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Tue, Jan. 28

Ye little ol' toymaker Salazar makes holidays brighter

"Toy land, Toy land, mystical magic joy land. While you dwell within it you are ever happy there."

Review/Diane DeHamer

Rudy Salazar proudly displays some of the impressive Christmas decor he has built.

Rudy Salazar of Chino Valley has been lucky enough to dwell in that magic land for all of his 70 years, as he uses his remarkable building skills to build astonishing wood toys for children.

"As a boy I always loved to carve, and after we moved here, I started building these toys," says Rudy.

The Salazars are known for having one of the most beautifully decorated yards in Chino during the holiday season. They both admit that with a lot of help it takes them about two weeks to get everything put up. There is every whimsical thing there you can think of from mechanical animals, elves, teeter-totters, airplanes, a ferris wheel and carrousel, and even a small village. Many people in the community drive past their home to admire the scene, but what most people don't know is that Rudy built all those things by hand.

"I never see him because he's always in the garage," says his wife, Margo.

"I have a sign in my shop that says 'Grandpa's Fixit Shop,' and all the kids in the neighborhood bring their toys to me to fix," he says smiling.

It's hard to believe that Rudy, who owns his own painting business, still works everyday climbing 40-foot ladders, and yet finds time to build all these amazing toys.

"Most of the time when I start to build something, I don't know what it's going to become. Then I start laughing when I see what it is turning out to be," he explains.

"Building these toys is like a pacifier to me; it soothes me," he adds.

The Salazars moved here from California in 1990. They liked Chino Valley because it was quiet, rural and had no traffic. They have been married 27 years and between them have 10 children and 46 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

"I love kids," Rudy reveals. "I've been raising children all my life."

At the present time, the Salazars are caring for one of their grand-daughters, Krystal, who will be graduating from high school this year and going into the Navy.

One of the newest toys Rudy builds and sells are airplanes that are rockers.

"The kids love them," he says. These toys are very sturdy and built to last a lifetime.

"It's the look of joy on the children's faces when you give them these toys that makes it all worth while for me," admits Rudy.

After all, isn't that the real meaning of Christmas, the joy of giving?

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