Kalman was born in Czernowitz, Romania, in 1935. After the Russian army overran the city, Kalman's father, a non-practicing attorney, was imprisoned because he was considered part of the "bourgeoisie." He was eventually deported to Siberia, where he most likely perished.
Kalman and his mother, Eleonora, moved back to Braila to be near her mother, then the three moved on to Bucharest, where Eleonora became ill and could not care for him. His grandmother looked after him until her untimely death and Kalman was taken in by an aunt until his mother recovered. Near the end of the war, Eleonora and Kalman managed to secure passage on a boat going to Constantinople, then traveled on by cattle train to Aleppo, Syria, from which point they intended to join the yishuv, the Jewish settlement in Palestine. They found themselves incarcerated by the British authorities in Atlit, a detention camp for illegal immigrants south of Haifa. After several weeks, Kalman and his mother were released from Atlit after an acquaintance from Czernovitz vouched for them.
Kalman's mother was not able to care for him adequately due to her work schedule, so Kalman lived and went to school on Kibbutz Shfayim for three years. At age sixteen, after briefly living with his mother and step-father in Tel-Aviv, Kalman struck out on his own, ending up in Vienna, where he lived with an aunt and uncle and earned a diploma from a hotel administration school. After completing his training, Kalman emigrated to Canada, where he began his career in hotel administration. A position at the Marriott brought Kalman, his wife, Lois, and their children, Gary, Deborah and David to Atlanta in 1970.
It was not a good time. I remember people being challenged. I remember when the Russians were there and Jews standing in line for bread and the Russian soldier pulling his gun and showing his bullets, saying that the Jews don't need bread they need bullets. And all that I remember, as a child. Of course I knew the Nazis were bad too, but when we were in Braila and Bucharest, if you had money, since it was allied with the Nazis, you could get by to some degree, but of course it was all temporary. That's why we tried to get out, and we did.
I must have been in the kibbutz for three years and in the kibbutz you shared everything and you had to, like if your mother sent you some goodies you had to share with everybody, which was fine. It was really a very nice place and around that time - I know it must have been 1948, because that, it was when the Palmach, the pre-military Israeli army, was reigning over there and there were planes coming from the United States on a dirt strip. And what happened is we had to clean the strip of stones. And they would just drill holes in the belly of those private planes and people would take up each one with a bomb and fly and drop the bombs by hand somewhere near Safed. So, we were not allowed to go on trips with pilots that went reigning over there, but if you really cleaned up real well for the planes sometimes you got lucky. And I did get lucky and wound up taking one trip with one of the pilots. Well, that evening at supper -- each kibbutz had a security officer -- the security officer grabbed me and took me up by my collar and he said, "I know you didn't follow instructions. You were on a plane." And I said, "No way, you couldn't see me." He said, "I saw you from the water tower." So there you are.Israel
Well, I always felt like I would like to be part of the military over in Israel because I felt that it was my home. And I spent about five years all together on the kibbutz. You cannot forget it. That was my childhood, for better or worse. And my experiences on the kubbutzim was actually very good. This is where I learned that part of Zionism, although religion was anything but in those places. I remember meeting some of the original people that created this State, like I have been talking to Moshe Shartok, who became Moshe Sharet later on. We learned a lot and also having been to high school, little bit of high school, two years worth of high school in Israel made quite an impression of difference on me. Never been to Jerusalem 'til I came to visit later on because it was impossible to go to Jerusalem due to the war. I remember driving between Haifa and Tel Aviv with my father's pistol at the ready because we were being shot at by Arabs between those two cities. Basically, I would have liked to have gone to school, continued university over there, but you couldn't make up the work you would have liked. You had to keep on going, and I'm very happy about the way things are - having three children, three children and now three grandchildren and having a wonderful wife.Racism and Race Relations
I will tell you the first experience as the director of catering at the Marriott in Atlanta. There was a major, major international convention and the chairman was from Alberta, Canada, and the first words to me as the director of catering at the Marriott was "I just don't want to see any eastern European types having any tables outside that convention." And I smiled and said, "Well, unfortunately you have to deal with one right now face to face."