Listen to Learn:
Vicki Calhoun grew up in a military family then married into the military. She has lived in five different countries and six states. She was born into a military family. Her mother was from England U.K. and her father was from Kentucky. They met when he was in the Air Force and was stationed in England as an Air Traffic controller.
Vicki began her freshman year of high school in Michigan, while her father was stationed in Vietnam. The family moved to Charleston, South Carolina when he returned stateside and she finished high school in South Carolina. She attended the College of Charleston and received an Associate Degree before moving to Japan.
While in Japan (1975-1979) Vicky worked as a model in Tokyo. When she returned to the United States, she went back to college and worked as a travel agent in Florida. For the following fifteen years, she was a travel agent.
She enjoys pottery and reading. She was a volunteer for Heifer International and at her children’s school and, through her church, reaches out to the homeless population in Little Rock.
Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com
[0:00:08.8] G: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Through storytelling and conversational interviews, this weekly radio show and podcast offers listeners an insider’s view into the commonalities of successful people and the ups and downs of risk-taking. Connect with Kerry through her candid, often funny and always informative weekly blog, where you'll read and may comment on life as 21st century wife, mother, daughter and entrepreneur.
Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:00:39.7] KM: Thank you, son Gray. My guest today has a different kind of success story, a story that is often overlooked, but nonetheless just as fulfilling and challenging as a career as any. Miss Vicki Calhoun is a professional, wife, mother and homemaker. Born in Great Britain with dual citizenship, she and her family supported and followed their Air Force father's career all over the world.
By the age of 17 when she left home, she had gone to school in numerous cities and lived in four countries; Great Britain, France, Germany and the United States, all in support of her father's military career. Later in her 20s, she would marry and support another military man in a different way. For a short time, she lived in Japan with her husband, a military doctor. They had three children before tragedy struck and Vicki was widowed after just 15 years of marriage.
Listening to my friend talk about what she calls the sub-culture of living on a military base is interesting and unknown to most people. You often hear the stories of men and women that sacrifice and serve, but what about their families? They serve too.
Today, we're going to peek behind the curtain of growing up military, hear about Vicki’s first experiences with racism when she came to America, learn about the rules and responsibilities bestowed on families living on base and ask how she rebuilt her life and grew her family after tragedy struck. It is a pleasure to welcome to the table my friend, my neighbor and a professional homemaker, I'm proud to say, Miss Vicki Calhoun.
[0:02:16.5] VC: Well, thank you.
[0:02:17.2] KM: You're welcome. Full disclosure, you and I are in a monthly girls’ supper club. We meet first Tuesday of every month. To replicate the evening that we have together – don't get scared, I asked my son Matt, to pick up your favorite libation, which I just happen to know is red wine. Bring in the wine, son Matthew.
[0:02:39.0] VC: Thank you. Oh, that's my surprise.
[0:02:40.5] KM: That’s your surprise.
[0:02:42.0] VC: Thank you. Could’ve used that about an hour ago.
[0:02:48.2] KM: Thank you.
[0:02:48.2] VC: Thank you.
[0:02:49.3] KM: This is the first.
[0:02:50.7] VC: Can we drink?
[0:02:51.2] KM: This is the first – Yes. Sure.
[0:02:52.6] G: Absolutely a first. Cheers.
[0:02:53.9] KM: Cheers. There we go. Let’s start at the beginning, Vicki. Your father was in the Air Force stationed in Great Britain during World War II where he met –
[0:03:03.6] VC: No.
[0:03:03.8] KM: No?
[0:03:04.3] VC: After World War II. 1951 or 2.
[0:03:08.9] KM: 1951, where he met your mother and she was a Brit.
[0:03:12.4] VC: Yup.
[0:03:12.7] KM: Do you know the story of how they met?
[0:03:14.4] VC: Yes. Her friend, because they were young girls, her friend's father owned a tea shop and coffee, tea and coffee. The GIs would come in for coffee. My mom's friend was dating one of the GIs and she said to my mom, “You really need to come here. You need to come here. We got someone for you.”
[0:03:38.9] KM: She wasn't working there. Her friend was working there?
[0:03:40.7] VC: No. Her friend's father owned it. My mom, she was probably 16. Yeah. They get out of school at 16 over there, unless you go to college. She was already out of school working. She went to this little tea shop, met my dad and that's how they met.
[0:04:01.7] KM: How long did they date before they married?
[0:04:04.6] VC: I think about a year and a half. My grandmother, very British lady said to my father, “You're not taking her to America, unless you marry her.”
[0:04:14.5] KM: How many brothers and sisters did your mother have?
[0:04:17.3] VC: Just a sister. One sister.
[0:04:19.4] KM: Did she marry a GI?
[0:04:20.3] VC: No.
[0:04:22.0] KM: Your grandmother got to keep one daughter.
[0:04:23.7] VC: One daughter. Actually, during World War II my grandmother's husband, my granddad was killed in World War II and she took care of the German prisoners and she did the GIs that were over there in World War II.
[0:04:39.9] KM: Your grandmother was a nurse during World War II and she cared for the German prisoners that were wounded and she dated GIs.
[0:04:49.0] VC: She went and married one, but she didn’t want to come America.
[0:04:53.1] KM: She would marry a GI and she’d already had the both of you. I mean, the both of your aunt and grandmother.
[0:05:01.7] VC: Yeah. During the blitz, whenever pound –
[0:05:04.5] KM: What’s a blitz?
[0:05:06.3] VC: Well, the blitz I forgot what year it starts, when Germany start pounding England and really pounded London. It was called the blitz. My mom –
[0:05:15.8] KM: With bombing.
[0:05:16.7] VC: Like bomb. They just bombed the heck out of London. I forgot what year. What they would do is they would pass over my mom lived on a little coastal town. Whatever bombs they didn't drop in London, they’d pop it off on her town on the way back to Germany, because they were right there on a channel.
[0:05:32.8] KM: Why would they do that?
[0:05:35.0] VC: Just getting rid of their orders, just bomb more people. They were going back over to Germany, so they didn't want to bring any more bombs back with them.
[0:05:43.4] KM: The Germans were doing bombing raids.
[0:05:45.9] VC: Oh, it was terrible. Yes.
[0:05:47.2] KM: On London and your mother lived outside of London. How old was she when this was going on?
[0:05:52.1] VC: She was four or five-years-old. Then as a matter of fact, her father was killed. He was a carpenter. They kept the carpenters and those folks, so they could be rebuilding that everything was getting blown up.
[0:06:06.9] KM: He didn't join the service?
[0:06:08.3] VC: No. They wanted him to rebuild things.
[0:06:09.9] KM: In the infrastructure.
[0:06:10.7] VC: Right. Actually, a bomb landed as he was out trying to get these old people into a shelter and it killed him and my grandmother was 25-years-old.
[0:06:23.0] KM: Had probably four-year-olds.
[0:06:24.9] VC: She had a four-year-old and a five-year-old. Then after that, my mom – and you probably heard the stories about the children who were evacuated.
[0:06:33.3] KM: No.
[0:06:33.9] VC: You haven’t heard about that?
[0:06:34.6] KM: Uh-uh.
[0:06:35.3] VC: Okay. Anyway, they evacuated all the schoolchildren from these coastal areas, because they were getting bombed as well. They would send them to the interior part of England, because they weren't – Germans had nothing over there. Because they were bombing the seaports, they’re were bombing London.
My mother and her sister with all the little school children went with their teachers were put on a train with a little tag and taken out into the countryside in Somerset, which is pretty far inland. Taken to a church and the people in a village would come and pick up the children they wanted. My mom and her sister were the last two, because nobody wanted two girls. They wanted boys to work on a farm, because it's an agriculture. My mom and her sister were the last.
[0:07:27.9] KM: They foster parented them.
[0:07:29.2] VC: For a year. For a year she never saw her mother and she had just lost her father. Yeah. That was terrible.
[0:07:39.1] KM: What did you mother do during that time? Work as a nurse?
[0:07:42.8] VC: No. My mom was a child, but my –
[0:07:44.3] KM: No. I mean, sorry. Your grandmother.
[0:07:46.4] VC: My grandmother, she wasn't really a nurse, but her job – everybody in England had to have – had to do something. She was called in what they called the land army. What they did, they took care of the prisoners, they planted trees, just to rebuild England and she did that, oh gosh, for about two or three years.
[0:08:06.4] KM: What was your grandmother like after living through all of that? Was she bitter?
[0:08:11.9] VC: No. She was a very well-educated woman. She worked her entire life.
[0:08:19.7] KM: She ever re-marry?
[0:08:21.3] VC: Yes, she did. About 14 years later, she married my grandfather, a Londoner, my granddad from London. She had to move around a lot, because she had to live with relatives, because she didn't have much money and she had these two little girls. My mom told me one story, they lived above a fish and chip shop. Her brother owned a fish and chip shop and she said that they got to eat all the fish and chips she's ever wanted. They were just moving and finally, they moved back to Ramsgate where she was from.
[0:08:56.9] KM: Your mother, not your grandmother, but your actual mother, what did she say about those years that she and her sister – at least they didn't get separated. They got to go together.
[0:09:06.3] VC: They got to go together.
[0:09:07.3] KM: What did she say about those years and how did that affect her later?
[0:09:10.0] VC: I think she had PTSD. I think all our life she had PTSD. I think it really affected my mom.
[0:09:17.3] KM: In what ways?
[0:09:19.7] VC: She was very anxious in her entire life. Just very anxious, worried, worried, worried all the time.
[0:09:29.9] KM: She leave the house?
[0:09:30.7] VC: Oh, yeah. She wasn't agoraphobic. No. I don’t know.
[0:09:36.5] KM: She's got Alzheimer's now. Let's just go forward.
[0:09:38.6] VC: Yes, she does.
[0:09:40.6] KM: One of the ways she has PTSD is her behavior at the memory center, right?
[0:09:48.7] VC: Yeah. Yeah.
[0:09:50.1] KM: Tell our listeners what she does.
[0:09:52.4] VC: Oh, well. I was there today and they were celebrating Christmas. Then my mom's pretty far into her Alzheimer's travel. She's so probably if you gone from a scale of one to 10, my mom's probably about a eight. She's ambulatory. She can walk. She can feed herself, but she doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know who I am. She doesn't know anybody. She likes to eat everything and whether it's decoration, or –
[0:10:21.1] KM: She's going to eat the artificial grapes?
[0:10:22.3] VC: Yes.
[0:10:23.3] KM: Doesn't she think there's a bomb going off? Doesn't she still – in her PTSD come out, because she thinks that you need to be taking cover? I thought I heard you say that with me.
[0:10:30.2] VC: That would be my grandmother. My grandmother was always frightened, especially at the – my grandmother was visiting me here in Arkansas and the tornado sirens go off, it sounds just like air raid and my poor grandmother would just go berserk.
[0:10:44.7] KM: She had PTSD.
[0:10:45.9] VC: She did as well.
[0:10:47.2] KM: I guess, everybody has PTSD. I mean, you go through something like that, then we just never really gave it a name. I think in World War II they just called it shell-shocked. This is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we're going to continue our conversation with professional homemaker, Miss Vicki Calhoun.
Listen as she shares stories of growing up in a military family and the sub-cultures on a military base, because her mother did get to marry this GI after she dated him a year and a half and Vicki is got dual citizenship and she grew up on the base. One of the things I find interesting is the sub-culture. I've never heard it called the sub-culture of living on a military base, but we're going to pick behind the curtains and find out what that's back after the break. We'll be right back.
[0:11:28.9] G: You're listening to Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Over 40 years ago with only $400, Kerry founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed. Over this time, Kerry's business and leadership knowledge grew. As early as 2004, she began sharing her knowledge in her weekly blog. In 2009, she founded the non-profit, Friends of Dreamland Ballroom. In 2014, Brave Magazine, a biannual publication.
Today, she has branched out into this very radio show, YouTube channel and podcast. Each week, you'll hear candid conversations between her and her guests about real-world experiences on a variety of businesses and topics that we hope you'll find interesting, inspiring and educational. Stay up to date by going to flagandbanner.com and joining our e-mail list. You'll receive our popular water cooler weekly e-mail that notifies you of upcoming guests, happenings at Dreamland Ballroom, sales at flagandbanner.com, access to Brave Magazine articles and Kerry’s current blog post, all that in one weekly e-mail. Telling American-made stories, selling American-made flags, the flagandbanner.com. Back to you, Kerry.
[0:12:42.4] KM: You're listening to Up In your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with a once military brat, once military wife and a widow, Miss Vicki Calhoun. Vicki is a survivor and a family supporter who has lived all over the world with dual citizenship from the USA and Great Britain.
Before the break, we talked about her mother really and her father and the after World War II bombings and the PTSD that affected her parents and her grandparent, which I just think is interesting to hear about. Now, your grandmother, let your mother marry your father. You have dual citizenship, because I guess you were born in Great Britain.
[0:13:30.8] VC: My dad was not on active duty there. He was in America. I was born to a British mother in a British hospital. If my dad had been there on active duty, I wouldn't have dual citizenship. My mom just decided to take a vacation while she was pregnant with me and had me over there.
[0:13:47.7] KM: What? If I'm almost pregnant, I think I'll just go over to Great Britain. You think maybe she's planning that?
[0:13:54.7] VC: I think so.
[0:13:55.4] KM: Are you supposed to travel when you're due? Were you early? I mean, what was the deal?
[0:13:59.5] VC: No, I was not early. She just missed her family and she went home.
[0:14:04.6] KM: Had the baby. You her dad is stationed in America.
[0:14:07.8] VC: Yeah, I think he was in Arizona.
[0:14:10.2] KM: Your dad is in the Air Force. What does he do? What was his job?
[0:14:14.3] VC: He was an air traffic controller.
[0:14:15.7] KM: Okay. That's a stressful job.
[0:14:17.1] VC: Very.
[0:14:18.9] KM: Did she come back to America?
[0:14:20.6] VC: Yes. As a matter of fact, we came on the Queen Mary to America. My sister who is 12 months older than me, we came back on the Queen Mary.
[0:14:30.3] KM: Does she got dual citizenship?
[0:14:31.8] VC: No, because she wasn't born in England.
[0:14:34.0] KM: I bet she's upset about that.
[0:14:35.7] VC: Well, maybe. She’s not here.
[0:14:39.8] KM: Yeah, she's from the listener, she passed away a couple years ago. When did you decide to go to Great Britain, or when did your dad get shipped, get transfer to, or where was your first station out? I guess I should say when was your first –
[0:14:53.9] VC: Memory.
[0:14:54.7] KM: Memory of being on base?
[0:14:56.4] VC: South Dakota.
[0:14:57.6] KM: South Dakota.
[0:14:58.6] VC: Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. I probably was about four-years-old. I remember it, because they would have these – they're probably having it right now, gigantic snowfalls and drifts. We would get snowed in and the drifts would be at the top of our roof and we could slide down on our sleds from top of our roof. Yeah, it's pretty cool. That was South Dakota.
[0:15:21.8] KM: I'd remember that too. No wonder that's a memory. How long y'all lived there?
[0:15:27.0] VC: When was it when Kennedy was killed?
[0:15:29.6] KM: ’62. I think so.
[0:15:31.5] VC: Something like that. I remember, I was in –
[0:15:34.7] KM: What year were you born?
[0:15:35.9] VC: ’55. I think we left there, I can't tell you, in ’64 to Germany. My dad got stationed at Germany in 1964. I should have written these all down. I didn't.
[0:15:52.4] KM: Yeah, it’s complex. We've just now started getting into it. It's going to get more complex.
[0:15:57.8] VC: Oh, no.
[0:15:58.6] KM: We’ve got 40 minutes to get it all out. All right.
[0:16:00.4] VC: Oh, my God.
[0:16:01.2] KM: Okay. You said –
[0:16:04.4] VC: ’64 we went to Germany.
[0:16:05.9] KM: ’64 you went to Germany and lived on the air base.
[0:16:12.5] VC: Well actually, when you first get to a duty station, you don't get to move right on base. You have to wait your turn. You have to wait for someone to leave. We lived on what they would call the economy. We live in the village with German people. We rented a little apartment.
Actually, we lived upstairs at someone's house. We lived there for a year in a little village and they didn't speak English. We didn't speak German, but we played charades a lot and we got along. I played with all the little neighborhood kids. It's just funny. It was magical actually, because Christmas time in Germany is no like other place. I remember that the winter and the Christmas time there.
[0:16:57.3] KM: Why?
[0:16:58.1] VC: It's just so German Christmas. I mean, Christmas tree, or Christmas trees, a big square had the gigantic Christmas tree. It was my first time to be in Germany and experience that culture.
[0:17:11.4] KM: Christmas does seem German.
[0:17:13.2] G: They have that famous Christmas markets that – Yeah, with the – Yeah.
[0:17:19.2] KM: You got to move on base.
[0:17:20.4] VC: Yes, we did.
[0:17:20.9] KM: How long did you stay in Germany?
[0:17:22.8] VC: Four years.
[0:17:24.2] KM: What was that base like?
[0:17:26.4] VC: Oh, it was pretty good. They were fighter jets, so I'm not – there were all the fighter jets, because every base has either fighters, technical sack, there's all these different names.
[0:17:38.4] KM: Cargo.
[0:17:39.1] VC: Everything. This base is strictly fighter jets. This was I guess during the Cold War. When you live on an Air Force Base, there is – this is how it goes. If you're an officer, you live over in this nice little neighborhood, you have a nicer house. If you were enlisted, you live over here, not so nice. It was so –
[0:18:03.5] KM: Which were y’all?
[0:18:04.3] VC: We were enlisted. My dad was enlisted. That was my first segregation that I saw. That was whoever was enlisted, you're over there. It didn't matter what color you were, you're enlisted. I didn't notice it so much when I went to school with all the kids. I mean, we're all military kids. We're all coming and going. That’s another thing, you're moving all the time. You make a friend, oh, you're leaving. Here comes another friend.
[0:18:33.6] KM: Where'd you move to the second time?
[0:18:35.7] VC: We moved to Massachusetts.
[0:18:37.8] KM: How old are you now?
[0:18:40.8] VC: I think I'm in sixth grade. What's that? 12, 13. That's 13.
[0:18:44.2] KM: What a terrible age to move.
[0:18:46.2] VC: Well, I didn't know anything different.
[0:18:47.5] KM: But you went to a military base.
[0:18:48.8] VC: Yeah.
[0:18:49.4] KM: They're all again –
[0:18:50.4] VC: It's the same thing. You don't know what you don't know. This is all I knew and this is what all of us children knew. We knew we just have a short period of time. Our friends are coming and going, so you make friends very quick. You don't get upset. You have to say goodbye a lot.
[0:19:10.7] KM: Is it cliquish?
[0:19:12.8] VC: No, I didn't find it cliquish. No.
[0:19:15.8] KM: You don't need to make problems for yourself, because you move all the time and you're – it's not a bunch of kids getting together trying to create problems, because there's not enough drama. When you're on a military base, there’s drama all the time probably.
[0:19:29.3] VC: Well, it's 24 hours security driving around all the time, which was nice, but you can also get caught and get in trouble. Then if you get caught and get in trouble, you don't get in trouble, your father gets in trouble.
[0:19:43.7] KM: What happens to him?
[0:19:45.4] VC: Well, his commanding officer will have a little chitchat with him and then my dad would come home have a little chitchat with us, or mostly me. That wasn't really until I was a teenager. That was not happening in Massachusetts. Actually, we were in Massachusetts for one year and then my dad went to Vietnam.
[0:20:10.4] KM: Oh, and then what happened?
[0:20:12.3] VC: Then we moved to Michigan to be near my mother's parents who had emigrated. They were immigrants. They immigrated to Michigan. My granddad worked for Pfizer and got a job at General Motors.
[0:20:25.9] KM: Your grandmother that didn't want her to marry a GI has now moved to America.
[0:20:29.1] VC: To America. She hated every minute of it. Did not want to be in America. Didn't like it. I get it. It's easier to live in England. She didn't know how to drive a car. She took a bus everywhere. She lived in a little village. Now she's in Detroit.
[0:20:47.6] KM: You better know how to drive a car in Detroit.
[0:20:49.8] VC: She lived outside Detroit. If you can imagine coming from a very beautiful coastal little town in England and moving to Detroit, there was a shock.
[0:20:59.7] KM: How long she lived there?
[0:21:02.2] VC: I think about 18 years. Then they moved to Florida where my father retired and they retired in Florida.
[0:21:10.5] KM: Well, that was a good ending. You've moved, your family has moved up there to be next to your mother's mother, your grandmother. Your father is in Vietnam and you're scared to death.
[0:21:22.8] VC: Well, yeah. I never went to a public school. I've always been to school on a military base, or all military. I remember it. I'm a freshman in high school and I'm living in a project basically. It's where we were living. I just remember getting to school and I would see all these white kids and I thought, “Well, where's everybody else?”
Then here comes a bus full of black kids and I thought, “Well, why is this?” A friend of mine who was not military, because this was not a military school said, “Don't you know anything?” I said, “Well, no. I guess I don't.” She explained it to me that those folks live over there and we live over here. I said, “Oh, that's weird.” Yeah, that was my first –
[0:22:14.7] KM: You were wondering where everybody was, because you were used to going to –
[0:22:17.0] VC: Everywhere. I mean, I had Filipino friends, I had Japanese friends, I had black friends. I mean, you know.
[0:22:24.3] KM: In your base. Military base.
[0:22:25.3] VC: Military base. Yeah, it was a real eye-opener.
[0:22:28.9] KM: That was your first taste of real segregation.
[0:22:31.4] VC: Yes.
[0:22:33.0] KM: That was in what? Michigan.
[0:22:33.8] VC: That was in Michigan.
[0:22:34.9] KM: How long do you stay there? Your dad stayed in Vietnam –
[0:22:36.8] VC: One year, 18 months.
[0:22:38.0] KM: Then he came back and got stationed where?
[0:22:40.1] VC: South Charles in South Carolina.
[0:22:42.1] KM: Onto an Air Force Base?
[0:22:43.7] VC: Yes. We had to live off-base till someone moved. I did live off-base for one year and then we moved on to Air Force Base. Now I want to say something. When you're growing up in a military family and when you're moving, there's a weight limit on what you can take with you when you're moving. I don't know exactly what our weight limit was, but I just remember I would have this little box and all my stuff had to go in that box. I didn't see that box until maybe three or four months when we got to our new duty station. It was just like having Christmas every time I saw that box, because everything I owned was in that box, all my toys, just everything.
[0:23:31.0] KM: It’s so character building. The whole story that you have told seems like it's just –
[0:23:35.6] VC: Really?
[0:23:36.6] KM: Yeah, character building. Learning to make friends, learning to move, learning to not be so materialistic, that you have to –
[0:23:44.5] VC: You only had one box.
[0:23:49.4] KM: You’re living in –
[0:23:51.2] VC: Now we're in Charleston, okay. My dad's back from Vietnam and we're in Charleston. I was 10th grade, went to a military school again. I'm back in the military system school. I'm not in a public school. Then I graduated at 17 and my mom had some strict rules. She said, “Well, if you don't like it, leave,” so I did. I worked and had five roommates and went to school at night.
[0:24:26.5] KM: The subculture that you talked about on military base, breaking the rules and the consequences affected your father. There's a lot of guilt in that, I imagine, making you stay pretty on the straight narrow. What about taps?
[0:24:38.8] VC: Oh, okay. Every morning when they would raise the flag, I forget what they would call it. If you were driving a car, or if you were walking and if you were in uniform, you had to stop.
[0:24:50.6] KM: What if you're not in uniform?
[0:24:52.1] VC: Well you had to stand there, put your hand over your heart. They would play – I don't think they played the national anthem in the morning. Every evening at 5:00, they would play taps. I remember you're driving on base, boy when that bugle goes, you stop that car. Everybody stops their car.
[0:25:11.7] KM: Oh, you stop the car.
[0:25:13.0] VC: Oh, yes. You stopped the car and you sit in that car. If you're in uniform, like I didn't wear a uniform, I wasn't active duty, you get out of the car and you salute, or you put your hand over your heart if you're in uniform. The whole world stops for about what, two, three, four minutes while they lowered the flag and they play the national.
Another little gem is when we would go to the movies on base, you get there and you sit down. No, you sit down and then also you got to stand up. It's like being in church and they play the national anthem.
[0:25:46.1] KM: Before every movie?
[0:25:46.9] VC: For every movie. I remember when I went to a movie off base, I'm standing up waiting for the national anthem. My friends are, “What you doing?” I said, “Well, aren't they going to play the national anthem?” She goes, “No, we don't do that here.” Then if you get in trouble on base, like I did get a speeding ticket one day.
Oh, gosh. I got a speeding ticket, and so I had to tell my dad. Well, he'd already found out, because he had already gotten a call from his commander. My dad said, “Okay, that's one. We can only have two more.” Then if you have three, boom, you're off base. They'll kick you off the base. Your whole family would have to move.
[0:26:32.6] KM: I think it's good to grow up on base.
[0:26:34.8] VC: Yeah, I felt really good. They had 24-hour transportation, you can hop on a bus and yeah.
[0:26:43.1] KM: Felt safe.
[0:26:43.8] VC: I felt very safe, because they had –
[0:26:46.4] KM: It sounds like you’re doing great coping skills too.
[0:26:50.3] VC: I guess. I think so.
[0:26:51.6] KM: All right, you've chosen to go back into the military life because you well actually I wanted to join the military.
[0:26:59.6] KM: Oh, really?
[0:27:00.2] VC: Yes.
[0:27:00.8] KM: Oh, tell us about that.
[0:27:01.6] VC: Okay. Well my dad – well I'm going to graduate from high school, I was going to join the military. My dad said, “No, you're not,” because he was, “No. You're going to go to college. You're not going to join the military. Afterwards, if you want to go on military, you can. That’s it. Okay. I just worked and went to school at night, so it was going to take me a long time to get there.
In the meantime, I met my husband who was in the Navy. This is a whole different branch of the military, because you got the Air Force, you got the Navy ,there's Marines and army. Dated him for I don’t know, one or two years and he got orders to Japan. He said, “You want to go?” I said, “Yeah.” We weren't married yet and I said yes. He went to Japan and I followed, but we couldn't – I couldn't stay but three months, because of my visa. They're very strict over there. When you when you arrive in Japan, you better have a ticket paid out, or you can't come in. I had my ticket out and then my visa was three months and then we had to go to Guam and I got married in Guam, because it's a US territory.
[0:28:17.8] KM: You went over there not married.
[0:28:19.1] VC: Right.
[0:28:21.9] KM: Stayed there three months on a visa. Then you flew over to Guam, got married. Now could you stay in Japan with him?
[0:28:29.1] VC: Yes, but we could never live on base because I was not command—sponsored. They did not bring me over, which is fine.
[0:28:35.3] KM: Was that true for everybody that's a wife?
[0:28:38.8] VC: Well, it was back then if you're not command sponsored.
[0:28:42.7] KM: What's that mean, command sponsor?
[0:28:45.3] VC: Okay. They sent him over there. They didn't send me over there. I just went over there. They weren't responsible for me.
[0:28:51.6] KM: Well, your mother was not command sponsor and she lived on base when y'all were growing up.
[0:28:55.5] VC: She arrived with my dad on the base.
[0:28:57.7] KM: Oh and you did not –
[0:28:59.6] VC: I was a tourist.
[0:29:01.2] KM: I got you. You should have gotten married over here before you went over there and then you could have come over here. Vicki, why they had to do that? I thought you had to think about it. He was a military doctor. What did you do while you were in Japan?
[0:29:13.4] VC: I met this another military wife and she says, “Hey, you want to be a model?” I was 21-years-old. I go, “Sure. Well, where?” She goes, “We'll go in Tokyo and you're tall,” because I was taller than the Japanese people. I went down into Tokyo and worked as a model for two years. It was a great fun.
[0:29:35.7] KM: Were your children born over there?
[0:29:37.5] VC: No. We just had four years of fun.
[0:29:40.3] KM: Four years of fun and then you came back to the states, he got transferred?
[0:29:44.0] VC: Yes.
[0:29:44.4] KM: Where did you come back?
[0:29:45.6] VC: We went to Jacksonville, Florida. He served a year there and was diagnosed with sarcoidosis and he was trying to – he was getting out of the Navy to come back to Little Rock. He's a Little Rock boy. He was coming back here to go and practice. When you get out of the military, you have to have a medical checkup. They found these spots on his lung and it was sarcoidosis.
[0:30:11.6] KM: You all hadn't had any children yet?
[0:30:13.0] VC: I was pregnant with my first child, Christie.
[0:30:16.0] KM: Who is?
[0:30:17.2] VC: Well, I'm not going to tell her age, she’d get mad at me. Then we moved to Little Rock, Arkansas.
[0:30:26.4] KM: You're pregnant and you don't feel that's a death sentence for him.
[0:30:30.1] VC: No. Actually, she was born in Jacksonville. As I'm driving here, I'm pregnant and I don't know it.
[0:30:35.8] KM: Again.
[0:30:36.8] VC: Again.
[0:30:37.1] KM: Girl.
[0:30:37.7] VC: With twins.
[0:30:38.5] KM: You know what causes that, right? Oh. Twins.
[0:30:43.0] VC: Twins. Jim started his practice. He was a OBGYN doctor. He did pretty well with his illness. They could treat it. Then probably the last – we had it for 15 years. In the last two years, he was pretty ill, but he still went to work. He didn't complain. Then he did die from his disease.
[0:31:07.6] KM: How old were your daughters and son?
[0:31:10.2] VC: Uh, 10 and 9-years-old and I was 35.
[0:31:15.7] KM: How do you deal with that? What did you do to cope through that? I mean, you got these young children. How did you cope?
[0:31:26.7] VC: It was just unbelievable. I have a wonderful support group of friends. I mean, I couldn't have asked for better friends, to just rally around our family, my kids and myself. They just lifted us up and carried us.
[0:31:42.0] KM: You're not from Little Rock.
[0:31:42.8] VC: No.
[0:31:43.9] KM: But he died in Little Rock.
[0:31:44.8] VC: Yes.
[0:31:46.4] KM: Where was your mother living? Because she's not from Little Rock either.
[0:31:48.2] VC: No. She was living in Florida.
[0:31:49.8] KM: Did she come up?
[0:31:51.6] VC: She did.
[0:31:52.3] KM: Because she lives here now.
[0:31:53.4] VC: Yes. She came to give me some help.
[0:31:59.3] KM: Prior to his death?
[0:32:00.4] VC: No. Actually, she came – she flew when someone called her and said, “You need to get here. You need to get here. He's going to die,” because I wasn't really talking to – I wasn't there mentally.
[0:32:15.7] KM: What do you mean – oh, mentally.
[0:32:17.2] VC: I wasn't talking to people. I was just trying to get through the day. It was funny, my mom shows up, I go, “Wow, how did you get here?” She was the same way. She was here for a year.
[0:32:29.5] KM: If he'd had it for 15 years, when did it go from optimism to, “Oh, my gosh. He's going to die tomorrow.” Or did it ever do that, or did you just one day he was dead and you were just like, “I knew it was coming, but I didn't think it would be here.”
[0:32:43.1] VC: No. About a year before he died, he went to the Mayo Clinic, because he's a doctor and he's like, “We got this,” and just place it off. He went to the Mayo Clinic. I don't know what. I find out later, they told him that he didn't have a long life ahead of him. He never told me that. Then he had a hemorrhage in his lung and ended up in the hospital and had part of his lung removed and got sepsis and died.
[0:33:15.7] KM: Was your father still living?
[0:33:16.6] VC: No, he'd already passed away.
[0:33:19.4] KM: Did he pass away in the military?
[0:33:20.9] VC: No, he was retired. He died pretty young too. He was 52. See, it's like we got a widow chain going on my family, when my grandmother was 25, my mom was 49, I was 35.
[0:33:36.0] KM: Your children, they coped better than you, or how do you think you did it? I mean, if you were going to give advice out there to people that are listening, you say, how did you do it?
[0:33:49.3] VC: Just let your friends help you. Yeah, just let your friends help you. If you have someone – if I have someone who's passed away, or their spouses passed away, I'm not scared. You just go say, “Hey, I'm going to do this for you.” Don't say, “What can I do for you?” Because they’re not going to tell you what they can do. You just need to go do it.
[0:34:13.1] KM: You don't know. They're in too deep of a fog. How long does that take before you turn the corner after something like that?
[0:34:19.8] VC: Oh, gosh.
[0:34:20.2] KM: I've never been through anything like that.
[0:34:23.4] VC: I think it took me about a year, about a year to realize this is it, this is for real. Yeah, took me about a year to realize this is my life. This is –
[0:34:36.6] KM: Did you go back to work?
[0:34:37.6] VC: I was working as a travel agent. Yes. Yup.
[0:34:41.2] KM: You were good as a travel agent?
[0:34:42.9] VC: I had fun.
[0:34:43.8] KM: Because you traveled everywhere.
[0:34:45.0] VC: Yeah, I had a great time.
[0:34:46.4] KM: That career is gone now the Internet happened.
[0:34:48.7] VC: They killed my job.
[0:34:50.0] KM: The Internet.
[0:34:51.6] VC: They killed my job. Yeah, I was working before my husband died. Then after he died, I kept working.
[0:35:01.1] KM: You're a big Catholic.
[0:35:03.7] VC: Yes.
[0:35:04.6] KM: Do you think that had anything to do with, or were you one then?
[0:35:08.1] VC: Well, I was Catholic then. Yes. Yeah, those people, that community just really carried us. I don't think I would have made it without them truly, the friends and just my belief in God.
[0:35:24.1] KM: All right, you're listening Up In your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with the once military brat, military wife, widow, survivor and current home makeover, Miss Vicki Calhoun who is married to another guest of UIYB, Mr. Joe Calhoun, who's a lawyer in Little Rock, Arkansas and we're going to talk about life after the military. She's got another great husband, she's rebuild her life, has another child. How did you meet Joe?
[0:35:55.2] VC: Blind date.
[0:35:56.4] KM: Blind date. I didn’t know those ever worked out.
[0:35:59.4] VC: This was before the Internet and all those. I mean, really. It was generically, I met somebody. That's how my daughter puts it now and she'll say, “Oh, I met this guy generically.” I said, “What does that mean?” “Well, it wasn't on whatever those –”
[0:36:13.1] KM: Match.com.
[0:36:13.5] VC: don't know what those things are called. I guess it's about a year and a half after my husband died.
[0:36:20.5] KM: A friend set you up?
[0:36:22.1] VC: Yeah. I just got tired of being the third wheel. I was just there being the third person. A friend of mine got out his Catholic high yearbook said, “Oh, there's about seven guys in here. Let's start going through it.”
[0:36:39.9] KM: That’s match.com. That’s your original match.com.
[0:36:43.3] VC: I said, okay, so –
[0:36:43.9] G: Let’s just start going through it.
[0:36:45.5] VC: We just started going through it. Well, we got to see and there was Joe and his Catholic high picture, his senior picture. I said, “I don’t think I like to go out with him.” I looked at some of the other guys. He was available. He was newly divorced and he didn't have any children, because that was a criteria. They couldn't have children and they had to have hair, because didn't want to date a bald headed man.
[0:37:12.0] KM: Uh-oh. You all bald headed man out there. I think that can be sexy, but okay, that's a good one.
[0:37:18.4] VC: Yeah, it was a blind date. I'll never forget it. The kids, they were all looking out the window, okay. I'm looking out the window too. I've never seen him before either. Some of our friends are walking him up to the door and am I going, “God, he is tall.” He was 6’2”. My first husband was 5’7”. I'm going, “Oh.” Then he had – he was Joe.
[0:37:43.2] KM: He had hair.
[0:37:43.8] VC: He had hair. He had pretty hair, silver hair.
[0:37:47.2] KM: You know what they say about a bald man.
[0:37:49.2] VC: I don't know.
[0:37:50.1] KM: They don’t have any hair.
[0:37:51.7] VC: Yeah. Anyways, Joe had beautiful silver hair. Now he has beautiful white hair. He was a blind date and –
[0:38:01.8] KM: Was it love at first sight?
[0:38:03.2] VC: No. Oh, no.
[0:38:05.6] KM: No. Joe. I know he’s listening. Sorry, Joe.
[0:38:08.7] VC: He knows. Because he called me. We had that date. It was very nice and I think about a week later, it was a week later, he called me and said, “Hey, can you go to lunch?” I go, “Well, sure. When?” He goes, “Today.” “Oh, I’m cleaning my lawn furniture.” I was cleaning my lawn furniture.
[0:38:25.8] KM: Yeah, you can't go to lunch in those kind of clothes.
[0:38:27.7] VC: I said, “You’re going to have to give me a heads-up. I have at least a day or two advance notice, for real.” Then we went on another date and you know the reset of the story.
[0:38:39.2] KM: No, I don't.
[0:38:39.8] VC: Oh, yeah, you do.
[0:38:41.0] KM: How long before you got married?
[0:38:43.7] VC: It was a year and a half.
[0:38:45.5] KM: That's a long time. Your kids liked him?
[0:38:48.0] VC: At first. Until I decided to get married. That oh, my God, they're listening to this show.
[0:38:56.6] KM: Then what happened?
[0:38:57.7] VC: Oh, they weren't real happy about it.
[0:38:59.8] KM: They never are. They think they are, but they never are.
[0:39:03.2] VC: I could have been marrying Jesus and they wouldn't liked it.
[0:39:07.0] KM: Joe was a saint to come into all that.
[0:39:08.6] VC: Oh, gosh. Three kids, pre-teens. Yeah. Yeah.
[0:39:14.9] KM: Then they came around.
[0:39:17.1] VC: Yes.
[0:39:17.6] KM: Were there any rules when y'all got married?
[0:39:19.7] VC: Yes.
[0:39:20.1] KM: What were they?
[0:39:20.7] VC: I'm the boss.
[0:39:22.6] KM: Well, that’s quick. Did you see that?
[0:39:26.0] VC: No. I just said to Joe, “Look, they knew their dad. I am going to be the disciplinarian. You just got to have my back.”
[0:39:35.9] KM: That's exactly what I did. You just can't have a stranger come in and be the boss. They will just end up not liking them.
[0:39:41.6] VC: Right. I was the boss.
[0:39:43.2] KM: That's a good one. I think that's good advice. If you don't take anything away from this show today, if you –
[0:39:48.5] VC: Be the boss.
[0:39:49.1] KM: Be the boss. If you remarry a man, be the boss of your kids.
[0:39:52.2] VC: That’s right.
[0:39:54.0] KM: If you were to do – is there anything you wish your father had done differently when you're a child? Did you ever think, why is he dragging me to all these countries? I wish dad would do something differently?
[0:40:03.6] VC: Never thought about it. I didn't know any different. Yeah. I loved every minute of it. I was sad when I went into civilian life. I was sad when I graduated.
[0:40:16.4] KM: Why did you decide not to go in the military? You were going to graduate from college and go in the military.
[0:40:22.6] VC: Oh, I met Jim and that took care of that.
[0:40:26.1] KM: He didn't want you to join? I mean, he was in the military. He was in the Navy.
[0:40:30.3] VC: Well, yeah. Well, we could have been stationed in two different places. He could have gone there and I'd be sent here or somewhere else. It's difficult when you're both in the military.
[0:40:44.5] KM: You got to support somebody else's career. You have any regrets about that, about having been a supporter all your life to either your dad's career, your first husband's career, your second husband's career? Do you have any regrets about that?
[0:41:01.2] VC: No. No. Not really. I think, “Oh, well. I could have –” It was a choice I made. We make our choices. No. I'll think, well, people, my daughter out in California, she's on her career track and I admire her for that. My other children have made their choices. Everybody makes their choices. I'm glad I made the choices I made. I had a good life. I mean, I hope it's not over.
[0:41:33.8] KM: Well, you've done a great job.
[0:41:35.9] VC: Oh, thank you.
[0:41:36.6] KM: You're welcome. As I told everybody at the beginning the show, you are my friend, my neighbor and we share supper club once a month with a bunch of girls. I've really enjoyed visiting with you, Vicki. First time we ever drank on the radio.
[0:41:51.1] VC: Oh, really? That's a nice surprise.
[0:41:54.4] G: Yeah, this is a new thing. Yeah.
[0:41:55.7] VC: Okay. Well, you might want to start this. Can I make a little plug?
[0:41:58.5] KM: Sure.
[0:41:59.4] VC: Okay. The teachers I had growing up in the military, they were all teachers who went and it's called Department of Defense and they hire teachers and they get to go all over the world to teach us military kids. If there's a teacher out there who wants to travel the world and teach those children, they need to talk to the Department of Defense. DoD. Get a job. Go overseas. Teach those kids. I had some of the best teachers ever.
[0:42:31.6] KM: Wow. I never thought about it. That's great. Thanks for that plug.
[0:42:35.0] VC: Yeah, I just want a little plug there.
[0:42:36.0] KM: I like it a lot. Vicki, you were easy to get a gift for, because you've lived in so many countries. You have a desk set that has six countries, because there's Great Britain. There’s America of course, United States, Great Britain, Japan, France, Germany. We didn't even talk about you living in France.
[0:42:57.4] VC: Oh well, I was right about too. It's France.
[0:43:00.3] KM: It’s France.
[0:43:03.2] VC: My mother with her British accent. It's so funny because she'll say, “France.” I go, “Mom, it’s France.” She goes, “No, no, no. It's France.”
[0:43:11.3] KM: Yes. Right. It's Notre Dame.
[0:43:13.1] VC: Notre Dame. France.
[0:43:13.9] KM: France. Notre Dame is playing.
[0:43:16.8] VC: Thank you very much.
[0:43:17.6] KM: You’re welcome.
[0:43:18.6] VC: I’ll put this on my desk.
[0:43:20.0] KM: Thank you. I’m so glad you’re here.
[0:43:22.2] VC: Thank you for having me.
[0:43:23.1] KM: You’re welcome. Merry Christmas.
[0:43:24.7] VC: Oh, yeah. Merry Christmas.
[0:43:26.8] KM: Next week, our guest is going to be the best of 2019 next week. Tom and Ashley had been working really hard on it and it's going to be a really great show. Then we're going to do – and then the first week in January, we're going to be out of pocket again, so it's going to continue to be the best of 2019. The next two weeks will be the best of short excerpts, which are perfect from my short attention span. Vicki, I love you.
[0:43:51.4] VC: Okay. I love you too, Kerry.
[0:43:52.8] KM: All right. I want to test how everybody was listening. Thank you for spending time with us. We hope you've heard or learned something that's been inspiring or enlightening. If you didn't, you haven't been listening. That it whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence or your life. I'm Kerry McCoy and I'll see you next time on Up In your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:44:13.0] G: You've been listening to Up In your Business Kerry McCoy. For links to resources you heard discussed on today's show, go to flagandbanner.com, select radio and choose today's guest. All interviews are recorded and posted the following week. Subscribe to podcasts wherever you like to listen.
Kerry's goal is simple, to help you live the American dream.