ED HOWARD – WEST OAKLAND STORIES (PART 4: Young Adult Years, 18-22)

Friends, I hope you enjoyed the first three 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.

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! Among one another, let’s put the No Negative Speak movement into practice.

In our fourth segment, Mr. Howard in his own words shares fond, positive memories from his young adulthood in the vibrant community of West Oakland.

Photo 1: McClymond’s High School, 1955
Photo 2: Laney College
Photo 3: Ed Howard (seated, 2nd from right)
Photo 4: Oakland Merritt College, 1955
Photo 5: Ed Howard, present time.
Follow Ed Howard’s story! Click the link for episodes 1&2&3:www.westoaklandstories.org

— Apollo Papafrangou

18-22 Years Old 1955-1959

I have graduated from high school now but I have no idea about what I want to do in life.

McClymonds High school 1955

So, I register at Oakland Merritt City College. (I am the only one in my crowd that goes to college).
My mother tells me that I have to get my own place and I don’t have a job. The next week the manager of the service station “Thrifty Mac” on 12th and Cypress Street offered me a part time job; and one of my classmates tells me his mother has told him also that he had to move out on his own. We found a small apartment and I never looked back. These series of events turned out to be nothing but the best for me although I did not like my mother for kicking me out the house but now, I realize that she knew what was best for me.

Merritt College 1955

Thrifty Mac service station turned out to be a very good hustle for me. I worked the swing shift (4:00 pm -12:00 am) pumping gas. I, at that time, was one of the first Black Low Riders in Oakland. I put the word out in the neighborhood to come by and get oil change, tire repair, tire rotation, work on your car using the car lift at the station, and polish and wax your car all for a slight charge to me.

I continued through two years at Merritt College with no direction, no studying, or no plan. I just enjoyed going to school and being around people.
After two years I am feeling I don’t want to be at Merritt because I didn’t want to go to a four-year college because I knew I was not going to stop running the streets. The streets had been my life since I was thirteen years old. I love the streets.

A bright light came on in my head and I remembered that my high school mechanical drawing teacher had placed one of my Mechanical drawings I had constructed in class on display in the main school hallway. The teacher never did inform me he had done that, it was the students who let me know I had a drawing displayed in the display window. That display was the only feeling of accomplishment I had in high school except for graduating.

I knew that Laney College offered Industrial Design Configuration Engineering class and I applied and was accepted and the rest is history. What I loved about Laney College is that I did not need to bring any books home to study because you were in the same class room six hours a day five days a week for two years. You studied in class no need to study outside of the daily class information for me.

Laney College Engineering Class dinner 1958

Laney College 1958

Follow Ed Howard’s story! Click the link for episodes 1, 2 & 3: www.westoaklandstories.org

Ed Howard

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