Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Dorothy Riley Finger ’43
I have so many happy memories of Tech and of the wonderful people I met there.
The teachers were outstanding. Paula Haas from France was my French teacher and counselor, and Nels Johnson was the Spanish teacher. Doc Hess was a very popular Vice Principle. My physiology teacher would have me leave class close to the lunch hour to get her lunch tray. Mrs. Vockel was the gym teacher and Sylvia Garrison the Choral teacher. I did some accompaniment on piano for the choral, and we went to different clubs to sing, including the Montclair Women’s Club.
In later years, I worked with Electra Kimball Price on a big reunion held in Jack London Square, at a building long since gone.
When the work of retrofitting Tech after the earthquake was completed, I attended the official opening. It was wonderful that the building retained its beautiful exterior. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Oakland.
Having lunch on the lawn under the lovely trees was special, as was the annual Talent Show. At one of the latter, actor and singer Tony Martin was to make a surprise appearance, but he didn’t show up. His family lived very close to Tech, and one time word got around that he and Alice Faye were at the home, so a friend and I stopped there to get Alice’s autograph.
Dances were held at the Women’s Gym, and there were some real jitterbug experts there. I remember a girl named Mickey, especially, and she and her partner would clear the floor and really perform expertly. Graduations were held in the auditorium and were very special.
My Mother also attended Tech. We came to Oakland from Canada. She had been away from the business world for twenty years, and after working all day, she would walk to Tech and attend night classes to brush up her business skills. In this, as in everything else, she succeeded.
I graduated in l943 and WWII would claim many lives, including one boy I remember, Jay Rash.
At Tech I met a girl who became my best friend for the rest of her life, Rose Marie Kispert. Another girl from Tech, Eileen Wright, an artist, painted a portrait for me when we were both sixteen. She moved before graduating, and I will always wonder if she fulfilled her destiny as an artist; she was very good. Other friends I remember are Betty and Dick Wren, who work with a very good committee to arrange reunion luncheons; they were sweethearts at Tech and were married and have a family of beautiful daughters. We had every kind of club you can imagine at the school, meeting after school.
Our Class President was Gus Chavalas, a very handsome, athletic, and personable boy. I had a secret crush on him for years and found out in later years that almost every other girl did, too.
Tech helped me form a lifelong love of languages and music, and I was especially fortunate that I could attend such as beautiful high school.