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  • David Bernhart



  • David Bernhart


(I originally posted this reminiscence on Facebook five years ago today, the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show.")


My mother utilized one of those daily desk calendars, with two pages for each day. And one of the small but everlasting gifts she left us was that she kept them all rather than tossing each one at the end of that year. As curator of the calendars today, I can look up what was going on in the family on any given day, stretching back to the late '50s. For a long time, I've been meaning to check Sunday, February 9, 1964, and see if my mom made reference to the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. We didn't watch the show -- I would have remembered -- but it was still an important moment in modern culture.

I'm now looking at that date in the 1964 calendar. In the section where my mom noted TV programs she wanted to see, all she wrote was "Harold Arlen show?" A little Googling reveals that CBS aired a special in tribute to Harold Arlen two hours before the Sullivan broadcast. That was right up my folks' alley; a rock group from England (or anywhere else) would not have been.

So I missed the Beatles and didn't really catch up with who and what they were until after they'd broken up. Perhaps my mother sat us down a couple of hours earlier and we got a healthy dose of "Over the Rainbow" and "Come Rain or Come Shine." That's every bit as worthy.

The only other entry on the February 9 calendar that catches my eye is that a tile man came in the afternoon (on a Sunday!) to check on a leaky shower stall. Incredibly, I've been having that very shower stall retiled. It's almost finished. How little things change.

  • David Bernhart


Today is the 15th anniversary of the passing of my father, Milt Bernhart.


My mother Martie died in April of 1993. At the time we lost her, my dad had already agreed to emcee a Stan Kenton tribute concert in July at Centrum, the Port Townsend, Wash., arts center of which Bud Shank served as artistic director. I'm pretty sure my dad didn't want to go. It's hard enough to be engaging and funny and "up" on a stage in the city where you live, let alone a thousand miles from home. And you've just been widowed after 35 years of marriage.

But my dad kept his commitment. Getting out of town for a little while would be his grief therapy. The loving embrace of dozens of colleagues and friends could only help as he worked through his loss. However, when it came to the method by which he would get to Port Townsend from L.A., he went his own way, as usual. Instead of a plane or a train, he chose an automobile. He rented a car at Burbank Airport and was gone for the next two weeks: three days of driving each way between Southern California and the Olympic Peninsula, plus the week he spent at Centrum itself. I would have gladly accompanied him, but from the moment he told me the plan, it was clear he wanted to do it alone. Time to think, time to reflect, time to come up with jokes for the concert.

When he returned, my dad mentioned that he had narrowly avoided an accident with a truck on the next-to-last day of his drive back to the Southland. He was on Interstate 5 somewhere around Los Banos and decided he'd like to spend the night at the coast. Santa Cruz or Monterey it may have been, about a hundred miles to the west. And it was already getting dark. The only road linking that portion of I-5 with the coast offers just a single lane in each direction for stretches and is notorious for its head-on collisions. My dad never elaborated on the details; all I could do was feel grateful that I had no reason to regret not having insisted on going along.


Miss you, Hon.