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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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