1944: my first business was a 1¢ candy stand on the southeast corner of our yard at 426 S. E. 15th Street in Oklahoma City.
1950: Del City, Oklahoma, I met Terry Lynn Herren when my mother invited all the neighborhood kids to my tenth birthday party. Less than seven years later, Terry and I eloped. When we married, I was in the eleventh grade and she was in the tenth.
1954: I bought a "Whizzer" motorbike and got my first traffic ticket. The Whizzer was followed by a burnt-orange Cushman Truckster to use for grocery deliveries and school. It gave a lot of trouble. We traded it for a new blue one, and a two-wheel Cushman Pacemaker for Bill. The two-wheeler was just plumb beautiful, and really was a "girl-attracter." Mine had a tow bar that we could hook to the station wagon on the evening trip home from my parents' grocery store. I built sideboards for the bed and put a seat across it. This helped a little bit to attract a few girls.
1955: My best friend was Herbert Motzenbacher, whose dad also had a neighborhood grocery store. The most interesting customer of the store was "Cowboy Spann." He was the house mover who moved my dad's rent houses. He was also a bootlegger. (Oklahoma was a dry state then.) He had several girls working in old converted city buses. I saw many deputy sheriff cars parked near those busses when I delivered chicken feed to his 60-acre estate of woods behind the top of the town addition.
One day, I saw a "city-slicker" poking through a pile of glass. Later, I asked Cowboy what that was all about, and he said the man was a revenuer looking for a "storm cellar door that might lead to a still." I doubt he ever got past the pile of manure next to the pile of glass. But he sure missed the bus!
Cowboy gave me all the manure I wanted and a dump truck to use to deliver it with as well as a front loader to load it up. Terry and I hauled several loads to her dad's nine-acre farm and we helped him produce the world's best garden. This old truck had no glass in the windows, and was very air-conditioned.
1956: My first car was a 1941 Buick four-door, bought for $50.00. The second vehicle was a 1949 I.H. ¾-ton pickup. That pickup was used to buy and sell watermelons. Dad knew a Mr. Cox (no relation) who had a patch out near Tuttle, Oklahoma. It was full of nettles and yellow jackets. I bought the whole patch for $10.00, and hauled melons out of there on into September.
My next car was a 1952 Chevy coupe with no back seat. It was just right for delivering donuts before school. With a shelf up high, I could get 50 dozen donuts in it. With an early start, I was at school by the second hour, missing only homeroom hour. Terry worked after school at the TG&Y five and dime store in Midwest City.
After my family closed our store, I would head over to Midwest City. Usually, her brother, Doug, would come by and we would visit till 9 p.m. He and his girlfriend, Donna, would join us for a meal or a snack somewhere. Before I got my first car, Doug and Donna would let Terry and me double-date with them in Doug's 1949 Cadillac. A date was usually a gospel concert, a movie, or the state fair. We liked the singing at the Nazarene church that the Herrens belonged to. I went on Sunday nights quite often. After church, we usually found our way to the Plaza Restaurant in Midwest City.
The Herrens were very strong Republicans and holiness, while my folks were very strong Democrats and Southern Baptists. This led to many heated discussions, especially between me and Mrs. Herren. She was a very good lady, and I wish now that I could tell her how right she was about politics.
24 April 1957: I timed my donut route so as to arrive at Midwest City High School, right behind Mrs. Herren's car as she took Terry to school.
We skipped school that day and drove to Cooke County, Texas to get married. Although we had rented a garage apartment and had everything all figured out ahead of time, it sure was tough going to the store and on to the Herrens' to pick up Terry Lynn's things the next day.
21 April 1958: Tim, our first child, was born. Had he been born a girl, he would have been named "Shelly Denise" and if a boy Terry wanted "Christopher Robin." But I pleaded with her not to, and she finally agreed to settle on Timothy Ray. Before he was born his "petite" mother was 59 inches tall and 49 inches around!
6 June 1958: Tim attended my high school graduation ceremony. He was the best baby there! The other babies cried, Tim just watched in amazement.
Our days of always having more than enough money in our pockets just came to an end. We were soon broke. I sold the slick, customized. 1952 Chevy coupe and bought a 1947 Chevy. We painted it with a brush, sold it, and bought a 1941 Ford pickup that we did the same thing with.
One day, my older brother Charlie called the store and asked if I would like a bread route. As Dad was beginning to experience some financial difficulties (I'm. sure from helping me so much), and since Bill was beginning to get more involved in the store, I left. We moved. 20 miles north to Edmond, Oklahoma. I learned how to work for folks who had much more rigid rules. I started work at 5 a.m. and got home after dark, all for about $75 per week.
1959: Charlie was running a very good Van's Bread route to southwest Oklahoma City, and was a very good salesman. He was able to improve himself by going to Supreme Cookies and Crackers. He was successful in persuading the folks at Van's to give me his route, even though I was not experienced enough for it and others were in line for it ahead of me. He gave me only one week to learn it, rather than the two or three customary weeks. This was a real challenge but I was able to do it and even improve sales somewhat. This route was half the miles and twice the pay of my previous Van's route to Guthrie, Cashion, Crescent, Seward, Coyle and Langston.
We sure needed the extra money as Matthew was on the way. According to the doctor, Matt should have arrived about Thanksgiving, but even induced labor in December could not get him to arrive until Saturday afternoon, January 9th 1960. My supervisor "Jonesy" walked in to Smith and Griders Supermarket and sternly said, "Give me your route-book!" Puzzled, I did. Then he smiled and said, "Take my VW to the hospital and go see your new son!"
Tim and Matt have grown into fine family men. Like their parents, they both married young. Tim and Lynda Kay Balch (yet another neighborhood boy-girl romance) tied the knot in 1974. With the first of their four children, Jason born in 1975, Terry and I became grandparents at the age of 35! By the time Jason's three siblings (Shelly, Nathan, and Richard) came along, Terry and I were used to being young old-people. Tim and Lynda celebrated. 25 years of marital bliss on 11 August 1999. Tim swears the only way out of that marriage is, "being carried out feet first through the front door." Ain't that romantic?
Matt also married young. He is the father of two grown daughters, and became a grandfather at the age of 37. Ariel was born to his daughter, LeeAnne, on 4 October 1998. Matt served in the US Air Force for a few years, but was too business-minded to stay in. He is a fast-paced carpet dealer in Denver, Colorado. Like his dad, Matt is now in his fourth marriage. He says, "The other three times, I was just practicing."
1960: After Matt was born, Terry and I bought a nice, but small, brick home in northeast Oklahoma City for just $75 down and taking over the payments. My boss, Mr. Van Antwerp was furious and thought I should live in the town of Edmond, even though my route was in Oklahoma City.
Meanwhile, Dad had sold the store at 324 S.E. 15th to Don Fox, who was then the owner of Honest John stores. Dad was really itching to get back into the grocery business and had found one for sale in the Carter Park addition of Del City. He convinced me to go in with him and we made a real nice superette out of a very small store by utilizing the former owners' living quarters. We named this store "Cox Lucky Dollar."
One day our Rainbo Bread salesman, Johnny, came in and said the Rainbo route adjoining his had suddenly come open. Even though our store was doing very good, we were not taking very much out of it. So I started a campaign to get that bread route. I sold my interest to Dad for $100 and Bill was more than glad to quit his job and take my place at the store.
The Rainbo route was by far the best job I had ever had. We traded our small home for a new three-bedroom in Del City which was really needed as David was on the way to help fill it up. It was one of the nicest homes in Del City. We got all new furniture, a 1950 Chevy pickup in A-1 condition, and a 1956 Chevy Nomad station wagon. This is where I should have stayed, but did not.
1961: This is where we were living when our third son, David, was born. This time the obstetrician wasn't good old Dr. Mills, but Dr. Casper. David always thought there was something special about having been brought into this world by a doctor who had the same name as his favorite, unworldly, cartoon character, Casper the Ghost. David was born with a "lazy" eye (Dwain's syndrome). But nothing else about him is lazy in the least! With grants and loans, he put himself through college in Albuquerque, Washington, D.C., and Paris, France. He got a job with the World Bank in Paris as an editorial assistant. Shortly after arriving in Paris and starting that job in 1986, he met his life-mate, Jean François Pinto. They've been together ever since. David has taught English in Paris universities and companies but now translates for television, magazines, and film companies in Paris, France.
1963: Daniel, our fourth child, was born that year on 2 March. He was a very good looking baby, and still is quite handsome. He'll tell you so himself. Dan has become a carpenter and contractor doing business in the Reno-Sparks, Nevada area. He also married one of his childhood sweethearts, Adella Harville, and they had one son, Cody Lynn. Cody is a straight A student and a football star. Dan and Adella divorced. Both remarried, but following his last attempt at marital bliss, Dan has managed to stay "safely single" as he would put it, and enjoys racing, and winning, motorcycle competitions.
Back to 1963: We quickly got a chain-link fence installed to keep the boys corralled. As it turned out, we did not stay much longer. A small store and gas station on my route was for sale. It certainly looked like it could be improved and made profitable. It had a small apartment attached. Without consulting Terry, I sold the nice house and furniture in Del City to buy the store. This venture was a failure. Soon, not only were we flat broke, but our spirits were broken. I got a milk route, then a Bond Bread route and tried to sell fences at night. I was so miserable.
1964: After collecting a big commission check from fence sales, I left Oklahoma City for Tucson, Arizona on the bus, leaving Terry behind with four boys and a junker of a car in a small rent house. As soon as I could, I brought my family to Tucson. We found a big, old house for $70 a month. It had five bedrooms and two screened-in porches. Once we got it cleaned and fixed up, it was quite nice. Terry and the kids loved it.
1965: I became unhappy with working for Rainbo of Tucson, and tried my hand at being an independent contractor. It was successful to a degree, but not as much as I had hoped for. After selling "Four Star Distributing" (named for my, then, four sons), I took off west again to Los Angeles, California and to Pepsi. This was a good job, and the only job that offered us health insurance. It actually paid for the birth of our fifth son, Steven. But of course, the urge to return to being a successful, independent businessman was very strong.
1966: Even though Terry had had a ligation of her Fallopian tubes after Dan's birth, Steve came along like a star from heaven. And he was born in Hollywood on 29 March. If God has five boys planned for a couple, then that couple will have five boys, no matter what you do to prevent it. And boy am I ever glad of it! Steve has become a real joy to us.
Steve married Claudia Dyanne Eckdahl and they had one child, Brittany Morgan, born 21 August 1993. She is such a delight. Now Steve is married to Lorrie Manes-Keim, whose mother once worked with us in Tucson, Arizona. Steve and Lorrie were sweethearts at a very tender age. They were little kids at that time in Tucson. Now together again, they have two children, Ryleigh and Brian. Steve works in the video sector of the television industry. Not surprising for a kid born in Hollywood.
So there we were in southern California. And yet. the prickly-pear pastures of Tucson were calling me back.
Terry did not like our life in California much either.
So when my Tucson friend, Bill Carr called to tell me of a catering truck
that was for sale, well. it seemed like divine intervention.
A nice, big, long, vacation did not perk her up any. We soon found ourselves back in Oklahoma City and at Rainbo. Then to Mead's Fine Bread as a contractor at Ponca City, Oklahoma.
Once in Ponca City, I put two routes into one and Terry and I had a bread and pastry thrift store. It was a successful operation. But Rainbo in Albuquerque offered me a job, a route, with a future distributorship opportunity. I took it. This move was a good one as Terry and the boys did not like the smell of Ponca City, an oil refinery town.
Albuquerque was a lot like Tucson and a very nice place to live. Still, I did not like working "for" anybody. I almost got a Hostess Cake distributorship, but settled for Jill's Pastries at Tucumcari, New Mexico. It was a small affair, but grew as I added other items. After a while, the itch to move again had to be scratched. A Mortons potato-chip distributorship came open at Clovis, New Mexico, I was able to get it with a $6,000 loan from my dad. It was a very good distributorship.
We bought two warehouses and a rent house with two of the three paying the mortgage. We paid Dad back in six months, we bought a big house, we had hobbies, the boys had toys (and Tim fell in love with the daughter of one of the renters, Miss Lynda Balch, and nothing could prevent their marriage in 1974).
All was better than ever for me and my bunch. But my part-time hired hand's father was a Bekins Van Line household goods mover. He was making much more money than I was. He suggested I make a "go-round" with him to see if I liked the business. So, I did. And I did! I sold Mortons, kept the rental properties, bought the old truck and became a Bekins man. I paid for the old truck in 17 months, then ordered a new Peterbuilt with a long wheel base and a Cat engine. The Clovis Camper Shop built a quite nice 8 x 6 x 9 foot camper (including shower, stool, refrigerator, closets, etc.).
I did very well with Bekins until I fell down four flights of outside stairs with a washer. The bounce on my fanny crushed two discs of my lower back. But I did not scratch the washer! Terry and I had divorced by this time, after eighteen years of marriage. The child support payments agreed to became impossible to make.
The time off work was cushioned somewhat as my co-driver continued to operate the truck. After back surgery, I sold the truck for enough to pay the back taxes due.
For one year I was married to Orline Rodriguez Vigil who had two sons, D.J. and Tony. They were marvelous kids. In the church school of Sherwood Baptist Academy, they both learned quickly. I was disappointed when their mother took them back to Albuquerque after our marriage ended.
Marriage number three lasted 50% longer than the second-a grand total of 18 months! Adena Mae "Dink" Leming Hibdon had two teenagers, Rick and Debbie. They were fun to be with, and got along fine with my five sons. Adena lived next to my parents' grocery store in the 1950's.
After the two short marriages, the back surgery, and a teaching job that paid next to nothing, I was able to get back onto a bread truck. With just one customer, I had a good job. They then offered me a route in Enid, Oklahoma. My new wife, Gail, and I bought a trailer house and moved it to Enid with Dan and Steve and Chris. This arrangement was short-lived. Dan and Steve did not like Enid, and returned to their mother in Clovis, New Mexico.
I got a big bonus when I married Doris Gail Monholland on 20 June 1979: her son, Christopher Paul. The money I spent to legally adopt Chris was the best money I ever spent, for he has become a real Cox character with strong character. He is working his way up the corporate ladder with Golden Corral Restaurants. He has given us another granddaughter.
Gail and I joined some other folks starting a pastry distribution company. We did fine at this until my son, Tim, told us of an opportunity moving trailers locally for Magnetic Peripherals Inc. The contractor that Tim was working for was paying his wages with "good-for-nothing" checks. MPI then suggested breaking the contract and giving us the job. Even though we had no money to speak of, we scrounged, bought and fixed junked trucks, borrowed from Dad, my ex co-driver, and finally got a bank loan. K. R. Cox Trucking lasted nine years, with parts of it lasting several more years.
Gail and I have now been married over twenty years and we have experienced a good life. Her poor health has been tough to deal with, but she is a tough lady and is handling things very well. She is becoming a good family history researcher.
After my mother died in 1990, I used every Saturday to research our Hanks and Cox family history. This was great, but it offered no pay or health insurance. For that reason I joined J. B. Hunt Transportation, thinking my history researching was done for. In reality, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Gail and I have been able to get to many different libraries, court houses, and the old farms of many ancestors. Gail rides with me often so that we can work on our family histories together. So, thank you J. B. Hunt for providing free transportation, health insurance, and the good income that has allowed all this research.
[Update: Gail Cox died on 10 January 2010.]
My Four Brides
Our children, their children, and their grandchildren
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