No Segregation in Tustin Schools

Lovret: No segregation in Tustin schools



Newcomers to Tustin often wonder if the community had segregated schools like its neighboring towns El Modena, Santa Ana and Westminster. The answer is no. Tustin schools from the very beginning have been integrated.

A diverse group of kids has attended our schools since the earliest days of the Sycamore District. McClay Street, Fairhaven Avenue, the intersection of Ritchy and Newport Avenue (pre-55 Freeway) and Browning were the attendance boundary lines when I attended Tustin Grammar School in the 1930s. This area included downtown Tustin plus a then less-than-lovely area west of Tustin High, acres and acres of orange groves and part of the Irvine Ranch.

Students came from varied backgrounds whether they boarded the bus, walked or biked to school. Ranch kids’ houses depended on whether their dads were owners or hired hands. Families with dads that we’d call professionals now days lived in newer Spanish-style residences on Tustin Avenue and Yorba. Other kids came from craftsman cottages, small wooden or stucco houses and Victorian mansions in downtown Tustin.

No one appeared concerned about houses, careers or prestige in those days. I remember the dad of one of kids in my class was Orange County agriculture commissioner. Another was the Orange County assessor. Other dads worked as teachers, delivery truck drivers, mechanics, citrus and lima bean farmers. Today I am impressed by some of these occupations, but at that time they had no significance.

Most of our moms were housewives and mothers although a few went to the orange packing houses during the packing season and a couple clerked in local grocery stores. Several were probably active socially, but no one ever mentioned it.

Black and Hispanic kids were few. Irvine and El Toro grammar school graduates of Japanese ancestry joined us at Tustin High. Despite diverse backgrounds and living far apart, classmates played together during recess and often went to each others’ homes after school.

The economic, educational and cultural backgrounds of our parents may have varied, but our lives were fairly homogeneous. Parents drove Fords or General Motors cars, no Mercedes or Jaguars. The girls as well as the boys wore what their mothers considered suitable, often home sewn. T-shirts, status jeans and designer tennis shoes did not exist.

Homes were similar: living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms and one bath. Radios provided entertainment. A playroom, possibly with a ping pong or pool table, was envied. A couple of families belonged to yacht clubs and had boats. At least one had a horse. These advantages were shared with their children’s friends.

There was no need for segregation in Tustin. If someone considered himself superior, he kept it to himself except for the wit who proclaimed, “You have to belong to the Presbyterian Church, American Legion and Knights of Pythias to be important in Tustin.”

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.