PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This is the second in a series of stories on the Prim Bakery and LUB that WLAF is featuring this week.
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – P.J. Prim and the Prim family’s place in La Follette history lives on through the rebirth of the fabled Prim’s Bakery building on North Tennessee Avenue. La Follette Utilities purchased the building, razed the structure and used some of the materials from the original building and is now using the new building for its offices.
Family members say it was the summer of 1933 when P.J. met Dorothy Mae Sharp at a tent revival in Downtown La Follette. Sharp was with a group of girls that had come over from Jellico. The couple married in October, honeymooned at the Chicago World’s Fair and then made their home in La Follette.
Prim’s career path eventually led him to the bakery. He had a job at Norris Dam from 1933-36 and later worked as a carpenter building homes at Oak Ridge during World War II according to Elizabeth Prim Coffey, one of Prim’s daughters. It was believed that it was during his time at the dam where he learned his bakery skills from a man who baked there, and that led to the idea to build a bakery.
The construction of the bakery building was a slow process taking more than four years. Elizabeth’s sister, Loretta, notes that their father also worked at the lumber mill next to the creek across the way behind where the bakery was built. Some of that lumber was used on the bakery project.
“Dad brought our family together one night in our small living room, when I was around 10-years old, and announced he was moving us to the bakery building. We would be living upstairs where he could come downstairs at 2-3am to work,” said Coffey. That big step of moving the family to the bakery was preceded by years of work and preparation by Prim and his wife, Dorothy Mae.
Coffey explains that it was hard to distinguish between your private life and the professionalism of living in the public eye. “We were taught by the time we could remember anything else in life; God was first in our life as a Christian home,” said Coffey. “Going to church on Sunday” was printed across the bottom of the big glass window on the front of the bakery.
“Dad was a great baker. He was a proud man,” added Coffey. Prim’s pride shines through today in the new building on North Tennessee Avenue. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 06/22/2021-6AM)