Jay and Bea DeArmond had a vision to someday house their collections in one big place, where everyone could come and enjoy them. Bea had been a doll enthusiast since the age of 12, and Jay had acquired memorabilia for almost as long.
Chapter One began in 1955, when their dream of an enclave started to materialize with the purchase of an old three-acre chicken ranch in Anaheim. Three years later an additional three acres was purchased on the Stanton border, doubling the size of their dream.
The next chapter is now. Hobby City is a family affair, with three generations of the family actively involved with its success. There are 23 independently-owned and operated shops, each by one of the DeArmond family. Jay died seven years ago but Bea, now 76--which you wouldn't know unless told--is still very active with her doll shop.
In the parking lot one day recently, 6-year-old Brandon Browne was screaming and yelling out, "I don't want to go in there, that place is for sissies. If I go in there everybody's gonna call me a sissy." The entire family of five had driven from San Jose and the toy museum was on their list of places to visit while on vacation in Southern California.
A very short time later, little Brandon found out there was a little shop on the premises that housed a wide array of old-fashioned guns. Brandon was now in another world, with no intentions of leaving anytime soon.
Hobby City has a little something for everybody in the entire family to enjoy. All of the shops are not only for your perusal, but anything in the shops may be purchased with the exception of the antiques.
The Ansdell Piano Shop consists of new and used grands and uprights to be touched and listened to, and lessons are available if the want and/or talent is vibed. The Bear Tree is shaped like a tree and is home to hundreds of stuffed bears and accessories from all over the world.
If sewing or any form of needlecraft is your forte, the Yarn Cabin has a good selection of patterns, kits and books to assist you. If you want to save money by learning how to make and decorate your own cakes, the Party Cake Shop has classes to teach this skill.
The Doll and Toy Museum, housing Bea DeArmond's personal collection, is located in a half-scale model of the White House. There's also a unique shop that buys and sells toys, old dolls and doll books.
When your appetite alarm rings, which it will, there's a soup and sandwich restaurant conveniently located next door to the White House. In fact, it's called The Restaurant Next Door to the White House. After eating, those parents who might want a bit of a rest can put the kids on the Stanton and Anaheim Line Choo-Choo, a miniature train that travels around the premises. It holds 24 children at a time and travels at a very slow speed.
Guess who was riding the Choo-Choo train with a gun, stuffed teddy bear and a piece of cake in his hands--Brandon Browne. Boy, was he having the time of his young life.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Call for holiday schedule.
Address: 1238 S. Beach Blvd., Anaheim
Telephone: (714) 527-2323
Miscellaneous information: General admission is $1. Senior citizens and children under 12 are 50 cents. The restaurant is modestly priced, with a menu consisting of mainly homemade soup, sandwiches and beverages. The Choo-Choo train ride costs 50 cents.