My Dr. Cox

“A slip of a man, even if you could straighten the curve of aging in his spine,” is how the newspaper writer described Harold Cox and my immediate thought was, “That’s not the Dr. Cox I remember.”
This one, today’s Dr. Harold Cox, was being honored by Wilkes University with a building named in his honor. The newspaper article said he is 84 years old.
That explains it.
My Dr. Cox is 36 years old. And no “slip of a man.”
When he first strode into my history class in September of 1967 at then-Wilkes College, Dr. Cox looked seven feet tall. He was lean and wiry and gave the impression he could kick your butt and those of a few of your friends at the same time. He had the haircut of Steve McQueen and presence of Clint Eastwood.
The rumor around campus had him a major or something in the army reserves and a martial arts expert. No one questioned it. And it turned out to be mostly true.
The article about the building dedication said Dr. Cox “disappeared behind the podium.” My Dr. Cox owned the podium in front of the tiered lecture hall in Stark Hall, a brand new building at the time.
The podium sat atop a desk and Dr. Cox would glide up to it with these long, demonstrative strides, place a black binder of notes on it, throw the foot of his long left leg onto the table top and begin to read. I remember him talking about the Visigoths tearing through what is now Italy and thinking as I scribbled feverishly, “These notes are coming at us like Visigoths.”
I was a Fine Arts major back then but history was clearly my best and favorite subject and Dr. Cox my favorite teacher.
He was tough as nails but also witty and even, dare I say, playful.
If a student in the front row happened to fall asleep, Dr. Cox, without interrupting his incessant flow of words, would pick up a long pointer with his left hand, casually walk to a spot near the student’s desk, wind up like Warren Spahn and bring the pointer down on the student’s desktop with the sound of tree branch snapping in a thunderstorm.
You should have seen the student’s reaction.
And Dr. Cox would just keep on lecturing, striding back to the podium and placing that left foot right where it belonged.

Ed Ackerman