In the mid and late 1940’s, the youth culture was devoid of external entertainment, except for radio. If you were fortunate enough to live in the larger cities, radio provided some entertainment in the early afternoon and evening. Among the smaller, rural towns and villages radio was a limited commodity. The signal depended upon the power of the transmitter. Living in Wakefield, Kansas at the time, an exception to this radio power was found in little Milford, Kansas, an almost insignificant intersection six miles south of Wakefield on the Republican River. The radio station in Milford was so powerful that it could broadcast its very special personal services offered by Dr. John Romulus Brinkley at the Milford Sanitarium. The youth at the time were not entirely certain what all was going on in Milford. Naturally this became one of their main topics of conversation.
A few people knew a lot more than the rest of us. Betty Carpenter was one of them. She worked at Milford. Betty is shown below on Wakefield’s Main Street along with the other 1930 models. Betty was one of the prime sources of information about the carryings-on at Milford.
One of the few external clues to Milford’s success was evident when approaching Milford over the river bridge from the west. Looking carefully along the east river bank you could see dozens, if not hundreds of goats. They were grazing, and foraging, and frolicking, and doing what goats do on a river bank. This, in itself, appears innocent enough, but scarcely explains the town’s exceptional facilities. Any community can raise goats, but why would they want to?
Going on into Milford, a large white wooden structure became a dominant feature, partially hidden within the cottonwood trees on the river bank. It was really a lovely structure with large screened porches and long stairways from the main floor to the surrounding grounds. There were no signs or other outward indications of its function. The goats on the same river bank seemed a distant memory. All the locals knew this building as the Milford Sanitarium. It was also known as Dr. Brinkley’s Sanitarium. It was wholly owned and operated by Doctor Brinkley. He did love goats for their potential. He was into cheese, of a sort.
The sanitarium provided employment for a number of locals, who otherwise were not particularly interested in Brinkley’s services. They may have had little need, they may have refused to pay the substantial fees charged for service, or there may simply have been too few in need in the surrounding communities to support such a magnificent operation. Brinkley’s services were big ticket items, requiring a broad calling among the rich and famous. Advertising was an essential requirement for contacting potential clientele with money on a nationwide basis.
A 50,000 watt radio station, an innovation in its day, was fully capable of spreading the word from one coast to the other on a clear day or night. Being located in the middle of the country, Milford’s little radio station could be heard on both coasts simultaneously from a single broadcast. With this facility, the word was spread on a regular basis to those, as they say in the mortuary business, at need. In this case, at need means after a member has died. Milford was clearly on the map.
According to Mary Ann Brown, her husband had two uncles who were intimately involved in Milford’s success. One uncle, Murray Stout, played in the orchestra on KFKB radio station, a revelation that the town’s cash-flow was sufficient to support an orchestra. The second uncle, Dr. Dwight Osborne, was an integral player in the sanitarium’s worldwide fame as its chief surgeon. He served in this capacity according to Mary Ann “from beginning to the tragic end” of Milford’s claim to fame.
The sanitarium’s clientele came and they went with little fanfare. Many accounted for the strange arrivals and departures by private airplane at Milford’s little airport. Others arrived by chauffeur-driven limousines from distant cities. They were coming for that miracle cure which puts lead back in the male pencil, a magnificent battery recharge. Brinkley’s clinic offered a broad menu of treatment options for male impotence up to, and including the epitome of treatments, the gonad transplant. How marvelous to know that what had performed so wondrously during ones youth could be restored to full function in later years. And so it was born and sustained, a profitable restoration industry at the Milford Sanitarium.
Many of the more colorful of the clinic’s details were never revealed by Betty, who was a devoted and conscientious employee. Full details of the actual treatments are not well documented. It is on good authority, however, that the goats were donors. Exactly how one might determine that a proper goat had achieved the right level of sexual maturity is not precisely known. After they achieved this level, however, they were then retrieved from the placid river bank, and relieved of their vital male organs, those select glands known as the oysters. Clearly, they are vital for a mature male goat. It is not known whether each goat was relieved of only one, or both of these organs, another critical consideration for the goat. Knowing that the clientele were often both rich and famous, it follows that one might insist upon a matching pair, in which case the goat would be the big loser.
While some of this information is speculative, it is well documented that a substantial inventory of ripe organs was maintained as a critical supply for organ matching with the sanitarium’s clients. On one occasion, Betty offered to escort me through the organ room where hundreds of vital organs were preserved in a state of constant readiness. She said she had visited this room on the lower level of the clinic on many occasions, and had developed a certain curiosity about the therapy programs. There was, however, no question in her mind that the huge inventory was the primary ingredient in the therapies provided by the clinic. Being a fully qualified farm girl, she knew precisely the functions served.
A wealth of documentation was provided by Lida Kerby, whose father, Everett, as well as her grandfather, were both employed by the Brinkleys in the early days. While they were engaged primarily in the construction of many of the facilities, they also reported collateral duties.
Lida reports that Mrs. Brinkley was also a doctor, and according to Everett, was probably the better physician of the two. On one occasion she said her father was asked to assist Mrs. Brinkley in surgery. And so he did! He reportedly held the goats for Mrs. Brinkley while she did the carving. We all know that Everett was a master cabinetmaker, and undoubtedly was able to provide expert guidance in proper tool selection and application. Lida was under the impression that female goats were also used in the recharging process, but she provided no further details.
Short of the full-service transplant, a host of ancillary treatments were also available, according to Betty. This might consist of an injection of potency materials into select body parts. A topical ointment of glandular salve was available for rubbing directly upon any appropriate area. The clinic’s diet was enriched with supplements which could be blended into ones juice, cereal or mashed potatoes. One of the favored treatments was an assortment of flavored food condiments which could be sprinkled or sprayed upon all foods. They included such things as raspberry goat garnish, and essence of Republican River spray.
Lida also reported one of the few instances of treatment effectiveness through her first cousin, Jim Stittsworth. I will quote Lida directly who said “Jim’s dad had a twin brother and they both married Kerby sisters, my aunts Doris and Helen. It was rumored that the twins’ father had visited the farm before they were conceived. He was at a rather advanced age at the time”. Coming from well respected locals, it is clear that the sanitarium provided invaluable and broad-based services, including everything from employment to conception. According to Stittsworth, this was the first reported set of twins from goat enhancements.
For years Milford seemed to hold an exclusive license for these magical procedures. Hundreds of satisfied customers returned to their homes and loved-ones, secure in the knowledge that things could be working better. If not, who would complain? There were almost no complaints. Unfortunately for Milford, the rich and powerful remain both rich and powerful when they find their expensive restoration did not work. As this number grew, some of the outstanding features of Milford were in jeopardy. The airport traffic diminished until the little airport was overgrown in weeds
Some powerful politicians of the day became offended that such a powerful radio station could advertise across the country without their permission. The Federal Communications Commission placed strict transmission limits upon radio stations within the country. Any station with transmission power beyond 10,000 watts was made illegal. As a result, Dr. Brinkley had the transmitter transported and reassembled in Mexico, just across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas, where it continues to broadcast to this day. From there it can still reach both coasts with a single broadcast.
As many of the treatment secrets were revealed by Betty and others, it was only a matter of time before they would be copied and widely disseminated, particularly by those companies which produce and distribute food supplements. When any label’s ingredients include such phrases as “other trace elements”, you can never be sure exactly what you are eating. You can be certain about the high cost of condiments, and you might worry about the location of the nearest goat farm.
As a final punishment, a large number of both state and federal politicians conspired to bury Milford as deeply as possible. They built a huge dam across the Republican River where the goats once played. In honor of this spot, they named it Milford Dam. In Milford’s place is now a magnificent fishing and wildlife reserve. Milford’s old sanitarium is buried below millions of acre-feet of water.
In their haste to bury Milford, they failed to destroy its huge inventory of goat glands, condiments, extracts, balms, salves, sprays, and topical ointments. In a poetic form of justice these magical elements, the keys to Milford’s success, have been thoroughly re-absorbed into the lake’s water, producing some of the most startling and unexpected results. Now when the boys say “Lets all go up to Milford Lake”, you know exactly what they are thinking about.