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USO Dance Takes Seniors Down Memory Lane

It might have seemed like a blast from the past, but the USO-themed dance held at Richfield Retirement Community earlier this week was more about bringing the past right into the present. Judging from the eager dancers, joyful laughter and happy smiles the event was a smashing success. Pictured is Betty Smith, dancing with “First Mate” Tom Adams, who along with many others, was dressed in his USO finest.

by Bill Turner

Inspired by a resident’s heart-melting love story, Beverly Adams, Life Enrichment Coordinator at the Center, first came up with the idea for the USO dance about nine months ago during her weekly manicure session with resident Betty Smith.

According to Adams, she put on a Glen Miller CD, started polishing Betty’s nails and as she did so, Betty would close her eyes and reminisce about how she and Bill used to dance, and said how “the music brought back so many memories.” Adams wanted to bring all of her residents back to “a sweeter time in their lives” and hoped the USO dance would do just that.

Married for 57 years, Betty and husband Bill, the couple behind it all, have been together since they met in the Radford Arsenal cafeteria in 1953. “He was going to V.P.I. and I was working at the Radford Arsenal,” Betty recalled of meeting Bill. “He was watching me in the dining hall at the arsenal when a friend noticed his interest. She said ‘I’ll show him to you.’ “

Bill, a Korean War veteran, currently resides at the Virginia Hospital, leaving them very limited time to spend with one another. Unfortunately, due to his declining health, he was unable to attend the dance. Betty and the other guests enjoyed their time in spite of his absence.  “We used to love to dance,” Betty Smith said of her and Bill. “I’ve had a ball tonight. They went all out for this.”

Richfield resident Phyllis Holdway echoed Betty’s enthusiasm. “I’ve had a very good time,” Holdway said with a smile. “I just loved the music. It brought back memories.”

The show-stopping event included musical guests, the “Marc Baskins Trio,” a hat check girl and cigar girl (both dressed in costume), donuts donated by the local Krispy Crème, and Glenvar High School football players and wrestlers dressed in military uniforms to escort the senior ladies to the dance.  “Rosie the Riveter” and “Uncle Sam” also were on hand to meet and greet.

As the Marc Baskins Trio played songs like “Red Roses for a Blue Lady,” “Unforgettable,” “New York, New York” and “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” the gleam in the eyes of the residents, many of whom took to the dance floor, made the evening a priceless one for all.

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