Tue09302014

News

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Two candidates have filed to run for the District 7 seat on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors in the Nov. 4 election. The water district, established in 1929, oversees and protects water resources in Santa Clara County....

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Schools

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Suzanne Woolfolk, assistant principal at Los Altos High, teaches a leadership course for Associated Student Body leaders.

Suzanne Woolfolk – new assistant principal at Los Altos High School – said she is happy...

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Community

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival


Courtesy of Los Altos Chamber of Commerce
The petting zoo is a highlight of the Los Altos Fall Festival. This year’s event is slated Oct. 4 and 5.

The Los Altos Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its 23rd annual Fall Festival 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oc...

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Sports

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High halfback Sean Lanoza looks for running room against Burlingame in Saturday’s home opener.

The opening drive of Saturday’s game against Burlingame couldn’t have gone much better for the Los Altos High fo...

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Comment

Does Los Altos have a parking problem, or is it a symptom? : Other Voices

Yes, and yes. It appears that the downtown Los Altos parking problem is a symptom of the city’s “Sarah Winchester” approach to planning that instead of resulting in staircases to nowhere resulted in a hotel without parking required by code.(1)

From ...

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Special Sections

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market


Courtesy of Matthew Anello
The Shoup House dining room, above, features original elements. The 100-year-old house on University Avenue earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, a nod to its legacy as the home of city founder Paul S...

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Business

Longtime banker readies for retirement

Longtime banker readies for retirement


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Joanne Kavalaris is retiring at the end of October after spending the past 25 years of her banking career in downtown Los Altos.

A longtime Los Altos banker is calling it a career in a few weeks.

Joanne Kavalaris, Bank o...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

Pear builds wonderful 'House'

Pear builds wonderful 'House'


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Betsy Kruse Craig portrays Trish in the Pear Avenue Theatre production of “House,” which closes Oct. 5.

Mountain View’s Pear Avenue Theatre is staging an unusual theater-going experience – producing two plays...

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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 add ...

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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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