TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-10:00 Teresa talks about her grandfather, Jose Mari Aspiri, who was a foreman on the dynamite crew at Arrowrock dam. He made 3 trips to the US in all, each time to the Dam. He wanted to bring his eldest daughter with him on one trip, but she was tied up in a relationship, so he brought 16-year old daughter Maria Josefa, mother to Angeles and Teresa. Maria lost all her luggage on the trip, had never seen a banana, and was well treated by Americans. She and her father spent a night in Valentín Aguirre’s boarding house once she had gotten to New York. She took a train from New York to Idaho, which took 5 days. The sisters list some of the other Basques who came. Angeles mentions how some sheepherders in Idaho got Maria some new clothes, since she had lost her own; they all bought the same blouse, without telling each other! She once found a $20 gold piece in Mateo Arregui’s boarding house, where she worked. She was a good friend of Mateo, and there were also 2 other Basque girls working with her. Maria rarely had time off, and worked very hard. When she met her future husband 6 months after she arrived, Maria thought he was so thin that she snuck him extra food.
10-14:00 Teresa and Angeles talk about their father, Felipe Aldape. To board at the Aguirre place in New York at that time, one had to show a $20 gold piece to prove one wasn’t a vagrant. When Felipe saw a young man had none, he let him borrow his own. The young man died in a gas explosion that same evening, so the girls’ father had to board the train to Idaho with no money to his name. He couldn’t afford to eat, but was rescued by a kindly American couple traveling in the same car, who shared food with him. Felipe went straight to the hills to herd sheep, even though he was supposed to attend school while his brother Elias Aldape supported them. Felipe’s father used his money wisely, consulting a lawyer before it was fashionable and buying the first refrigerator and washing machine in the Boise Basque community. He thought he was going to go back to the Basque country, but he met Maria and wanted to marry her. Her father didn’t approve of the marriage, and wanted her to return to Euskadi, but since Maria and Felipe were to be on the same train to New York, they threatened to elope, and so her father relented. They were married at St. John’s in 1911. The couple had bought a little boarding house, and Maria spent her wedding night scrubbing the floor. They worked there together, and Felipe played the accordion to attract boarders. They brought over Mari Cruz Bicandi from the Basque country to work as a maid, and this girl dealt swiftly and ruthlessly with rowdy men who wanted to seduce her. Maria and Mari Cruz had been like sisters in Ondarroa. The maid liked to go barefoot in the house, which wasn’t done at the time. Maria did the cooking, and loved to dress up for everything.
20-30:00 Angeles and Teresa talk about their father’s accordion, and the lessons he gave to his children. He was also a good winemaker, and attracted many customers. Felipe and Maria ran the boarding house for a few years before moving out to a dairy farm on Rose Hill. Felipe delivered milk, which the sisters describe. The family always spoke Basque at home, and none of the children knew any English when they started school. They ended up learning Basque so well, that on trips back to Euskadi, people thought they were emigrants. It was hard for Angeles and Teresa to adjust to school, which they talk about. A man named Felix helped tutor the kids in English. The family eventually moved to Meridian, where Maria had great success raising turkeys. Angeles and Teresa recall that their mother had her children teach her English, and that she eventually became a citizen.
0-10:00 Angeles and Teresa talk about their mother’s citizenship process, which took place in the 1940s. Martina Bicandi helped her study. The sisters talk about some of the places they lived before moving to Boise, including a sheep ranch in Mora. They spent most of the year in Boise, but moved around with their father during lambing season, to the detriment of the girls’ educations. Maria was an excellent cook, and worked very hard. The girls slept in a covered wagon while helping their father, and Felipe built a makeshift wood structure to serve as home. Maria had to get up at 4:30am to start the fire, but never complained about anything. They spent many winters like that, and the sisters describe the experience. The family worked with the Nicholson sheep ranch. The girls’ brother Joe quit school to work as a full-time sheepherder for his father, and his brother John followed suit. When Felipe sold the sheep, his sons got a lot of money for being partners, and lived life very well.
10-20:00 Angeles relates a story from the time she spent at the sheep camps. She was always upset because she never got to go to the dances. One day, a bunch of sheepherders came in with a car to take the sisters, including their sister Maria, to a dance. Teresa talks about some of the antics the Chacartegui boys got up to scare the girls, including making ghostly noises in the basement of their house. Felipe moved the family out of the house because Teresa was so scared. The family always grew up around other Basques, which the sisters described. Angeles and Teresa remember going to a small school at Dry Creek. Teresa discusses the long underwear the girls had to wear to school, but which they pulled up to show off their legs. The girls took a bath once a week, each having to get her own clean water. Felipe had welded copper tubing around and around the stove (at the sheep camps), which piped hot water into a big wooden tub. Teresa describes the baths.
20-26:00 Teresa and Angeles’ mother did all the family’s sewing. In the Basque country their mother had worked as a seamstress from the age of 8. Maria got help with writing letters to relatives in Euskadi, and the girls added little messages. Angeles’ first of 5 trips to the Basque country was in 1968, and she recalls the advanced gossip network there. Teresa had made 3 trips to Euskadi, in 1991, 1993, and 1996. She spoke only Basque, and had a great time.
26-30:00 It was difficult for Angeles and Teresa to move around so much as children, and their mother often tried to convince Felipe to let them stay in one place during school. They talk about their mother’s love of soap operas, which helped her learned English. Felipe decided not to become a US citizen.
0-10:00 Angeles describes meeting her future husband Justo when she was 17. Her family sold the hotel when she was 18. She describes their courtship, remembering dancing in serpentine fashion with may other Basques on New Year’s Eve in Boise. Angeles spoke English with Justo, and he wrote letters to her while he was away at sheep camps. The couple was married the same year, and the started a hotel, the Economy Rooms. They stayed there for 8 years and had 2 children.
10-20:00 Angeles describes the Letamendi boarding house, as well as a few others. He recalls that Mr. Anduiza used to counsel young sheepherders not to blow their money on gambling and women during their vacations in town. Angeles remembers dances at the Anduiza fronton, and at a few other boarding houses. Her sister Marie was a beautiful dancer, and won several prizes. Music and dance was crucial to the Basque culture at the time. Justo was also very musical. Teresa had owned a grocery store, but sold it to Angeles and Justo in 1944, when the war broke out and her husband left. Justo always wanted to work for himself, even if it was hard. The couple was living in a beautiful house off Warm Springs Boulevard, and Angeles didn’t want to leave, since her children Philip and Josephine liked their neighborhood.
20-30:00 The store was very hard to run, and the family lived in an apartment in the back until Justo built a new house next door in 1951, where Angeles has been ever since. The couple worked with Basques and non-Basques alike. She mentions a few of her customers. Angeles and Justo’s children didn’t learn Basque, because Justo didn’t want the customers to think they were talking about them. Josephine learned a lot from her grandfather, and Phil learned a little. Justo wanted his kids to go to college, since he never had, but Josephine went for 2 years, Mary graduated, and Philip didn’t go at all. Angeles went to many Euskaldunak meetings, and participated in special events in the community. Both she and Teresa are happy with Boise Basque culture today, and thinks her grandkids will help continue it. Angeles thinks it’s important to keep the Basque culture alive.
0-14:30 Teresa was 18 when she graduated from Boise High School in 1936. She had made up her mind to work at Montgomery Ward, downtown, but the manager didn’t hire her. She came back again and again until she got the job from another official, whom she convinced by mentioning her ability to communicate with the Basque community. She recalls selling a lot of things to Basques who came in. When business slowed down, she was temporarily laid off, during which time she met Hank Arriola. She finally applied to be a division manager at Sears, got the job, and happily never worked at a sheep camp (something she was trying to avoid). Montgomery Ward didn’t want to lose her, and so gave her the same salary, but she still chose Sears. She ended up making $15 a week, and worked for Sears for 17 years. Teresa was always very demanding at work, but was well liked, worked hard, and usually got what she wanted. She chats about some of the risky, but successful, business decisions she made as a manager. At one point, she sold so many vinyl jackets that Sears advertised it as the ‘Teresa Jackets’.
14:30-24:00 Teresa mentions her children: Jimmy was born in 1941, and Terry in 1957. After 33 years of marriage, she divorced her husband in 1970. She went to college to learn to be a real estate agent. Teresa became a real estate agent, helped professionally by her mother, who was a sort of matchmaker for houses in the community. In one year, she sold 62 houses, and made the million-dollar club. By this time she was living in a duplex across from her mother, where she has been to this day. Teresa always spoke English with her kids, although she did try to teach them a little Basque. Her son can understand a lot, but hardly speaks Basque at all. She recalls speaking Basque to her sister Marie, who is now in a nice care center. Teresa was a charter member of the Basque Center, but was never very involved. She has a good and exciting life. She remembers teaching for a little while at St. Mary’s while she was going to school, and talks about the joy of attending classes once again.
NAMES AND PLACES
Aguirre, Valentín: had a boarding house in New York
Aldape, Elias: the sisters’ uncle
Aldape, Felipe: the sisters’ father
Aldape, Maria Josefa: the sisters’ mother
Aldape, Maria: the sisters’ sister
Anduiza: owned a Boise boarding house
Arregui, Mateo: had a Boise boarding house
Arriola, Hank: Teresa’s ex-husband
Arriola, Jimmy: Teresa’s son
Arriola, Terry: Teresa’s child
Aspiri, Jose Mari: the sisters’ grandfather
Bicandi, Mari Cruz: helped out in the sisters’ family’s boarding house
Bicandi, Martina: helped Maria Josefa become a US citizen
Euzkaldunak: Boise Basque Club
Letamendi: owned a Boise boarding house
Murelaga, Josephine: Angeles’ daughter
Murelaga, Justo: Angeles’ husband
Murelaga, Philip: Angeles’ son
Arrowrock Dam (Idaho)
Basque Center (Boise)
Boise High School
Dry Creek Sheep Ranch
Economy Rooms: hotel owed by Angeles and Justo
St John’s Cathedral (Boise)
St. Mary’s: Boise parochial school
Clubs and organizations