ED HOWARD – WEST OAKLAND STORIES (PART 3: Teen Years, 12-18)
Friends, I hope you enjoyed the first two posts our series detailing the life of Oakland original pioneer, film maker, engineer, TV host, night club owner–just to name a few titles–Mr. Ed Howard.
Photo 1: Debutante Ball escorts. Ed Howard (6th from left), 16-17 years old.
Photo 2: Ed Howard (forefront) with running buddies Al Guice and Bob White with hats. all 18 years old. Straight-up West Oakland at a Berkeley, Ca dance.
Be sure check out the West Oakland Stories short historical film, as well as the brief documentary “Between Black & White” detailing the historical alliances between Greek & Black communities. Both videos are not to be missed!
In our third segment, Mr. Howard in his own words shares fond, positive memories from his adolescence in the vibrant community of West Oakland.
12 – 15 YEARS OLD:
My years in jr. high & high school were uneventful, but outside of school and in the West Oakland community I was experiencing many life-developing skills.
Hanging out on Seventh Street – Seventh Street was the place that you could go and be around people after midnight. I believe it was the only part of Oakland at that time that had the kind of feeling like it was still early. I have always felt very comfortable being out late at night.
On Seventh Street, I went to the Lincoln movie theater, worked at the bowling alley setting pins, watched Raincoat and his well-known gamblers place, hanging out around Slim Jenkins, Esther’s, and RumBoogie (now known as the Continental club) night clubs, and dance halls and would eat at Mr. Singers café, off junction of Seventh and Peralta Streets. We went to New Centre Park and Recreation Center for dances, basketball, swings, and just kids with energy playing around all day.
We would walk a few blocks to Jacobs Bakery, Sutter’s Barbecue, the Willis cleaners; visit our friends over the Adeline Street bridge to Harbor Homes.
15 – 18 YEARS OLD:
Entering high school was a letdown for me because I had been in the top half of my classes since elementary school. Now remember almost all my schoolmates and I had been around each other since elementary school. In 9th grade I had all “A’s” in math but I flunked math in the first half of my 10th grade. This took me out of college prep classes so I no longer had classes with the top students in school any more. The strange thing here is math was my best subject. To this day I don’t know how I flunked math. I did not know how to talk to counselors or anyone at fifteen who could give me directions. Although I loved school I never studied or took books home because I never went home except to sleep. I literally lived in the streets.
By the time I am fifteen years old I am partying, gambling, liking the girls, hanging with my cool buddies. I am also going by DeFremery Park Recreation Center and I get involved in its programs under Mrs. Dorothy Seals Pitts. Not only did I play ping pong I won a tournament at the Diamond District Recreation Center and got my name in the Oakland Tribune Newspaper; shoot pool; play cards and dominos six days a week. I also joined the social clubs, become the representative to Asilomar in Monterey CA (my first time interacting with white people). Somehow coming from West Oakland had me feeling I was the best and had much confidence in myself. I also became the Inter-Center President of all the Social Clubs presidents at DeFremery. This taught me how to conduct meetings, speak before teen conferences, and preside over all the other club presidents at the center. Went on my first radio show produced by Tarea (Ty) Hall Pittman, I believe she was the head of the Oakland NAACP at that time. I participated in the Debutante Ball, danced in the Swim show. All of these experiences I think set the foundation for me to become a businessman. I love organizing, strategizing, and implementing towards a goal.
I now think it was a blessing for me when I flunked math because it took me out of being chosen by the Slave System. Now I had a shot to develop being myself out in the world.
When I started going to DeFremery Park Recreation Center at thirteen years old, I came under all Black directors influencing me – Mrs. Dorothy Seals Pitts, George Scotland, Mrs. Attimay Whitaker, Ruth Beckford, Bill Patterson and Hap Smith. All of these people are in the film I produced for the West Oakland Stories.
— Apollo Papafrangou
The link below to see prior post in our series of the life of Ed Howard
West Oakland Stories Positive Feeling Movement Inc – No Negative Speak with Each Other (Website link) http://westoaklandstories.org/
Copyright © 2020, West Oakland Stories Positive Feeling Movement Org.