This “white paper” was stimulated by an actor’s comments having to do with the Harvey and Catherine Kalmenson work ethic. The actor in question has known the two of us for many, many years. With an all-knowing sinister look decorating his very well known countenance, he extended his hand to mine, gripped it firmly, and overlapped both with his other hand in a gesture of meaningful affection.
“So, who started your business for you and Cathy?” He asked.
For those of you not familiar with our President’s recent speech asserting his fervent belief that all businesses are started by people who have the help of others and that their individual efforts were not rewarded because of how smart they were or because of their entrepreneurial skills, but rather their success was brought on by way of the government. During this same speech, the President pointed out that there were a great many smart people out there who could have accomplished similar success as Catherine Rose and Harvey Kalmenson had they received a helping hand.
It is not my intention to show my disagreement or contempt for what the current President’s beliefs happen to be. What follows, perhaps with noticeable indignation on my part, is an expression of my Constitutional right as an American Citizen.
In the Army of this great country, we soldiers took an oath of allegiance. While I was not a member of the service for long, believe it or not, I still carry within my heart and manner the very same oath of allegiance to my country that I did as a nineteen-year-old young man. I am not embarrassed to say it nor for the entire world to know it. Nor am I shy about displaying my disagreements with the President of the United States of America.
What I heard as a little boy from my immigrant father was always the same: “It’s a free country. Say whatever you want as long as you’re not hurting anyone.”
A Short History of The Kalmensons and the Zukoskis
Catherine Rose Zukoski (my wife) worked at a market as a checker through most of her high school years. She has continued to work without hesitation ever since. Her grandparents on both sides came to the United States as immigrants. Her four brothers and sisters all share an identical work ethic. While raising five children, Dorothy (Cathy’s mom) completed her education and today continues her career as a Master Beekeeper for the City of Chicago. Ronald Zukoski’s (Cathy’s father) work ethic was as stalwart as God would allow. He made it to age forty-six. The wounds he received in the Korean War were ultimately responsible for ending this young Marine’s life. Dorothy still lives in the same house Ronald and she bought some fifty-five years ago.
The hands of the Zukoski Clan have never been extended for the purpose of monetary support, even in the worst of times. As is the case in almost every life, they too had some large bumps in the road.
My grandparents and parents on both sides of the family immigrated to the United States. The help they received was by way of God. All became American citizens as quickly as the government would allow. Without exception, they worshiped their new country and never looked back.
I was born in Brooklyn, New York to immigrant parents, Charles and Lillian Kalmenson. Early on, they became a patriotic World War Two household. My Mom was a stay-at-home (that is if you could ever find her not working) and my father owned and operated a women’s handbag factory in Jersey City, New Jersey. There were three kids in the family – two sisters and me. My older sister entered City College of New York at age sixteen. She married a returning highly decorated war hero who died around the age of ninety. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He too emanated from immigrant stock. What a story… from Ellis Island to Arlington National Cemetery. Hitler gave my brother-in-law a “helping hand” by placing him in a Stalag (Prisoner-of-War camp) following his capture after being shot down in a bombing raid.
His Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart are treasures.
And then, there is yours truly, Harvey Kalmenson. After birth, it was only a short period of time before my Mother got through to me about how tough her pregnancy was. Each time she told the story, I became more convinced about how much pain and suffering I had caused. I was, however, not alone. My Italian and Irish friends all had mothers cut from the same cloth.
At age ten, I had my first summer job. While it was in my father’s factory, don’t get any ideas that I received favoritism. My Dad was tougher on me than any stranger might have been. His premise was a simple one, “Some day you’ll be leading this show. You’d better know what it’s like to take orders before you have to give them.”
From age ten to present, I have never stopped working for a living. On many occasions, I had more than two jobs going at the same time.
During my two years in the United States Army, I did receive some minor accommodations but nothing resembling the well-deserved gratitudes for the sacrifices made by Cathy’s Dad, or my brother-in-law. The help I received during my stint in the service was singular; I thank God.
One day, just short of twenty years ago, Cathy and I decided to open our own casting and education business. Initially, because neither of us had any substantial sum of money, our home served as our administration office. We rented studio space for auditions on an hourly basis. Our work force consisted of Cathy and Harvey Kalmenson. The company name we chose remains Kalmenson & Kalmenson, Inc. – The Business of Voice Casting and Education. Counting our teachers, engineers, and in-house staff there are now twenty-two families deriving income by way of the Kalmensons.
No banking organization gave us a helping hand other than placing us up to our eyeballs in debt. If we had failed, everything would have been lost. Every client we have was personally secured by our own personal efforts! On day number one, Cathy placed the phone to her ear and hasn’t stopped singing to date. (I mean she was actually soliciting advertising agencies by singing her “checking in” song to the theme music of The Lone Ranger more classically known as the “William Tell Overture.”)
Our staff enjoys the comfort of having medical insurance – they earn it – and the Kalmensons will continue to pay for it 100% if the government stays out of our way. The best hand any government can offer is the one that removes itself from our pockets.
Our plan is to keep growing by way of auditioning and teaching our educational methods to as many actors as we can. We offer our hand to all of you by extending our best wishes.
And if you don’t mind, or even if you do, God Bless America!
and, i might add, that the president's mention of roads and bridges have been duly funded by the taxation of Kalmenson & Kalmenson… and at a rate far greater than the individual has forked over to said gov't construction/maintenance… yes, mister obama, they not only built this business, but their success more than amply maintains the support businesses that we ALL enjoy and use… rog
Kristina Hughes says
Loved reading your story! My partner Brian and I have often wondered how it all started for you two. Like you, we are also entrepreneurs in Entertainment who started from our own hard work and resources. As the late Peter Jennings once said to me, "Enjoy the journey." Which we always try to do and indeed God Bless America!
Hard work, entrepreneurial spirit and resourceful financing is what has started any of my businesses, and those of my friends. NOT government. I have a similar story Cathy and Harv, and I appreciate you sharing your story.