Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Eleanor Tomsovic Parker ’44
Memories of Oakland Technical High School during
The World War II Years of 1941-1944
When I received an email from the OTHS Centennial Story Committee asking alumni for stories of our high school days, I eagerly dragged out my big cream-colored scrapbook crammed with memorabilia from my Tech Hi days. After graduating from the 9th grade of Westlake Junior High School in June 1941, I entered Oakland Technical High School’s tenth grade in the fall of 1941.
I remember distinctly Monday, December 8th, marching down the hall for a special assembly in the auditorium (where the library is now), to hear the radio address by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt describing December 7th, , when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, as “a day that will live in infamy” and declaring the United States at war with Japan.
In spite of ration books for food and gasoline, blackouts and security measures, our school faculty and administrators worked hard to give us an excellent education, ensuring also that we still had the fun of sports and social activities. My scrapbook of tickets, programs, and awards—all in purple and gold—attests to those many good times.
Prominently, (first page actually) is my purple silk sash with the diagonal gold letters “T-D-C”, signifying the Tech Delphian Club, a group of the top senior scholastic and athletic girls who planned girls’ events. (Probably the closest we had to a sorority.) We used to wear this sash proudly across our middies at events and meetings. (See front page of the Scribe November 30, 1943 for my article headed “Delphian Doings” featuring my picture as student body Vice-president and President of the Delphians. The article focused on revival of the traditional “Girls Day” with a circus carnival 4-7:30pm in the Girls Gym.)
Oh, yes, those famous (infamous?) middies. I’ve copied the wording in an article in the Scribe from 1941 about our agreement for girls to wear middies (white or blue) and black pleated skirts four days a week. While only one day a week we wore what we chose, most of us stitched darts into those shapeless middies to create figure-hugging masterpieces!
Over the years only two of my school things that were truly affected by wartime have frustrated me:
• Girls Athletic League: I always loved sports and participated in every sport every season,
earning my felt block T and winged T. But at 1200 points, instead of my silver T Pin, I
received a small card that says:
“This entitles you to your twelve hundred points pin when it arrives. C’est la guerre!”
• Senior Memories: Like metals, book stock and Lucky Strike green—all had gone to war!
Our 1944 Senior Memories is 1/8” thick, covers of light card stock.
I found many other papers such as a carbon copy of the Senior Prophesy written by top scholar Marilyn Baas, a pencil copy of the pairs for our Senior Ball, and even my War Ration Book. What a treasure trove is my school scrapbook!
TECHNICAL HIGH GIRLS RETURN
TO MIDDIES, SKIRT UNIFORM
Middies and skirts are again the regulation dress of Technical High School girls. After months of wearing informal sports clothes. the girls were required to return to the uniforms. For many previous years, middies and skirts have held their place in the lives of Tech girls. Due to economic pressure and the rise in price of clothes, it was decided by the Delphian Board, Technical girls’ representatives, to wear the regulation clothes. “Uniformity of dress,” Miss Anna Ruth Wilder, Dean of Girls, said, “seems to encourage and promote friendliness among students.” “With everyone wearing the same thing, there is little chance of cliques forming, and snobbishness resulting,” Miss Wilder declared. “Many of these girls and their parents have written letters to us requesting that we adopt the middie and skirt plan once again, until the war is over and prices of materials return to normal.” Several girls expressed their reaction to the middie rule, and among them were Betty Jane Christensen, girls’ vice-president: “I don’t see why some of the girls object to middies. They always look so neat, and with a variety of different ties and sweaters a monotonous appearance can be avoided.” Eleanor Tomsovic, sophomore president, “They sure save a lot of trouble when the question of clothes arises.” Elaine McCoy, Assistant Editor of the Senior Memories: “I didn’t want to wear middie at first, but now it really seems good to be wearing them again.”