Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Gordon Coleman ’49
1.Name : Gordon Coleman
2.Year of Graduation:1949
3.How did your family get to Oakland: Family moved to Oakland in 1920’s from Virginia. His grandfather was the first (African American) minister with a PhD.
4.What part of Oakland did you live in? Near Mac Arthur and 39th
5.Why did you go to Tech: Neighborhood school
6.What was the general feeling /atmosphere at Tech in the years that you were there ? Lot’s going on, Gordon was involved in many activities and clubs. It was a lot of fun and Gordon was in the center of everything, He was on student council and was class president and vice president. From Gordon’s perspective as an African American ,the students had a lot in common inspite of racial and ethnic differences.The students were from the same neighborhood and of similar economic standing. The parents watched out for each others kids. There was a sense of community.
7.What were some of the main things that you remember from High school years, both good and bad ? His classmates:
-Clint Eastwood-friends with Clint, Gordon would go to have dinner at Clint’s restaurant (Hog’s Breath) in Carmel
-Bernard Hamilton- played in Starsky and Hutch
-Hank Lucahsitti-1947-49 went to Stanford
-Roger Romine class of 1938-Tuskegee Airman (Group of African American pilots who fought in World War II, they were the first African American aviators to fight in the US armed forces) that shot down 4 German planes. He was killed while landing his plane as he was trying to avoid hitting a man who was leading oxen.
-Rene C Davidson- County Clerk, Alameda County courthouse is named after him.
-Maguerite Ray- actress who performed in Sanford and Sons
-Bob Beyers-Judge class of 1949
Nathan Rubin- First Violin in SF Symphony
John Brody = Football player. Quarterback for the 49ers
Gordon remembers he and other kids setting off fireworks at school and being the one getting caught when everyone else ran away. Gordon had a Jewish girlfriend throughout high school. He was a flirt. One time a girl pulled up her dress to show her fancy petticoat to Gordon. The principal walked by and blamed Gordon for the indiscretion.
He went to school with Bev Fenton of Fenton’s Creamery. After school, the kids would go over to the creamery and Bev would make them free sodas.
8,What activities did you participate in ? Gordon was in the leadership council, he was class president and vice president. He was involved in many clubs and organizations, including the Japanese club. He played basketball.
9. How did Tech prepare for your life afterwards and what did you do after high school?
Gordon went to Cal Berkeley for a while . He then joined the military during the Korean War. He was the only black in his military class in war college. The others in his class became generals, he retired as a colonel. He ended up getting a Master of Science. He worked with the Alameda Department of Health with a staff of 40. He spend a year in Kenya teaching environmental health. While in Africa , he met Nelson Mandela. Gordon met and interacted with historical figures over the years. While in the military, he was asked by the government to intervene with Huey Newton and the Black Panthers. He met with them and gave a warning that violence was not the way to go. He also knew David Hilliard with the Black Panthers. Another person that Gordon knew was Ron Dellums.
10. Describe some of relationships that you formed at Tech, Are you still in contact with anyone from high school? Once a year he gets together with his old buddies of all races from Tech. HIs old friends still hold it against him that he married a French girl from Fremont. He still is in touch with his Jewish girlfriend from Tech. His heart is still with all his old girlfriends.
11. Anything else that you might want to add? Gordon had shared memories of his life through the Oakland Oral History Project, the materials are in the Bancroft library at Cal. Also at the Oakland Main Library, there is oral history information stored.