TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-7:00 Carmen discusses her parents. Pedro Maria Gandiaga was born in Markina, Bizkaia, and came to the US in 1909, at which time he was about 22. He had come over to escape the economic hardships of the Basque country, having worked his early life on a baserri. Carmen’s mother was Juliana Nachiondo. The couple met at the Mountain Home Hotel, where Juliana was working as a maid for her sister (married a Bengoechea). She had come to America at the age of 20, brought over by her brother Simon. Carmen’s parents were married in 1916, in Mountain Home. Pedro had come to Boise to herd sheep, and stayed at the Aguirre boarding house for a time before starting his sheep company with brother Eusebio (who later retuned to Spain). The Hot Springs Sheep Company was based in Hammettt and Bruneau until its bankruptcy before the Depression, at which point Pedro began a new one (Mountain Home Sheep Company) in Indian Cove.
7-15:00 Carmen was born in Mountain Home on January 22, 1929. Her siblings were Lydia Lachiondo and David (who died at age 10 from a skating accident). Carmen’s early years were spent in Indian Cove, except for summers in Mountain Home with her aunt Rufina (Rash Iglesias’ mother). She did not speak any English when she began school, because she had grown up speaking Basque at home. Learning the language wasn’t so difficult, since she had constant access to non-Basque playmates. Carmen’s father translated all notes from school, since Juliana spoke very little English. Carmen remembers the little school where she spent so many years: all eight grades piled into the same little room with a single pot-bellied stove. Her old, old teacher Mrs. Schook was a wonderful teacher for the approximately 25 students. Carmen remembers there being rattlesnakes and toads around the school. Her family was the only Basque one in the town at the time. There were no ethnic tensions, because most people worked for—and respected—Carmen’s father. She lists a few of the other families living in Indian Cove during her childhood. Pedro also saved cattle. As a child, Carmen went ditch swimming and horseback riding many times, often with non-Basque friends. They always loved coming over to Carmen’s house for real Basque food, and were constantly trying to trade lunches with her at school.
15-22:00 While most people liked the Basques, there were a few exceptions. Carmen recalls hearing about a group dressed up like the Klu Klux Klan who burned a cross in front of the Basque zone by the Mountain Home Hotel. These men turned out to be some of the more “upstanding” citizens of the town, but took cruel pleasure in tormenting the town on this occasion. Fortunately, this was an isolated incident. Carmen explains that the hardworking, frugal Basques provoked quite a bit of jealousy. As a child, Carmen’s school bus was a converted cattle truck with benches nailed in the back. When Mrs. Schook fell ill, the children of Indian Cove had to be bussed into neighboring Hammettt. It didn’t take Carmen very long to learn English in school. She remembers that there were about 30 men who worked year-round at the Gandiaga ranch, but this number cold easily swell to 50 during haying season. Carmen loved to tag along with her father (who enjoyed her company after David’s death), and often helped him take provisions to sheep camps and shop for groceries. Carmen’s sister Lydia helped her mother make murcillas and other food items, and Victoria Barrutia was employed to help with the rest.
22-24:10 Carmen was in the 7th grade when the family moved to Boise. While in Indian Cove, the vast majority of the ranch hands—and therefore everyone surrounding the family—was Basque, and this was the family’s main contact with the culture. They did spend part of their summers in a different ranch, and remained in close contact with the Mountain Home Basque community. Carmen also recalls the big thrill of attending the Boise Basque picnic (even if her parents always wanted to stay too long). She remembers her move to Boise after her father had died of a heart attack: Carmen’s mother tried to run the sheep business herself for 2 years, but eventually sold it, and Carmen went on to Boise to go to school in the meantime. The move from a small town to Boise wasn’t so hard for her because St. Teresa’s Academy was quite an intimate setting. It didn’t take mom Juliana long to enter the Basque social scene. While most of Carmen’s friends her own age at school were not Basque, there were quite a few in upper classes, of which she lists a few. There were also Italians, Irish, Greeks, Croatians, French and several other ethnicities—but few Asian students. Carmen went to all the Sheepherders Balls, and even helped paint the venue once (she hated doing the bathrooms)!
0-5:00 Carmen describes the Sheepherders Ball as a great place to meet Basques from all over the state. She explains that Basque activities were always open to everyone, and so it’s hard to pin them down as ways to meet Basques alone. Carmen also went to dances in Mountain Home and other towns. Sister Lydia, who had been a cheerleader in high school, was working in insurance for the Statehouse and living with the family in Boise. Carmen remembers that her mother spent her whole life caring for others, frequently inviting “stray” Basques into her home (for a small rent) and ended up doing their laundry and meals! She was a very charitable soul.
5-10:00 Carmen grew up speaking Basque to the older people in the house, and in English to the younger ones (except when she was mad!). Some people even spoke Spanish. Later, Carmen’s husband (who had not grown up speaking Euskera), had quite an adjustment to make to the multi-lingual Gandiaga family. Carmen graduated from St. Teresa’s in 1947, then went to Boise Junior College for a year before transferring to the University of Idaho. She graduated with a degree in social work. A lot of her friends from high school had gone on to college with her, and some were in the same sorority—Kappa Kappa Gamma. At the U of I, there were about 2 Basque girls and about 24 Basque boys (mostly older guys on the GI Bill who were quick to report any misbehavior). The group got together frequently, having chorizos parties with Carmen’s mother’s shipments and speaking in Euskera with one another. She graduated in 1951.
10-20:00 Carmen knew she wanted to do social work with the State, so she went to Plummer, ID to do family and medical counseling, often for Native American tribes. She returned to Boise slightly less than 2 years later, and began secretarial work for the Solicitor General’s Office. She quit when her first daughter was born in 1955. Carmen met Louis Dobaran at a Basque picnic. This man was born in Glenn’s Ferry, and although he had worked on the Gandiaga Ranch, Carmen had never really known him before the picnic. Louis’ parents were Francisca Larrondo and José Dobaran, from the Sondika area. They were married in Euskadi, moved to Idaho to work on the Slick Ranch in Glenn’s Ferry, and finally moved to Boise. Louis was even a POW during WWII for a time. Louis had 7 brothers and sisters, and although they understood Basque, they didn’t speak much at home—a common phenomenon among Basques who wanted their children to integrate and succeed. Carmen discusses her husband’s war experiences. The couple was married in 1954 at St. John’s Cathedral. She had never set out with the intention of marrying a Basque; it was more of a coincidence. The couple spoke English with one another, but switched to Basque to negotiate privately when at cattle and horse sales. It was also fun to switch to Basque when on group dates, for more privacy.
20-30:00 Carmen and Louis purchased three Boise ranches, which were used for cattle and horses. Louis also had three trucks for different milk routes. The couple has one daughter, LuAnn, born December 12, 1955. Even though she had technically retired, there was still a lot of work to be done on the ranch. Her husband had a debilitating accident in 1975. As the Boise Basque community evolved, Carmen and her husband found it more difficult to maintain the level of involvement they had known as single people. LuAnn grew up appreciating the culture, but married a non-Basque. Although she had grown up understanding most and speaking some Basque, her grandchildren can’t speak a word. Carmen recalls that growing up, all of LuAnn's friends were non-Basques, and so fully participating in Basque functions was not as easy for her because her personal contacts were few. They have all visited the Basque country. Carmen’s first visit was in 1993, and the second in 1998. Since her parents had always talked about their country of origin, Carmen was excited to see what it would be like. Even though she had been expecting larger cities, Carmen was very taken by the green and picturesque hills of Euskadi. People were surprised to hear her speak such good Basque, especially cousins. Carmen enjoys traveling, but would visit other places before going to the Basque country again. She recalls a trip to Australia, where there were many Basques—she found some Gandiagas in the phone book, but never called them.
0-1:00 Wherever she goes, Carmen tells people that she is Basque, even if she has to explain it. Her kids are interested, but perhaps slightly less proud of their heritage. Carmen considers herself to be an American first, and then a Basque, but she is proud of both.
NAMES AND PLACES
Aguirre family: owned Boise boarding house
Barrutia, Victoria: worked on the Gandiaga family ranch
Bengoechea family: owned Mountain Home Hotel
Dobaran, José: Carmen’s father-in-law
Dobaran, LuAnn: Carmen’s daughter
Dobaran. Louis: Carmen’s husband
Gandiaga, David: Carmen’s brother
Gandiaga, Eusebio: Carmen’s uncle
Gandiaga, Lydia: Carmen’s sister
Gandiaga, Pedro Maria: Carmen’s father
Hot Springs Sheep Company
Iglesias, Oracio “Rash”: boarder in Carmen’s mother’s house
Iglesias, Rufina: Carmen’s aunt
Kappa Kappa Gamma: Carmen’s U of I sorority
Klu Klux Klan
Lachiondo, David: Carmen’s nephew
Larrondo, Francisca: Carmen’s mother-in-law
Lliteras, Juliana Lachiondo: Carmen’s niece
Mountain Home Sheep Company
Nachiondo, Juliana: Carmen’s mother
Nachiondo, Simon: Carmen’s uncle
Schook, Mrs.: Carmen’s teacher in Indian Cove
Boise Junior College
Glenn’s Ferry, ID
Indian Cove, ID
Mountain Home Hotel (ID)
Mountain Home, ID
Slick Ranch (Glenn’s Ferry)
St. John’s Cathedral (Boise)
St. Teresa’s Academy (Boise)
University of Idaho
World War II