Father Cook was a very mild person. When the family home had been dedicated with a big reception and exhibition of the rooms, a guest saw him shyly hanging around the back hall and asked him if he wouldn’t like to see the house with her. Agreeably smiling, he followed her. Later she learned that it was her host she had escorted through the rooms. For transportation he always rode a bicycle to and from the Publishing House, two miles each way. One day as he rode down spring Street on his way home a woman said to her companion, as they watched him through the window, “That poor little man. I suppose, cold as it is, he feels he must ride his bicycle to save the carfare?”
The companion replied, “Don’t you know who that is? That’s David C. Cook, the millionaire.”
At Mother’s table, Father sat next to me on the side. Mother carved at the head of the table. Father would tease me because, when he passed things to me I insisted that he serve himself first. I think he liked me in the early days.
Father’s life was well ordered as to pattern. He arose at six o’clock in the morning; had a bath and salt glow; then chopped wood until breakfast. He ate a hearty meal of grape nuts, lamb chops, and French Fried portions and plovers which he washed down with a generous pot of cocoa made with water. The whole meal was preceded by a cup of hot water, taken to prepare his stomach for the orgy.
As soon as breakfast was over he would mount his bicycle and pedal to the plant. He ate no luncheon and returned for a five-thirty dinner, equally hearty, and topped off with a pie, usually apple, which he consumed in its entirety. The meal had begun with vegetable soup, over which he sprinkled with grape nuts. He ate no fresh vegetables and usually preferred dried peas cooked for hours. At the Publishing House his telephones were across the room from his desk so that he would be obliged to get exercise through the long day when he answered it.
Sunday School was the first interest of Father’s life and he loved its very activity with a passionate zeal. Everything he saw was compelling only as it touched this mainspring of his life. He brought alligators, lizards, and airplanes from Florida, and equally interesting object from Saugatuck, to share with the young and curious in his Sunday School classes.
George and I might meet him on the street and be passed unrecognized. He seldom knew or saw people; he was engrossed with his own thoughts. When in the Sunday School, his eyes flashed, he smiled happily and was animated as at no other time; his shyness vanished completely.
Before I was married, when I visited Alice Holmes, whose father was a Methodist minister, I had heard Father Cook made sport of by various ministers who belittled his methods and made fun of his zoo. Yet none could match the attendance of his Sunday ‘schools. Those classes I visited were the liveliest I had ever seen and the enthusiasm of the children gave constant evidence that whoever the orthodox preachers might condemn, it was fine with the children. I remember his saying to me one time that he could understand people’s failure to attend church but never Sunday School.