TAPEMINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
Tape 1, side 1
The oldest of the three brothers, Martin Epelde, was born on September 17, 1914 in a house on South 12th St. in Boise. Joe was born in 1918, and Louis in 1920, in the Capitol Rooms boarding house at 706 1/2 Idaho that their parents, Pedro and Maria Epelde, operated with Jose and Cruza Arostegui. Their mother, Maria Urrutibeascoa Epelde was born in 1887 in Elgoibar, Gipuzkoa. Their father, Pedro Epelde, was born in 1886, also in Elgoibar. As a young woman, their mother worked in a butcher's shop in Eibar, and as a maid in a home there. Their father immigrated first to Argentina, where he worked on a cattle ranch for two years to earn the money to return to Spain, marry their mother, and immigrate to the U.S. in 1913.
Their father worked as a sheepherder for John Achabal, and their mother's worked first as a maid and cook for the Arregui family at the DeLamar boarding house on Grove Street. In 1916, Maria and Pedro Epelde went into partnership with Jose and Cruza Arostegui in the Capitol Rooms boarding house on Idaho Street, which they operated together until 1940. The brothers say that during all those years, the two women never had an argument.
The brothers discuss their first job, selling the Capitol News on the street corners, that they did from the time they were in the first grade, at Central School, until high school. During high school, Louis also worked at Safeway's and Idaho Blueprint, and after high school worked at Safeway's again for two years. In 1940, he got a job at the post office.
After selling papers, Joe worked at the Union Club Brewery, then at Safeway's, and later at Boise Ice and Cold Storage. In 1936, Joe joined the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCCs ) and went to Riggins, Idaho, where he worked for six months building roads, bridges, and cutting and hauling timber for a dollar a day. In 1940, Joe joined the Army and went to Fort Lewis, Washington for thirteen months.
Martin worked for the Barber sawmill one summer during high school, then as a salesman for Brothers Wire and Metal Works. He then worked for three years as a sheepherder for George and Frank Kepros, two brothers of Greek descent, who owned a sheep company in Boise. Then he went to work at Safeways, then as a shipping clerk for Boise Wholesale Dry Goods, and later worked for Idaho Food Products. He remembers selling Christmas trees on State Street after his father died, in November of 1939. Then he got a job at Foster Furniture, where he worked until a friend told him of better work in the shipyards in Portland, Oregon. So he and his friend took the bus to Portland. While working in the shipyards, he got drafted.
Martin went to California for basic training in the Army, and was stationed in Numeia, New Caledonia. After the war, he got a job at the Idaho Power Company, where he worked for thirty-two years. Joe worked at the Idaho Power Company for thirty-five years, and Louis worked at the U.S. Post Office for thirty-five years.
The brothers then digress into a discussion of accidents they had growing up. Joe tells of how a car hit him once when he was crossing the street, and Louis relates a similar story. Neither of these accidents resulted in lawsuits or any type of compensation. Louis says that after several days, when the swelling in his leg hadn't gone down, his mother called Dr. Pittinger, who advised that they continue with the remedy they were using--rubbing "Sloane's Liniment" on the leg.
They then talk about how their father, Pedro Epelde, was up in the hills herding sheep most of the time while they were growing up. He would come into town just before the holidays and stay until January when it was time to get ready for lambing. Louis says that a few years before he died, Pedro was able to enjoy a couple of years where he spent more time with his family, staying in the hills only until August, when he'd come to town for shipping and stay until the next spring lambing time. Martin says their father worked for fifteen years as a sheepherder for John Achabal, and about ten years herding for George and Frank Kepros. His wages were about forty dollars a month. Pedro Epelde was 53 years old when he died, suddenly, in 1939, probably of heart failure.
Tape 1, side 2
The brothers talk about growing up in the Capitol Rooms boarding house. They remember how, just before supper, their father and some of the sheepherders in the boarding house would sometimes shake the dice for a drink of whiskey, with the loser paying. They would eat at long tables, ten kids, four parents, and from six to eight herders during the winter. Their mother's day would begin at 7 o'clock, cleaning and cooking. They describe the food they ate: garlic soup, red beans, veal, roast beef, chicken, boiled potatoes with porruas or parsley, french bread, tripe, pigs' feet, brains, and scrambled eggs with smelt, or with potatoes and onions, halibut and codfish. A common dessert was baked apples. Breakfast was often french toast or hotcakes.
They describe how the Basque community helped each other. Their friends, who lived on farms, would sell them produce, milk, butter, eggs, chickens, and turkeys for the holidays, at a reasonable price. They describe butchering a couple of hogs a year, giving most of the meat from the first one away, to pay people back for favors they had done. Then their mother and Cruza Arostegui would make chorizos from the hog and store them in the attic, where it was cold.
They talk about how their mother loved to garden. Maria Epelde had a big garden at the house on Myrtle St., where she moved after leaving the boarding house in 1940. Louis remembers how, even at the boarding house, she would raise garlic in a vacant lot out back, braiding it and selling it to other Basques who ran boarding houses. She made morcillas too. They remember how she seasoned everything with garlic. Their mother didn't know how to read or write. Martin remembers teaching her how to write her name. Maria Epelde never got her U.S. citizenship.
The brothers discuss the obstacles faced by immigrants, primarily not having much education, nor being able to speak English. They talk about how Basque was their first language. Louis says that the younger kids learned English from the older ones in the boarding house, who had learned it at school. They also talk about how their mother tried to buy a ranch in Dry Creek, but the deal didn't go through. They remember how she wanted them to get jobs with established companies that would provide benefits and retirement.
Martin says that, generally, it was the Basque women who ran the boarding houses. They say that there were half a dozen boarding houses in Boise at that time: Jayo's, the DeLamar that was run by the Arregui's, Uberuaga's, Letemendi's, and the Valencia, run by the Ysursa's.
They state that the Capitol Rooms was located at 706 1/2 Idaho Street and note that, at the time of the interview, in 1985, the Bank of Idaho was located on the site of the boarding house. The boarding house was torn down sometime during the 1960s.
The brothers say that their mother never talked about her parents. The brothers didn't know their grandparents' names, nor did they have any pictures of them. Martin says that their mother often talked about how they did things differently in Spain. Louis remembers that if they ever left food on their plate, she would tell them how much they would have liked the extra food when she was growing up in Spain.
Then they discuss how they passed the evenings at the boarding house. The men played mus but the boys played rummy or casino. Martin said it was a big treat to take the Victrola down from the shelf, crank it up, and play Spanish records. Louis says they also listened to the radio a lot in the evening. In the summertime, their mother and Cruza Arostegui would window shop in the department stores. Louis also remembers the two women putting their chairs out on summer evenings, on the balcony in front of the hotel, and watching people pass by below on Idaho Street.
Martin and Louis remember taking other kids' bicycles out for joyrides while they were in watching movies at the Realto Theater, returning the bikes just before the movie was over.
Tape 2, side 1
The brothers discuss their mother's membership in la Sociedad de Socorros Mutuos, the Basque Women's charitable organizationthat collected contributions and provided for the medical or funeral expenses of Basques in need. The women also helped out in the war effort, giving coffee and donuts to the troop trains that came through Boise, and sewing for the troops.
The brothers discuss how their mother wore black for six months or a year after her husband died. The boys also wore a black band on their suits for the mourning period.
They talk briefly about their father's time in Argentina, working on a cattle ranch.
They talk about how Basques migrated to the U.S. due to hard conditions in Spain at the time. Their mother's two brothers, Martin and Domingo Urrutia, also immigrated to Idaho. They discuss the chain migration patterns of Basques, who tended to settle in regions of the U.S., where they knew people.
They return to the topic of their relatives in Spain. They don't remember their parents ever talking about or receiving any correspondence from their parents in Spain. Their uncle, Martin Urrutia, (who returned to Spain after herding sheep in Idaho), never wrote either, although they received a letter from his daughter when she got married in Elgoibar.
Louis talks about how he met his cousins on a recent trip to Spain. He says that "Epelde" is not a common name, even in Spain, although he was told that there were some "Epelde's" in Azcoitia.
Then Joe's wife, Anne Epeldi, produces Joe's baptismal certificate, which she obtained from St. John's Cathedral. The brothers are surprised to discover from it that their mother's maiden name is listed as "Urrutibeascoa", not "Urrutia", as they had always thought. Louis then recalls that their second cousin in Shoshone always went by the nickname of "Beascoa", which he now realizes was part of their mother's (and that cousin's father's) last name. The baptismal certificate also includes the names and birthplaces of their grandparents. The parents of their father (written in the Latin form) were Joannis Josephus Epelde and Maria Joaristi, of Elgoibar. The parents of their mother were Ygnatius Urrutibeascoa, of Eibar, and Maria Agustina San Martin of Elgoibar.
Martin then relates how, on his birth certificate, under "father's name", Dr. Pittinger simply wrote "Basco sheepherder". Louis says that his birth certificate didn't even list his first name, so he had to go find the doctor who delivered him, to get it filled out properly!
Joe then recalls how their last name used to be spelled "Epelde", as on the baptismal certificate, instead of "Epeldi". Louis says he changed their name on the mistaken advice of his high school Spanish teacher and expresses regret for having done so.
Louis notes that Joe's godfather was Jose Galletabeitia, nicknamed "Eskerro", and they talk about the summer "Eskerro" worked with their father, herding. They remember that he went back to Spain after many years herding sheep, then talk about other sheepherders who went back, some several times, and some who never did. They say their mother never wanted to go back to Spain.
Then they talk about Christmas in the boarding house. After a big dinner of turkey, pigs' feet, codfish and tripe, they'd push back the tables and a couple of herders would play the guitar and the spoons, and they'd sing and dance. During the holidays, they'd drink wine with their meal.
Martin then discusses his sheepherder days. First he worked for Andy Little, before going to work for "the Greeks." The mention of a Basque nicknamed Katua leads into a digression about the various nicknames the Basques had for each other. Then Martin gets back to talking about how he and his father would take the sheep from Kuna east, towards Arrow Rock dam.
Tape 2, side 2
Martin says they would trail the sheep across Arrowrock dam on the old stock bridge, then follow the North Fork of the Boise River, towards the public land at Graham, located to the southwest of the Sawtooths. They grazed the sheep there until fall, when they herded them back to the Boise valley. He says they ate mutton, beans, canned vegetables, and bread made in a dutch oven.
Louis talks about the summer when he was fourteen that he spent helping his father and Martin herd sheep. He tells how he and Martin had the job of breaking camp and meeting their father, with the sheep, at the next night's camp-site. He laughs about how they would often get lost.
They remember sleeping on the side of steep hills. Joe also helped his father one summer, when he was about eighteen. He remembers loading the horses, and cutting pine boughs to put underneath the bedroll at night.
The three brothers talk about how sheepherders often carved their initials on trees near camp spots. Louis and Martin laugh about how Al Alegria carved his initials everywhere.
When asked whether the sheepherders sang at night, all three brothers emphatically answer no. Martin talks about how he enjoyed the solitude in the hills. He talks about the isolation, noting that the first news they received of the Spanish Civil War was when the camp tender brought it.
Then Martin tells the story of how another herder named Domingo almost got crushed inside his tent by a falling tree that had been weakened by lightening.
The brothers discuss the predators in the hills. Martin says the coyotes were so smart they could always tell when they didn't have their gun with them. He tells of the time they shot at a bear, and of how another herder killed a mountain lion that had killed about thirty of his lambs. Then Louis laughs about the time their father and Domingo shot at a bear that was already caught in a trap, taking several shots to kill it. They talk about the differences between pack horses and mules.
Martin and Louis talk about how their father was herding at the time for George and Frank Kepros. They say that Jose Bengoechea in Mountain Home, and John Achabal and Andy Little in Boise were the biggest sheep men then.
They talk about the spending habits of sheepherders. They say their father was conservative and saved his money, but some of the herders who stayed in their hotel blew theirs. Louis noticed a difference in the last wave of Basque herders, who came over during the 1960s, who generally saved their money. The brothers conclude with a discussion of their saving habits when they were kids and the importance of saving money in general.
NAMES AND PLACES
Achabal, John--a Basque sheepman, for whom the brothers' father worked for 15 years
Alegria, Al--a Basque sheepherder who carved his initials on many trees in the hills
Arostegui, Jose and Cruza--the Basque couple with whom the Epelde's ran the Capitol Rooms
Arregui's--the Basque family who ran the DeLamar boarding house in Boise
Bengoechea, Jose--a big Basque sheepman in Mountain Home
Burkholder, Dr.--a Boise doctor, who loved Maria Epelde's leek soup
Cortez "the fighter"--the nickname of a Basque herder who stayed at the Capitol Rooms
Epelde, Joannis Josephus (*Latin spelling of first names)--the brothers' paternal grandfather
Epelde, Pedro--the brothers' father
Epeldi, Anne--the wife of Joe Epeldi, who is present during the interview
Galletabeitia, Jose Maria--a sheepherder who stayed at Capitol Rooms; also Joe's godfather
Jayo's--a Basque family who ran a boarding house in Boise
Joaristi, Maria--the brothers' paternal grandmother
Katua--the nickname for a sheepherder who stayed at Capitol Rooms
Kepros, George and Frank--brothers of Greek descent who owned a sheep company that the brothers' father
worked for, for ten years.
Letemendi's--a Basque family who ran a boarding house in Boise
Little, Andy--a big sheepman in Boise, for whom Martin Epeldi worked briefly.
Pittinger, Dr.--the family physician
San Martin, Maria Agustina--the brothers' maternal grandmother
La Sociedad de Socorros Mutuos--the Basque Women's charitable organization
Telleria, Cruza--Cruza Arostegui's maiden name
Uberuaga's--a Basque family who ran a boarding house
Urrutia, Domingo--the brothers' maternal uncle
Urrutia, Martin--the brothers' maternal uncle
Urrutibeascoa-Epelde, Maria--the brothers' mother
Urrutibeascoa, Ygnatius (*Latin spelling of first name)--the brothers' maternal grandfather
Ysursa's--a Basque family who ran the boarding house called the Valencia.
Argentina--where their father, Pedro Epelde, first immigrated to, before coming to the U.S.
Arrowrock Dam--where Martin and his father would cross with the sheep and head north
Bank of Idaho--built on the site of the Capitol Rooms boarding house, on the corner of Idaho Street and
Capitol Boulevard, during the mid-1960s
Boise Ice and Cold Storage--one of Joe's jobs
Barber Sawmill--one of Martin's jobs
Boise Wholesale Dry Goods--one of Martin's jobs
Brothers' Wire and Metal Works--one of Martin's jobs
Capitol Rooms--the boarding house the Epelde's and Arostegui's ran at 706 1/2 Idaho St.
Capitol News--The name of the newspaper the brothers sold.
DeLamar--the boarding house on Eighth and Grove Streets, run by the Arregui family.
Eibar--town in Guipuzkoa where their mother, Maria Epelde, worked as a maid.
Elgoibar--the town in Guipuzkoa where the brothers' parents were from.
Fort Lewis, Washington--where Joe went to Army basic training
Foster Furniture--one of Martin's jobs
Graham, Idaho--a place with a ranger's cabin, surrounded by public land, located southwest of the Sawtooth
Mountains, where their father grazed the sheep until fall.
Idaho Blueprint--one of Louis' jobs during high school
Idaho Food Products--one of Martin's jobs
Idaho Power Company--where Joe worked for 35 years and Martin for 32 years.
Kuna--where Martin and his father would start out with the sheep
Numeia, New Caledonia--where Martin was stationed during World War II.
Post Office--where Louis worked for 35 years.
Realto Theater--where the brothers used to take bikes for joyrides
Riggins, Idaho--where Joe worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC's)
Safeway's--where the brothers worked during high school and afterwards
Union Club Brewery--one of Joe's jobs
Valencia--the boarding house run by the Ysursa family
Assimilation and name change
Basque friends, family, and acquaintances
Boarding house life
Food--typical Basque meals
Immigration of their parents