"Toys for All Ages" was the theme of the memory-making March 13 program of the Hillcrest Grange, which was hosted by the David W. and Patricia Sue Paul family at their "Clover Hill Farm" residence in Brothersvalley Township, near Berlin. It was one of those memberable nights that linger on to add fun memories to the history of an organization that is 97 years old.
Not only did the March evening provide fantastic photos to capture the evening's party atmosphere, but it also served to celebrate and remember events transpiring 40 years ago when two of the working men were enrolled in elementary schools while being raised by their parents on farms that remain in their families' ownership since pioneer days.
On two different occasions that year, those two youngsters provided toy displays for programs that Hillcrest participated in or hosted. What made the nostalgic March 13 event extra meaningful was the fact that the same two persons, now raising or having grown children of their own, again provided toy displays of tractors, equipment, advertising items, and other farm-related toys.
Additional Hillcrest members added toys to the displays to promote the theme, "Toys for All Ages," which helped convey why toy collecting continues to grow popular with so many collectors and former farm boys.
In addition to Walker and Paul, a 4-year-old lad, Colton David Custer also displayed numerous farm toys from his growing personal collection. He is the son of Colby and Amanda Custer and a grandson of David and Kathy Blough, as well as Larry and Pam Custer, all of the Berlin area. Even though Colton doesn't personally live on a farm, he has farm blood that runs deep through his veins. In addition to loving animals Colton loves imitating farming activities while playing with his Farmall and John Deere tractors and equipment.
Along with providing his toy display, Colton was attired in a special red tractor shirt that was given to him by his aunt Dorothy Jane and uncle Leon Paul, the senior members of "Clover Hill Farms" in the Pine Hill area.
One of Colton's major dreams came true in the 2012 harvest season when his uncle Leon and cousin David Paul provided him with a thrilling ride in their large red combine. His paternal great-grandparents, Dale and Etta Custer as well as his grandparents, Larry and Pam Custer also provide rides on their riding tractors and continually stress the importance of caring for equipment.
David R. Hay, who has served as Hillcrest's program director (Lecturer) for 40 of his 50 years membership, planned both the March program and the one 40 years ago when Dave Paul and Mike Walker provided their favorite farm toys for two displays for Hillcrest's 1973 spring events. One event was a two-county exchange program titled, "Make Someone Happy" that Hillcrest and Valley Grangers jointly presented at Hyndman Grange in Bedford County.
Granges since 1943, partnered with Hay in presenting that program. Hay shared highlights of the 1973 meeting from a publicity release, which described David Paul as being a third-grader in the Berlin Brothersvalley Schools and Mike Walker being a first-grader in the Meyersdale Area Schools.
Both youngsters grew to adulthood on their family farms while also being active members of the Hillcrest Grange, where several earlier generations of their families served as organization pillars. Both sets of their parents, their wives, as well as various siblings were in attendance at the March meeting.
Mike is a son of F. Carl and Fay Walker while Dave is the son of Leon W. and Dorothy Jane Paul. Mike, a mechanic for the D. W. Bowman Trucking firm, is married to the former Michelle "Shelly" Bittner. They are parents of two grown sons: Joshua and Andrew.
Dave, who is associated with his parents in farming enterprises, is married to the former Patricia Sue Brougher. All three of Dave's children, Justin, Melissa and Kristin Paul were in attendance.
Justin Paul, who is a first year Master's student at the University of Memphis in Memphis, Tenn., was home on spring break.
He shared the reading, "So God Made a Farmer" that was delivered by the late Paul Harvey at the National FFA Convention in 1978. Melissa Paul is a junior in the nursing program at Waynesburg College and Kristin Paul, a senior at the Berlin Brothersvalley High School, serves as president of the Brothersvalley FFA Chapter.
Hillcrest members shared interesting slogans used by farm equipment dealers to market their equipment, farm toys, and other collectible items. The evening festivities included discussions on collecting farm toys, community farms and the brands of equipment used in their farming operations and the festivities ended with a cake and ice cream party. Accenting food items were homemade and decorated red tractor cookies to coincide with the motto on an interesting sign in David Paul's collection, which reads "If it ain't red, leave it in the shed!"