“Hi, I’m Frank. We’re looking for jobs. How about it?” jokes a young Frank Sinatra alongside The Hoboken Four. Listening to the crooner crack a joke on the Major Bowes Radio Hour (the “American Idol” of its day) on Sept. 8, 1935 underscores the many hidden gems at the Hoboken Historical Museum’s ongoing interactive exhibit.
Since “Frank Sinatra: The Man, the Voice, and the Fans” opened in August, people from near and far have flocked over to relive a youth they yearn for amidst Ol’ Blue Eyes’ records and a myriad of other Sinatrabilia.
Mere days away from what would have been the beloved Hoboken native’s 100th birthday (Dec. 12), the museum will host a bus tour on Sunday, Dec. 6 from 1 to 3 p.m. – roving through the mile-square city from the downtown neighborhood where “Slacksy O’Brien” started out in a cold-water flat, to the church where he was baptized, his high school, and favorites eateries. On the day of the tour, fans of the hometown hero can also catch a performance from Sinatra Idol winner Dave Arellano at 4 p.m. at the museum.
“My parents were big on Frank Sinatra.” – Geri Fallo
With the Empire State Building gleaming in blue as the backdrop in honor of Hoboken’s native son who died in 1998 at age 82, the city and museum will host a birthday bash at the Bissinger Room at Stevens Institute of Technology on Saturday, Dec. 12 from 7 to 11 p.m. The Swingadelic Big Band will take the stage, as well as tribute singers Zack Alexander, Tony Corrao, Greg Myers, Dave Arellano, Peter Cafasso, and John Bauers.
Before the bash
Before legions of Frank-fans bring out the party hats, the museum will host a dedication on Dec. 12 from 12 to 2 p.m. of a new bronze plaque reminiscent of a Hollywood Boulevard star on the museum’s walkway, at 1301 Hudson St.
(A star is already located on the sidewalk adjacent to the site where he grew up, at 415 Monroe Street. The house he lived in eventually burned down.)
Members of the Hoboken Post Office, which also bears Sinatra’s name, will don Rat Pack outfits at the ceremony and dedicate a special postage stamp and birthday cancellation mark. Museum supporters – who’ve paid a special fee – will have metal stars honoring loved ones splayed around Sinatra’s plaque. Forty-five stars were commissioned to share in the Sinatra immortalization.
The museum exhibit is modest, a one-floor gallery of sorts, which will be open through June 2016. It traces Sinatra’s far-reaching influence. With a $4 admission, Frank-fanatics have access to the exhibit and are provided a map of “Sinatra sites” throughout town.
“It’s not like we have articles of his clothing or his golden microphone, but we are dealing with his entire life and we do tell it in a chronological fashion from the early years of Hoboken to his death,” said Hoboken Historical Museum Director, Bob Foster.
At the exhibition you can see video of amateur performers taping into his urbane style, movie posters of his stretch on Hollywood, media stations with programs as long as four hours, and (of course) the music.
“We’ve worked very hard not to be a Frank Sinatra museum in the past because one person doesn’t define the history of the town, but for the 100th birthday we felt we had to do it, and we’re really glad we did,” said Foster.
Since the museum’s launch, weekend attendance has increased 300 percent, Foster said, with droves of fans filing in with stories and languished hearts – eager for a nostalgic listen of “In the Wee Small Hours” or “Summer Wind,” or “One for My Baby.”
“It was great when Bob mentioned the exhibit to us,” said Gerri Fallo, Cultural Affairs Administrator who began planning Sinatra’s big bash in June. “He said he wanted it to be specifically about the fans.”
Visitors leave notes
Visitors have been writing in memory books at the Museum. “Hey Frank! My grandpa loved you [and] told me all the stories about you. This is for him!” wrote Joseph Paul Castiglie in November.
“I had a dream, a strange prophetic dream that Sinatra…sent a limo to pick me up from where I was living at the time in Edgewater, N.J. This dream occurred in 1982. Six years later, I met a young gal from Hoboken who brought me to live with her in the mile-square city. She was the first great love of my life. We met on Dec. 12, Frank Sinatra’s birthday,” recounted John Bredin in a message.
During an appearance on Nov. 29 at the museum by James Kaplan, author of “Sinatra: The Chairman,” the second volume in his biography of the singer, Foster told the audience the museum would like to find a permanent home in Hoboken for their exhibit that could become a Sinatra museum in his hometown.
Foster said plans are also in the works to publish a collection of some of the messages written by the fans.
“My parents were big on Frank Sinatra,” said Fallo. “In fact, my parents knew his parents. It wasn’t until I came back [to Hoboken after moving away] that I got the ‘Sinatra bug.’ There’s something about being in Hoboken and experiencing his music.”
To see our prior coverage of the Frank Sinatra exhibition visit www.hudsonreporter.com and to purchase tickets to the museum’s events visit www.hobokenmuseum.org.
Steven Rodas can be reached at email@example.com.