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An Interview With Ladislao Lopez
Not available online
TitleAn Interview With Ladislao Lopez
AbstractInterviewer: Irene Ruiz. Interview recorded June 27, 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 a typed guide to contents.
NotesDr. Ladislao G. Lopez was born November 3, 1915 in Zacatecas, Mexico. His family moved to the United States in 1919 to avoid the Mexican Revolution. Family loved in the Armourdale area and he became a chiropractor. In the interview he recalls his early life, work career, family, etc.

Number 27 on MP3 disc.
LocationSC69-1, Tape 28 and CD 28
Local SubjectLopez, Ladislao
Oral History
West Side
Hispanic Americans
Item TypeArchival Material
TranscriptionSynopsis of interview:

"Dr. Lopez was born November 3, 1915 in Zacatecas, Mexico. He was the oldest child of Calixto Lopez and Rita Gonzalez Lopez. His maternal grandparents lived in Kansas City, Kansas. The family moved to the U.S. in 1919 to avoid the Mexican Revolution. His father had been an "arriero", carrying and selling merchandise from town to town on mules. His paternal grandfather, also an "arriero", was killed when his mule train was ambushed by bandits.

He has 5 brothers and 3 sisters. All still live in the Kansas City area except one brother in Los Angeles. They lived in Armourdale as the neighborhood changed from Irish-German to Mexican. He attended John J. Ingalls elementary school, segregated with other Mexican children until 7th grade. It took Dr. Lopez extra time to graduate because of his poor English skills and fear of reciting in English in the classroom. His parents learned some English, but his father's was "packing house" English, learned from the Irish, Germans, Croatians, and Blacks. His father worked 5 years at Cudahy, where employees were to receive a week's vacation after 5 years. Rather than grant him a vacation, the company fired him. The father then worked 36 years at Wilson's.

Money was tight during the depression. He recalls his maternal grandfather meeting the family at the border in Laredo when they first entered. His younger brother, Robert, was ill. The family was force to wait until he was well before being allowed into the country. They traveled to Kansas City by train. The grandfather had entered the U.S. with 5 or 6 other men. All settled in the Argentine district to work on the Santa Fe Railroad. As work at railyards became scarce, the men switched to packing plants. His childhood was happy because he was surrounded by cousins and friends who all spoke Spanish. Later this became a handicap as Dr. Lopez tried to cope with the English environment outside the neighborhood. He was grateful to a teacher who made him take public speaking. He was teased about being Mexican by Anglos. He attended St. Thomas School for 7th grade, Central Junior High for 8th and 9th, and Wyandotte, then Argentine High School. He became friendly with an Anglo girl and was invited to the home by the girl's brother. The parents forced the children to sever their friendship because Lopez was Mexican. He attended St. Thomas Catholic Church (Armourdale) until Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was established for Mexicans in 1926. The church had occasional fundraisers ("jamaicas").

His father was a very positive person with no formal education. He paid for music lessons for the children. They played with cousins for neighborhood and family parties. He worked at Dutch Clothing Co. and later Kuluva's, both clothing stores, from 7th grade through high school. Kuluva's began selling appliances after the flood and still exists. Many families, including an uncle, returned to Mexico as the Depression worsened. Cousins who returned still served during WWII. After high school, he worked for $1 a day as a busboy. Dr. Lopez's only extra-curricular high school activity was orchestra. He bussed tables until 1940 or 1941. Then he met his wife (a hotel maid) and married in 1938. He became a houseman (maintenance worker). He worked for awhile in an upholstery shop on the Plaza, then the packing houses. He worked at Swift, filling a government contract packing 2½ to 5 pound cans of meat to be sent to Russia. He joined the Army and was sent to Camp Lee, Virginia where he was assigned to quartermasters corps. He spent 9 months on the Queen Mary in Wales, France, Belgium, and in the South Pacific. He was the only Mexican in the company, but there was no discrimination.

He returned to Kansas City in 1946. He worked a variety of jobs until deciding to take a bookkeeping and radio communications course for work on railroads. He left his family to work in Nevada and when he returned, he again had trouble finding work. He began attending chiropractic college in 1950. Dr. Lopez worked as a file clerk for the VA and he attended college 5 hours a night. He began taking civil service exams. He then worked for the Commodity Credit Corporation (in agriculture). The family lost all but a few pieces of furniture in the flood of 1951. He lived with a sister-in-law, and then moved near 37th and Troost to be near college. He lost the job with the Agriculture Department and was hired by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. He obtained a government loan to help rebuild his home.He translated for Reconstruction Finance Corporation to facilitate making loans to other Mexican flood victims. He worked for the Federal Aviation Administration, then the Small Business Administration. He quit because the government would not grant him time off to take his final chiropractic exams. He passed the Missouri and Kansas state chiropractic boards. He attempted to set up an office, but the partnership failed. He rejoined the government.

Dr. Lopez has held various government jobs since then including translating for the State Department and being regional administrator for the Department of Labor. He did not try again to establish a full-time chiropractic practice and he was unable to get bank loans to set up another office. He had various experiences working with the GI Forum. He moved to Lee's Summit where he practices chiropractic medicine on weekends. He has joined or helped organize various unions. He strongly believes that the Mexican-American can not fight the system alone. He has a membership on the Mexican-American City Council. He is active in pushing the desegregation of the Kansas City, Kansas schools and the resulting cultural changes within the family. He joined the Toastmaster's Club and represented Mexican-Americans at the War Brides meetings.

He gained U.S. citizenship before WWII. His parents became citizens after the war. Several of Dr. Lopez's brothers served during WWII. One now has a civil engineering degree, one is a millwright, and another works for the airlines. He was active with IMAGE (Incorporated Mexican-American Government Employees). He personally encouraged the hiring of more Hispanics in the government. He is a member of the American Chiropractic Association and other area chiropractic groups. He says the people who helped him get ahead are his parents and teachers. He considers Mothers the most important influence on children and the family. He is retired but still active with the Federal Employee Credit Board, IMAGE and the GI Forum. Dr. Lopez has won miscellaneous awards.
Access This ItemYou may come to the Missouri Valley Room to listen to the interview.
Item ID210345
CONTENTdm number36345
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