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Coolidge Elementary

This is the tale of a back woods elementary school I went to. My name is Joe. Most people might know me from The Bag Boy, Chronicles, or the ETSU memoirs as Pat's roommate. This is my early experiences at a very unique elementary school. Most people think Campbell County in general is a bit backwards, but this little elementary school made schools such as East LaFollette, and Jacksboro elementary look like a Mecca of culture. Coolidge has been shut down for nearly 20 years now, and when it was open it probably didn’t have more than 120 students in the entire school. Second and third grade had to share the same class room, as did the fourth and fifth grades. I’ll try to recollect some of the more entertaining parts of my time there in the elementary school.


Well, my second grade year was a blur of a lot of scrapes, bruises and more paddlings. I do have one very vivid recollection. We had lunch in our gym since we did not have a real cafeteria at this time. I had a few foods that I just did not like, and did not want to eat. I had a teacher tell me I had to eat my peas. She told me I couldn’t leave and go to recess until I ate my peas. I was bit stubborn, so I ate as fast as I could, jostled my stomach a good bit and went to have a little talk with this teacher. I went up to her and gauged my distance and threw up all over her. Needless to say she never made me eat another food that I didn’t want.

Since this one was so short I will go ahead and share another memory.

This next memory, and paddling came when I was in the bathroom. Their was also, our resident 16 year old, Clifford who was in the fifth, or sixth grade. He was smoking up a storm. Wally Goins one of the teachers who taught Title 1 said, boys. I smell smoke, I’m going to come in there and smoke me some hides. Why he would announce himself I don't know. Clifford grabbed on of the other kids that was close by and shoved the cigarette in his mouth. The toilet was right there and he could have flushed it, but thinking obviously wasn't Cliffords strong point. Wally came in the bathroom and looked around. There was a small cloud of smoke. He said all right boys out in the hall. We all got a paddlings. Where paddlings are concerned they didn't discriminate at Coolidge. The guy who swallowed the cigarette didn’t look to well, but he was afraid to say anything for fear Clifford would beat the crap out of him. Which was probably true.










Well, one of my earlier memories was of the play ground. We had swings, monkey bars, and a slide. I was more than a little hyper as a child so one day I was running on top of the monkey bars…….. Yes, I was running on top. Well, that didn’t go too well for me. Half way across I slid and fell through the bars. Being 7 years old and small; I went straight through until my head was making its way though. I slammed my jaw into one of the bars, and it swung me and I fell straight on my back, knocking the breath out of me. Well needless to say I wasn't jumping back to my feet. Another boy named Jimmie, I have many good stories of Jimmy later, came over and asked me if I had a cigarette. I could barely breath, much less talk, and I had told Jimmy at least seven different times I didn't smoke. Jimmy however had quite the habit and was in desperate need of a smoke. Well one would assume the teachers would rush to my aid and check to make sure I’m alright. They came to me all right after about 10 minutes of me laying on my back. They took me inside and gave me a paddling for running on the monkey bars. Probably my first of many, many paddlings.



I came to Coolidge elementary in the second grade. That is when my family and I moved to the Coolidge area. There was a collection of essentially 4 different families that comprised the majority of the students, with a few other individual kids. Being in the second grade I had no expectation as to what an elementary school should be, but even I thought there was something rather odd about this school. In my third week in school we got two new classmates to the second grade, they were a good 2 foot taller than any of the rest us seven year olds. They were two brothers; one was 12 years old and the other was 14. I was thinking they were in the wrong class…. Heck the wrong school. They stayed for about a month before being kicked out of school for stealing the Title 1 TV. Having much older students was not that uncommon at Coolidge. One guy drove himself to school in the morning and even shaved. This really helped Coolidge win many basketball tournaments. I think he was about 16 in the fifth grade. Heck I think he drove to some of the basketball games.

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