Chroniclers: The Juansaras

Interviewer: Gretchen Holbert

Gardnerville, NV


Subject: Overland Hotel


Side 1

00:17- Overland Hotel. Bought in 1953 from John Etchemendy, still quite a few herders left. The Ridgeford Hotel, separation of French and Spanish Basques. How many of the herders worked, how much they migrated. Often there would be all the same herders every year. Often the people running the hotels would determine who the herders would stay with. Basque herders preferred basque hotels. How the hotels would help the herders. Often functioned as an employment agency.


07:50- 24:33 Wellington Bar, bought in 1927 in the town of Wellington. Stayed at the bar for 20 years. Fed the sheepherders, other workers. After lambing, often herders would take a little vacation and would stop on the way to Reno at Wellington. Used to play Moose, but no gambling allowed. Was previously owned by several owners, bought from Johnny Araya. In 1936 Juan took over the bar when he married her after her husband died. Bought liquor from Yerington (ten gallon barrels of whiskey for ten dollars). Would buy wine from the Italians, but prohibition police would pressure them so much wine went to vinegar. Had a permit for 200 gallons, but couldn't sell it. Police would show up every week and check to see if you were selling wine. How they would be able to make money (ice cream, coca-cola). Still sold pints ($1) and half pints ($.75) of whiskey.


24:35- Sheepmen would come looking for herders; sometimes would function as employment agency. Also, fed herders with whatever they could for $.50. Pretty much every year Basques from Bakersfield would come through Lee Vining to get sheep to sire. They would stay and celebrate at the Overland. Had an oil heater and electric heat. Children grew up in Wellington, mother would work the bar and take care of the kitchen. Juan would do the same, sometimes go hunting. Lived next to the bar.


Side 2

00:00- 08:15 Once a year had a big dinner on the closest Saturday to Washington's birthday. Often the dancing would start after the dinner. Some girls would come play music for their parties from Reno (Lucy Arboloa). Would have 200 people there. Business spread by word of mouth, no advertising. Danced one type of dance more than others (Jota), many valley people would show up. Catered to Basques, music-wise. Non-Basques would waltz instead of Jota.


08:15- Sheepmen, farmers would meet after work and have dinner-parties. This was after prohibition, people would get together and celebrate. Everything was fine, until she got sick with gallstones. They moved to Reno, then to Gardnerville. Spoke Spanish, Basque and English at home. Because of the sheepherders the children always had someone to speak Basque with. Basque was her first language, then Spanish. His first language was also Basque.


14:00- 26:05 Moved to Reno after selling the Wellington Bar (1947). He worked for Coca-Cola and she worked in a hotel making beds, etc. She also got her operation for gallstones. First, leased the Overland then bought it later. About the original owners of the Overland. Etchemendy wanted more money after 5 years, so they got out. The negotiations for the lease of the Overland; one year out of the Overland then came back. After 3/4 owner's son took over he wanted Juansaras' back. They didn't like Etchemendy, thought he was a greedy bastard. Charged approx. $3 for room & board a day for the herders. Included 3 meals a day, changed bed once a week. Bacon and eggs, ham and eggs for breakfast. Lunch was soup, salad, beans, chicken and rice, etc. Discussion of Basque food in hotels. Why Basque restaurants are so popular these days, types of food.


26:06- People who ate at the Overland. People would even come from San Francisco. Business was quite fragmented; herders, visitors. No Basque hotels or restaurants in Minden. About another Hotel or restaurant that went out of business. All Basques lived and stopped in Gardnerville. Also, most of the sheepherders lived in Gardnerville. Minden was more of a cattle town. Germans often came to the Overland to eat in Basque hotels. Everyone got along well, everyone were friends with each other. The Overland never had to advertise either, had a different yearly party, cut off.


Tape 2

00:05- 05:20 How Wellington Bar was different from the Overland Hotel. Wellington didn't have a restaurant, more isolated also. Overland was right on hwy. 395, so got much more business. Lunch and Dinner were open to the public, but breakfast was only for boarders. Overland was much more work and more business. Had a bartender on the weekends, but handled all the business themselves all week. The bartender had diabetes, was forced to quit drinking and died. Also had a dishwasher, housekeeper, janitor. Got out of the Overland in 1966 and let daughter and son-in-law took over the hotel when John's hip got real bad.


05:22- Community relations for the Juansaras'. Never any real problems, never felt different from other people. He liked Wellington more than Gardnerville, she liked Garnerville more. How life is different in Spain than here. Don't work as hard here, he feels. When they got out of the Overland he wanted to go back to Spain, but she didn't. No regrets, but would like to do more in his old age.