TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-7:30 Pancho was born in Durango on December 6, 1920. His father was Florencio Aldape, from Abadiano, and his mother was Florentina Echeita, from Garay. His father herded sheep in the US, and his mother was a housewife. Pancho and his family lived right in the middle of town, but he spent most of his childhood summers in Garay with his grandparents. He talks about his school days a bit: it was a public Catholic school composed solely of boys, and the students were separated by grades. He went to school from the time he was 6 to the age of 14, at which point he went to the US. His teachers were all Spanish, and so taught in Castilian; Durango was mostly a Spanish-speaking town, but he got a chance to speak Basque when he left on summer vacation. Pancho never met his dad until he was 14 and came to America, but he spoke Basque and Spanish to his mother. He recalls that it was hard on his family to be split up like that, but he had other relatives, and so had to deal with it. Like most Basque immigrants to the US, his father never intended to stay long in the US, but ended up doing so. Pancho kept up correspondence with his father until he met him. Pancho was way ahead of the American kids in school when he came, due to the great education in Spain, but he had problems with English.
7:30-17:00 Growing up in the Basque country, Pancho went hiking and walking with his friends; they were too poor to afford a lot of expensive entertainment. He had a close group of friends (including his cousins), some of whom visit him here. He lists the names of some of his friends. Pancho recalls the saints’ days in Euskadi celebrated with little town festivals, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He didn’t work outside of the house, but had chores to do around the home, including feeding animals and cleaning. His grandparents had a baserri in Garay and he also used to help his grandfather there tend to the animals. In 1935, the political situation in Spain was bad, so Pancho’s dad got him papers to come, with the condition that he attend school (the law said he had to have completed the 8th grade to work). He went to school first in Boise, then in Meridian, but as soon as he had finished the 8th grade, he went to work in the hills as a sheepherder. He didn’t enjoy this much, so he went back to school in Kuna to take a few years of high school. Most of his friends volunteered for the war when it broke out, and although Pancho signed up to go, he was told he could not because he wasn’t a citizen. He ended up signing up for the draft later and going. Pancho had originally come to the US aboard an Italian ship named ‘Rex’ that left Gibraltar. He spent 5 days on the ship and 3 days on a train to come to Idaho. His father and a man named Boni Garmendia helped set up the trip. He had a nametag with his tickets pinned to his shirt, and as the paper got shorter and shorter, he knew he was getting closer.
17-23:00 When Pancho first arrived in Boise, he thought the capitol was the church, since in Euskadi, the church was always the biggest building. No one was waiting at the train depot for him, so he went to the address his father had left him—the Uberuaga boarding house—and by chance, Mr. Uberuaga recognized him and sent him by taxi to the ranch where his father was living. They had a big party that night. Many people thought that America was a land paved with gold. Pancho knew it would be different, but not that different. He cried when he first arrived, but got used to Idaho, even though it was so much bigger than he had imagined. He suddenly remembers that it was Valentín Aguirre who collected Pancho in New York and fixed him a lunch for the train journey.
23-30:00 Pancho lived at the Uberuaga boarding house while he went to Central School for a year to complete the 7th grade. He was academically ahead of most of the other students, but had to learn English, which only took him a few months. He admits he learned most of his English in the US military. He went to Meridian for the 8th grade (his father’s cousin needed help milking cows there), then went to the hills with his father to herd sheep. It was a great opportunity to get to know his dad.
0-7:00 Pancho did not enjoy shepherding very much. He didn’t get much time off, but spent what little vacation time he had socializing with Basques. After a little while, he decided to complete some high school in Kuna, spending his vacations at work in the nearby sheep ranches. In the summer, many Basque men went to chop wood in the mountains, and Pancho replaced them for the season (he specifically mentions a Landaluce). He was drafted before he graduated, but in 1975, he got his GED. He recalls that there were few organized Basque activities in Boise while he lived near there, but he spent a lot of time with Basque people. He remembers the dances at the boarding houses; Jim Jausoro was just a boy at the time, playing his accordion.
7-17:00 Pancho was not a citizen when he entered the service in 1942 (he became a citizen in Paris, Texas, during boot camp at Camp Maxi, later that year). He describes the citizenship process. If Pancho was caught with sympathy towards Franco (not that he ever would), he would have been deported, so rather than run the risk, he joined willingly. By that time, he knew the US was his new home. Pancho didn’t return to Euskadi until 1967. While he was enlisted, he worked in the Army Corps of Engineers, and went to North Africa, Italy, the French Riviera, and Germany (where he finally built a bridge). He met a few Basques in camps across the area—even from Kuna! (Pancho’s wife comments on how lucky the interviewers are that they never ended up living in France). He remembers going to a Basque restaurant in Paris, where the hostess treated them like kings without making them pay. Pancho came back from the war in September of 1945, at which point he began working in construction.
17-23:30 Pancho met his wife in high school in Kuna in 1938—they were sweethearts. They were married in December of 1946. She doesn’t have any Basque ancestry. Pancho worked in construction until he became a carpenter, working in a cabinet shop for 12 years. He built a shop in Kuna, and worked a year or two beginning in 1975, but had limited success. He next got a job at the Ada County building department, where he worked until his retirement in 1986. He then worked as a building inspector in Kuna until 1995. Right after he got married, he and his wife lived in Boise until 1972, during which time they raised their 4 kids. His kids are Regina (a Boise lawyer), twins Jerry (on the current board of directors at the Basque Center) and Terry (who lives in Honolulu), and finally Nikolas (who lives in Denver).
23:30-30:00 It was difficult for Pancho to teach his kids Basque with a non-Basque wife. These days, he and Benny Goitiandia like to meet up and speak Basque together, since it’s hard for him to keep going to the Basque Center as he’s gotten older. His kids danced with the Oinkaris, and went to the World’s Fairs in Seattle and New York. Pancho has been very involved in the Basque community; he was elected to the board of the Basque Center in 1952, was vice-president in 1953, and was president in 1955. He was one of the instigators behind the building of the Center, and was a charter member of Euzkaldunak. He mentions that the Basque Center was originally Mrs. Uberuaga’s fruit orchard. Right after the war, there were many Basque people hanging around together in different places around town, and Jay Hormaechea started her dancing lessons (even Pancho’s wife Bernie participated). There were soon so many people doing things together that they needed a single place to meet. He talks in general terms about the Basque Center’s inception. It was paid for with very popular $300 bonds, many of which Basque holders refused to be paid back for.
0-9:00 Pancho continues talking about the Basque Center. He himself built the 1st bar for free. He mentions the zeal with which people bought bonds. Pancho’s friends were mostly Basque, and he thinks it was an important place for younger generations to meet each other and stay connected. He mentions the decision to join NABO. Pancho and a few other Kuna Basques tried to organize Basque dances in Kuna around 1985, and for 2 years they were successful, but when they tried to get up a board of directors, it petered out. Basques and non-Basque farmers alike came to the dance. Pancho has always gone to the Boise picnics, and used to go to the dinners and dances. He didn’t have to push his kids to get involved either; they had many Basque friends and were excited about the culture. Pancho and his wife chaperoned the Oinkaris trip to the Montreal World’s Fair in 1971. Regina has been on the board of the Basque Museum.
9-17:00 Pancho’s first trip back to the Basque country was in 1967; he talks about it. He was by himself, didn’t know anybody, and felt very bored. His 2nd trip in 1973, he went with his wife and a bunch of other Basques on a charter trip set up by the Basque Center, and he had a lot more fun. He spoke English and Basque pretty well, and was well treated by extended family, but he still felt like a tourist. His cousin was the mayor of Mundaka. While he was in the US, Pancho kept up a little contact with his family in Euskadi, but not much anymore. He calls once in a while. He has been back 3 times since 1973, the last one with his son in 1993. He thinks he may be too old to visit again. Pancho feels he is equal parts Basque and American. In his spare time, he enjoys gardening, talking with friends, and other low profile activities.
Names and Places
Aguirre, Valentín: ran a boarding house in New York
Aldape, Bernie: Pancho’s wife
Aldape, Florencio: Pancho’s father
Aldape, Jerry: Pancho’s son
Aldape, Nikolas: Pancho’s son
Aldape, Terry: Pancho’s daughter
Echeita, Florentina: Pancho’s mother
Euzkaldunak: Boise Basque organization
Franco, Francisco: Spanish dictator
Garmendia, Bonifacio: helped set up Pancho’s trip to the US
Goitiandia, Benedicto: Pancho’s friend
Goitiandia, Tomasa: helped Pancho organize a Basque dance in Kuna
Jausoro, Jim: Boise accordion player
NABO: North American Basque Organizations
Oinkaris: Boise Basque dancers
‘Rex’: ship Pancho took to America
Uberuaga family: had a boarding house in Boise where Pancho stayed
Welsh, Regina Aldape: Pancho’s daughter
Abadiano, Spain: Pancho’s father’s birthplace
Basque Center (Boise)
Basque Museum and Cultural Center (Boise)
Camp Maxi: Pancho’s boot camp in Texas
Central School (Boise)
Durango, Spain: Pancho’s birthplace
Garay, Spain: Pancho’s mother’s birthplace
Gibraltar: port of departure for the US
Kuna, ID: Pancho’s home
New York: port of entry into the US
Paris, Texas: town where Pancho got his citizenship
Clubs and organizations