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An Interview With Dan Torres
Not available online
TitleAn Interview With Dan Torres
AbstractInterviewer: Irene Ruiz. Interview recorded June 23, 1981. 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.
NotesAt the time of the interview, Mr. Torres was a teacher at Rockhurst High School and president of the IMAGE chapter. He was born in 1949 in New Mexico. He came to Kansas City in 1969. In the interview he discusses his early life, education, religious experience and preparation for priesthood which he declined, teaching at Rockhurst, IMAGE group, etc.

Number 54 on MP3 disc.
Date1981-06-23
LocationSC69-1, Tape 59, CD 59
Local SubjectRockhurst High School
Oral History
West Side
Torres, Dan
Hispanic Americans
Teachers
Item TypeArchival Material
TranscriptionSynopsis of Interview:

Torres is a teacher at Rockhurst High School and president of the IMAGE Chapter. Born in 1949, in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Oldest of 4 children. Abandoned by parents when 5 years old. Raised in the barrios of Las Vegas by his grandparents along with three siblings and six of grandparents' own children. All lived in a two-room house. Grandmother took in washing, odd jobs. Granfather was a custodian for the highway department.

Graduated from Robertson High School in Las Vegas in 1967. Attended Highlands University, also in Las Vegas, for one year. Came to Kansas City in 1969. Most neighbors were high school dropouts, earned their living as waiters, custodians, other menial labor. People would migrate to Colorado to work in the beet fields, Southern New Mexico and Texas to the cotton and peanut fields. Active in high school: all-state basketball and baseball player, choir, Future Teachers of America. Grandmother pushed the children in education.

Torres and siblings did as well in professional and personal lives. Grandparents were Jose and Dolores Torres. Family was Catholic, but not active. Saw church as oppressive. Anglo priest treated Mexicans condescendingly, was critical of their culture. No Spanish-speaking priests in the northern part of the state. School was integrated but people were very class-conscious. Town was divided into the "right" and "wrong" sides of the track. Received a baseball scholarship to Highlands, in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Became involved during freshman year with LaRaza, a group critical of Anglo policies at the university. The group took over and occupied the university in 1968 to protest the hiring of an Anglo college president. As a result Torres lost his scholarship and had to quit school.

During the year, Torres had a deep spiritual experience and began identifying with Jesus as a man. Came to Kansas City a year after the university took over to study for the priesthood. Kansas City was the only involvement with radical groups. Studied at Rockhurst and Penn Valley. Completed studies at Rockhurst in 1973, then studied theology at Sacred Heart. Spent a year in a New Mexico monastery, then two years doing graduate work at Oblate College of the Southwest in San Antonio. Finished 1976.

Was uncertain about becoming a priest. Returned to Kansas City, continued community work for the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Worked at Wayne Miner Health Clinic and Juvenile Court - 1977-1978. Worked one year as a building substitute for Westport High. Felt certain his calling was not the priesthood. Married Sharon Ferguson of Washington, D.C., a former administrator for the Society of Our Lady. The Torres now have one son, live in Brookside area.

Returned to Rockhurst for education degree and certification. Was Director of Guadalupe Parish Center during that time. Began teaching at Rockhurst High in 1980. Became familiar with the West Side during summers, working for the diocese. Worked with Mexican and Black youth from there, East Bottoms, Wayne Miner, St. Francis Seraph Church. Wife is now full-time homemaker and mother, by her own choice. Wife was a teacher at Stoneridge, a school for diplomaic children in Washington D.C., before coming to Kansas City.

Became interested in IMAGE through acquaintences, served as chairman of the educational committee for one year before becoming president. During the education chairmanship, IMAGE offered nine scholarships to West Side youth. Was unable to give them away because youth were not interested in going to college. IMAGE has broadened emphasis from just upward mobility of Mexican-American government employees. More social concerns. Local IMAGE chapter is one of 48 nationally. Has 104 members.

Very active with St. Peter's parish, Society of Our Lady. Is also on the Commission for Social Welfare for the state. Was a delegate to the White House Conference on Families. Strong committment to the community. Believes West Side is in danger of being wiped out by industry and businesses which want to locate there. Teaches theology, also certified in sociology and social studies. Working on a Master's in administration. Hopes to continue teaching but economics may force him into other areas. Leans heavily on his religiouis values. Both he and his wife have a strong commitment to Christ. Wife also has masters in theology. Wants people on the West Side to recognize the value of education. Plans to run for school board. Feels board has neglected people's opinions from that area. Hopes West Side will make more use of local resources, such as the library. Thinks Mexican-American communities must become more literary, instead of sports-oriented.

Grandmother had great influence on his life. Also a couple who sort of adopted him while he was in the seminary, taught him the value of hard work and faith. Over 20 friends he attended school with have now been murdered or committed suicide, including his best high school friend, who was killed in a prison riot.
Access This ItemYou may come to the Missouri Valley Room to listen to the interview.
Item ID210418
CONTENTdm number36377
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