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Interview with Ralph Delgado




Ralph Delgado, his older brother, Ray, Jr., and his younger brother, Francis, run a 900-acre potato farm, one of the largest in southern Minnesota. They, along with their father, Raymond, Sr., started buying land in 1953 after many years of doing farm work for other farmers. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Management and operation of the farm - hobbies and interests - family - education - discrimination - and advice to future generations.





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This interview was conducted as part of a series on the Mexican American in Minnesota. Ralph Delgado, along with his older brother, Ray Jr., and his younger brother, Francis, runs a 900 acre potatoe farm operation. state. One of the largest in the southern part of the

The Delgado brothers and their father, Raymond Sr., began buying land in 1953.

They have expanded their operation to include cleaning, processing, and shipping their own potatoes. Ralph Delgado, discusses the farm, his own hobbies and interests, his family's education, discrimination, and gives advice to future generations. This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview edited to aid in clarity and ease of comprehension for the reader. The original tape recording is available in the Audio-

Visual Library of the Minnesota Historical Society.

INTERVIEW WITH RALPH DELGADO July 26, 1976 Moosbrugger: This is Grant Moosbrugger, interviewing Mr. Ralph Delgado in Maple Island, Minnesota, July 26, 1976, for the Minnesota Historical Society. have your permission to take an interview from you? Delgado: Moosbrugger: Yes, you do. Can you tell us, Mr. Delgado, a little bit about your agricultural operation here, in Maple Island; a brief history, how you got started in the business, and how it's growing? Delgado: We purchased our first land in 1953. people. Prior to that, we worked for other In Do I

We were raising sugar beets and potatoes, at that time.

1959, we quit the sugar beets, because they went to different equipment. With the same equipment, we could go to more potatoes. potatoes and each year, we would buy more land. we now raise four hundred acres of potatoes. We went into

It kept getting larger,

We own around seven-hundred Potatoes are our main

acres, and we also rent another two-hundred acres. money-maker. Moosbrugger:

We have corn, beans, and wheat as a rotation. And until recently, your

You're in this business with your two brothers? father?



My father passed away February ninth, a year ago.

There are three

of us brothers:

Ray Junior, who's the oldest; I'm the middle one; and We have our own potatoe washing plant

Francis is the youngeBtbrother. here.

The youngest brother does all the office work, as far as buying and My job is the maintenance end of it.


My oldest brother is priI do the potatoe and corn The oldest

marily in warehouse and fertilizer application. planting.

Beans are planted the same time as the potatoes.

brother has to plant potatoes at that time. jobs.

We overlap into each other's Then we have two hired

If one gets done, we help each other out.

men who are working year round.

-2Moosbrugger: Delgado: How many people do you have working for you, from time to time? Throughout the summer, we handle it ourselves. about five or six other people at cutting time. In the spring, we take on At harvest time, we take In the

on about eight or ten people, depending on the dirt situation.

different fields, as pertaining to lumps, dirt, trash, etc., you have to throw some of it out before it gets in the warehouse. Moosbrugger: Delgado: Do you and your brothers get to know the whole phase of the-jobs? Right. We overlap. Then we talk back and forth. No one person makes a Any

major decision.

Small decisions are made on the spur of the moment. We have been

major decisions are always talked among the three of us. incorporated for about three years. call legal hassles.

We're still going through what I

It's part of the program to get incorporated, squared If one would happen to be-

away, and to set it up on a bi-sell agreement.

come disabled, or killed, rather than paying a lawyer a bunch of money to settle it, we're settling Moosbrugger:

him. Do

I noticed, as I drove up here, a plane took off on one of your roads.

you hire contractors to do work and jobs for you for the farm operation?

Right. season.

I think it was about eight or nine years ago, we had a real wet We couldn't get out with the ground rake to spray. So we heard

of a gentleman from Windom, his name is Jim Nelson.

We were the first Now there

ones to bring an airplane into Hollandale to do crop spraying. are two other planes in the area. We're very satisfied with his work.

Jim has sprayed for us all these years. He keeps his plane down here. We

have a man living here that watches it all the time, so that the plane won't be in danger of vandalism. Moosbrugger: You have quite a bit of machinery. You showed me a fascinating machine.

Do you want to tell us a little about that? Delgado: Yes. We have a four year old potatoe harvester. It is the second one

-3Delgado: made in the world. about three years. The other one is a demonstrator they had out for It's up in Wolahala, North Dakota. With our oper-

ation, it was quite expensive. the amount of acres. four-roll.

We thought we could see fit, by gaining

We more than doubled our acres per day, with this

It works out really well on a light yield, because you can We are very pleased with it. We're always open

lead that much faster.

to any new improvements that can help better our operation, improve the yields, and bring us more income with less hours. Moosbrugger: Have you stayed just in the farming aspect, or do you have any other operations of your business? Delgado: They abandoned us with the railroad, so we've purchased a short line of it, so far. I think we're dealing on another length of line, right now.

By the time we're done, we're going to have somewhat over one-hundred miles of track. the main line. Moosbrugger: Delgado: We do have our own engine now. They allow us to pull off

They'll pick up the cars from there, and continue on.

So you have gotten into the shipping part too? Right. The trucks aren't that reliable, with the rail-cars.

The rail cars

will be here, we can load them at three days for a particular truck.


We had to wait as long as

We've had to set the load on the floor, We just try to cut the corners

and it's double handling and double labor. whenever we can. Moosbrugger: Do you have any other hobbies or interests? quite a set-up, as far as dog-kennels go. Delgado: Well, the wife and I both like showing dogs. or six thousand miles each year. We both like it. kennel, also.

As I drove by, I noticed

We've traveled possibly five

We fly to the National Show every year. Then we have a boarding-

To us, it's very interesting.

We like that too.

We've had a lot of compliments on it. It seems like a guy never has too much

It gives us a little more income.

-4Delgado: income. We both enjoy it. We get away from the farm and get our mind It gives us a little relaxation.

off of our everyday, regular duties. Moosbrugger: Delgado: What breed do you deal in? We deal in German Shepards. are out of Lance of Fran Jo.

We have predominantly the Lance-lines, which He is the German Shepard that has produced

the best progeny point-wise, and he is the wisest of any German Shepard in history. We like that style and type of dog. Although there are dif-

ferent blood-lines, we prefer this Lance-line. Moosbrugger: Do you ever get into any other interests? about antiques. woods? Delgado: Right, we do a little monkeying around with a few antiques and coins. were oVt in California. We picked up a matching pair of finger lamps, They were hand-blown, without any We brought back a wooden coal-hod, This is, to us, the most We We We were talking a little bit

Do you ever run into any antiques in this part of the

that had no mold marks, whatsoever. molds. They were stamped, "1871".

hand carved, from England, sawed out of Oak. interesting stuff that we've come across. are adding a room on to the house, now. into this room, as a type of a hobby.

We like to dabble in it.

We plan to put strictly antiques I have a favorite, those finger-

lamps, I think the official name for them is a night-lamp, as a main collecting item. 'Moosbrugger: So there are plenty of things to occupy a person's interests outside of big cities? Delgado: Right. We are a couple of "hay-shakers," anyway. This is something we

like to do. Moosbrugger: Delgado: Fun is where you find it! Right. We both enjoy it. Now we have a little boy named Dan. He also

likes dogs.

He is only eighteen months old.

We hope that he will continue

-5Delgado: Moosbrugger: Delgado: to like dogs. We'll try to guide him in the right direction, if we can.

Were you born and raised right here? Yes, all three of us. Delores. Well, I have an older sister, too. Her name is Francis

Hy sister and Ray Junior, were born in the same house.

and I were both quite close together. in Hollandale. Moosbrugger: Delgado: What year was Ray Junion born?

So we were all born and raised here

He was born in 1935; I was born in 1937; and Francis was born in 1,939. We are all quite close together. My older sister was born two years be-

fore my oldest brother, whatever year that was. Moosbrugger: Delgado: Moosbrugger: Delgado:

Yes, 1933. Roughly, what year did your father corne to Hollandale? He carne back and forth, as a migrant, from Omaha. a few times. He went back and forth He

I think it was 1928, when they decided to stay here.

got married, it must have been in 1931 or 1932. My mother was from Wells, Minnesota. Moosbrugger:

From then on, he stayed.

That's all I know about that. Did he want to

Was your father's personal inclination towards farming? settle down and get his own farm?


He was what you call a stoop-laborer.

It must have been about 1948 when In 1946, he had five That's basi-

we started farming, just renting land at that time.

or six acres of onions that he shared with another fellow. cally how he got his start in farming. Moosbrugger:

Did he have a lot of definite ideas and input into the present day operation before he passed away? Or was it mostly your brothers and you, who

took the big interest in getting a large operation going? Delgado: Well, no, it was him. would get this large. He always kept stating that he never realized it He didn't realize that we were going to stay horne

-6Delgado: and farm. After he realized it, we were all hanging around the farm beWe kept buying more acres of land, whenever we could. That puts us

cause we liked it.

In the past two weeks, we purchased another forty acres.

in the seven hundred acre area, as far as owning land, plus, the cost of the two hundred acres which we rent. Moosbrugger: So your plans for the future are to keep the operation going strong, and adding on when and where it's possible? Delgado: Right. We're quite selective on the land we buy. There's quite a few

different pieces that come up, but we're not really interested in that type of ground. We are mainly interest in potatoe ground. Whenever We don't

some of that comes up, we like to have first chance at it. always get it, of course. far as we can see fit. Moosbrugger: Where did you go to school? by school bus? Delgado:

We are in there putting in the highest bid, as

Right here in Hollandale, or did you travel

When we were younger, first through fourth grade, I went to Maple Island. The school is now closed. From fifth to eighth grade, we went to Hollandale. All four of us went through

For Senior High School, we went to Albert Lea. that same grade procedure. Moosbrugger: How was it growing up, being Mexican American? nation? Delgado:

Did you feel any discrimi-

When we were younger, in the lower grades, like first to eighth grade, we felt a lot of discrimination. There was definite discrimination there.

We were just laborers then, also we were quite young, so we didn't voice our opinion too much. Now we have established ourselves. We voice our

opinion, sometimes too often.

I guess a lot of us do voice our opinion, As we went to high

it's one of the things that happens as time goes by.

school, it seemed like there was a great deal of difference, there was a

-7Delgado: different type of people. Hollandale. ment. They weren't clannish, like the people in

Hollandale was, at that time, a predominantly Dutch settleWhen we went to high school, it was a

They were quite clannish.

completely different story. Moosbrugger: Delgado: Did you participate in athletics in high school? Yes. I was the most outstanding of the boys. I went to state wrestling I

three years in a row. got beat two to one.

My senior year, I was runner-up in the state.

Then I was co-captain for football that year, and I was elected "Outstanding Wrestler of the Year", I was only out for two sports. In

co-captain for wrestling. my senior year.

I got six letters.

the spring, I had to work, so I wasn't able to go out for track, which I don't regret. A guy had to look forward to his futute, also, as far as I'm well satisfied with the choices we've made.

making a living. Moosbrugger: Delgado:

Do you see yourself staying in this area and continuing this kind of work? Right. Now each one of us has a son, we're not' going to force them into If they want to, it will be done. It's being

being part of the farm.

set up that way now, so we can make changes, although, one is eight or nine years oller than the" other two, which is not that big of a deal. Moosbrugger: At least they'll have the opportunity if they want it. for them. It will be here

When you stop and think that your great-grandchildren might be

listening to this recording, do you have any personal philosophy; what has made life good for you? Obviously, it has been good for you. Just

give us a general philosophy and a tip on how it might be good for your grandchildren or great-grandchildren. De1ga1do: Well, we used to have a sign in the wrestling room. ever forget it. to have". Moosbrugger: "The harder I work, the more luck I seem to have". True. I don't think I'll

The sign went, "The harder I work, the more luck I seem



I have been out of school a while. year.

We have our twentieth reunion this It

That sign was in there when I was a freshman in high school. It stuck with me.

will be twenty-four years ago. it.

I have never forgotten

I have told a couple of other business people this little phrase. It's

Once in a while, they would mention it in passing in conversation. very short, just a few words, but it says a lot. Moosbrugger: Delgado: Okay. Okay. Thank you very much.

This is my philosophy.