For nearly two hours, Pierre “Pete” Lanathoua commanded the microphone on Monday afternoon as he told his story of how he came to America, suffered through years of hard work and came to call Bakersfield home during an interview on “The Richard Beene Show.”
For 34 years, Lanathoua has been the affable and lovable bartender at Bakersfield’s landmark and popular Woolgrowers restaurant, but before he landed there he shared a similar story that man Basque immigrants can tell and that’s one of hard work and toil tending and herding sheep in California and Nevada.
Lanathoua, who is now in his 80s, arrived in the United States as a teenager, just 17, and was set to work in the sheepherding operations of the early 1950s in California and Nevada. He knew no English or Spanish — just Basque and a smattering of French. A native of France, Lanathoua was raised in the Basque regions of the French Pyrenees mountains, where his father had raised sheep, but the work for young men was in the U.S.
To tell this story we’ve broken it into several video segments that touch on the key parts of the story. At the end of this post, you can find the complete audio interview between Lanathoua, Richard Beene and Randy Martin.
INTRODUCTING PETE LANATHOUA
ON STAYING IN THE US, BAKERSFIELD IN THE 1950s
TAKING QUESTIONS FROM CALLERS
ON HIS FAVORITE BASQUE MEAL
PETE SHARES A JOKE
Here is the full 1-hour, 5-minute interview with Pete Lanathoua and Richard Beene.