Sundays With Sinatra


“Shoe-bi-doobie-do. It’s Sunday with Sinatra.”

The program, brought to you by Sid Mark, started in Philadelphia sixty years ago and what once started as an hour long block, quickly turned into a Sunday morning regular. From 9 AM – 1 PM you could tune in and hear The Sounds of Sinatra on the Big Talker 1210.

It also became a regular in the Lavery household. I can’t really recall a time in my childhood when I woke up on a Sunday and didn’t hear Sid Mark or the singing of Frank Sinatra. It was odd considering the fact that my parents weren’t big music fans.

They certainly had their preferences but never talked about them, and didn’t have an extensive collection or a desire to build one. Music was something that was enjoyed in the car, or by happy accident when a familiar tune would be playing in a restaurant or a mall.

They didn’t crave it like other people did and certainly didn’t feel the need to go into a packed stadium to listen to it. When asking my dad on why he never wanted to see live music he would answer, “it already sounds great on the stereo.” This was very different from the environment around the corner where my best friend lived. I arguably spent just as much time at her house than at my own growing up, so much so that my friend’s mom jokingly said she was going to claim me as a dependent on her taxes.

Their home was filled with classic rock and loud singing, air guitars and dancing. In comparison my family was much more reserved. My mom had a few Barry Manilow CD’s, who Uncle Roger liked to refer to as Barely-A-Man-At-All, but besides that we had Frank. He was constantly in the background on our Sunday morning soundtracks.

My dad would be drinking a cup of tea, “strangers in the night exchanging glances.”

My mom would be pulling my brother and I out of bed, “Wondr’ring in the night what were the chances.”

My brother screaming at her that he didn’t want to take a shower, “We’d be sharing love before the night was through”

Eventually we would make it into the car in our various states of hygiene and dress, while my mother would pray that this would be the Sunday we finally made it to church on time. There was no argument about what would be on the radio, my dad would automatically reach for the dial so he could continue humming along, “something in your eyes was so inviting.”

Unfortunately, my dad can’t keep a tune. It is a trait that has sadly been passed on to my brother, and for the half hour it would take to get to church we would sit and listen as his voice searched for the pitch, “something in your smile was so exciting.”

My mother would be in the passenger seat, touching up her makeup with a natural palette that never seemed all that natural to me. She would look at the dashboard clock and sigh, knowing that once again we would be late. “Something in my heart told me I must have you.”

Despite all the previous arguments, the Lavery children would be dressed in proper church attire. My brother in his school slacks with a polo, and myself in a dress or skirt with tights underneath. We did this to avoid the wrath of Grandma Helen.

In the summer or spring the windows would be rolled down, and in the winter or fall rolled up. And through it all Sid Mark would be in the background talking about his good friend Frank, and then Frank would sing a ballad about being a fool, or being in love, most likely something about both.

This is what the beginning of every Sunday looked like in my house from the time I was born until I was about thirteen. For six hundred and seventy-six Sundays we followed a similar routine, but somewhere after that it began to change.

On April 10th, 2006 my grandfather passed away after going into cardiac arrest at the wheel of his car. We had been sitting in a Friendly’s restaurant, waiting for him to meet us for dinner and he never came. It was my first experience with death and after the funeral, a dark cloud hovered over all of us for a long time. It was as if an earthquake shook the very foundation of our family and now there were deep cracks splitting us all open. This is when my father stopped going to church.

Sundays were different now. Frank was still in the background, but it was much softer. Instead of coming from the stereo in the living room, it was floating up through the vents from the workshop downstairs. “Two lonely people, we were strangers in the night.”

Then there were the Sundays when you couldn’t hear it at all, as my dad would already be gone for the day. He would run errands and do projects at the local campground owned by the church, but we had lost one of the notes in our Sunday soundtrack. Of course, that wasn’t the only thing that changed. My brother and I started to have activities and a social life that took us away from the mornings we grew up used to.

Sundays changed even more once my brother and I moved away to college. I was a thousand miles away from home and had to share a bathroom with thirty girls. And while I really did love my school, there was naturally a few times when I found myself missing home; that’s when I turned to Sinatra.

“Up to the moment we said our first hello, little did we know love was just a glance away, a warm embracing dance away.”

And while my Sundays remain changing, it stills hold its place as my favorite day of the week. Sundays have a different quality to them, maybe it was because I grew up going to church and hearing scripture, but they really do feel as if they are meant to be the day of rest. There is always the dread of going back to school or work, but that almost makes the simplicity of enjoying a cup of coffee and reading that much sweeter.

And ultimately, Sundays were made for Sinatra.



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