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An Interview With Mary Lou Hernandez
Not available online
TitleAn Interview With Mary Lou Hernandez
AbstractInterviewer: Irene Ruiz. Interview recorded October 26, 1978. 1 sound cassette (ca. 90 minutes): analog, stereo.; 5 7/8 x 2 1/2 in., 1/8 in. tape; 1 sound disc; digital; 4 3/4 in. Has printed guide to contents.
NotesMrs. Hernandez, at the time of the interview, was a teachers aide in the bilingual program at West High School. She was born April 14, 1944, in Kansas City in the West Side neighborhood. In the interview she discusses her early life, the West Side, 1951 flood, husband's time on city council for four years, etc.

Number 20 on MP3 disc.
LocationSC69-1, Tape 23, CD 23
Local SubjectHispanic Americans
Oral History
West Side
Hernandez, Mary Lou
Item TypeArchival Material
TranscriptionSynopsis of Interview:

Mrs. Hernandez is a teachers aide in the bilingual program at West High School. Born April 14, 1944 on the West Side. Had 8 sisters, 3 brothers. Family lived in several houses in neighborhood. Recalls more houses, more people and activities in the neighborhood when she was young. Parents were Josephine Peregrina and stepfather Louis Peregrina. Both from Mexico. Spoke Spanish at home. Attended Our Lady Of Guadalupe until the last year of grammar school. Attended St. Catherine's in Emporia, Kansas, for 1 year. Mother was a homemaker, father a laborer in packing houses and with railroad. Recalls family as being extremely poor. Grandmother died young, leaving mother to care for younger brothers as well as her own children.

Very bad memories of early school years. Attended West Junior High. Quit school mid-year in 10th grade. Attended church and confession weekly but parents were not active in other church functions. Active with friends at Guadalupe Center. Formed clubs. Friends predominantly Mexican-American. Recalls flood of 1951 as a fun time because of all the activity, other children to play with. Can't recall anyone who exerted a great influence on her. Happy in 9th grade, despite racial tensions between Black and Mexican students. By 10th grade she felt pressure to quit and help support the family because she was the oldest.

Was shy, inexperienced, had difficulty find[ing] a job. Mother eventually found a job for her at a candle factory on Southwest Blvd. Manager promised her a job answering the phone and instead made her clean toilets. Quit her job after 3 days, found another carrying food trays to patients at St. Mary's Hospital. Tired of working and turning over her paycheck to mother. Wanted to marry as an escape. Married at age 18; husband 16. Pregnant when married. Husband quit school, later returned to night school. Life was very difficult. Had one other child. Both attend Catholic schools. Very busy with children and apathetic towards community for many years.

Returned to work full-time and moved into a government housing project so husband could attend college. Friend and community activist Don Pecina talked husband into getting involved with Model Cities. Husband headed a culture group which visited Mexican-American prisoners in Leavenworth on Saturdays. She took the group over when husband became too busy. Husband was hesitant at first to allow her to do it. Feared a woman would not be accepted. Got other women involved, resigned when she felt she could accomplish no more. Some 400-500 Mexican-American prisoners at Leavenworth.

Hired for bilingual program. Wishes she could like school, but reading problems make studying difficult. Tired of hassles with the children, wants more time alone with husband. Anxious for children to leave home. Believes politics have made her want more privacy. Reflects on difficulties being in politics. Husband has served on city council for 4 years. Has grown, learned much from husband and political experiences.
Access This ItemYou may come to the Missouri Valley Room to listen to the interview.
Item ID210315
CONTENTdm number36340
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