00:01 CB: My name is Carolyn Benitez. Some of you may know that in the fall of 2004, I was successful in receiving a grant through the Kansas Humanities Council to interview families that settled in North Wichita during the early 1900s in a small Mexican barrio which was affectionately known as El Huarache. I didn’t grow up in El Huarache, but both sets of my grandparents lived there. My grandparents on my dad’s side, Rosales, were known as Mamanita and Paparito by their grandchildren. They lived at 1918 North Mosley from the mid-1920s through the early 1970s. My grandparents on my mother’s side, Mama Lola and Papa Isa, lived at 807 East 19th. They lived there for 10-11 years, and then they moved to 2335 North Market, the same block where their three daughters and their families lived. It was also the block where Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church is located.
01:16 CB: Mamanita became a widow early in life as Paparito died around age 47. She lived into her early 80s. My uncle Encho lived with her, but when the weekends came, he often wasn’t seen until late Sunday night. As a result, my cousins and I would spend part of our weekends with her. The sleepovers began when I was around 8 years old. Teresa was 9, Loretta 10, Luisa and Rita were probably 12. Usually, my Uncle Lupe or Uncle Whitey… And that’s his nickname, Whitey. Everyone that lived in El Huarache had a nickname. They would drive us to her house because they both had large station wagons with a third row seat facing backwards. Before we would go, my cousins and I would plan what we wanted to take. Often, it included 45-inch records in a carrying case, a suitcase-size record player, a couple of pillows and our belongings, and a huge accordion. My sister Luisa was teaching herself to play and wanted to entertain Mamanita with her new skill. Once at her house, we’d settle into the living room, listen to music, dance, sing, and play the accordion, and sing along as she was playing. Usually, my grandmother would be sitting in her room watching television. When it was time for bed, we’d roll out the sofa bed and figure out how five girls were going to fit on a full-size rollout bed. Usually, the three tallest slept vertically, and the two smallest slept horizontally at the feet of the others.
03:01 CB: I can remember seeing Mamanita in her bedroom, which was dimly lit by the candles on her altar. She would kneel at the side of her bed and say her nightly prayers. I never actually saw her get in bed because I’d fall asleep before she’d finish her prayers. Just as quietly as she got into bed, she’d rise before the sun and start her day with prayer, prepare her breakfast, and then our food. It was the wonderful smell a fresh flour tortillas cooking and the rhythmic sound of the wooden rolling pin hitting the table as she rolled out the tortillas that would wake us up. The fresh tortillas were accompanied by refried beans and eggs made the way we wanted them. Tang was the morning drink along with milk. Her food was so good, she was known in the community for being such a good cook. She would laugh when we would lick the plates clean. We’d spend the morning helping her tidy up, play dress up with her things, and by midday, we’d begin to gather our belongings to head out on our venture home. You see, we had to walk home to 23rd and North Market. So there we were, these young five girls heading north on Moseley with records in tow, record player, pillows, and this large, old accordion.
04:21 CB: We always pass by the Gonzales house before we cross to the other side of the street because we wanted to see Andrea and Ricky. From Moseley, we would turn west onto the dirt road of East 19th Street where my other grandparents used to live. They would be our next stop, as my aunt and her family lived there. We’d stop and say hello to our cousin Andy, and ask him to walk with us up the hill to the Missouri Pacific Railroad tracks. There used to be some boys hanging around there, around the tracks, that would harass us. So when he could, he would watch us until we hit the cow path, which was the shortcut through a tall, grassy field leading us to the dusty road of 20th Street. On 20th Street, we would pass the towering flour mills and the old CBT Mule Company that would lead us to North Topeka Street. Once we reached that point, we could see my dad’s pool hall on North Broadway, and we knew we were back in the city, safe and sound.