Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Richard Wren & Betty Jensen Wren ’44
(Richard) We’ve been together for 66 years, having met at Tech High which is what we called it back then. My family came from Watsonville and I lived on Piedmont Avenue; after Westlake Junior High, I went to Tech High and then the War. Back then we used to meet out under the oak trees for lunch every day, the big one on the right side of the school. I brought lunch from home and we all ate there as a big group. Most of us kids were from Piedmont Avenue and had been in school together for years. Midway through high school, my parents moved to Berkeley so I used to take a streetcar back and forth to school (it stopped right in front of the school).
Every day after school we’d go to the Bulldog (across the street from Tech) for a Coke. When Betty and I dated, it was by streetcar. We’d take the streetcar to the theater. I remember a science teacher using me to demonstrate pressure points and I passed out right in front of everyone. I woke up, curled over the wastebasket. I was class president one year which I really enjoyed because it got me out of class. A friend asked me to run for class president and he took over, promoted me and ran the whole campaign. I really didn’t plan on being president. Maybe it wasn’t that simple, but that’s how I remember it.
I was also in ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps), ran track and was part of a singing quartet that promoted Tech High to the local Junior Highs by singing a capella. The ROTC was a choice for boys __ you could take ROTC or gym. I loved to run track but in ROTC we’d come to school wearing our uniforms and would pretend we had guns, even though we didn’t. It was play-acting, but it was a big deal for us. The war was on everyone’s minds.
I remember knowing a Japanese girl in class who all of a sudden never came back to class. We all knew what happened, but there wasn’t anything anyone of us could do about it. I also remember Betty running home from school one time because we’d had an alert. What I learned at Tech is how easy it is to get along with people and of course, meeting Betty was a high point! Our Class was the smallest one at Tech, just 143 kids. After Tech, I went to Arizona State Teacher’s College for my Navy Officer’s training. High school was fun and I never had any trouble with school. If you’re at Tech, have fun and pay attention!
(Betty) I was born in Fresno but then moved to Oakland and except for three years in Emeryville, I’ve lived here my whole life. I should have gone to Emeryville High School but I got a transfer to Tech where all my friends were going. Most kids walked to school like me, from San Pablo Avenue, although some kids had cars. Tech was great, lots of sports and activities that I participated in. I have lifelong friends from Tech who I still see.
I was President of the Delphinians which had little luncheons and did small things to help the school. I also remember taking home economics where we learned how to cook. I loved going to Tech and am so proud of my school even today. I love that it looks so great and that it’s so solid scholastically. I’m glad the school has survived the tough times and has bounced back. After Tech, I got a job at PG&E in San Francisco where I worked until we got married and started having kids. For today’s kids at Tech, I would tell them to really try to enjoy this time of your life. Pay attention and try to learn something but maybe not too much!