TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-10 Timotea’s father—Jose Yraguen—was born on January 9th, 1883 to a very poor family in Nachitua, Bizkaia. When he was a young boy he got a job on a merchant ship as a chore boy. His two brothers were already living in Oregon, so Jose jumped the ship as soon as he could and made his way to Valentin Aguirre’s boarding house in New York. Valentin helped him get a ticket to Oregon. Once arriving there, he was too young to herd sheep, so he got a job as a chore boy for the White Horse Cattle Ranch until he was sixteen or seventeen, when he started work for another big cattle ranch called Crowley’s ranch. He worked there until his early twenties, at which time he moved back to the Basque Country. He had had an eye on one Claudia Acoroagoitia (native to Ereño, Bizkaia) since he was a child, and when he went back to Spain they got married. They took a ship to New York and Valentin Aguirre set them up with tickets to Oregon. When they arrived at Crowley Ranch, Claudia spoke no English and was therefore stuck washing dishes for work for some time. After making enough money, Jose bought some sheep and went to the McDermitt Ranch and herded his sheep until he went broke during the Great Depression. After this, he bought a little farm in Vale, Oregon, and brought his family there. By now Jose spoke Basque, Spanish, and English. Most of the children were born at the McDermitt Ranch. In Vale, the children were expected to help milk the cows, work the farm, and perform many other chores. For much of her early childhood, Timotea slept on a dirt floor.
10-19:15 At the age of sixteen or seventeen, Timotea went to work at a boarding house owned by the Echanis family and stayed there for 7 ½ years. She describes it as being fun, because she had to work so hard back at the ranch. She would cook, set the table, serve the meal, wash the dishes, iron clothes, and make the 14 rooms that were upstairs. Maria Echanis did most of the cooking and, according to Timotea, was one of the best cooks that ever came to the US. In the afternoons the male boarders would drink, play muz, and smoke cigars. Timotea reminisces that, from the very beginning, she was always treated like family by the Echanis’. She would often translate to the doctors for the men who would come from the hills with Spotted Fever. There was a record player in the boarding house and sometimes Timotea would dance all day long. So, at the Echanis’ boarding house they would have dances and banquets fairly frequently.
19:15-31 Timotea always had a lot of friends, but when she met Jose Echanis, she decided that he was the one. Jose had come to the US to herd sheep in 1912—the year Timotea was born—and had been quite successful. So, he asked for her hand in marriage and she agreed eagerly—she was 23 at the time. They were married in Ontario and Jose bought her a house as her wedding present. 65 years later she still lives in the same house. Over the years that she spent in Ontario Timotea felt like she was a queen. She involved herself with the Basque Club, teaching 3rd to 12th-grade catechism, being a scout leader, and bowling. She also served as the church treasurer for 21 years. When she was younger and worked on her parents’ farm, she never really had the time to go to church, so she would read the Bible on her own. Over time, Timotea’s bowling became a way to have fun, relax, and spend time with her friends. In the early 1950’s, she and some of her friends helped spearhead the Ontario Basque-dancing program that still exists today. Through the Basque Club and the dancing, they raised quite a bit of money over the years that they donated to the community through various charities.
31-38:30 Over the years Timotea made four trips to the Basque Country. The first trip, in 1961, was not quite as she imagined it. She stayed in Motrico, Gipuzkoa, with Jose’s family. Communication to the Basque Country remained infrequent over the years, for the last time Jose wrote to his family was to tell them that he was about to marry Timotea. She details the influenza epidemic of 1918 in which all of her siblings were sick and her uncle and 11-month-old baby brother actually died of the illness. She highlights the visits and picnics that she used to have with her cousins, and explains that she is named after Claudia’s brother Timoteo, who was her godfather.
38:30-50 When asked which Old Country attributes have proved most valuable to her, Timotea ranks the following as the most important: hard work, being conservative, being faithful, saving money, and being honest. Those are the moral convictions she learned from her parents that she hopes will transfer to and be maintained in future generations of Basques in America. She explains that when she first started school in McDermitt they were called “Black Vascos” and were frequently discriminated against because of the language barrier. Luckily, however, things have changed rather dramatically since then. Now, being Basque in this area has become more acclaimed as a point of pride. Timotea stresses that Basques here have always been proud, but now they are more respected by Americans.
50-60 Timotea reflects on how the Basque Club in Ontario was once an all-women club, but has grown stronger in the last three years since men have joined. She holds that it’s necessary to have male support for the club. Patty asks Timotea if she thinks that the Basque culture will survive in this area, and she responds with a firm and hopeful ‘Yes.” Several minutes are spent reminiscing over several Basque lullabies, songs recalling the catechism, and various other songs exalting town-specific Basque pride.
NAMES AND PLACES
Echanis, Timotea Yraguen
New York, NY
White Horse Ranch