TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-5:00 Vicente was born on 27 October 1923 in Ereño, Bizkaia. His parents were Máximo Bidaburu and Josefa Arrizabalaga. Vicente had a brother and two sisters: Francisco, Bernarda, and María Luísa. He grew up on the family baserri, named “Barrenetxe,” helping his parents, who both worked on the farm. They had cows, steers, pigs, chickens, a horse, and grew vegetables. Every year, they butchered a pig and a steer, and went to the market to buy and sell a few items. Vicente and his siblings helped by cutting hay and corn for the animals, among other chores. He started school at 6 years of age, and stopped going at 13, because the Spanish Civil War disrupted daily life. When the War started, Vicente had to stay home, and remembers seeking refuge in the hills when German planes came to bomb Gernika. He and many others helped to clean up the rubble in the city after the bombing; he describes what the city looked like. It took a long time to remove the rubble. Vicente explains that he was part of a formal work crew organized by the town mayor. There were other crews like his in the towns that surrounded Gernika, and they work take turns cleaning the city. The work crews were quite large, and would eat lunch together “like an army.” The cleanup took a number of months.
5:00-7:00 Girls and boys were taught separately, in two different buildings, in Ereño. His teacher, a Spanish man named Don Andrés, was a good teacher. Classes were taught in Spanish, but students were not punished if they spoke Basque from time to time. Families spoke Basque at home.
7:00-10:00 Vicente was 31 years old when he decided to come to the United States. Between the time that he finished school and emigrated, Vicente worked on his family’s baserri and had a job making charcoal for Zabala in Ispaster for 3 years. He also loved to ride his bicycle. He had a close group of friends with whom he played brisca or muz. (Editor’s note: Vicente served in the Spanish Army in San Sebastian (Donosti) and Irun for 27 months.) He describes how he decided to emigrate. Other people he knew had already gone to the US, and his uncle worked for a sheep company. His uncle talked to the sheep owner and arranged for Vicente to work for him when he arrived in 1954.
10:00-12:00 Vicente’s first job in the US was as a sheepherder in Steens Mountain, Oregon for Walt McLean. He worked for McLean for 7 years, but not under contract. Vicente explains that herding sheep helped Basque immigrants develop a good reputation for future employment. If a company saw that a man had herded sheep for a number of years, the man was more respected, because the work was honest and hard. Personally, it helped Vicente land a job at the Edward Hines Lumber Mill in Burns, Oregon the same day he applied.
12:00-13:15 After 7 years of herding sheep, Vicente returned to the Basque country to find a girlfriend. He did so, married (Carmen Madarieta) in Ereño, and returned to the United States, unable to bring his wife because he was not yet a US citizen. Once he became a citizen, he arranged for his wife to join him in the US. If he had not been a citizen, he would have had to wait for her to be admitted as part of a quota, which could have taken a few years. With his citizenship, she was able to enter the country right away.
13:15-14:30 Vicente found work in the shipping department of the Hines Lumber Mill. He pulled lumber for 5 years, then loaded lumber onto boxcars, then unitizing (wrapping with paper). He worked for Hines for almost 28 years until he retired.
14:30-16:15 He describes the Basque community in Burns. Life was good and people were generally happy. Most Basques worked in the lumber mill. Basques got along fairly well among themselves, and conflicts were not usually serious. He jokes that Basques “make a lot of noise, but not much damage.” Vicente says that it’s better for a person’s bark to be worse than their bite.
16:15-17:30 Vicente explains how he and his wife decided to move from Burns to Boise, Idaho. He owned two houses in Ontario, Oregon and was thinking of moving there, but his daughter, who lived in Boise, convinced him to consider Boise instead. He bought his houses in Ontario by working, saving, and investing in real estate. Whenever Vicente had enough extra money, he invested it in real estate.
17:30-19:15 Vicente raised his children speaking Basque because he saw it as their language. It was very important to him that his family maintain its language and culture. Even his grandchildren speak Basque with him and Carmen.
19:15-21:15 When they lived in Ontario (Editor’s note: the Bidaburus lived in Burns for 28 years, then moved to Ontario, where they lived for 5 years before moving to Boise in 1994 – for more information, see Carmen Bidaburu’s interview summary), they were active members of the Basque community as well, and still attend the annual Basque festivals every year. Vicente never learned to dance because he was too busy with work, but enjoys the watching people dance at the festivals. He compares the Ontario Basque community to the one in Burns. One major difference was that he was at two different stages of his life in each place. Since he was younger in Burns, he did certain things for fun that younger people do. He was older in Ontario, so he participated in the social activities that older people did. In Ontario, Vicente played cards every Saturday. There was no Basque Center in Ontario, so friends would meet at each other’s homes for card games.
21:15-24:30 When Vicente and his wife moved to Boise in 1994, he did not feel that he was joining a new community, because he had known Basques in Boise for many years. The community was not foreign to him. He had lots of friends in the area, and would meet them for card games, funerals, and church services. Vicente had joined the Basque Center in Boise just after he immigrated (1955), and renewed his membership when he moved to Boise in 1994. Backing up, he explains that Boise was the first place he lived before heading to Steens Mountain to herd sheep, and his cousins, the Bastidas, were instrumental in founding the Center. It was important for him to join the Center because the monthly dinners are good opportunities to eat well and socialize with friends. He enjoys talking and spending time with other Basques.
24:30-30:00 When asked how he would identify himself, Vicente says that he is American first, then Basque, because the United States has been such a good country for him. He has visited the Basque country several times and feels comfortable there with friends and family. Vicente explains that it is important to learn how people from different countries/cultures live. More specifically, it is important to try to do as they do when you are with them. He laughs at the old saying, but agrees that “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Vicente has noticed some changes in the Basque country over the years, but not all the changes are good. He misses seeing working baserris, and misses seeing people growing gardens and working on their farms.
0-6:00 Vicente says that even though people are not farming or living the way they used to, he does not feel as if something has been lost. He talks about the push to renovate the old baserris, a project largely funded by the Basque government. He loves to visit, but since his children are in the US, he does not think he will move back to the Basque country permanently. He sees his future as open and free, so he does not want to make any promises as to where he will be in the years to come.
NAMES AND PLACES
Arrizabalaga, Josefa – Vicente’s mother.
Barrenetxe – the name of Vicente’s family’s baserri in Ereño.
Bastida – some of Vicente’s cousins are Bastidas.
Bidaburu, Bernarda – one of Vicente’s sisters.
Bidaburu, Francisco – Vicente brother.
Bidaburu, María Luísa – one of Vicente’s sisters.
Bidaburu, Máximo – Vicente’s father.
Don Andrés – Vicente’s teacher in Ereño.
Madarieta, Carmen – Vicente’s wife.
Zabala – Vicente worked for a Zabala in Ispaster, making charcoal.
Basque Center, Boise, Idaho – Vicente has been a member for many years.
Boise, Idaho – current residence.
Burns, Oregon – residence for 28 years.
Edward Hines Lumber Mill, Burns, Oregon – Vicente’s employer for almost 28 years.
Ereño, Bizkaia – Vicente’s birthplace.
Gernika, Bizkaia – Vicente remembers the bombing of this city in 1937, and how he worked on a crew to help clean up the rubble.
Ontario, Oregon – residence for 5 years.
Walt McLean Sheep Company, Steens Mountain, Oregon – Vicente’s first job in the United States.
Basque clubs and organizations
Bombing of Gernika
Non-Boise Basque communities
Spanish Civil War