Leonard Bernstein invites himself to dinner
For years, usually at Christmas, “Lenny,” as he liked to be called, would visit Irma and Fred Lazarus, who had a home on Mill Creek Circle.
The Lazaruses were part of the family that owned Federated Department Stores. Each year, they would have a dinner party with a vast mixture of guests, Bernstein would be the star of the evening. He would help Fred with the cooking, entertain the younger guests, lead group singing, and quickly become friends with the many old-timers at the party. He loved skiing and he loved socializing.
Monica Brown, while working at Vail Blanche, remembers when Lenny came into the shop.
“I saw him, but I couldn’t place his face. He was very outgoing. He wanted a white parka. I shook my head. In those days you wore navy blue, brown, and black. I promised to find him a white parka for when he came back. He headed out the door and ran into Pepi. I embraced Pepi and whispered in his ear in German, asking Pepi who the gentleman was. Pepi told me to shut up because the gentleman spoke German. Lenny was grinning. He came back that night and asked me what I could do for him, and I asked him in return what he could do for me. He said he could play something, so he leaned over the cash register and started playing the cash register. I knew it would be hopeless to try to balance that night! He returned again, and I told him I couldn’t find a white parka, that only women wore them. He told me to sell him a large size, and I did.
“I met him again at a party at Barbara Parker’s house. I was dating Roger Brown at the time. Roger and I wanted to leave the partly early, so we took separate routes out of the house to escape. I hadn’t realized that Lenny was following me. He asked me where I was going, so I told him I was going to a friend’s house to cook dinner. Lenny invited himself to dinner. He walked into Barbara’s kitchen, took a little basket filled with spices from her cabinets, and came to Roger’s with me. Lenny wondered if Roger had any of his records, but Roger had been completely cleaned out. He had a few Turkish records, which we played. We had the most fun evening. Lenny came to the shop often to invite me to ski with him. He was a nice skier, lots of fun, and for all of his celebrity, he was a regular guy.”
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 134th installment, an excerpt from chapter 15, “The Rich and the Famous.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.