Subisarreta, Carmen Urlezaga

Daniel Chertudi
Interview Location: 
Boise, ID
Interview Date: 

Carmen was born in Jordan Valley, Oregon on 15 July 1916 to Juan and Gloria Urlezaga.  Growing up in Jordan Valley's heavily Basque community instilled a lifelong love of Basque culture and a strong desire to ensure its survival.  Carmen describes Jordan Valley as a lively town, full of Basque and Irish cultural celebrations.

At 15, in the middle of the Great Depression, Carmen left Jordan Valley with her mother to work in McDermitt, Nevada.  While her mother cooked, Carmen worked as a housekeeper at a Basque boarding house in McDermitt.  She shares her memories of the boarding house and the people who stayed there.  In 1935, after five years at the hotel, Carmen and her mother needed a change of scene.  They decided to move to Boise, Idaho.

Carmen went to work for JJ Newberry Co., a department store in Boise.  She met her husband, Julian Subisarreta, who had been working for the Echevarria sheep company, and married in 1940.  Even though she worked full-time until 1981, Carmen was steadfast in her commitment to preserving and celebrating the Basque culture as it existed in the US.  She joined the Basque Center's board of directors, volunteered at the Basque Museum & Cultural Center, and participated in as many Basque social events as she could.  Her daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have inherited her dedication and enthusiasm.

Audio Recording: 
Jordan Valley
Preserving culture
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