When it comes to celebrating its 60th birthday, Torrance Memorial Hospital Medical Center is not being shy. It has a potential guest list of 80,000.
That is the number of people the hospital has welcomed into the world since it opened its doors in old downtown Torrance on May 18, 1925.
"We wanted to bring the hospital into people's consciousness by drawing people who have special feelings about it because they were born there," said spokeswoman M. Carmela Welte.
So far, flyers, newspaper advertising and word of mouth have attracted more than 1,500 responses. Most came from the Torrance area, but there also have been responses from across the continent, from Alaska and British Columbia to New York City.
The respondents have received Alumni Club certificates and will be honored at a "baby reunion" later this year. The oldest Torrance Memorial "baby" will receive a special prize and an invitation to a hospital gala in September.
Although transience usually is associated with Southern California, Welte said several multi-generation hospital families have reported in.
Typical is the family of Joyce Barrington, who was born at Torrance Memorial in 1928 when it was a small, 90-bed hospital. All five of her children were born there between 1949 and 1964--all in the same delivery room.
"I never thought of having my children anywhere else," said Barrington, who also has been a hospital volunteer for 30 years. Her first grandchild was born at Torrance after the hospital moved to its Lomita Boulevard complex in 1971. "There's a new one coming in August who will be born there, too," she said.
Most Vivid Memory
Allison Jones Figueredo and her husband, John, both were born in the old hospital, and their two children first opened their eyes in the new one. But Figueredo's most vivid memory of Torrance Memorial was not about childbirth but about the kidney stone that spoiled her honeymoon and sent her to the hospital.
"When I was in the hospital, my mother recalled that she had had me in the same room I was in," said Figueredo. As for her ordeal, she said, "It was painful, just like having a baby, and not a great deal of fun, especially on our honeymoon."
When Cherie Edwards of Redondo Beach responded to the hospital's ad, she enclosed a newspaper clipping reporting that her sons, John and James, were born at Torrance Memorial on the same day--March 20--three years apart, three hours apart, and 3 pounds, 3 ounces apart.
Welte said the reunion, which will be held some time before September, has created one major problem: finding a hospital locale big enough to accommodate so many people.
And no one knows how big the cake will be.