Early one Saturday morning in 1961, I woke up to the sound of sirens screeching down Janey Way.
Startled, I sat straight up and then walked up the hallway to the front door. I opened the door and looked out.
There, up the street, in front of the Hart’s house, I saw a fire truck, an ambulance and a police car.
This did not look good, so I went right back to my parent’s bedroom and woke up my mom to tell her what had happened.
She dressed immediately and walked down the street.
Minutes later she returned and said, “It’s Bernie Hart. He had a heart attack. It doesn’t look good.”
It wasn’t good.
Later that day, we found out that Bernie had passed away, right there in the hallway of his own home.
Shockwaves reverberated across Janey Way. What would Rose Hart and her two children, Tom age seven and Suzie, age two, do?
I remember attending the funeral and seeing young Tom, in a grey suit, and little Suzie in a dark dress standing next to their grieving mom.
I was so sad. I truly wondered what was in store for them.
But, surprisingly, Rose and her young family did move on from this terrible tragedy.
Bernie, a wise man, had provided sufficient insurance to pay off the family house and tide them over until Rosie found work.
And, she did find work.
It seemed Dr. Max Sudoff, a respected Sacramento ear, nose and throat specialist was looking for a receptionist at this time, and Rose fit the bill. He hired her, and this began a work relationship which lasted until Dr. Sudoff retired in his late 70s.
With the help of the Janey Way family, Rose’s children did well too.
Little Suzie took up dance and performed regularly in Sacramento events including the popular “Best of Broadway” series. Young Tom graduated from Sacramento High School and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA. Today ,he is a deputy director at the California Redevelopment Agency.
Rosie continued to live amongst her friends on Janey Way until she passed away some years back. She never remarried, saying, “I will never meet another man as good as Bernie.”
Now, the story of the death of Bernie Hart is yet another inspirational Janey Way Memory.