The Cox Family Picnic at Duke


          In the fall of 1936, there were four Coxes at Duke University from Mt. Olive: Bob and Zach and Morris and Ted. I was a Freshman there that year also. I had been assigned a room in Jarvis Dormitory, and when I arrived, the girl unpacking and settling in next door to my room was Ted Cox. Her mother was busy helping her. When we introduced ourselves, Aunt Frank recognized my name and said, “Aren’t you Dr. Pattie Dowell’s niece?” Aunt Pattie’s first teaching job had been in Mt. Olive and she and Aunt Frank became friends. Ted turned to me and said, “Your aunt gave me my first doll, and I named her Pattie Dowell.” What a small world!


          I had never heard of Aunt Frank or Mt. Olive, N.C. The only Mount of Olives I knew any thing about was near Jerusalem. Ted and I soon became friends, and when there was a vacancy in Giles Dormitory, we moved “up campus” and became roommates.


          One Sunday that fall, Father and Mother Cox and Uncle Headley and Aunt Frank came to Duke to see their children and to have a picnic in the Duke Forest. Ted invited me to come along and meet her family and Zach brought along one of his fraternity brothers. There was a very “large spread” of all kinds of good things to eat beside the proverbial fried chicken and potato salad. Everyone seems to have a good time and enjoyed the food.


          During the afternoon, Father Cox taught me to blow in my hands and make the sound of a whistle. Zach acted bored and very sophisticated now that he was a “Greek.” I liked Bob, the shy, red-headed boy Zach called, “Runt.” True, Zach towered over Bob, as did all the other men in his family that afternoon, but I expected some “fireworks.” Nothing happened, Bob took it all in good grace. I expect “the tables had turned” since Bob is two years older than his brother.


          Today, the brothers are the best of friends and have the utmost respect for one another, I never hear the word Runt any more.


Geraldine Coburn Cox

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