Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Annie Lim Ong ’52
I was born in San Francisco Chinatown Jan. 4, 1934. My family moved to Oakland when I was 10 years old to open a Momma/Poppa grocery store in West Oakland across the street from Hoover Jr. High School on West St. near 32nd Street. We lived at 28th and Chestnut Street in Oakland.
I thought it would be nice to meet more Asians as I usually was the only Asian in my elementary and junior high school classes, so I enrolled at Oakland Tech. I joined the Chinese Club. Most of the Chinese students grew up together and knew each other since they were in elementary school in Oakland Chinatown. I was a bit shy so it took me a while to fit in.
I loved sports since I was very young. At Hoover Jr. High all my friends were very athletic. As a matter of fact, we use to play basketball with Bill Russell who was in my class. He became famous playing for the Boston Celtics in the 1950’s and 60’s. In junior high us girls didn’t have any trouble keeping up with him. We never knew he was going to become such a great and famous player.
At Tech I could hardly wait to join the Girls’ Athletic Association’s after school program. I earned my Block T. The girl’s Block T consisted of all girls who had made 900 points in G.A.A. play (Girls Athletic Association) and were awarded a “letter” which was sewn onto our sweaters. G.A.A. was an after school sports program. I had a great time, met a lot of friends and enjoyed all the sport activities. Only thing was…. the Dean of Girls thought it was too unlady-like for us girls to be dribbling down the basketball court. So our gym instructors divided the basketball court into 3 sections and we had to stay in our own section and we were only allowed to dribble the ball twice! What a let-down after playing basketball at my junior high school.
I loved going to school at Tech High. Students were friendly and pretty well behaved back in those days. I remember being a Hall Monitor to keep students from running and if they went up or down the stairs in the wrong direction, I would give them a citation. That would mean they had to attend an after-school lecture. Wonder if that’s still being done?
The GAA girls volunteered to sell peanuts at all the football games. It helped to be able to throw bags of peanuts and catch their money!
My other love was singing in the Girls’ Glee and Chorus. Our music teachers were wonderful. From then on, I’ve been hooked on music. I find myself always humming or whistling to this day. The most exciting performance we had was singing the Hallelujah Chorus at the Oakland Auditorium with hundreds of other students from other high schools.
These were some of my favorite teachers because I felt that they were really interested in giving me their personal time and attention, which helped to boost my interest in learning:
Marguerite Martin & Gladys Buchholz, Home Economics
Helen Tomigal, Commercial
Helen Vogel & Frances Carey, Girls’ Physical Ed
John Mortarotti, Music Dept.
I still have contact with quite a few Tech Alums. As a matter of fact, I have a group of Tech High and Oakland High friends that enjoy getting together for a reunion every year.
Tech High was a turning point for me. Having a chance to join many of the clubs that were available to me gave me more confidence and poise which was much needed for me.
I am proud to be a Tech High Alumni. Whenever I have a chance to drive by Tech High, I slow down to look and admire the beautiful architecture of my old high school and remember all the fond memories of being a student there.
Can’t believe that it’s been over 65 years since I went to Tech! And now the school is going to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Time has flown by so fast. I hope the students that are attending Tech High today appreciate the chance of having the opportunity to learn and grow and excel and not take it for granted.