Seniors honored at annual camp

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Sierra del Mar Division holds Senior Camp 2008.

by Suzi Woodruff Lacey –

Angie and Eddie Ruttenberg enjoy Senior Camp [Photo by Suzi Woodruff Lacey].

Tom Casenza danced like he had danced at the USO club back in 1942—only this USO dance took place under the shaded olive trees at The Salvation Army Wildwood Ranch in Ramona, Calif.

The Salute to the Military 40’s theme of the 2008 Sierra del Mar Senior Camp brought back lots of memories to the 220 seniors who took part.

“My mom taught me to dance when I was 6-years-old,” reminisced 85-year-old Casenza, who added, “she put me on her shoes…and I haven’t stopped dancing since!” Casenza shipped out on the USS Catskill in 1942 and saw action from Guam to Okinawa. He said he enjoyed the USO show at senior camp so much he cried tears of joy!

Aggie Ruttenberg remembers being part of the USO show in Boston in the 40s. While her sweetheart was away at war, she entertained troops and visited the wounded in hospitals. She and her sweetie, Eddie, married after the war; both were at camp enjoying the memories.

Each year, the Sierra del Mar Division holds a special day at camp for seniors from San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties. According to Major Cindy Dickinson, seniors came from as far away as El Centro and Victorville.

During the general session of the camp’s USO club, seniors enjoyed the Ramona High School Color Guard’s presentation of the colors and Pledge of Allegiance, a game of 1940’s trivia, big band music by Stan Lawrence, special music by the “Andrews Sisters” and a dance-off by Bob Jesser and Mary Dupree. Major Bill Dickinson delivered the message. Following the USO club was Physical Training, Chow (meat loaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, strawberry salad and fruit cobbler), Liberty and Farewell of the Troops. Liberty activities included hayrides, craft classes and pogey bait at the gee-dunk: snow cones, cotton candy, and popcorn.

“It can’t get any better than this,” quipped Casenza who said The Salvation Army had blessed him during his youth, during the war and now—through senior programs and camp.

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