Joe N. Brown
Joe N. Brown

In the 1990’s, the head border patrol officer, Bill Sawyer, came to see me about a deal they needed to make. It seems they had an illegal alien who was needed to testify on a smuggling operation that might last up to a year. Not wanting to keep him in jail that long, would I give him a job on my ranch?

I asked if the man was healthy and an experienced ranch hand, both answers were yes.

I then asked about conditions and was told he would be issued a I-91 worker card, good for one year. Also, as long as I was working their man, the border patrol would leave me alone. I agreed to try this situation out.

The next day, the patrol boss showed up at the ranch with this little indian whose name was Tirso Delgado. He was about 45-years-old, stood about 5-3 and weighed about 92 pounds. I asked if he knew about ranching, horse shoeing, horse breaking and repairing windmills for water.

To all of these, the answer I got was, “Si como no, es my vida.”

I asked the agent about working terms and was told that was between me and Delgado. He then handed me an I-91 card and left.

I took Tirso to the bunk house and got him settled in with groceries and bedding. We then sat down and got acquainted. I had guessed his age right. When I asked what he could do on the ranch and his answer shocked me. He said he could do anything, except drive a vehicle. Then he went on to say he could break and train horses, fix pipe lines, mend fences, doctor sheep, goats and cattle. He then said he forgot to tell me he could not and would not weld.

I thought to my self, “Here is a top hand.” Time proved this to be true.

Tirso stayed with me that one year, legal, then came back and worked for me about five years illegal. These were good years except for a couple of incidents that occurred and I will pen here now. The first goes like this.

I caught Tirso looking out of the side of his eyes and asked why. I was told he could not see in front. I took him to the eye doctor who told me he has cataracts covering both eyes and would be totally blind if not removed. He made an appointment with a specialist in Odessa for the surgery the next day.

Tirso and I arrived in Odessa about 6:00 a.m. and checked into the hospital. The doctor explained that he could and would do the surgery immediately but he wanted Tirso out of the hospital that same day due to a flu epidemic they were having. I agreed to all conditions and to the payment of $1,000.
He took Tirso and I didn’t see him until about 4:00 p.m. He was fully dressed, in a wheel chair with a bandage around his head. My orders were to keep him out of the sunlight and bandaged for one week. We agreed and left for the ranch. When the pain medicine wore off, I had one blind, mad indian on my hands.

We followed orders and kept him inside for a while until about four days later, I drove up to the bunk house with his breakfast and found him sitting out front without the bandage on his eyes.

Before I could say anything, Tirso said to me, “Thank you, thank you, mi gracias, mi patron.” I said, sit back down and tell me what is wrong.
The answer I got was, “Nothing is wrong, for the first time in over a year I can see the sheep goats on that hill across the valley. You have saved my eyes and my life mi patron.”

I kept him around the barn for about one more week before going back to work. As we’re running out of space, I will cut at this tale of Tirso Delgado, but I will write at least two more tales about him later.