Chuck Olmstead interviews Patriot’s Landing resident Roberta “Bobbie” Quarm, a wife of a retired United States Army serviceman who served for 24 years and was injured in Vietnam. She was born in Cincinnati and lived in Philadelphia during high school, graduating in 1955. She joined the USO and Red Cross. She met her husband of 51 years at Fort Dix in New Jersey, where they married. They were stationed three times at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington.
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This special answers for elders podcast honoring military veterans his sponsored by carriage. For more information about carriage, the website is sear EA gecom. Well, this is Chuck Holmes Dead. I’m at Patriots landing here in Dupont, Washington, and with me today is Roberta quorum and she’s she likes to go by Bobby. So Bobby is the wife of retired US military and and we always like to interview the spouses as well because a lot of times they have stories to tell and the spouses, I think, in many ways served right along with their with their husband’s as they went through military life. And so, Bobby, welcome to answers for elders today. Thank you very much. Yeah, well, I know you’re a little nervous and you don’t have to be because we like to hear the stories of of people and how they got to where they where they were in life and some of the stories. So let’s go back. Were you born near in the northwest? I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then in my senior year I moved to Philadelphia. Okay, so I moved from a cat hundred girl academy to thousand per class high school. Wow, west Philadelphia. Wow. So East Coast, you were more he’s coast. Yeah, yeah, so what year then, did you graduate from High School? I think nineteen fifty five. W so that was the year I was born. So that was a good year. That was a very good year. Well, life was kind of, I’m sure, interesting at that time because you were born rights right at the beginning of World War II and then the Korean War was just finished up when you were in high school and then graduation. So what was it like in one nineteen fifty five? And in Philadelphia? I I work full time for my father, but in the evenings I joined the US Oh and also the Red Cross. So between the two of them, but mainly the US oh. So used to go to dances over to Fort Dix and macguire, dancing on the Kittie Hawk at in the Navy base, and I met my husband at Fort Dicks. We were married at Fort Dicks and then we were stationed here at Fort Lewis. Three times interesting. So so when you volunteered with the US oh, so what what did you do when you did that? What was dance with dance with the soldiers, dance for the Air Force and dance with the Navy and then we go to the hospital dals and play games, you know, the Bingos and award prizes, just visit with the patients. Yeah, so what motivated you to do that as a high school did you have family that was in military or was it just something? No family in the military. It’s just something I wanted to do. Uh Huh, so I did. Yeah. So how did you then meet your husband? At the US Oh dance at for Dick’s interest and I tried to pass him off onto my girlfriend’s because, as USO serve, you know, representatives, we weren’t supposed to say with one person the whole night. You had to circulate. Well, they covered for me. So you are a little interested as well. Yeah, yeah, six months later we were weary. Interesting. Yeah, and what year was that? One thousand nine hundred and sixty two. Okay, so from high school to to marriage was seven years. So during that time you were always involved in US oh, USO and also Red Cross. Right, cross was going to the Navy hospital also, yeah, and then working at I’m a volunteer for the emergency emergency room at a city hospital. Uh Huh. So did you have a medical background then? No, not at all. But you just the doctors wanted me to go ahead and get for million with the shots and they say they would given me an orange and put the syringe and I said, oh no, I’ll be there to comfort to people. That’s it. Yeah. So during that time, nineteen sixty two year husband then was in you at, in the army, just private. I believe it was a private okay. And so then how long did he stay active military? He was active for twenty four years and then retired. Interesting. So you you experienced a lot then and one thousand nine hundred and sixty two, Vietnam’s kind of really got geared up. In sixty five, six thousand six hundred and sixty seven was you know. So you did your husband end up in Vietnam? He went. Yeah, you did. He was in Korea and then it was in Vietnam twice. HMM. Now tell me about that. What’s that like to be the wife of a whe waiting wives? We went up to? We went up to waiting wives the second time up in Bangor Maine at the Air Force Base. HMM, which was very interesting because that’s where a lot of the wives went and we had one navy fella among the whole housing area. So when it’s snowed and went up to the second floor, he had the snowplower to get us out. Interesting. So now you’d caught. You said waiting wives. Was that good? That’s what we were called, the waiting wives, the waiting wive and for Vietnam. Yeah, yeah, and so. And as I’ve talked with other veterans, you know, we are so used to technology in these days where we have text and we have email and we have phones where we can call anybody pretty much in the world. But it wasn’t like that in one thousand nine hundred and sixty. So wasn’t know. What was that like? The wives? We all talked among each other and try to help each other. You know, when my husband was injured a second time in Vietnam, he called me right away and he says, don’t pay any attention to what tell her. The telegram says to you. He says I’m okay. So the telegram sounded like he was not okay, but then he came home and what have you. Yeah, yeah, so he came home, did he was? He hospitalized then for a while. And yes, it’s a Brooklyn Navy hospital. Yeah, yeah, in New York is his folks lived in Long Island, so we commuted, commuted back and forth on the Long Island Expressway and I have no idea how we did it. Yeah. So then what happened after Vietnam? After his he surviired and then he went to be a corrections officer up at forks for two years, I believe it was. I’m not sure the time, and then totally retired. They were you up here with in forks with him, and all time right here, he commuted back and forth. Wow, yeah, that’s a little very we were married fifty one and a half years. Yeah, wow. Well, I’m sure you saw a lot of changes. What would you say were the significant changes in those twenty four years as far as being a military wife? You know, a lot of the wives, even now, I have found they don’t know anything about their finances, don’t know how to write a check and don’t know where to go to ask for help. MMM. So that needs to be taking care of all the time. And when my when my husband was going to Vietnam, I think the first time we had the wives over to the house and they were showed how okay, this is this and this is how you do this and we’re happy and if you need any help, you can always come back. They are people always need a point of contact, even here a Patriot landing. You know the new people that come in and if I see him, I’ll introduce myself to so when they do come in for dinner or lunch, they instantly go to the point that they they recognize me. Yeah, of course. Well, bobby, it seems to me like your whole history has been the kind of serving other people, because when I hear about you as a young girl with us so and the Red Cross, obviously you had a heart to help people, I guess. So. Yeah, and to make him feel welcome and comfortable. So, and you’re still doing that here at Patriots landing, I think so. Yeah. Well, that’s a good thing. I enjoy people. Yeah, I can’t stand where people don’t do things for themselves, and there’s no reason that they can’t do something for themselves. I don’t like self pity. Yeah, so you helped bring them out of it high, I tried. Yeah. Yeah. So now do you still have family? Children here? And I hear no. My one son, the retired sergeant major is in Maryland and I have one, two, three, four grandchildren there. I have a great grandson in Ohio and then my oldest son is in California with two grandchildren there. I see. And you said one was had been navy. Correct. Yes, he was the captain’s Cook. Very good, very good. So your husband was retired Navy Masters Army or I’m sorry, retired army as a as a start, stars are major, sergeant major here and then your son. No, he was the master sergeant. My son was a sergeant major where. He out ruined him. There you go, there you go. Well, what would you say to the current military wives? I think you gave some good advice there as far as learning finances. And do you ever? Do you have opportunities to speak with current military wives at all? No, but I work, I do volunteer work at the mccord’s thrift shop once a week and sometimes three times a week, and I meet people there and, yeah, talk and what have you. Yeah, and if if you were able to talk to a current military wife, what, what kind of advice would you give to them? Love your husband first and and be willing to listen. Listen to him, don’t ignore what he says, listen to him, because sometimes they do need help. MMM. Yeah, yeah, well, many times have gone through. Those spouses that have been in military, especially and during wartime, have gone through some pretty significant things and they do need that, that support, don’t they? Yeah, they do. Yeah, they do. And then, like I said, don’t be afraid, you know, enjoy yourself and enjoy the military. That’s what the military is. They are it is to protect, but also make you feel safe to MMM, and you can. You you can socialize with people that experience the same thing as you do or as if you’re on the outside, you may never meet someone sharing the same thing. MMM. Well, there seems there has to be a special camaraderie. It seems like those that serve together in the military, the the men and that serve with other men and women, that there’s a camaraderie there. And it seems like for the for the spouses of that those military there’s a certain camaraderie, isn’t there? That are lifelong friendships because you’ve gone through some stressful times together and even though you don’t correspond with the others, they know where you are and you know where they are. That’s that’s right. That’s right. Well, bobby, I want to thank you for this time and for you sharing your story, because your story matters, it’s important. Thank you. Yeah, and we’ve been listening to bobby quorum and she’s a wife of retired master sergeant US Army and I want to thank you for your interview today. Thank you very much. This has been a special honoring veterans. Presentation of answers for elders brought to you by carriage. For more information about carriage, the website is c Aar angecom
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Originally published October 20, 2018