Hormaechea, Juanita "Jay"

Mark Bieter, John Bieter, and David Ensunsa
Interview Location: 
Boise, Idaho
Interview Date: 

Juanita was born in Boise, Idaho in 1908 to Juana Arriola and Juan Uberuaga.  Her parents, who had both come from Euskadi to make their lives in Idaho, operated the Uberuaga boarding house on Grove Street.  In 1912, Juanita's family moved to another house on Grove Street but kept a few rooms open for boarders.  Juanita describes what it was like to grow in a boarding house, surrounded by Basques as she helped her mother run the house and tend to the boarders.

At thirteen, Juanita went to work for the Anduiza family at their boarding house and hotel.  Over the next few years she would work as a maid for the Anduizas, at the Modern Hotel, and other boarding houses, giving her earnings to her family.  When the Great Depression hit, Juanita found jobs as a sales clerk and Basque translator for some of Boise's department stores.  In 1937, she graduated from State Beauty College and joined Ruth Yturri's Whitehead Beauty Salon.  Juanita later bought the salon, continuing in the business for 48 years.

Alarmed and saddened to see Basque culture starting to disintegrate in America, Juanita helped found the Basque Girls Knitting Club in 1936 and the Heritage School of Basque Dancing in 1948.  She gave jota and porrusalda lessons to Basque children and seniors in Boise and became a signatory for the Basque Center.  A true pillar and proponent of Basque culture in America, Juanita is credited for laying the foundation for the famed Oinkari Basque Dancers and spurring countless Basques to preserve and celebrate their heritage.

Audio Recording: 
Sparking Interest: the Heritage School of Basque Dancing
What It's Going To Take: The Tasks of Preservation and Celebration
Other Images: