TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
1:00 Born in Ondarroa, Bizkaia. Ondarroa had about 4,000 inhabitants in those days. Very small. Regina was one of seven siblings. Her father was a city employee working for the public wash facility. Her mother worked in a fish-canning factory. Regina studied with nuns until she was 16. Sang in the church choir. Went to work as kitchen help to the health resort (spa) in Alzola, Gipuzkoa when she was 16, and worked there for 3-4 years. Learned to cook. That helped her with having a Basque boarding house in Nampa, Idaho for 14 years later on. Came to the US to meet her sister in 1920 and find a rich husband, she says with a laugh. In Ondarroa all the boys were fishermen, she explains. Her boss at the Alzola spa told her she was being deceived by all the pretty pictures of America she was seeing, and that she would have to work hard in America. Regina says she was right. Her sister (Julia Garmendia, Mrs. Bonifacio Garmendia) sent her the money for the trip. She remembers it was 2,500 pesetas ("500 ogerleko"). [Indexer’s note: this amount is similar to the 2,250 pesetas Sebastian Salutregui, who traveled with her, reports it took him to get to the US. See tape on Sebastian.)
5:00 She took the train from Deba, Gipuzkoa to Biarritz, Basque Country of France. To New York aboard the “Niagara”, a ship used by American soldiers returning from WWI in Europe. The trip was in January and the seas were very rough. She got very seasick. There were many Basques on the trip, mainly boys, but she did not know any of them.
6:00 Regina had a card to check with Valentin Aguirre, a Basque boarding house owner in New York who helped many Basques reach their final destinations in the United States. They were there for four days. Sent telegram to sister in Boise. When she left home, told her mother she would return. Did so in 24 years. Told mother again she would return in three more years. Her mother died in the meantime. (Regina prepares coffee and cake, as she fights back tears.)
12:00 Husband was sheep owner and went broke during the 1920’s. She took on a Basque boarding house, formerly owned by the Jausoro family. Then bought a bigger house with 24 rooms and 4 apartments, and boarded up to 60 men. Sold the boarding house to Rosie Arana (Celestina Arana’s sister-in-law by second marriage.)
20:00 Traveled to the US with Sebastian Salutregui.
24:00 Thought America was rich and that she would become rich. Sister Julia was already married here and would send her pretty pictures. First job was as maid for Joe Bengoechea, sheep owner and Basque boarding house owner in Mountain Home, Idaho. There were two maids. Regina took care of the children and the other helped in the kitchen. Mrs. Margarita Bengoechea hired her. Family lived on one side of the hotel and they rented the remainder as a boarding house.
29:00 In 1921 the Bengoecheas went broke. She married Juan Bastida, the youngest of three brothers. The others were: Ramon (Johnny Bastida’s dad) and Antonio. They had a ranch close to Boise. Johnny was a little boy when Regina married.
34:00 First impression of the US was very good. A guest at the hotel in Mountain Home used to greet her “hello, sweetheart”, “hello, honey”, etc. She asked her boss, Margarita Bengoechea, what all that meant. Mr. Mendiola (Mr. Bengoechea’s partner) answered: “Good Jesus, that means he is going to kill you. Be careful!”
38:00 Basque was the main language of daily life. In stores you would point and give them the biggest bill you had and get change back. Had buckets full of change at home. Once the cook asked her to get some beef tongue from the butcher’s. She couldn’t see any on display to point at, so she stuck her tongue out at the butcher. The butcher, knowing Basque eating habits, understood immediately.
43:00 Met future husband at Boni Garmendia’s “Merino” pool hall in Boise, where she had come to help her ailing sister. It was the only Basque pool hall in town, so many Basques gathered there. Her husband’s brother, Antonio, had injured an eye playing pelota, could not find work anywhere and returned home to the Basque Country, at his mother’s request, where he stayed for the rest of his life. Then his mother asked the youngest brother, Juan (Regina’s future husband) to go back home to help them. Juan had sold his share of the farm in Boise to his oldest brother, Ramon, and was getting ready to make the trip to Spain, and Boni Garmendia was helping him with the papers. Juan became very interested in Regina from the first moment he saw her. After a brief courtship, which lasted 12 days, they were married. Johnny Mendiola was the best man, accompanied by Joe Mendiola, and Mary Arbolaiz was maid of honor. Needless to say, Juan did not return to the Basque Country. Became US citizen in 1962.
58:00 The most difficult obstacle in the US was the English language. They would ask her to spell words but she couldn’t. What she liked best in the US was jelly. One daughter, Blanche, married Max Swindell, a car salesman and later dealer, of Nampa, Idaho. Relations with Americans were very good.
NAMES AND PLACES
Bastida, Juan - Regina’s husband
Garmendia, Julia - Regina’s sister
Jausoro - Basque boarding house owner in Nampa, Idaho
Swindell, Blanche - daughter
Swindell, Max - son in law
“Merino” Pool Hall in Boise, Idaho
Alzola, Gipuzkoa spa
Biarritz, Basque Country of France
Mountain Home, Idaho
Ondarroa, Bizkaia - Regina’s birthplace
The “Niagara” ship