Missing My Dad

Some days are just harder than others.

Today I’m listening to my favorite Bruce Springsteen songs.

I had the Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town album’s in the 70’s and I would play them over and over in my dad’s apartment.  I would watch his foot, the one that was attached to his brace start to move to the beat of the music.  One day, he said “Who is this guy, he’s very talented”.  “Bruce Springsteen Dad, isn’t he great?”

Some days are just harder for me.

I miss sharing the love of music.  I miss sharing the love of food.  I miss sharing the love of people.  I miss my dad!

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My dad played the harmonica.  So did the Boss.

The last night I went out with my dad was when we met at the House of Blues.  His friends, the Gittlesohns invited him.  They told him there would be this harmonica player performing. Everyone was saying this guy was great.    The guy hadn’t gone on stage and it was going on midnight.  I bailed.  My father, at age 85 stayed out until he saw the guy perform.  Ever the hard core music supporter and enthusiast, he wasn’t home until nearly 2 AM.  That night at the House of Blues, I wore this tight gold dress.  My father said he loved my dress.

My dad was gearing up and very excited about a pitch meeting he had.  He wanted to produce a music special that would be all harmonica oriented.  It would have the biggest names in music stars that play the harp.  Bob Dylan.  Neil Young.  Stevie Wonder.  Toots Thielemans.  Larry Adler.  Mick Jagger.  And of course Bruce Springsteen.

My dad suddenly had a heart attack.  He was critically ill in the hospital.  I refused to believe he was dying.  We put that meeting on hold.

After a long twelve week battle, my dad, lover of all music and all people everywhere, died.  I wore that same gold dress to his funeral.

Some days are just harder than others.

A few weeks later, even in my grief stricken state, I called CBS to reschedule that meeting.  I would go in place of my dad.  I hoped to produce the show of his dreams for him.

Unlike my gutsy dad, I stink at pitching.  I came equipped with books and harmonica’s and tried and maybe did succeed in getting across my father’s enthusiasm for this project.  I also sobbed through the whole meeting.  Sobbed. The wound was too fresh.  I could barely contain myself long enough to get any articulate thought out.  But, here is what happened.  I wasn’t turned down.  The project would later die, like most show business projects.  But Terry, the man I pitched to called a big time producer of music specials, Ken Ehrilich and sent me to his house in Encino to try and entice him into joining forces.  My father would have seen this turn of events as being in pre-production. He would have told me and everyone that the music special was green-lit. That is how he saw life.

Today was a hard one. I miss my dad.

Listen below to a song that my dad’s Vaudeville band the Cappy Bara Boys are playing harmonica.

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My dad went anywhere, anytime to hear great music.  Someone told me he once went to that famous church, First AME Church in downtown Los Angeles to hear gospel music.  I love it!!! One place I never went but really want to go for their Sunday Gospel Brunch is House of Blues.  And, they offer a whole southern meal, like Fried Chicken, Biscuits and Gravy, homemade Waffles with Fresh Berries and Whipped Cream and Cajun Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy.  Who is coming with me?

on the set of Lohman and Barkley, a show my dad produced

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18 Responses to “Missing My Dad”

  1. Alan says:

    Me too :_(

  2. stacy eisenberg says:

    That was so touching….xox

  3. Dawn Harrow Fischer says:

    I can hear the love, hear the missing.

  4. Mel says:

    Oh, you two, it is so good to make us cry every once in a while. I find myself now sometimes actively creating sense memory to feel my parents, wanting the presence of details about them to nestle in. Yum! : ) XO

  5. Laura Plotkin says:

    Loved this piece–so sweet and loving. I miss my dad too. Let me know when you organize the brunch at House of Blues…if I’m in town, I’m in!

  6. Judi E says:

    My Dad said the same thing about Eric Clapton and Bonnie Raitt. He saw them on TV before he died and said, “Wow!” He was blown away. Really a change from my younger days playing Straberry Alarm Clock on the record player and him screaming, “Turn that fucking music DOWN!!”

    I’ve been to the gospel brunch at HOB, it’s awesome. Don’t miss it.

  7. There is hardly a day that goes by I don’t think of your dad. he may have had short legs but he was taller than any man I knew. there were times when he was rich times when he was poor. but he knew how to live life more than any man I know rich or poor. Duke I miss you so much, and I’m so grateful you were in my life.

  8. Alice Stambler Seidman says:

    Freddie – I needed a good cry on a Wednesday afternoon. Beautiful remembrance – and I loved the clip. By the way, have you ever heard Stevie Wonder play the harmonica? I saw him once play a piece by Duke Ellington on the harmonica and was blown away. Also by the way, I have been to that church – I went to see a coworker sing in the choir. The music was wonderful, and I’ve never felt so welcome at a place of worship. Though I am a committed Jew and refused to kneel down in front of the cross, I was hugged and embraced by parishioners I had never met. Music and love – like with memories of your father, they go together.

  9. Augie Duke says:

    Your passion for your dad is endless, i very much look up to you mom in so many ways, sure you are crazy , but that is also what make you so darn special. You are an energy ball every person i know wants to be around, so fun and soooo loveing to all, you have defintely taken on your dad’s spirit . He will live on in you and your brother.. I love you mom so so so much … Thank you for your pure love to me….

    Love Augie Duke

  10. jennifer dudley arbaugh says:

    I came upon this entry per change on this rainy cincinnati morn … planets away from beverly hills. our two Duke’s… characters with boundless energy and bad tickers. blessed you are to have your memories and eternal passion for your dad. as u know, mine died suddenly when i was 21. i began MISSING him this past year. 40 years of memories in a bottle. once again, your writing has triggered places in the heart.

    jenn still in cincinnati

  11. gabri ferrer says:

    i’ll go!! xx

  12. Wow, what a great tribute to yourdad. We also share your feelings, no doubt about that. Last week Arlyce paid us a visit [ ciel,s daughter, Chapnick ] so we were looking over some old films that were taken on mothers day at Julies house.You and Allen rumpping arround with all the other kids We found a picture of tha whole duschinsky family.All the wives included. Your mother and me. Millie and I are the last, she,s 89 and I,m 90 We recall most incidents you mention ,even your marrage at rent a wreck.If you would like a duplicate of that picture, need a mailing add.

  13. Vida says:

    While driving, I explained to my daughter now 8, why dying is not scary bad. I shared with her that memories are what keep us alive and that sharing our memories is a way of passing on from one generation to another what is valuable. Your father’s voice and the smell of his cigar conjure up memories of wild laughter and freedom of expression. He was a raw piece of hollywoods building blocks, the Friars club segment is classic. So cool that his spirit continues to inspire all of us. Tell it like it is Fredde, that’s what he taught us all to do, or the response would be….next:)

  14. Christel Chesney says:


    I so loved what Augie said. I feel your Dad’s spirit now. Strange, I know, but I do.


  15. Elise says:

    was thinking of my dad this morning and how I wished I could have 1 more day with him. He too was in the Cappy Bara boys and his name was Milton Freeman. He played base harmonica. He’s been gone 39 years. So glad you started this blog.

  16. Ken says:

    Freddie, thanks for writing and publishing this. I love your beautiful words and sentiments about your Dad. I never met him but like him already. My dad passed away last summer and our relationship was difficult at times. Your words help me remember things about him I appreciated and parts of his sometimes outrageous behavior that made him so loved by others…more difficult to try to depend on as a dad. Bless you. Love, ken

  17. Doug Molitor says:


    Lovely post about Duke! My first TV gig was selling sketches for the show your dad produced, The Lohman & Barkley in 1975-76. That was a hilarious show and so much fun to work on! I’ve been trying to get imdb to list it, but I can’t find any published material to link to.

  18. Linda says:

    Lovely memory … I love your dad, too. And especially you!

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