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Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Rudolph F. Runez
Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Rudolph Runez was born in 1902 in the city of Caba, in the province of La Union, in northern Luzon, Philippines. He was the third of seven children of a government official in La Union, and although the family was not wealthy, all the children had good educations through secondary school, and several of them later went to the United States to continue their studies. Rudolph's older brother Sixto arrived in Minnesota with a cousin and two others from Caba in 1918, and Rudolph arrived in 1922. After three years of study at the University of Minnesota and the College of St. Thomas, Rudolph married Ruby Knutson, whose parents were Norwegian immigrants, and soon afterward left college to support his family. Even with several years of college education it was difficult for Filipinos to find employment in the Twin Cities, and with the onset of the Depression in the late 1920s almost the only employment open to them was service work in hotels or jobs as butlers in the homes of wealthy businessmen. From 1928 to 1938 Runez worked as a butler in the home of the John Pillsbury family in Minneapolis, and later he also served as butler in the home of the John Ordway family in White Bear Lake. With the onset of World War II he found a job in defense work at the Gray Company in Minneapolis, and he continued to work for the company until his retirement in 1967. While Runez was a student at the University of Minnesota, he was active in the Philippinesotans, a club organized by Filipino students, and the Cosmopolitan Club, which included a variety of foreign students. In 1925 he was one of the organizers and the first president of the Cabenan Club, a regionally based organization comprised of immigrants from Caba, and later he was the first president of the Filipino American Club. Both Ruby and Rudy Runez have been active participants in the First Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake since 1939, and since his retirement has been on the church's board of trustees and board of deacons. He has also been active in the Masonic Fraternity. The Runezes have two daughters, both of whom married men of Scandinavian heritage. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Runez points out that every year from 1918 to about 1928 several Filipino immigrants arrived in the Twin Cities from Caba, La Union, and that many of them were relatives or friends of the Runez family. He also points out that among those who remained in Minnesota, a large number eventually married daughters of Norwegian immigrants who had arrived in an earlier era. Runez discusses racial discrimination that caused interracial couples to experience severe hardships in finding jobs and housing, and the rude remarks and stares of bigoted individuals when the couples appeared in public. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: Runez and his many relatives and friends who eventually immigrated to the Twin Cities illustrate the system of chain migration common to many immigrant groups, a system in which those who arrive first encourage others to join them in the new land through letters and offers of assistance. He also exemplifies the many Filipino students who were not able to complete their studies in the United States because of economic hardship. In the Twin Cities many of them married women of Norwegian or Swedish ancestry and became permanent residents of Minnesota. They were denied American citizenship until after World War II.
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
35 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 00:58:36 running time
Creation Narrator: Runez, Rudolph F.
Interviewer: Mason, Sarah R.
Made in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Asians
Filipinos
Made in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 01/17/1979
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
ID Number OH 51
Accession Number AV1981.361.27
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project'