6 minute read

The Taraschis

Resident Feature by Holly Stupak

Love, Sports and Bernie from Broomall’s Hometown Pride

This month we are excited to introduce you to the Taraschis, longtime Broomall residents Shirley and Bernie Sr. If you’re a Philly sports fan and a fan of local sports talk radio, then you may know Bernie Sr. as “Bernie from Broomall,” a frequent caller to 97.5 The Fanatic. With his ability to banter with the sports talk radio show hosts and his “Bernie-isms,” he became a fan favorite and put our hometown on the map for many radio listeners.

Born and raised in south Philadelphia, Bernie grew up working in his family’s butcher shop on 13th and McClean, where his uncle was known locally as the inventor of chicken cutlets. Bernie loved his childhood in south Philly, where he attended St. Thomas Aquinas school. “My favorite part of growing up there was playing half ball [aka half-rubber] with my friends in the street and cheering on my favorite Philly sports teams,” said Bernie.

In 1960, he decided to enlist in the Army. He served his country for several years, and was stationed in Washington and Alaska. When he returned home from the Army, he went back to work in the family butcher shop.

Bernie Taraschi when he enlisted in the US Army in 1960

Bernie Taraschi when he enlisted in the US Army in 1960

Photo courtesy of Shirley Taraschi

Meanwhile, Shirley Taraschi grew up in north Philadelphia with her parents and brother. After she graduated from Penn Treaty High School, she went on to Dobbins Vo-Tech so she could become a hairdresser. She earned her license to be a hairstylist and worked for several years in Philadelphia beauty salons.

In 1969, Bernie met Shirley, in Margate, NJ. Bernie enjoyed going to Margate every year for “jam sessions,” where he could dance and listen to music, but Shirley had to be talked into going to Margate that weekend. Invited by a friend, she was intrigued when her friend mentioned that there was a “nice fellow” she’d like her to meet at the shore. Later that night, Shirley was introduced to that “nice fellow” — Bernie Taraschi — at a bar, and they hit it off instantly.

It was love at first sight!” said Shirley. “Our romance was like a train moving at top speed. We met in April, Bernie proposed to me that July, and we were married in November.

After they got married, they lived in south Philadelphia for a couple years while Bernie worked at the butcher shop and Shirley continued to work as a hairdresser. But when their son Bernie Jr. was born in 1971, they felt it was time to look for a house with more space and land. Bernie’s brother lived in Drexel Hill at that time, so the Taraschis were very familiar with Delaware County.

We found the perfect home in Broomall,” said Shirley. “We love the sense of community, and we have great neighbors.

Bernie and Shirley Taraschi with their son Bernie Jr.

Bernie and Shirley Taraschi with their son Bernie Jr.

Photo by Sierra Clark Photography www.SierraClarkPhoto.com

Bernie Sr. eventually took over the butcher shop from his family until it was sold in 1989. From 1990–2000, he worked with his uncle at Philadelphia Poultry on Front Street in Philadelphia while Shirley took a break from her job as a hairdresser after 1972 to focus on parenting.

While Bernie Jr. was growing up, his dad instilled in him a love of sports. “We went to a lot of Eagles games when I was a kid, and we were on a father/son bowling team,” he said. Bernie Jr. also played baseball for the Marple Township Little League and spent lots of weekends having a catch with his dad on their front lawn.

Bernie Jr., who now lives in Newtown Square with his wife Debbie and two daughters, Mia and Lindsay, serves as President of the Newtown Square Petticoat League (NSPL).

I’ve enjoyed watching or coaching my daughters through the NSPL for the past 10 years,” said Bernie Jr. “It's been a great way to be involved in the community.

It was not surprising to Bernie Jr. when his dad started calling in to sports talk radio about 10 years ago. “He loves to talk about the Eagles and he also loves the spotlight!” he said. Not long after he made his first call to The Mike Missanelli Show, Bernie Sr. became a regular. The 97.5 The Fanatic hosts Mike Missanelli and Anthony Gargano loved his humor and began affectionately referring to him as “Bernie from Broomall.”

“Bernie from Broomall” entertaining listeners on 97.5 FM The Fanatic

“Bernie from Broomall” entertaining listeners on 97.5 FM The Fanatic

Photo courtesy of Mike Missanelli

Bernie Sr. became so beloved by the hosts and such a fan favorite that he was frequently invited to the station and was even given his own station business card. Over the years, he would go into the station, to record bits and sound bites that involved singing Christmas carols, reading Dr. Seuss books and even meeting celebrities like Charles Barkley. “He really got a kick out of it,” said Bernie Jr., “and he loved it when people told him or our family that they had heard him on the radio. He enjoyed the limelight.”

Bernie Sr. also loved cooking, and when he went to the radio station, he always brought a cooked meal to share with everyone down there. “Of course, it was chicken! What else?!?” Shirley added, laughing.

For the past five years, Bernie Sr. has been living with Parkinson’s disease, a movement disorder with symptoms that include muscle tremors and stiffness, poor balance and coordination. Shirley cares lovingly for her husband and is lucky to have Bernie Jr. and his family nearby, to help out and to walk Bernie and Shirley’s Jack Russell Terrier, Penny.

Shirley also credits the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the help they’ve received since Bernie was diagnosed. “Through the VA, we were able to get a ramp installed in the house, to accommodate Bernie’s wheelchair, and we have nurses and dietitians that come to the house, to help care for him,” she said. “I don’t know what we’d do without them.”

Bernie and Shirley Taraschi at their home in Broomall

Bernie and Shirley Taraschi at their home in Broomall

Photo by Sierra Clark Photography www.SierraClarkPhoto.com

Although Bernie Sr. has had to give up his love of dancing, he still loves listening to Oldies music and, of course, his sports talk radio. Last March, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he called in to 97.5 again after a bit of an absence, and he entertained listeners with how he was handling the pandemic.

Bernie is such a kind, contented soul, and we love having him on as a caller. He has rooted with the sports listeners of Philly,” said 97.5 radio host Mike Missanelli. “When he isn't on the air for a while, I get many inquiries about how he's doing. People just love the guy and always send their best wishes to him. And his classic ‘Huh?!’ sound drop will live forever!

Bernie, your Marple Friends & Neighbors thank you for introducing local sports talk radio listeners to Broomall. And Bernie and Shirley, thanks for allowing us to introduce you to our Readers this month!

Do you know a Broomall family, individual or nonprofit group who should become known by our community? Make your nominations for upcoming feature articles by emailing your ideas to Holly Stupak at HStupak@BestVersionMedia.com.