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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

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 Road home April 27 and...

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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 lost art of handwritten letters: Haugh About That?

With venomous eyes, my mother’s gaze locked me into a hypnotic trance. Like a python wrapping its thick body methodically around my neck poised to overtake me, she snarled, “Have you written your thank-you notes yet?”

As a young girl, perfect penmanship and flowery descriptions of gratitude were right up there with impeccable table manners. If it wasn’t done in a timely fashion and to her satisfaction, my life was hell for months to come.

Guiltily, I hung my 7-year-old head in shame and said with a tremor, “No.”

Gripping her candy-apple-red nails around my wrist in white-knuckle fashion, my mother led me to my room. As she pulled out a box of stationery, she icily declared, “You’re not to leave this room until all of them are done. It’s either that or I send all your gifts back.”

Wanting the gifts, I wrote.

For years, I followed her Miss Manners instruction in precise detail – until the day I discovered a lovely little thing known as email. Why let your fingers get all cramped up when typing is so much easier, not to mention cheaper? Then, last year, one magical moment changed my way of thinking when I found a box hidden deep inside our attic.

Opening the golden lid, inside I discovered a stack of letters from a time gone by. Most were written in chicken scratch (boys rarely had good penmanship), but the declarations of young love spoke loud and clear. Poring over them line-by-line, my emotions were mixed with laughter and tears. I giggled over the ones that professed undying devotion, as I remembered that going steady typically lasted only 24 hours. I teared up over ones that would stay, teach me about the woman I was meant to become and then leave as well. Youthful adoration can be painfully fragile.

Carefully replacing the stained pages into the velvet lining, I couldn’t help but think how sad it is that my daughters won’t have this same experience when they turn 61. Their generation is famous for read and delete. Perhaps a handwritten card found its way into their mailbox with a few lines scribbled, but gone are the days of pouring one’s heart and soul onto the pages of thinly lined binder paper.

In generations past, writing to family and friends was the only way to communicate at great length. Making a telephone call was prohibitive. And in those letters, feelings, thoughts and experiences gushed forth, leaving behind a history of two souls and their journey through life together.

Reflecting on what I’d just read, I magically traveled back in time to the girl I once was – the lovestruck 16-year-old mesmerized by the star quarterback; the college co-ed exploring relationships that hung on for more than a month; and the brokenhearted woman sobbing over the five-page breakup of a union that was headed for marriage, promise ring and all.

Covering the lid and moving the box to my closet, it dawned on me that the mailed letter is becoming a lost art, something future generations will only read about on Google. But maybe it’s not too late to turn that around.

We’re embarking on a new year and formulating ideas for change. For me, I plan to put away the computer and take out the stationery when sentimental communication calls for it. In my best cursive, I’ll share memories, express affection and convey to the recipient that in a special moment of time, they made a difference in a life – mine.

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