Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Jim Chong ’72
It was my senior year at Oakland Tech and it was Homecoming Day. Two or three of my classmates (seniors) and I made a break for it and escaped from the event. We were walking down 45th Street toward Telegraph Avenue. Coming towards us was Mr. (Leroy) Jackson, escorting some students back onto campus. We ignored them and walked right past them. We did not even make eye contact. I was waiting for Mr. Jackson to call out to us or one of the students to say something, but nothing happened. Must have been new students. I do not know who those students were, but I would like to thank them for not ratting us out. This is what can happen if you keep a low profile and do not draw attention to yourselves. I was surprised that Mr. Jackson did not recognize any of us. We acted like we did not belong there or had anything to do with the school.
“I know there are some of you who like to walk around here with your seat up here (on their shoulders) and try to be like Jim Echols. Well, you can change ‘eat’ to ‘hit’ and it’s s***”.
– Coach Echols. The first time I heard those words was when I entered Oakland Tech in the Fall of 1969. Some of his other words of wisdom were, “Hey. Young man. Let’s go to class now. Get off my bleachers. Don’t be sitting in my bleachers”. If nothing else, you just gotta love the man.
I remembered Mrs. Vander Hoogt’s English class. We read a lot of Kurt Vonnegut.
Third period PE class in my senior year. There was an ROTC class at the same time. Bret Hughes started chanting, “Out now! Out now!” and I joined in. The cadet officer told his men to go after us. We started laughing.
Mr. Eldridge’s fourth period chemistry class. My chemistry class was after lunch. We would gather in the library with the students from the previous classes and asked them what was on the chemistry tests. We were on the stage one time and saw Mr. Eldridge walked in. We started to walk away from each other. It did not occur to him that there was a bunch of students from his first, second, and third period chemistry classes talking to a bunch of students from his fourth period class. We eventually got caught when one of my classmates was writing down the answer to one of the questions on a piece of paper, as the test was being handed out, and the paper was taken away from him. So he had to give us another test. What he did not know was that he had given us the test before as an oral test. His lab assistant wrote all of the questions on the blackboard. Everyone, except one student, got the answer wrong. The lab assistant wrote the question down incorrectly. And. I knew that guy. I went to Lincoln School and Westlake Junior High School with him.
PE class. Two guys were tossing a football in front of the boy’s gym. You are working in the shop and, all of a sudden, a football comes flying through one of the top window panes. Made a perfectly round hole in the window. I think the two guys took off running. Didn’t bother to stick around.
Veronica Hill’s math class. Some guy jumped out the window. Do not worry. The classroom was on the first floor.
Dr. Stern’s German class. It was hard to drop out of the class after the first week without a legitimate reason. I waited until the end of the fall semester to get out and did not re-enroll into the class in the spring. She was not too happy about it. Ausgezeichnet!
Faculty Frolics. Teachers putting on a series of skits. There are pictures of them in the 1972 Talisman.
I was in the free lunch program in my senior year. I would go through the chow line last and got some freebies. Sometimes, I would score a dessert or a pastry. They would have tossed them out anyways. One time, I was on my way to class eating a cinnamon roll and another student stopped me in the hallway and tore off a piece for himself.
Future I. A class taught by Ron Valentine. There was a boat building contest. The boats were made of paper and paper products and were held together with strings and glue. A lot of the boats fell apart in swimming pool. Another contest was the egg dropping contest. This involved dropping an egg from the roof of the school. The eggs were wrapped up in any kind of protective materials and tossed from the roof. The objective was to have the eggs land without breaking them. There was a story written about it in The Tribune.
It was class enrollment time for the spring semester and we had finished lunch and were waiting at the entrance of the shop building to get back in. Coach Echols and another teacher were weaving through the crowd toward the entrance. One of the students in the crowd yelled out that Big Jim wanted to get through. All of sudden, the crowd started to separate and opened a path for him to the entrance. Coach Echols did not say any thing. He just ignored us and just walked through. Even though some one called him “Big Jim”, we still respected the man.
Vernon Roberts had on this nice clean sweatshirt and sweatpants on. We were on the football field playing football, and someone tackled him into the mud.
The Bulldog made some pretty good sandwiches.
The best memory I had of Oakland Tech was GRADUATING. After 42 years, I still remember it.
Man. Those were some fun times. I am glad I went there.