TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-8:30 Ruby was born in Boise, ID, at the Modern Hotel, in the back bedroom, on December 17, 1924. Her mother was a cook at the boarding house, where she went into labor without time to go to the hospital, so her mother and aunt helped deliver the child. Ruby describes the busy atmosphere of the boarding house surrounding her birth. Dr. Collister came later to help Ruby’s mother; he frequently helped the Basques in Boise, as did Dr. Koelsch. Ruby has 1 brother, whose name is Ramón. Ruby describes what it was like to grow up in the Modern Hotel. It was home away from home for the herders, and they were like one big family. She never went hungry, even during the Depression, and she always had a lot of fun. Her family later built the Valencia boarding house across the street. She remembers that her father played the guitar for dances at the houses, since there were really no nightclubs at the time. Ruby’s father was Benito Ysursa, and her mother was Asuncion Camporredondo Ysursa. Their full-time jobs were to run the hotels. They rented the Modern from Mrs. Bush, who collected the rent every month. The family built the Valencia with Ruby’s uncle Tom Ysursa (who ran the bar while Benito worked in the kitchen), which opened on December 1, 1941. The Modern hotel was located where Boise City Hall stands now. They got the name for the Valencia from the pattern of wallpaper they put in the dining room.
8:30-18:30 Ruby attended St. Theresa’s Academy in Boise, for 12 years. It was girls only for the grade school but mixed for high school. She remembers how much everyone admired Delphina Aldecoa for her beauty and grace. Ruby played the piano in school, but there were never really any sports for girls. Her father taught her and her brother how to dance the jota at an early age; she still has some recordings of her father. She recalls that her mother once wanted a little radio to put in the bedroom, but Benito bought a huge recorder instead, which he pulled out whenever he and his friends played at parties. Ruby’s voice appears on several of those records. There were not very many Basques at school with Ruby, but she grew up in the Basque world outside of classes. The Ysursa family spoke Spanish at home, because Ruby’s aunt didn’t speak Basque (she had been put in a Castilian convent at a young age). Her brother did learn some Basque growing up, and Ruby remembers complaining that she didn’t. In later years, Spanish came in very handy for Ruby, as she translated often for her husband. She did end up learning some Basque from her husband when she went out into the hills with him. Ruby’s used to put on little plays with her cousin Richard Urriondo. She recalls that Basques and non-Basques mixed very well at school; most of her friends there were non-Basques. Ruby never experienced any prejudice.
18:30-25:00 After she graduated in 1942, Ruby worked as a filing clerk for City Hall, but soon transferred to the Valencia, where she worked as a hostess and a waitress until she got married. Ruby did go to a little school at St. Mary’s College in Salt Lake City, and was going to major in music, but got homesick, and so convinced her parents to let her come home. She describes her daily schedule at the Valencia, including dancing around the house with cloths on her feet to dust the floor. She met many interesting people at the hotel. Ruby’s mother was an excellent cook, but it got to be too much for her, so a chef from California came in. He didn’t like small town life, and soon left. Atanasio "Charlie" Ziluaga took over the kitchen, and was there for many years until his death. Her mother still cooked on Sundays, drawing huge crowds for her meals. When she finally retired. People still paid her visits, to say hello as well as to taste whatever she had cooking. Ruby was married and living in Grandview when her parents retired.
25-30:00 Ruby joined the Basque Center right after it was built, and is also a member of the Basque Museum. She met her husband, John Basabe, when he came to the Valencia. His brother Tony was married to her good friend Dominga Arana, and Ruby instigated the 1st date by asking him to give her a lift to visit the woman. John used to work for Bob and Jessie Naylor at the Highland Sheep Company, and at one time also worked for Andrew Little. He became foreman for Jessie when her husband died. They were married in 1951 at St. John’s Cathedral.
0-10:00 Once married, Ruby followed her husband up into the hills with the sheep. She had imagined singing in front of a fire, like in the movies, but it ended up being a lot of work. Looking back on the experience, she says those were the best years of her life. Jessie Naylor was very helpful, bringing necessities to the couple. They lambed in Parma. Ruby and her husband stopped lambing in 1954. They had already bought a house in Boise, even though she liked to go up with him, and Matilda Anduiza used to bring goodies to the house, since Ruby couldn’t cook. They sold the house because it kept flooding, then rented another one (a block from the Valencia) from the Arrostegui family for a while before moving to Grandview in 1956. She talks about the herders she met and talked to. For a city girl, she came to love the great outdoors fairly quickly. She describes the route she and her husband took with the sheep. The couple’s Boise homes were just headquarters. Ruby describes her Christmases at the Valencia.
10-20:00 Ruby says she cried all the way to Grandview, and then cried all the way back when they left; she came to love the community. She recalls working for J.R. Simplot, a wonderful man who appreciated his employees and respected the Basques. He used to buzz the house in his plane when he needed a ride. Simplot sold the sheep outfit, and switched to cattle. John was the foreman for the company. Ruby describes working with potatoes, and how she learned how to bake bread. She never knew when a guest would be coming over, so she always had to prepare a big meal. Ruby used to garden like everyone else, until it gave her rashes and blood poisoning. She had to get an automatic washing machine to avoid getting her hands in water. Her sons Tom and Raymond were born in 1952, and 1953, and her daughter was born in 1960. The family was in Grandview for 28 years, then moved to Boise when the headquarters were moved, where John continued on as a consultant for the Simplot Company until he got sick. Her son Tom still works for Simplot. Ruby and her husband built their new home in 1980, when they moved, and worked very hard on the landscaping. She describes the building of the house.
21-30:00 Ruby describes her house, and a few incidents that occurred there. John passed away in 1995, 1 year after her mother.
0-12:00 Ruby praises her neighbors for the good work they do taking care of her property. She mentions that she takes cares for a few old sheepherders’ graves. Ruby describes the 1st time she met J.R. Simplot: she was frying liver at her rented Boise home, and she got so nervous, she lost her liver (she found it later in the refrigerator). She’s had a close relationship with Simplot over the years. Marrying a Basque person wasn’t so important for Ruby, but it was for her father. The family never spoke Basque to her kids as they were growing up, but they learned Spanish. There were never really any Basque activities in Grandview, but the kids were always around Basques, so they came to appreciate the culture. She talks about some of the Basques she knew, all of whom liked Simplot. Ruby does not do much with the Basque community now, but has been pretty active. She likes to go to church, and has many friends with which she loves to do stuff. She also volunteers for the Elks Rehabilitation Center. She’s also part of a club called the Go-Gos. Ruby likes to take walks and ride her stationary bike.
12-16:00 Ruby has been to visit the Basque country 3 times, which she has enjoyed very much. She once went there to a reunion for former Simplot workers. She talks about her experiences. Ruby had heard a lot about Euskadi from her parents, for whom it was still home, and so felt very comfortable there. She now considers herself a proud Basque, then an American.
NAMES AND PLACES
Anduiza, Matilda: family friend
Arrostegui family: family friends
Basabe, John: Ruby’s husband
Basabe, Raymond: Ruby’s son
Basabe, Tom: Ruby’s son
Bush, Mrs.: rented Modern Hotel building to Ruby’s parents
Camporredondo, Asuncion: Ruby’s mother
Collister, Dr.: delivered Ruby
Koelsch, Dr.: Boise area doctor during Ruby’s childhood
Little, Andrew: sheep rancher
Naylor, Bob and Jessie: sheep ranchers
Simplot, J.R.: Boise billionaire and former employer of Ruby’s husband
Urriondo, Richard: Ruby’s cousin
Ysursa, Benito: Ruby’s father
Ysursa, Ramón: Ruby’s brother
Ziluaga, Atanasio "Charlie": cook for Valencia for many years
Boise, ID: Ruby’s birthplace
Elk’s Rehabilitation Center
Modern Hotel: Basque boarding house run by Ruby’s parents
Salt Lake City, UT
St. John’s Cathedral (Boise)
St. Mary’s College: SLC school Ruby attended for a few years
Valencia Hotel: boarding house built by Ruby’s parents
Clubs and organizations