TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-3:30 Her parents were Maria Ocamica and Justo Corta. They were both from Ispaster. They did not tell her why they had immigrated to the United States, or talk much about the Basque country. They left their old lives behind to start a new life in the US. Her father was 17 years old when he came to America. Justo’s brother, Pedro Corta, brought him to the United States. Pedro owned a ranch, the Corta Ranch, at Soldier Creek, Idaho (about 25 miles outside of Jordan Valley). Justo went to work for his brother, taking over when Pedro passed away at an early age.
3:30-5:45 Her mother, Maria, came to the United States to join her husband. She made the journey with their first son, who was a year old, and one or two other ladies. When she arrived, Maria and her husband settled into life on the ranch. Justo tended the cattle and sheep, and Maria took care of the housework. She also cooked for the workers and other people on the ranch. The Corta Ranch had sheep shearing corrals, so other sheep owners would bring their sheep to be shorn. Maria would often cook for 20 or 25 workers when they came by.
5:45-8:30 Eugenia was born at home on 18 April 1923. A doctor in Jordan Valley, Dr. Jones, and a midwife, Mrs. Aurora Madariaga, helped deliver her. (Aside: the interviewer reads Justo Corta’s “Declaration of Intent” for US citizenship. From it, one learns that his birthday was 5 March 1882. He emigrated to the US from Liverpool, England on the vessel Umbria. He arrived in New York, New York on 17 March 1899. He was granted US citizenship 9 December 1911. By the time he was a citizen, he was living and working at the Corta Ranch in Soldier Creek, Idaho).
8:30-11:00 When she started school, Eugenia spent summers on the ranch, from the middle of May to the first of September. She and her siblings spoke only Basque to their parents at home, but learned English from other children. Eugenia had no trouble adjusting to school because she spoke enough English, but remembers that many of the older children, including her brother in law, Alejandro Acordagoitia, had difficulty at first. Eugenia learned most of her English from her older siblings. She preferred ranch life to school, laughing when she thinks of her brother, Simon Corta, referring to the Corta children as “wild as Indians” when they came into town for school after having been out on the ranch all summer. Eugenia remembers the fun they used to have on the ranch.
11:00-12:30 The atmosphere on the ranch was great. The family did not need to come into town [Jordan Valley] very often because they bought their groceries in bulk. As the years progressed, she and her siblings came to town more often to take part in 4th of July celebrations, St. Patrick’s Day, and other social events. There were big dances on St. Patrick’s Day and Thanksgiving.
12:30-16:15 Eugenia continued to spend the school year in town and summers on the ranch until she finished high school. The family owned one of the first houses in Jordan Valley, which used to be where her house sits now. The children who were of school age lived in that house during the school year. Eugenia was around 16 or 17 years old when she started coming into town to dance. During the holidays, each of the boarding houses hosted a dance. The Marquinas, Elorriagas, and Madariaga families, who owned the three Basque boarding houses in town, each hosted a dance during the Christmas/New Year’s/Three Kings holiday season. The Thanksgiving dance was hosted at another dance hall. She gives the location of several old buildings in town. One of the dance halls was called the Pastime; another was the Jordan Valley Pool Hall. A Chertudi man would play the accordion for Basque dances, but non-Basque orchestras from the Treasure Valley (Boise, etc.) were hired for St. Patrick’s Day and Thanksgiving.
16:15-17:45 In her time, there were not many other ethnic groups in Jordan Valley. Years before there had been some Chinese families. One of the Chinese family’s houses still stands behind the Chevron service station. Eugenia knew several Irish people.
17:45-18:30 In the winter, Basque sheepherders would come down from the hills to stay in the boarding houses. There used to be three grocery stores in town, but they have since closed: Telleria, Valley Grocery, and a mercantile. The mercantile had been around long before the other two.
18:30-20:00 In high school, Eugenia played basketball, baseball and other sports. In her time, Basques and non-Basques got along together well, but before they did not. In her parents’ time, there had been a lot of fighting between Basques and others. Her father experienced much of the discrimination. Sheep owners and cattle owners did not get along well, either, since they competed for the same grazing lands. By the time Eugenia came along, Basques, non-Basques, sheep owners and cattle owners had learned to coexist.
20:00-20:30 Eugenia did not feel any pressure from friends or family to marry another Basque.
20:30-23:30 After graduating from high school, Eugenia went back to her family’s ranch to work. She met her husband, Alfonso Acordagoitia, who had been herding sheep. They married in Winnemucca, Nevada in 1948. She explains why people used to go to Winnemucca to marry, saying that it made the wedding less of a hassle. Her husband had herded sheep for the C-O sheep company (C-O was their brand), but was working on her family’s ranch by the time they married. Many people worked for the C-O outfit.
23:30-23:45 Eugenia and her husband always spoke Basque to each other. Since he passed away, she feels that she is losing her ability to speak the language, even though she practices with her brother, Simon, and his wife, Elbeda.
23:45-28:15 Eugenia was always her mother’s helper in the kitchen. Since she was the youngest child, she was the only one left to help after her older siblings married and moved away. Eugenia, her husband and her mother lived together after the first two married. In those days, Eugenia was working for the Basque Station Motel in town while Alfonso worked for Floyd Acarregui at the Chevron service station. Jim Zatica owned the motel. Eugenia worked as a housekeeper at the motel from the time her son, Gary Acordagoitia, was a young boy until . Gary was born at the old Mercy Hospital in Nampa, Idaho, in 1949. When he started school, working at the motel was a logical choice. It was close to the house and convenient. Eugenia’s mother lived with her and Alfonso until she passed away. Eugenia’s older brother also lived with them for part of the year until he sold the ranch, when he went to work for Fred Eiguren. The house was large enough to accommodate the entire family. Eugenia and her mother cooked for the family.
28:15-30:00 While her son was growing up the family spoke Basque at home. It was the only language Eugenia’s mother spoke. Her mother did not become a US citizen. Gary did not learn Basque. Many Basque children his age were the same way – even though they came from Basque families and heard the language as children, they did not learn to speak it themselves.
0-6:45 She discusses the changes in Jordan Valley’s Basque community over the years. By the time her son was of age, he had to move out of the area to find work. There were few jobs in Jordan Valley by that time. Eugenia’s generation lived more of a Basque lifestyle, but successive generations have lost it. Home life has changed. She says that a community changes with the times. For example, in her time, school children did not travel out of Jordan Valley to play sports. By the time her son was in school, the teams drove for miles to play against teams from other towns. Most of the Basque people are gone. A person used to be able to go to a boarding house for a Basque meal, but they have all shut down. The situation now is “different.” She agrees with the argument that a Basque boarding house was the nucleus, or center, of Basque culture and activity in the US. Herders would stay in the houses whenever they came into town. Each house prepared Basque meals. Since the older people have died, however, the community has changed. The Basque hotels started closing before Eugenia married. Looking back, she does not remember any of the houses being around by that time. If they were, they weren’t doing very well. Eugenia agrees with her brother, Simon’s, observation of the new highway’s effect on the community. In her day, it was difficult to leave town because the road to the Treasure Valley (Nampa, etc.) was not very good. When the highway was built, it became very easy for people to travel out of town. This drew people away from Jordan Valley. In her youth, children used to organize dances and fun events in Jordan Valley. These days every teenager has a car, so they drive to other towns for fun. Eugenia has noticed that the younger generation wants to get out, they don’t really want to be in Jordan Valley, preferring to go to more interesting places.
6:45-9:30 She remembers how the Basque community used to work together. They helped each other, even though they had their own families. Eugenia comments on the steady stream of traffic through town. Many large trucks pass through. When the highway was still new, Eugenia and her family used to open the doors of their house to see the trucks pass by. Her mother used to “get a kick” out of watching them. These days, the traffic is more of a nuisance than anything.
9:30-11:45 Eugenia has not visited the Basque country. Her parents had no desire to return. They did not talk about their homeland very much, which Eugenia supposes is because their lives in Euskadi were very difficult. When Basques came to the United States, many went into businesses and settled in this country, eventually deciding to stay here. Eugenia used to keep in touch with one of her cousins in the Basque country, but the communication stopped recently. She supposes that the cousin passed away.
11:45-14:15 Eugenia does not think of herself in terms of “Basque” or “American,” but says that she would call herself American. She discusses her ability to speak Basque, saying that she used to enjoy speaking the language with Ines Zatica, Jim’s mother, every day over a cup of coffee. These days, she enjoys gardening in her backyard. She grows a lot of tulips.
14:15-18:00 Looking back, she says that her mother used to visit Ines Zatica whenever she was in town. There was not much time to visit other families on their ranches, but her mother liked to see Mrs. Zatica when she was in town. Eugenia visits her brother and his wife from time to time. When their children were going to school, Eugenia and her friends used to have coffee at each other’s houses before returning home to prepare lunch for their families. She is amazed that people these days don’t know their neighbors or spend much time socializing.
*Note: Eugenia expresses her wish that her interview tapes be restricted to Basque Museum & Cultural Center use. No copies to be released to public.
NAMES AND PLACES
Acarregui, Floyd – owned the Chevron service station at one time.
Acordagoitia, Alejandro – brother in law.
Acordagoitia, Alfonso – Eugenia’s husband.
Acordagoitia, Gary – son.
Chertudi – used to play the accordion for Basque dances in Jordan Valley.
Corta, Elbeda – sister in law and friend.
Corta, Pedro – father’s brother.
Corta, Simon – brother.
Eiguren, Fred – one of Eugenia’s older brothers worked for Mr. Eiguren.
Elorriaga – owned a Basque boarding house in Jordan Valley.
Jones – a doctor in Jordan Valley.
Madariaga – owned a Basque boarding house in Jordan Valley.
Madariaga, Aurora – helped as a midwife in Jordan Valley.
Marquina – owned a Basque boarding house in Jordan Valley.
Ocamica, Maria – mother.
Corta, Justo – father.
Umbria – ship that took Justo Corta to the United States in 1899.
Zatica, Ines – friend.
Zatica, Jim – former employer.
Basque Station Motel, Jordan Valley, Oregon – Eugenia worked for the Motel for many years.
Chevron service station, Jordan Valley, Oregon – owned by Madariaga Inc.
C-O sheep company, Jordan Valley, Oregon – Alfonso Acordagoitia and many other Basques worked for this
Corta Ranch, Soldier Creek, Idaho – the Corta family’s ranch.
Ispaster, Bizkaia – parents’ hometown.
Jordan Valley Pool Hall – dance hall and pool hall in Jordan Valley.
Jordan Valley, Oregon – Eugenia’s lifelong home.
Liverpool, England – Justo Corta left from this port to cross the Atlantic in 1899.
Mercy Hospital, Nampa, Idaho – Eugenia’s son was born at this hospital.
New York, New York – Justo Corta arrived here when he immigrated to the United States.
Pastime, Jordan Valley, Oregon – dance hall in Jordan Valley.
Telleria market, Jordan Valley, Oregon – formerly a grocery store in Jordan Valley.
Treasure Valley, Idaho – Nampa, Caldwell, Boise, etc.
Valley Grocery, Jordan Valley, Oregon – formerly a grocery store in Jordan Valley.
Winnemucca, Nevada – Eugenia and Alfonso were married here in 1948.
Non-Boise Basque communities
Other ethnic groups