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Everyone expects a minster's son to "maintain a proper decorum". This is not necessarily the case. My father, Roy L. Cook, son of Reverend Henry Ingraham (H. I.) Cook was an example of this lack of violating acceptable standards in the eyes of his father and ended up being packed off to Staunton Military Academy.

He and a good friend, Walter Burton attended school together and evidently were not to be counted at the top of the "Best Behaved" student list. The event that triggered father's deportation to military school was the time he and Walter Burton placed stink bombs behind the radiators of the school rooms. His teacher evidently quite prim, asked the question, "Which of you gentlemen is responsible for this odor?" Evidently they were found out and my grandfather had had enough, so off father went to Staunton. (Note: This relationship may explain why many Cooks are buried in Burton Cemetery. Families had been friends for years.).

Over the years Dad and Walter Burton remained friends. Walter Burton went to law school and became a prosecuting attorney in Mercer County, West Virginia. Later, there was a case where he had received death threats because of one of the cases he was prosecuting and the judge ordered protection. Walter Burton promptly asked that father become his bodyguard and he was until the end of the trial.

Dad took the job as Chief of Police in Matoaka because jobs were scarce during the depression. As in any other endeavor, he was probably ahead of his time for a small town policeman. He studied and became a fingerprint expert and was probably among the first to fingerprint those arrested in a town that small. He went to police training schools, some lasting over a week. No matter the job he tackled, he was a meticulous individual.

He was an expert pistol marksman and had won several medals at various times during his life. Before a match, he would spend long hours "dry firing" and practicing his trigger squeeze.

During the early 1930's, there was a polio epidemic in the area and the Town of Matoaka was quarantined. You could neither enter or leave town. At a roadblock, Dad was manning one day, he stopped this car and told the driver of the quarantine and that he could not pass. The driver started to go toward town and got out, scratched his head, wondering how he was going to replace the tire that was shot out.

This was a time when people like Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and others were pretty common. A member of the Davidson family, who lived across the street from my grandfather was killed by someone. All the police in the county, state police, and sheriffs joined in the search, and set up road blocks. I remember dad putting his high powered rifle in his green, Model A Ford and going to his assigned area. The man was caught but luckily dad did not encounter him. It might have been the man who was lucky. The Davidson killed was a policeman.

One evening dad was in the parlor, got out his guitar and was starting to play when old Mrs. Tilley who lived on School House Hill came running to our door and said, "Come quick, Roy, someone is shooting at the Wyatt's". Dad dashed over and was out checking the situation when Barty Wyatt, a relative of the Wyatt's, came to the house and asked if my grandmother could find him a gun. My grandmother, Amanda Jane Cook found a rifle but could find no ammunition for it, which was probably a lucky circumstance. Barty had been upstairs visiting one of the Wyatts, had gone to the second story porch when he heard the shooting and jumped to the ground, then over to our house. The man had killed Mr. & Mrs. Wyatt. The Wyatt’s killed were the father and mother of his estranged wife. When father found him, he had committed suicide by shooting himself.

When I was in the second grade, I happened to notice two gray squares of metal soldered to the rear of dad's green Model A Ford. I asked him what they were. "Bullet holes" was his reply. The car had been patched, repainted and the green paint had not adhered to the primer. He had been to Princeton one night on business and said when he passed a certain area on the way home, fire seemed to be coming from all the bushes. He had been ambushed but luckily escaped unharmed.

In later years. when employed as a Revenue Agent by the Internal Revenue Service, he was selected for their" Racket Squad". Shades of Elliot Ness! Well, this may sound exciting but really, his accounting knowledge helped more than his police experience. His duties involved mostly searching the public records for tax evaders. For example, a man owned five or six brand new Cadillacs, had paid no taxes, and showed an income that was almost at the poverty level. This mostly involved gamblers and the prostitution rackets. Dad had guts.

Musings of Henry T. Cook, Lt. Col., U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)