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News

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk


Courtesy of Microbe World
Colorized low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria

When E. coli and other bacteria were discovered in some Los Altos water last week, officials from the local water supplier, California Water...

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Schools

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The six-week, tuition-free Stretch to Kindergarten program, hosted at Bullis Charter School, serves children who have not attended preschool. A teacher leads children in singing about the parts of a butterfly, above.

Local un...

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Community

Google car painting project calls on artists

Google car painting project calls on artists


Google self-driving car

Already known as an innovator in the tech field, Google Inc. is now moving in on the art world.

The Mountain View-based company July 11 launched the “Paint the Town” contest, a “moving art experiment” that invites Califo...

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Sports

Pedaling with a purpose

Pedaling with a purpose


courtesy of
Rishi Bommannan Rishi Bommannan cycled from Bates College in Maine to his home in Los Altos Hills, taking several selfies along the way. He also raised nearly $13,000 for the Livestrong Foundation, which supports cancer patients.

When R...

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Comment

The truth about coyotes: Other Voices

The Town Crier’s recent article on coyotes venturing down from the foothills in search of sustenance referenced the organization Project Coyote (“Recent coyote attacks keep residents on edge,” July 1). Do not waste your time contac...

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Special Sections

Grant Park senior program made permanent

Grant Park senior program made permanent


Photos by Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Local residents participate in an exercise class at the Grant Park Senior Center, above. Betsy Reeves, below left with Gail Enenstein, lobbied for senior programming in south Los Altos.

It all began when Betsy Reev...

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Business

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Los Altos Rug Gallery owner Fahim Karimi stocks his State Street store with a wall-to-wall array of floor coverings.

A new downtown business owner plans to roll out the red carpet – along with rugs of every other color –...

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Books

Book Signings

• Fritz and Nomi Trapnell have scheduled a book-signing party 4-6 p.m. Aug. 1 at their home, 648 University Ave., Los Altos.

Fritz and his daughter, Dana Tibbitts, co-authored “Harnessing the Sky: Frederick ‘Trap’ Trapnell, ...

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People

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

Resident of Los Altos

Grace Wilson Franks, our beloved mother and grandmother, left us peacefully on July 16, 2015 just a few weeks short of her 92nd birthday. She was born to Ross and Florence (Cruzan) Wilson in rural Tulare, California on Septem...

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Travel

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories


Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
San Francisco-based humangear Inc. sells totes, tubes and tubs for traveling.

In travel, as in romance, it’s the little things that count.

Beyond the glossy brochures lie the travel discomforts too mun...

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Stepping Out

Going out with a 'Bang'

Going out with a 'Bang'


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” stars, clockwise from top left, Alexander Sanchez, Sophia Sturiale, Deborah Rosengaus and Danny Martin.

Los Altos Stage Company and Los Altos Youth Theatre’s joint production of t...

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Spiritual Life

Build a 'light' house and get out of that dark place

Most of us have a place inside our hearts and minds that occasionally causes us trouble. For some, it is sadness, depression or despair. For others, it may be fear, anger, resentment or myriad other emotional “dark places” that at times seem to hij...

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Magazine

Inside Mountain View

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
NASA Ames’ Pluto Flyover event kindles the imaginations of young attendees.

Sue Moore watched the July 20, 1969, moon landing beside patients and staff members of the San Francisco hospital where she worked as a nurse...

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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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