This is turning into infinite digression. It is raining, almost cold. No futsol games to watch for another few hours. So – why not?
They speak of the Basque diaspora.
The OED defines Basque as “A native of Biscay; name of the ancient race inhabiting both slopes of the western Pyrenees, adjacent to the Bay of Biscay, who speak a language of non-Aryan origin.” The earliest usage cited is 1835. The etymology is stated as French, from the French Basque from the “late Latin Vasco, an inhabitant of Vasconia, the country upon the slopes of the western Pyrenees.” Now you know.
The Basque population in the United States is centered in the western states.
That is no suprise. Sheep-herding is central to Basque history and culture, and so the valleys and mountains of the west were logical for the mostly men who settled here in the last century.
I collect here images of signs of Basque restaurants, hotels, and social clubs. As a vegetarian, I don’t often find myself at a Basque restaurant. I went a few times during my United Farm Workers years. Once in the summer of 1973 at a Basque restaurant in Bakersfield I saw Gabby get a glass of water thrown in his face. He had shot water through a small gap between his front teeth. It hit a female law student who was working with us for the summer. I am not at all convinced that he did it consciously. It looked more like he was just checked out when he did it. She didn’t like it.
But – I like the signs. Let’s start in Nevada, in Reno, with Louis’s Basque Corner and the Santa Fe Hotel.
Not far from Reno is Fallon. In Fallon is the Overland Hotel with Basque restaurant.
And finally all the way east to Elko:
North to Idaho now please. The national Basque Museum and Cultural Center is in Boise, Idaho.
There is a killer mural at the center/museum.
While we are on the subject of murals, let’s forget the rules for a minute and look at two other great Basque murals. In Vale, Idaho:
Leaving murals, back to signs, and also in Boise:
In Meridien, Idaho:
And then a few miscellaneous states before we come home to California.
Home again! I am going to present the signs in alphabetical order of city. Lazy is why. Not a lot of payoff for doing it any other way. Forgivenenss sought. Except that I am going to start with one order of alpha order, two great photos from Los Angeles, 1954:
In this case, French was Basque. The Basques go to great lengths to distance themselves from France and from Spain, but, here it is, French = Basque in this one case. Now for the alphabet.
A scene was shot here for Ocena’s Eleven. Lindsay Lohan celebrated her 21st birthday here. And then in 2008:
“Arborlyphs” – carvings on Aspen trees, a Basque sheepherder tradition. Cool!
And the Basque cheese boy at Andronico’s, December 2015.
I know that my friend is fond of Basque food. He spent a few months in his 20s on a Hemingway pilgrimage, including some time in the Basque country. He recalls with affection the cider houses of the hills around Donostia. I asked him about the Basque signs. He was quick to answer: