Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Talking about Delano

January 5, 2009

By Jen Bakken
Staff Writer

DELANO, MN – Three men were witnessed spending a snowy afternoon at Dave’s Town Club, enjoying a cup of piping hot soup, and discussing one of their favorite topics – Delano.

Harlan Lewis, Sam Nelson, and Charles Rieland do not claim to know how to solve the world’s problems, but feel they might know of ways to improve their hometown.

It could be said they have already gone above the call of duty of an average citizen to make improvements in the area. Certainly, each of these men is passionately dedicated to bringing the history and uniqueness of Delano together.

When the informational meeting regarding River Rider public transportation at the Delano Senior Center, was cancelled Tuesday, Lewis and Nelson decided to stop by Dave’s Town Club for lunch. Rieland happened to walk in the door shortly after, and the three men sat together.

“One thing led to another,” said Lewis, “and we started talking Delano.”

Though the conversation went in many directions, involved many cups of coffee and a few jokes, the common thread binding these men together was Delano.

“I told them about looking at a Sears Roebuck catalog from the 1920s,” said Charles Rieland. “They used to sell homes for $2,000. We thought it’d be neat to find if there were any in our area. It’s all about Delano and its history.”

According to the web site www.searsarchives.com, from 1908-1940, the company sold nearly 75,000 homes through their mail-order modern homes program.

There were 447 different housing styles, and the appropriate precut and fitted materials would be shipped to the home owner.

With the materials being mass-produced, the manufacturing costs were lowered, enabling lower costs for customers, according to the web site. The use of “balloon style” framing, drywall, and asphalt shingles eased construction for the buyers as well, because it did not require a team of skilled carpenters. Entire homes would arrive by railroad.

According to the web site, although more than 100,000 of these homes were sold, it is uncertain how many of them still exist.

Lewis, Nelson, and Rieland are curious if the Delano area has any of the homes.

“What we will do with the information, we have no idea yet,” admitted Rieland. “But it’d be a part of history and Sears, themselves, may be interested to know.”

Anyone who has information regarding this topic are encouraged to call the Delano Herald Journal office at (763) 972-1028, or contact Rieland at (763) 972-2464.

There are countless ways these men are involved in the community – from attending local government meetings, involvement with the school board, Rieland’s work to mark forgotten graves in area cemeteries, volunteering, and the Delano Senior Center.

“We are just a few guys who like to talk about Delano,” Nelson said.

“And,” added Lewis. “We have lots of ideas.”


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