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Leo describes some of the changes he has noticed in the Basque country that make him feel more comfortable in the United States, but nonetheless hopes that his culture survives in Idaho.Ideally, his involvement with the Gooding Basque Association can ensure this!On the ranch with other Basques, Leo didn’t learn much English, but he addressed this problem by dating American girls.
He went to Irun at age 14 to work at a school in exchange for an education, but the priests worked him all the time and taught him nothing.
He stayed for 2 years, then went to help his sister and her husband on their baserri.
Leo’s family had no problem with him going, but very much wanted him to come back.
He spoke no English at the time he left for the US.
He had decided way before this that he would remain in America—many good times in the wilderness—and never felt he had to marry a Basque girl.
The couple wed in Reno and honeymooned at Lake Tahoe.
Upon arriving in January 1967, Idaho was very cold, and there were 2 feet of snow on the ground.
Fred Bradsford met him at the airport, and fellow Basques (like Andy Lejardi) helped him get the supplies he needed and get settled in.
10- Leo arranged his sheep contract and visa at the consul in Bilbao, telling the officials he knew about sheep, when in reality he had never seen them. Leo was 17 when he crossed the Atlantic, traveling from Madrid to New York and eventually to Twin Falls.
He came over with Nick Zabala and Jesus Gandiaga, and doesn’t recall most of the journey because he had drunk so much of they wine he had packed.
After sheepherding for several years, he met Carol Molin in Gooding, and the couple was married in 1972.