Brand and Puritz

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Interview with Bill Kort about his life and his experience in the Kansas City garment industry working as a "bundle boy" as a teenager at Brand and Puritz in the early 1960s. He discusses asking his neighbor and friend's father Arthur Brand for a summer job, and being hired as a bundle boy who would take piece goods from station to station to have buttons added, collars sewn, or other discrete parts of the manufacturing process. He discusses the diversity of the workforce, his memories of the Garment District and Downtown Kansas City, and his later career in investments at H. O. Peet.

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Interview with Ann Brownfield about her experience as a designer Kansas City and other Midwestern cities. She recalls her start designing shoes in St. Louis, later teaching pattern-making in Grand Island, Nebraska, and working in sportswear, coat, and suit design at Brand and Puritz after moving to Kansas City in 1960. She describes opening her own factory in Kansas City, Kansas, designing and sewing small collections for a variety of clients, including making warm-up suits for the 1972 US Olympic ski team; and her later closure due to the decline of skilled sewing machine operators. She also discusses the decline of the local industry, manufacturing moving overseas, and later working in retail, giving tours of the old garment district, and beginning to collect clothing and other items from local manufacturers.

Video Recording

Interview with Betty Brand about her family's history in and her experience with the Kansas City garment industry. Betty was married to Arthur Brand, whose family started the Brand and Puritz factory in 1928, and describes the family's experience in the garment business, the different suit and coat lines they manufactured, and the large number of immigrants among their staff. She also describes their experience in Kansas City's Jewish community, the retail and restaurant landscape of downtown Kansas City, and shares her paintings and photographs of her family and travels.

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Interview with Eileen Garry about her life and her experience in the Kansas City garment industry. She discusses her marriage to Marshall Garry, their move from Brooklyn to Kansas City, and Marshall's work for his father's B. Garry and Company. She discusses their work representing suppliers such as the Maimin Company, a producer of cutting machines, and textile manufacturers, the evolution of the company and industry into the 1960s, the couple's involvement in the local Jewish community, and the industry's social milieu.

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Interview with Carl Puritz about his family's company, Brand and Puritz. He discusses Hyman and Joe Brand and Harry Puritz founding the company in 1928, making women's coats and suits, manufacturing uniforms as part of the war effort in World War II, and recalls other family members who passed through the company. He also discusses the decline of the domestic apparel business in the face of Asian imports, the multiple clothing lines manufactured by the company, and their time making uniforms for TWA. Carl notes that he is the last surviving member of the Brand and Puritz families who worked for the company, and they show and discuss original garments made by the company and held at the Historic Garment District Museum.

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Interview with Arthur Brand about the history of the Jewish community and his family in the Kansas City area. He describes that he and his extended family came to Kansas City from New York City in June 1928, starting Brand and Puritz garment company, and the development and decline of Kansas City's garment industry from the 1930s through the 1970s. He also discusses at length the evolution of the Jewish community from its beginning in the urban core to its eventual shift south Kansas City and later to Johnson County; issues such as assimilation and intermarriage; and the development of institutions including Menorah Hospital, the Jewish Federation of Kansas City, Jewish Vocational Services, and Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, named for his father; and his involvement with a Judaic Studies program at University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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Interview with Lucille (Lu) Arredondo Bowersox, who recalls her early life living in the East Bottoms, her family, job experiences and other aspects of her life. Her parents migrated from Mexico, intending to head to Chicago, but decided to stay in Kansas City, Missouri. Bowersox was born in Dearborn, Missouri and grew up speaking Spanish and barely spoke English as a child. Being bilingual became a struggle and she regrets not teaching her own children Spanish. Her life revolved around reading books and writing poetry, a practice she continued for the rest of her life. Bowersox also talks about her father who worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad and her own experiences working in the garment industry as an under-aged employee who made herself look old enough to work. During that time, she recalls big business and industry changing the landscape of the East Bottoms and the negative effects it has had on the community. Due to her work with various community efforts, Bowersox was awarded the Hispanic Woman of the Year Award by the Hispanic Chamber. She ends the interview by talking about her music store and the need to change for the good.

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