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An Interview With Magdalena Rodriguez
Not available online
TitleAn Interview With Magdalena Rodriguez
AbstractInterviewer: Irene Ruiz. Interview recorded April 20, 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 typed list of contents.
NotesMagdalena Rodriguez was born on October 2, 1933 in Kansas City, Kansas. Her parents left Mexico because of the Mexican Revolution and were migrant workers. In the interview she discusses her early life living in the Rosedale area, going to a Baptist church, discrimination experienced, World War II, education, job as a protective services worker, etc.

Number 49 on MP3 disc. Tape ends in mid-sentence.
Date1978-04-20
LocationSC69-1, Tape 54, CD 54
Local SubjectOral History
West Side
Rodriguez, Magdalena
Hispanic Americans
Rosedale, Kansas
Item TypeArchival Material
TranscriptionSynopsis of Interview:

Magdalena Rodriguez was born on October 2, 1933, in Kansas City, Kansas. Her parents were Natividad Hernandez Flores and Carluto Rosales Flores. They are from Cerritos and Tampico, Mexico. Her family came to the US as migrant farm laborers in 1914 because of the Mexican Revolution. They settled in Kansas City because her father's brother was already here as a Baptist minister. Her parents lived on Fitzgerald Street (now I-35) until 1940. They moved to Melville Street where her mother died in 1947. Mrs. Rodriguez was 13. Eight siblings are still alive.

The neighborhood was called a '''colonia'' or colony of Mexican-Americans. Blacks and Anglos also lived in the area, but the three groups never mixed socially. All the families were poor. Her father worked at Wilson and Company meat packers. She recalls neighborhood parties in the summer with dancing, Mexican pastries, and homemade wine. The parties were called ''mini-jamaicas.'' One house became a recreation center in the neighborhood until it was sold. By then, the Armourdale community center was built. There were no Mexican stores in the neighborhood (Rosedale area). For Mexican foods, etc., people went to the Armourdale or West Side neighborhoods.

She attended the Mexican annex of Major Hudson Elementary School, a wooden two-room building with an outhouse. Up the hill was a modern brick school for the Anglo children. There was one teacher for grades 1-6, who alternated between the two rooms. Mexican parents were not allowed to join PTA. There were many examples of prejudice and physical abuse. Most Mexicans dropped out by seventh grade. She attended Rosedale High School from 1946-1955 when she graduated. She dropped from 1949-1951 to stay home with younger siblings when her mother died.

Her father became an American citizen to gain more rights and to be able to fight more effectively for his children's rights. Mexicans, Blacks, and Anglos all had separate dining facilities at the packing plant. Her parents were reared as Catholics, but switched to the uncle's Baptist church in the U.S. The children were brought up without formal religious training. She attended socials, dances, read children's classics, fairy tales, and autobiographies. Except for family outings to the zoo or a movie, the girls were expected to stay home. She recalls having to sit in the balcony of the movies, ''El Tampico,'' a Mexican movie house, and at the Monarch's ballgames.

Her mother never adjusted to the climate and way of life in the U.S. She never learned English. Her father was active in the union and often spoke at ''Jamaicas.'' He learned English by reading children's textbooks. She recalls discrimination in the union. She remembers her parent's financial worries during the Depression. The family was very patriotic in WWII--there were five brothers in the service at the same time. There was a strong community spirit--victory gardens and trading or giving away ration coupons.

A just-married sister lost her home and all her possessions in the flood of 1951. Mrs. Rodriguez's future husband's family also lost everything. She married in 1955 and had three boys in five years, and later a daughter. She believed a husband should support his family and a wife should stay home. She encouraged her children to get an education. Her husband was employed 25 years by the Santa Fe Railroad. Mrs. Rodriguez is now a protective services worker. She investigates cases of child abuse and neglect for the state of Kansas. She got her job through an HEW pilot program and is now attending college part-time.Details of her job.Her siblings vary widely in educational background from a brother with a Ph.D. to a sister who attended school only through the eighth grade. Her father did not believe girls needed much education. Later the father changed his opinion, but the girls felt they had to fight against the social system as well as their father. The oldest brother was very influential in changing the father's mind. Memories of oldest brother. She considered her mother the cornerstone of the family. The family broke down somewhat when the mother died.

Mrs. Rodriguez is now a licensed social worker in Kansas and eventually will get a degree. Mrs. Rodriguez describes her PTA activities. She is active in the Antioch Church of Christ. She stressed family honor in bringing up her children. Her other activities include involvement on the Human Relations Commission, community development, the United Mexican-American Voters of Kansas, and other social government and civil rights agencies. Her husband at first complained that she was becoming too ''Americanized'' but he now understands that her efforts are to benefit future generations and are not just for her own pleasure. Various awards. She feels racism still exists in the U.S. but is more subtle and she feels the social services still lack people trained to deal with Mexican-Americans. She would like to see more Chicanos, especially girls, enter professional fields. She wants to see them get jobs because they are qualified, not because they fit in a minority quota. She thinks women should fight for equal rights such as their own credit ratings.
Access This ItemYou may come to the Missouri Valley Room to listen to the interview.
Item ID210413
CONTENTdm number36373
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