Rio Bravo Supermarket

Somos de Wichita/We are Wichitans
A close up of text on a white background
Courtesy U.S. Census

This census tract from Chautauqua County in 1910 shows a Missouri Pacific Railroad Crew that was half Mexican and half Turkish. How do you think those crews would have gotten along?

A group of people standing in a building
Courtesy Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum

In places like Newton, Mexican Americans tended to stay tied with railroads. In Wichita, however, the meatpacking plants like Dold and Cudahy offered other opportunities.

City News Today - Move the village - the mexican village on the Santa Fe near Kellogg Street must be moved further south. The new railroad yards planned by the Wichita Union Terminal Railway Company will take up this little village conducted on the Mexican plan. They have a common cook stove — a large stone oven which serves 20 families. Each family takes turns using it at the noon hour. Chickens, geese and ducks, numerous dogs and a goat now and then roam at will through their quarters. It is a happy family although not obeying the laws of modern sanitation. The railroad company will build them new quarters south of the viaduct.
Courtesy The Wichita Eagle

This image from the Wichita Beacon from 1914 describes the one of the first barrios near what is today the downtown arena.

A close up of text on a white background
Courtesy U.S. Census

This page from the 1910 census of Wichita shows several Mexican families who were working the meatpacking plants. Notice that their neighbors were not Latino.

A close up of a book
Courtesy Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum

In the 1950s, Mexican American youth participated in many of the same traditions as the larger community including attending high school and holding beauty contests. Many worked to try to fit in, finding Hispanic cultural traditions embarrassing holdovers from their parents and grandparents.

A sign on a pole
Courtesy Somos de Wichita Project

Across from the packing plants along Lawrence Avenue, now Broadway stood a series of restaurants. Among them was El Patio hotel and restaurant with Chata’s next door. When the Guzman family decided to sell Chata’s, the Lopez family took it over and renamed it Connie’s after Concepción Lopez. Lopez got her start making food for parish dinners. Restaurants like these served Mexican American patrons but also helped expose the Anglo community to Mexican food as well.

A vintage photo of a man
Courtesy Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum

While Latino youth were encouraged to “fit in,” restaurants like El Charro introduced Anglo Wichitans to the “exotic” food of Mexico.

A man riding a skateboard up the side of a building
Courtesy Anita Mendoza

For many families, the “American Dream” included getting a better job and moving to the suburbs.  Here Virginia Martinez Mendoza embodies the suburban ideal that inspired Latinos, Anglos, and African Americans in the decades after World War II.

A close up of a map
Courtesy U.S. Census

Latinos born in the U.S. would have been folded into the “white” category for the 1950 census for Wichita. The census, however, did designate immigrants from Mexico and those persons are noted here, showing the relative size and location of the Mexican American population. Area A: 101 Mexican immigrants or .3% of the census track. B: 8 Mexican immigrants or .1% of the census track. C: 24 Mexican immigrants or .3% of the census track. D: 58 Mexican immigrants or .3% of the census track.

A group of people posing for a photo
Courtesy Wichita Rock Music History Project

Latino youth embraced the rock & roll of the era.  North High School students Art Martinez and Mike Jimenez were part of the group Doug and the Inn-Truders. Meanwhile, Dolphie Ybarra from Wellington was part of the Fantabulous Jaggs, complete with pompadour!

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