Lete, Elias

Daniel Chertudi
Interview Location: 
Nampa, ID
Interview Date: 

Elias was born on 7 February 1934 in Bergara, Gipuzkoa, to Simon Lete and Dolores Arriola.  His father had been to the United States before his marriage, where he established a reputation as a good sheepherder and a caring man.  It was in Boise that Simon met his future bride, who had immigrated to work in a boarding house; the couple married, had 2 children, and returned to the Basque country to raise the rest of their family.

It was in a large farm not far from the center of Bergara that Elias paints a picture of his childhood: milking the many cows, growing pine trees to sell as lumber, fiestas, sports and church.  He attended a little school in a nearby hilltop village from the ages of 7 to 12--an experience not wholly disagreeable despite the restrictions on Euskera.  He also took night classes with other children who had to leave school early due to work obligations.  Elias describes the ordeal of food rationing, when he used to help his family hide food in caves to prevent its being stolen.

Elias' brother Domingo had come to Idaho before him, and surprised Elias by finding another job for him there.  He managed to escape the draft and join his brother in Shoshone on his uncle Joe's ranch.  He discusses a bad accident that forced him into a new and profitable career as a builder, and his marriage to Rosa Mari Iñarra, also from Bergara.  The couple is now retired in Caldwell, and has raised four children fluent in Basque.  Elias and his family enjoy visiting Euskadi, which helps to balance his identity as both a Basque and an American citizen.

Audio Recording: 
Basque and American
Food rationing
Night school
Other Images: