Frank: A Musical Journey


Life When Sinatra Was Born  

As we probably remember from the year-long party that took place just a couple years ago to celebrate 100 years, Frank Sinatra was born in 1915.  Did you ever wonder what life was like in the United States back then?  Let me tell you!

Ol’ Blue Eyes was a bit of an anomaly right from the start.  He was an only child and his mother was very involved in the family finances, working as a midwife and interpreter, just to mention two of her jobs.  That was different from the norm in that few women had jobs, except for some who were employed as teachers because they would listen better to the male principals and would work for less than a man.  Plus, the average children per household was three as ten percent died in the first year.  Did I mention life expectancy for a man in 1915 was 52.5 years?

Although housing was comparably cheaper than today, a 50% down payment was typically required, so very few actually owned their homes.  If you were in the minority that lived in a city, cars were a relatively new luxury, so most walked or took the trolley.  Want to hear a great Irving Berlin song from 1909?  Check out the lyrics to “Keep Away from the Fellow who owns an Automobile.”  The chorus includes the lines, “If his forty horsepower goes sixty miles an hour say, Goodbye forever, goodbye forever. There's no chance to talk, squawk or balk. You must kiss him or get out and walk. Keep away from the fellow who owns an automobile.”  Sinatra covered many of Berlin’s songs, but I don’t recall him doing this one.

If you were still in school and not out working, you may not have had to sing the national anthem since there wasn’t one in 1915.

What else?  Food was expensive, taking up one third of your income and a lot of that was lard - almost as much lard was eaten as chicken.  If you needed medication, you could get marijuana from the pharmacy or a doctor could prescribe you heroin (cocaine was made illegal a year prior).  The population of Las Vegas in 1910 was 800.

A lot changed in America during Frank’s life and he played a part in much of it.