TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-4:30 Arnaud’s father, Antoine Borda, was born in Buenos Aires, but returned to the Basque Country with his family when he was 9 after his family had successfully farmed sheep. Antoine didn’t know how to speak Basque when he arrived in Macaye, Lapurdi, but he got an excellent education and soon learned the language of his homeland. He was a very well educated man (he even attended college), and Arnaud remembers that he liked to talk about politics and current events. Antoine became a farmer. Arnaud’s mother was Hélène Echegarray, originally from the tiny town of Elet, about 7 miles from Antoine’s family baserri, (Leku Ederra).
4:30-10:30 Arnaud was born 31 August 1928, in Makai—about 12 kilometers from the Spanish border. His family always spoke Basque at home (even though his father had had to learn French and Basque from the beginning when his family returned to France). Arnaud didn’t learn any French at all until he went to school, but it was required there. When he was young, Arnaud was asthmatic, and so was never able to attend much school. It was also hard for him to work hard around the farm. Fortunately, at the age of 12, he got better, and was able to take a year of school and work in a few neighboring farms for pay. He also delivered wine to earn money. Arnaud recalls that his family sold everything they could from their farm. They only made cheese from the leftover milk. They also made their own wine.
10:30-17:00 Arnaud describes growing up during the Spanish Civil War. Life in the French Basque Country remained quite peaceful, but every now and then, some Spanish Basques would cross the border, and the villagers always fed them. When he was about 15 or 16, Arnaud decided to go the United States to make a better living. A man had come to Makai looking for sheepherders to work in America, and had befriended Arnaud’s father; as a result, he landed jobs for Arnaud and his friend Roger (Sarango). Arranging the necessary paperwork took almost a year, because they had to avoid the draft. When he arrived in the US, Arnaud had to register for eligibility in the American draft, and almost went to Vietnam and Korea.
17-24:00 Arnaud went to the US intending to make money for 5 years, then return and make a profit on the currency exchange, but after he had learned English he lost the desire to return to his homeland. He took a train to Paris, flew to New York (where he stayed at the Aguirre boarding house), then traveled to the sheep camps of Wyoming. He was only 19 at the time, and spoke no English. Everything was so new that Arnaud didn’t have the time to be awestruck by the big cities! He traveled with several other Basques, but some of the others ended up going to California. Arnaud’s new boss, Jean(Galtzagorre), had traveled with the Basque men, and accompanied them to the sheep ranch in Miles City, Montana.
24-30:00 It took Arnaud about 2-3 years to adjust to life in the US, which coincided with his move to Ogden, Utah. But even at 6 months, he and the other herders could make themselves understood. His boss in Utah (who owned almost 8000 sheep) was named Lloyd Keller. Arnaud had decided to move to Utah in order to make more money ($225 a month was the deal, but it actually ended up being $250). It was also a beautiful place to herd sheep. He worked as a camptender for three years—eating a lot of sardines until he learned how to cook! Throughout these first 5 years in the US, Arnaud wrote home occasionally. His parents understood that he had a better future in America than he would have had in the Basque Country (after all, they had gone to South America to do the same thing).
0-4:00 When he first came to America, Arnaud remembers being quite lonely. He was almost always out by himself with the sheep, far away from any towns. Even if he had known how to get to Jordan, Montana (the nearest town), he wouldn’t have been able to speak with any of the people in English. Arnaud admits that during those first few weeks, if someone had given him free plane tickets home, he would have jumped at the opportunity! After a while, though, he settled in. He learned most of his English in Ogden, during the five years he worked with Americans. Once he learned how to speak English, Arnaud was able to find his niche. He was such a go-getter, that he was soon taking on many of the responsibilities of a foreman. Despite having tended a few sheep in the Basque Country, he still had a lot to learn.
4-9:30 In 1956, after he had finished his stint in Ogden, Arnaud came to Boise to look for work. He began delivering milk in the Treasure Valley for a year, then joined a construction effort (Hood Construction) to build a gas pipeline between Utah and Idaho. This job lasted another year, then he went to work at a dam construction in Hell’s Canyon. Arnaud always excelled at construction, and was consistently given raises; he was also certified as skilled to undertake any part of the construction process. He married one year before he bought his own milk truck.
9:30-13:00 Inez Marie Lequerica was born in Gooding on 5 July 1939. Her parents were Frank and Josephine Lequerica (Frank was born in the Basque Country, but his wife—maiden name Gabiola—was born in Elko, Nevada). Frank never talked much about life in the Basque Country or his immigration, but he was from Nabarniz. He had come to the US to work as a sheepherder for several different outfits (which she names), then bought his own sheep. Inez recalls a story her father used to tell her about his early shepherding days. He was often cold and hungry. He worked during the “calf and sheep war” when cattle ranchers and sheep ranchers would fight over priority grazing. Frank’s boss once told him to shoot anyone who came to move the lambs, and handed him a rifle. When the town sheriff and a cattle rancher came, Frank shot at them, but they returned with backup and he was taken to jail for a few days. Frank quipped that at least in jail, he was warm and well fed! These disputes between cattle and sheep owners were quiet serious.
13-17:30 When she was 16, Inez’ mother came to Shoshone to work at the Soloaga boarding house, where she met Frank. The couple was wed in 1936, in Jerome. Inez was raised in Shoshone, and recalls going to the boarding houses as a child with her mother to watch her work. Antoineio Soloaga was Josephine’s cousin. There were many Basque families in Shoshone, and Inez’ socialized with all of them. Her sister’s name is Diana. Frank and Josephine always spoke in Basque with one another, but in English with their children, so Inez and her sister never learned the language. She was always very proud to be a Basque, though, and never felt different from the other children in Shoshone. She remembers only one incident when a mother wouldn’t let her daughter play with the Basque children, and Inez could only feel sorry for the girl.
17:30-22:30 Frank didn’t talk much about the Basque Country, but Inez recalls that he was 17 when came to America in 1910. He had been an excellent pelota player, and was assured that he could continue to play in seminary. When this turned out to be false, he left the seminary and came to America. Inez discusses why she was proud to be a Basque. She graduated from high school in 1957, then attended Link’s School of Business in Boise for a year to train to be a bookkeeper. She met her husband at a Basque dance in Boise, when he put his arm around her and announced to everyone that she was taken! It was important to both Inez and Arnaud that they marry other Basques, not because their parents had inculcated this, but because they felt a commonality of religion, culture and personality. The couple was married in a Catholic church in Shoshone in 1958, and decided to stay in Boise.
22:30-30:00 Arnaud and Inez’ eldest son John was born in Boise, and their other son Jim was born in Twin Falls. The family soon moved back to Shoshone, where Arnaud began his own trucking company (Borda Trucking). He has trucked milk, grain and hay for 43 years. He also ran the Miramar Bar in Shoshone from the mid 1960s until the early 1970s. At his company’s peak, he owned 8 huge trucks. Inez has been the bookkeeper for the family business since the beginning. Both the couple’s sons also work for Borda Trucking. As Arnaud and Inez’ children were growing up, they took an interest in the Basque culture, especially since John remembered a four-month trip the family took to the French Basque Country when he was young. Today, the couple’s grandson considers himself a proud Basque, and goes to all the Gooding picnics as well as Basque dancing. He plans to go to college to learn to be a NASCAR mechanic, and has been to the Basque country twice. Both Arnaud and Inez are members of the Gooding Basque Club.
0-6:00 Inez has been on the board of the Gooding Basque Association. Arnaud is a champion Mus player (he was good even before he immigrated to the United States. They believe the Basque culture is the keystone of a sense of community in the area, among Basques and non-Basques alike. All the functions are always very well attended. Inez has seen the Basques in Gooding and Shoshone develop a lot as a community, becoming organized even to the point of building a new Basque Center. The couple finds it difficult to speculate where the Basque culture is headed in their community.
6-12:30 Both Arnaud and Inez feel that despite their different Basque origins, they feel proud of their heritage for mostly the same reasons, and in the same ways. Their children and grandchildren have had a different experience, though, since they weren’t as exposed to the Basque culture as either Arnaud or Inez. Arnaud has been back to the Basque country (mostly the French side) about 15 times, and Inez has gone to visit 5 times. Arnaud has stayed in contact with his sister and family in France. They have both noticed many changes in the Basque Country over the years. Whereas families used to make almost everything for themselves, and many had no indoor plumbing, everything is much more modern now. Inez describes these differences. Basque hospitality, however, has changed very little!
12:30-21:00 Inez describes her emotion at seeing her father’s birthplace. She describes her experiences in the Basque Country. The Bordas feel very comfortable whenever they return to their homeland. Today, neither Arnaud nor Inez can separate their “Basqueness” from their American identities. Arnaud became a citizen in 1962, after studying with his wife. Arnaud relates how he purchased some of his trucks.
NAMES AND PLACES
Aguirre, Valentín: operated a New York boarding house
Borda, Antoine: Arnaud’s father
Borda, James: Frank and Inez’ son
Borda, John: Frank and Inez’ son
Echegarray, Hélène: Arnaud’s mother
Galtzagorre, Jean: Arnaud’s first boss
Gooding Basque Association
Hood Construction Company
Keller, Lloyd: Arnaud’s boss in Ogden
Lequerica, Diana: Inez’ sister
Lequerica, Frank: Inez’ father
Lequerica, Josephine Gabiola: Inez’ mother
Sarango, Roger: Arnaud’s friend
Soloaga family: operated a Shoshone boarding house
Basque Center (Gooding)
Buenos Aires, Argentina: Arnaud’s father’s birthplace
Elet, Lapurdi: Arnaud’s mother’s hometown
Hell’s Canyon Dam
Leku Ederra: Arnaud’s family baserri
Link’s School of Business (Boise)
Macaye, Lapurdi: Arnaud’s hometown
Miles City, Montana
Miramar Bar (Shoshone)
New York, New York
Twin Falls, ID
Spanish Civil War