Zabala, Jose Luis

Mikel Chertudi
Interview Location: 
Boise, Idaho
Interview Date: 

Joe was born on 31 January 1929 in Ispaster, Bizkaia, to Justo Zabala and Justa Erquiaga.  Since his father was working in Argentina for many years, Joe never knew him, but recalls life on the baserri with his mother as a challenging time for everyone.  School was never much fun, as students were habitually whipped and forced to salute the dictator.  Nobody had any money at the time, and so games (when there was free time amid all the farm chores) had to be improvised.  Joe began to work for wages at age 15, and gave the bulk of his money to his mother.

With help from an uncle, Joe decided to come to America to make a better living in 1948.  Adjustment to life in the new country was not easy, especially given the harsh and lonely conditions of a sheepherders life, but life at the Basque Uberuaga boarding house helped ease the transition.  Fortunately, Joe soon found successive employment in sawmills, mines and farming.  He was very cautious with his money and so was able to save a lot.

Joe wed Rita Astorquia in 1958--he always felt more comfortable with Basque girls--and the couple raised 2 sons, who chose to integrate completely into the American lifestyle.  He is actively involved in the Boise Basque culture, and has even taken a trip back to Euskadi to see his homeland.  Jose Luis Zabala feels that although his Basque heritage will forever be a part of his identity, he has chosen to be an American.

Audio Recording: 
Franco's Civic Boys Group
Adjusting to a Sheepherder's Life
The Uberuaga Boardinghouse
Other Images: