Like father, like son - part 2
A previous story in this collection (“Like father, like son”) tells how both Zach Davis Cox, Sr. and Zach Davis Cox, Jr. were well served by their reputations for financial integrity while serving in the military during wartime. However, financial integrity is not the only reputation which the Cox men have and is not the only character trait which my father, Zach Davis Cox, Sr., passed along to his sons. As was mentioned in the story about Grover Cox, “Three Strikes,” a lack of punctuality was so endemic in Cox men as to suggest a genetic-based predilection. As is shown by the following story, the Cox men’s lack of punctuality is all to often accompanied by its first cousin, procrastination.
The story of Boy Scouting in Mt. Olive cannot be written without numerous mentions of the Cox family. The first Boy Scout troop in Mt. Olive, possibly the first in North Carolina, was started by my great-uncle, Headley Morris Cox, with a charter from the British Boy Scouts.
By 1930, a second generation of Cox boys had moved into Scouting, including my father, Zach D. Cox, Sr. The original troop chartered by the British Boy Scouts had been replaced by Troop 33, chartered by the Boy Scouts of America. In 1935, Troop 33 had become so large that it was decided to split it into two troops, Troop 33 and Troop 34.
All the Scouts in Troop 33 lined up alphabetically and counted off, “one, two, one, two” and so forth.. The “one’s” stayed with Troop 33 and the “two’s” (including Dad) became a charter members of Troop 34. After divvying up the boys, the supplies were split between the two troops. Dad received a Troop 33 flag with specific instructions to remove the second “3", procure a “4", sew the “4" where the second “3" had been, and return the altered flag to Troop 34.
By 1967, thirty two years later, a third generation of Cox boys had long since moved into leadership positions with Troop 34. Following in the footsteps of my older brothers Zach, Jr. and Jim, I was now a member of Troop 34. As boys are apt to do, one day I was nosing around my grandfather’s home in places where I had no business being and stumbled upon a box in the closet of what had been my father’s room when he was a boy. Inside the box was a treasure trove of Scouting memorabilia, including the aforementioned flag, with only the second “3" removed.
Without a thought as to my own culpability for poking around stuff that wasn’t mine, I took the flag to Dad and asked what it was. He then recounted the above story to me. While I was disappointed at my father’s procrastination in updating the Troop 34 flag, I was hardly surprised because I had long since accepted that a lack of punctuality was an unavoidable character flaw among Cox men of my father’s and grandfather’s generations. But I was part of a new and different generation, unencumbered by the laid-back, easy-going ways of my ancestors. So, I peremptorily assumed stewardship over the flag with a firm resolve to complete the task that had been assigned to my father thirty-two years before . . . just as soon as I had taken care of a few more pressing matters that were then occupying my attention.
Thirty-two more years had passed when I received an email from my sister Gwin Lee stating that the current Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 34, Craig Hanson, was trying to round up the names of old members of Troop 34 in anticipation of celebrating the Troop’s sixty-fifth anniversary in the Year 2000. While reading the email and composing a response to Craig, my mind wandered among the many fabulous memories I had from being a Boy Scout in the 1960's and 1970's. And then I stopped as abruptly as an absent minded pedestrian who had walked into a street sign. The street sign in my memory that I had mentally walked into was that original Troop 34 flag, sitting in a box in my closet, in exactly the same condition as when I had confiscated it from my dilatory father thirty-two years earlier. At least my father had removed the second “3", whereas I had done nothing.
With full knowledge of the irony of my situation, I told the story to Craig Hanson and extended an offer to give him the flag with the “4" finally sewn on. Craig graciously accepted my offer but insisted that I not sew the “4" on because leaving it off with the faint impression of the previous “3" would make for a good story and was part of the Troop’s history. Or at least that is what he said. I think Craig was really worried about having to wait another thirty-two years for me to sew the “4" on and just wanted to get the flag while he was still alive.
However, with Craig’s acquiescence, Dad and I had the flag framed for presentation to Troop 34, with a new “4" off to the side, but not sewn on. But it is of interest to note that it wasn’t a male Cox that actually delivered the framed flag to Craig. Because of my busy, busy schedule, I didn’t have an opportunity to give the flag to Craig. But instead, I gave it to my sister, Gwin Lee, and she finally completed the task that two generations of Cox men had been unable to accomplish.