Seniors transform into silver screen legends

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Seniors transform  into silver  screen legendsBud Sewell (96), Carol Sewell (87), James Dorey (94) and Anna Marie Bergens (88) recreate a famous scene from the holiday classic ‘White Christmas’ for the month of December in Altrusa International’s “Old Fogey” calendar for 2019. — Photos by Kyle Hirsch

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A popular hit from 2017 is making a comeback, as the local chapter of Altrusa International is once again combining golden agers and the silver screen in a new calendar.

Last year, under the inspiration and guidance of Mary Noh, Altrusa decided to launch a service project to honor our local senior citizens.

“It does help us raise money, but the main reason we started this was because we wanted to do something to make our seniors feel special. We’ve done Kidspree and other projects for our youth, but we didn’t have anything for our seniors,” she said.

She called Abraham Mathew of High Desert Haven to see if the residents were interested.

The residents played along — most enthusiastically.

Any trepidation about the project was dispelled once the calendar revealed our local seniors cast as iconic stars from popular movies and television shows.

“They just loved it,” said Noh. “I think some of them were really shocked to see how the photos turned out. They were all just so pleased.

“This year, they all asked, ‘Can we do it again?’”

Noh led an army of volunteers to find vintage costumes and set pieces that would recreate scenes from “Cleopatra,” “Casablanca,” “Columbo,” “Gone With the Wind,” “Wizard of Oz,” “I Love Lucy” and more.

With ages ranging from 69 to 111 (the ever-young-at-heart Opal Goode, for those who know her), the average age of the models is around 90 years old.

Local “celebrities,” including former Mayor Anna Marie Bergens (88), First Lady of Ridgecrest Barbara Auld (94) and renowned China Laker Bud Sewell (96) are captured in scenes ranging from poignant to exuberantly fun.

Noh thanked the models, High Desert Haven staff, photographer Kyle Hirsch and all the helpers who had a hand in the project.

Since Altrusa ran out of calendars last year, more were printed this time around so that people looking for unique gift ideas for loved ones could pick one up for $15 apiece. They are available at Baxendale’s, Maturango Museum and the Historic USO Building.

Altrusa will also continue efforts to serve seniors, providing goodie bags to the tenants and fuzzy animals to the Alzheimer’s residents at High Desert Haven. Anyone wishing to contribute to that effort can call Noh at 760-382-5205.

Story First Published: 2018-12-14