Excerpt from an interview with: John Ivo Basor
INTERVIEWER: by Cuba Miller
DATE: June 10, 2004
CM: … You chose to do your master's thesis on the history of Watsonville/Aptos
Adult School. How did you come to that decision? Why did you choose that topic?
JB: Well, again, I started there as an ESL student in 1963, and I kind of wanted
to do something to pay back, because everybody was so nice — Lester Oakes,
Jim Eachus, all the directors. And my teachers were really great. They helped
us a lot. And I kind of wanted to do something for the adult school and for
the community, do a study, personal fulfillment. How would you explain that?
To give something back to the adult school. Because it would be good to do a
study, to have something for the other students so they can look back on the
history. How much adult school or evening school helped other students. That's
really what made me do that.
CM: Okay. Now, the adult school was formally established here in 1937.
JB: That's right.
CM: You were fortunate to be able to interview the first director, Carl Coehlo.
JB: Exactly, right.
CM: I'm always interested in what we can learn from the old-timers. What are
some of the things that he told you about getting this school started?
JB: If I can remember, he taught in the social studies department at Watsonville
High School during the day full-time. He was approached by, I think it was the
superintendent of Watsonville Elementary and High School District, Mr. Thomas
McQuiddy, who was the principal at that time at Watsonville High School. He
approached Mr. Carl Coehlo [and asked] if he would start a program for the adults
in English. He did it on a part-time basis. He was a full-time teacher during
the day and a part-time — the adult school director in the evening. He
felt very proud of that. He was the one that initiated the program, with citizenship
and English as a foreign language, the two classes, I think, only.
CM: I was going to say, it probably started very small.
JB: Right, with two classes, citizenship and ESL. As far as I can remember.
I'm glad that he was still alive [when I was working on my project].
CM: Yes. And you were very fortunate that he was.
JB: I took a picture of him.
CM: It was a great deal of foresight on Mr. McQuiddy's part as well.
CM: To want to bring education to adults in the community.
JB: Even though there were some — in the early twenties, there were some
English as a foreign language classes, but that was informal. It was less work.
I guess it was Watsonville High School, but it wasn't organized as a school
until 1937 when Mr. Coehlo became director.