2013-01-31 / Front Page

Ed Koch remembered in Putnam County

Milked a goat at fair
Eric Gross

Putnam County Courier Reporter Eric Gross with Ed Koch at the 4-H Fair in 1982.Putnam County Courier Reporter Eric Gross with Ed Koch at the 4-H Fair in 1982.The year was 1982 when New York City Mayor Ed Koch traveled to Putnam County to milk a goat.

Koch, who was the city’s favorite fan and greatest cheerleader, shot himself in the gubernatorial foot that spring when during a Playboy Magazine interview about life outside of the Big Apple, Koch charged that “life outside of the city was sterile and a joke. All these people do is waste time in a pick-up truck when driving 20 miles to buy a gingham dress or a $20 Sears and Roebuck suit.”

Marjorie Keith, Putnam County’s 4-H Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director, recalled last Friday, after hearing the news that Koch had passed away, that “one of our 4-H members whose father worked at City Hall was annoyed by the comments and wrote a letter to the mayor extending an invitation for him to visit the Putnam County 4-H Fair that summer and milk a goat.”
Mayor Koch accepted the challenge.

With the assistance of Sister Mary Veronica, a 4-H leader at the former Melrose School, ‘hiz’ honor milked the goat.

Koch took some ribbing during his visit when several women wore gingham dresses to the fair. Even a square dancing troupe that performed in the early days of the fair on the last Saturday of July was adorned in the colorful outfits.

As an added zinger, a number of the men attending the fair that year wore polyester Sears and Roebuck $20 suits during the mayor’s visit.

Mayor Koch was very gracious and, when walking down the midway accompanied by a 39-year-old, dark-haired, bearded and mustached reporter with tape recorder in hand, the Courier received an exclusive interview with one of New York’s most colorful and respected elected officials.

Koch talked about city life; his bid for governor that went up in flames and of course his remarks about people living outside of New York City.

I remember him asking the reporter: “Hey, kid: How am I doing?”
The reporter’s response: “Welcome to Putnam County Mr. Mayor! You are doing just fine!”

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