TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-11:00 Jesus’ parents, Alejandro Careaga and Simona Cortabitarte were both born in Aulestia in houses very close to one another and attended the same school. After their marriage they moved to Simona’s mother’s caseria, named Itza, where Jesus was born in 1943 and lived until he was seven, when his family moved to downtown Aulestia. Later, their family acquired another baserri up in the hills where they grew corn and raised more cows for milk and to pull the plow. One of the family’s baserriak was actually quite large, and they had about 25 cows there at any given time. Some time is spent discussing the average farm size in Aulestia, how many cows and goats each had, and what they would grow. Jesus was in charge of cutting the hay for all the family’s cows—with all those cows, it took a lot of work each summer!
11-18:45 Jesus started school when he was 11 and while still living in Itza and later, when he was 18, he moved up to the house in the hills. Having always spoken Basque, he had to spend a year in Ortuña—working with some Spanish-speaking relatives of his mother—in order to learn Spanish before he could attend school successfully. The school in Aulestia was right next to the church and sat atop the city hall. There were two classrooms, one for girls and the other for boys, and everybody from age six to fourteen was placed in the same room. Jesus did not like school, partly because one of his teachers was scary and would yell and hit the schoolchildren: the teacher put a hole in one child’s head when he threw a bell at him, and he once punched Jesus in the face. There is some discussion of this teacher’s affiliation with Franco’s party and the corresponding Francoist degradation of the Basques.
18:45-28:00 When Jesus returned from Ortuña he spoke Spanish quite well, but jokes that he had forgotten a lot of his Basque. The more time he spent in Aulestia, the more he forgot Spanish. It was not until he fulfilled his military service that he solidified his Spanish. At age 12 Jesus started working at a sawmill making wooden sardine boxes and stayed there for about a year, after which time he began working hard in the dangerous mines. In a typical day he would pick out the ore and haul it and the useless rock out of the tunnels. Cave-ins were frequent, but Jesus thought he had it pretty good because he was making about 100 pesetas a day—quite a bit more than most jobs in the area. After three years and at the age of 18, Jesus quit working in the tunnels and began working on the baserri gain; a couple of months later the mines were closed.
28-31:00 For fun, Jesus would go downtown and drink some wine or eat dinner. When the weather was good he would ride his bike the 11 kilometers to Lekeitio to swim with friends. The older he got, the more he was interested in going to dances on Sundays in Navarniz, since it was closer to his hilltop home than Aulestia. Occasionally he would even go to Gernika to dance.
0-7:00 Jesus was 21 and working at the baserri on the hill when he received his draft notice—something he was not really excited to do. In fact, at this time he already wanted to go to the US, but didn’t have any contacts there so he couldn’t arrange his departure in time. He spent his military in Morocco—which he describes as unpleasant and dry—and was very happy to return home. Most of his fellows were Spanish, but there were a few from Bilbao and the Canary Islands. While there, he would spend his time exercising, target-practicing, marching in unison, and sweating. There were some tensions and name-calling between the Spaniards and the Basques, but Jesus made some good friends: he even broke his knuckles in a fight.
7-21:00 When he returned to Aulestia from his military service, Jesus’ cousin Joe Arrete contacted Jesus about a job herding sheep for Ben Oneida. His parents, particularly his father, were sad about Jesus’ decision to leave. He wasted no time and immediately went to immigration in Bilbao and left for the US shortly after to start his three-year contract. He went from Bilbao to Madrid by train, and then flew to New York, Chicago, Salt Lake City, and then Boise in February of 1967. His paternal grandfather, Modesto Careaga, had come to Nevada in 1905 and had told him stories about herding sheep with burros instead of wagons, but apart from that Jesus didn’t really know what to expect. He traveled to the US with some friends from Bilbao and, despite his speaking no English, had not encountered any real problems when he was picked up at the airport by Oneida and driven to Shoshone. As he was driven through the Idaho winter he voiced his thoughts about the great height of the Twin Falls bridge and, when Oneida named some people who had jumped off the bridge to end their lives, Jesus responded that no one would ever catch him doing that. He also noted how much bigger Idaho sheep heads were than their Basque counterparts, and how the expansive country that surrounded the car made him nervous at first.
21-27:00 Despite his apprehensions about the novelty of his Idaho surroundings, Jesus remained optimistic about the opportunities to be had. He worked for Oneida for 2 1/2 years—1/2 year less than the contract—because he badly twisted his leg while chasing down some sheep. Ben Oneida encouraged him not to quit, and set him up with another sheep outfit owned by Ray Hudson. It was while working for Hudson that he met his wife at a Basque dance in 1969.
27-20:00 Working in Shoshone didn’t improve Jesus’ English at all—everyone there was Basque—and it wasn’t until he worked for Hudson in Bule that his English improved a bit. He elaborates a little about the routes he would take in and through Redfish Lake in his second year with Oneida. He met his future wife, Roma Young, in the winter of 1969 and they were married the following spring. Roma taught Jesus a lot of English and he taught her some Spanish, but when they met and fell in love they couldn’t communicate very well. He was not at all preoccupied with the fact that she had no Basque blood, but his father was more skeptical and asked him why he hadn’t married a Basque woman.
0-7:00 Jesus was ashamed to have married in America, because his original plan was to move back to Euskadi after three years, and he only told his parents after they had already heard it from someone else. Apart from this lack of communication, he and his family stayed in pretty close contact. Jesus started working at Boise Cascade in 1971 and continued there until 2001—enough time to get full retirement when it closed. A close friend of Jesus’ named Gandiaga—the two had been married together and worked together on and off for many years—died in a helicopter crash over Emmett.
7-14:00 In 1975, Jesus, his three-year-old son, and his pregnant wife visited his parents in the Basque Country for about a month. His father was very excited to see his son and grandson. Over the years the Basque Country had changed quite a bit, especially in that there were many more cars in Aulestia. Jesus has remained very close to his sisters and visited ten times: twice with his wife and four times with his sons, Jeff and Steve. He regrets that his sons don’t speak Basque, but during their childhood he always worked the swing shift at Boise Cascade. Despite this, Jeff and Steve both played handball and are quite aware of their distinguished cultural heritage.
14-21:30 Considerable time is spent discussing pictures of Africa, Oneida’s sheep
camp, and his children and family. He still plays muss and toys with the idea of retiring in the Basque country. He feels that, although Euskadi is his native country and he feels very connected to it, Idaho is a great place to live. He received his citizenship in 1972 and thinks that the US is, in many ways, a better or at least easier place to live. Despite this, he considers himself more Basque than anything else. “I feel more Basque because I am a Basque.”
NAMES AND PLACES
Arrete, Joe; cousin
Careaga, Alejandro; father
Careaga, Jeff; son
Careaga, Roma Young; wife
Careaga, Steve; son
Cortabitarte, Simona; mother
Gandiaga; close friend
New York, New York
Twin Falls Bridge
Adjusting to America
Life as a Shepherd
Getting Married, Raising Children
Contact with Euskadi