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An Interview With Josefa Parra
Not available online
TitleAn Interview With Josefa Parra
AbstractInterviewer: Irene Ruiz. Interview recorded January 14, 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. Interview is in Spanish.
NotesMrs. Parra was born in Michoacan, Mexico, February 2, 1906. In the interview she discusses her early life, coming to the United States, living in the Argentine neighborhood and the West Side, 1951 flood, etc.

Number 36 on MP3 disc.
Date1978-01-14
LocationSC69-1, Tape 40, CD 40
Local SubjectHispanic Americans
West Side
Parra, Josefa
Oral History
Item TypeArchival Material
TranscriptionSynopsis of Interview (This tape is in Spanish):

Mrs. Parra was born in a tiny village in Michoacan, Mexico, February 2, 1906. Her parents were R. Aguilera and (mother) Soledad Chavez. Moved to Zamora, Michoacan, when Mrs. Parra was 9-10, because of the revolution. Attended school 3 years in Zamora. Father died, leaving her the oldest of 7 children. Before his death, father's occupation was that of a judge who sat on a committee of 12 people. Committee was responsible for sentencing wrong-doers in the community. Mother was a homemaker.

Came to the U.S. with an aunt and uncle in 1925. Lived briefly in Compton, California and Brighton, Colorado before coming to Kansas City. Uncle had friends in the Argentine district of Kansas City, Kansas. Uncle got work on the railroad, family lived in the Argentine. Attended a small Catholic church there. Uncle also enjoyed attending Baptist services. Came to the West Side in 1951, made new friends.

Attends Guadalupe church. Met husband while working in a small restaurant on the Kansas side. Uncle forbade her to see him. She defied her uncle and was married by a judge. Eventually had 8 children. Attended few social functions except on occasional church "jamaica" (Bazaar).Children now all married. All Baptised in a small church in Kansas, confirmed at Guadalupe.

Recollections of various community members. Many friends, relatives served in World War II.Flood of 1951 - knew only one man, a Juan Gonzalez, who drowned. Family lost almost everything. Family split up. She and 4 sons lived with a cousin, 4 daughters went to live with sister-in-law. Rented a basement for awhile. Red Cross helped family get another house and the entire family was reunited after 4 months. Still lives in the same house.

At one point she was forced to return to Mexico because her papers were not in order. Returned after 4 months. Children attended Switzer, West Junior and Westport Senior High. Husband learned English but she never did because she was at home. Children all use Spanish at home.To help pay bills, she cooked, sewed, babysat for neighbor's children.Recalls when there were no social agencies like now to help people. Some families sent their daughters to be domestics for wealthy families, but she never allowed her daughters to go. Would not let them stay overnight or babysit in someone else's home. At one time, husband earned only $16.00 a week at the packing house. Children did not get along well in school, much fighting among racial groups. Sent children to St. Thomas school for awhile but they also had problems there.

Neighbors mostly Mexican, railroad or packing house workers. Married almost 50 years. Husband died 2 years prior to interview. As a young girl in Zamora, she lived with a wealthy family and cared for their children. Also kept house for another family. Was well prepared for child-care by the time she had her own children. Husband wanted children to know about Mexican culture and history. Children made fun of him, were not interested. Husband liked to read, joke with the children, talk about history. Various other family recollections. Mrs. Parra lives alone now that children are all married.
Access This ItemYou may come to the Missouri Valley Room to listen to the interview.
Item ID210361
CONTENTdm number36358
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