Wed05062015

News

LASD, city move toward land discussions

The ice may be thawing a bit as the Los Altos School District and the city of Los Altos consider resurrecting discussions on the potential use of public land as a school site.

The city voted to discontinue conversations about civic land with the sch...

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Schools

Mental health expert dispels myths

Mental health expert dispels myths


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Palo Alto University Professor Paul Marcille addresses a crowd of psychology students and mental health activists last week about myths surrounding mental illness and violence.

In the wake of the 2011 Sandy Hook Elementa...

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Community

Q&A: Meet the city's new public works and administrative services directors

The city of Los Altos has hired three new department directors in the past ten months. The Town Crier recently profiled new Recreation Director Manny Hernandez. This week, the Town Crier profiles Susana Chan, new public works director, and Kim Juran-...

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Comment

Familiar icon pops up in Los Altos: A Piece of My Mind

I was walking to my car parked on State Street when my eye fell on an old familiar acquaintance from my early childhood, totally unexpected to meet in Los Altos. It was the “Steinway” logo over the door of the new Steinway Piano Gallery,...

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Special Sections

New Los Altos shop brews milk tea for gourmands

New Los Altos shop brews milk tea for gourmands


Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Teaspoon, the milk tea shop at Village Court in Los Altos, above, serves a range of bubble teas and snow ice drinks, right.

Los Altos made it onto the milk tea map this spring with the opening of Teaspoon, a new bubble tea ...

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Business

Ed center scores spot in Foothills Crossing

Ed center scores spot in Foothills Crossing


Alicia Castro/ Town Crier
C2 Los Altos tutor Max Shih, left, instructs Homestead High School student Rajesh Suresh.

Los Altos families have a new resource for helping their children ace the test.

C2 Los Altos – a recently opened education cente...

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Books

People

DOROTHY RUTH MATHIS PUDER

DOROTHY RUTH MATHIS PUDER

9/17/1918-4/15/2015

Dorothy Puder died on April 15th in Sunnyvale, California. She will be remembered for her gentle, loving, positive and caring ways and will be greatly missed by family and friends.

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Travel

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers

Cuba libre: Local residents join mad rush of travelers


Natalie Elefant/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident Natalie Elefant noted the vibrant street performances as a traveler in Cuba.

The U.S. restored diplomatic relations with Cuba late last year, enabling Americans to import $100 worth of cig...

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Stepping Out

 PYT's comedic musical opens this weekend in Mtn. View

PYT's comedic musical opens this weekend in Mtn. View


Lyn Flaim/Spotlight Moments Photography
The cast of Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Once Upon a Mattress” includes, from left, Sophia Graziani (of Los Altos) as Winnifred, Chris Gough (Sunnyvale) as the Prince and Reilly Arena (Palo Alto) as the Queen. ...

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Spiritual Life

Mercifully in His grip: Exploring our true position in Christ

I recently read a wonderful analogy about our true position in Christ. It was shockingly contrary to the messages impressed upon me in church, but deeply rooted in the Bible. The analogy is that of child and a parent. If you have ever taken a small ...

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Magazine

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon

Practice prudent pruning: Maintaining manzanita, ceanothus and toyon


tanya kucak/Special to the Town Crier
Shrub manzanitas are known for their sinuous mahogany trunks and branches. If the foliage hides the bark, prune selectively to open the center so that the bark is visible year-round. This Montara manzanita is ...

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Inside Mountain View

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth

Up to the challenge: Local leaders unite to help at-risk youth


Courtesy of Challenge Team
Jeanette Freiberg, bottom of pile, has fun with family members. The Challenge Team named Freiberg, a student at Mountain View High School, its 2015 Youth Champion.

There’s an ongoing joke among members of the Challenge...

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Los Altos resident, World War II vet shares his experiences as B-17 pilot


Photo By: photo courtesy of Larry Nevin
Photo Photo Courtesy Of Larry Nevin

Charles N. Baker, top, poses by a vintage B-24, similar to the plane he flew during World War II.

They grew up enduring the harsh times of the Great Depression, came of age fighting in World War II and worked tirelessly to rebuild and reshape the United States as the 20th century progressed. Often referred to as “The Greatest Generation,” they are the cornerstone of America’s strength and success.

Charles N. Baker personifies that generation.

Baker, 95, a Los Altos resident for more than 50 years, is not quite as active as he was during his days as a B-17 pilot in World War II. However, when engaged in conversation, his youthful spirit and humble nature shine.

Baker was born Feb. 15, 1919, in Montana, but grew up in San Francisco. While living in the Bay Area, he played football and was recruited by the University of Oregon, where he became the starting quarterback. After completing his third year at U of O, Baker was drafted into the Army.

“I was drafted in my senior year at the University of Oregon,” he said. “It was Oct. 14, 1941, before Pearl Harbor.”

Dreams of flying

Baker was first assigned to the 15th Cavalry in Fort Riley, Kan. Soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he requested a transfer to become a pilot. Given the popularity of flying, it wasn’t an easy request to fulfill, but Baker somehow scored his dream job.

“More young men wanted to fly than do anything else,” he said. “It was push, push, push – it was testing all the time. If you didn’t qualify, get out of the way, because someone is behind you that can take your place.”

After a rigorous year of cadet pilot training, the Army commissioned Baker a pilot Nov. 3, 1943.

During World War II, he served as a B-17 pilot for what was then the U.S. Army Air Forces, attached to the 390th Bombardment Group, 8th Army Air Force, stationed in England.

He flew 35 daylight bombing missions against Germany and earned many commendations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.”

When asked what he did in particular to deserve the medal, the veteran replied, “I survived.”

Baker recalled his trepidation and fear during his tour of duty.

“Lives were expendable in World War II,” he said. “Not only were we afraid of the Germans, we were afraid for our survival.”

“It must have been a terrifying experience,” said a friend of Baker’s who asked not to be named. “Going on dangerous missions, encountering swarms of enemy fighters, seeing their buddies’ planes shot out of the sky and going down in flames, then watching, often in vain, for parachutes to pop out of the falling planes, feeling their own plane hit again and again.”

Writing it down

In the midst of World War II, Baker chronicled his service daily in a journal. With help from a friend, Baker is writing a book on his wartime endeavors, intended primarily for family and friends. The book will document his experiences from the time he was drafted through his training and assignments as a pilot and his bombing missions over Germany.

Like many men categorized as among “The Greatest Generation,” Baker is modest, claiming that he doesn’t want special recognition. He deflects praise, saying that he is indebted to Uncle Sam for giving him the education, tools and honor to defend his country.

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