Calexico Chronicle / IV Weekly

 128 W 5th Street, Holtville, CA 92250


Old Family Farm Ground Now Growing More Than Crops Part l

January 5, 2019

     Driving south on Vencil Road south of Holtville the first glimpse of Triple I Press looms at the intersection with Verde School Road. Once farmland passed down for generations, what has been built there would make it unrecognizable to its pioneering forebearers.


     Heading up Tubbs Road, now on dirt, an office stands sentinel ahead of a fleet of red tractor trailers behind which a phalanx of massive shipping containers patiently await loading and unloading.


     To the right of the entrance stands the tall, wide and deep metal sheds where the job of pressing the hay is done. There is a dock for loading and, encircling all this to the rear and sides, open barns filled with rectangular bales of hay and hay bales stacked outside and covered with tarps. Everything is neatly aligned for convenience and organization. Space is not a problem. 


     Triple I was established in 1999, the name standing for the first letter of the name of the founders and owners, the Irungarays—Norberto Sr., and his two sons, Norberto Jr. and Gerard. They are joined by Norberto Sr.’s wife, Patty, and their daughter, Emily.


     The land originally belonged to Ernie Leimgruber, Patty’s father, as she tells the story of the business’ lineage. It stands two miles from the ruins of the historic Verde School both Patty and her father attended. Patty remembers it once being an integral part of country life, the hub for children living in the country.


     Although the school closed sometime during the late 1960s and is now abandoned, it remains part of the terrain, part of Patty’s lifetime and certainly adding to the flavor of her life.  The fact that its shell endures shows some foundations simply refuse to die, whether in fact or in memory.  


     Other foundations start small with the past relegated to live in memory alone, but they continue to flourish through the years, growing in size and dynamics, and thereby overwhelm the past. Triple I Press is one of these. 


     The company website,, shows pride of ownership and promises a quality product. In part it reads, “Triple I Press is composed of two hay compresses, a farming operation, and a fleet of trucks to suit your transportation needs. We take pride in our work and are eager to serve our customers; therefore we guarantee a high quality product when and how you want it.”


     This actually is a family saga. It can’t be told without mentioning two families: the Irungarays and the Leimgrubers.


     Patty Leimgruber was born on August 21, 1956, at the hospital in Calexico. As the story goes, Patty’s mother, Jackie, was quick and efficient when it came to having babies. She knew this because she’d already had two boys by then, Ernie Jr. and Wally, and there was no disputing the facts. 


     When it came time for Patty’s birth there was enough time only to grab the two boys who were playing outside. It was a very hot day — in other words a typical August day around these parts — and the boys were in their skivvies. Playing. Not only playing, but playing-in-the-dirt filthy. 


     Patty’s grandfather Walter Leimgruber did the driving. The father, the mother and the two kids just hung on for dear life while they were rushed to the hospital. When they got there the two boys immediately started playing in the water fountain that stood in front of the hospital (or maybe they were just cooling themselves), while Jackie got on with Patty’s birth. It is not recorded what hospital personnel thought of all this.


     It turned out to be quite an occasion. When Grandfather Leimgruber found out that a girl had been born, he was overcome with joy and wanted to rush in immediately to see her. He had no sisters and no daughters so, to a point, his actions are understandable . . . although not to the nurses’ way of thinking. When he began pushing in, a smoldering pipe in his mouth, and demanding in a loud voice to see his granddaughter, he was summarily turned back by personnel.


Part 2 of this story will be published in next week’s edition.  

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