“Sinatra Always Wanted to Be a Gangster,” Another Gangster Said

I was like a kid at Christmas the other day when I pored over a box  of books from the Number One Reader, Kentski, who favors all types of nonfiction.  I chose one called Sinatra: The Life, by Anthony Summers, and last night I most enjoyed our quiet reading time sitting on the couch on Elm St. learning about the earliest days of this famous singer.

Dogged his entire career by rumors about a Mafia connection, Sinatra’s family lived in the same Sicilian town, on the same street, as the family that produced Lucky Luciano. According to Summers, all of the kids that Frank hung around with in Hoboken as a youth were either criminals or jailed criminals. One made man said of the singer before his death, “He always wanted to be a gangster, this phony bastard.”

Sinatra’s dad Marty was a shady character who worked as a bootlegger. This work, says the book, led him to rub elbows with major criminals. Summers describes Frank’s earliest career moves as pretty much clueless. He got a job flinging bundles of newspapers into delivery trucks, but all he really wanted to do is sing, like his idol Bing Crosby. When he joined a trio of singers from Hoboken and set out on the road, they used to marvel at his voice as he sang in the back of the bus.  He knew he was going to be a singer, but it took years of trying, struggling, and chasing. But we all know how the story turned out.