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NEIGHBORS : Toy Fever : An early 1800s rag doll is just one of the items featured at the Albinger Museum's annual exhibit of antique playthings.


'Tis the toy season--and Ventura's Albinger Museum has gotten into the spirit with its annual antique toy exhibit. This year's show, running now through February, owes a lot of thanks to Camarillo's Rhoda Simon, who loaned the museum some items from her vast collection. They include:

* A doll-sized hickory chair, circa 1870, with an early 1800s rag doll reclining on the seat. Simon said the chair was handed down from descendants of Daniel Boone's sister.

* A toy tea set from England, which belonged to Simon's great grandmother. The set dates back to about the late 1840s and consists of creme and sugar dispensers, a teapot, fruit plate and cups and saucers.

* A history of England written for children by Charles Dickens, published about 1865. "He was a very opinionated gentleman," Simon said. "He writes history from his perspective. . . . Some of what he said is very true, but it may not go down with everybody. It was written before the end of Victoria's reign and of course he's got a lot of good things to say about Victoria."

Simon had a logical explanation for why she has an extensive collection of antiques: "My family didn't throw out much," she said.

The Santa Paula Women's Club will hold its eighth annual Holiday Home Tour Sunday, featuring four residences decorated in festive, holiday trimmings.

One of those homes belongs to Debbie and Jerry Friedrich, members of a fifth generation Ventura County family. The three-story colonial home, however, doesn't date back quite that far--the family actually designed it themselves, had it built and moved in three months ago. In fact, as of late last week, furniture had yet to arrive and subcontractors were still making adjustments.

So, is this really a good time to have several hundred people tramping through their home?

"It's like childbirth," Debbie Friedrich said. "Is there ever a good time?" Actually, Friedrich said, the family is pretty well settled in. "It's a new home. . . . Again, I'll equate it to childbirth. It hurts like hell when you're going through it, but you've got something great to show afterward." With the house, the gestation period was 18 months--the time it took for it to evolve from a rough sketch on a napkin to its present state, sitting on 50 acres of orchards, next to a 3,600-square-foot barn. If you're interested in visiting the Friedrich home and three other Santa Paula residences, call the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce at 525-5561 for tickets and directions. Cost is $10.

More site hopping:

Laura Zucker, head of the Ventura Arts Council, has announced plans for four art walks in 1992, due to the success of last summer's stroll through the galleries. The first walk is scheduled for Jan. 24, with others set for May, July and October--all Friday nights, all 5 to 8 p.m.

"This is going to be an interesting experiment, to see if holding quarterly (art walks) will keep them interested," she said. "People who like to do it will get into a pattern. This is a way to see what's happening in town."

Zucker said the sites that participated in the last art walk will again be involved in 1992, minus the Palm Street Gallery, which closed on Sunday. City Hall may or may not be open for art walkers.

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