Chronicler: Antonio Sansiñera

Interviewer: William Douglass

Location: Etxalar, Nafarroa

Track 1

Duration: 00:30:35

Language: Spanish


Indexes, translations and sound byte files by Pedro J. Oiarzabal


00:00:01           Antonio talks about his trip to America which began on January 12th 1958. He was 21 years old.

00:00:37           The 'pastor al monte' experience in North America. In 1954 two of his brothers Jose and Jose Maria went to work to America with the help of one of their aunts who lived over there.

00:01:33           Antonio wished to go to America as he forecasted that the boom of the 'contrabando' business of that time would end soon. He wrote to his brother Jose Maria to arrange the trip to America through the mediation of Ray (?) Zubeldia from Etxalar. His wish was to earn some money.

00:03:04           He went to America with a job contract without knowing it was just for a three-year period. He signed the contract in the Consulate of Bilbao. He knew about the three-years contract once that he arrived to America. He was told in the Vitorio Hotel in Fresno that he had signed a three-year contract.

00:05:25           At his arrival to the Vitorio Hotel, he met Johnny Bidegaray, President of the Western Range Association that he attempted to clarify the matter about the contract.

00:07:07           He narrates his trip to America step by step. Forty-seven people were doing the same trip to America than Antonio, however they went through Madrid while he went through Paris as his brothers did before. The reason was the existence of two different delegates/intermediaries (Mr. Revestido –Madrid route, and Mr. Navarro –Paris route) in charge of recruiting those Basque young people to work in America.

00:07:49           He went alone from Bilbao to Fresno through Paris. The itinerary was Bilbao-San Sebastian (contact Bar Euskalduna)- Hendaia (contact Bar Merino)-Paris by train.

00:09:30           Nobody from the company waited for him at his arrival at the train station in Paris, however his sister came to pick him up. Then, they went to the company office but nobody was there. It was Sunday.

00:12:45           At last a gentleman came into the office and helped him with the papers to go to North America. His contact in Paris walked also into the office. The telegram notifying the arrival of Antonio never reached Paris. That night he stayed at his sister’s boss house.

00:15:12           He arrived at Orly airport where he took an airplane to New York.

00:17:20           At the airport in New York, a girl was waiting for him. She introduced him to a boy who took him to a bus but he did not take it. However he found the right room to fly to San Francisco.

00:23:02           He took the airplane to San Francisco. Once there he took the airplane to Fresno.

00:25:20           He arrived at Fresno airport.

00:27:05           A man called John Larrea was waiting for him at the airport. He took Antonio to a hotel in Fresno.

00:28:01           The next morning the group that went to America via Madrid arrived at the same hotel in Fresno. He met his brother and his new boss the next day. He stayed at his boss house for dinner and the following morning they went to the sheep camp.

00:30:00           He started working right away. He lived next to the house of the boss and he used to eat with his brother and a friend called Leoncio form the baserri Zuasi.


Chronicler: Antonio Sansiñera

Interviewer: William Douglass

Location: Etxalar, Nafarroa

Track 2

Duration: 00:30:30

Language: Spanish



00:00:05           Antonio cannot believe that the sheep are not located in the mountains but in a flat area, as he always thought that his shepherding job will be at the mountains.

00:01:30           His ‘patron’, boss took him to the town of Lemor (?) to herd sheep owned by a person from Bera, Jose, from the 5th to the 22nd of May. He remembers that in that locality Javier Arretxea married Juanita Larrea.

00:02:40           He worked for the same person for two years. Afterwards he worked for another person from Fresno for one and a half year. He was always shepherding closed to the locality of Mendota.

00:04:10           He decided to work for another ‘patron’ because incompatibility of character with his older brother, Jose Mari.

00:07:55           He phoned to his boss, Frank Zubeldia and told him that he wanted to work in another ranch because he had problems with Jose Mari.

00:09:35           Zubeldia sent Antonio to Fresno to work for another ‘patron’. He got paid for the time he worked for Zubeldia. He was not paid monthly.

00:09:50           Antonio tells us about the payment system. After two years working for Zubeldia, he did not get paid. He did not know how much he owed to the boss (air tickets etc).

00:11:35           His expenses were covered by his brother and the boss. He received his money but without interests. He earned $180.00 per month.

00:17:02           He sent to his father the money that he earned for three months at the second ranch. However, the money came back because the bank did not write the second surname.

00:19:20           When he worked for the first boss he got ill. He fainted when he worked with the sheep. Then Jose Irigoyen brought him to the Iturri hotel in Fresno. Beñat, the owner of the Hotel, brought him to the doctor. The doctor told him that he had flu. Nevertheless, he was still not feeling well. He looked for a second opinion. The doctor told him that his headaches and dizziness were due to a problem related to his ears.

Chronicler: Antonio Sansiñera

Interviewer: William Douglass

Location: Etxalar, Nafarroa

Track 3

Duration: 00:30:50

Language: Spanish


00:00:02           Antonio continues talking about his illness. Every Thursday used to visit the doctor for treatment. In order to cover thee expenses of the medical treatment he bought an insurance plan from a Spanish man for $200.00 per year.

00:02:18           An Emigration officer told him that his patron should take care of his medical bills. In reality his patron never took care of his bills. At the end, Antonio followed the advices of this officer he and a friend Leon Sugascogorda, cancelled the insurance plan.

00:05:05           He met the insurance agent, a Spaniard from Zamora, in Polvaredas.

00:07:21           He found the new job in the new company through the owner of a hotel in Fresno. The new boss knew him at his arrival at the Basque Hotel’s ball. There he met his brother Jose. Both brothers knew also his future ‘patron’.

00:10:15           Although he had a very good relationship with the new boss, he also had few problems related to untruthful gossips and misinterpretations.

00:16:40           He talks about when he finished his contract and had to go back home.

00:19:25           Antonio talks about the toughness of the Basque rancheros with the Basque sheepherders, particularly with their relatives. Antonio explains the difference between the old generation rancheros and the new ones.

00:27:54           Discussion about the lack of education of many of the young people that went to America. Antonio also discusses about opportunities to learn English in America while working as sheepherder.

Chronicler: Antonio Sansiñera

Interviewer: William Douglass

Location: Etxalar, Nafarroa

Track 4

Duration: 00:30:49

Language: Spanish


00:00:02           Antonio explains how much he used to read when he worked as sheepherder. He used to read Spanish novels and the magazine Herria from Iparralde. He bought them in Mexican stores. He also used to listen the radio news every day, particularly Mexican radio stations.

00:04:10           He tells about his relationship with Mexican people. He met at the ranchos, although very few of them worked as sheepherders. He also met them at Mexican bars in Fresno.

00:05:27           He did not go very often to bars, just to say bye to his brother when he went back home. Then, he took a short vacation at the Iturri Hotel in Fresno. He liked to play pelota at the Basque Hotel.

00:06:42           He went to two Basque Festivals at the Basque Hotel’s ball and the Iturri Hotel’s ball. Martin and Xalbador, the bertsolariak, visited Reno and Fresno. He met them at a ball in the Iturri Hotel. He did not go to the Basque festivals because he had to ask permission to his patrons and he wanted to save money.

00:09:25           He stayed three and a half years in America, from the12th January of 1958 to the 15th May of 1961. He wanted to come back but he was not too sure. He did not like the imposition of a contract. Then he married six months after he arrived.

00:12:39           Antonio talks about a trouble he got in with a couple of Mexicans.

00:18:44           Now, he talks about his brother’s problems, Jose, with Mexicans.

00:23:13           He tells another story involving three men in the area called ‘China Town’ in Fresno.

00:25:46           Problematic relationships between Basques and Mexicans in Fresno.

00:26:50           Antonio talks about a Basque priest in the area of Fresno as well as one from Aralar that wished to go to America.