TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-4:15 Miguel’s father Felíz was born in Bolívar and, never spending much time on a baserri or having been to the US to find work, made his living as a security guard at a munitions factory named Esperanza. Miguel’s mother, Euleteria Jayo was from Nabarniz and likely met Feliz in the normal course of going to market, etc. As a young girl she worked for another family to clear up an already-full house. After marrying Feliz, Euleteria usually worked two jobs at once, splitting her time between the an uncle’s baserri and laundry-work and, later on, she also worked at a fish factory.
4:15-14:00 Miguel was born on October 9th, 1947 in Markina and had a younger sister named Celia and an even younger brother named Feliz. He spent most of his childhood at his uncle’s good-sized baserri—about a kilometer from Bolívar—which had some sheep, goats, cows, chickens, and horses. They also had a small garden and would sell eggs and other produce at market. Some of Miguel’s typical chores on the baserri include caring for the goats and ensuring that they were tethered, feeding the lambs, and looking after the cows. He starting going to school in Bolívar at about the age of seven. His teachers were quite mean and would hit the children for any misbehavior. All classes were taught in Spanish and boys and girls were separated. Learning was very easy for Miguel, which often prompted his mother to encourage him to continue his education but, tough times were more persuasive and he found work when he was 14. Looking back, he is happy where he is.
14-23:00 After getting out of school, Miguel enjoyed watching handball games, cycling races, and dances. Despite the tight money situation he had a lot of fun growing up. At the age of 14, he still lived at his aunt’s baserri outside of Bolívar and worked at a steel factory making bolts, faucets, and ratchet bits until he was 19. During this time he would send money to his parents who had moved to Markina by this time. His uncle would write from the US and talk about all the opportunities that existed overseas. Miguel went to Bilbao to take care of the paperwork and, due to his uncle’s (Erleaga) influence, already had a job waiting for him with the Highland Sheep Company. His parents did not really want him to leave, but Miguel felt that he had to go somewhere and save a little money because he just was not getting anywhere in the Basque Country.
23-30 In the winter of 1966 Miguel got the clearance to go to the US and flew from Bilbao to Madrid, then to New York, Chicago, Salt Lake, and finally Boise. He could only say “Ham and Eggs” in English, but was picked up his uncles Erleaga and Philip Jayo. It was very nice to see family there! Miguel comments that Joe Arrieta, the foreman for Highland, was always very nice to him. Miguel went straight to Emmett and began working right away: his first task was as a cook with his uncle at the sheep camp, but Miguel didn’t really know anything about cooking! Work at the sheep camp was not as hard as it was long.
0-3:15 Silence: Interview is inaudible.
3:15-12:30 When Miguel arrived at the Highland Sheep camp there were 18-20 Basques already working there. The following spring he continued his job as the cook, with a typical day’s fare including ham and eggs or mush in the morning, stew or beans or macaroni for dinner, and puddings for deserts. He tells a funny story about a time the crew ate a cold Christmas dinner because the chicken was not cooked very well. Miguel herded and cooked for 8 1/2 years and describes it as long, not particularly hard, and lonely. They would herd from Norris to Eagle to Table Rock and Aldape Summit, then up toward Idaho City and then Lowman and Atlanta. To keep from going insane, Miguel taught himself to play the harmonica, drank whiskey in Idaho City, and carved aspen trees to make the surroundings more familiar. He didn’t have much time off—the longest breaks averaging 2-3 days long—but he did manage to go back to Spain in 1972. He could only stay there for 120 days before returning so as not to have to serve his 18-month military obligation. Although he felt at home in Euskadi, things were different and he wanted to come back to the US.
12:30-24:00 In 1970 Miguel received his green card and, when asked why he decided to remain in the US, he answers that, among other things, he wanted to avoid military service, he was young, and the jobs were better in the US. In 1975 he began working at a Boise Cascade mill in Emmett, met his future wife, and took a trip to the Basque Country. While in Euskadi, he was pulled over by the Guardia Civil and asked for his driver’s license. Having nothing else, he produced his International Driver’s License and the officer said, “Qué es ésto?”. In the summer of 1975 Miguel met his wife Janice Bevan, via Maria and Joe Eiguren, for the first time. At this time his English was still a little shaky, but thanks to a book named “Inglés Sin Maestro” he learned quite a bit while shepherding. He also owes some of his English-speaking skills to Elvis Presley, whose music he used to listen to and sing all the time.
24-29:15 Miguel’s original intention in moving to America was, like many of his Basque fellows, to save a bunch of money and return to Euskadi to marry a Basque girl. When he met Janice all that changed: he had a good job and was very happy with Janice. The longer he stayed here, the more he enjoyed the US, and by this time he had pretty much made up his mind to stay in America. He and Janice were married in 1979 and had two children, Mikel and Daniel, both of whom speak Basque and were involved in Basque dancing growing up.
29:15-33:00 Miguel’s relationship with Basque culture has varied over the years. He used to play handball and frequent the Basque Center, but now he and Janice involve themselves with their children’s sports activities. However, Miguel’s closest nucleus of friends is still primarily Basque and he visits Euskadi every three to four years. After all this time and despite his US citizenship, Miguel still considers himself Basque: though he is very happy in America.
NAMES AND PLACES
Aizpitarte, Daniel; son
Aizpitarte, Euleteria Jayo; mother
Aizpitarte, Felíz; father
Aizpitarte, Miguel Angel
Aizpitarte, Mikel; son
Arrieta, Joe; friend and foreman
Bevan, Janice; wife
Eiguren, Joe; friend
Eiguren, Maria; friend
Esperanza; metal factory in Euskadi
Jayo, Felipe; cousin
Presley, Elvis; rock and roll idol
Aldape Summit, ID
Idaho City, ID
New York, New York
Salt Lake City, UT
Table Rock, ID
Hard times in the Basque Country
Coming to America
Working with the Highland Sheep Company
Shepherding: sometimes long and lonely
Being happy with what you have; looking to the future