She Did It Her Way!
By Charlie Carillo
Sixty is…..seizing the day!
He’s a talented TV producer, columnist, novelist and screen writer oh… and it just so happens that he’s my husband too…. Take it away Charlie.
One day a few years ago Kim pointed across the Hudson River to Hoboken, New Jersey and said, “Let’s go and find the house where Frank Sinatra grew up.”
Like most of Kim’s ideas, this one came out of the blue.
“You really want to do that today?” I asked.
To which Kim replied with a shrug: “If not now, then when?”
I realised she was right. So just like that we were riding the PATH train from Greenwich Village to Hoboken, a ten minute ride beneath the river to a whole new world.
First stop was the local police station, where Kim asked a cop how to get to the Sinatra house.
Though charmed by Kim’s accent, the cop couldn’t help laughing. “It’s too far to walk,” he said, “and anyway, you’ll never find it.”
You don’t say things like that to Kim.
Ten minutes later, we stood at the address where Ol’ Blue Eyes was born, 415 Monroe Street. Except the house was no longer there. It burned down in 1967, and all that remained was a lot filled with stones, and a worn-down plaque on the sidewalk marking the location as Sinatra’s first home.
An old timer sat on the stoop of the house next door, a paper bag at his side. He looked like the kind of guy who would never fold under questioning, a true Italian-American.
He would need loosening up. Kim touched up her lip gloss and went right up to him.
“Hi there!” she said, turning up the heat on the British accent. “Did you know the Sinatras, by any chance?”
What a ridiculous question, I thought, but I was wrong. This old man, a retired cop, was ready to tell all.
He knew the Sinatras, all right. He remembered Dolly, Frank’s mother, and her powerful presence in Hoboken. He remembered the excitement over young Frank’s booming career.
And he remembered the night their house burned down, long after they’d moved, and what a shame it was that it was never re-built.
“Good thing is, I get to plant my garden on that lot,” he said. He looked left and right before reaching into his paper bag and taking out a bright yellow tomato.
“Here, sweetheart,” he said, handing it to Kim with a flourish. “A tomato grown in Frank Sinatra’s garden, just for you.”
“Oh my God!” Kim shrieked. She thanked the old man and kissed him on both cheeks. “Don’t tell anybody where you got it,” he said with a wink.
Well, nothing lasts forever. Luxury condos are now going up on that site, so the old timer’s garden is gone. But we’ll always remember that day in 2015, when we took a trip into the past and came back with
the strangest of souvenirs - a Sinatra tomato.
We went to see my parents that night. Kim gave the tomato to my father and broke the old man’s instruction, telling him where it came from. My father held it in his hands as if it were the Holy Grail.
“Are you kidding?” he asked.
“No, Tony,” Kim said. “It’s really a Sinatra tomato.”
We didn’t eat it. We all just stared at it, and as we did I could have sworn I heard Sinatra singing:
“You say ‘to-MA-to,’ and I say, to-MAH- to’...”
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