TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-10:00 Maurina was born on November 21, 1913, in Boise, Idaho. Her parents were John Domingo Aldecoa, from Ea, Spain and Maria Pagoaga, from Motriko. Her father came to the US at age 16, and worked in Mountain Home for the Mellon family for 3 years, during which time he went to school. He then went to Boise to work for his brother-in-law, John Archabal, for several years until he was able to begin his own sheep business with his son Basil. Maurina went to Lincoln grade school in Boise, then to Roosevelt School for the 7th and 8th grades, she graduated from Boise High in 1931, and from the University of Idaho in 1935 with a degree in education. Maurina's mother came to the US without knowing her future husband, going to work for the Letamendi boarding house in Boise, where the couple met. They were married at St. John's Cathedral in 1913. John Domingo began as a sheepherder with John Archabal, but spent most of his time there as a manager. Maurina is the oldest child in her family. Her brothers are Basil and Manuel, and her sisters are Delphine and Benedicta. She describes the games she used to play as a child in the alleys between neighbors' houses. She grew up at 212 E. Idaho Street (now on Boise's historic homes register), which was far enough away from the center of Basque social life in Boise that she didn't spend much time with any Basques other than the Archabals next door and a few other families in the immediate vicinity. Maurina walked to school all the way through high school.
10-20:00 At home, the Aldecoa family always spoke Basque, since Maurina's mother didn't speak much English. Her father spoke decent English, as he worked with many Americans and had even spent a little time in Boise Business College. She doesn't recall having too hard a time adapting to her early classes (in English), even though she was told she had a problem. Officials wanted to send her brother Manuel to a further public school where the city was trying to test an English-as-a-second-language program. Even though there were several Basque children at Lincoln, Maurina spent a lot of time with American friends as well. There weren't very many Basques at Roosevelt. Her best friend was Juanita Archabal, who died at the age of 43. She describes the Boise High School of the 1930s, including the clubs and classes she was involved in. It was important for Maurina's mother that her children get a good education, so Maurina prepared for college. Growing up, the Aldecoa family was not too involved with the Boise Basque community, although they did attend some of the picnics, dinners, and dances. It was not unusual for Basques to bring their non-Basque friends to these events. Organized groups like the Basque Center didn't solidify until she had already left Boise.
20-30:00 Maurina recalls that even though her father worked a ways away from home, he usually returned in the evenings. It didn't take long for him to become a boss in the Archabal company (he already was one by the time he was married). He became a partner in 1936. When Archabal passed away in 1946, Maurina's father and brother Basil bought half of his sheep and formed a partnership in 1949, called J. Aldecoa and Son. They were very successful, but sold the sheep in 1975, when Maurina's father passed away, and began focusing on cattle. Maurina's sister-in-law still operates the company. Manuel was not very interested in the sheep business, and so went to college before enlisting in the service as a fighter pilot. At the U. of I., Maurina got her degree in education, majoring in Spanish. Her first job was in Birch Creek, ID, out in the country. She taught there for 2 years, then taught at Buhl High School from 1937 to 1943. In the summer of 1938, she went to Europe (except Spain, due to the war) with some friends and colleagues. She describes her position at Birch Creek, for which she was paid $90 a month. It was during the Depression, and she only had 2 grade school students and 4 high school students. She lived in a boarding house ($25 a month), and the school had an outdoor toilet. Teaching there was easy, and she was even given a ride to school everyday in a cart.
0-9:00 After working at Birch Creek for 2 tears, Maurina was offered a job as a Spanish teacher at Buhl High School. She lived in a private home. She talks about her trip to Europe in the summer of 1938. In the summer of 1940, she went to school in Mexico City to perfect her Spanish; she lived in a boarding house with Virginia Armstrong. In 1943, Maurina went to teach at North Junior High—the same year her brother Manuel died in Lille, France. She taught at North until 1944, during which time she helped care for her grieving parents (she began to feel a bit stifled). She went to visit her sisters, who were working as air traffic controllers, in Montana, then went to visit her friend Virginia, now in Washington, DC. She applied for a job at the Office of Strategic Services before returning to Boise. A month later, she found out that she had gotten the job.
9:00-20:00 While Maurina was growing up, and then again after she began her life on her own, it was difficult to be very involved in the Basque community, and so she wasn’t. She was busy teaching, on the move, helping her parents, and so forth. In the fall of 1944, she went to DC to train for a little bit before heading to London with the OSS on the ship ‘Aquitania’. (She jokes she kept visiting the Fine Arts Gallery to enjoy the air conditioning). Maurina worked in the registry of the counterintelligence group, reading through secret information before sending it to the appropriate officials. She describes her job, and shows a letter commending her as the best worker in the department. She met her husband at the officers’ club in London, in 1944; there was limited space, and parties frequently had to share tables. She married Andrew Donald "Don" Bowles, a navigator in the air force, in a Catholic Cathedral in Norwich, Norfolk, England in June of 1945. She describes people’s indifference during bomb warnings, including one woman who left the toilet with her pants still down! The couple waited until the war was over to marry (she knew it was almost over, but was unable to tell him).
20-25:00 After the war, Maurina flew to Arkansas to meet her husband’s family, then met him in South Dakota, where he had had to report. Don finished his architectural degree in St. Louis, Missouri, beginning in 1945 on the G.I. Bill. The couple’s daughter Patty was born there, and Maurina taught elementary school for 2 years (1947-1949). They then moved back to Boise, where the couple’s second daughter Suzanne was born in 1950. Maurina taught at Boise High from 1957 to 1958, then was a teacher and counselor at Borah High for about 10 years. She and her husband moved to Anchorage in the summer of 1968, after the children had grown.
25-30:00 Maurina’s children were never exposed too much to the Basque culture, but her grandsons were in the Oinkaris for a bit. She has been a member of the Basque Center since the early 1950s. Don moved to Anchorage to work on a dam, and Maurina taught high school there until her retirement in 1976. Her daughter went to the Basque Studies program in the French Basque country. Maurina remembers seeing Spain for the first and only time in 1970. She met only a few relatives, but had a good time.
0-6:00 Maurina continues talking about her only trip to the Basque country, during which she only had the chance to speak a little Basque. In 1977, she and her husband went on a nice trip to Mexico. In 1982, the couple moved to Boise permanently. She is still a member of the Basque Center, and goes to a few picnics and Jaialdi (she and her husband won the festival’s trip to visit England that year). These days, Maurina likes to play bridge in her spare time, go out with friends, and so forth, but she finds herself not knowing very many people at places like the Basque Center. She is proud to have Basque ancestry.
NAMES AND PLACES
‘Aquitania’: ship Maurina took to England
Aldecoa, Basil: Maurina’s brother
Aldecoa, Benedicta: Maurina’s sister
Aldecoa, Delphine: Maurina’s sister
Aldecoa, John Domingo: Maurina’s father
Aldecoa, Manuel: Maurina’s brother
Aldecoa, Maria Pagoaga: Maurina’s mother
Archabal, John: family friend and sheep rancher
Archabal, Juanita: Maurina’s best friend growing up
Armstrong, Virginia: Maurina’s friend
Bowles, Andrew Donald "Don": Maurina’s husband
Bowles, Patricia: Maurina’s daughter
Bowles, Suzanne: Maurina’s daughter
Jaialdi: large Basque festival
Letamendi family: had a boarding house
Oinkaris: Boise Basque dancers
Basque Center (Boise)
Birch Creek, ID
Boise Business College
Boise High School
Boise, ID: Maurina’s birthplace
Borah High School
Buhl High School
Ea, Spain: Maurina’s father’s birthplace
Lincoln Elementary School
Motriko, Spain: Maurina’s mother’s birthplace
North Junior High School
Norwich, Norfolk, England: town where Maurina was married
Office of Strategic Services: precursor to CIA
Roosevelt Junior High School
St. John’s Cathedral
St. Louis, MO
University of Idaho
Clubs and organizations