Written by Melvin Eugene Cox
I was born in the town of St. George, Utah on December 18, 1900 in a small adobe house. The main or only room other than the kitchen was about 12 ' x 15' in size. The house faced the north and on the east end they built a lumber room about 7'x12' for a kitchen. The only entrance into the house was through the north end of the kitchen.
I lived in this house with my older brother Lee W. Cox and sister, Areta Cox, with our parents, Warren and Mary Etta Lee Cox for about 1-1/2 years. My father built a new house on the corner. It was a 1-1/2 story building with nine rooms on the ground floor and the upstairs was not finished off at that time.
I was blessed by and given the name of Melvin Eugene Cox. The first name was for my mothers' brother, Melvin, and the second was for another brother, Lester Eugene.
When I was about 18 months old, we moved into the new home but the most excitement was when a new baby sister was born, May 19, 1902. They gave her the name of Lida.
My mother told me that when I was born, I was the longest baby and with large wrinkles on my skin and real homely.
As I got older, I was sent to primary and Sunday school in the L. D. S. Church. I imagine I gave my teachers plenty of trouble as I couldn't stay still very long.
When I turned six, I started the next fall to go to school at the Woodward.
In the first grade, I had Miss Woodbury as my teacher. She was a tall, beautiful girl. I don't remember anything except I thought she was very nice.
I went to the second grade at the same school and I had Lottie McQuarrie as a teacher. She was a plump woman. I didn't seem to learn very much. I guess I 'd rather play.
I remember one night father was going to teach me my reading. I had the habit of when the lesson was read, I learned it off. So I could start at the first and go right through. But father would ask me to tell one of the words, I would run through the sentence then tell him. Each time I hesitated, he knew I was reading it then he would spat me and I bounced into the corner of the table. I didn't know it was hurting me, but after an hour or so Father gave up and when I was going to bed, Mother noticed my side all swollen up. I didn't go to school the next day. The word I couldn't remember was "come."
When father seen what had happened he felt very bad about it. We had a square table and it wasn't long till we got a new round table.
It wasn't long after my reading lesson that I had borrowed a pencil from Don Alger, one of the boys in the class. I decided to return it so I crept up the isle and gave it to him. Just then my teacher saw me and she told me to get up and go home. She didn't ask me why I was there. I went home and never came back for two years.
My parents figured I needed a change. At the time the Presbyterian Church had a lady by the name of Miss Wilson who taught the full eight grades. She had about 10 to 15 pupils.
I remember when father took me to her, she told him if I was unruly or didn't study, she would take me to the Belfry and use an apple limb on me. Father said that was fine and when I got home I would get another one. I saw to it that Father didn't hear about it. But those apple switches sure did sting; it didn't take long till I got right in and worked. I finished the second grade that year and with good grades.
The way Miss Wilson taught we would have to go stand at her side and give our complete report, so there wasn't any way I could sluff. I would have 3/4 of the time to study and never needed to take books home. School went well with me and I made the grade by the first of the year.
December 18, 1908, I went to the St. George Temple to get baptized. I never got over marveling seeing those twelve oxen holding that large tank that they baptized us in.
The one thing I remembered, there was a young girl named Margaret Pectol that was born the same day [as I was born]. I remembered she cried when they baptized her and I decided I was a big boy. I didn't cry, but Maggie, as called her, and I have been friends ever since. She hunted me up last summer and we had a nice visit. She was in California now and has been for 30 years.
I went back to school and made another grade by summer. In other words, I went three grades in 1-1/2 years.
Miss Wilson, my teacher, later married a man by the name of Wilson. Miss Wilson was a tall woman. I saw her about 25 years later; I didn't hardly recognize her--her hair was white. They were in Pasadena, California at the time, but I understood they lived in Arizona.
Father was a salesman for Studebaker Company. He sold buggy' s and wagons and also harnesses. I remember I used to put harnesses together and my father or older brother would hang them up as I was too small.
In the summer time, Father would take the family to Panaca, Nevada for a month or so, but he would be off selling. He would get home for three or four days a month. We children sure looked forward to the trips to Grandpa Lees' at Panaca, Nevada.
Father would take one of us children with him on some of his month long trips. I remember several. Once I remember we stopped the first night at Bunkerville. That was unusual as we usually stopped at Littlefield, Arizona. Bunker Cox and myself made a bed under some pomegranate bushes in the bottom of the lot.
The next morning about 4 a.m., I heard father calling one of the neighbors. Bunker and I got up and slipped our overalls and shirts on and went to see what was the matter. When we got in front of the house, father was still in his underclothes. Uncle Edward had had a stroke or something; he was completely out of his mind. It wasn't long till the close neighbors came running. The men only put on their pants and were barefooted. They did everything to revive him. After he started to show some life, father noticed he was still not dressed. He stopped and went in and put on his pants.
Uncle Ed was very sick. He finally started to improve. They figured what was wrong. His sweat glands stopped and the poison was what caused the trouble. He finally moved to Salt Lake City as the heat was too much at Bunkerville.
I remember one trip to Bunkerville before school let out. I went to school during the day and after school we went swimming. I remember I learned to sleep on my stomach as I got so sunburnt I could hardly stand to touch my back.
When I went back to the Woodward school to the fourth grade, I stayed two years in it because no one made me study.
During the winter time, I used to love to go hunting with my father--quail, rabbit, ducks, etc. I was the dog to pick up the game.
When I was about 10 years old, Paul Thurston, who became my lifelong pal, had been hunting for some time with a 12 gauge single shot gun. Paul coaxed me to go rabbit hunting with him. I coaxed Father to let me go. I hadn't done much practicing with a shot gun. So we went hunting up around the watercress springs and up to the black knolls.
After we made the trip, Paul had five rabbits and had shot six times. I shot 15 times and got three rabbits. I was using a 12 gauge shot gun. Paul was sure complimenting me on my shooting. I asked what he meant, he got nearly twice as many rabbits on 1/3 the shells. He said, yes, but his were all sitting and the ones I got were on the run. I hadn't seen father ever stop to see a rabbit before shooting.
School seemed to be about as usual. I walked 8 blocks to school and back and forth at noon and home at night. A total of four miles a day. In the spring, we took the cows up on the top ledge of the Black Hill before school and would go get them in the evening. This happened as long as the grass was good. I remember we used to pick the Sego lilies when they were in bloom.
I remember when I was in the fourth grade, I was out playing at recess with my cousin, Eldon Cox. A young fellow that was known for his fighting came up and kicked me. Of course, I started to cry. Eldon got me to go around to the big side as we called it and told my older Brother Lee. He was with Lamond Blair, Delmer and a few others. Lamond was the largest boy in school, over 6 feet. They told Eldon and myself to go around, both of us and give the boy a whipping. I was scart [sic] and wasn't anxious to go, but there wasn't any backing out. Eldon was sure glad to go.
We found the fellow and Eldon asked him why he kicked me and he said, 'What's it's to you." Eldon tore into him and I started in. Right behind us was the two Blairs and my brother. They formed a circle and took Eldon out of the fight. They let us fight a little then they stopped us for a rest. When we started to fight again, I could hardly close my right hand.
The oldest fellow in the school came into the ring and was going to separate us, but Lamond Blair picked him up and threw him over the ring. He never came back. Finally, the boy turned and started to get out of the crowd with me hitting him on the back and him saying he was licked. broke up, I noticed Miss Nelson coming across the yard to stop the fight That night the boy said I didn't whip him and I didn't argue with him. I was still afraid of him, but have been friends the rest of our lives. I ended up with one large knuckle knocked down that I carry to this day. The boy was a year older than I was.
[This is where Melvin ended his writing-or at least all the papers I could find after he and Grandma Harriet Hoyt Cox died-Sandra Gwilliam]
Melvin Cox died on May 8, 1960 and is buried in the St. George City Cemetery. -CBA
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Copyright ©2002 by Sandra Gwilliam
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