10 Replies Latest reply on May 9, 2021 12:23 AM by Ruben Munoz

    Seeking article titled "The Tortilla Family"

    Ruben Munoz Newbie

      Hello, I am looking for the Van Nuys New and Valley Green Sheet article around 1966 or 1967 entitled "The Tortilla Family". I am trying to find this newspaper article that covered the dire economic struggles my family and I experienced in Southern California during the mid-1960s. In it, the article mentions specific individuals that played a very special role in my early childhood and which I have strived long and hard over the years to try to locate. I was only 3 or 4 years of age at the time and attended Head Start at the Van Nuys California Center. A child development educational video entitled "Operation Head Start" narrated by Burt Lancaster was produced during this time in which a child named "Reuben" was featured and portrayed as a prime example of the crushing poverty children in under-developed and under-served communities face (see images below).


      Whether this work was loosely based on my experience and that of my family's or not I cannot say, but it is the only thing I have been able to find that appears to tie me and my family to this particular school, location, and dire living conditions. I would be happy to provide further details should anyone be in a position to provide any help or information. Thank you so very much!


      Films Suitable for Head Start Child Development Programs

      Operation Head Start  (Film Cat. No)

        • Re: Seeking article titled "The Tortilla Family"
          Ceri McCarron Adventurer

          Dear Mr. Munoz,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the series Moving Images Relating to Anti-Poverty Programs, 1964 - ca. 1979 in the Record Group 381: Records of the Community Services Administration that includes the film OPERATION HEAD START. The film has been digitized and is available using the Catalog. For more information about these records, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Motion Pictures (RDSM) at mopix@nara.gov.


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDSM. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


          According to the Library of Congress, you locate the newspapers at the LA County Library.


          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!

            • Re: Seeking article titled "The Tortilla Family"
              Ruben Munoz Newbie

              Hi Ceri,


              Thank you for taking the time to search and provide a response to my inquiry.


              I had already accessed the Operation Head Start video before and was unable to glean anything particulary helpful from it in my search for a specific and very special person.


              Just the same, your time and efforts in this matter are appreciated.


              Kindest Regards,


              Ruben Munoz

            • Re: Seeking article titled "The Tortilla Family"
              Alice Lane Pioneer

              HI Ruben,

              Welcome to History Hub


              Found it.


              OPERATION HEAD START - Bing video


              I hope this is what you are seeking.


              Alice Lane

              Research Volunteer

                • Re: Seeking article titled "The Tortilla Family"
                  Ruben Munoz Newbie

                  Hi Alice,


                  Thank you so very much for the time and effort spent on locating this video and responding to my post!


                  I too stumbled upon this video of few years ago but was unable to glean any specific information from it specific to someone I have been searching for. The newspaper article I made reference to, however, does mention certain people by name which is really what I am after.


                  If it's of any help, the background and picture provided below (previously posted on certain social media sites) give further details as to who exactly it is that I am searching for.


                  Whatever the outcome, do rest assured of sincere appreciation for your kind assistance in this matter.




                  Ruben Munoz



                  In early 1968, upon learning of my mother's plan to move away to a different part of town, a heartbroken young pre-school assistant named "Sandy", who had grown hopelessly fond of me as a child, begged my mother for the right to keep and adopt me as her own! 

                  Reasoning that mother was struggling as it was to provide for 6 other kids besides me on her own, Sandy was prepared to offer me a home, the love and care that I needed and prospects of a better future -even allowing mother to visit any time she wanted. As painfully dire as the situation truly was for my mother then, she could not conceive of the idea of giving me away -even for the most generous offer. Shortly thereafter, our family moved away and we never saw or heard from Sandy ever again!

                  Though few and scattered memories remain of her and the endearing role she played in my early childhood, I can still recall faint but deeply etched memories of her crying while seeing me happily play with the toys that she had brought for me the day she tearfully and tenderly said goodbye. What little I otherwise grew up knowing of her is all that my mother remembered and passed on to me before she died.

                  From my mother's recollections, Sandy worked as a teacher's assistant at the Van Nuys, California Head Start Center mother had enrolled me in. Around the time this picture was taken (~Nov 1967), Sandy was around 19 or 20, had just married, and was believed to be studying to be a teacher. According to mother, Sandy and her husband could not have children of their own, which would explain why Sandy had grown so emotionally attached to me.

                  Not only was I the tiniest kid in the class at 4 (pictured on Sandy’s lap below), but I was also by far the most shy and timid. Mother would affectionately recount how quiet and reserved I was even when I cried that tears would simply roll down my cheeks every time Sandy arrived to pick me up and carry me away to school. My No doubt this all played a part in why I soon became the object of Sandy’s special affection.

                  Ever hopeful that Sandy would eventually find all the love, happiness, and success in her life she deserves, I have long wondered what it would be like to meet her again and tell her just how deeply touched and grateful I am for all that she did for me and my family! Though I have searched long and hard over the years to find her, I have had very little to go on other than a first name or variation of it, and a pre-school that has long since disappeared!

                  On the remote chance hat someone stumbling upon this posting may know or recognize the identity and/or whereabouts of this lovely young woman or relatives, I ask that you please forward this on to her or her family or contact me using the information provided below.

                  Pre-school teacher's assistant named "Sandy"




                • Re: Seeking article titled "The Tortilla Family"
                  Jill Ruch Wayfarer

                  The article

                  Rubin, is this what you want?  Sandy isn't mentioned but another woman seemed to help your mother.

                    • Re: Seeking article titled "The Tortilla Family"
                      Ruben Munoz Newbie

                      Hi Jill,


                      This does in fact look like the article I was looking for -though I was also expecting to see a family picture to go with it and the mentioned of a cuban-born headstart school principal or director named "Margarita". Their absence seems to indicate that multiple papers may have well covered this very same story. Just the same, I am extremely happy that you were able to find this at all!


                      It is a rather sad but important piece of our history that had long existed only memory. While I was never certain, I was at the very least hopeful of Sandy's mention. It does mention Jennifer, however, which I do remember and appreciate just as much.


                      Thank you so very much for having taken the time to research and locate this article! It means so much to me and to my family.


                      With enormous gratitude and appreciation,


                      Ruben Munoz