Santa Clara Valley Lives: Robert Louis Stevenson's celebrated Christmas in CA

Courtesy of Historic Bay Area Visionaries
Robert Louis Stevenson in a photograph taken in Boston.

Christmas 1879 should have been happy for author Robert Louis Stevenson, who had come to California from Scotland in August, pursuing a woman he loved named Fanny Osbourne.

Morning Forum talk highlights SS Athenia, first naval victim of World War II


Journalist and author Thomas Sanger told the compelling story of the World War II torpedoing and sinking of the British passenger ship SS Athenia in his Nov. 20 Morning Forum of Los Altos presentation, “The Athenia Story: The Forgotten Tale of a Passenger Ship Torpedoed on the First Day of WWII.”

The Athenia was the first ship attacked in World War II. Sanger was inspired by the ship’s story, as his grandmother, Rhoda Thomas, was a passenger and a survivor. She wrote 14 letters about her experience and then stashed them away. Finding the letters after she died prompted Sanger to write about the ordeal. His book “Without Warning” is a fictionalized account of the sinking and of the heroism of the crew, especially Chief Officer Barnet Copland.

Two new directors prepare to join Midpeninsula Open Space board

Two new directors are set to join the Los Altos-based Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Board of Directors.

The board unanimously approved Moss Beach resident Zoe Kersteen-Tucker to fill an open board seat at its public meeting Nov. 27.

Santa Clara Valley Lives: Los Altos History Museum belongs to the community

Courtesy of Robin Chapman
The J. Gilbert Smith House is a centerpiece of the Los Altos History Museum.

San Antonio Road once stretched from El Camino Real up past Skyline Boulevard into La Honda, when pioneers used it as a redwood logging road during the 19th century. Before that, it was an Ohlone pathway, traveled by California’s original inhabitants as they moved from San Francisco Bay into the foothills.

Early orchardist J. Gilbert Smith pitched a tent on his land along this road and lived under the California sky as he worked to plant his apricot trees and build his house, beginning in 1901.

El Cajon Project gives local youth chance to explore

Leslie Nguyen
Courtesy of El Cajon Project
Leslie Nguyen learns culinary skills through chef Betty Ewing’s El Cajon Project.

Betty Ewing has been trying to make a difference in the lives of youth since 1993, when she founded the El Cajon Project. The nonprofit endeavor provides youth at risk of not graduating from high school with a newfound sense of direction, responsibility and self-sufficiency through an immersive culinary program.

“(In 1993), I had a restaurant and had spoken to the local high school’s vice principal,” Ewing said. “I asked, ‘Do you have students that might not graduate?’ He replied, ‘Absolutely.’”

8 more volunteers honored at annual event

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Joint Community Volunteer Service Award winners for 2018 include, from left, Jeff Deaton, Laura Teksler, Russ Satake, Donna Drako, Jim Clark, Chuck Lindauer and Melissa and Steve Seligman.

Eight more surprised Los Altos and Los Altos Hills community volunteers made their way to the honorees’ table after being named 2018 Joint Community Volunteer Service Award winners Friday.

The annual event, in its 36th year, recognizes unsung volunteers who contribute in a variety of ways, from mentoring students to helping their neighborhoods with emegency preparedness. A 12-member committee comprising six residents from each city, selects winners from the nominees recommended by local nonprofit groups.

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