TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-2:15 Evelyn’s mother was Eulalia Mallea, and her father was Manuel Acordagoitia. They were both from Ereño. They married in Silver City, Idaho. Her parents lived in Silver City for a few years before moving to Jordan Valley, Oregon. They heard of opportunities in Boise, Idaho, and decided to move and make a better life for themselves. Evelyn was 3 years old when her family moved to Boise. She is the youngest of 6 children: Flora [Arte], Vincent, Tomasa [Erquiaga], Paul, George, and herself.
2:15-3:45 Evelyn jokes that since she moved to Boise, she has not traveled very much. The exception occurred in 1970, when her son [Dave Eiguren] invited her to visit Spain with him. She was working at the time, but took 3 weeks off to make the trip. Evelyn describes the visit. She was able to see her parents’ baserris in Ereño. She really enjoyed the trip, and made another in 1979, taking time to meet cousins. Backing up, she explains that her parents had known each other in Ereño, but did not marry until they met again in Silver City.
3:45-5:15 Her parents decided to come to the United States to look for a better life. Held back by finances and the difficulties associated with returning to the Basque country, her parents never went back to see their homeland. Even so, they were both very happy in the US, adopting it as their country.
5:15-8:30 Evelyn was born in 1921 in Jordan Valley. She discusses the phenomenon of immigration, and how immigrants will write back to family members in the old country, often encouraging them to emigrate. In this way, immigrant communities find footholds in new places and grow. Her parents’ families are good examples of this trend. Evelyn says that not many people of her parents’ generation got a chance to go back to the Basque country. She did, and describes a little more of her trips. She took a charter plane with other members of the Basque Center on the second trip, but the first was just a family affair (Evelyn, Dave, his wife Geannie Aldape, Evelyn’s daughter Sylvia, and Evelyn’s grandson Tony – Dave’s son). They visited Lekeitio, where Evelyn’s husband [Domingo “Txomin” Eiguren] was born, and stayed in the Hotel Beitia.
8:30-12:30 Backing up, Evelyn talks a little more about her childhood. She explains that her parents came to Boise because there was more opportunity to raise their standard of living. Her mother was pleased to see that Boise had so many trees – she missed the green hills of Ereño. Evelyn started school at Park School, one of the oldest schools in Boise, and graduated from the 8th grade in 1936. After finishing at Park, she went to Boise High School and graduated in 1940. When they first moved to Boise, her family lived in a house on Main Street, between 11th and 12th. Other Basques helped her family find the house, which had been owned by a man who returned to the Basque country. They were surrounded by Basque families in downtown Boise. When Evelyn was 24 years old, her family moved to a house on the east side of town, on Washington Street, just off of Warm Springs Avenue.
12:30-15:00 Boise was still a small community while Evelyn was growing up. She thinks there were around 30,000 inhabitants. She went to church at St. John’s Cathedral. The Basque community was very close and strongly Catholic. Funerals and receptions were used as times to meet and socialize. Her father did not speak English and neither parents could read or write, and Evelyn admires their perseverance and determination. Her father had herded sheep in Jordan Valley [for George Anchustegui]. In Boise, he did odd jobs to support his family. Her mother worked at home, her hands full with 6 children.
15:00-18:30 Before the Basque Center was built, Basque families got together at their homes, at the boarding houses, and at picnics. Her mother learned some English, mostly by teaching herself, and did whatever she could to help her children with school and be involved with school functions. Before the Center existed, the main venues for social events were the annual St. Ignacio Picnics, boarding houses, women’s organizations, and those mentioned previously. Baking bread, cooking, and tending small gardens were also characteristic of Basque families. Evelyn was raised with an appreciation of what she had. Her mother once told her “I have more than what my mother had, and I’m sure you will have more than what I have when you grow up, but that is life.” The statement embodied her attitude toward life. Evelyn never dreamed that she would visit the Basque country, for her family was very frugal, but her mother told her what the country was like.
18:30-21:15 Evelyn had many Basque friends in Boise. She says that having a strong connection to the Basque community was just a part of being Basque in Boise at the time. She was glad she could speak English, and saw that many people faced serious disadvantages because they could not speak the language. As a result, she raised her children to speak mostly English in the home, but taught them a little Basque. The decision was difficult for her, but she says that even though she is very proud of her heritage, she did not want to alienate her children from the non-Basque community by teaching them to speak only Basque. In her case, especially as the youngest child, Evelyn benefited from being able to speak both languages, but she saw her older siblings and parents struggle with English.
21:15-22:45 Evelyn has known people who have not grown up with Boise as she has, and as a result do not know the influences that the Basque culture and Boise have had on each other. She does not want to be boastful or arrogant about her cultural roots, but is proud of who she is.
22:45-29:30 She describes the difficulty her older siblings had adjusting to the English language in school. When they started learning, they spoke some English to each other, helping the younger siblings grow accustomed to hearing the language. In her family, it was common for the children to learn English quickly as soon as they got out of the house and socialized with other children in school. The children helped their parents with the language. Evelyn talks about the development of the Basque community in Boise. It was difficult for her parents and older siblings to be accepted by non-Basques, but by the time she started school, relations between the two groups were improving. Nevertheless, she remembers isolated instances of misunderstanding and discrimination (i.e. hearing the term “black basco,” and having a teacher point her out as a foreigner, not understanding that she was indeed a citizen – the teacher eventually apologized). In her experience, Basque children mixed very well with other children at school, and were well accepted. When Basques started settling permanently in communities, buying property, opening bank accounts, and showing other signs of assimilation into American communities, relations between them and non-Basques improved. People became more educated about what the Basque culture was and where it came from. They learned by asking Basques questions, and studying the country and culture in school.
29:30-30:00 Evelyn discusses her involvement in high school activities. She was a member of the “Scarlet Skirts,” a group of girls that went to school sporting events to cheer for their team. Nampa High School was Boise’s biggest rival.
0-5:15 After she graduated from high school, Evelyn went to work for the Idaho State Treasurer’s Office as a secretary/clerk, and eventually became a bookkeeper. She stayed at the office for 6 ½ years, leaving when she married to raise a family. As her mother had been, Evelyn was active in her children’s school activities, her church, and the newly built Basque Center. She describes how she met her husband, Domingo Eiguren, at a New Year’s Eve party in 1945. They married in 1947. He had just returned from serving in the US Army, and they met at the Delamar Hotel. Evelyn wishes that the old boarding house were still standing. As she remembers, the Delamar was a beautiful building and was considered the “elite” of the boarding houses. She mentions the Letamendi, Goitia, and Delamar boarding houses. They were the houses she went to the most for social events. She also used to dance at the Riverside Ballroom and loved the annual Sheepherders’ Ball. She used to go dancing nearly every weekend. Evelyn explains that she usually went to other dance halls to dance – the boarding houses were more for holidays.
5:15-8:30 Evelyn was very happy to see the Basque Center built (c. 1950) because it was the first place that really belonged to the Basque community. The Center changed the social scene in the Basque community because it provided a place for Basques to play cards, have coffee or drinks, and socialize during the day. It was like a home for Basque culture. Since Evelyn and Domingo were newly married, they used the monthly dinners as a way to spend time with other adults. To this day, she enjoys the Christmas bazaar and morcilla dinners. The atmosphere and attendance at the Basque Center has changed over the years. In her youth, the Center served as an important place for people to meet and see their friends, especially for the older people. With the rise in the number of cars per family, it became easier to see friends away from the Center, and the younger people became very focused on their careers, which drew them away from the Center as a social venue. Evelyn says that lifestyles have changed. In the early years, Juanita “Jay” Hormaechea offered jota lessons for children. (Evelyn mentions that her son, Dave, has served as president of the Basque Center for three years). There were many activities for Basque families at the Center, especially in its early days.
8:30-15:30 During World War II, Evelyn worked in the Treasurer’s Office and volunteered for the American Red Cross and the United Service Organization (USO). At the latter, she talked to American servicemen who were stationed away from home, providing friendly conversation and dancing with the servicemen. One of her brothers, Paul, was in England with the US Air Force. Another, Vincent, was in the South Pacific with the US Navy. Her youngest brother, George, like many young men at the time, found work with Morrison Knudsen, building projects at Wake Island in the South Pacific. He was taken as a prisoner of war for 4 years by the Japanese, and was treated very poorly. She describes his living conditions at the POW camp. Evelyn went to see him at a hospital in San Francisco when he was freed from the camp in 1945. It took him a good deal of time to readjust to life as a free man. Many of the young Basque men she knew had gone to fight in the war.
15:30-23:30 Evelyn and Domingo were married at St. John’s Cathedral in 1947, and moved to the Boise Bench (an area of town close to the train depot) after they married. Their children are David (1948), Sylvia (1952), and Steven (1954). Domingo worked in construction for a short while before settling into a career with the State Highway Department, constructing and maintaining roads. He enjoyed the job, and liked working outdoors. Domingo retired in 1976. He and Evelyn spoke a little Basque to their children, but focused on teaching them English. They took their children to the Basque Center for various activities from an early age. Evelyn and her husband spoke mostly English to each other, but Basque occasionally. They also taught their children about the Basque country and culture, teaching them as much as possible about what it meant to be Basque. Since Domingo’s parents had died earlier and Evelyn’s parents passed away soon after she married, the children were raised without the important influence of grandparents. Nevertheless, they took to the culture and absorbed everything their parents taught them. Today, her daughter lives in Baker City, Oregon, and works for the US Forest Service, and Evelyn’s sons live in Boise.
23:30-26:45 Evelyn says that there is more opportunity to learn about and celebrate Basque culture today than there was when she was growing up. She is glad that all the opportunity exists, and is happy to see the culture maintaining its strength, and gives it promise for the future. She notices a growing trend for people from different states in the US to travel to Basque festivals and events in other states. This draws Basque communities together. She has enjoyed traveling to Bakersfield (CA), Elko and Winnemucca, Nevada for their Basque festivals. Evelyn realizes that she has had more opportunity to attend these festivals than her parents had, and is grateful for it.
26:45-32:00 After raising her children, in 1970, Evelyn went back to work, this time for the State of Idaho’s Auditor’s Office as a bookkeeper. She retired in 1976 to help care for her husband who had fallen ill. She also wanted to relax a little and enjoy life. Since she sold her home and moved into a retirement home, Evelyn has kept herself busy with walking, talking to friends, shopping for antiques, working on arts and crafts, spending time with family, and other activities. She remembers some of the antique cars that she and husband used to collect. Evelyn attends church at Sacred Heart Church. When asked to identify herself, she says considers herself to be American with a Basque heritage. Her culture is Basque.
NAMES AND PLACES
“Scarlet Skirts” – a girls’ club at Boise High School; Evelyn was a member.
Acordagoitia, George – one of Evelyn’s brothers.
Acordagoitia, Manuel – Evelyn’s father.
Acordagoitia, Paul – one of Evelyn’s brothers.
Acordagoitia, Vincent – one of Evelyn’s brothers.
Anchustegui, George – Evelyn’s father herded sheep for Mr. Anchustegui in Jordan Valley.
Arte, Flora – one of Evelyn’s sisters.
Eiguren, Dave – Evelyn’s oldest son.
Eiguren, Domingo “Txomin” – Evelyn’s husband.
Eiguren, Steve – Evelyn’s youngest son.
Eiguren, Sylvia – (married name?) Evelyn’s daughter.
Erquiaga, Tomasa – one of Evelyn’s sisters.
Hormaechea, Juanita “Jay” – Evelyn mentions her Basque dancing classes.
Mallea, Eulalia – Evelyn’s mother.
Oinkari Basque Dancers
American Red Cross, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn volunteered here during World War II.Auditor’s Office, State of Idaho, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn worked as a bookkeeper here from 1970-1976.
Bakersfield, California – Evelyn has attended Basque festivals and social events here.
Basque Center, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn provides details about how the Center changed the way Basques in Boise socialized.
Boise High School, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn graduated in 1940.
Boise, Idaho – Evelyn’s family moved to Boise when she was 3 years old.
Delamar Hotel, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn met her husband here at a New Year’s Eve party.
Elko, Nevada – Evelyn has attended Basque festivals and social events here.
Ereño, Bizkaia – Evelyn’s parent’s birthplace.
Goitia boarding house, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn mentions this boarding house as one she frequented.
Highway Department, State of Idaho – Domingo Eiguren’s employer until his retirement.
Jordan Valley, Oregon – Evelyn’s birthplace.
Letamendi boarding house, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn mentions this boarding house as one she frequented.
Main Street, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn’s family’s first residence in Boise.
Morrison Knudsen Corporation, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn’s youngest brother, George, worked for MK at Wake Island in the South Pacific.
Nampa High School, Nampa, Idaho – while Evelyn was going to Boise High School, the Nampa “Bulldogs” were their biggest rivals.
Park School, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn’s school until 8th grade.
Reno, Nevada – Evelyn has attended Basque festivals and social events here.
Riverside Ballroom, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn used to go dancing with friends here.
Sacred Heart Church, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn’s church.
San Francisco, California – George Eiguren was treated at a hospital here after his release from a Japanese POW camp.
Silver City, Idaho – Evelyn’s parents were married here.
St. John’s Cathedral, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn, her family, and much of the Basque community in Boise were members of this church.
Treasurer’s Office, State of Idaho, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn worked here as a clerk/secretary/bookkeeper.
United Service Organization, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn volunteered here during World War II.
US Forest Service, Baker City, Oregon – Evelyn’s daughter’s employer.
Washington Street, Boise, Idaho – Evelyn’s family’s second residence in Boise, from the age of 24.
Basque clubs and organizations
Basque picnics/festivals/social events
Dancing (Basque and non-Basque)
Non-Boise Basque communities
POW camps during World War II (South Pacific)
US Armed Forces
World War II