it had good spring water and electric lights. (At the time only parts of North Yarmouth had electricity!)

North Yarmouth was all farming back then and it took some time for people to warm up to the new, young city folks. Marion was 23 when they moved here, and she was a worker. She did everything: milked cows, cleaned stalls, made butter, tended the fields, grew a big garden: food for their growing family, and enough to give away to others, too.

When another young couple, the McConnells, moved to town, they became fast friends. One year the Goffs and the McConnells decided to try truck farming, so they grew a big field of pumpkins and squash. In the fall, they successfully sold them at a roadside stand. “That was fun!” she remembered.

Eventually their neighbors warmed up to the Goffs. Marion, Vern, and their kids Butch, Ernie and Cindy joined the Congregational Church and made many good friends there, including their neighbor Asenath—Seeny—York, who Marion thought was very old. At the time Seeny was in her 60s.

Back then, fun was simple and close to home. On weekends Marion would often make a big pot of chowder or beans and invite a crowd—their “city friends” and their new North Yarmouth friends. And she and Seeny bonded over bridge. She’d get a call from Seeny–“Marion, we need a fourth [for cards]. Can you come?”

In those days there wasn’t much traffic on 115. Their cows grazed on fields across the road from the farmhouse, and when they went over to get the cows and bring them back to the barn for milking, all traffic would stop. Especially since their pet pig Priscilla would usually tag along.

The Goffs had a full life farming and in business. Marion and Vern, who died in 2002, established Goff’s Hardware in Yarmouth in 1969 along with their son Butch. (After 46 years, Butch and his wife Jean closed the business in 2015.) Marion also created and ran a women’s clothing store for a dozen years—Goff’s of Yarmouth. As a volunteer, she supervised Sunday School at the Congregational Church for a number of years. She also helped organize Sunday School at a church in Falmouth. Did she ever stop?

Old Town House Groundbreaking Ceremony, Sept. 20, 2021. Marion is at far right.

Marion was active to the end! Last September she took part in the groundbreaking for Old Town House’s move to the Village Green. It was pretty early in the morning for a 97-year-old, but she showed up impeccably dressed and happily put on a hard hat. When the moment came, she hoisted a shovelful of dirt like the hard worker she had always been. North Yarmouth Historical Society was truly honored by her participation.

Thank you, Marion, for being part of our town and now, part of our history.