When Sinatra Came To Town
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Guest post by By David Jerome, “Mr. Bucketlist”
In the Summer of 1978 I was a 12 year old baseball fanatic. Life for me was God, family, and Steve Garvey, and not necessarily in that order. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that we were going to have a Dodger wedding right in my Fullerton, California neighborhood.
The Stephenson family lived around the corner from my house. Mr. Stephenson had pitched in the big leagues, and then became a Dodger scout. They had a big and beautiful backyard and agreed to host Tommy Lasorda’s daughter’s nuptials.
On the day of the wedding the street wasn’t closed off to the nosey neighbors, so my friends and I rode our bikes around the neighborhood star gazing as the limousines pulled up in front of the Stephenson’s tented front yard.
It was great people watching. There was a steady parade of Dodger players and Lasorda’s celebrity friends. When Don Rickles got out of his car I approached him for his autograph. He rubbed my crue-cut and said, “Hey kid, what’s your barber got against you?”
Then a black limousine pulled up and Frank Sinatra stepped out. I was able to shake hands with The Chairman of the Board and got his autograph. Back then I didn’t know Sinatra was… SINATRA! They were all celebrities in my mind. I didn’t distinguish between a character actor like Ron Masak (the Sheriff on Murder She Wrote) also in attendance, and an American icon like Frank Sinatra, they were all the same to me.
My friend’s house was directly behind the Stephenson’s so we were able to watch the wedding ceremony through the slats of his wooden fence.
As I grew up I acquired a great appreciation for the vocal talent and swanky coolness of the leader of the Rat Pack. I have several of his CDs and have even paid a visit to his final resting place in Palm Springs. I had my Sinatra autograph professionally matted and framed with a photo of him and it now hangs behind my bar (exactly where Ol’ Blue Eyes would want to hang).
Meeting Sinatra wasn’t on my bucket list when it happened, but the older I get the happier I am that it became a retroactive bucketlist completion.
My admiration has now been passed down to the next generation. Several years ago, I was giving my four-year old son a bath and Frank Sinatra’s song “Come Fly With Me” was playing on my wife’s ipod. I asked my son, “Do you know who sings this song?“
“Raffi?“ He guessed.
“No,” I said. “Frank Sinatra, he’s one of the greatest singers in the history of recorded music.“
“Raffi’s a good singer too.” my son answered.
I paused for a few seconds thinking about what a good parent would say, then bluntly told him the truth.
“Raffi couldn’t shine Sinatra’s shoes!“
To this day, I still think that setting my kid straight on Sinatra’s greatness is my shinning moment as a parent.
Author of “Roastbeef’s Promise”
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