Tim and Linda Hawkins are among Toluca Lake’s oldest residents, having lived in their Sancola Avenue home for the past 60 years. “When we moved here, we were very young, and now, we are the most senior people in our neighborhood,” Linda remarks. They are also some of the most involved members of the community. The Hawkinses have earnestly dedicated themselves to its betterment for a large part of their lives, volunteering countless hours to various organizations to help make the neighborhood a comfortable, safe and fun place to live, not only for the benefit of their family, but for their neighbors, friends and future generations of Tolucans.
Tim and Linda met growing up as next-door neighbors in Atwater Village, where they were raised by families who were deeply invested in the community and always volunteered whenever they could. They attended different area schools — Linda went to Glenfeliz Boulevard Elementary, Washington Irving Jr. High and John Marshall High; Tim went to Atwater Avenue Elementary, Our Mother of Good Counsel School and Notre Dame High — but remained close throughout their youth. “We were basically childhood sweethearts in high school,” Tim says, sharing that they started going to Bob’s Big Boy at 16 when they were dating.
Their relationship endured after graduation, when Tim enlisted in the Marine Corps. He served as a helicopter crew chief and was honorably discharged after four years at the rank of sergeant. He and Linda married soon after in 1960 and moved to Glendale. During the four years they lived there, they focused on their careers; Linda was a legal secretary with the L.A. City Attorney’s Office, and Tim attended Glendale Community College and L.A. Trade Tech for a career in the elevator industry.
In 1963, after looking for homes in many areas, they relocated to Toluca Lake, purchasing their property for $25,000 (which was a lot of money at the time, Tim notes). “It was a lovely small community with easy access to work and close to our family and relatives,” Linda says of what drew them to the neighborhood. “When we moved here, there were many restaurants, such as Alfonse’s, the China Trader, Sorrentino’s, Kings Arms, Barone’s and the Smoke House — most of which are gone now, much to our disappointment,” Tim adds.
Two years later, they welcomed their son, Tom. As he got older, the Hawkinses, in a nod to their parents, began to get involved in their new community by volunteering to support their son’s many youth activities. “We wanted our son to know what it was like to be involved in all the different things — he was in Indian Guides, Cub Scouts and Little League — and so, we just followed, volunteering in each of the things he did,” Linda explains. “And it was important just for the upbringing of a child.”
Linda became a member of the Toluca Lake Elementary School PTA and, after her son graduated, was hired on as the school’s librarian, a position she held for 40 years before retiring about four years ago. “It was a wonderful job. I felt like, in a sense, I was volunteering … and I still go back and I volunteer there now. My son, I think, appreciated the fact that we did all of that,” she says, noting that all the teachers knew their family.
Through volunteering, the Hawkinses forged strong bonds and lasting connections with their neighbors. “We have very dear friends of ours who we met through all our volunteer stuff, and they’re still friends of ours, and we still do things with them. And that’s very important,” says Tim, sharing that he and neighbor Byron Hayes bonded through taking their children backpacking. “We ended up doing the John Muir Trail and still walk once a week.”
The Hawkinses naturally progressed to serving the community in larger capacities. Linda became a guild member at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, where she ran the hospital’s thrift shop, organized fundraising events such as charity fashion shows and more. She has been a member for 43 years and remains on the guild’s board to this day.
Tim became a founding member of the Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council, playing an instrumental role in getting the GTLNC recognized by the city and serving on a variety of boards alongside other dedicated neighbors — like Richard Bogy, Sol Ajalat, Byron Hayes, Steve Hampar and Jay Goldberg — for 10 years. He then served on the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce, co-chairing both the Pancake Breakfast and Holiday Open House for 15 years, and has remained on the board for the past 25 years. Outside of Toluca Lake, he serves on the board for Campo de Cahuenga and is an active member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, which he’s been a part of for over 60 years.
Tim playfully describes his community work as “grunt work,” meaning that he “would help with whatever needed to be done,” regardless of what group he was with. He loved being hands-on and doing things like running the kitchen during the Pancake Breakfast and putting up Neighborhood Watch signs (he and Jay Goldberg are responsible for hanging up all the original signs in the neighborhood). And while he’s taken a less active role to make way for the next generation of community leadership, he says that he and Linda still do what they can, like serving as block captains. “We just stay involved with the whole neighborhood because we know most everybody,” he says.
When asked about their favorite neighborhood traditions, the Hawkinses recount an exhaustive list of activities and events, including large Fourth of July parades, the Christmas Caroling Truck, Little League parties and classic car nights at Bob’s Big Boy, where Linda, Tim and their son would showcase their white ’69 Mustang, ’43 Marine Corps jeep and black ’69 Mustang, respectively. It’s impossible for them to narrow down their favorites because “there were a lot of things that went on that you can’t pick one out and say, ‘Well this was the best.’ They were all good,” Tim says. “They were all a lot of fun. And the reason they were fun for us is because we always participated in them. And if you participate, it becomes fun. Whether it was through the Elementary School, the Little League, the Chamber or whatever, there were a lot of events that had a lot of community involvement, and that’s what we’ve always enjoyed — community involvement.”
As Toluca Lake approaches its 100th birthday, the Hawkinses reminisce about how they participated in the neighborhood’s 75th anniversary celebrations, which included a parade in which Tim drove his military jeep. Now, 25 years later, Tim is working with the Chamber to plan for centennial events this fall.
Despite their age, the Hawkinses show no signs of slowing down when it comes to giving their time and energy to the community they love and have called home all these years. As Linda puts it, “It’s important to be involved in your neighborhood activities because this is where you live and you want it to be great, and it is great here.”