TAPE 2, SIDE A
0:00 Toni describes the neighborhood Basque families that lived in the downtown Boise area, around Bannock. Remembers everyone would visit because you were in close proximity. People would go out and walk during the neighborhood in the summer. 4:00 Was it a coincidence that people lived so close together? Boarding houses were close and it was a security. What do you remember the adults doing? Just visiting, having cake and coffee or some kind of food. You couldn’t leave the house unless you had food and visited.
6:30 Toni discusses meals at her Amuma’s house.
10:00 Jay started teaching Basque dancing. Jay and many parents were a part of the same club. Jay said she would offer dance lessons for a quarter a week to pay for the rental of the dance hall. Jay wanted to show kids their heritage; this took place in 1948.
11:00 Who’s idea was it for you to dance? My parents, I was not opposed, but I was shy. Mom said you are going to do this, and it’s the best thing I ever did. Parents urged her to dance because it was the one link to their culture. Toni describes the Sheepherders Ball in the early 1930’s, which started an annual tradition.
14:00 What do you remember about those dances? They took place in the old Miramar Ballroom on Fairview. The building later burnt down. Toni describes the stage, and raised dance floor. Jimmy Jausoro played then with Domingo Ansotegui – Johnny Arregui played Saxophone.
16:30 Played all Basque music. “Aprons and Overalls Dance” was the big event of the year. Guys wore jeans, girls wore cotton dresses and aprons. This event was always packed full of people. It was a big fundraising event for the city. You had to be Basque or be a guest of a Basque person. Not open to the public. You could bring as many guests as you wanted. People that couldn’t go were jealous. There are the Basques and people that wished they were Basque.
20:00 Basque dancing lessons first took place in a dance hall in Hyde Park, rented weekly, on Sunday or Tuesday nights, or whenever she could get the hall. Forty to fifty kids would go, ages 5 to teenagers – anyone that wanted to learn. The first couple weeks were hard, and didn’t think she could do it. Jay didn’t push and said, “when you are ready come out and dance”. So Toni went home and practiced. They learned the Jota – no other dances. Jimmy and Domingo would play, or Jay would bring records. Jack Perry played the accordion.
24:00 Music Week took place in 1949. Song of the Basque record well established started in 1940’s. Organizers of Music Week said to Jay “we’d like your kids to dance”. In 1949 they performed the Song of the Basque, a full-featured show, three-hour program on one night. The show took place behind East Junior High, on the school field, during the first week of May (cold). A stage was built, and people sat on a grassy slope. Canvas skirting around stage. Hundreds of people involved. Old and young danced and played accordions. It took year to get ready. Toni danced the Jota – nothing else. Different kinds of Jota. Ray Ysursa and Ruby (brother and sister) Johnny Y’s dad danced beautifully.
28:30 What was the reaction? Very favorable – little kids stole the show in costumes. Lots of good comments afterwards. People amazed that immigrant group could put together a full-scale show. Never seen organized ethnic program. Basques are very proud didn’t have the dances we have today. Impact on you? Reinforced my appreciation for my culture.
TAPE 1, SIDE A
0:00 I was always proud to be Basque. All my non-Basque friends were envious of culture because we were so strong, and so together. There were a lot of wanna-be Basques.
2:00 My parents encouraged me to speak Basque. I was too embarrassed, and thought I spoke poorly. I understand some Basque, but there is so much I don’t understand. Having a conversation is hard. I know the basic commands “do this, do that”. I am now taking language and want to understand more.
3:45 1950’s I was in High School and in College kept dancing – off and on. At first when they needed kids to dance they would call a few people and gather dancers to perform at dinner parties, smaller scale. Never got paid and it was a fun thing to do. In High school I took Spanish and there was a play or spring program and gathered Basques to do Jota and get kids together to dance.
5:30 Where did you get the costumes? Jay (Juanita Hormaechea) gave patterns and got made. They weren’t the same until Oinkari’s. Between music week and Oinkari’s didn’t practice much. Jay taught younger kids – fun thing. Social outing – 1 hour practice. Jay was meticulous. “Keep your arms up!” Nobody got bored. Weekly classes and Christmas party.
8:30 What Basque things did you do be fore Oinkaris? Basque Picnic, Sheepherders Dance, 1949-1950-51 Basque Center was built. Dancing activities, programs – parents were involved with kids doing things. Really got rolling in the 60s.
10:00 How did you plan on the trip in the 1960’s? Met Al Erquiaga in the Cabrini Club, which was a youth church group through St. John’s. Other members were Cecilia Solones, Dolores Echevarria Salutregui. They performed variety shows for fundraising events. When Monsignor Roe was the head at St. John’s Cathedral he said the club could get a shrine and put it on the church lawn. They raised $5,000 in 3 years for a statue – did shows in the basement of the church. Hawaiian, Soft Shoe, Jota – variety show. Pulled kids together to dance, and had different musicians. People were familiar with Basque dancers. They got the statue, but by then the Monsignor was Hughes and he said they couldn’t put the statue on the lawn so it is at a church in Meridian, still there.
13:00 Planning the trip to the Basque Country: The Cabrini Club brought them together. They started thinking, “wouldn’t it be great to go to the Basque Country?” They looked into the cost for 8-10 of them and found out it wasn’t that expensive. They met at Toni’s house to talk about it: Albert Erquiaga, Simon Achabal, Delphina and Diana Urresti, Clarine, Visla Azabal, and Toni Achabal (actually went), also there were: Dolores Salutregui, Cec Solones, Lou Guisasola (now Echevarria), and Ray Masistador. (Maybe 2 or 3 more).
15:30 They began planning the trip in the fall of 1959 and left may of 1960. They went for the whole summer and found out it didn’t cost that much money. They had no idea they would run into the Oinkari’s there – 7 people went on the trip.
17:00 The trip: First they flew to Washington D.C. and met the Idaho delegation there. Bill Rodenbaugh suggested they look around D.C. Hammer Budge was the congressmen then, saw Frank Church. Polly Staw, a friend, worked for Church and met them there.
18:40 Went to Rhode Island and knew some people there that were previously stationed at Mountain Home (previous Cabrini club members were from there). The people there thought they had an accent. Went duckpin bowling. Boston – cooks tour.
20:00 Took the boat (Holland/America) to Europe. It took 1 week. It was cold, rainy, got seasick on storm. Landed in France and took a catholic tour, and spent 6 weeks on Catholic tour. Went to Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Rome.
21:00 The first city in Euskadi was Pamplona at the San Fermin festival, July 7th. Spent 2-3 days there. Visited with relatives and then went to San Sebastian. Saw Oinkaris dancing in the street for the fiestas.
22:40 What do you remember about how you imagined it would be? What did you think the Basque Country would look like? It was what I expected. Franco was in power. All the Salvillos had their machine guns. Heard no Basque language, no Basque flags. It was suppressed – they did the dances though. Were you disappointed? I felt bad that they couldn’t do what they wanted to do. Yet they had the pride, and projected strength. Even though they had to hide. It was neat. Saw 2 little kids dressed up, little boy with a pipe, and the little girl had a live chicken – they were about 2 years old. Saw the dances, tug of war, competitions, civil guards come around and it would get quiet.
26:00 Did you feel different, or like I am one of these people? Yes, American Basque. We were in awe – this is our heritage. To see my mother’s family and dad’s family – we couldn’t communicate, but it had an impact. I think they were proud to have relatives that traveled to see them.
27:30 The Dancers: Albert (Erquiaga) grabbed Simon (Achabal) and said we need to learn these dances.
28:00 What was neat? What did you see? New dances, Zortziko – we had never seen before. The one we brought back is Contrapaz – improvised. Didn’t have sheet music. Had a video camera, 8-mm film, black and white. Tried to get pictures of dancers to give us a start. Albert and Simon went to talk to the dancers. The guys said they are willing to teach so they spent 3 weeks – 2 days a week learning dances. Toni was assigned to remember the music and steps for Contrapaz. Also brought back Zortziko, and Competition Jota. We tried to write it down, practiced each night and forgot and improvised. We sung the notes to Jimmy when we got back.
TAPE 1, SIDE B
0:00 Learned just for the interest of it, not for the idea of putting a dance group together. Just thought it would be fun to bring some dances back and on some occasions do different dances. What was your relationship like with Oinkaris in Donostia? Good, couldn’t talk much – they thought it was a novel thing – showed interest in dancing. When we came back in August. The first time we danced, and thought of putting a group together, we told them if we did get a group together we could use their name – said that would be an honor to use our name. Danced for the first time at sheepherders ball with same group with addition to Tony Aldape, Jack Bicandi, John Aldape, Rich Urresti,
3:00 How did you get others into it? Approached people, Said, “hey, you want to dance?” By word of mouth. Always short of boys – Albert got the boys in. Come on, we need some help. Had 8 guys and 8 girls for sheepherders. Practiced at the Basque Center. How did Euskaldunak treat you – excited that we were excited, had something new to offer.
5:00 What costumes/props did you have? We had our costumes. Borrowed gerikos (hoops) – I used my dads. I don’t remember where they came from. We didn’t bring things back from Spain. Music – Jimmy – we hummed music to him and he was very enthusiastic. Domingo. Ballet shoes, elastic ribbon to lace up legs.
8:00 First Sheepherders performance: Doing dances no one had seen before – probably 400 people. Was it publicized? A little bit – posters. We were really scared, didn’t know if it would work. What do we have to lose? The reaction was incredible. We did Hoop dance, Contrapaz, Jota Barri. A lot of those dances are not authentic – what we put together. We weren’t concerned about authenticity. Wanted something more than the Jota.
10:30 We didn’t take the name Oinkari until after that performance. We explained to audience that we brought these back and thanked the Oinkaris in San Sebastian. I was excited afterwards. People were so happy and proud, that we learned something new and brought it back. Little by little we started to get together more often, every week, got more interest.
12:45 People asked more to dance for occasions, dinner parties. 1962 the state came to us and said we would like you to represent us in Seattle. We were growing by then. Improvised other things, dances, and songs. Danced at fairgrounds from one place to another – World’s Fair. Said will you do it again in 1964 in New York and that is when I was president of Oinkaris. That’s what pulled us together was travel, which was incentive for people to get involved. 52 dancers and musicians to NY. Had a lot of help fundraising.
15:00 They were really impressed, so they were willing to help fundraising. Wide age difference. 14 to 40. Meetings, concerns, - hard pulling it together. Had money for everyone to go, had chaperones, plans.
18:00 1960-64 what stands out as being important in keeping the group going? What made people want to join, and keep momentum going? Valley dances were of interest to everybody. No other dance group in the area. Every Basque club wanted us to entertain at their dances. We danced almost every weekend, and sometimes on weekdays – got tough. We loved it. Worth every minute. Community leaders and Business leaders were very supportive.
20:50 We had same problems that you have today, personality conflicts, parents interfered, etc. Why did you stay? It was fun. I danced for 6-7 years.
23:00 Why do you think it’s kept going for so long? Pure love of dancing. Dancers have so much fun. Physically demanding, but at the time you are young, you didn’t think of it as work. It was a social outlet. Most fun thing I ever did in my whole life. We didn’t think the interest would keep going. We had good years and bad years.
25:00 What do you think Oinkaris have done for Basque culture in Boise? If it weren’t for Oinkaris we wouldn’t have any of this. We would have the center, wouldn’t flourish like it is today. No NABO, no other dance groups. Other things grew from Oinkaris. If it were not for Jay Hormaechea, none of this would have happened. How does that make you feel? Makes me feel wonderful. I still get goose bumps when I see Oinkaris, especially seeing my girls dance. A lot of kids don’t want to do Basque dancing. Started my kids early, 2 years old. They all benefited from being in the group. They were all willing to be in Oinkaris. What is the future of Oinkaris? I’d like to see it go on and on, I don’t know if there is that kind of interest though. Circumstances are different. Kids today will seek job opportunities elsewhere because they have to. When they leave here they will be gone.
Ansotegui, Domingo: musician
Arregui, John: saxophonist
Jausoro, Jimmy: musician
Perry, Jack: accordion player
Music Week: Basque music festival in 1949
Hormaechea, Juanita “Jay”: instrumental in Basque dancing
Solones, Cecilia: member of Cabrini Club
Salutregui, Dolores Echevarria: member of the Cabrini Club
Roe, Monsignor: head of St. John’s
Erquiaga, Al: met Toni at Cabrini Club
Hughes, Monsignor: next head of St. John’s Cathedral; didn’t allow Basque statue in church lawn
Achabal, Simon ]
Urresti, Delphina ]
Urresti, Diana ]
Azabal, Visla ] went to the Basque Country together
Solones, Cec ]
Echevarria, Lou Guisasola ]
Masistador, Ray ]
Church, Frank: Idaho senator
Budge, Hammer: congressman
Staw, Polly: worked for Frank Church
San Fermin Festival: festival in Pamplona
Salvillos: carried guns in San Sebastian
Zortziko ] new dances learned in the Basque country
Competition Jota ]
Bicandi, Jack ]
Aldape, John ] other dancers
Urresti, Rich ]
NABO: important social and cultural group
Mountain Home, ID
San Sebastian, Spain
Miramar Ballroom: location of Sheepherders Ball
East Junior High: location of Music Week performance, “Song of the Basque”
Basque Center: site of many cultural events
Cabrini Club: youth group at St. John’s
St. John’s Cathedral
World’s Fair (NY): Toni danced there