TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-3:00 Victoria was born in Boise, Idaho on 21 March 1910 to Pedro Echevarria and María Yrusta. Her father was from Ibarruri; her mother was from Ea. Pedro’s older brother, John, and father had been working in Dry Creek, Idaho before Pedro came. They convinced Pedro to come. Victoria’s mother came to meet her cousin, who owned a boarding house in Boise where the Owyhee Hotel now stands. His name was Juan Bilbao, and asked her to come and work at his boarding house. Her parents met at the boarding house. Victoria’s mother later worked for the Spalding family.
3:00-5:15 Victoria’s family spoke only Basque in the home. She was the second child of three. The children learned English when they started school in Dry Creek. Victoria’s cousins also lived in Dry Creek, and she remembers how difficult it was to start school without knowing any English. She names her cousins. Victoria explains how her family, beginning with her grandfather, settled in Dry Creek. Her grandfather and uncle owned a farm there. Her grandfather hired Basque men from Nampa to build a large stone house for him in Dry Creek, which could house two families at a time. Victoria’s family moved to Boise, Idaho in 1920.
5:15-7:45 In Dry Creek, her family farmed alfalfa. Victoria went to school there from the 1st to the 3rd grades (approximately). There were 8 grades in that schoolhouse, but only a few students in each grade. The teacher only spoke English. Getting an education was important for her family, which encouraged her to learn English. Backing up, she explains that her family had been on a sheep ranch in Owyhee County before they moved to Dry Creek. When Victoria turned 8 years old, her mother realized that they would have to leave the ranch and move to town so that her children could go to school. None of the children had been to school before they moved to Dry Creek.
7:45-9:15 There were 6 Echevarria brothers in Dry Creek (Victoria’s father and uncles). They were John, Pedro, Victor, Elias, Stephen, and Justo. They worked for a sheep company in Owyhee County and at the farm in Dry Creek. They did not have to try hard to keep their Basque culture alive. Victoria says that it “just happened.” She spoke Basque to her parents, even after she and her siblings learned English.
9:15-10:15 Victoria’s mother wrote letters to her family in the Basque country. She wrote to them in Spanish. Victoria did not have much contact with her grandparents in the old country, but wrote to her husband’s parents in Basque.
10:15-13:45 Her family left Dry Creek in 1920 to come to Boise. She still lives in the house they moved into, and describes a little of what the area looked liked when they moved there. There were many Echevarrias who owned small farms nearby. She went to school at Pierce Park, where the schoolhouse had 2 floors. The lower floor held the first 4 grades; the upper floor held the next 4. By the time she moved, Victoria spoke English fairly well. There were no Basque children in her school except for her siblings. She remembers the streetcar that used to come out past her house. It cost about $.10 to ride, and connected Eagle, Star, Middleton, Caldwell, and Boise. Her parents used to ride it to Boise once every week or two. Victoria remembers where they used to get their groceries, and how they would walk to the grocery store. They raised much of what they needed on the farm. When she started going to Boise High School, she rode the streetcar to get to and from school every day.
13:45-17:15 After a year of high school, Victoria decided to leave school and start working. In her opinion, parents in those days saw work as being more important than education. At her first job, she worked with Martina Bicandi. Victoria was 17 years old, and worked as a clerk at a store. She spoke to Basque customers in Basque, which helped the store quite a bit, and worked there until she got married in 1930. She met her husband, John Barrutia, at Anunci Jayo’s boarding house on Grove Street in Boise. John worked up in the hills, but stayed at the boarding house when he came to town. During the time Victoria and Martina worked at Faulk’s (her first job) and then at Montgomery Ward (only briefly), they would go to boarding houses in the evening to meet their friends. The boarding houses hosted dances, where the music was supplied by a player piano, which worked on nickels. There were as many as 20-25 people at a time at the Jayo boarding house. The streetcars ran late, allowing Victoria to spend time at the boarding house and ride it home.
17:15-22:30 In those days, John was herding sheep for Pete Gandiaga. He had immigrated to the United States, and stayed at the Jayo boarding house during the winters. He and Victoria would meet there, and decided to marry in 1930. The ceremony took place in the morning at St. John’s Cathedral in Boise. Victoria talks about Father Arregui, who taught the weekly catechism class in Dry Creek (among other places). She took her first Holy Communion at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Boise at the age of 13. She details her wedding ceremony and the reception at her family’s home. They went to Salt Lake City, Utah, on a train for their honeymoon.
22:30-24:45 After they married, John continued to work with the sheep, but this time in Indian Cove, Idaho for Mountain Home Sheep Company. She remembers having around 10,000 head of sheep on 300-400 acres of land in Indian Cove. They lambed there, but ran the sheep out in the desert. She describes the house they lived in, which had neither electricity nor an indoor restroom. They cooked in a coal stove. It was very cold in the winter, and she tells about how she bought a goldfish for her son, John, and put in on the kitchen table. It was so cold that during the night, the water in the fishbowl froze. The bedroom was very small. In the winter, they went to the lambing sheds, and lived in the big house in the summer. The big house was also in Indian Cove.
24:45-26:45 Victoria’s first son, John, was born in 1934 in Boise. Her job in Indian Cove was to cook for the workers, ranging from 7 to 35 in number, in addition to housework. She stayed in Indian Cove for 12 years, moving to Boise in the winter of 1942. Her daughter, Rose, was born in 1937.
26:45-30:00 They bought some land (54 acres) in Boise and started a small farm, where they raised cows for milk, and chicken to sell them and the eggs. There were no other Basques on the farm, and there were not very many around them. Her parents were still farming at the time, and visited every day. On the farm, Victoria and John would get up together to milk cows at 4:00am, have breakfast, and tend to the chickens. She describes a typical day. She also raised pansies to sell by the box, which brought $.50 per box. They did not sell milk or eggs directly to any stores nearby.
0-4:00 She stayed on the farm until 1978. The neighborhood remained fairly rural while she and her family lived there but has changed a great deal in recent years. Victoria talks about how learned to drive in Indian Cove. A friend of hers pushed her to learn so she could be driven to various places.
4:00-6:30 Victoria talks about where her children went to school. She and her husband encouraged them to do well in school, and spoke Basque to them at home. As a result, her children speak the language well. John did not speak much English, so he and Victoria communicated in Basque. They tried to teach their children about the Basque culture and heritage. Both children stayed at home until they married at the age of 20.
6:30-12:00 Victoria remembers her involvement in the Independiente Sociale and Euzkaldunak (the Basque Center). Her children learned to dance with Juanita Hormaechea, and how they moved from the first building to the Basque Center. Her children were in the production “Song of the Basques,” staged at Boise High School by Ms. Hormaechea, which was a major event in the community. Victoria remembers her mother singing Basque songs while she worked. Victoria was one of the charter members of the Basque Center. She describes some of the first ways in which she volunteered at the Center. The Center helped her family keep their Basque heritage. She remembers making things to sell for Basque Center fundraisers, and going to the Center on the weekends with her husband.
12:00-12:45 She gives her impression of relations between Basque and non-Basques in Boise, and has not experienced any instances of prejudice or discrimination.
12:45-17:00 Victoria took her first trip to the Basque country in 1971 when the Basque Center took a charter plane overseas. She describes the trip. One of her cousins and some other relatives on her mother’s side met her at the airport. She traveled around to meet other relatives, and got to see where her parents were born. Her husband did not go with her. After he moved to the United States, he never went back to visit the Basque country. He did not want to go back, but Victoria has made 4 trips altogether. She lists the years. It is important for her to keep in touch with her family in the Basque country. She writes to them in Basque once or twice a year, and brought one of her cousin’s daughters to the United States.
17:00-17:45 Victoria identifies herself as “Basque-American.”
17:45-21:15 She remembers playing hide-and-seek with her siblings and cousins in Dry Creek, and shares her memories of washing clothes in Indian Cove. They scrubbed their clothes on washboards in the bathtub. She names some of the Basque families in the area around Indian Cove (Glenns Ferry, Mountain Home).
21:15-23:45 Victoria keeps her house open for family, and many family members have come to stay with her. She thinks about some of the qualities her parents instilled in her: hard work and frugality. She discusses the likelihood of continued interest in the Basque culture in Boise, saying that the chances of it surviving are good.
NAMES AND PLACES
Barrutia, John – Victoria’s husband.
Barrutia, John Jr. – Victoria’s son.
Barrutia, Rose – Victoria’s daughter.
Bicandi, Martina – one of Victoria’s coworkers at her first job in Boise.
Bilbao, Juan – María’s cousin. Owned a boarding house where the Owyhee Hotel now stands in Boise.
Echevarria, Elias – one of Pedro’s brothers.
Echevarria, John – one of Pedro’s brothers.
Echevarria, Justo – one of Pedro’s brothers.
Echevarria, Pedro – one of Pedro’s brothers.
Echevarria, Pedro – Victoria’s father.
Echevarria, Stephen – one of Pedro’s brothers.
Echevarria, Victor – one of Pedro’s brothers.
Father Arregui – taught a weekly catechism class in Dry Creek.
Gandiaga, Pete – John Barrutia herded sheep for Mr. Gandiaga.
Hormaechea, Juanita “Jay” – taught Basque dancing in Boise.
Jayo, Anunci – owned the boarding house on Grove Street in Boise where John and Victoria met.
Yrusta, María – Victoria’s mother.
Boise High School, Boise, Idaho – Victoria went to a year of high school here.
Boise, Idaho – Victoria’s birthplace.
Caldwell, Idaho – mentioned as part of the streetcar route.
Church of the Good Shepherd, Boise, Idaho – Victoria took her first Holy Communion here.
Dry Creek, Idaho – the Echevarria family, including Pedro’s brothers and father, worked in Dry Creek at one
time or another.
Ea – Victoria’s mother’s birthplace.
Eagle, Idaho – mentioned as part of the streetcar route.
Euzkaldunak (the Basque Center), Boise, Idaho – Victoria is a member of this organization.
Faulk’s, Boise, Idaho – Victoria’s first employer.
Glenns Ferry, Idaho
Independiente Sociale, Boise, Idaho – a Basque women’s social organization.
Middleton, Idaho – mentioned as part of the streetcar route.
Montgomery Ward, Boise, Idaho – Victoria’s second employer.
Mountain Home Sheep Company, Indian Cove, Idaho – John and Victoria lived on a sheep ranch here.
Mountain Home, Idaho
Nampa, Idaho – Victoria mentions that the men who built her grandfather’s stone house in Dry Creek came
Owyhee County – Victoria’s parents worked on a sheep ranch here.
Pierce Park School, Boise, Idaho – Victoria went to school here when her family moved to Boise.
Salt Lake City, Utah – Victoria and John went to SLC for their honeymoon.
St. John’s Cathedral, Boise, Idaho – Victoria and John were married here.
Star, Idaho – mentioned as part of the streetcar route.
Ibarruri – Victoria’s father’s birthplace.
Basque clubs and organizations
Non-Boise Basque communities