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An Interview With Ramon Reyes
Not available online
TitleAn Interview With Ramon Reyes
AbstractInterviewer: Irene Ruiz. Interview recorded November 10, 1980 and March 24, 1981. 2 sound cassettes (ca. 90 minutes each): analog, stereo.; 5 7/8 x 2 1/2 in., 1/8 in. tape; 2 sound discs: digital; 4 3/4 in. Interview is in Spanish. Has typed list of contents (Tape 49).
NotesMr. Reyes is listed as a chef at the time of the interview. He was born in Sain Alto, Zacatecas, Mexico on August 31, 1903. He left Mexico in 1915 and came to Kansas City in 1918. In the interview he discusses his early life in Kansas City, Casino Mexicano, Union Cultural Mexicana, his jobs including work at Putch's 210 on the Plaza, West Side, etc.

Number 43, 44 on MP3 disc.
Date1980-11-10; 1981-03-24
LocationSC69-1, Tape 48, 49; CD 48, 49
Local SubjectHispanic Americans
West Side
Reyes, Ramon
Oral History
Item TypeArchival Material
TranscriptionSynopsis of Interview:

Note: Tape is in Spanish. Born in village of Sain Alto, Zacatecas, Mexico, August 31, 1903. Father was Jose Pilar Reyes Diaz. Mother Florencia Valtierra Marujo. Has 1 brother, 8 years older. Father was a peddler. During the revolution it became impossible to travel. No protection or guarantees from warring factions. Came to U.S. Grandmother in El Paso constantly urged them to come.

Left Mexico in 1915 and has lived in U.S. since. Lived in El Paso for 1 year. Moved to Marceline and then Floyd, Mo. with Santa Fe Railroad. Came to Kansas City in 1918. Attended night school. Father did not like life in the U.S. He returned to Zacatecas, where he died in 1959. Mother died in Kansas City in 1927. Worked at Wilson's packinghouse. Lived in a boarding house in Armourdale before moving to the Missouri side in 1920. Learned English at night school.

Attended Guadalupe, not overly active. Belonged to several social clubs. Helped organize a men-only recreation club in 1920. Also belonged to Casino Mexicano, a group of primarily older Mexican men who were politically active in Mexico and fled to Kansas City during the revolution. Feels there was more social life among Mexicans in those days. Groups gradually disbanded as more and more people returned to Mexico. Helped form Union Cultural Mexicana in 1924, still exists. Details of some of the Casino members.

Worked at Wilson's for two years, then Cudahy's. Wanted to learn a trade, saw no chance for advancement in packing houses. Became kitchen apprentice at the Savoy Hotel in 1921. Became a cook. After 10 years left to work for the Beldrake. Then the Village Hotel, Kansas Citian (now called the Continental), and the Kansas City Club.

Married in 1932, had four children, one deceased. Wife named Elisa Jimenez Y Sosa, born in Monterrey, Mexico, but had lived in the U.S. since 6 years of age. Worked at the Kansas City Club during World War II. Was too old for the draft but the government tried to persuade him to work at a steel factory. Refused because he made more money as a cook. Became head chef at the Famous Bar downtown. Was there three or four years. Many young men from West Side were drafted, young women also volunteered for service. Men all had to carry draft registration cards.

West Side lacked political representation. The few who got involved did so for personal gain. Reyes hopes to see this change. Bar was sold, Reyes went to work at Putch's, 210 on Country Club Plaza. Worked there 1947-1968 when he retired. Was visiting in Mexico City at time of 1951 flood. Various recollections.

Still active in Union Cultural Mexicana. Belongs to International Geneva Association, a world-wide organization of cooks, chefs, waiters. Joined cooks' union in 1937, belonged 15 years before becoming a chef. Now helps out at Casa Feliz, a daily meal center for the elderly at the Guadalupe Center, Inc. Also occasionally cooks for banquets, social functions. Was president of the UCM credit union from 1938-1976. Union no longer exists. Hopes to travel more in the future. Goes to Mexico for occasional visits.
Access This ItemYou may come to the Missouri Valley Room to listen to the interview.
Item ID210404
CONTENTdm number36366
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