TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-13:00 Tony was born in Pedernales, Spain on 12 December, 1931. His baserri was right next to the Plaza de San Andrés. When he was 2, he moved to a village and lived in a baserri called Zuzpitxu. His parents were Francisco Arrubarrena, from Pedernales, and Benita Amarika, from Lemona. Before marrying, Tony’s mother worked as a maid in Gernika, and his father worked in America for a while. He has 3 siblings, including José Mari and Ana Mari; he is the 2nd oldest. Tony began school when he was 6 and finished when he was 14. The school was in Mundaka. After finishing school, he helped his father on the farm, then worked in construction for a few years before being drafted into the Spanish military. He describes his school, which was mixed-gender for the younger kids. There was only 1 teacher, who wasn’t too bad, but who taught in Spanish. Tony often had to skip school to stay home and help his father on the farm. He had to learn Spanish at school, but spoke Basque at home; he recalls having to sing patriotic songs in class. Tony’s village was on a hill, but he walked to school every day anyway. He remembers being able to see many neighboring towns and cities from his hilltop, where he lived until he was 23. At the baserri, Tony helped tend to the livestock, plowed, sewed corn, and worked with the vegetable crops while growing up. He also got paid a little to help neighbors with their fields, did a little stonework, and helped his father cut down pine trees during the winter, all the while giving his paychecks to his family. The family sacrificed a lot in order to send José Mari to a mechanic’s school—he never worked at the farm, and the other children never got advanced educations.
13-25:00 José Mari was a good student and was soon making decent money at the shipyards to help his family. He later married and moved to San Sebastian. Tony (besides his father, who came on ‘La France’ to Nevada around 1907 for 15 years and to Melba in 1923 for 2 years to work as a sheepherder—he then met his wife in Gernika, and spent the rest of his life in Gernika) was the only member of his immediate family to travel to the US. Tony describes his work between school and the army, including a stint as a day laborer, lumberjack, etc., making 3 pesetas a day. In the military, he made 3 pesetas a month, and was very poorly fed, but his dad sent him a little money. He recalls that as a 5-year old boy, he witnessed the bombing of Gernika from his hilltop baserri; he could not see the town itself, but saw the fires and the bombs dropping. It was a Monday, and his father was in the Gernika marketplace. He made it home at midnight, on foot and through the mountains, after escaping the guards who were stopping the fleeing citizens. His family gathered their cows and fled to a distant abandoned farm for 3 months to be safe, eating only milk fat and rice pudding. When they returned home, their home was still standing, but soldiers had stayed there, and many neighboring homes had been burnt. He describes the experience.
25-30:00 After the bombing of Gernika, Tony returned home and life went on as usual. He describes his 2 years in the Spanish military: the Basques didn’t like serving Franco, but they dealt with it because they had to. Basques were often given the best positions because they were so capable. Most soldiers had girlfriends, but they only had 1 month of vacation a year. Tony describes coming home on breaks by train, singing with his friends. After the service, his uncle Antonio, worked for the Highland Livestock Company in Emmett, ID (where he lived most of his life). The boss, Jessie Nailer, had 100,000 sheep and no sons, and Tony could come to America and work on the ranch if he wanted to.
0-8:00 Tony’ uncle’s nickname in Boise was "Tony Bullshit"; Tony describes the popular man. Tony met his future wife, Victoria Oleaga, in Mundaka, but did not marry her before leaving for America in 1955. It wasn’t until 1959 that the couple was married (upon his return to Euskadi), after which he returned in 1960, followed by his wife in 1962—the same year Tony got his citizenship. His 1st daughter Miren was born in Mundaka while he was away. When his wife came, he was working for Boise Cascade, at Barber Mill, where he stayed for 11 years. In 1972, he began work for Garrett Freight Lines, where he stayed until 1983. Tony then worked odd jobs until 1986, when he got a job as a janitor at Micron. Without a high school education or great English skills, it was hard to get a job.
8-20:00 When Tony first came to the US, he spoke very little English, and didn’t improve right away because he spent his first 4 years in the hills with his uncle. When he went into the lumber industry after marrying, he spent most of his time with Americans, and so learned quite a bit of English. He knew a bit about America before coming because his father and uncle told him about it (his father didn’t want him to come), and how much work taking care of several thousand sheep would be. He describes his shepherding days, during which he made $80 a month, and he had to work all year. Tony explains that America has never been an easy country to live in; there’s a lot of opportunity, but one has to work for it. He says Mexicans now do most of the work that Basques used to do. Tony bought his 1st house in Boise in 1962—it was very small, but better than the apartment he and his wife had initially shared. When he was in Boise as a single man, Tony stayed at the Valencia boarding house.
20-30:00 Tony describes the Boise Basque social scene, including the Sheepherders’ Ball, then discusses his shepherd’s calendar extensively. Nowadays, Tony is a member of both the Basque Center and the Basque Museum, he goes to the picnics in Boise (and used to travel to the ones in Gooding and Mountain Home). He retired from Micron in 1996, and has taken care of the Basque Center since then. He has a big garden at home, and loves to cook Basque food—especially murtzilla. He helps cook the dinners at the Center and always attends. All 3 of Tony’s children danced with the Oinkaris. His daughters speak Basque pretty well, since they studied in Euskadi for a few years before marrying, but his son doesn’t. All 3 married Basques or part-Basques. Tony has 3 grandchildren, only 1 of which speaks Euskera, and 1 of which dances with the Oinkaris.
0-12:00 He thinks language is an important part of the Basque culture. He speaks of his trips back to the Basque country. When he went back the 1st time, to get married, he didn’t notice too many sweeping changes in Basque culture, but on subsequent trips was surprised to see the modernization that has occurred. He doesn’t feel as comfortable in Euskadi now as he used to, and would never consider retiring there, but will continue to visit (he and his wife have an apartment in Gernika, and their daughter lives there. Tony feels that his Basque heritage is important (they are less "classist" than many Americans), but also appreciates being an American. It’s hard for him, however, even after all these years, to escape feeling like an immigrant in many social situations, even though he speaks pretty good English.
NAMES AND PLACES
Amarika, Benita: Tony’s mother
Arrubarrena, Ana Mari: Tony’s sister
Arrubarrena, Antonio: Tony’s uncle
Arrubarrena, Francisco: Tony’s father
Arrubarrena, José Mari: Tony’s brother
Nailer, Jessie: helped run Highland Sheep Company
Oinkaris: Boise Basque dancers
Oleaga, Victoria: Tony’s wife
‘La France’: the ship Tony’s father took to the US
Barber Mill: where Tony worked in the lumber industry
Basque Center (Boise)
Basque Museum and Cultural Center (Boise)
Boise Cascade: employed Tony
Boise, ID: Tony’s home
Garrett Freight Lines: employed Tony
Highland Sheep Company: employed Tony
Highland Sheep Company: employed Tony for a while
Lemona, Spain: Tony’s mothers’ birthplace
Micron Technology: employed Tony
Pedernales, Spain: Tony’s birthplace
Plaza de San Andrés: in Pedernales
San Sebastian (Donosti), Spain
Zuzpitxu: Tony’s childhood baserri
Valencia: boarding house in Boise
Bombing of Gernika