TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
Tape 1, side 1
0-4:30 John was born in February 22, 1917, in Nampa, Idaho. His parents lived in Jordan Valley, Oregon and owned sheep. They were wintering their sheep by the Snake River. John’s mother was pregnant, so when the time came for her to give birth, John’s father drove his wife in the horse-drawn wagon from the winter sheep camp to Nampa to see Dr. Kellogg. He was the nearest available doctor. John’s mother would travel with her husband as much as she could, bringing the children with her, because he was often out with the sheep for months at a time. John’s father had worked in the Delamar mines, about 5-10 miles from Silver City, Idaho, when he first arrived in the United States. He saved enough money to buy a band of sheep and start his own sheep outfit. John’s parents were frugal, but lived comfortably. They eventually turned the small sheep outfit into an empire, buying 1000 acres of land, which is still in the family and is leased to Jim Elordi for his cattle.
4:30-9:30 John’s father was Damaso Elordi, his mother was Gregoria Cabot. He discusses his family tree; he is distantly related to the Anacabe family. His parents owned a home in Jordan Valley, where John grew up. He describes the home, and mentions some of the chores the children had to do around house. There were 12 children: Gabriel, Carmen, José, Anita, Damaso, himself, Luisa, Zenón, Gregoria, Floyd, Frank, and Virginia. José was left in Spain on one of John’s mother’s visits, and did not return to the US with the family. José lived with his grandmother in Spain, coming to the United States when he was 14 years old.
9:30-20:15 John describes what it was like to grow up in Jordan Valley. There was no electricity; all the stoves burned either wood or coal. There were about 600-700 people in the town. There was a grade school and a high school. Grades 1 through 8 were taught in an 8-room stone building, and grades 9 through 12 were taught in a separate building. There were about 15-20 students in each grade school class, and about 30 in each high school class. He describes how the classrooms were set up in both the schools. John enjoyed school very much, and was the top student in the class. Academics came easily to him. He names some of his teachers: Ms. Wheeler, Ms. Dunning, Ms. Stoolfire, and Ms. Abel. John’s mother and father were both well educated. They pushed the children to do well in school. Damaso Elordi had been an officer in the Spanish Navy, and fought against the US in the Spanish-American War. He decided to come to the United States because he recognized a great deal of opportunity in the country. John mentions Valentín Aguirre and how he helped his father get on the train to Boise, Idaho.
20:15-26:00 John describes the life his family led. He enjoyed working at home and out with the sheep. His mother used to send John down to the creek to catch fish for dinner. He lists some of the things his mother would prepare for dinner. His father owned one of the first Ford Model T automobiles in town, and later bought a Model A truck. He used the truck to help transport the bucks to the ewes during breeding season. Before they started using the truck, whoever was herding the bucks would have to walk a long way, zigzagging behind the sheep to keep them together. Other ranch work included building fences, digging postholes, cutting wood, milking cows, feeding chickens, and collecting eggs, among other things.
26:00-30:00 In John’s estimation, about 60-70% of the people in Jordan Valley were Basque. Basques were the majority. The school system in town was excellent, the teachers were very good. John’s siblings did well in school, and his mother would check their report cards. John starts to describe relations between Basques and non-Basques in Jordan Valley. In the beginning, the Basques were very clannish. There were two churches – Catholic and Methodist – whose congregations tended to keep to themselves.
Tape 1, side 2
0-2:30 Catholics were not well received by Methodists at the annual carnival the latter would put on. John talks about what he sees as the base of that conflict. Some of the difference of opinion was religious, and some of it was the fact that Catholic and Methodist children used to pick on each other. Interactions were never violent, but there were certain instances in which a Catholic did not feel included in a Methodist social event, and vice versa. On the whole, however, the two groups got along fairly well. John’s family had friends in both groups.
2:30-8:45 When John graduated from high school, his father took him to Boise and enrolled him at Links Business College. It was the only business college in Boise at the time. He studied at Links for 2 years, living in a Basque boardinghouse. When he graduated, he found a position as an accountant and bookkeeper with Hopper Motor Company, an automobile dealership in Boise. He explains where the dealership was located and how it was set up. He worked for Hopper until he joined the US Navy at the age of 25 in 1942. During the war, John’s ship stationed in San Francisco Bay, so he became familiar with the city. After the war, he found work in San Francisco. There was very little work in Boise. He was married by this time.
8:45-10:00 In San Francisco, John found a job as the office manager for all of the bakeries in the Safeway chain of grocery stores (about 22 bakeries in all).
10:00-27:15 Backing up, John explains how he joined the Navy. To avoid being drafted into the Army, he applied at the Navy recruiting office. He went to boot camp at Treasure Island in San Francisco. He was put aboard the USS Nevada. His first mission was off the coast of Alaska, where the Americans battled the Japanese. John eventually obtained the rank of Chief Yeoman. He describes his ascension through the ranks to Chief Yeoman. His naval career ended in 1945. Naval battles were planned in Honolulu, and he saw action all over the South Pacific. The Navy eventually fought its way to Tokyo Bay. After the USS Nevada, John was moved to the USS Wisconsin. He recalls being hit by several kamikaze bombers. He describes how they buried the kamikaze pilots at sea. There was no special ceremony for them. According to John, serving in the Navy was easier than serving in the Army. The sleeping quarters were better, and so was the food.
27:15-30:00 John explains how he met his wife. They knew each other as children in Jordan Valley. He had a childhood sweetheart, Inez Chertudi, but his attention turned to his future wife after he started going to town dances. He describes the dances. The younger boys and girls were shy, so they did not dance together very much. Girls danced with each other, and the boys watched from the side.
Tape 2, side 1
0-4:45 Children started going to dances in Jordan Valley from the time they were about 13 years old. Besides the sporting events, it was the only form of organized entertainment in town. John went to dances with lots of girls, and remembers his future wife, Emilia, being at the dances. John and Emilia were good friends in high school. They and their friends attended 3 or 4 dances a week. The dances were held in various nearby towns. He remembers the Riverside Dance Hall in Boise. He recalls how much it cost to dance, about $1, and how the cost kept people from dating too seriously. If a couple were dating, the boy would have to pay for the girl’s ticket. Most boys could not afford to have a steady girlfriend. After graduating from high school, John attended business school in Boise for two years and then found employment at the Hopper Motor Company.
4:45-7:45 In Boise, the dances were held in a dance hall on 8th or 9th street, south of Main Street. The dance hall was large, and usually featured an 8-10 piece orchestra. There were about 3 dances a week, usually on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Tickets cost about a dollar or two. People did not usually go as couples, but the same friends would meet each other at the dances. John thought it was more fun that way, because steady couples would get bored of dancing with each other all night long. He bought a car when he started working as Hopper Motor Company and made a good living.
7:45-14:15 John and Emilia Telleria were engaged before he went into the service, and married in 1943, during one leave of absence from the Navy. He was stationed in San Francisco, but Emilia stayed in Boise after they married. He retired from the Navy in 1945, but there were very few jobs in Boise, so he returned to San Francisco to look for work. As mentioned earlier, he found work quickly. As soon as he did, he sent for his wife and she joined him in San Francisco. In 1950 they bought a home in El Cerrito, a suburb of Oakland. John’s first job was as the accountant for the bakery department of Safeway Stores, Inc. He eventually became the accounting manager of the bakery division.
14:15-22:00 *Note: John discusses his financial assets in this section. The details regarding his financial assets are restricted. The fact that he invested is not.
John’s last job before retiring was with New York Fabrics as the head of their accounting department. He started by managing the accounts for 3 or 4 stores, working his way up until he took care of 14 stores. The company was growing, and John worked his way up well. He had been investing in his youth, and was doing well with his investments. He learned how to invest by himself and with the help of some financial planners. He mentions investing with Joseba Chertudi. John says that keeping track of investments is hard work, but he has always been good about saving his money.
22:00-26:00 Emilia passed away about 10 years before he retired in 1972. After she died, John did not have any desire to remarry. He socialized with friends, but kept a friendly distance from women. When he moved back to Boise after he retired in 1982, he got reacquainted with old friends from Boise and Jordan Valley. He explains how he settled into his current residence. He lives close to his elder daughter, Teresa. His younger daughter, Laura, settled in southern California.
26:00-28:30 John was raised speaking Basque and learned to speak Spanish by taking classes in school. He did not speak Basque to his daughters. His mother-in-law lived with John and his family for a number of years, so children heard their parents speak to her in Basque. All the Basques in Jordan Valley spoke Basque to each other when John lived there. They learned English in school.
28:30-30:00 There was no Basque community to speak of in Oakland, but there was a Basque Center in south San Francisco. John wanted his family to join, but the drive from his home to the center took so long that it made active membership difficult. John and Emilia wanted their daughters to take Basque dancing lessons, but the 3-hour drive (round trip) was impractical.
Tape 2, side 2
0-4:45 John told his daughters about what it meant to be Basque. The children heard some Basque from their grandmother, and the family prepared a lot of Basque food. Surrounded by the culture, Teresa and Laura learned about it. John has been a member of the Basque Center and the Basque Museum since he moved to Boise. He was active in the Boise Basque community when he lived in Boise as a young man, before the Basque Center was founded. He remembers dancing at the Chico Club, which was built as a boardinghouse (by the Belaustegui family, see minute 5) across the street from where the Center now stands. There were dances there on Saturday nights. A boardinghouse on Idaho Street was another popular place to dance.
4:45-8:30 John talks about his involvement with the Basque Center and Basque Museum and Cultural Center today. He attends the monthly dinners at the Center with Miren “Marian” and Fermín Zubizarreta. The trio attends all the Basque Center’s functions. John has not served on the board of either organization, but participates in most of their social events. As a young man, he helped make morcillas at the Basque Center. He also frequents Bar Gernika with his daughters.
8:30-14:15 John joined the Basque Center because he enjoys taking part in the Basque community. He maintains the language by speaking with the “old timers” he meets there. Basque is his first language, and John feels that it is important to maintain it. It fulfills a need for him, one he cannot put his finger on. He has visited the Basque country 2 times. He keeps in touch with a cousin, Juan Gabiola (for name, see minute 14), in the Basque country, who came to visit John’s family in Jordan Valley. John tells the story of how the cousin jumped ship to come to the United States, and how the immigration officials caught up with him and deported him. John’s father contacted an attorney and tried to keep him in the country, to no avail. John has a large stack of letters from Juan. John has visited Juan on each of his 2 trips to the Basque country.
14:15-20:15 John describes the way he feels when he goes back to visit the Basque country. He usually feels like a tourist, even though he has family there. He is comfortable because he speaks the language, but does not feel like he belongs there. His home is in the United States. He does not think he will visit again. John mentions a nephew in California who comes to visit him every now and then.
20:15-22:30 John considers himself to be Basque and feels a strong connection to the Basque community, but also considers himself to be American. As he gets older, he appreciates the ease with which he fits in the community.
NAMES AND PLACES
Aguirre, Valentín – helped many Basques, including Damaso Elordi, reach their destinations when they arrived in America. He had a boardinghouse in New York City.
Anacabe – the Elordis are distantly related to this family.
Cabot, Gregoria – John’s mother.
Chertudi, Inez – John’s childhood sweetheart in Jordan Valley.
Chertudi, Joseba – one of John’s financial advisors.
Dr. Kellogg – physician in Nampa who delivered John.
Elordi, Anna – one of John’s sisters.
Elordi, Carmen – one of John’s sisters.
Elordi, Damaso – John’s father.
Elordi, Damaso – one of John’s brothers.
Elordi, Floyd – one of John’s brothers.
Elordi, Frank – one of John’s brothers.
Elordi, Gabriel – one of John’s brothers.
Elordi, Gregoria – one of John’s sisters.
Elordi, Jim – leases the Elordi land to graze his cattle.
Elordi, José – one of John’s brothers; lived the first 14 years of his life with his grandmother.
Elordi, Laura – John’s younger daughter.
Elordi, Luisa – one of John’s sisters.
Elordi, Teresa – John’s elder daughter.
Elordi, Virginia – one of John’s sisters.
Elordi, Zenón – one of John’s brothers.
Gabiola, Juan – a cousin in the Basque country with whom John still keeps in touch.
Ms. Abel – one of John’s teachers in Jordan Valley.
Ms. Dunning – one of John’s teachers in Jordan Valley.
Ms. Stoolfire – one of John’s teachers in Jordan Valley.
Ms. Wheeler – one of John’s teachers in Jordan Valley.
Telleria, Emilia – John’s wife.
Yzaguirre, Rufus – a friend of John’s.
Zubizarreta, Fermín – one of John’s friends.
Zubizarreta, Miren “Marian” – one of John’s friends.
Alaska – John’s first naval battles were off the coast of Alaska.
Bar Gernika, Boise, Idaho – John and his daughters enjoy having lunch at Gernika.
Basque Center, Boise, Idaho – John is an active member of the Center.
Basque Museum and Cultural Center, Boise, Idaho – John is an active member of the Museum.
Boise, Idaho – John’s current residence.
Chico Club, Boise, Idaho – John danced at this club. It used to be a boardinghouse.
Delamar mines – close to Silver City, Idaho. John’s father worked at the mines when he first came to the United States.
Honolulu, Hawaii – the naval battles in the Pacific were planned here.
Hopper Motor Company, Boise, Idaho – John’s first accounting/bookkeeping job.
Jordan Valley, Oregon – John’s hometown.
Links Business College, Boise, Idaho – John studied accounting at this college.
Nampa, Idaho – John’s birthplace.
New York Fabrics, Oakland, California – John worked for this company after his years at Safeway.
Oakland, California – John’s raised his family in a suburb of Oakland.
Riverside Dance Hall, Boise, Idaho – John went to lots of dances here.
Safeway Stores, Inc. – John’s first job in San Francisco.
San Francisco, California – John was based here during his years in the US Navy, and found work here when he
retired from the service.
Snake River Valley, Idaho – John’s father used to winter his sheep in this area.
Tokyo Bay, Japan – The US Navy eventually reached Tokyo Bay.
Treasure Island – John’s boot camp.
USS Nevada – John was assigned to this cruiser at the beginning of his service in the Navy.
USS Wisconsin – John was transferred to this ship after his service on the USS Nevada.
Basque clubs and organizations
Boise Basque community
Non-Boise Basque communities
World War II – Pacific