Fantasia For Piano and Band

New Jersey Youth Band, USA


Christ is the answer to my every need:
Christ is the answer, he is my friend indeed;
Problems of life my spirit may assail,
With Christ my Saviour, I shall never fail,
For Christ is the answer to my need.

Bonna grew up in the Asbury Park Citadel Corps. For a Salvationist, this corps was like heaven. There were 75 girls in Sunbeams and Girl Guards. Bonna was awarded every badge and ribbon it was possible to get in Guards and Sumbeams save one. The corps band had members of the New York Staff Band in it. When Bonna was a kid, Al Swinerton recruited two English bandsmen to play in the Asbury Park Citadel Band and the New York Staff Band. One of them, Cyril Gore, plalyed trombone adn the other, Bill Spence, played Alto Horn. They taught Bonna to play each of their instruments. Al Swinerton led the Asbury Park Citadel Band as well as the New Jersey Youth Band.


I want you to know my wonderful wife, Bonna. It's hard to know where to start, but I've chosen to begin where I met Bonna.

When and Where I Met Bonna


What I was doing when I met Bonna. At my desk a mile underground at West Fort Hood, Texas.

I was on the Counter - Intelligence Team of the 163rd Military Intelligence Battalion, Project MASSTER. The control boxes and wiring to my right controlled overhead cranes used to lift and carry atomic bomb parts when the Air Force had the base. The crane hook was still hanging above my head.

I was in the US Army stationed at West Fort Hood, Texas, in the 163rd Military Intelligence Battalion. We were doing classified research on automating the battlefield to eliminate American casualties in combat. Most of our work involved sensors and radio equipment so we were ensconced in tunnels in the hills of West Fort Hood so our radio signals wouldn't get out into the "ether." To get to West Fort Hood, you pass through Killeen headed west towards Copperas Cove. You go past the Main Gate of Fort Hood and travel about ten miles. On the left side of the road is a little sign and a one and a half lane road going off into the hills south of the highway. A couple of miles down this lane is an old Air Force Base that was turned over to the Army. In the hills are tunnels miles long that had been used to assemble atomic bombs for the Air Force. That's where I was stationed. My office was almost exactly a mile from the door into the tunnel.


Being a member of The Seattle Temple Corps of The Salvation Army as well as the US Army, I immediately got out a map and looked for the nearest corps. I found Waco, Texas, so on the first Sunday morning I was at West Fort Hood, I headed out to church in Waco. When I got there, I found a nice compound with a nice little sanctuary. I sat down and people came to me and introduced themselves and asked about me. A small brass band came out and sat on the platform. It was led by a retired officer named Major Stephenson.


The band was only about nine people, but they did alright. The sermon was good too. I felt very comfortable there and, as in every corps I've ever visited, I was immediately invited home to dinner with the officers. In The Salvation Army, the officers are the pastors and they live in a home provided by The Salvation Army. Since The Salvation Army owns the home, they get to say who lives there. I discovered that the home consisted of the Major and Mrs. Cox, their son Kimber and their assistant, Lieutenant Bonna Zindler.


 Bonna's Passport photo. Her passport was issued January 12, 1970 from the Fed office in New Orleans.

I have to tell you making this webpage is making me fall in love all over again. I'm so lucky!

Bonna was playing Solo Cornet in the little Waco, Texas, Corps Band the first day I visited Waco.

We had a great meal and then everybody went to take a nap except me. I found that this was the custom in the South in most homes where people attended church. I was planning on attending the Sunday night meeting so I just sat on a couch and watched TV. Pretty soon, Lieutenant Zindler came out and watched TV too and we made small talk. She was in her room when she realized I was in the living room alone and she thought this was a little weird so she came out to be polite.


Bonna had been playing cornet during the service. In our conversation, she found out I was a Salvation Army Bandsman and we talked about our past experiences. I asked her what bands she had played in and she told me she had played in the Asbury Park Citadel Corps Band in New Jersey and she had also played in the New Jersey Youth Band. I was impressed. The New Jersey Youth Band was one of the best bands in the USA and her home corps was the home corps of a lot of guys who played in The New York Staff Band. The Bandmaster of the Asbury Park Citadel Corps band was Al Swinerton, also bandmaster of the New Jersey Youth Band and divisional bandmaster for New Jersey.

 This is the band that Bonna played in when she was in high school. The following is taken from the record the band made just before it went to Scandinavia.

The New Jersey Youth Band is the unique and happy developoment of a concern and a conviction: a concern for the advancement of the spiritual, cultural and physical well being of the youth of today, and a conviction that the music program of The Salvation Army is second to none in realizing that goal.

Organized in 1961, uniformed in 1962, The New Jersey Youth Band is a monumenht to the fullfillment of a program which creates interest today and builds for tomorrow.The forty youthful musicians represent more than 25 different communities in the Garden State. Selected by audition from the corps in the New Jersey Division, the average age is seventeen, although the complement of the band includes grade school and junior high school as well as college students.

In its relatively short hiwtory, the New Jersey Youth Band has been honored with invitations to perform in many of the famous concert halls of the United States including the renowned Philharmonic Hall in Lincoln Center, the huge Mosque in Newark, New Jersey, and the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove. The Band was the first Salvation Army Band to appear at the New York World's Fair (1964 - 1965) and has appeared on network radio and television. During New Jersey's Tercentenary Celebration in 1964, Governor Richard Hughes proclaimed the New Jersey Youth Band New Jersey's "Musical Ambassadors."

 Bonna in the Asbury Park Citadel Songster Brigade. She is the short one on your far left.

 Bonna is directly in front of Bandmaster Al Swinerton playing Alto Horn. This is the Asbury Park Citadel Band. Some of these bandsmen also played in the New York Staff Band including the two British bandsmen who taught Bonna how to play the Alto Horn and Trombone. In the summer time, this band played in the band shell of the Asbury Park Boardwalk at a time when there were 50,000 people on the board walk and the beach. One Christmas Sunday when we were visiting from Texas, we were walking down the street to the Asbury Park Citadel Corps. In the corps building, this band was playing "The Kingdom Triumphant" and we could hear it a block away. It was absolutely fantastic!

Bonna was taught to play Trombone by Cyril Gore and Alto Horn by Bill Spence. Cyril and Bill were Britons recruited from Salvation Army Bands in England by Al Swinerton to play in the Asbury Park Citadel Band. They also played in the New York Staff Band. She had some good instructors and played in two GREAT bands.


Here's why I was so impressed with Bonna. In my home corps, The Seattle Temple Corps, our band would spend the Christmas season playing Christmas Carols around apartment buildings and in neighborhoods where we would attempt to collect donations from listeners. On the last night or two of the Christmas season, we would go to the homes of retired officers and other elderly members of The Seattle Temple Corps. One year, we went to the home of some retired officers to "serenade" them. We played a couple of carols, but nobody came to the door. We knew they were home and they normally came out and listened to the band. We could see the lights on in the living room and we could tell the TV was on. Finally, one of the bandsmen went to the door and knocked. Immediately, the door flew open and the officers said, "Come in! Come in! You've got to see this." We went in their house and asked them what was going on. They told us there was a Salvation Army officer on the show "What's My Line." So we watched it and nobody could guess what her job was. She was the Divisional Youth Secretary from New Jersey. When she identified herself, the curtain behind her went up and there was the New Jersey Youth Band. They played a fantastic piece of music. I immediately ordered a record they made to commemorate a trip they were taking to Sweden. It was on a professional level unattained by most brass bands.


So Bonna immediately went up sixteen notches in my estimation.


We Become Close Friends

This became a regular routine for me. I would drive about 75 miles on Sunday morning and stay all day at church and the officers' house and then drive home again at night after church. The bandmaster and his wife, Major and Mrs. Stephenson, would take some of the strain off of the corps officers by taking me home frequently. We had a lot in common because he had been a bandsman all of his life. He also had been a corps officer along with Ed Rydber, the retired Euphonium player in The Seattle Temple Corps Band. Their claim to fame was that they were assigned together as "partners" in their first three or four appointments and they closed every corps they went to. Ed Rydberg became disillusioned with being a corps officer because of the closures and resigned. Major Stephenson stuck it out and was now bandmaster of the Waco Corps Band of The Salvation Army. He played the "squeeze box," a real concertina, and I was in his home enough that he taught me to play it. We spent a lot of time listening to The Salvation Army Band records from around the world. I had a lot of newer ones and he had 78's of some of the best bands in the past. He and his wife were very important to what happened between Bonna and me.


As I became more a part of their lives, the officers would invite me home after the Sunday night meetings and a little later on weekends. I was shocked one night when they decided to play Salvation Army poker, or Rook as others called it. Bonna sat across from me and the two officers were on the other team. I looked down at the table and all of a sudden cards were literally flying into my hands. I looked up and Bonna was dealing like a pro. I half expected to see a low hanging lamp with her wearing one of those visors that professional card dealers wore. But no, it was just the Lieutenant dealing Rook cards.


This routine went on for several months and Bonna and I ended up telling each other our life stories. We became good friends. There was absolutely nothing romantic in any of this. She was an officer in The Salvation Army and I was just a US soldier biding my time until I got out of the service. Officers in The Salvation Army are not allowed to even date ANYONE without permission of their superior officers. She was waiting for her orders for a transfer to Africa as a Salvation Army missionary. I had been terribly hurt when my fiance married another man just before I got a phone call from the Selective Service. Bonna had been planning on marrying a man who had ended up in Vietnam. They had talked at length of being Salvation Army officer missionaries in Africa. He was walking down a path one day and stepped on a land mine. He was blown into the air and lost a little of his foot. He was sent home and he immediately married another woman., Neither Bonna nor I were particularly interested in any relationship, but a really deep friendship developed. Bonna was such a good listener and so kind and understanding I really felt at home with her.


Bonna's Childhood


Bonna grew up in the Asbury Park Citadel Corps. She was a Girl Guard. She collected every badge and award a Girl Guard can attain except for the last Palm. She was a General's Guard and a Founder's Guard. Girl Guards are similar to Girl Scouts, but the Guards are strictly Salvation Army. She was taught how to play the Alto Horn by two British Bandsmen and when she attained the right age, Al Swinerton put her in the Asbury Park Citadel Band playing the Alto Horn. She then auditioned for the New Jersey Youth Band and Al Swinerton accepted her into the New Jersey Youth Band. This experience helped pay her way through college. When Bonna was growing up in Asbury Park, the Citadel Corps was probably as close as you could get to the ideal Salvation Army Corps. It had a top flight band and a large Sunday School and children's and youth programs. She got to travel with the Corps Band and the New Jersey Youth Band. Then, as she was graduating from high school, the New Jersey Youth Band was scheduling a trip to Sweden. She was accepted at TCU so she had to make a choice. She chose to enter college and forego the trip to Sweden.


01 Meet My Wife Bonna Before College <=YOU ARE HERE

02 College To Marriage

03 Wedding Pictures 01 - 05

04 Wedding Pictures 06 - 10

05 Wedding Pictures 11 - 15

06 Wedding Pictures 16 - 19

07 Seattle Washington

08 Houston Texas

09 Seattle Washington

 Visit the website of

The War College of The Salvation Army

in Vancouver, Canada

Just 120 miles or so north of The Seattle Temple Corps.

Back To Your Family Tree Homepage

Dan Ross Bonna Ross Jordana Ross Dan & Bonna Ross Dan and Bonna Ross drdan71, cornucopiagenealogica 09/30/03

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