How a Czechoslovak émigré established the Bača Cup tradition in Pennsylvania

Photo: Pavel Novák, Czech Radio

When Jiří Václav Parma fled from communist Czechoslovakia to the US in 1962, he sought to put down roots in a place that reminded him of home. He settled in Blue Knob, Pennsylvania, hung his “Bača” (sheep herder) hat on a stand and established a ski race that survived him.

Jiří Václav Parma was born in the Beskydy Mountains and had it not been for the communists taking over his homeland in 1948 he might have spent his entire life in the mountains he loved. But fate stepped in and when in 1962 he emigrated to the United States, Jiří sought to build a new life in a place that would feel like home. His son-in-law Carl Fletcher recalls how the family history in the US began:

“The history goes back to my father-in-law Jiri Václav Parma who immigrated here in 1962 from the Czech Republic in order to escape communism. And he found that the Pennsylvania Mountains were very much like those in his homeland, so he searched diligently and he found this beautiful mountain top and decided he would settle here. He built his home here and called it Salaš (Shepard’s Cottage). And the place became known as the “Salaš Hills” in our local community. He also helped other wonderful people from Europe to emigrate here and created this amazing community of European people that we are fortunate to perpetuate today.”

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Authors: Dušan Neumann, Daniela Lazarová