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Tuckers Crossroads School to celebrate century with love

Jared Felkins jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:58 PM

When people talk about Tuckers Crossroads School, it is often with fond memories and respect. Former faculty and students say they still “love” their school. 

Beth Turnbull Petty, former student, and co-chairman for the Tuckers Crossroads School 100-Year Celebration, which will take place May 3, said some “loves” of the school seem to resurface again and again as the committee digs into the past. 

When asking former students what they loved about TXR, the most popular answer was “when we had macaroni and cheese for lunch.” 

Petty then asked Sharon Skeen, who worked in the cafeteria for several decades, whether the recipe for mac and cheese could be included in the commemorative cookbook the group is compiling. 

“Sadly, Skeen said the recipe could not be duplicated, because the now famous concoction was made with government cheese, which is no longer available. So, this “love” will have to remain a memory,” Petty said.

As memories go, some get exaggerated. In the group’s initial report, it was said there might have been caves in the area where students went to skip school. This story turned out to be an urban legend perpetuated, but not substantiated, over the years. 

According to former students, former Sheriff Terry Ashe and David Bates, son of former principal and teacher, Lois Bates, the “caves” were actually sinkholes behind the school. Children were known to hide in the holes, but were probably discovered by the time recess began. 

Petty said some stories do not get exaggerated because they are perfect just the way they are. That is true of a love story started two decades ago, and still real today. Brandi McCaleb arrived at TXR in fourth grade. Her desk was in front of Stephen Goodall, and he said their friendship began by him thumping her ear every day. 

“She was my best friend that was a girl, and she always fixed me up with the other girls, until one day in seventh grade, something changed,” Goodall said.

McCaleb began asking him why he would want to date “that” girl. In eighth grade, they began “dating,” and Feb. 4 was their 20th anniversary of being a couple.

During dinner with their two children, Crockette, a fourth grader at Tuckers Crossroads School, and AnnaBella, a kindergartener, the couple detailed their love story. Crockette and AnnaBella sat quietly and listened to the story that, up until now, they had only heard bits and pieces. Stephen and Brandi’s first date was to see “Sister Act.” Stephen’s father, Wilson County Court Clerk Jimmy Goodall, who also attended Tuckers Crossroads, drove them to the movies. 

The couple, who will celebrate their 13th wedding anniversary in March, were voted cutest couple at Lebanon High School, and neither has ever dated anyone else. They broke up only once and only for two weeks. Stephen jokingly said if they had not gotten back together, he would “still be single now… and rich… and there would be no gray in my hair.” 

Later that evening, he sent a text to Petty and said he would not take anything for his family and he wanted Brandi to be his girlfriend from the time he met her in fourth grade, but waited until the eighth grade because he was afraid he would mess up their friendship. 

Brandi’s favorite “love” story about Stephen came in eighth grade when he gave her a stuffed animal that said, “Dog Gone Crazy About You.” He also gave her seven boxes of candy. When she asked him why so many, he replied, “I did not know which one was your favorite, so I got them all.”

Brandi is now known to a host of Wilson County residents as the smiling face of Wilson Bank & Trust, where she serves as a personal banker. Wilson Bank & Trust is a longtime supporter of Tuckers Crossroads Elementary School.

Stephen went on to become a sargent with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department. Petty, who works for the Lebanon Family Resource Center, calls on him from time to time to assist with parent workshops. 

“Just last week, Stephen came to talk to Wilson County parents about Internet safety and the dangers of social media,” she said. “Many years ago, I was a substitute teacher for this couple. They were great kids then, and they are wonderful citizens now, giving back to their community whenever asked. This is the kind of leadership that comes from a beginning at Tuckers Crossroads.”

Seconding that sentiment is Sheriff Robert Bryan, Goodall’s boss. Bryan’s sons, nephews and sisters-in-law also attended the school. Bryan, who coached softball at the Tuckers Crossroads ball field, described the community as loving and tight-knit. 

“Those of us lucky enough to raise our children out there experienced a good quality life in that community,” Bryan said. “The kids were busy and involved. All their time was spent in the community. It was all we knew, and we liked it that way. Kids still come up and say, ‘do you remember me?’ And, of course, I do. These same kids are now huge assets to our community. 

“As a member of law enforcement, I wish we had more communities like Tuckers Crossroads. You know your neighbor and they know you. Neighbors out there watch each other’s roads and houses, and it helps us do our job because someone has usually seen something. Community watch programs are a given in communities like this.” 

Bryan said his grandchild will soon be attending the school, and he can hardly wait. 

“I know that people like our School Resource Officer Pete Mercher will be safe-guarding my grandchild,” Bryan said. “Pete knows everyone. He loves the kids, and they love him.”

Anyone who loves Tuckers Crossroads School and wants to get involved with the 100-Year Celebration can visit TXR Centennial on Facebook or the Tuckers Crossroads website at wcschools.com/txr or call Petty at 615-444-7961. The celebration is set for May 3 at 4 p.m. at the school.

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