Last June, the United States House of Representatives voted unanimously to name the main post office in Hoboken New Jersey, after Frank Sinatra. The singer and actor who was born in that hardscrabble burg across the Hudson River from Manhattan in 1915.
With the New York City skyline behind him Hoboken Postmaster Arthur Tate gestures south across Sinatra Park and Sinatra Drive at his solid brick four story pride and joy. Mr. Tate's post office will soon be officially renamed for fellow Hobokian Frank Sinatra, one of the 20th century's best loved American singers. "There's a lot of people worthy of naming a post office for, but you know? Frank Sinatra was born in Hoboken, he was successful and the event will be a lot of fun," he said. "It's going to be a nice day. I'm a big Frank Sinatra fan myself. He has so much good music. My personal favorite is 'Summer Wind.' There's just something about it."
Preparations for this commemoration began in a small way months ago, when postal workers put up a bulletin board covered with Sinatra photographs and memorabilia, and the public address system began quietly playing Sinatra tunes, virtually non-stop during business hours. While one young mother held her toddler's hand and waited to buy a stamp, she voiced her approval. "He's a very important part of our town," she said. "And if they played his music all the time, that would be great. It would certainly make the wait a lot more pleasant. And I know everything he ever sang so it would be nice to hear him. 'Fly me to the Moon. Let me play among the stars. Let me learn what life is like on Jupiter and mars…. In other words…' That's as far it gets."
Frank Sinatra died in 1998, when customer Richard Bryant was nearly a teenager. Still, he says he's pleased that the man the older generation called "Old Blue Eyes" is being honored in this way. "Because I love Frank," said Richard Bryant. "It's great to come in here and listen to his tunes. I'm going to give this post office all my business from now on even though I live in [another town called] Weehawken! "
Sparky Spaccavento, who, grew up listening to Sinatra's music, has dedicated an entire room in his Italian restaurant to his memory. For Mr. Spaccavento, the crooner's roots in Hoboken account for much of his gritty charisma. "He was born here, okay? He started out here, and then, he went over to New York," he said. "Everybody knows the story and he became what he is. He's a legend. To me he's a legend anyway. And I love his music. As entertainer, put it that way, he's the greatest. The best songs he sang were when he was carrying a torch for Ava Gardiner. That period, in the 50s and when she left him and he sang those songs. Where are you? I'm a fool to want you…' "
Postal supervisor Tommy Carrado, whose uncle used to deliver milk to the Sinatra family, admires how the singer was able to escape Hoboken. "Because there is guy who started with nothing, and worked his way right up and really got nothing from anybody. It's a typical American story," said Tony Carrado. "When you think about it, what did he have going for him? He was an Italian guy from Hoboken. He had some education but he was headed for the shipyards or driving a truck like everybody else. He had to make that extra jump. Jump on that ferry and go to New York. And they all were poor but he made that extra leap. That's the hard part, you know."
For a star of Frank Sinatra's stature, comparison with other mega-celebrities is inevitable. But It's easy to see where Pat Spaccavento stands on who is king in Hoboken. "People think that Elvis was bigger than Sinatra," he said. "He's not! Sinatra is bigger than Elvis! Make sure you put that down. Sinatra doesn't have a stamp. Elvis has a stamp. Fine. He deserves one. So Sinatra deserves the name of the post office. That's even better… That's even better!"
The Hoboken New Jersey Post Office will be officially renamed the Frank Sinatra Post Office Building in late November. The city plans to hold a big celebration ... come rain or come shine.
Photos courtesy The Frank Sinatra Emporium