Martiartu, Maria "Mary"

Mikel Chertudi
Interview Location: 
Boise, ID
Interview Date: 

María was born on 8 August 1921 in Riverton, Wyoming to Modesto Barquin and Leonarda Torre.  One of eight children, she spent her first years on her father's sheep ranch, which was near a Native American reservation.  At that time, Riverton was an interesting mix of Native American, Mexican, Basque and other cultures.  María remembers that, for the most part, ethnic groups got along together well.

When she was eight years old, María's family decided to move back to the Basque country.  All ten members packed up their belongings and left for Santander, where they stayed for a few months before settling in Gernika.  Her parents opened a dry goods store in town, which they ran until the shop and house were destroyed in the bombing of Gernika.  They moved into another home and opened a liquor store.  By that time, María had finished school and was working at a silverware and jewelry factory in town.  In search of a new trade, she left the factory to learn to sew at her sister's tailor shop.  Her skill with a needle proved to be invaluable when she moved back to the United States in 1958.

After a brief stay in Riverton, María traveled to Boise with her sister, Carmen.  She worked as a maid at the Owyhee Hotel until finding a position as a seamstress.  María married Antonio Martiartu in 1961 but continued to work, her skills highly valued by her employers.  She retired in 1992.  Feeling at home in Boise's large Basque community, María decided to stay.

Audio Recording: 
Shops in Gernika
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