Remembering Joe Luna

Joe Luna, Bobby Raya, Alan Goycochea and I often played 2 on 2 half court basketball during gym period in our sophomore year. It was an unlikely pairing, Joe and Bobby against Alan and me. I think we outscored them every day, but I also don’t recall keeping score.

What I do recall clearly after 68 years is a miracle shot by Joe Luna. He was out past the top of the key with his back to the basket when he took a blind shot. Without looking, he heaved the ball over his head as hard as he could and it was a swisher. Of course, we couldn’t believe it. No one could. It was the shot of the century and only three people saw it. Joe still had his back to the basket when the ball went in.

The odd pairing was unusual for another reason. Joe and Alan were two of the funniest kids in school. I thought then, and still do, that Alan was the wittiest boy in our grade. He had a clever retort for any comment. Joe, though also clever, was funny by nature. He made people laugh by telling them the weather. He and Alan kept us laughing in algebra. Who does that? Who keeps a math class, including the teacher, in stitches. Alan and Joe made algebra fun.

The last time I saw Joe in a social setting outside school was at Pernicano’s Pizza House in Hillcrest. While the large group of kids was waiting for pizzas at the bench type table, things went quiet. Everyone ran out of things to say. Joe took salt and pepper shakers and other things on the table and announced in mock seriousness, “Here we were and here were the Germans.”

It would have been a nothing comment from anyone else, but from Joe Luna it was as funny as any stand-up comedian could say it. He also made a shot that any basketball player would brag about.


- Ron Osterberg ‘54