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An Interview With Josephine Lopez
Not available online
TitleAn Interview With Josephine Lopez
AbstractInterviewer: Irene Ruiz. Date of interview unknown. 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.
NotesJosephine Lopez was born February 22, 1915 in Leon de los Aldamas, Mexico. Her family came to the United States around 1917. In the interview she recalls her early life recalling her early work experiences, family life, church, etc.

Number 24 on MP3 disc.
LocationSC69-1, Tape 27, CD 27
Local SubjectHispanic Americans
West Side
Oral History
Lopez, Josephine
Item TypeArchival Material
TranscriptionSynopsis of Interview:

Born February 22, 1915 in Leon de los Aldamas, Mexico. Family came to the U.S. around 1917. Crossed at Laredo, settled in Fort Scott, Kansas. Father was Felix Ibarra, mother Manuela Casillas Ibarra. Because people had trouble pronouncing the name; it was eventually legally changed to Gonzalez. Five children in the family; two older brothers, Mrs. Lopez, and a younger sister.

Father worked on railroad at Ft. Scott, moved to Kansas City, Mo. Lived on the Missouri side for 2 years, then moved to East Bottoms. Attended Martin School for one year. Mother stayed at home. Spoke only Spanish at home, causing difficulties in school. All neighbors worked for railroad. Family moved to Des Moines, Iowa where father continued working on railroad. Lived with other Mexicans and Blacks in railroad cars furnished by the company. Eventually the family bought a house, where they stayed until returning to Kansas City.

Took up residence in the northeast Italian neighborhood around 5th street. Father had died, mother very ill. Began working at age 12 to supplement one brother's income. Younger sister had trouble getting along with neighbors. Attended St. Francis Seraph Catholic Church, later Holy Rosary. Father did not like to socialize, so family stuck to themselves. No outside activities.

First job was at a hamburger stand near the City Market. Worked there over a year. Family moved to West Side, to stay with oldest brother, now married with 3 children. Mother was bedridden; Mrs. Lopez stayed home to care for her until she died. Found work at a hotel. After a disagreement with married brother, moved into her own apartment with sister. Worked with sister and godmother as a maid in the Hotel Baltimore for 7 years. Head housekeeper took a motherly interest in the girls. Attended mass on Sunday, went to dances. Brother always escorted the girls, then locked them in the apartment afterward to make sure they did not go out alone. Housekeeper insisted they attend Mass before working on Sundays. Worked 7 days a week; from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until employees got a union. Then got one day off a week. No vacations. Married a hotel busboy. Three months later the hotel was closed. Other hotels would not hire her because she was so small.

Moved with husband to Armourdale. Lived in two rooms with only a gas stove for heat. Husband began work at Muehlebach. Moved to a purchased house on 5th St., installed a coal furnance. Husband in WWII, left when baby son was 2½. Stationed in Virginia, Georgia, then overseas. Gone three years. Representatives of Cudahy's meat packing went door-to-door asking people to go to work. Mrs. Lopez wanted to work but her husband ordered her to stay home. After husband returned, he was a milkman, Fuller Brush man, other jobs. Lost everything in the flood of 1951. Recalls a Mr. Gonzalez who died because he would not leave his home. Lived a while with sister, now married, on Missouri side. Son attended elementary school, went on to Paseo High School in the neighborhood where they purchased a house (37th near Paseo).

Husband now working for the government and attending Cleveland Chiropractic College. Saw him only at breakfast for 4 years. Decided to return to work because the family had lost all possessions in the flood. Son learned to fix his own lunch, do other household jobs while she worked at YMCA. Later got a job at a corner drug store working both the lunch counter and ringing up sales. Worked six years preparing boxes and packing film for slides. Husband finished school, unsuccessfully tried to establish chiropractic offices in a Black neighborhood, then Armoourdale. Husband also retrained government job. Moved to Lee's Summit in 1960 after husband failed to make go of a 3rd office on the West Side. Husband made contacts through VFW, church, Knights of Columbus which helped him establish a successful chiropractic practice. Retired from government in 1976. Husband seems busier retired than when working. Active in GI Forum, IMAGE, Raza Unida.

Recalls close friend, Florence Mullen, who treated her like a daughter after her mother died. Mrs. Mullen's father bought, sold and traded horses, attended races on West River bottoms. Oldest brother's wife was a 1st cousin. Wife took children to California to visit her parents and would not return. Brother went to California. Brother owned several businesses in Kansas City including a hotel/restaurant on Main Street between 4th and 5th, a pool hall, and a garage. Opened a gas station in California. Now retired. Other brother worked for Cudahy and Columbia steel but was unemployed during the depression. Lived with sisters in the one-room apartment. When brother's wife died, he left the children and in-laws with her while he followed the beet crops.

Other details of husband's work. (see interview of husband, Ladislao Lopez, tape #[28]).Recalls walking all the way from Laredo to Ft. Scott when family first arrived because they had no money.
Access This ItemYou may come to the Missouri Valley Room to listen to the interview.
Item ID210344
CONTENTdm number36344
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