I've lived in New Jersey my whole life and I've been a Frank Sinatra fan for 16 years but somehow I never made it to Hoboken until this past December. For Christmas my parents surprised me with a trip to the Hoboken Historical Museum, where they currently have an exhibition celebrating Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday.
It's a small exhibit, but it's jam-packed with tons of Sinatra memorabilia. I was incredibly smitten with their collection of movie posters (I was even so bold as to ask what's going to happen to the posters after the exhibit is over... desperately hoping they would have replied "we're giving them away for free to whoever wants them!" The actual [and much more logical] response was that they're looking for a place to keep them on display permanently.)
They had a huge collection of paraphernalia from various Sinatra fan clubs, which was one of the most adorable things I've ever seen. First of all, some of the names for the clubs were incredibly cute and creative. My favorites were "Frankie's United Swooners" and the "Frankly Impressed Fan Club." They had club membership cards, signed fan photos and (probably the cutest part) some letters that fans had sent in asking if they could join the clubs. The enthusiasm over "Frankie" and his music was so sweet!
Apparently one of the clubs asked "Why do you like Frank Sinatra?" on their membership cards and these were some of the responses they received. I think my favorite is "He just sends me."
Frank Sinatra was an outspoken opponent of prejudice of any kind, and the museum had a few examples of his activism. In the advertisement above, Sinatra joins five other celebrities in an attempt to demonstrate that we should judge people based on their talent and personality, not their ethnic background. Here is the text from the ad:
Did it ever occur to you to rate a great performer by his race, creed, or where his parents came from?
Of course not. You don’t care. You judge him on his performance, on his merits. You think of him as an individual — not as a member of some particular group.
Why judge your neighbor or fellow worker any differently? Yet — think a minute — how often do you pin a group label on someone before he has a chance to prove his own personal qualities?
All that any member of any racial or religious group in America asks is the right to be considered on his individual merits. Like him or dislike him as you choose — but do it because he’s the kind of a person he is — not because of his race or religion.
There are people in this country who would have us do otherwise — who would breed disunity and trouble by damning whole groups just because they are of a different creed, color, or national origin.
Don’t play their game! It’s dangerous.
For our own sake — for America’s sake, we can all do these three things to help the cause of unity:
1. Accept - or reject - people on their individual worth.
2. Don’t listen to, or spread, rumors against a race, or a religion.
3. Speak up, wherever we are, at home, in business, in our school, labor, church, or social groups, against prejudice, for understanding.
Remember - that’s being an American.
They also had some memorabilia from Sinatra's retirement and post-retirement. Not going to lie, I checked the gift store to see if they had any copies of that pink shirt. They didn't, so I might just need to make one for myself.
And this might have been the sweetest part of the whole exhibit. Frank Sinatra might have kind of moved on from Hoboken once he made it big, but Hoboken never moved on from him.
Jean Valentin, with her watch that always reads "Frank time."
There's also a self-guided Sinatra walking tour, which I definitely want to do on my next visit! (I'm particularly interested in visiting Sinatra's favorite bakery. He apparently loved it so much he had bread shipped to LA from back home!) I'm so glad that I finally made it to Hoboken, and the same month as Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday, to boot! If you're in the area, I highly recommend paying a visit before the exhibit closes in July.