1951 Flood

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Series of interviews with Kansas City, Kansas residents of Mexican descent about the aftermath of the 1951 Flood. Topics discussed include the impact on the community as many residents moved away permanently from the KCK neighborhoods, the loss of local employers, rebuilding homes and businesses, assistance from governmental and community resources, and how community members stayed in touch afterwards, including the 1951 Flood reunion committee. Irene Gonzalez shares the story of meeting her husband, musician Lupe Gonzalez, at her quinceañera, and John Mendez discusses furthering his education and his involvement in Wyandotte County politics and development.

Video Recording

Interview with Harry Brown about his family, childhood, and education in Kansas City, Missouri, working for the William Volker Company, and later being joining the civilian war effort by working for North American Aviation and Technicraft assembling and inspecting aircraft and aircraft components at their Fairfax Airport facilities. Mechanical aspects of the job and test flights are discussed in detail. He also discusses his day-to-day life as an adult, his rejection from the draft, and the 1951 Flood.

Video Recording

Series of interviews with Kansas City, Kansas residents of Mexican descent about the 1951 Flood and its aftermath. Interview subjects recall having little time to save items from their homes or escape the flood waters, losing houses and businesses, taking refuge in locations including including Memorial Hall, Riverview School and with families in Kansas City, Missouri's West Side neighborhood, the wreckage that was left behind after water receded, and families choosing to rebuild in Kansas or permanently moving to Missouri.

Video Recording

Interview with Carmen Rangel about her life and the history of her family in the Argentine neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas. She recounts her parents' early life in Leon, Mexico, their immigration to Kansas City by way of Newton, Kansas, and her own early life in Argentine where she attended St. John the Evangelist and St. John the Divine schools. She discusses the social life of the area, including church fiestas, neighbors on 24th and 25th Streets, local businesses along Strong Avenue and facing anti-Mexican discrimination. She also shares memories of her brother's service in World War II and the impact of the1951 flood on her family.

Video Recording

Series of interviews with Kansas City, Kansas residents of Mexican descent about daily life and the predominantly Mexican-American neighborhoods of Kansas City in Missouri and Kansas. Topics discussed include railroad, ice house, and packinghouse jobs, family life, cooking, community events and fiestas, Mexican-American baseball teams, small businesses, and encountering segregation and discrimination. Interview subjects also share stories about service in World War II, tension between speaking English and Spanish, and playing in local bands and orchestras.

Video Recording

Interview with Kansas City school board member John Rodriguez about his life in Dodge City, Kansas, and later Kansas City, Missouri. Born in 1941, he recalls growing up in a predominantly Mexican area of Dodge City where his father worked in packing houses and for the railroads, educational discrimination faced by Mexican-American students, being unable to get haircuts in Dodge City barbershops, and enlisting in the army. He also discusses visiting Kansas City and being able to see Mexican movies, attend fiestas, and buy Mexican groceries and, while discrimination existed, having access to Mexican barbers and public swimming pools. After studying Spanish and French in college, he began his teaching career in Kansas towns including Elkhart and Hutchinson, and came to Kansas City as Director of Outreach Programs for University of Missouri-Kansas City. He later worked in roles furthering educational opportunity and was elected to the Kansas City School Board in 1975.

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Interview with Dr. Salomon Flores about his life in Kansas City, Kansas, during the Great Depression and his career. He discusses his parents' immigration to Kansas from Mexico in 1918 and growing up in La Colonia, an area of Kansas City, Kansas made up of Mexican immigrant families near Rosedale from 1928 to the 1950s. He recalls attending a segregated school, going on to attend Ottawa University, and being drafted to serve in Japan during the Korean War before returning to work as a teacher in Humboldt, Kansas, Kansas City, Missouri, and later moving into higher education. He also shares his recollections of the 1951 Flood, as well as thoughts about discrimination, his academic work and community activism, and his hopes for his children.

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Interview with Severiano Alonzo, born in 1938 in the Armourdale neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas. His father migrated from Aguas Calientes, Mexico and his mother migrated from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. They both finished high school in the Kansas City Area. Severiano grew up on 3rd Street his whole life until the Great Flood of 1953 forced his family to live in Missouri for two years before moving back to Armourdale and rebuilding their house. As a child, Alonzo recalls a community swimming pool that was filled with dirt because the white community did not want to share the pool with the Hispanic community. As a young adult, Alonzo came to the realization that a hard-labor job was not the only way to make a living and decided on a more professional path. In 1968, Alonzo and his brother worked at the Internal Revenue Service and performed various duties throughout their years there. Later, he worked at the Guadalupe Center as Executive Director which propelled him to participate in other community-led organizations such as Image, the GI Forum, and as a Program Coordinator with the Business Management Center, while also serving as a Hispanic program coordinator for federal agencies.

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Interview with Mary Bustamante, resident of the West Side of Kansas City, Missouri. Bustamante was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on May 2, 1924. Her parents, Manuel Lopez and Elvira Garcia de Lopez escaped the Mexican Revolution by migrating from San Luis Potosi, Mexico to Texas and then moved permanently to Kansas City. Bustamante attended Our Lady of Guadalupe School, Missouri for elementary school and partially completed her high school education at Manual Training High School. In her later years, Bustamante led Guadalupe Center fiestas from small locations up to a larger event at Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri. She recalls the challenges of creating a kitchen and handling those large scale culinary responsibilities for the fiesta.

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Interview with Lucy Lopez about her life and work as a preschool teacher and with the Dos Mundos newspaper. She recalls growing up in the Armourdale neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, where her parents worked for the railroad and packinghouses. She shares memories of the 1951 flood, including the family moving in with relatives in the Westside where the family ultimately remained. She also recounts working at the Muehlebach Hotel's Terrace Grill where she met many celebrities, her school experience, encountering discrimination when seeking employment, and giving birth to two of her children while living in Chicago; and discusses motherhood, and her work and further schooling in early childhood education, the establishment of Dos Mundos bilingual newspaper, and her own experience maintaining fluency in Spanish and English.

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