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Interview with Romaldo Jimenez



Romaldo Jimenez was born in Jalisco, Mexico, in 1912 and left the country in 1926. He worked in Texas and Kansas and arrived in Walters, Minnesota, in 1933. At the time of the interview he was living in Albert Lea. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Working in the beet fields - renting land to plant his own crops - and raising his 13 children. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: In Spanish, transcribed into English.





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This interview was conducted as part of a series on the Mexican American in Minnesota. Roma1do Jimenez, was born in 1912. His home state is Ja1isco, Mexico. He left Mexico He had

when he was fourteen years old in 1926.

His father died when he was seven.

two brothers and one sister, but he has lost contact with them. for the railroad in Texas and in Kansas from 1928 to 1933. 1933 to work in the beet fields, but didn't like the work.

Mr. Jimenez, worked

He came to Minnesota in He started working for He is the father

other farmers and then started renting land to plant his own crops. of thirteen children.

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.



This is Grant Moosbrugger interviewing Romaldo Jimenez. 1976.

Today is July 26,

Do I have your permission to interview you for the Minnesota

Historical Society? Jimenez: Moosbrugger: Jimenez: Yes. When did you come to Minnesota? We were in different places. Kansas, from 1928 to 1933. States. First we were in Fort Worth, Texas, then It was during the depression in the United Then we

I was working on the railroad and they laid me off.

decided to come to Minnesota. March 19, 1933.

We arrived in Walters, Minnesota on

We worked in the beet fields from March until May 3rd.

We proceeded with difficulties for sometime, and finally things got better. Moosbrugger: Jimenez:' Did you stay in Minnesota then? No. We worked the beet fields that summer. In the winter, we went to We returned to We were still Beet work

Manly, Iowa.

We returned to Minnesota in the spring.

Manly for two more winters.

Then we stayed in Minnesota.

working the beet fields, but I didn't like the work at all. is the hardest work the Mexican can get.

I was looking for an opportuA farmer offered me a

nity to work on my own farm, and I found it.

straight salary of twenty-five dollars a month, plus fifteen acres of beets. Those fiftenn acres were my start. I made six-hundred-forty

dollars on the beets.

Then I bought everything I needed to plant onions. Then we went to Easton, because they So I rented twenty

I rented some land in Hayward.

didn't want to rent me the land in Hayword anymore. acres from Henry Stevermen, in Easton, in 1943.

I lost some of the



onions, because there was too much rain. I still got a good price for them.

With the onions that were left,

I only had six trucks full of onions. Then one

But what I made with those six trucks, was enough to live on. year, in 1947, we had very good luck.

I planted twenty acres, of the

twenty acres, only thirteen were good and I got a good price for the onions. I made twenty-one thousand dollars. After I paid all my bills, which were I wanted to

three thousand dollars, I had eighteen thousand dollars left.

go back to Mexico, but my wife didn't want to go because the children were born here. again! year. Then after that year, we kept going down and we were broke

All we had was a 1947 car, which we had gotten new on our lucky I bought the car for $2,350, this was because I bought it in the

Black Market. Moosbrugger: Jimenez:

I had to sell i t for twenty-five dollars!

In 1940, and the fifties, did you have your own farm? No. I rented the land, because I wasn't planning on staying here. If I But my

could have gotten lucky again, I would have gone back to Mexico. family started growing, and leaving, so here we are! Moosbrugger:

If you would have gone back to Mexico, what part of Mexico would you have g )ne to?


I didn't have any certain place in mind. left there when I was fourteen years old. went to the state of Tamau1ipas.

My home state is Ja1isco.


When I left my home town, I I later went back She would come I had two brothers. My middle brother

I went to Tampico.

to my home town to get my mother, to take her to Tampico. and go, the last time, she decided to go back for good. I don't know them anymore, because I haven't seen them.

went back with my mother and that was the last time that I saw her, or my brother. Minnesota. I saw my oldest brother again, because he came to see me here in I left Mexico in 1926, from Tampico I came to the United States. About three years

It was about forty years, before I went back to visit.


Jimenez: Moosbrugger: Jimenez:

ago, in 1973, I went back to visit. Did you visit any of your family when you went to Hexico in 19737 Well, I didn't see, or know, any of my relatives. one sister. I had two brothers and For years I didn't The second I don't know

Hy father died when I was seven years old.

know or hear from them.

Hy wife went to Hexico once before.

time she and I went to Mexico, we visited my wife's family. anything about my family. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: You have a big family here in the United States. Yes. saved. Hoosbrugger:

Are you happy with them?

Look at the pictures on the wall, that's the only treasure I have

What were some of the difficulties you have or had here in the United States?


Finding a job to make a living was hard. know what it costs to live.

If you don't work, you don't

I worked to make money for my family and home. When one didn't need

I never had the opportunity to save money in a bank. something, the other one didl

Imagine, I had to buy thirteen pairs of When we all gathered at the table, Their mother made tortillas, People who don't I have been lucky.

shoes every month, or month and a half!

their favorite food was tortillas and beans.

and they would pick them up like they were playing cards. have a family, really don't know what life is all about!

When all my family was at home, I would take the ones who could work with me to the fields. Hy name has never been on the "welfare" ┬Ělist. Now that

I am disabled, I went to "welfare" to get food stamps. got forty-two dollars worth, for ten dollars. I never depended on "welfare." Moosbrugger: Jimenez:

For two months, I

They even took that away.

What I earned, I have paid in state taxes.

You have earned everything you received? I sacrificed myself for my family; so that they can be worthwhile to the country, or better yet the government, that they serve, in one way or

-4Jimenez: another. to pay. Anyway, I worked to raise my family. I paid everything I had I am happy, be-

I worked and showed them how to make a living.

cause I know that none of my family has ever been in trouble with the law, or in prison. Moosbrugger: You have taught your children to have respect for work and how to make a living. Jimenez: Moosbrugger: What are some of the values you taught them?

I taught them how to work, so that they can earn a living. But isn't there something else, like respect for their parents, or the churchZ



That's all I can say.

That's all I have left.

The day I reach the

final point, I will be six feet under the ground. here. Moosbrugger: Jimenez: Nevertheless, you have had rich expereiences. It can be said that I have had many experiences. to it. I know it, because I lived through it.

But they will still be

But I can't make reference If I had more time, I could

remember everything. Moosbrugger: Your philosophy is very beautiful. You have lived for your family. When

you die, your life will continue in your children. Jimenez: I was an orphan, and my story is very sad. My joy is that I overcame all From where I

obstacles and sacrifices that I had to make for my family. came, only I know. Moosbrugger:

It has been a pleasure talking with you, and hearing some of your experiences and philosophy. Thank you very much.