Today in our survey of stories adapted from Basques in the United States, we look at a couple of invaluable lessons learned by Basques newly arrived in the US.

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Gold prospector. Pen and ink illustration by Tony Oliver, Denver, CO, based on original photograph. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

First of all, there’s the story of (Juan) Pablo Aramburu, born July 23, 1902 in Aulesti, Bizkaia, who arrived in the US in 1920. He worked as a sheepherder in Emmett, Idaho for Andy Little. One day while keeping watch on his herd near Idaho City, he saw a group of people prospecting on his boss’s property. He informed Old Little; “There are some men prospecting on your land; you want me to kick them out?” The boss calmed him: “When they find something, then we kick them out!”

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Eusebio Asla

Next up is the tale of Eusebio Asla, born on Feb. 26, 1928 in Arrieta, Bizkaia. After an eventful early life, which included a stint in the Spanish navy (during which time he once served General Dwight D. Eisenhower dinner), he came to the US in 1952 to visit his uncle Doroteo and brother Jess, who lived in Mountain Home, Idaho. He traveled by ship to New Orleans and rode a Greyhound Bus with a little piece of paper indicating his destination, Mountain Home. He loved telling the story of his arrival at Mountain Home bus station, where he hailed a cab to take him to the Basque boardinghouse in town. After loading his suitcase and getting into the car, the cab driver did a u-turn in the road, stopped abruptly on the other side of the street, and announced “we’re here.” The $5 charge to cross the street was a “welcome to the US” moment!

We intend for this work to be more than just an encyclopedic reference; we’d like it to be a true forum for sharing stories and anecdotes about the thousands of Basque women and men who forged new lives for themselves in the US.

If you’d like to share your own family stories with us, please click here at our dedicated Basques in the United States Project website.