Louise Vallone is one of our most popular columnists. People love reading her stories because they know they come from her heart and her real-life experiences throughout her amazing life.
About Louise’s family
Louise’s family hails from Czechoslovakia and Hungary and settled in Broome County. Her mother was one of the wealthiest in Hungary, a direct descendant of Maria Teresa. Her father, was a soldier who was a skilled horseman and painter. Coming from diverse backgrounds they shared not only their love but their hope for a country rooted deeply in freedoms for the people.
As for Louise’, she was a powerhouse – a woman athlete who earned 4 sports letters – a feat basically unheard of for women of that time period. In her spare time she would coach her brother Joe in track where he went on to hold the NYS record for pole vaulting using nothing but a homemade bamboo pole.
Unfortunately, because of the need to help with his family he had to forego the Olympics but his record stood until his son broke it decades later using a fiberglass pole. Joe Pecka would go on to receive another honor and recognition in his life – having joined the Air Force he saw a plane on the runway catch fire. Without hesitation he ran to the plane and with shear superhuman strength he ripped open the door and carried each man to safety. His heroic deeds came with a price- he was burnt over 95% of his body and suffered severe pain and disfigurement for the rest of his life.
In closing, let us remember the journeys of these brave immigrants who crossed oceans, overcame challenges, and embraced the promise of America. Their stories are a testament to the enduring power of the American Dream, which transcends borders and backgrounds to create a mosaic of cultures and ideas. As we celebrate the Czechoslovakian, Hungarian, and Slovak immigrants, let us also recognize that our nation’s strength lies in the diversity of its people and the contributions of those who have come here seeking a better life. May we always honor their legacy by upholding the values of opportunity, freedom, and unity that have made our nation great.