Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Marv Tripp ’43
I started at Tech in 1939 after moving to Oakland with my folks from Los Angeles. We lived over on Lawton Avenue so I could walk to Tech. The school was so full that they started classes at 7 am so they could accommodate all the kids. I was the number one pole vaulter at Tech, but that’s because I was the only one! Others tried it, but didn’t stick with it or got hurt. It was a lot of fun. Nowadays, they come down on foam pads, but we used to come down in sawdust and wood chips which could be quite hard if you didn’t fluff it up between jumps. I was also the Junior Class President and I remember we had a lot of school spirit; people were proud to be at Tech. One of my memories is of a dance in the girls’ gym; the other thing I remember is that those of us who got varsity letters had to patrol the neighborhood one block around the school to make sure kids weren’t smoking!
The war was a big concern for all of us – we knew once we graduated, we would be drafted into the war so a lot of us studied hard because we wanted to get into officer’s training in college. During high school, I worked as a caddy at the Claremont Country Club, a dishwasher at a restaurant on College Avenue and at a rug company on Shattuck. All the men were drafted into the war, so youth were in high demand! After graduating, I tested into the Maritime Academy in Vallejo. The war ended before I finished my training so I never saw any action.
My kids also went to Tech even though it was a time of “white flight” when many white families were moving out of Oakland and people told us not to send our kids here. But we felt like it was the right thing to do and that we wouldn’t listen to other people’s prejudice. I kept in touch with friends from Tech but those bonds are hard to keep when you’re raising a family.
I went to College of the Pacfic (now University of Pacific) in Stockton. I majored in music and really tried to make it as a musician. I went to Hollywood, did some TV work there and with some bands in Las Vegas, but came back here and became a teacher and then a principal in Oakland (at Sherman, Markham and John Swett). On the weekends, I played bass and sang with dance bands, played at the Lake Merritt Hotel, did weddings and country clubs, even the California Country Club in San Francisco for 39 years!
My advice to students at Tech today is from a quote I saw: There is an aspect to wisdom that is learning what to ignore. We take some things so seriously and a lot of things just aren’t that important. People have issues with things they should just ignore.
I am proud to say I went to Oakland Tech, maybe even more so now. There is such a renaissance at the school that I can relate to. I have seen that school go through troubling times but there is such enthusiasm these days there. Everyone is putting such great energy into the Tech Centennial, they are such share people and their hearts are really in the right place.