Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Dan Costello ’43
I grew up in Oakland on 35th Street which is now under the 580 Freeway. I attended Sacred Heart Catholic School and graduated in 1940. I spent one year at Woodrow Wilson Jr. High and then entered Tech in 1942.
I was fortunate to find some great teachers there. Included in that group was my Social Studies teacher, Ferdinand Diel; his classes were always interesting. Mr. Diel took the whole class to a city courtroom where we tried a fictitious case and we all played parts.
Emma Schneirla was my English teacher. I think she was German but she “pooh pood” Adolph Hitler’s claim during World War II that Germans were the Master Race.
Our Dean of Boys, Elwood “Doc” Hess, was highly respected by all. He kept in touch with those of us who were in the service by sending us letters.
Wenefried Budlong, my Counselor, was someone I liked and could discuss problems with. Because of my average grades and light heartedness, she kidded me about being a playboy. I never got to tell her that later I graduated from U.C. Berkeley.
Another great teacher and coach was Alvin Kyte our baseball and basketball coach. I played Varsity baseball for him and so did my brother, Ken, later. Mr. Kyte was quite successful and his basketball teams either won or tied for the G.O.A.L. Championship for eight straight years. He was particularly helpful to those who had aspirations of becoming professional athletes. For example: he would not let baseballers Bill Monahan or Bob Trestler play on the school basketball team because an injury might hurt their chances to play pro baseball.
Coach Kyte trained Jim Pollard who became a Super Star in professional basketball. It was easy to see that “Kyte” as we called him (but not to his face) was personally interested in his players. Another player who Kyte helped become a High School Star was the talented Alan Gilberg. Alan was about 6′ 7″ tall, an “A” student, and a class person who would have had scholarship offers. He joined the Navy but unfortunately he died when the Destroyer he was on was lost in a Typhoon in the South Seas.
In those days, it was against the rules to smoke within two blocks of the school…and the rule was enforced by the Block T. A boy was caught smoking and had to report to the “Block T Court.” The guy was belligerent and cocky with the court, so because of his attitude, his punishment was a paddling. After the first two well placed strokes, his bravado melted and he started to cry; this had never happened before, so they let him go. One wonders what would happen if that were done today.
In 1943, at the end of my junior semester, I was 18 years old. I had missed a year of school when I was very young because of severe Asthma attacks. Regardless of this, I was to be drafted in September. I always wanted to fly, so I joined the Army Air Corp and became a Cadet. To my chagrin, when I arrived at basic training, I found out that they had enough pilots but needed Radio Operators. I became a Radio Operator and Gunner on a B-24 Bomber. But not before contacting a severe ear infection. When I arrived at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, it was 20 degrees below zero and I had never even seen snow before. The infection got worse and I had emergency Mastoid surgery.
After a recovery furlough, I returned and began Flight Training with a B-24 crew. We were to join the 8th Air Force in England but the war was over. I was disappointed at the time but maybe that is why I am still here. Some of my friends didn’t come back.
Going to Tech where most of my family had gone, gave me a great start in life. I made many good friends in this great school – some for life. From the baseball team: Bob Cummins, John Sorba, Les Mulcahy, Bill Monahan, Ernie Haynes, Bob Trestler and Rolf Schoenweiler. The latter three have been lifelong best friends. Some of the other friends I remember were: Gino Zanoto, Tony Mankini, Chuck Reim, Gene and Jim Gas.
Steve Garese, our Student Body President, was a friend who became a Pharmacist after the war. I became a Pharmaceutical Representative for Pfizer Drug Company and used to call on him. We had great talks about our days at Tech.
Another Techite, Andy Viscovich and I went to Cal Berkeley and both joined the TKE Fraternity. I am still in contact with Andy who lived in Stockton. Gus Chavalas and I were to be Yell Leaders in the fall but it never happened because I went into the service.
Shirley Laurette, Dolores Oneto and Josephine Viarengo were friends going back to the First Grade. Shirley Mulvana was someone I dated after the war and was very close to.
Everyone from the maternal side of my family went to Tech between 1917 and 1949. My oldest Uncle, after graduation, joined the Navy during WWI. Another Uncle quit school after the 11th Grade to go to work; it was the Depression years and things were tough.
My mother, Florence Brown, joined the rowing team on Lake Marrit, My cousin followed by brother and I in playing baseball for Al Kyte. My brother, Ken, also played basketball for Coach Gil Callies.
Barbara Kyte Wigren, Coach Kyte’s daughter, lives in Concord on the same street as I do. In 1998, I was hosting a party for some of my Tech High baseball teammates when I found out that Al Kyte was visiting his daughter. I invited him to my house and we all sat down and had a great time reminiscing about baseball days together. One thing we were all sure of – we loved Tech and had great school spirit.
Other coaches I remember were Leroy Sharp (Head Coach), Scotty Hamilton and Gilbert Callies.
Clint Eastwood graduated from Tech. Maybe you can get him to join the festivities.
After WWII, I graduated from CAL, joined the TKE Fraternity, and worked in Pharmaceutical sales and as a Stockbroker. I have two sons and a daughter. I have been married to Sharon Anderson for 45 years.
I have been participating in sports most of my life. Besides what I have already mentioned, I played semi-pro baseball around Oakland winter and summer for 17 years and also at UCB four years. I played Handball at the San Francisco Olympic Club where I am a 50+ year member. I also won a weight lifting contest there for 80+ year olds.
Wow! I’m sorry, I couldn’t seem to stop writing. Usw what you can and throw the rest away.