| Print Story | E-Mail Story | Font Size

(Mostly) boys swarm Tustin bookstore to marvel over garbage truck


Parents will tell you it’s not nurture vs. nature.

It’s just nature: Little boys tend to possess a fascination with all things that roll – tractors, street sweepers, firetrucks, police cars, you name it.

And if that unscientific observation needed more proof, the noisy evidence showed up in full force Saturday at Tustin’s Once Upon a Storybook.

Inside the children’s bookstore, families crowded the reading room to hear – or strain to hear – “Buster the Little Garbage Truck.” Author Marcia Berneger performed her book six times, assisted by the bicycle horns she disseminated.

Outside, tots waited for a turn at the helm of the huge recycling truck parked along the curb. What could possibly be a bigger thrill than yanking the cord to the extremely loud horn?

Hudson Pankratz, 2, proudly wore his plastic yellow hardhat as he sat behind the steering wheel – an adorable photo op for mom, who snapped away with her cellphone.

“It’s a dream come true for him,” said Buena Park resident Amie Pankratz. “He’s obsessed. He was a trash man for Halloween.”

Store owner Susie Alexander said the popularity was unexpected. More than 200 people attended, half of them children. She only had on hand 40 of the featured books to sell.

“It was awesomely crazy,” she said.

Waste Management, a national firm that serves several Orange County locations including North Tustin, supplied the “prop” pro bono.

The company’s Santa Ana-based spokesman Hashem Shokair said the trucks are in demand at community events and private birthday parties.

“It gives kids an opportunity to get up close and personal with a garbage truck, and gives us the opportunity to talk about safety,” Shokair said. “We’re heroes for a day.”

Truck driver Rodolfo Orejel said that children are even more enamored with the huge machines today than when he started some 20 years ago.

“I used to empty trash cans by hand,” Orejel said. “Kids love the hydraulic system and watching the arm come out.”

James Fletcher of Lake Forest has spent many a trash day observing just how that arm works.

“It grabs all the trash on the street,” said the verbal 2-year old.

Carefully examining the side of the truck, James happily explained that “water comes out from here.”

“I’m an engineer,” said father Cody Fletcher. “Guess he has some of that.”

Mom Amy Fletcher laughed about how their son’s preoccupation with trucks took her by surprise.

“I don’t get it,” she said.

Of course, there’s an exception to every rule – girls can love trucks, too.

Driver Orejel reported that the funniest moment of the morning for him was when a gleeful little girl absolutely refused to get out of his cab.

But other girls, accompanying brothers, and seemed a bit indifferent to the occasion’s raison d’etre.

“She is here to support her brother,” Irvine resident Bryan Geddes said of daughter London, 8. “She likes to see him excited.”

Marshall, 4, who has autism, was enthralled by every nook and cranny of the hulking truck.

“His face is dirty because he kept touching it after counting tires,” said Marshall’s mother, Amanda Geddes. “He can tell you all about every part of a garbage truck, and he’s memorized his trash truck videos.”

Henry and Leslie Nowakowski of Orange escorted their 2-year-old grandson Bennett Boeckman.

“Every single week when the trash truck comes, he is in the front yard waving,” Leslie Nowakowski said. “It’s so sweet – the driver honks and waves back.”

Contact the writer: sgoulding@scng.com

See archived 'OCR Family' stories »

What is this?

Save & Share this Article