Virginia Heights Elementary school is situated on a hill overlooking the intersection of Grandin Road and Memorial Avenue. It has been there for a long time, and still operates in the City school system. I attended Virginia Heights from the Second to the Sixth grades. Althea Peele was my favorite teacher, because she read Mark Twain stories to us. In dialect.
One of my good friends was Kenneth Koontz. He was one of the nicest guys I knew, and I’m sorry that I lost touch with him when he moved away. His father was the minister at a local church. He refused to bow his head and repeat the morning prayer or pledge to the flag, but that is a story for another time.
The school building was old when we were there, although the building we were in was a later addition to the original structure next door. The desks were old, too. the seat folded up and the top opened to a storage area. Those wooden tops were scratched, rough, most had initials carved in them, and numerous holes drilled with a pocket knife. Those holes and carvings made it difficult to write, punching holes in the worksheet. The problem of writing on the carved desks was a persistent issue for the students and teachers.
Which was the spark which launched the idea of a small business: filling those holes.
Kenneth and I had filled the holes on our desks with small wads of wet paper and Elmer’s Glue, and smoothed over with an eraser. It worked pretty well. No more holy papers. We became the envy of our classmates, who wanted their holy desks made smooth.
For almost a month, Kenneth and I filled desk holes, for a nickle each. For a dime, the hole got a silver finish, with the tinfoil from chewing gum wrappers. We were the most popular kids in the fifth grade. And making money.
Until the teacher learned we were wetting the paper with spit. Yep, spit balls in the desk tops. If only we had not advertised our services in such graphic language.
Just think. Two kids running a business under the noses of the teachers, and making lunch money. With spit balls.