First Minstrel Show was performed at Oakland Tech.
The Student Enrollment at Tech was 1800 with an additional 3000 students participating in afternoon and evening classes.
Oakland Tech’s Music Department mounted a production of Pirates of Penzance. There were 60 performers and an orchestra of 25.
Principal P.M. Fisher prepared a list of Proposed Additions to complete the campus including the balance of the block (5.5 acres) for a total of 18 acres, and the Boys’ Gymnasium under a proposed school bond issue.
With a membership of 560, Oakland Tech’s PTA was the largest in California and the second largest in the United States.
A Student Loan Fund for Technites in need was established by the Hi-Y Club.
Tech held “Dansants” or “Tea Dances” in the late afternoons. Over 325 students attended the first one in the spring of 1925.
Assistant Superintendent Ewing flew from Oakland to Los Angeles in the early days of commercial flights, stopping twice for refueling. He was enthralled with every aspect of the flight.
The Boys Gymnasium was opened.
Pearson Hardware offered to install a Majestic Radio at Oakland Tech so that all students could listen to the inauguration of Herbert Hoover.
In a Student Survey asking if girls should plan a career other than homemaking, 99% of the girls responded “Yes” and 60% of the boys responded “Yes.”
Bernard John DeViveiros, class of 1920, played baseball at Tech in 1919 with future pros Johnny Gillespie and Taylor Douthit. Called “The Doctor of Sliding,” DeViveiros was the California State Player of the Year in baseball at Tech in 1920. “Bernie” was a Major League Baseball shortstop who played for the Chicago White Sox in 1924 and the Detroit Tigers in 1927. During his career, he took on various roles as a scout and coach, creating farm teams up and down the West Coast which started to feed players into the Major Leagues. He was a featured coach and talent every year at the Detroit Tiger Spring Training in Lakeland, Florida. His most famous contribution was discovering and signing Mickey Lolich, who became a legend when he led the Detroit Tigers to a World Series win in 1968. He left his mark in the majors as a pioneer and instructor of the bent-leg slide. He died in Oakland at age 93 in 1994.
Esther Baum, Class of 1920, graduated from UC Berkeley’s Architecture School in 1926, the same year she married Ernest Born. At Cal, she studied under renowned architect John Galen Howard. During the 1930s she studied photography becoming a recognized architectural photographer. She spent 10 months in Mexico photographing and drawing the regional architecture and design which resulted in the monograph The New Architecture in Mexico published by Williams Morrow & Co. (New York, 1937) garnering recognition for modernist architecture in Mexico.
Gillespie was the California State Player of the Year at Tech High in 1917. As Captain of Tech’s team in 1919, Gillespie led the team to win the A.C.A.L championship for the 5th consecutive year. In 21 games as a major league pitcher with the Cincinnati Reds, primarily as a reliever, “Silent John” had a record of 3-3 with a 4.52 ERA. He died in Vallejo in 1954 at the age of 53.
Born in Oakland, Lucia Cortezzo was one of 8 children, 4 boys and 4 girls with deep roots and a large extended family in the Italian community in West Oakland where her father was a barber.
She loved her years at Tech where she took business courses like typewriting and stenography. The only memory which she passed down is that she had beautiful handwriting, so lovely that it garnered her an award certificate. She was very proud of that. After graduation, Lucia worked for a brother-in-law who owned a shoe store in Oakland.
Lucia got married at age 21 to Adelbert Sigwart of Sigwart Jewelers on 15th street in Oakland, a popular jewelry store from the teen to the seventies. She stayed at home to raise their two children, a boy Adelbert Jr. and a girl, Marilou. Lucia was active in her church and at her children’s schools, St. Mary’s High School in Berkeley Holy Names High School in Oakland. Marilou describes her mother as a “marvelous woman, a great homemaker, a great mother, and a wonderful grandmother of four and great grandmother of eight.”
Lucia lived to be 100 years old plus 1 day. All her life, she was very proud that she had gone to Oakland Tech and always pointed it out when the family drove by it. She was a lifelong Bulldog, who died in 2003.
Helen’s parents moved to Oakland from Western Pennsylvania in 1901 and Helen was born in 1905 at Fabiola Hospital (now Kaiser). Helen’s father was a realtor with an office on San Pablo Ave., near the Oak’s Ballpark, where he could be found any day the Oaks were playing. (The Oaks were a minor league baseball team in Oakland, California that played in the Pacific Coast League from 1903 through 1955.)
Helen Sarah graduated from Tech in 1922, worked in a beauty parlor while attending Cal for several years, and then worked for a company that made business machines. She then married the son of a grocery store owner and they had a daughter, Helen Ann Phillips, in 1930.
In 1935, Helen Sarah’s husband started his own insurance brokerage on 15th St., between Broadway and Franklin. Little did Helen Sarah know that her daughter, Helen Ann, would graduate from Oakland Tech 26 years later in 1948 and would marry her high school sweetheart who had the same chemistry teacher that his mother-in-law had 26 years earlier!
Helen Sarah lived her whole life in the East Bay and died in 1985 at the age of 80.
(Information from her daughter, Ann (Phillips) Cooper)
Mellana was described in the 1922 Scribe Annual yearbook as “another strong swatter on the nine. Joe is shy and bashful and does not like to talk of all the ball games he has broken up.” From Tech, he went on to play seven seasons in the minor leagues starting in 1926 with the Wilson Bugs (N.C.) and ending in 1932 with the Omaha Packers. He accumulated a batting average of .297. The third baseman played in four games for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1927. Mellana died in Larkspur in 1969 at the age of 64.
Cunningham was described in the Scribe Annual for 1923 as part of a “perfect pitching staff” in a year when “Tech has one of the strongest baseball teams that was ever turned out by an Oakland high school.” Cunningham broke into the major leagues with the Boston Braves in 1929. His final game was in 1932 and he died in 1984 at the age of 78 in Hayward.
Elizabeth Katherine McFeely was president of the Latin Club at Tech which, in 1923, had ninety members, organized social events for its members and picnics and parties for Tompkins Elementary School, and established a scholarship fund for the top three Latin students at Tech. She went from Tech to UC Berkeley and entered the field of education, inspired by her aunt, Susan McFeely, the first woman to have a school in Oakland named after her. Elizabeth’s first job was teaching migrant workers English out of a boxcar in Richmond. After many years and many jobs in the field of education, she became Chief Deputy Superintendent of Schools for Alameda County. She was also a lobbyist in Sacramento for OUSD and ACDE (Alameda County Department of Education). She used to take her niece and nephew (Susan McFeely, Class of 1959 and James McFeely, Class of 1961) to the capital during spring break to work as pages in the Assembly. Elizabeth was an independent woman who achieved a level of success in school administration unusual for a woman at that time.
Born in Los Angeles, Leland Kaiser grew up in Oakland. At Tech, he was head “yell leader.” It was written in the 1923 Scribe Annual: “Leland Kaiser has a new method of treating burglars. When one enters the house, he remains perfectly quiet until the intruder is well inside. He then gives one grand yell.” After Tech, he attended UC Berkeley. He was Chairman of the Board of Insurance Securities, Inc. and a prominent donor and fundraiser for Republican candidates. Kaiser died in 1985.
After graduating from Tech in 1924, Ken went to work for US Steel in San Francisco as “hall boy” at $14 a week …progressing to “mail clerk” in 1925. He and a buddy commuted on the Key System Ferry across the bay from Oakland to San Francisco.
In April of 1925, while on the ferry, they saw the first of the Alaska Packers Star Fleet and decided to sign on with the fleet despite their mothers’ objections as they were both widows and wanted their boys home. But, various family members persuaded their mothers that it was OK. Three days later, they sailed on the Star of Falkland, boarding the ship at the lower end of California Street in San Francisco. Their salary was $50 per month. They sailed to Alaska, worked in the cannery for the summer, and returned home 3 months and 27 days later.
Upon returning, Ken worked for four years at the Lincoln Car Agency at 3737 Broadway and then spent four years with the Automatic Canteen Company of America. In October 1937, he began working for Shields Harper & Company which was located, until recently, a few blocks east of Oakland Tech at 5107 Broadway. He remained with them until his retirement in 1970. He married my mother in 1941 and I came along two and half years later.
He passed away in 1980. A side note, I donated a bench to the school back in 2005 on the 100th anniversary of my Dad’s birth. It sits outside what I would consider northwest doors off the main corridor of the school. There was a plaque when I went to see it, but it may be gone at this point. Unfortunately, I do not have any memories he shared with me about Oakland Tech, but he was proud he attended the school with his brother, Ralph.
Ted R. Smith, Class of 1925, was an American aircraft designer. He worked for the Douglas Aircraft Company, Aero Design and Engineering Company, and Rockwell Standard Corporation. In 40 years, his designs included the Douglas A-26 Invader (under the direction of Ed Heinemann), and the first all metal small twin engine business aircraft for Aero Commander, a company that he helped to start.
The Aero Commander line included one of the first twin engined business jets, the Jet Commander. In the 1960s he designed and manufactured the Aerostar line, under his own name. The Aerostar was later built by Piper Aircraft, as the Piper Aerostar.
Arguably, no one has had as great an impact on general/business aviation as Ted Smith. Each aircraft design credited to his name helped set new standards for future designs. It is not widely known, but Mr. Smith designed, certified, and built the first all new small twin engine business aircraft, the Aero Commander. He then brought the first small business jet aircraft to market which was the Jet Commander now evolved into the Astra Jet. Mr. Smith, more designer than promoter, was know as the “quiet man”, letting his revolutionary aircraft designs, with their spectacular performance, speak for themselves.
After leaving the Rockwell Standard Corporation (manufacturer of the Jet Commander), Ted Smith, with 40 years of design, certification, and manufacturing experience to draw upon, went quietly about developing an entire family of aircraft that ranged from a single engine piston to a twin engine turbofan. With no turbofan powerplant available in the size range he required, Mr. Smith focused on the reciprocating powered aircraft and developed what many consider to be the world’s best handling, most responsive, business/personal aircraft of all time, the incomparable Aerostar. The Aerostar family of aircraft was the culmination of 40 years of T. R. Smith’s aviation experience and expertise. Before passing the baton to his existing Aerostar team he established the design concepts and supervised considerable engineering work on a light twin fanjet model should a suitable powerplant be developed.
“Wild Bill” McKalip played football for Tech at a glorious time. The 1926 Scribe Annual yearbook proclaimed, “Once again Tech’s grid warriors succeeded in romping off with the OAL football championship. This makes the fourth football championship for Tech in as many years… The whole team worked like a machine which probably contributes much to its victorious season.” Of McKalip, it noted, “Bill McKalip, half, was the safety man, and he filled the position to perfection. Running back punts was his specialty.”
He went on to play college football from 1928 to 1930 at Oregon State University where he was an all-Pacific Coast Conference halfback and end and was named All American in 1930. He then played four seasons with the N.F.L., two with the Portsmouth, Ohio, Spartans and two after they became the Detroit Lions. He was a two-time All-Pro selection in 1931 and 1934. From 1937 to 1941, he was an assistant coach at OSU. McKalip is enshrined in the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and the Oregon State Athletics Hall of Fame.
He stayed in Corvalis where he died in 1981 at the age of 86.
After graduating, Coates was admitted to the Naval Academy where he was commissioned in 1930. This comment appears under his photo in the Academy’s 1930 yearbook: “If all the girls had cheeks like Willie’s, the manufacturers of cosmetics would all go bankrupt.” He then earned a Master of Science in Engineering Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology in 1939. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 1942, to Captain in 1948, and to Rear Admiral in 1956 when he became the Deputy Chief of Naval Research. He served as the Chief of Naval Research from 1961 to 1964, the year he was awarded the Legion of Merit for his work in Naval Research. He died in 1989.
Thirty-five years after he was graduated from Tech, Rear Admiral Leonidas D. Coates, Jr., USN, returned for a press conference in his honor. The Admiral grinned as he told student reporters, “The last time I walked through this door, it wasn’t reported in Scribe News!” (Talisman, 1962)
After starring on Tech’s baseball teams in 1926 and 1927, Powers played college baseball at Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara. He then played ten seasons in the minor leagues, from 1933 to 1938 with the Durham Bulls and from 1940 to 1945 with the Hollywood Stars.
His major league career included 21 games with a batting average of .327 for the Giants in 1938 and the Phillies in 1939.
Married 11 Jan. 1934 in Alameda, to fellow Tech student Don Thomas;
Died 25 May 1986, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Father: Edward H. White, – dentist. Graduated from North Pacific College Ore. Descended (mostly) from early new Englanders.
Mother: Katherine Cramer – nurse. Descended (mostly) from early Californians, including four members of the Anza expedition: Pedro Antonio Bojorquez, and Maria Angela Trejo, whose marriage was one of the first in San Francisco in 1777; and Ygnacio Jose Linares and Maria Gertrudis Rivas. Through these ancestors Lorraine was related to both Antonio Peralta and his wife Maria Antonia Galindo. (who owned much of the East Bay)
She was also related to Che Guevara.
Lorraine’ s early childhood was spent in Eugene and Grant’s Pass Ore. where she was surrounded by aunts and cousins, but in 1916 the family moved to the Bay area for her mother’s health. In California, the family initially settled in Piedmont where Lorraine attended Piedmont schools, and from the photos appears to have been very happy. Then her vivacious mother, Katherine, died of TB. Lorraine’s father quickly remarried presumably in order to provide a mother for Lorraine. This did not work out well. Lorraine was further unsettled by the family moving, in her junior year, to Oakland and a transfer to Tech, a much larger high school. However she did attain “Privileged Student” status for her final year, despite these set backs.
After graduation from Tech Lorraine attended UCBerkeley for a short time but did not like sorority life, so she left and set up her own dress making business. She also became an apprentice in Capwell’s millinery department making custom hats, and to the end of her life if you gave her fabric or yarn and a sewing machine or knitting needles the result was something awesome.
In 1934 Lorraine married (William) Donald Thomas, newspaper reporter for the Oakland Tribune, and one year behind Lorraine at Tech. As Don’s reporting assignments changed the couple moved around the bay area (Pittsburg, Martinez, San Leandro etc) until 1939, when, with a two year old son and another child on the way, they bought a tiny cottage in the Oakland Hills. They lived there (after adding a couple of rooms) until 1965, and both children attended Tech.
Don’s job often took him away from home for extended periods covering the State legislature, political conventions etc, leaving Lorraine to do all of the household management and child rearing.
However several of the young mothers in the area managed to find time (once the children were in school) to get together for a weekly round of golf. This was what Lorraine really enjoyed.
As the family grew up and she had more time Lorraine become a very good golfer, competing in (and winning) local and regional tournaments, bringing home a lot of trophies.
Then there was a big change. The Los Angeles Times, which had already made several tempting offers to Don, in 1965 made him an offer that he couldn’t refuse, so Don left the Tribune and with Lorraine moved south to Los Angeles.
Golf proved to be a good way to get to know people for a house wife with no Los Angeles connections. Later, when Don retired, they moved North again, this time to Santa Rosa where Lorraine continued to play golf until her health became a problem. She did however live to enjoy two grandchildren.
Submitted by Greg Thomas (class of ’55) and his wife Judy
I believe it was the class of 1927 that commissioned Maynard Dixon to paint a mural that spanned the top of the stage in the original auditorium. When I saw it in the late ’40s, it was impressive. Sometime in the late ’50s the auditorium was altered to accommodate the new library and the high ceiling appropriate to a theater was lowered for a quieter library. The mural disappeared and no one today seems to know it ever existed. It was done in three panels, and if it had been stored carefully, it could easily be worth more than a million dollars today. It is not one of Dixon’s better works, but the artist is growing in favor.
Excerpts from Scribe News articles about the Maynard Dixon Mural in the Auditorium
From The Scribe News, 3/30/27:
Maynard Dixon, a California artist, has started to work on the mural for Tech’s auditorium. Plans for the picture, the theme of which is California, have been approved by the art department… Mr. Dixon, in his first works, specialized in Indian and cowboy themes, but lately has taken a great interest in Spanish influences in California… This picture has been made possible by several graduating classes who have contributed money for this painting as their senior gift. The mural is a $2,000 work, but Mr. Dixon has consented to do it for the sum of $1500.
From The Scribe News, 8/17/27:
During the summer vacation Tech’s auditorium was entirely renovated and the mural painting finished… The picture is intended to suggest the early California history. The sun represents the sunny California with its gold. The grizzly bear shows California unspoiled by the white civilization. The woman’s figure in the center portrays the ‘spirit of hospitality,’ or the spirit of ‘westward ho,’ welcoming the incoming settlers. The Spanish explorers, Spanish priests, and the Spanish dons and senoritas show the early settlement of the Spaniards in California. The fur trader, the miner, and the trapper typify the pioneers from the East, settling in California. The Indians shown throughout the picture represent the first tillers of the soil. The gold rush is represented by the early adventurer or gambler. The Chinaman is shown as laborer in the mines or in the culture of the floral business. This painting was presented to Tech by the graduating classes of the last five or six years.
Don’s early life was spent mostly in Oakland moving almost annually until they settled near Lake Merritt. Then as high school approached Frances persuaded the family to move to San Francisco so that Don could attend Lowell High school (It also put them closer to Don’s grandparents). In 1926, Frances died and shortly after that Don moved back to Oakland and enrolled at Tech.
At Tech High school Don excelled. He told his children that he had hoped for a career in medicine, and indeed did well at science classes, but clearly his real strength was in writing. He wrote for The Scribe and in his senior year was the editor.
According to most accounts Don started work at the Oakland Tribune even before he left high school. (Probably during summer vacation as he seems to have been very busy at Tech during the school year.) Soon after graduation he became a bona fide Tribune employee, and found himself posted to many different communities in the East Bay. He married Lorraine White, Class of 1927, in 1934, and in 1939, with his wife, a son, and another child on the way, he settled in the Oakland Hills.
During the next twenty seven years Don rose to be political editor and chief editorial writer for the Trib, covering the Sacramento legislature, state and national party conventions, campaigns etc. His editorials were well argued and pithy, and he often also contributed to The Knave (a section of the Sunday Trib).
In the early ‘60s he took a one year leave of absence to consult on Slattery’s people as technical advisor. This was a television series about local politics, and featuring various well known actors. (See Wikipedia). The legislature honored him with a resolution for the realistic and sympathetic portrayal of life in government.
For some time the Los Angeles Times had tried to lure him to Los Angeles, and to leave the Trib. and in 1965 they finally made an offer he couldn’t refuse. Don and Lorraine packed their bags and moved south, where as a senior editorial writer he continued to write telling articles until he retired. After retiring he and Lorraine moved back North to Santa Rosa where, reluctant to give up the newspaper world entirely, Don joined the Sonoma county press club. He was also a long time member of E Clampus Vitus – one of the organizations that puts up plaques on significant buildings, and other historic features. (And has a roaring good time doing it.) They both enjoyed the more rural life of Santa Rosa, and of course played golf, went walking in the hills, etc until health became a problem. Don is survived by two children and two grandchildren, none of whom went into the newspaper business.
George McDonald was born in Flagstaff in 1910, to a father who had been a cook in the lumber camps of eastern Canada and a mother who had been orphaned in the famous feud with the McCoy family. The family lived in lumber camps throughout the west during McDonald’s childhood. His mother moved with him and his sister to Oakland. George was a track star at Tech. After graduation, McDonald worked on a banana boat going between San Francisco and Hawaii and later apprenticed as a pattern maker. He enjoyed working with wood, making gavels, bird houses, trivets, and other items for family and friends.
George met his wife, Barbara, on a streetcar en route to his job. They were married for 68 years and had three children. For much of their lives, McDonald and Barbara lived in Albany. It was there that he began a long association with the Masons, going through the chairs, becoming master and serving in many other capacities in several lodges. He was a 32nd degree Mason and received the Hiram award.
McDonald enjoyed his three children, seven grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren until his death in 2011.
Bud Hafey was a Major League baseball outfielder for three seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, and Philadelphia Phillies. At age 15, Bud was the left fielder on Oakland’s 1928 Montgomery Wards American Legion national championship club. Hafey was the first of three brothers to graduate from Tech (Tom “The Arm,” ’31 and Will, ’38) and to go on to play professional baseball.
Frederick Paul McFeely grew up in Rockridge attending Pink School on Claremont and Claremont Junior High before coming to Tech. His father, James Edward McFeely, who moved to Oakland from San Francisco, was Superintendent of Engines for the Oakland Fire Department based at Station No. 8 on 51st Street in charge of keeping the equipment operating.
When the city moved the old station across the street to its present location, it placed decorative bricks at the entrance where photos of Tech High notables can be seen to this day. After his graduation from Tech in 1929, Fred attended St. Mary’s College, graduating in 1931. He went to work for the camera division of Schwalbacher Frei in Oakland and later for California Ink in San Francisco.
In 1941 Fred married his neighbor and fellow Tech alum Esther Hunt, class of 1930, and they had two children.
Howard Christie was a writer, actor, production manager, director, and a producer of films and television. Born in 1912 in Orinda, Christie graduated from Tech and went on to UC Berkeley, where he was a football All-American and planned to study medicine. But a small role in a 1935 anti-Communist comedy movie called Fighting Youth induced him to stay in Hollywood.
Christie soon transitioned to a role behind the cameras, working his way up from assistant production roles to producer. His film work focused on B Westerns and comedies, including Against All Flags, Away All Boats, several Ma and Pa Kettle movies, and several Abbott and Costello movies including Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953), Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955) and more.
As the 1950s drew to a close, Christie was made a vice president in Universal’s television division. It was there that he produced a number of popular Western-themed TV series including Wagon Train (1957-1965), Laredo (1965-67) and The Virginian (1969-1970).
He retired in 1970 at age 58, and lived until 1992.