TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-11:00 Fermín’s father, Victor Aurteneche, was born in Meñekabarrena, a very small village near Bermeo. His mother, Nikolasa Mentxaka, was born in the village of Roa, which is six or seven miles from Victor’s birthplace. Victor and Nikolasa both grew up in baserris and likely met during frequent trips to market. Fermín was born in 1946 and his parents, and his family didn’t have electricity and had to gathered water from a nearby pond. The whole family—which by then included nine children, José, Victor, Esteban, Fermín, Nemesio, Hilario, Maite, Estel, and Begonia—moved to Peternales when Fermín was seven or eight years old. Fermín was taught in the convent for a couple of years, while his father guarded prisoners who were building the Gernika-Bermeo railroad. His father was prone to illness and had bad asthma from smoking too much.
11-19:30 At the age of twelve, Fermín worked for a year at the sardine factory in Bermeo. When he was thirteen he got a job as a cabin boy, but was never old enough to go out drinking with the rest of the crew. He explains that he has seen more than he wants to, and that the ocean can be intimidating for someone that young. When he was fourteen, their boat headed down to Africa to fish tuna. He explains the different fish that they would catch during different times of the year, and discusses the various nets that are used for each fish. During the next seven or eight years he had very limited contact with his family, because one could only call from port. Despite all the ports that he has seen, he is very happy to be in Idaho and considers the US to be his home.
19:30-26:30 In 1966 Fermín was drafted into the navy and went to Ferrol with his brother—something which was not allowed. He spent most of his term in Ferrol and describes the food as poor. A friend suggested that he go to the US, and Fermín replied, “What? Me in America? A fisherman as a shepherd? That will never happen!” Nevertheless, in June of 1969 he flew from Bilbao to Madrid, to New York where he was lost for twelve hours, then to Salt Lake City where he was picked up by Landa. The next day he flew to Ely, Nevada where he irrigated crops for a couple of months before he was relocated to Madera, California. He didn’t like the work there at all, and asked to be moved.
26:30-33:45 After spending much of his life on a boat, he liked America and was happy to be there. His one complaint is that he was supposed to have been sent to Helena, Montana to work with a friend of his, but the people lied and sent him to Nevada. He stresses that his is not a problem of the American people, but rather that he was frustrated to be in a new country with very little money and his employers (Copper Sheep Company) break a contractual agreement. On a side note, of all the places he had traveled to—the coasts of Africa and Europe—Morocco was his least favorite. He called some association offices after having been moved to California and told them that he wanted to go back home.
0-8:00 A man returned his call and persuaded Fermín that he didn’t have to go back to the Basque Country, and offered him a job in Idaho. He took it in 1971, and was very happy. His future wife Linda Isaak was working in Clinton Ranch processing potatoes, and Fermín was working for Gene Landa. The owners of the Clinton Ranch offered Fermín a chance to earn more money than he was making from Gene Landa—who was unable to meet that price—and Fermín took the job. His truck broke down on the way to Clinton and Linda drove by in a Clinton truck and didn’t pick him up. After he had walked to the ranch, he walked over to Linda to tell her his mind and she was very nice to him. They married in 1972.
5-13:00 Fermín’s daughter understands a little bit of Basque and has been very involved in Basque dancing and according playing. In fact, she almost played in front of George Bush, but was unable to make it. Fermín was the head of the dancing portion of Rupert’s Basque Association. He requested a raise from Clinton to help pay for his new family, but did not receive one. Linda helped him fill out an application to work for Simplot—he didn’t care what shift he got—and he got the job and has worked there every since.
13-19:00 In 1979 he and his wife traveled to the Basque Country—where Linda got pregnant—and a few months later their daughter was born. Linda had mixed feelings about Spain, but Fermín was happy to be back and visit his mother and siblings. He tells an interesting story about the culture shock Linda underwent. By this time, Fermín was already a citizen: a fact which helped him bring over his sister for an extended stay. This stay helped her learn English, and she now speaks four languages and works in a hotel in the Canary Islands.
19-21:00 Fermín explains that he had a very warm welcome in the US, and that no one ever discriminated against him. As long as you do your job, he says, they will like you just fine. After all the places he has been, he acknowledges that his blood is Basque, but feels himself to be an American. He cries whenever he sees an American flag.
NAMES AND PLACES
Aurteneche, Begonia; sister
Aurteneche, Hilario; brother
Aurteneche, Esteban; brother
Aurteneche, José; brother
Aurteneche, Nemesio; brother
Aurteneche, Maite; sister
Aurteneche, Victor; brother
Aurteneche, Victor; father
Clinton; ranch owner
Copper Sheep Ranch
Isaak, Linda; wife
Landa, Gene; ranch owner
Mentxaka, Nicolasa; mother
New York, New York
Salt Lake City, UT
Poverty in the Basque Country
Service in the Navy
Adjusting to the US
Starting a Family
Involvement in the Basque Association