Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Gregory Thomas ’55
Parents: Don Thomas, Class of 1928 and Lorraine White, Class of 1927
My father was involved in The Scribe and it must have had a big impact on him because he continued on in journalism. He started out in Martinez or Pittsburgh and then worked his way up to become the Political Editor at the Oakland Tribune, a position he held for 30 years. Dad worked 12-14 hour days and was in Sacramento a lot, so he wasn’t very involved in my high school activities. But I don’t think parents really were back then.
I went to Tech because it was the only high school nearby. Montclair Elementary, Claremont Junior High and Tech: that was the path.
High school was not a particularly pleasant time for me. I was sick a lot. I had periods when I was out for a month at a time, twice with pneumonia and at least once with mononucleosis. I got behind and had to catch
I did make some good friends and those friendships lasted until recently when a few have died. My closest friend was probably Richard Armstrong. He taught biology at Santa Barbara College. I tried to stay in touch with a few others, but it was hard to.
One of the most pleasant experiences for me was being on the rifle team. The team was part of ROTC. It was kind of a college prep thing. UC Berkeley had an ROTC program and it was a plus for getting in there. I was quite a marksman in those days. I started in junior high school, practicing on weekends. And at Tech, I got thoroughly involved. We had competitions against other high schools. Quite a few high schools had rifle teams. The rifle range was on the west end of the gymnasium on 45th Street, the side closest to Studio One. It was a separate room at that end of the gym building with access to the outdoors. The ROTC offices were in the boys gym too. I would practice daily in the early morning, before school started, for half an hour. We had our matches in the afternoons at various schools, even in San Francisco. Fremont High School had one. It was all boys. You won trophies and ribbons, like in any team sport and we got letters as in any sport. I usually came out as a high marksman. I think I set a record that might not have ever been broken. I am not sure when they terminated the rifle team.
The only other thing that stands out is that I started a mountaineering club with Richard Armstrong. We did rock climbing on Indian Rock and in the Berkeley Hills and even Yosemite. We did backpacking trips.
I came away with the feeling that I didn’t get a very good education at Tech. I wasn’t a particularly good student and the teachers didn’t seem to reach out to many students. A few kids did really well and the teachers seemed interested in them, but in general, I didn’t feel much of a connection with my teachers. From Tech I went to Oakland City College and then to Oregon State and San Francisco State. Then I was drafted into the Army between the Korean and Vietnam Wars. I served in the Medical Corps and was stationed at Fort Ord, near Monterey. After the Army, I went to work in a research lab at UCSF until government grant was terminated some years ago.
I lost all my high school memorabilia in the fire of 1991. Our home was one of the 3,000 destroyed.