By Maddie Orton
Frank Sinatra: The Man, The Voice, The Fans has taken over the Hoboken Historical Museum. Approaching what would have been his 100 birthday, the heartthrob still has quite a following.
“I love Frank Sinatra,” said Yvonne Caldarella, who’s visiting the museum from Staten Island. “I love his music. He’s my idol.”
Museum Executive Director Bob Foster says fans were a big part of the inspiration behind the exhibit. “And that’s one thing that I don’t think really has been covered in exhibits,” he explains.
Foster displays personal items like fan club membership cards and newsletters like this Bow Tie Bugle that was “published by the Society for Souls Suffering from Sinatritis.”
The museum also has the distinct advantage of interviewing Hoboken families with their own Sinatra stories to tell.
“We did meet lots of folks whose parents had spent time with Frank, and you really get the range of quotes,” said Foster. “Some people would say, ‘What did he ever do for Hoboken? He still owes my grandfather five dollars.’ And then other people would say, ‘He put Hoboken on the map.'”
That collection of anecdotes continues to grow. Visitors are invited to the museum’s Sinatra lounge to listen to records, watch documentaries and write about their memories of the man and his music. Foster plans to put together a book of the stories at the end of the show.
Of course the exhibit primarily tells Sinatra’s story — starting with his youth to young adulthood in Hoboken, moving through his recording and film career, his political involvement and social advocacy, his comeback and his death in 1998. Foster remembers that day well.
“You could go out on the street,” said Foster, “and you would just hear people driving by with Sinatra music on their radio, and [it was] sort of almost this Doppler effect. You would hear one song, and then you’d hear another song.”
Sinatra’s a complicated character, and his rumored violent tendencies and mob connections speak to that. So do his numerous love affairs, but it’s all part of the broad picture of a larger-than-life star.
“Frank did have a dark side, and he did have a very positive side,” said Foster. “But, exempt from all that, he did have one of the most amazing voices and a charisma that really has stuck with a lot of people.”
For Ol’ Blue Eyes’ birthday, the museum will partner with the city and Stevens Institute of Technology to throw a swinging celebration of Sinatra.