Thu05052016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill R...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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The new year brings another change: A Piece of My Mind

Its new owners plan to tear down the house across the street and build a new two-story house with a basement in its place. It is a perfectly good house, a 1950s three-bedroom, two-bath ranch style with the kitchen in front and the patio in back nestled in a deep backyard filled with fruit trees. These are only the third owners.

The first owners were airline pilots. During World War II, she ferried warplanes across the country and he flew B-29s over Japan. Then he piloted 707s for Pan Am. The house, part of the new San Antonio development, was built after the war.

At some point in the late ’50s, the original owners built a two-story addition behind the garage, which included a bathroom, family room and fireplace downstairs, and a playroom and additional bedroom upstairs to accommodate their growing family. The owners did much of the work themselves – the staircase was narrow and lacked a banister. It would never pass code today.

The children grew up and moved away, and the wife became the dowager overseer of the street. From her strategically placed kitchen window, she could see anyone arriving or leaving up or down the street or coming around the corner. She made no secret of her vigilance. Once, when I was a teenager and my parents were planning to go out of town, our neighbor came over to ask my mother, “If I see a strange car parked overnight while you’re gone and Allyson is home, do you want me to tell you or not?”

The first owners aged and moved to be closer to one of their children. They left the house empty for more than 30 years. Proposition 13 kept their taxes minuscule, so it was cheap storage, and convenient to stay in when they visited friends on the Peninsula. One day the grown children returned, cleared out the house and sold it.

The second owners were a young family, also with children. They loved the vintage ranch style of the house, the avocado and terra-cotta wallpaper in the kitchen, the rice paper on the walls of the living room, even the bead curtain in the kitchen window. They put on a new roof and installed new windows. They built an elaborate playhouse in the backyard for their children and hosted a guacamole party for the neighborhood when the avocado tree was in fruit.

But the enthusiasm didn’t last. After only a couple of years, the wife found a vintage Craftsman fixer-upper in north Los Altos that was even more of a challenge. The house across the street went up for sale again. It sold to another young couple with children at roughly 1,000 times its original cost.

It was the deep backyard that had captivated the new owners. They came over to show us their plans for a new house on the lot.

“We’ll have the family room and kitchen at the back overlooking the new swimming pool. The kids will play in the back – they won’t bother you. In front there will be just a home office and bedrooms. We want to use as much of the backyard as we can. We’ll plant trees in the front so that the house won’t look so big.”

The change makes me sad: sad to see the old house go; sad that the new family plans to be invisible in their backyard behind their two-stories-plus-basement; sad that there will be no eagle eye on the street, unless it’s mine.

My kitchen does face the corner.

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