It was the Summer of 1960.
Frank Sinatra was visiting Atlantic City, one of his many homes away from home. As he stepped out of his car, on the way into the club, typical screaming girl/paparazzi mayhem ensued.
Sinatra, ever cool, suffered a ripped shirt and some claw marks (meant with love). Par for his course. He was a dreamy crooner after all....
Summertime in Atlantic City was my Pop's opportunity to make some "dough" to help pay for his Carnegie Melon college adventures. Of course, being Pop, he wasn't making this said "dough" babysitting or tutoring.... It was Atlantic City so... He drove a cab.
One of his weekly charges was a nice lady named Mrs. Bettyjane D'Amato.
Now, you may already know where I'm going with this, but hear me out and trust me, it's good.
Mrs.D'Amato relied on Pop to bring her to and retrieve her from the grocery store. Of course, her husband, Mr. Skinny D'Amato, being non other than the (in)famous owner of the renouned Jazz Stage, the 500 Club, more than covered my Pop's charge.
Usually, Mrs. D'Amato was ready to leave when Pop swung by to get her. But.....
There was this ooooooone tiiiiime she wasn't.
It was Summer, 1960, and Pop sat at the bar drinking a coke and listening to an old bald man play piano on that famous stage. The stage lights were off, he was just fiddling but....
The guy, was good! So good in fact that Pop just had to float over to that freshly baked pie on the window sill.
They had some chit chat over the smooth notes of the piano. My Pop brought up Sinatra's eventful entrance from the night before....
"Poor guy.... Got his shirt torn off and everything..."
The old man laughed, flashing blue eyes up at Pop for a moment, but never stopping his twinkling fingers.
"I'm sure the ol' guy's used to it.... Probably has a bunch of shirts to wear.... It's all part of the job... Part of the life."
Those blue eyes put a book mark in Pop's mind... He'd have to revisit that but...then Mrs. D'Amato came gently down the stairs.
As Pop got up to tend to his charge, he shook the piano man's hand and thanked him for the tunes and the chat.
On the street Pop opened the cab door for Mrs. D'Amato and helped her settle in. Walking around the cab he turned back to those book marked blue eye.... Hmmmm. Nah, he was bald...
As he took up his place at the helm of the cab and turned the key, Mrs. D'Amato said something that will live on in my family lore forever.
"So...... Stevie.... I see ya met Frankie." Calm and cool and matter of fact.
And that, my audiophiles, is how my Pop met Frank Sinatra. In a dark club, mono-a-mano, playing piano in the middle of the day, to nobody but him. Even I can't believe it... And I've heard this story a billion times... Never gets old. Much like Pop, and Frankie's voice too...
Enjoy some of my fave Frankie.
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