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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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A tale of two sisters: Local residents chronicle wartime experiences


Courtesy of the Wortz Family
Growing up in North Carolina, little did sisters Eleanor and Jean Thompson know that they would one day document their trailblazing.

Sisters Eleanor and Jean Thompson eventually settled in the South Bay, but their roadmaps to retirement took many twists and turns.

Eleanor and Jean grew up in the 1930s in the small town of Spencer, N.C., noted for its tree-lined streets and friendly atmosphere, with their brother Julian. Jean, five years younger than Eleanor, remembers feeling that her siblings thought she was “a pain in the neck,” the tagalong. But she is quick to explain that she always looked up to and loved them.

Eleanor’s life seemed interesting and exciting to Jean. Eleanor’s strong independent spirit motivated her to earn a pilot’s license, unusual for a female in the 1940s. When the opportunity arose, she joined the WASP (Women’s Airforce Service Pilots), the first women in history to pilot military airplanes.

One summer, when Eleanor was stationed at Love Field in Texas, Jean stayed in the nearby town and became the chauffeur for the flying WASP, driving her sister and others back and forth to the field for their flights, giving her a sense of being part of the corps.

Jean followed the family tradition and attended Spencer High School and Catawba College for two years, but then showed her blossoming independence by matriculating at the University of North Carolina, the first in her family to go away to college. She became a “Government Girl” stationed in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and London.

Jean married Col. Thomas M. “Mac” Barrick. The career Army officer and World War II veteran was deployed to the Korean War five weeks after the wedding. Jean and eventually their children, Carol and Thomas McClellan Barrick Jr., moved 18 times in 23 years, living in Europe and Asia as Mac’s postings dictated.

When Mac retired in 1976, the family headed west, where Eleanor, her husband James Howard Wortz and their children had settled in Los Altos after World War II.

Separated for decades by wars, careers and marriages, the sisters reunited on the opposite side of the country – in Silicon Valley. They renewed their closeness as they shared events at the Woodland Vista Swim & Racquet Club in Los Altos, which Eleanor had organized and served as first president. The families gathered often and their children and now grandchildren became good friends instead of distant relatives.

Retirement, however, didn’t mean R&R for the Barricks, new Bay Area residents. They plunged into local activities, such as spearheading the successful citizens’ campaign to save the Heritage Orchard in Saratoga. Among her many community projects, Jean served as Green Circle facilitator for the Santa Clara County elementary schools, promoting diversity, tolerance and conflict resolution.

Lasting legacy

Encouraged to chronicle her unique experiences as one of the few women pilots in World War II, Eleanor began a book on the WASP. She found direction in the Mountain View Los Altos Adult Education Memoirs Writing Class at Hillview Community Center. In turn, as of old, it was the older sister who motivated Jean to join the class and record her interesting travels after leaving Spencer as a family history for their children and grandchildren.

Together after many decades, their roles gradually switched. It was Jean, the younger sister, who published her book first, “Tracks Out of Spencer: An Army Wife Remembers” (Xlibris Corp., 2004). It chronicles her “escape” from the small town to experience the international journeys of a military family.

Then Jean began to take the initiative for Eleanor. Although the WASP received many verbal accolades at the end of World War II, the U.S. government didn’t award the female pilots Congressional Gold Medals until 2010. Jean encouraged and enabled Eleanor to attend the local presentation in Los Gatos to accept her deserved recognition.

Experienced with the delays and minutia of finishing and publishing a book, Jean recognized that Eleanor was getting weaker and finding it more difficult to tie up her fascinating memoir. The little sister who always looked up to her older sister showed the same determination and command her sister had taught her.

Jean worked tirelessly to ensure that Eleanor would complete her book, “Fly Gals of World War II: Women Airforce Service Pilots” (Robertson Publishing, 2011), in time to enjoy the excitement and interest in the book. Eleanor died Aug. 18 at her home in Los Altos at the age of 92.

The sisters, who grew up during the Great Depression in a small southern railroad town, unused to seeing women work outside the home, showed their strong characters when the opportunities rose for each of them: fearless, determined, hardworking, successful and loyal to each other.

Los Altos resident Joan Garvin is enrolled in the Mountain View Los Altos Adult Education Memoirs Writing Class.

Are you a senior with a story to tell? Do you know a senior whose story would make an interesting subject for a profile? Email Bruce Barton at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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