Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Stuart McCormick ’48
I grew up in Rockridge and went to Claremont and then Tech. Tech was a wonderful school to go to. All the students had the best camaraderie, with lots of school activities. I don’t remember drugs or riots, it was just a good, clean school. There were very warm interactions between the teachers and students. Back then we used to call Tech “Little Italy” because the school had so many Italian-American students.
Most days I walked home for lunch. I played on the football team and was a center/linebacker. But it was a different kind of football back then. The kids today are twice our size. If you were good, you played offense and defense; nobody specialized like they do now. We were still using leather helmets and looked like old time football players because everyone else was getting plastic helmets. I remember having a leg injury that wiped me out for part of the season; everyone signed my cast and I felt like a hero. My last two years at Tech I was on varsity which was quite an experience. We were a strong team but not lucky so we didn’t win a lot of games. Castlemont was our big rival. I was into sports more than having a social life. One of the best compliments I got was a woman told me after graduation that I was the nicest boy she’d ever met.
I liked all my teachers, even the substitute teachers! I was good at math and liked that class. I remember Tech being well-respected for its preparation for technical jobs like aircraft mechanics and auto body. I was on the track team and worked after school at a grocery store as part of the war effort. During the war, all the classes saved the foil from gum wrappers; every classroom had a bin to put them in and over the course of the semester, they would fill up. We felt very patriotic doing that. But still the war didn’t feel very serious to us. School assemblies would be used to recruit students for the military after graduation. ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) was very visible on campus.
After graduation, I worked at the Standard Oil gas station before deciding to join the Marines. I served there for four years, was in boot camp in San Diego and then served active combat in Korea. My specialty was aviation and eventually came home in 1952. Then I went to Cal and played football there, but I really wasn’t ready for college-level football. I was married and had a child and couldn’t devote myself to football. I worked part-time for Oakland Parks and Recreation and graduated with a degree in Physical Education because I wanted to be a football coach. I stayed in Oakland, working as a supervisor in Parks and Recreation for a while and ended up being a Director of Parks and Rec in Fremont. Later, I began substitute teaching part-time and I was good at that job. I also taught evening school in Hayward, teaching U.S. history and economics for 10 years.
I can’t believe it Tech is turning 100. When I’m driving by, it looks the same and brings back so many memories. So many people were killed during the war years because just about everyone went into the service.