One man’s meat . . .

          My grandfather, R. L. Cox, was an avid outdoorsman, who enjoyed hunting, fishing, horseback riding, gardening, or just about any activity that involved his being outside. One of the activities that he especially loved was fox hunting. Fox hunting, as practiced in Eastern North Carolina, bears scant resemblance to the refined elegance of English fox hunting with its exquisite riding habits and beautifully trained horses. Eastern North Carolina fox hunting is just a bunch of men who loosed the hounds at dusk and then waited until they heard a change in the dogs’ howling that indicated they had cornered a fox, treed an opossum, or found something else equally interesting.

          Not fully appreciating that Eastern North Carolina fox hunting was an acquired taste, my grandfather always tried to interest his Boston born and bred banker friend, Joe Maxwell, in accompanying him on a fox hunt. Footnote

Mr. Maxwell was a city boy to the bone and he simply could not fathom the appeal that standing out in the middle of the woods all night had for Southern men. But after several years of entreaties and repeated assurances that he would neither have to mount a horse nor kill anything, Mr. Maxwell finally agreed to go fox hunting.

          On the evening of the hunt, my grandfather picked up Mr. Maxwell and they drove to the spot that had been selected as the starting point. In the sort of joyous anticipatory celebration that only a hunting dog can express, my grandfather and Joe Maxwell stepped out into a virtual melee of swirling black, brown, and white spotted dogs. My grandfather turned to Mr. Maxwell and urged:

Mr. Maxwell, isn’t the baying of these hounds

the sweetest music you have ever heard?

To which Mr. Maxwell, who was somewhat hard of hearing, replied:

R. L., I can’t hear a word you’re saying

because of the barking from all these damned dogs!