Looking Back: Revisiting Our Childhoods through Toys and Television

Image:  Left: One of the many vintage toy display cases that line Time Tunnel Toys.  Right:  Time Tunnel co-owner Joe Castro strikes a Godzilla pose.  Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce 
Image: Left: One of the many vintage toy display cases that line Time Tunnel Toys.  Right:  Time Tunnel co-owner Joe Castro strikes a Godzilla pose. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce

 

A Vintage Toy Store

As my son was growing up in the 1990s, I wanted to share with him some of what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 70s. I somehow stumbled upon a little store that helped me do just that. I'm always amazed whenever I walk into Time Tunnel Toys. Like owners Joe Castro and Sharon Sullivan say, it's like a museum where the artifacts are for sale.  Over the years, I've seen so many great toys, television, music, and movie related collectables, and Joe and Sharon are so friendly it's always a fun visit.  Gumby, G.I. Joe, Hot Wheels, Star Trek, Ultraman, Godzilla, plastic models, comic books, posters, Star Wars, and Pee Wee Herman are just a few of the themes that come to mind. 

Image:  Left:  Ultraman toys from the popular Japanese tv show of the 1960s.  Right:  A painting of Kiss shares space with the Grinch and Pee Wee Herman.  Joe tries not to become too attached to items. He says that his business has an important social aspect to it, and that he sees it as a medium for sharing. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce
Image:  Left:  Ultraman toys from the popular Japanese tv show of the 1960s.  Right:  A painting of Kiss shares space with the Grinch and Pee Wee Herman.  Joe tries not to become too attached to items. He says that his business has an important social aspect to it, and that he sees it as a medium for sharing. Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce​​​​

 

Image:   One item in the store that's not for sale is the actual coffin from the set of KNTV's 1970's Creature Features program which aired on Saturday nights. One day Joe got a call from a friend informing him that the coffin was for sale at the Capitol Flea Market.  After confirming the coffin's authenticity, Joe purchased it for the store.  The coffin will be on display at the King Library's California Room during the month of October!   Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce
Image:   One item in the store that's not for sale is the actual coffin from the set of KNTV's 1970's Creature Features program which aired on Saturday nights. One day Joe got a call from a friend informing him that the coffin was for sale at the Capitol Flea Market.  After confirming the coffin's authenticity, Joe purchased it for the store.  The coffin will be on display at the King Library's California Room during the month of October!   Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce

 

From Playing Store to Owning One

Joe's grandfather came to the valley from Mexico, and settled with his wife (Bisbee, AZ) near the F.G. Wool cannery at Quinn and Senter Roads. They eventually bought their own place on Mabury Road. behind the Berryessa Flea Market (now known as the San Jose Flea Market).  As a child, Joe enjoyed playing store, offering such fine merchandise as empty fireworks wrappers to his cousins!  In high school, Joe worked in canneries during the summer at $5.00 an hour. He saved his money to buy collectibles, which he would then re-sell at the flea market. As he established resources and built a client base, he gradually created a full time business. By the time that he opened his first store in 1991 at 473 S. Bascom Avenue, his pre-Internet business was already going strong. Joe's wife Sharon worked close by at San Jose Art, and they met when she happened to wander into the store one day.

Image:  Joe and Sharon's second store location at 532 S. Bascom.  Note the absence of tile where a car once drove into the store!  I remember seeing the tread marks on the carpet.  Fortunately the shop was closed at the time of the incident. Their current location is 1583 Meridian in Willow Glen.  Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce
Image:  Joe and Sharon's second store location at 532 S. Bascom.  Note the absence of tile where a car once drove into the store!  I remember seeing the tread marks on the carpet.  Fortunately the shop was closed at the time of the incident. Their current location is 1583 Meridian in Willow Glen.  Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce

 

Toy Shows

Joe and Sharon began hosting toy shows about 1993. Known as the San Jose Super Toy Show, it has bounced around from the DoubleTree hotel to Napredek Hall, and then to the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds where it has been held for about the last twenty years.  They currently host four shows a year, and have featured such celebrities as Karen Allen (Animal House, Raiders of the Lost Ark), and Lisa Loring (played Wednesday on the original Addam's Family tv show).

 

California Room Exhibit: Stay Tuned: Bay Area Kids Shows of the '50s, '60s, and '70s

Did you ever watch Romper Room growing up? How about Mayor Art? Captain Satellite? Charley & Humphrey? Creature Features?  The collage below features memorabilia from these shows, and are part of a California Room special exhibit on Bay Area kid's shows. The exhibit will include the original KTVU Creature Features coffin during the month of October!

Image:  Clockwise from bottom left:  Photo and two pinbacks of Bob Wilkins and Creature Features, Marshal J deputy card, Charley and Humphrey photo and pinback, Romper Room badge, Mayor Art photo, and finally a photo of Captain Satellite with the Three Stooges.  Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce
Image:  Clockwise from bottom left:  Photo and two pinbacks of Bob Wilkins and Creature Features, Marshal J deputy card, Charley and Humphrey photo and pinback, Romper Room badge, Mayor Art photo, and finally a photo of Captain Satellite with the Three Stooges.  Photo ©Ralph M. Pearce​​​​​

 

Further Reading from the California Room

 

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Local History

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