The Alpine School Board meeting Tuesday was very strange.

For one thing, the room was nearly empty at the start and overflowing with people at the end of the meeting. It's usually the other way around. Board members were laughing and saying nice things - also an odd occurrence. But the strangest thing was watching Superintendent Clark Cox get revenge against a board member.Cox can do that now, because he's retiring. That's why people were saying nice things about him and why board member David Harvey probably understood when the superintendent gave him a gift he's been holding on to for more than a year.

You have to know the history between the two men to understand the gift.

"For years I have been harangued and harassed by an unnamed board member directly to my left," Cox said during the meeting.

The room was quite. Reporters began writing furiously, sure they were about to get a hot story worthy of a headline like, "Superintendent publicly lambastes board member."

"During (my time as a superintendent), David Harvey has felt a need for more textbooks in this district," Cox continued. "So I want to give him this gift."

The superintendent pulled out a thick, tattered book. It was a textbook used in 1950 by an 11th-grader at Pleasant Grove High School. Lest there be any doubt, Cox read the name on the inside cover: David Harvey. The name was written in various forms throughout the book. "Harv" was scrawled prominently on many pages, and the student had graced other pages throughout the book with the more personal thoughts of a 16-year-old.

Cox seemed to be intrigued that someone who grew up and became a board member known for fighting to get more textbooks in the district was once a child who vandalized them.

"David, if we had more students like you in this district, we would have even fewer texts than we do now," Cox said with a jolly laugh. There hasn't been such glee in the board room since sometime in 1986, when a meeting lasted less than a hour. Even Harvey grinned a little.

Cox's present was found about 1 1/2 years ago by some workmen who were renovating the Pleasant Grove High boiler room. How it got there and sat unnoticed for 37 years is still a mystery.

It may have been fate, because the book certainly provided an appropriate closing for Cox, who will retire Thursday after five years as Alpine superintendent and more than 35 years in education.

Many of the superintendent's colleagues attended the latter half of the meeting to hear board members praise him and to listen to Cox's final comments.

"Two groups of people have always had the last word in my life - women and school board members," Cox said. "I would just like to thank the board and the citizens of this community for allowing me to work in this district for the last five years. I've grown in many ways."

Cox and his wife will spend the next several months traveling and eventually will settle in St. George. American Fork High School Principal Steven Baugh will take over as Alpine superintendent Friday.