MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-9:00 Louie was born on March 15, 1936, in Aulestia, Spain. His father was José Manuel Echevarria, from Markina, and his mother is Florentina Aramburu, from Aulestia. He grew up right by the church in Aulestia, with a little store on the first floor of his house. They had a pig, and a bit of space for a few fruit trees and some corn, some of which was sold in the store. Louie’s father ran the family store, before coming back to America in 1951; he had 1st come in 1919 at the age of 17 to herd sheep, then worked as a general laborer in California. In 1952, Louie, his mother, his brother, and his sister came to Parma, ID, where they went to high school. His older brother dropped out. Louie’s father worked with sheep in Emmett and Nyssa until he retired in 1967. Louie describes growing up in Aulestia. He walked around a lot, since there were few cars and only 1 old taxi in the whole town (which also served as the ambulance). Louie never rode in the taxi, but was almost hit by it playing soccer one day. He always hated school, and had many mean teachers who did not speak Basque and punished those students who did. Teachers made him sit up front so he’d pay attention, but one teacher let him make handballs for him to use; Louie became quite good at it. Later, in high school in Parma, his favorite class was English, for he loved to read.
9-20:00 Louie had a close group of friends in Aulestia, which he lists. He skipped a lot of school and filched a bunch of apples as a youth. The worst thing he ever did was to throw rocks at the mule of a Guardia Civil, who was holding an animal by a rope. The mule got so spooked that it took off, wounding the guardia. Louie doesn’t keep in touch with his childhood friends, since they had 36 years to grow apart before his 1st trip back to Euskadi. He has a brother named Imanol, and a sister named Maria Lourdes. Louie went to school until he was 14. His brother attended some college in Bilbao. After he finished school, the family moved to the US, which he has not regretted to this day. His dad told him a little about what to expect upon arriving, but the transition was still hard, since he spoke no English and did not like the food right away. The family came in a boat called the ‘American Farmer’, which was half cargo and half (about 100) passenger, and went from Bilbao to New York. The trip took 7 days, and there was a storm along the way, which made Louie sick. He vowed he would never sail again, but later joined the navy. He recalls seeing black people for the first time, the huge size of America, and all the cars. Louie’s mother’s brother, Victorio Aramburu, met them in New York, and drove them back to Parma in a 1952 Chevy he had bought. It took about 4 or 5 days.
20-30:00 Louie recalls the half-day he stayed at Ellis Island, and the trip to Idaho. He hated the food—especially the bread. His mother was an excellent cook, and was soon back to making her delicious bread. Louie doesn’t mind some kinds of American food now. He describes adjusting to Parma, which was not much smaller than Aulestia. Louie could neither read nor write English, there were no Basque or Spanish speakers in there with him, and so he had a hard time adjusting. It took him about a year to adjust, but he had the help of many Americans, who took him to football games, gave him rides home, and taught him some English. Joining the navy helped him more than anything, since while he was at home, he spoke only Basque at home, and in the service, he had no choice but to speak English. Louie explains his love for English classes. He flunked his Spanish class (his teacher didn’t like the fact that he corrected her). Louie quit high school in January of 1956 (his senior year), and went to San Diego to navy boot camp with friend Jerry Cornwell. He needed a change, and wanted to see something of the world. He spent 4 years in the navy.
0-7:00 Louie was in the navy from 1956 until winter of 1959. He says that if he had to do it over again today, he’d still quit school. He has no regrets about missing college. Louie describes his navy days: he was in boot camp for 9 weeks, went home for 2 weeks, then went to Washington to serve on the USS Hornet, an aircraft carrier, where he worked for the next 4 years as an engineer. He got to see a lot of the Far East and the Pacific islands, which made him very happy. He became a citizen after leaving the navy, in Boise, circumventing standard procedures because of his military service. This was in 1960, and the judge had traveled from Helena, Montana.
7-20:00 As a high school student, Louie worked in the sugar factory in Parma part time during the winter, picked hops during the summer, and decided not to become a farmer. After he left the navy, he followed an old dream (even though his brother used to tease him) and went to barber school. He still enjoys his job after 40 years. He finished his training, apprenticed for 18 months, and opened his own shop, which he still owns. Louie remembers that he worked in the Nyssa, OR sugar factory before going to barber school. When he quit, he threw his lunch bucket into the river, swearing he would never pack a lunch again. He continues talking about his work experiences, including sorting potatoes and fighting fires. Louie went to barber school on May 5, 1961, after waiting a month for his application to go through. State Barber School was in downtown Boise, and it took 6 months to graduate. He learned by practicing on transients the instructors rounded up. Louie had to learn how to shave (he never had to shave a balloon, but made several transients bleed). He became a very good barber, and says that all is possible if you like what you do. He hears a lot of people complaining about their work while he cuts their hair (as well as many happy people). Louie likes his freedom, and is his own boss.
20-30:00 Louie chats about his clientele. He got his own shop in January of 1964, after apprenticing with Rio Tomlinson (a real character, but a good teacher). He worked at Owyhee Plaza for 21 years, then at his current shop, Louie’s Barber Shop, on Bannock Street, since June of 1983. He chats about the business. Louie met his wife Luisa when her grandmother mentioned her as a good match to his mother. They knew each other for 30 years, but didn’t start dating until 1983. They were married on May 2, 1983.
0-10:00 Louie had not been very active in the Basque community until he married Lu, since growing up and working in the US, he had never come in contact with many. He became a member of the Basque Center in 1984, at the urging of his wife, and because it connects him to his roots. Louie has been back to visit the Basque country twice, once in 1985, and again in 1999. The first trip was on a charter plane with the Oinkaris, and they stayed a month. After such a long separation, Louie found his hometown had not changed much in his eyes. The kids were the most different part; they seem to be a lot less wholesome now. Louie would never move back to Euskadi, for he feels at home now, but he plans to visit again. There is a lot more to do in Idaho, and it’s all affordable.
10-15:00 In his free time, Louie likes to golf, go skeet shooting, metal work, and wood working. He likes to work with his hands. Louie goes to St. John’s Cathedral, but does not get very involved. He stays in contact with a few family members in Euskadi via e-mail and occasionally on the phone. Some of his family, including his sister and mother, live close by. Louie considers himself to be Basque first, then American. He really loves this country, though.
NAMES AND PLACES
‘American Farmer’: ship Louie took to America
Aramburu, Florentina: Louie’s mother
Aramburu, Victorio: Louie’s mother’s brother
Cornwell, Jerry: Louie’s high school buddy
Echevarria, Imanol: Louie’s brother
Echevarria, José Manuel: Louie’s father
Echevarria, Luisa: Louie’s wife
Echevarria, Maria Lourdes: Louie’s sister
Guardia Civil: Franco’s police force
Oinkaris: Boise Basque dancers
Tomlinson, Rio: Louie’s barber mentor
USS Hornet: ship Louie served on for 4 years in the Pacific Ocean while in the Navy
Aulestia, Spain: Louie’s birthplace
Basque Center (Boise)
Basque Museum and Cultural Center (Boise)
Louie’s Barber Shop: Louie’s barber shop on Bannock Street
Markina, Spain: Louie’s fathers’ birthplace
Owyhee Plaza: location of Louie’s 1st barber shop
San Diego, CA: Louie trained for the navy here
St. John’s Cathedral (Boise)
State Barber School
Clubs and Organizations