Taft Articles of Interest


April 22, 2001

The information in this newsletter is mainly of a historical nature. The young man in the picture that is attached is a 1922 graduate of Taft Union High School. The picture was from the Mary Christner collection. Mary was a Taft High graduate with the Class of 1924. Mary, a long-time friend of mine, gave me her collection of pictures before her death in the last year, while well into her 90's. Mary arrived in Taft with her family in 1912. She taught school for many years at the Lincoln School.

The picture shows a Taft High senior by the name of Leon Goldman, kneeling near the front of the school. There were three brothers, and the Goldman family lived at 414 Seventh Street near the high school. The oldest, Frank, became a successful oil service businessman in Taft and Bakersfield. The youngest son, Alfred, became a prominent physician in the Los Angeles area with the City of Hope hospital.

Next to Leon's graduation picture in the 1922 Derrick yearbook is the following information: "He was one of our famed football players, also basketball. He was Sports Editor for the Blue and Gold during the third year and Circulation Manager fourth year. Leon was also Sports Editor for the Derrick 1922. He was one of our most successful debaters, was Athletic Manager and Senior Class President and he has held the A. S. B. secretaryship. While a Junior he was in two Junior plays, and he was 'Mr. Wheeler' in 'Clarence' in 1922." Leon was the captain of the basketball team. During his senior year in 1921-22, Taft High fielded its first football team. Football was played on a dirt field near the present stadium, and, of course, there were no lights; therefore the football games were played in the afternoon. In an other Christner photograph, it shows the cars of that day parked around the field where the spectators would sit or stand to watch the football games. There was no seating for the spectators.

Leon continued his education at the University of California and then on the UC Medical School in San Francisco. He became a prominent surgeon and well liked by his students at the medical school.

The second member of the UC San Francisco Medical staff from Taft High was Dr. Francis A. Sooy, whose mother and the family lived in Fellows where she taught school at Midway Elementary School.

Dr. Sooy became the chancellor of the medical school from 1972 to 1982. When Taft High sent a groups of students to visit San Francisco, they would always receive a warm welcome from Dr. Sooy, who would take them on a tour of the medical college. Sooy graduated from Taft High in 1932.

Another graduate from Taft High, Lee Elton Smith, went through the San Francisco medical school after his graduation from Taft High in 1955, entered and attended the University of California for three years before he entered the medical school.

When I interviewed Dr. Smith a couple of years ago while visiting his mother in Taft, he told me about Dr. Sooy being his counselor while at the medical school and also that Dr. Goldman was great influence over him in the decisions that he made later in the field of medicine. Dr. Smith is considered one of the top colon cancer surgeons in the United States, has been featured in nation-wide articles, appeared on television many times in Washington, D. C., where he practices medicine at Washington Hospital Center and has operated on some very well-known people in government. He has served as surgical consultant for many years to the White House, Congress and the State Department. Among those he has performed surgery on are Presidents Carter, Reagon and Ford and more recently Justice Bador of the Supreme Court. Dr Smith and his wife Carol live in Arlington, VA. His mother, Edith Smith, a former teacher in the Maricopa Schools, lives in Taft. Smith and his wife visit his mother several times a year.

Oh, by the way, Leon Goldman has a daughter. She is the US Senator from California -- Dianne Finstein.

April 22, 2001
A Reunion Announcement
According to Jerry Peavyhouse of Taft, the Class of 1956 is planning their class reunion to be held on August 4, 2001. The Saturday activities will begin at 5:30 p.m., and a dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m. at the OT Cookhouse and Saloon., All Taft Union High School classes of 1954 through 1958 are cordially invited to attend. Mark your calendar and make your plans early. For more information you may call Jerry Peavyhouse at (661) 765-4114.

Until next time, so long for now,
Pete Gianopulos


April 22, 2001
The Leon Goldman and Dr. Sooy story contiues.
I was surprised to get the e-mail below from my classmate, George Hannah (Class of '42). George's father was the superintendent of Taft Union High School when we went through the high school. George was a great runner and a fellow track man on the Taft High track team. He became a doctor, and today I find out that he had Dr. Leon Goldman as a teacher when He attended the University of California, San Francisco Medical School. It is a small world, isn't it.

George also wrote about another classmate, Gene Scott, who recently had a bypass surgery about four months ago and is doing well and back to playing tennis and giving piano concerts in the area. He started playing the piano at an early age and was very fine pianist in high school and continues playing to this day at community events around Prescott. Gene lives in Prescott, AZ, but he maintains a home in Pasadena near Cal Tech where he is an alumnis.

Thanks, George for this information. Pete Gianopulos