TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
*Note: Dolores Aguirre’s brother, John Barinaga, has written a biography of their parents, Valentin and Eulalia Barinaga, titled Valentin & Eulalia: the story of two Basque emigrants who came to America, met, married, raised a family and made their living in the sheep industry. Copyright © John Barinaga, April 16, 1998. Contact the Basque Museum & Cultural Center for more information.
Tape 1, side 1
0-3:00 Dolores was born in Mountain Home, Idaho in August 1921. She was born in the Anchustegui boarding house, which sat across the street from the Bengoechea Hotel. Her birth was assisted by a midwife, Mrs. Anchustegui, who was the boarding house owner’s wife. Dolores’ father owned a sheep ranch about 60 miles south of Mountain Home, on the other side of Bruneau. The family lived on the ranch. Her mother spent the last month of her pregnancy at the Anchustegui boarding house. After she gave birth and recovered, she would return to the ranch. She rode in a horse-drawn buggy.
3:00-5:30 Dolores’ parents were Valentin Barinaga and Eulalia Ugalde. Her mother was from Anguiozar, Gipuzkoa, and her father was from Markina-Xemein, Bizkaia. Her father was the first from his family to immigrate, but his two brothers came later. They worked with Valentin, made some money, and returned to the Basque country. Valentin promised his mother that he would return as well, but decided to stay in the United States because he recognized the opportunities he would have there. Dolores’ mother decided to stay in the United States from the moment she arrived, optimistic that she would have a better life in the US. Eulalia had three brothers living in the United States by the time she immigrated. One of them worked for Jose “Joe” Bengoechea’s sheep company in Mountain Home. He wrote to Eulalia, telling her that if she were courageous enough she could come to the United States.
5:30-7:15 She details her father’s sheep company. Valentin was originally in partnership with Harry Bettis, a dentist in Boise. When Valentin’s sons grew old enough, Bettis sold his share to Valentin, knowing that the latter’s sons would be interested in joining the operation some day. From then on, the outfit was called “Barinaga & Sons.” Dolores’ brothers are Jose (1922) and Juan (1925). Jose took control of the sheep company, and Juan, following a more academic path, went to college and followed a different career path.
7:15-10:15 Dolores’ father immigrated in 1907 and arrived in Mountain Home, where he already had a job on a sheep ranch, the same ranch he later owned. He had arranged for the job through correspondence by letter. When he first arrived at the train station, he decided to walk to the sheep ranch rather than wait for a stagecoach. People gave him directions from time to time, telling him to head for Elk Mountain but to stay on the left side of Bruneau Canyon. He walked the entire distance – 60 miles! Dolores’ mother immigrated in 1919 and married the following year. She and Valentin lived on the ranch until Dolores was seven years old, when they moved into Castleford, Idaho.
10:15-12:45 Eulalia and Valentin did not know each other in the Basque country. They met at the Anchustegui boarding house. Eulalia was working at the Bengoechea Hotel. They married at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Boise, Idaho in May 1920. Father Arregui performed the ceremony. They moved directly to the ranch, where Valentin had been working. Around that time, he went into partnership with Dr. Bettis.
12:45-15:15 Even though he wanted to stay on the ranch, Valentin agreed to move to town so that Dolores could go to school. Castleford, with its indoor lambing facilities and hayfields, made a good base for a sheep company. Valentin moved the entire operation from the Clover Flat Creek Ranch to Castleford and built new lambing sheds. The ranch continued to be part of the operation, used mainly in the spring. In Castleford, the family lived in town. Even though he had the opportunity to buy a farm outside of town, Valentin decided to keep the family in town. Dolores supposes that he was still thinking about returning to the Basque country one day, and did not want to acquire so much property as to make the move difficult.
15:15-19:00 Dolores describes Castleford. There was a Basque family that owned a boarding house in town. Two other Basque families operated sheep companies in the area, and another couple owned farms near town. There were not very many Basques in the area, and they were not organized the way they were in Mountain Home or Boise. Dolores was not conscious of her Basque heritage per se, but had the feeling that she was different. There were no other Basque children in her classes at school. In those days, she was very conscious of the fact that she was an immigrant’s daughter. There was another immigrant family from Central Europe in Castleford. There was also a Japanese family, the Joo family, who sold their farm to go back to Japan. Dolores’ mother wanted to buy the farm, but her father refused to do so for the reason cited earlier. She lists the other Basque families: Ernesto Larragan, Frank Gandiaga, Mauricio “Morris” Guerry (shortened name), Pete Inchausti, and Frank Berria’s parents.
19:00-21:30 Dolores explains how she felt different as a child. Her parents did not speak much English. She spoke only Basque with her parents. One of her friends, Dorothy Clement’s, parents went to picnics in town, but Dolores’ parents never attended them. She would go to the picnics with Dorothy and her family. Dolores had no trouble in school. Dolores tried to help her mother learn English but was not very successful. Looking back, she appreciates her upbringing and her ability to speak Basque. Dolores passed the language on to her children, who still understand it.
21:30-22:15 She talks about her family’s visit to the Basque country in 1995, and the way her husband and daughter, Sylvia, reacted to it.
22:15-24:45 Backing up, she describes her parents’ social lives. They both worked a great deal, which left little time for entertainment. They did take a break every now and then, however, to go to Rupert or Buhl for the Fourth of July. When Dolores was growing up, her family did not socialize much with people who were not Basque. She remembers the circus that came to Twin Falls every now and then. Her mother would drop the children off at the circus, go to a boarding house to visit with other ladies, and return in time to pick the children up.
24:45-25:00 Dolores’ father did not take much time off from working with the sheep, but he did visit the Basque country four times, mainly to visit his mother.
25:00-26:30 In her experience, social events in the Basque communities in Twin Falls and Castleford were informal. There were few if any large, organized gatherings or social events. People met each other at boarding houses or homes the way her mother did when she dropped the children off at the circus. When she moved to Boise as a young woman, Dolores enjoyed going to the Basque picnics with her girlfriends. She and her brothers did not join their mother at the boarding house, which was more of an adult atmosphere. Dolores remembers dances and gatherings at the boarding house in Castleford, but the family did not attend those events very often.
26:30-28:30 Dolores graduated from high school in 1940. She was the only Basque in her class. While she was in school, she noticed that the Basque students mixed well with the other students. No one ever confronted her about being different; it was just something she felt inside. She was even voted President of the student body her senior year. Her feeling of being different did not prevent her from taking part in school athletics. She played basketball and was the Salutatorian.
28:30-30:00 She enrolled at the University of Idaho for the fall of 1940, finishing in the spring of 1942. Dolores then moved to Boise, where she stayed for four and a half years. She thought about teaching Spanish, but ended up pursuing a different career until she met her husband, Domingo Aguirre, and married.
Tape 1, side 2
0-8:00 At the University of Idaho, Dolores majored in Spanish and minored in Secretarial Science for two years. She explains why she decided to study Spanish. Dolores had always wanted to be a teacher. In those days, it was more difficult to find a teaching position in a city. Most young teachers were sent to rural school districts, often one-room country schools before they were let into a larger district. After her studies at the U of I, her mother arranged for her to board with Mrs. Gandiaga in Boise since there were not many jobs in Castleford. Dolores stayed with Mrs. Gandiaga for four and a half years while she worked in Boise. Her first job was as a secretary at the Idaho State Capitol. Next, she found another position as a secretary at First National Bank. She was the secretary for the president of the bank, Mr. Schoonover. Dolores worked for Robert Colter (sp.), the State Land Commissioner, at the Capitol from 1942 to 1946, then at the bank for another year. Dolores describes her responsibilities at the Capitol.
8:00-12:30 Dolores explains how she and Domingo happened to meet during one of her visits to Mountain Home. She was working in Boise at the time. They met again at a Basque boarding house dance and started dating soon after. They married in December 1946 at St. John’s Cathedral in Boise. They enjoyed their honeymoon in San Francisco. Dolores remembers the tricks she had to learn to drive and park a car on the city’s steep hills.
12:30-16:45 After their honeymoon, they returned to Mountain Home, where Domingo was working for his father, Domingo Aguirre Sr.’s, sheep and cattle ranch. The company was called “Aguirre & Son,” and later “Aguirre & Sons.” Dolores briefly describes the annual calendar. She and the other women would spend summers at the company’s farm in Prairie, Idaho, while the men worked out with the sheep.
[*Note: in an unrecorded portion of the interview, Dolores adds that she and her mother-in-law used to cook and clean for their families and the workers in Prairie during the summer. From 1947 to 1968, they spent their summers cooking and cleaning for eight to ten people. They started their days at 6:00 am by cooking breakfast, then lunch, then supper, usually working until 8:00 pm.]
Domingo and his father operated the ranch. The herders were single men from the Basque country, so there were no other women to help with the cooking or cleaning. In the early years, another man cooked for the workers during the lambing season. In later years, one of the Basque camp tenders, Claudio Gamikiz, cooked during lambing. (Aside: during their visit to the Basque country in 1995, Dolores and Domingo went to see Claudio).
16:45-19:45 The women came down to Mountain Home in time for their daughters to go to school. Until Sylvia was five years old and Diana was three, Dolores and her husband spoke Basque to them. When Dolores’ mother noticed that the girls were not learning any English, she suggested that Dolores teach them to speak the language before they would have to start school. Her mother did not want them to have the same difficulty that Dolores had when she started school. Dolores did not speak any English when she started. She had to learn at school. Once they started school, her daughters preferred to speak English to Basque. Eventually, both daughters switched to English as their main language.
19:45-25:15 In addition to teaching them some Basque, Dolores and her husband enrolled them in jota lessons with Louie Berriochoa. He would come over to the house and teach the girls to dance in the basement, where there was less furniture to get in the way. As they grew older, Mountain Home started having Basque picnics, which the whole family attended. She remembers Juanita Hormaechea’s contribution to Basque dancing in Boise and the surrounding area. At one particular dance at the Jausoro’s “Spanish Hotel” in Nampa, Idaho back when Dolores and Domingo were dating, Juanita looked around the room and said it was a shame that young Basques did not really know how to dance the jota. [Note: the Jausoro's hotel is mistakenly referred to as the "Modern Hotel" by the interviewer during the interview. The true name has been included here.]
25:15-30:00 Dolores says that she has not been as concerned with preserving the Basque culture as some people have. Even so, she became aware of the importance of maintaining the language and culture when her daughters were young. She wanted to pass her heritage on to her daughters and is interested in seeing Basque culture survive in the area. Even though Mountain Home does not have a Basque Center, it does have a park dedicated to Basques. The Basque organization, [Euskal Lagunak] has also renovated the old fronton, which sits near the lot where the Anchustegui boarding house was before it burnt down.
Tape 2, side 1
0-6:15 Dolores feels that Euskal Lagunak, or “Basque Friends” is doing a very good job of preserving the Basque culture in Mountain Home. She cites the park, fronton, and the tile ikurrina as examples of their effort and commitment. Dolores and her husband have been members of the organization for many years. In the beginning it was only for men, but that has changed in recent years. Dolores explains how Julian Lachiondo helped found the organization in the late 1950s. She thinks back on her reasons for joining. There was not much incentive for her to join in the beginning, because women were not allowed to be members, even though they were expected to cook for all the events. The organization faded away for a few years before it was resurrected, renamed Euskal Lagunak, and opened to men and women. Activities like the Fronton Festa, annual dinners, and other events help bring the Basque community in Mountain Home together.
6:15-7:30 Dolores shares her observations on how the Basque community in Mountain Home has changed over the years. She cites the vast number of professions in which Basques can be found as an example. Even with the changes, she still feels a common bond with other Basques, even with those from younger generations.
7:30-13:30 She describes her trip to the Basque country in 1995. She had been wanting to go her entire life. The green landscape amazed her. The stories her mother used to tell Dolores about her childhood in Anguiozar came back to her, including one about having to pass by the town cemetery at night. Dolores had always wanted to see the cemetery. She really enjoyed seeing the places her mother described. Dolores and Domingo saw their relatives as well. She would like to go back, but other considerations make traveling difficult. She felt very comfortable there.
13:30-17:15 Backing up, she remembers her brothers’ experience in the Air Force and Navy during the Second World War. The older of the two, Jose, returned to take over the family’s sheep company, and the younger, Juan, returned to finish college. The old Barinaga sheep company is no longer in operation, but the farming part survived until later. The Clover Flat Creek Ranch was eventually sold.
17:15-20:45 Dolores reentered the workforce from 1968 to 1977, working as a secretary at the Elmore Country Courthouse. She describes her job. Since her daughters were grown and out of the house and her husband was at work much of the time, Dolores needed something to keep her busy. She did not enjoy being at home all day by herself. Computers came in only after she retired.
20:45-23:00 Since her retirement, Dolores has had more time to work with the Mother Cabrini Sodality, a ladies group at her church, and the PEO, an educational philanthropic organization. She has been a member of the former since 1950 and the latter since 1979. She also enjoys gardening and is a voracious reader.
23:00-27:00 Dolores’ mother came to live with her and Domingo for fifteen years. During that time they grew a “Basque garden” with tomatoes, peppers, and the like. She always spoke Basque with her mother. Dolores and her husband speak Basque from time to time. When asked how she would identify herself, Dolores answers that she hasn’t really thought about it very much. She no longer feels as different as she did in her youth.
NAMES AND PLACES
Aguirre & Sons – husband’s family’s sheep and cattle company.
Aguirre, Domingo – husband.
Aguirre, Sylvia – daughter.
Anchustegui family – owned the Anchustegui boarding house.
Barinaga, Jose – brother.
Barinaga, Juan – brother.
Barinaga, Valentin – father.
Bengoechea, Jose “Joe” – sheep owner and owner of the Bengoechea Hotel.
Berria family – another Basque family in Castleford. Frank Berria’s family.
Berriochoa, Louie – taught Basque dancing to Dolores’ daughters.
Bettis, Harry – dentist and Valentin Barinaga’s partner in the sheep company.
Bush, Diana – daughter.
Clement, Dorothy – friend.
Colter, Robert (sp.) – former Land Commissioner for the State of Idaho.
Gamikiz, Claudio – cook and camp tender for Aguirre & Sons.
Gandiaga, Frank – another Basque in Castleford.
Guerry, Mauricio “Morris” – another Basque in Castleford.
Hormaechea, Juanita “Jay” – Dolores recognizes her contribution to preserving Basque dances in America.
Inchausti, Pedro “Pete” – another Basque in Castleford.
Joo family – a Japanese family in Castleford.
Larragan, Ernesto – another Basque in Castleford.
Ugalde, Eulalia – mother.
Anchustegui boarding house, Mountain Home, Idaho – birthplace.
Anguiozar, Gipuzkoa – mother’s hometown.
Barinaga & Sons, Castleford, Idaho – father’s sheep company.
Bengoechea Hotel, Mountain Home, Idaho – Basque hotel and boarding house.
Boise, Idaho – Dolores lived and worked here for 4 ½ years.
Bruneau Canyon, Idaho
Buhl, Idaho – Dolores’ family used to attend 4th of July celebrations here.
Castleford, Idaho – Dolores grew up in Castleford.
Cathedral of Saint John, Boise, Idaho – Dolores was married here.
Church of the Good Shepherd, Boise, Idaho – Dolores’ parents were married here.
Clover Flat Creek Ranch – onetime headquarters for Barinaga & Sons.
Elk Mountain, Idaho
Elmore County Courthouse, Mountain Home, Idaho – most recent employer.
Euskal Lagunak, Mountain Home, Idaho – Basque organization.
First National Bank – Dolores worked as a secretary here for Mr. Schoonover.
Markina-Xemein, Bizkaia – father’s hometown.
Mother Cabrini Sodality, Mountain Home, Idaho – Dolores is involved with this organization.
PEO, Mountain Home, Idaho – Dolores is involved with this organization.
Prairie, Idaho – summer farm for Aguirre & Sons.
Rupert, Idaho – Dolores’ family used to attend 4th of July celebrations here.
Spanish Hotel, Nampa, Idaho – mentioned in connection to Juanita Hormaechea’s efforts to preserve Basque dancing.
Statehouse, Boise, Idaho – Dolores worked as a secretary here.
Twin Falls, Idaho – Dolores remember the circus passing through Twin Falls.
University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho – Dolores studied Spanish and Secretarial Science here.
Basque clubs and organizations
Boise Basque community
Non-Boise Basque communities
Second World War