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This is Frank


Frank Sinatra sits on a street corner in Manhattan in an old, somewhat ragged police coat, talking with passersby and occasionally breaking into song.  No, not that Frank Sinatra - although this Frank Sinatra, who is panhandling on an Upper West Side sidewalk, once met the legendary crooner with whom he shares his name (or at least the name he gave me.)

Our Frank spent at least 15 minutes telling me about the time he worked as a security guard at an event where the singer Frank Sinatra was performing.  Our Frank sang for Mr. Sinatra for 15 minutes, and Mr. Sinatra admired his voice.  Frank then asked me if I would like to hear him sing.  Of course, I said yes, and for the next 10 minutes, he sang me a medley of Sinatra songs there on Broadway on Christmas Day.  None of the passersby stopped to listen or admire his singing.

From his worn attire and the money cup in front of him, I wrongly assumed Frank is homeless, but he lives in Westchester County in a house that his father left to him.  Frank is 75 years old, and both he and his younger brother grew up in the family home.  Frank told me with tears in his eyes that his brother moved out, married, and became a police officer in Westchester County and is now retired at the age of 62.  I asked why he was upset, and he said he loves and admires his brother.  However, he has not seen his brother for years because his brother doesn't approve of Frank's lifestyle.  He considers him lazy and a disgrace to the family.

But Frank doesn't see it that way.  He worked as a security officer for 32 years, mostly for a department store in Westchester.  He told me about his heroics stopping shoplifters and spoke with pride about his profession as a security officer.


However, after 32 years, he decided he wanted to get into the medical profession and became a physical therapist. He kept that job for 10 years working in a private clinic and said he loved helping people.  He said patients liked him, and he got along well with them.  However, he told me he often knew better than the supervisors directing him and had difficulty getting along with some of the staff, so he decided to retire.  He wanted to wake up each morning and do the things that bring him happiness - singing, smoking his cigar, and talking to whomever he feels like without anyone telling him what to do.

So why does Frank travel to Manhattan to sit on the sidewalk, appearing to be homeless, wearing a ragged coat when he could be in his home, warm and comfortable?  Before answering that question, Frank needed to correct my assumption about his coat, as he took offense to my description of his coat as ragged.


"This is a well-made police coat!" he said, pointing out how well-made the collar is. "They don't make them like this anymore."

As for why the trip into the city?  He said he has had many medical issues, including a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder and a broken ankle that has never healed properly, which has caused him many legal bills.  Although he has Medicare, he has trouble affording the copays that are not covered by Medicare.  He also has had a great deal of dental work, and none of that is covered by insurance.  So, he comes to Manhattan, and the money he collects each day goes to pay the copays that are due.  Additionally, he loves the people of New York City.  If he stayed home, he would be lonely and have nothing to do.  In Manhattan, he talks with the passerby and sings to those who will listen.  He described the people as kind and said he has never been harassed or troubled by anyone in Manhattan.


Frank has never married,  He loves his single life of traveling back and forth to the city, where he generally comes to the same place on the Upper West Side of New York.  He does not venture out and around - no museums, movies, or shows - but he seems content.  As Frank described his life - his own unique version of getting old and getting out - I was reminded of one of Frank's namesake's signature songs, one that perhaps our Frank serenades New Yorkers with on occasion.

I've lived a life that's full

I traveled each and every highway

And more, much more than this 

I did it my way

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