TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-10:00 Carmen was born in Winnemucca, Nevada, on October 25, 1925. Her parents were Bruno Marcuerquiaga and Candida Irazusta. Her father moved to the US in 1889 at the age of 16, and her mother came in October of 1908. They were both from Ispaster, Spain. Carmen’s father wrote letters after he came to the US, and met her mother through this correspondence. He came to be a sheepherder, but ended up working as a cowboy, and he sent money home to help support the family of 7. Bruno set up a homestead in Nevada, sent for his sweetheart, and married her the year she came (she was 19). He was a rancher the rest of his life. Carmen’s mother had 13 kids, and lived 85 miles from town; she was a housewife. She worked very hard, bringing water from a nearby stream and doing chores without electricity. Her sister died at one point, leaving 4 more kids for Candida to take care of. All the children had chores. Carmen’s siblings are: Anne (stillborn), Mary, Bruno, Joe and Leon (twins), Frank, Julio and John (twins), Connie, Millie, Henry, Grace. Carmen is the youngest. The family had a huge orchard and a big garden, so the family never went hungry. The older boys went out and helped sheepherders when they were 12, during the summers. Carmen never worked outside the ranch while in high school. She remembers her father hitching up a team of 6 horses once a year to do their major shopping. He came back with 100-pound sacks of sugar and flour, among other things. Smaller shopping was done at a station halfway to Winnemucca. Every time she had a child, Carmen’s father drove her mother to town where a midwife assisted her, and Bruno insisted she stay for a month to rest (why she had so many children, everyone joked!).
10-15:00 Carmen’s mother had no problems adjusting to life in America, and often said her early years here were the best ones of her life. She wrote often to her family in Euskadi, but never returned until 48 years after she had come, and after her husband had died. Carmen went with her, and remembers the trip, which lasted 5 months. They all felt very comfortable there, but could still see the rubble of post-bombing Gernika. Her aunt made her speak quietly when she spoke Basque, and she hid the Basque flag. Carmen has been to the Basque country 5 times, and it was only on the last trip when her mother’s family took the Basque flag out from under a stair where it was hidden. She talks about the repression she saw. Her mother loved the visit, but was ready to come home to the US, where most of her family was.
15-24:00 Although her mother spoke Basque at home, Carmen learned English from her siblings and at school. With so many children in the family and being so far away from town, the school district allowed Carmen’s father to build a schoolhouse on the ranch, and a teacher was sent out. Neighbors sent their kids over, too. The teachers came from California, and had a little room in the house. Having never been educated in the Basque country, her mother often sat in on the lessons, and learned fairly decent English. Carmen’s father was a self-taught man who spoke English well, too. The children were not allowed to speak Basque in front of the teacher. Carmen went through the 5th grade on the first ranch, and then her father bought a ranch somewhere else in Nevada, and moved the schoolhouse there. One of her teachers, Carol Echevarria, was married to a Basque man. Carmen went through 8 grades, and got a diploma. Most of the neighbors were Americans, and Carmen recalls that many turned their noses up at the Basques, a grudge she still holds when she sees them today. Most of her friends were her siblings and the ranchers. The family had no car, and so didn’t travel much, but Carmen remembers various neighbors holding occasional dances and Christmas parties. Her family had a lot of American friends. She describes the social scene: an old phonograph provided music for big get-togethers 3 times a year. Carmen left for Winnemucca when she was 13 to go to high school, and got up early each morning to wrap bread at the bakery. She was also an usher at the local theater in the evenings. There were about 10 other Basque kids at school with her, but most of Carmen’s friends were non-Basques. She graduated at 17, worked as a secretary for 2 years for the precursor to the BLM, and then at a bank in Winnemucca, where she stayed until she retired 20 years ago. She moved to Boise in 1980, where both her daughters, Trish and Chic, are teachers.
24-30:00 Carmen remembers the Basque dances at the Winnemucca boarding houses when she was in high school. That was the extent of organized Basque social activity in the town until her mother helped start a Basque club called Euzkaldunak Danak Bat, which is still around, although it is now for women and men. The club sponsors picnics. Carmen got married in 1944 to Marvin Clausen, a boy she met in high school. He was of Danish ancestry, but appreciated the Basque culture. They had 2 kids, Chic Jayo and Trisha Zubizarreta, and they went to as many Basque functions as were available in Winnemucca. Carmen talks some more about her trips to Euskadi. She had no idea what to expect, and was a bit scared of the political situation there (it was after the war). Her father had kept a house in the Basque country all the time he was in America, and her mother "officially" went on the trip to arrange for the selling of the house. Carmen felt very comfortable there, but was surprised by the many pastoral elements of life there, including a town crier.
0-5:00 Carmen has made 6 trips to the Basque country, the last time in 1983. She was a little dismayed to see all the modernization as the years went on, but still enjoyed it. One relative there said she missed all the socializing townspeople did when they still made deliveries by donkey. She also noticed fewer and fewer people (especially young ones) going to church, and remarks on the continuously relaxing dress code. Here in Boise, Carmen goes to St. Matthew’s church. Nowadays, Carmen enjoys seeing her grandchildren, going to Basque festivals, traveling, reading, seeing family in Nevada, attending basketball games, and eating dinner at the Basque Center, among other things. She feels primarily Basque, then American, and her children and grandchildren are also proud of their heritage.
NAMES AND PLACES
Clausen, Marvin: Carmen’s husband
Echevarria, Carol: Carmen’s former teacher
Euzkaldunak Danak Bat: Winnemucca Basque club that Carmen’s mother helped found
Irazusta, Candida: Carmen’s mother
Jayo, Chic: Carmen’s daughter
Marcuerquiaga, Anne: Carmen’s sister
Marcuerquiaga, Bruno: Carmen’s brother
Marcuerquiaga, Bruno: Carmen’s father
Marcuerquiaga, Connie: Carmen’s sister
Marcuerquiaga, Frank: Carmen’s sister
Marcuerquiaga, Grace: Carmen’s sister
Marcuerquiaga, Henry: Carmen’s sister
Marcuerquiaga, Joe: Carmen’s sister
Marcuerquiaga, John: Carmen’s sister
Marcuerquiaga, Julio: Carmen’s sister
Marcuerquiaga, Leon: Carmen’s sister
Marcuerquiaga, Mary: Carmen’s sister
Marcuerquiaga, Millie: Carmen’s sister
Zubizarreta, Trisha: Carmen’s daughter
Basque Center (Boise)
Bureau of Land Management: employed Carmen
Ispaster, Spain: town where Carmen’s parents were born
St. Matthew’s Church (Boise)
Winnemucca, NV: Carmen’s birthplace
Bombing of Gernika
Clubs and organizations