Even the Secret Service, which protected him when he produced Presidential inaugurals for both John F.
Kennedy and Ronald Reagan and whenever he lunched with Nancy Reagan at the White House, spotted the sense of manifest destiny in Sinatra. Sinatra’s life has been one long show of mastery over his Hoboken years, whose scars are harder to see than those on his neck, ear, and cheek from an agonizing forceps delivery that yanked the nearly thirteen-pound baby out of his twenty-one-year-old mother’s diminutive body and prevented her from having other children.
“He called me every terrible name in the book and then he stormed out.
He never said another word to me until fifty years later, after his mother died.
As a young man, Sinatra’s father, Marty, boxed as a bantamweight under the name Marty O’Brien, in order to be allowed to compete.
Dolly had prevailed upon her son’s godfather and namesake, Frank Garrick, who was the circulation manager of the Jersey Observer, to get her son a job.
Sinatra duly found work on the paper’s delivery truck.
To get to the bustle of Manhattan from Hoboken, New Jersey, which is just across the Hudson River, takes about fifteen minutes by ferry; to forget the deadliness of the place has taken Frank Sinatra most of his lifetime. In those days, from River Road, now called Sinatra Drive, you could see New York’s crenellated skyline, rising like a bar graph of profits, and, if you walked to the dock’s edge, the ass end of the Statue of Liberty. As an adult, Sinatra often referred to his home town as a “sewer”; after 1947, when he was given the key to the city, he didn’t return to it officially until 1985, when he received an honorary degree from Stevens Institute of Technology, an engineering school that his ambitious mother had wanted him to attend.
Dolly Sinatra, who had an immigrant’s faith in success, wanted her school-shy son to become some kind of powerful man.