TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-4:30 Sabino’s father was Sabino Goitiandia, from Aulesti, Bizkaia, who came to the United States in 1921 at the age of 24. He worked for the Bennett Brothers Sheep Company in Grandview, and already had several relatives in Idaho, including his cousins the Aguirres in Mountain Home, who ran a boarding house. After working a few years as a sheepherder, Francisco returned to Aulesti in 1928. Sabino’s mother is Juliana Lekona, also from Aulestia. Francisco owned the farm that Juliana’s parents rented, and they most likely met through this connection. The couple was married in 1929, and spent the rest of their lives working on the baserri (Goitiandia). Sabino was born 19 November 1935. His siblings are: Matilde, Maria, Benedicto, Martin, Beatriz and Enrique; he is the middle child.
4:30-10:30 The Goitiandias had indoor plumbing, electricity, and a nice home, and even though the family had to work hard, life was work. The farm was about 80 acres, which (as the only boy) Francisco had inherited before going to the US. The family had cows, corn, wheat, alfalfa, vegetables, apples and pine trees. The fruit and lumber was sold to make a comfortable living. Sabino and his siblings just maintained the trees, and lumber companies felled them. Francisco sold apples in Bilbao in the middle of every week, and owned several properties around Aulesti.
10:30-13:30 Sabino remembers the chores the family had (they never really hired out help): putting cows to pasture and milking them, planting and cleaning the pine trees, and so on. Even the sisters had outdoor labor to do, and Juliana cut hay, fed cows and did the cooking in addition to raising her children. Sabino’s maternal grandparents also worked hard around the farm, gardening, digging potatoes, and topping corn—the grandmother kept this up until her death at age 94! The baserri itself was quite large, with 3 stories and an attic for storing food.
13:30-21:00 Sabino started school when he was about 6 years old, and walked back and forth the 1-mile to the building twice a day. The school was located on the top floor of city hall, and classrooms were separated by gender. Spanish was the language of instruction, but Sabino’s parents (both were bilingual) helped him learn it before he began his studies, so he had no troubles adjusting once he got there. Sabino’s teachers were all male except for the last one, and were generally imported from non-Basque speaking parts of Spain. Sabino never had any trouble with his teachers at school, although some kids had their fingers whacked for speaking in Basque or misbehaving. Both the girls’ and boys’ teachers had apartments in town, and while they weren’t the most popular people in town, they had a lot of influence. Some were mean, but many were nice—in fact, one teacher married a Basque woman and learned to speak the language! The town officials were all Basque—the mayor was Jesus Unamuno when Sabino was young—but they didn’t yield much real power (partly because in little towns, nobody went to school much). Nobody policed the streets to make sure that Basque was spoken.
21-26:00 Sabino recalls the bombing of Gernika: he saw one German bomber parachute out of his crashing plane and land in a tree in neighboring Munitibar. Since his family never talked politics, Sabino never knew what became of this man. He describes food rationing: the black bread was awful and only stayed soft for a day, and every family had to give the authorities part of their wheat (no cattle or other foods). Since there was a ban on private milling, everybody snuck into the mills at night to grind the flour necessary to make real bread. When he had free time, Sabino liked to play handball in the fronton up against the church. There were actually two frontons in school. Catechism was 5 times a day for one half hour, and Sabino doesn’t know why this was taught in Basque. Mass was in Latin, but the sermon was given in Basque, even though speaking Spanish was a condition of the priesthood at the time.
26-30:00 As Sabino got older, he liked to go to the Sunday dances in town—Basque music was allowed. The Sabbath was almost always respected. Boys and girls didn’t really dance together! When Sabino was 12, he went to seminary in Markina (5 miles a way; he biked) for 2 years in order to get a better education. He then went to seminary in Villafranque, Naparoa for 2 years, and never got to go home to visit during this time.
0-5:30 When he was 14, Sabino decided to return to the baserri to help his parents with all the work, which he did until he was 18. His brother Bene had come to America in 1953, and although Sabino was supposed to accompany him, he got ill with pneumonia and had to wait 2 years. Martin went to Venezuela in 1956, and once all the sons were gone, Francisco and Juliana retired and moved downtown, even though the family still owns the farm. All the brothers went abroad to make money, but fully expected to return to the Basque country. Sabino did not serve in the Spanish army, but didn’t go to America to escape it. Sabino’s father never talked about the US from his experiences there, and so going in, he knew nothing. Fortunately, he had cousins and uncles in Idaho. Sabino’s employer Bill Smith fronted the money for his trip, but Sabino had to pay this back from his first paycheck. Since this was before the era of sheep contracts, he was not obligated to work in this field. Uncle Ted Lekona (Patty Miller’s grandfather) was Smith’s foreman on a sheep ranch, but Sabino always worked on the ranch.
5:30-10:00 Sabino did not speak any English when he left for America, but had no problem during his trip, which went from Bilbao to Madrid to New York to Chicago to Salt Lake City to Boise. In New York, they stayed one night in a hotel, and in Salt Lake City, he stayed at the Landa boarding house 1 night. Sabino flew to America with 7 other Basques, only three of whom went on to Idaho. There were 3 men that Sabino was acquainted with. He arrived in Boise in January 1955. Ramon Ysursa picked Sabino up from the airport and brought him to his Valencia Hotel, where he stayed 2 days before heading to Grandview. Sabino recalls paying $711 for his one-way ticket to Boise.
10-15:00 Sabino just relaxed for his 2 days at the Valencia, and recalls being able to identify other Basques as they walked down the street: loud conversations with lots of gesticulation! He was picked up by Simplot’s foreman and taken to Bill Smith’s Oak Creek Sheep Company. The foreman was German, and did not speak Basque: as Sabino looked out the window at the window desert, he was more optimistic than nervous. Every single one of Smith’s employees was Basque, and since he lived in Boise, the language was exclusively Euskera. Sabino was happy at the family reunion he found with the Lekona family. Ted was a foreman for 39 years. Sabino arrived during lambing season, and helped out a bit in this area, but he mostly worked on the ranch, including a lot of hay farming. Sabino did this until September of 1957.
15-19:30 Sabino’s brother Bene was a sheepherder for the same outfit, and Sabino often had a chance to meet him in the hills. He had other family there as well, including Basilio Zuzaeta. Sabino didn’t have much opportunity to learn English in Grandview, but this did not impede his getting a driver’s license without a test. The employees worked 7 days a week, got no vacation time, and were only paid once a year ($250 a month with free room and board). Mrs. Lekona did the cooking during lambing season, and the men did it otherwise. Throughout this time, Sabino maintained correspondence with his family in Euskadi.
20-24:30 After his 2 years in Grandview, a neighbor who was a professor at Boise State University suggested that Sabino go there to learn English, which he did for 3 months before he was drafted into the Korean War. While in Boise, he stayed at the Letamendi boarding house (full board was only $80 a month), and did not work. Since his family had already retired, Sabino didn’t need to send money home. Even though he was not a US citizen, Sabino didn’t mind being drafted—he actually had a great time. He trained for 6 months in Fort Ord, California in 1958, then went to the army infantry, traveling through Hawaii and Tokyo before arriving at the base south of Seoul. He stayed 13 months, working as a cook, and even though there were no other Basques, Sabino seized this opportunity to practice his English. He found many other Spanish speakers there. Sabino finished in 1960, and then joined the Army Reserve for 5 years.
24:30-30:00 Upon his return to Idaho, Sabino began working for Swift and Co. Meat Packing in Boise, which he found though his army contacts. Other Basque employees there included Ray Jauregui, Joe Lete, and Alex Echeita. He stayed there until 1963, when it closed down due to pollution levels in the Boise River. Sabino found it nice to be in a bigger city. He was still staying at the Letamendi house, and studied English independently in his free time. Sabino remembers that at that time, there were still horse ties in front of many Boise businesses. He went to many Basque dances, bowling games. Sabino’s wife is Maria Carmen Uruburu, who he met in Spain on his first trip back in 1962.
0-4:30 Sabino had gone to Spain just to visit his family. He had become a US citizen in 1960, right after leaving the war. He didn’t know Maria Carmen, who is related to Bene’s wife, before leaving home. Sabino stayed only 3 months, and his fiancée came to Boise later, where they were married in 1963 at St. John’s Cathedral. He then started working for Idaho Meat Packers in Caldwell, where the Astorquia brothers, Tony Acaregui, and other Basques also worked. Sabino was a foreman there, and remained for 27 years until the plant’s closure. He then moved to a Simplot company in town, monitoring computers. He retired officially in 1997, after 14 years. Sabino’s children are José Luis and Ana.
4:30-9:00 The Goitiandias always did and do speak Basque at home, and José Luis and Ana are now trilingual. In addition to sports, Sabino’s kids both danced under Gloria Lejardi in the 1980s. Sabino himself was an Oinkari dancer in Boise for 5 years until 1963, traveling with the group to expositions in cities such as Seattle. These days, Sabino is a member of the Boise Basque Center, and loves going to cultural events with his wife and family. He has made 14 trips back to the Basque country, and so has had the occasion to see many changes. Sabino still feels very much at home in Euskadi, and hopes to spend much of his retirement there; his kids also feel very happy there. He still keeps in very close contact with his family in the Basque country, and they have even come to visit him here.
9-10:00 Even though Sabino is an American citizen, he still feels very Basque: the language, traditions and tastes will always be a part of him.
NAMES AND PLACES
Acaregui, Tony: worked with Sabino
Aguirre family: Sabino’s cousins
Astorquia family: worked with Sabino
Bill Smith: Sabino’s employer
Echeita, Alex: worked with Sabino
Goitiandia, Ana: Sabino’s daughter
Goitiandia, Beatriz: Sabino’s sister
Goitiandia, Benedicto: Sabino’s brother
Goitiandia, Enrique: Sabino’s brother
Goitiandia, Francisco: Sabino’s father
Goitiandia, José Luis: Sabino’s son
Goitiandia, Maria (Amuchastegui): Sabino’s sister
Goitiandia, Martin: Sabino’s brother
Goitiandia, Matilde (de Arrien): Sabino’s sister
Goitiandia, Sabino: Sabino’s brother
Jauregui, Ray: worked with Sabino
Landa family: ran Salt Lake City boarding house
Lejardi, Gloria: runs Caldwell Basque dance group
Lekona, Juliana: Sabino’s mother
Lekona, Ted: Sabino’s uncle
Letamendi family: ran Boise boarding house
Lete, Joe: worked with Sabino
Miller, Patty Lekona: Sabino’s cousin and director of the Basque Museum
Oinkaris: Boise Basque dancers
Simplot, J.R.: Boise billionaire
Unamuno, Jesus: Aulestia’s mayor when Sabino was young
Uruburu, Maria Carmen: Sabino’s wife
Ysursa, Ramon: ran Valencia Hotel
Zuzaeta, Basilio: Sabino’s relative
Basque Center (Boise)
Bennett Brothers Sheep Company (Grandview)
Boise State University
For Ord, CA
Idaho Meat Packers (Caldwell)
Mountain Home, ID
New York, NY
Oak Creek Sheep Company
Salt Lake City, UT
St. John’s Cathedral (Boise)
Swift and Company Meat Packing (Boise)
Valencia Hotel (Boise)
Villafranque, Naparoa: town where Sabino attended seminary
Bombing of Gernika