Thursday, March 19, 2009

Henries Toys, 1328 North Lake Avenue, Lake Washington Village, 1947 to ?

We know Henries Toys survived more than 20 years, as they were celebrating their 20th anniversary in 1967 according to their advertisements in the local papers of the day. Does anyone have any memory of buying cherished childhood toys and hobbies at Henries? I'm a vintage toy collector and had many Shuco wind up toys in the 1950's, those great microracers and wind up dancing figures from old Germany. Don't remember buying any at Henries though.


  1. A favorite haunt of mine from about the mid-1950s. I spend hours in there, only occasionally buying anything. I loved the magic trick section, and remember perusing their packaging (I think many were mounted on cardboard, with some kind of shrink wrap to hold the trick on.) These had a lot of great illustrations and reading material that stimulated a young magician's imagination of the stir she would cause doing this or that fabulous trick.

    Dolls were important too, and I was just amazed by Barbie's big bosoms and tiny feet when she first came out. I remained true to Tammy, who had more believable proportions. In those days toy stores devoted a lot of space to doll clothing going with each doll — you didn't just keep buying new dolls with new outfits. Scaled down hats and shoes, skirts and dresses were endlessly fun to examine. When the giant 3-year-old dolls became popular (3 feet tall) came in, I got mine at Henry's. Clementine lives on in family photos of the era (early 1960s).

    Henry's was also able to exploit the hula hoop craze (late 1950s, early 60s?). I remember they had quite a display.

    Deep in my memory bank is some scandal over a kid getting caught shoplifting there. But looking back what is amazing to me now is how they tolerated kids just hanging out, buying little, and spending mostly time there.

  2. Here from the Internet regarding the Hula Hoop by Wham-O and Ralph's Dime Store:
    Boss Blew His Top And Dad Quit!
    In all the years my father worked for Ralph David Leibowitz, once did our family every hear Dad "Blow his top".

    The hula hoop was an amazing event. Everybody had to have one for more of these little wonders!
    Seems in 1958, dad was the toy buyer for Ralph's 5, 10 and 25. At a toy show in Chicago, dad bought 100 gross (yes 14,400) Hula Hoops for the six stores. When Ralph found out, he was furious.... something about "How could you do something so stupid!"

    Dad came home early that day and told mom, "I quit!"

    A day later, Ralph came over to the house and apologized over and over... they sold the 100 gross of Hula Hoops in a matter of two days!

    Dad tried to buy more... but as you can see from the information on the right... nothing was available! Guess he should have bought 1000 gross!!!

    The Hula Hoop toy is the most popular American toy ever made. It is a brightly colored hoop of plastic which is rotated round and round the body by moving the hips. The toy was introduced by Wham-O Manufacturing� in 1958. It cost $1.98, and it was so popular that stores kept running out. In the first six months, Americans purchased 20 million Hula Hoop toys. In 1958, 100 million were sold worldwide. All over the United States, people held Hula Hoop contests to see who could spin the longest.

    The hoop is an ancient toy. It existed in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and in 14th century England. (Of course, they didn't have plastic then.)

    Missionaries to Hawaii in the 1700s, who saw the hula dance there, named the toy the "hula hoop."

    Though wildly popular in the U.S., Japan banned the hoops. The Soviet Union said the Hula Hoop toy was an example of the "emptiness of American culture." Wham-O manufactured 20,000 hoops a day at the peak of Hula Hoop popularity. The plastic tubing used for all Hula Hoop toys ever produced would stretch around the Earth more than five times.

  3. I grew up on Topeka, closer to Hill than Lake. I rode my bike to Henries to buy trains, models and chemistry sets through the 60’s… It was a real toy store… It seemed like it had everything, at least from a 10 year old’s perspective… I had my first bank account at the Security Pacific across Lake and down a couple of stores...

    My great-grandfather owned the south west corner of Lake and Washington from about 1900 to 1940 or so… he owned and ran a bakery on Washington, roughly across from the Washington Theater. He sold the bakery by 1910 or so, and then speculated in real estate. His house was on Lexington, a block above Topeka…

    Grandpa went to Longfellow as did my brother and I… Dad went to Webster. Their house was closer to Allen. My parents met at Marshall Jr. High…

    Lake and Washington was our town... Colorado and South Lake was downtown… Colorado and Raymond was old town… Downtown LA was a different City altogether.


  4. Randy,
    Great memories! We're looking for more of them from people who grew up in the area. If you can think of anything else, please post.

  5. I just ran across this blog which brings back lots of memories. When I was about 10 or 11, I remember we would hang out at Henries. It was a great place and we would actually buy something once in awhile. That had quite the assortment of cap guns.

    There used to be a bicycle shop just south of Henries, also on the east side of the street. Santa got my first bike from there.

    I also remember when Borna Corso's Italian restaraunt was on North Lake - I forget exactly where, but it must've been in the 1500 block or so. Later, they moved to the building that Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles occupies now, then to another location on Lake just south of Orange Grove, and finally to the northeast corner of Lake and Walnut. Great food, but sadly they sold out to developers who placed overpriced condos on the property that have yet to sell.
    The Borna-Corso corporation still owns several
    properties along Lake Ave in Pasadena and Altadena.

    And then there's that building that Sav-On/CVS Pharmacy occupies on the south east corner of Lake and Mountain. Growing up, it used to be a Ralphs Market, a Zody's, a Best, and at one point there was a men's clothing store on the second floor.
    I always look up at the second floor when I drive by, it appears to have been vacant for a number of years.

    - Steve

  6. Steve,
    They tell me Robert Hall clothiers was on the second floor of the now CVS building. The Bona Corsa family owns the entire block from Orange Grove south to Earlham on the westside, including the 76 gas station property. I think their restaurant use to be where Cabrera's restaurant is now. The Kathleen's restaurant family owns the block from Earlham to Santa Barbara on the westside. Restaurants must be lucrative. In looking at a list for Marklin german train dealers from about 1968, Henries Toys is listed as a Marklin dealer with a location at 1322 North Lake. I've collected Marklin since 1961, but never knew Henries Toys was a dealer. They must have had some high end toys, even in the Lake Washington Village district.

  7. My mother worked at Henries as a teenager (1950s)- she said that the owners didn't treat the staff well and made them constantly clean. I would visit my grandmother in pasadena every summer - stops at Henries, Macabobs Toys, Bob's BIg Boy and Victory Park (the rocket!) were a must. The last time I visited Henries was around 1976 - they sold Matchbox cars in a glass case near the back door and I bought many late-60s models that had been sitting there for quite a while.

  8. Hello Jsapero,
    Great memories! I discovered the area in 1978 and first visited what was then the Coronet Dime Store across the street from Henrie's Toys. I can't figure out why I didn't visit Henrie's Toys, as I was always looking for old stock as a toy collector and I did go to Macabob's on East Colorado, as well as The Whistle Stop when it was located almost to Michilinda on East Colorado. Got some great stuff out of Ralph's/Coronet Dime Store, as my brother and I cleaned out their full basement when they were going out of business in 1983. So your experience in getting some old models of Matchbox from Henrie's is just what I like. Are you still collecting Matchbox? Let us know if you can remember anything else about the area.

  9. In the mid to late 1970's...Electric Football was the craze for most pre-teen boys. Henrie's Toy store was the one place you could buy teams (both home & away uniforms). I spent a lot of time there also buying slot cars (Tyco & AFX)...where I competed in neighborhood races or at the MacKenzie Boys' Club on Fair Oaks...Aww...the memories...thanks for creating this blog

  10. Hi KJ,
    I am the generation just before and I was also into slot cars in the 1960's, such as 1/32nd Scalextric, Revell and HO Aurora Thunderjets, and my hobby shop, since I was in Burbank, was Burbank House of Hobbies on Olive just south of Victory, now with a different owner farther towards Griffith Park on Victory. I first saw Scalextric in the early 1960's when I visted my cousins in Phoenix and the local Boy's Club had received a whole ton of donated Scalextric, which was amazing considering how expensive it was back in the day (perhaps the local hobby shop couldn't sell it because it was too expensive, so donated it for a tax write off instead). I'm still interested in vintage slot cars today (as well as vintage real sports cars).

  11. Hi, my brother and I lived at Henries toys in the late 60s. They had all the great match box cars as mentioned above, but we used to dream of owning all the Avalon Hill book shelf board games they had on display on a 5 ft tall gondola at the north end of the store. They had WWII games, brain twister games, you name it. I still to this day look up some of those games on ebay. Henries toys was only a 10 minute bike ride from our house off Mendicino and Winrock. Only problem was, it was all uphill on the ride home!

  12. Hello Sparkydav,
    I know the problems with trying to bicycle uphill, as I lived in the Burbank foothills growing up, but downhill was a breeze!
    You and your brother must have had fun chasing after stray golf balls, since your house was right next door to the Altadena Golf Course and Driving Range.
    I was just looking at a Website describing the Mattel " Lie Detector Game " and Transogram " Green Ghost Game ." We had a lot of fun back then.

  13. Hello All,
    I am the youngest son of Henry and Charlotte, who owned and ran Henries toys. I didn't realize what a great toy store my family had built until I started buying toys for my own sons in the 1980's.
    I do miss the Toy store and the Lake Washington area, it was a simpler least it was for a kid growing up in the 50's and 60's.

    1. Hey Greg, remember me, George? I worked with Richard at the Colorado stores.

  14. Hello Greg,
    Thanks for coming by. Please let us know about any memories you have of your parents' toy store and of the area. We are hoping the area will come around and be just as nice as it used to be. Do you have any old photographs we could post? Thanks for letting me know, Thal.