Downtown KCMO

Displaying 1 - 10 of 28

Interview with Colonel Robert L. Sweeney. Sweeney discusses his family and early life in Highland, Kansas, his military service in World War I, experiencing little discrimination in Highland and France, working as a chauffeur in St. Joseph and Kansas City, visiting New York City, his friendship with the Pendergasts, Harry Truman, and police chief Clarence Kelley, and his hopes for development in downtown Kansas City. He also shares thoughts about World War II, Black political alignments over time, numerous politicians, Black activists and intellectuals, and prominent black Kansas Citians, among other topics.

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Interview with Steve Dvorak about his experience working in the Kansas City garment industry and about his career with Youthcraft. He discusses the history of the company from its founding by Leon Karosen, and its merger with Stern-Slegman-Prins, a company which Chick's father Robert worked for; the manufacturing and sales processes, including traveling with racks of coats to visit stores throughout the country. He recalls the different facilities from which the company operated, including buildings in North Kansas City, the downtown Garment District, and near 31st and Gillham, and discusses the company's national profile and mergers, as well as changes in the garment industry over the ensuing decades, including the shift to department stores and other large chains.

Video Recording

Interview with Eugene Salvay about his life and his family's experience with the Kansas City garment industry, with additional information provided by his nephew, Craig Solvay. He discusses his childhood in the 1920s, and his education in aircraft engineering which lead to job in World War II working on B-25s at the assembly plant in the Fairfax District in spite of antisemitism in the hiring process. He recalls his father's work as designer at Fashionbilt before moving on to mail-order company National Bellas Hess, and operating his own business designing custom coats. He also shares stories about his family roots in Lithuania, his Jewish identity and ancestry, and meeting Harry Truman in the 1930s. Solvay also mentions his participation in developing Israeli aviation and his relationship with Moshe Arens.

Video Recording

Interview with Margie Bercu and her daughter Barbara Bloch about their family's history with Kansas City's garment district, and discuss what garment design and manufacturing still exist in Kansas City at the time of the interview. Barbara discusses her father Archie's start at Maurice Coat & Suit Company and later transition to Lan-Mar Sporting Goods, which manufactured little league baseball uniforms, basketball uniforms and other athletic apparel. Lan-Mar later spun off a company called Cotton Duck which manufactured restaurant uniforms and related apparel. The women also discuss Archie's education and military service, Barbara's continuing work with retail and restaurant uniforms through the 1980s, oursourcing of manufacturing, and remaining American textile manufacturing. The women also note several local companies continuing to work in garment production into the 2000s.

Video Recording

Interview with Suzie Aron about her family history in Kansas City's garment industry, beginning with her grandfather Hyman Gordon's immigration to Topeka, Kansas, and later to Kansas City. She discusses Jewish prevalence in the industry, and her family's Frances Gee Garment Company which focused primarily on uniforms for nurses and other woman-dominated professions - a direction taken because it was easier to work with all white fabric. She discusses the company being one of the first with overseas production facilities, having opened factories in Puerto Rico and Japan, as well as other aspects of the company's operations and union relationships, including her experience working on designing and branding uniforms for the fast food industry, work which eventually became the focus of the company.

Video Recording

Interview with historic preservationist Sally Schwenk about the importance, and difficulty, of preserving and sharing the history of Kansas City's garment industry. She discusses the importance of Kansas City's location as a railroad hub to its early industry, the boom in the industry following World War I, the impact of unionization, and changes in the location and design of facilities, and the later decline of the local industry. She also describes the Garment District surrounding 8th and Broadway, the loss of buildings and connectivity to other neighborhoods due to post-war freeway construction and demolition, and the challenges of running the Historic Garment District Museum.

Video Recording

Interview with Seymour Weiner about his life and experience working in Kansas City's garment industry. Weiner recalls his Polish immigrant parents owning an alterations and pressing business, going to work for garment industry "trimmings" supplier Hammer Brothers as a young man, starting a company called Krest Originals, and discusses the business model of an "item house," which manufactured a limited number of items. He discusses the shift in the marketplace from locally owned specialty stores to department stores and national chains, the change in the labor pool in the 1960s, the role of labor unions in the industry, and changes in the relationships between businesses and banks over the decades. After closing his factory, Weiner went to work in sales for Betty Rose Coats, and recounts financial and fashion reasons for the decline in the local and domestic garment industries.

Video Recording

Interview with Regina Pachter about her life and experience in the Kansas City garment industry. She recalls her father's immigration to the United States in 1915, with Regina following with her mother in 1921, and later meeting her husband Meyer Pachter, a Kansas City native. She discusses her and Meyer's experiences as students at the University of Missouri, his first garment industry job with Laverne Cloak Company and her employment as a social worker, and Meyer opening the Pachter Garment Company and later merging with the Louis Walter Company and Youthcraft Manufacturing Company. She also discusses Meyer's later move into the carwash business, his work as a salesman at Woolf Brothers, their work within the Jewish community, and other ventures. She ends the interview by sharing information about her family, and playing a piece on the piano.

Video Recording

Interview with Jerry Stolov about his life and his family's experience in the garment industry at Kansas City Custom Garment Company. He recalls his family's immigration from Poland, and his uncle working at Kansas City Garment Company upon his arrival, and later owned the company. Stolov reports that his father joined his uncle at the company upon his own arrival in Kansas City, and the company staying in operation through the Depression with government contracts for uniform manufacture. The company had post-war success selling custom men's suits and other garments, and Stolov discusses the process of being measured, selecting fabrics, and the ultimate creation of the garments. The company also made uniforms for TWA, the Kansas City Police Department, and other organizations, and Stolov discusses prominent clients including H. Roe Bartle and Harry Truman, who was buried in a Kansas City Garment Company suit.

Video Recording

Interview with Steve Hammer about his family's history in Kansas City garment industry. He discusses his family's company, Hammer Brothers, and how it adapted to industry changes by moving from suppliers and manufacturers for the coat and dress business, to promotional clothing and hats, to supplying the patch and athletic wear embroidery industry. He also discusses his Jewish identity, his relationship with the local Jewish community, and also discusses his maternal family's Cake Box Bakeries.

Video Recording