Our family lived right across the street from Sierra Madre Memorial Park . . . home of:
1905 World War I Howitzer Cannon
Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Horseshoe pit for retired men—I never saw women pitching horseshoes!
“Park House” for social and civic events
Playground for children
Santa arriving every Christmas Eve via fire engine—
sirens blaring and red lights flashing
Summer evening concerts for the whole family
and my personal favorite . . . TOY LOAN
Let me take you back with me . . .
Nestled near the playground was a small “house” painted pink. Whether the modest building was constructed as the home of Toy Loan or previously existed to later be converted to Toy Loan is unknown to me. Per Sierra Madre Historical Timeline—
January 20, 1949:
Sierra Madre Civic Club begins Toy Loan program
What an amazing idea! Many details have faded from my memory, but here’s what stuck:
- Hosted by community women volunteers
- Open weekly—limited days and hours
- Participation restricted to Sierra Madre residents
- Minimum and maximum age limits
- Requisite respect for all borrowed toys
- Card file system utilized to record child’s name and toys on loan—including date borrowed and date due back.
So many cool toys for girls and boys! An efficient tracking system enabled the volunteer women to verify toys were returned on time in good condition with “stars” affixed to the cards as rewards. When enough stars were earned . . . DRUMROLL . . . the child was invited to choose a brand new toy from the top shelf—to keep. Such incentive!
So why share all this?
In reminiscing about my childhood, it occurred to me that something as seemingly minor and short-lived as Toy Loan helped shape me into who I am today. Developing gratefulness and responsibility for toys that didn’t belong to me—toys my parents didn’t purchase with their hard-earned money—taught me to be conscientious about other areas of my life.
Make sure our dog, Sandy, received food and fresh water each day
Promptly return neighbors’ newspapers after Sandy “retrieved” them
Take care of my own things—bicycle, toys, clothes, etc.
Return borrowed items (library books, too) on time in good condition
Practice the piano . . . even when I didn’t feel like it
Be considerate of other people and their property
Take good care of God’s handiwork!
When we hear about animal species going extinct, we utter a sigh.
If cherished toys cease to be manufactured, we groan.
But when was the last time a major news network
featured a piece about intrinsic values becoming obsolete?