Friday, May 1, 2009

Flint School Closings: A Lament for the Loss of Coolidge Elementary

rward writes:

Ouch, the closing of Coolidge hurts. They had the coolest kindergarten room with an indoor slide, a 19th centuryish coat room and a class bathroom with a huge boy rabbit on the boy's door and a huge girl rabbit on the girl's door.

I loved going into the long, high ceiling hallways for tornado drills, sitting with my head bent between my legs — like that was going to make a difference.

The playground ended at the outside gym wall where we could pelt each other, firing-squad style, with snowballs. The lunch ladies were brutal.

In second grade we made a school wide time capsule and buried it under the front pine tree. I remember that I couldn't find anything to rhyme with the common pronunciation of my last name so my teacher had me write a poem using the less common pronunciation. For years later I wondered if future dignitaries would dig up my poem and wonder why one second grader was too lame to rhyme words with their own name.

The fifth grade teacher, Mr. Jorgenson, had a paddle named "The Brown Bomber" hanging from the front of his desk. It was rumored that Mr. Zellers, the principal, regularly paddled kids. The famous apex of his punishments being for the two students who broke into the school on the weekend, covered the gym floor with ketchup and mustard packets and rode the phys ed roller boards all over them. None of us had gym for two days during the clean up.

Gone now will be:
- the first grade room were Yvonne ate chalk and
paste and kicked the principal

- the doorless bathrooms where adventurous
second graders threw wet toilet paper wads to
stick on the ceiling

- the row of lockers where I was forced to share a
shelf with my sworn enemy, a Miami
Dolphin-loving, snot-bubble blowing kid

- the gym stage where the 1975 Halloween parade
was high jacked by 6th grade boys dressed as
Planet of the Apes

- the faculty talent show in which Mrs. Rausch,
with her gauchos and long hippie hair, sang a
wispy version of Bread's "If" that made all of
us third grade girls cry.

Those were the good old days.

The Coolidge School Fight Song

Oh Coolidge school we sing to thee
A place where every cougar longs to be
So come on students, teachers gather round
We're gonna have them make a ripping, roaring sound
We are the C O U G A R S
We are a happy bunch - why yes I guess
We are the same who put the A in FAME
always game for Coolidge School


  1. Somehwat similar was the closing of St. Mary's Elementary in Flint in 1992. Bittersweet yes, but the memories will live on...

  2. Thanks for sharing your memories.

  3. Thanks for this -- I attended Coolidge from 1965 to 1972, and I have a whole bunch of great memories. Mrs. Robinson was the principal when I started, and Mr. Zellers was there when I left (in 6th grade). I remember most of my teachers -- even Mrs. Whalen, the Kindergarten teacher (I remember the slide very well!) Did you ever go into the basement, with the REALLY BIG furnace? I was even a safety guard -- the old retired cop who was the crossing guard (to cross Westcombe) was called Coppy. I had it great -- I lived right around the block on Hubbard, just a minute away. In those days, nobody ate lunch at school -- we all lived close and went home for lunch. And one final memory: Coolidge is the only place I've seen that had cold air vents that you could climb into! I used to imagine climbing around in them, like Barney on Mission Impossible. So sorry to see the old place close!

  4. I went to Coolidge for K - 4.5. We moved to Civic Park during 4th grade. While my memories of Civic Park are much more vivid, guess being older helped, I still remember walking the halls of Coolidge.

    It's too bad these schools are closing, but with about 1/3 the school population now, it's inevitable.

  5. OH, and one more thing. Mr. Jorgenson's paddle, the Brown Bomber, was made from a piece of the school. In about 1970-71, the school library was renovated, I think for asbestos abatement. Jorgenson got a piece of the old oak trim from the library and made his paddle. I think he named it in imitation of Mr. Zellers' paddle, which also had a clever, violent name (that I can't remember). The only other thing I can remember about Jorgenson was when he described graphically how he cut off part of his toe with his lawnmower. (Unintentionally -- Flint wasn't as depressing in those days!)

  6. I went Coolidge from 1963 to 1970. I remember sitting on the floor in the Kindergarten room when Miss Robinson the principal came in to tell us we were being sent home because President Kennedy had been shot. (We didn't know he died until we got home.) Mr. Jorgenson's paddle? Some of us boys remember it.....only one time. That was enough.

  7. I go to coolidge and we just won the flag football championship Mr.Bracy is our praincipal.I`m an "A" "B" STUDENT we proply dont have the same teachers as you guese did.

  8. My whole family went there. I was the first in the early to late 50's. I still treasure what I learned there. Does anyone remember the musica teacher, K. Hazeldine? Is she still alive? She gave ma a great love of music.

    Ben E.

  9. Ms. Hazeldine died many years ago. I am assuming you won't read this as your post was from 2009, just letting whoever is interested know.

  10. I recently returned to Flint for my 50th high school reunion. As usual I went back into my old neighborhood to visit Coolidge Community School. I was a student there from K-6, in the late 40's-early 50's. It was the most beautiful school and my best years of education were there. Although I knew that the building was slated for closure, it was with a very heavy heart that I saw that it was indeed empty. What a loss. I wonder if there is any way to buy any part of it as a momento. I recall lovely paintings on the walls and beautiful tiles in the water fountain alcoves. What has happened to all of these?

  11. I know the feeling. Many of the school I attended are now closed. I know someone in Carriage Town who got the bricks from St. Matt's school when they tore it down to use for his driveway. I fear a lot of the details you describe will be left to the elements and vandals.

  12. i went to Coolidge from 1991-1996 graduated, principal was Mr. James Bracy wonderful man died january 2013. I have fond memories from first to sixth grade. My fifth grade class was the first to take the MEAP test and I remember most of my teachers. Ironic when I got into the fourth grade myself and half my class thought we would finally be upstairs but there were so many students the half of that 4th grade class including myself and my friends were in a split 3rd 4th grade class still on the ground floor, and I had the same teacher 2 years in a row. Ah the memories


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