TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-10:00 Juanita was born in 1901 in Zenarrutza, or Cenarruza, Bizkaia. Her baserri’s name was Ziurtza Beitxe (sp.). When she was a year old, her family moved to Cariatorre (sp.), where she attended school for a few years. She met her husband, Cipriano Barrutia there, and they were married in Markina in 1921. At the time, she was working on the family farm, taking care of cows, donkeys, and so forth. She has 3 brothers and 2 sisters, all of whom are dead; Juanita was the youngest child. Her husband had previously worked in the US, and had served in the Spanish army, before going back to Euskadi to find a bride.
10-20:00 Juanita knew very little about the US before going, but had heard that it was great. When she arrived, she was very disappointed; the streets of Mountain Home were made out of rocks. She took the boat La France for a 7 day journey to New York in 1921, then went to Mountain Home. The couple immediately went to Elko, NV to see Cipriano’s brother, and was impressed with the town’s beauty and the nice boarding house there. She would rather have lived there than in Mountain Home. Juanita traveled around with her husband and a camp of sheepherders, and only had to cook for herself. While the men took off to the hills, the women stayed behind. Juanita became pregnant at camp, but got sick and lost the baby girl when she returned to Mountain Home. After that, she moved to Grandview, where she had to cook for many people during the winter lambing season.
20-30:00 Juanita lost a second baby in 1923, but her first son Ralph was born soon after, in 1929. Another son was born in 1931, and her youngest son, Dick, was born in 1935. She had been working the whole time as a cook in various sheep camps around Idaho, sleeping in a tent or wagon. Juanita quit the camps when her children started school in 1936, and bought a house in Mountain Home, raising cows and selling the milk. Throughout all this, her husband was still working as a sheepherder in the hills, visiting every few days even though the camp was 70 miles away. Her children used to help milk the cows before and after school, but when they joined the Army in 1951, Juanita had to buy milk machines. She remembers that apart from the 75 cows, there were pastures to irrigate and tend to. None of Juanita’s children spoke English when they started school, but they learned quickly and helped teach their mother, who also practiced the language while doing her shopping and helping dairy customers.
0-11:00 Juanita describes her decision to leave the sheep camps; even though the idea was frowned upon by other traditional Basques, she wanted her kids to get an education. She sacrificed whatever she had to to keep them in school. After they had been in school for a few years, the children spoke Basque with each other unless they were with other Basques. Juanita talks about a few of her Basque neighbors; there were many back then, but not so many anymore. She went to the Bengoechea’s hotel every now and then to socialize with other Basques and dance. Juanita was a close friend of Juanita Aguirre, with whom she went to church, and they didn’t go out with many other people. When she went out to dance, she usually didn’t stay long, since she had 3 kids at home.
11-22:00 Juanita had a stroke about 3 months ago, and doesn’t remember things too well anymore. She exercises everyday on a treadmill. She talks about her experiences learning English. (Anecdote: while she was learning English, an American man told her how to pay a compliment to a nice lady: ‘you beautiful son-of-a-bitch.” Juanita said exactly this to Mrs. Sullivan, a teacher, who looked shocked at first, but told her the mistake she had made. Juanita was so upset that she had been deceived that she found him and “gave it to him”.) Later, even though she wasn’t proficient yet in English herself, Juanita would help her friends go shopping. She also had to take care of her doctor appointments; she speaks about her pregnancies (she made good friends with one midwife, even though she wasn’t Basque).
22-30:00 Juanita says she has lived a long life, and now she’s all alone. Her middle son comes to visit her very often. Her husband died in 1966 (6 years after they built the house she now lives in). She has visited Euskadi several times (she even owned her old house there, but has since sold it) and likes it very much there; she had toyed with the idea of moving back, but never did because her kids live in the US. Her husband visited alone before he died, but Juanita herself never went until after her husband had passed away. She describes some of her visits back. Juanita met some of the people she knew when she was younger, and was a little taken aback by the changes she saw, although some places have stayed the same all these years.
0-10:00 Juanita remembers that work in the Basque country was every bit as hard for her as what she found when she came to Idaho. She describes her 1st washing machine: it had a gasoline engine, and she bought it in 1938. Juanita remembers that before she had married her husband, he had his own business in Idaho. Unfortunately, he was not a US citizen and had to return to Spain to serve in the army, so he lost his business. He and Juanita had no money when they came (they had spent all of it on their passage over here), and could not afford a tent for the sheep camp. For a month or so, they had to sleep on the ground under a tarp. Eventually, the tent they bought served as their home in the winter and summer up to when Juanita’s middle child was 6.
10-20:00 Culturally, and because he was ten years older than she, Juanita’s husband was the boss in the family. They got along very well, but it was tough for her to demand that the children go to school. (Anecdote: she recounts how she used to make doughnuts as a camp cook, only to have 1 selfish man eat them all when he got up in the morning). She talks about all the dirty work she had to do as a camp cook. She used to sing lots of Basque songs to her children, but liked American folk songs, too.
20-30:00 Juanita reminisces about her childhood in Spain a little. She loved to dance at parties, even though she wasn’t old enough to dance with men most of the time she was there. Another story involves her getting lost on a hill, and asking for directions home. The boy happily obliged, but then told everyone that they had had “good times” up there; Juanita was upset. Juanita never taught her kids to dance, but one of her children became a charter member of the Oinkaris dancers. Juanita has been a hardworking woman; she never stopped the cow operation until 1985. She remembers her husband’s tenure in the army. Juanita now has 8 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. She thinks she has had a good life. In her free time, she exercises, watches the Lawrence Welk Show, and goes to the Senior Citizens Center 3 times a week.
0-9:00 Juanita has gone to church and helped with the charitable Altar Society since she has been in this country. She displays a gold medal she won running the 100 yard dash at the Idaho Senior Games at the age of 92 (she beat all the 70-year old women). She is now a citizen, and recalls studying for the test and getting asked questions by a judge. She did it in 1938; all the Basque women thought she was crazy. It was important to Juanita to be able to vote (she votes for everything even now, from local referendums to presidential elections), and she reads several papers and attends speeches to be able to make informed decisions.
NAMES AND PLACES
Aguirre, Juanita: Juanita’s best friend
Altar Society: church group Juanita works for
Barrutia, Ralph: Juanita’s son
Barrutia, Richard: Juanita’s son
Barrutia, Cipriano: Juanita’s husband
Bengoechea family: ran a boarding house in Mountain Home
La France: the boat Juanita took to the US
Lawrence Welk Show: an old variety show; Juanita’s favorite
Oinkaris: Boise Basque dancers; one of Juanita’s children was a charter member
Sullivan, Mrs.: schoolteacher who befriended Juanita
(Ziurtza Beitxe, close to Markina), Bizkaia: Juanita’s birthplace
Markina, Bizkaia: the town where Juanita was married
Mountain Home, ID: Juanita’s current home
Cariatorre: Juanita went to school and met her husband here.
New York, New York: port of entry into US