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An Interview With Felisa Ruiz
Not available online
TitleAn Interview With Felisa Ruiz
AbstractInterviewer: Irene Ruiz. Interview recorded November 7, 1980. 2 sound cassettes (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.
NotesAt the time of the interview, Felisa Ruiz was employed by the U.S. Postal Service. She grew up in Morris, Kansas. Her parents were from Mexico. In the interview she discusses her early life, discrimination, her family, work experiences, etc.

Number 51 on MP3 disc.
Date1980-11-07
LocationSC69-1, Tape 56, CD 56
Local SubjectOral History
West Side
Ruiz, Felisa
Hispanic Americans
Item TypeArchival Material
TranscriptionSynopsis of Interview:

Employed by U.S. Postal Service. Born the youngest of four children of Alberto and Marciana Murrillo. Grew up in Morris, Kansas, about five miles west of Argentine, Wyandotte County. Parents from Mexico. Children began school knowing no English. Father worked for Santa Fe Railroad. Lived with other Mexican families in housing for railroad employees.

First grade teacher spent extra time teaching the children English. She and older sister became active in basketball. Attended same school through 8th grade. Family took the train to Kansas City on Sundays to attend St. Thomas Catholic Church. Mexicans attended only churches designated as being for them; sat in the balcony along with blacks at movie theaters. Family shopped in Morris. The wife of father's foreman taught girls to walk gracefully in formals for 8th grade graduation.

Same woman wrote them a letter of introduction to the high school principal in Turner, Kansas. Children all played musical instruments. Active in chorus, glee club, orchestra, band in high school. Did not experience discrimination in high school. Selected president of student coucil, business manager of school paper. Family garden kept them supplied with food during the depression. No deprivation. Housing furnished by the railroad was adequate but had no indoor plumbing. Brother went to war in WWII. Traumatic time for the family. Mrs. Ruiz was a young teen. Older sister helped support family through a government work program after father was injured.

Graduated high school 1944. Wanted to become a secretary but her first interview was so terrifying that she worked in a factory instead. Did piecework for five years for Universal Manufacturing. Eventually got typing job at Richards and Conover. Learned typesetting, how to operate all modern office and word processing equipment. Stayed with company three years. Was one of only 12 veritypists in Kansas City area. Formed an informal union to increase salaries.

Married Manuel Ruiz, a bilingual time-keeper for the railroad. Recalls difficulty meeting, courting because of strict parental supervision. Bore three sons. Has worked most of her life. Began with post office in 1979. Oldest son is now with Corps of Engineers; second is a waste water treatment specialist. Youngest is still in college. Proud of sons' accomplishments but tries to warn them that discrimination still exists. Mother played dominate role in life. Cared for her sons so Ruiz could attend Guadalupe Center functions. Family had moved to the West Side after her high school graduation.

Various awards include Environmental Protection Agency's Woman of the Year for 1970. Also from IMAGE, 5 De MAYO organization, Guadalupe Parish Center board. Active in West Side Community Council and Neighborhood Association. Detailed discussion of dissent within the West Side Neighborhood Association. Feels Guadalupe priest is unfairly interfering in the group. Complains that many outsiders (Anglos) are overtly or coverly controlling the neighborhood. Anglos tend to buy run-down houses in the area, rehab them and sell them back to Mexicans at a high price. IMAGE members are considered snobs but they have come back to help the community. Favors getting a Mexican priest, not just a bilingual one.

Now hosts a one-hour bilingual radio program on Sundays. Sees the show as a way to give service to Mexican Community. Thinks local EEO office discriminates because all officers are Black - no Mexicans.
Access This ItemYou may come to the Missouri Valley Room to listen to the interview.
Item ID210415
CONTENTdm number36374
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