John Amato Interview
(Sinatra’s Corner)

In May 1998, one of the greatest singers of the Twentieth Century, Frank Sinatra, passed away.

In tribute to Frank Sinatra we thought it would be fitting to offer up remembrances of the singer, by some of the people who met, knew or worked with him.

John Amato is one such person. He knew Frank Sinatra and Frank Sinatra's parents. He used to deliver food to Frank Sinatra's mother.

As owner of Fiore's Deli in Hoboken, New Jersey, we thought it would be interesting to talk to a man who knew the Sinatra’s way back when...and it was.

Q- Mr. Amato, you used to deliver food to Frank Sinatra’s mother?
A- Right. At Hudson Street.

Q-And that's in...
A- Hoboken.

Q- What type of food would that have been?
A- O.K. Frankie was a great salami eater. He loved salami. Dolly Sinatra, who was the mother would say, ‘John, the King,' she would refer to him as The King, because he was very good to his mother and father. He was really a loveable son to them. He always took care of them, in a sense where he kept upgrading them. He went from Hoboken to Weehawken to Fort Lee. He always bettered their living conditions. So, she really, really, truly loved him. Frankie was her boy. But, when Frankie was there, when he was coming, she would get salami for him. But, Dolly of course was a very good cook. She was from the Northern part of Italy, Genon. One of her favorite things that Frankie liked was raviolis with meat and spinach. So, she'd buy the ingredients to make the raviolis, the tomatoes, the pasta and whatever it might have been. Salami, the cold cuts. She would make an antipasto for him. This was her way of taking care of Frankie.

Q- What years were you delivering this food?

Q- You knew the father as well?
A- Oh, yeah. Marty Sinatra.

Q- What kind of people were Franks parents?
A- The father was a quiet man, a gentleman. He was a Fire Captain in Hoboken. He was very quiet, very low key. Now Dolly, could be low key and she could be the whole party in itself. I categorize her as a lady who could sit at the curb and talk with the bums and then in the evening get all dressed up and sit with Kings and Queens. She was a lady of all groups. She was an amazing woman.

Q- Did they ever say whether they approved or disapproved of his singing career?
A- Dolly loved the idea. I think it was really Dolly who made Frankie, who pushed Frankie into singing. She was instrumental in doing so, more so than the dad. Dolly was a very aggressive type person. I think that Frank had some of his mother’s temperaments, more than his father’s personality. As I said his father was very low key. She told the story one time where her brother and her husband were fighting. They were both fighters. Marty Sinatra was Marty O'Brien, and he was fighting her brother. Of course at that time women weren't allowed at the fight games. So, she got dressed up as a man. So, she says, 'Marty, tell 'em how my brother kicked the s— out of you.' Oh, my God she was a funny woman. That was the type of woman she was.

Q- How well did you know Frank Sinatra?
A- Not too well. I met him once in 1950, at his mom's house. She had introduced me to him.

Q- He was a star at that point.
A- Oh sure.

Q- But, he was struggling?
A- Right. But, still he had that go-getter type personality. He wasn't a guy that said it's all over, forget about it.

Q- When you were introduced to him, did he strike you as being a nice guy?
A- Oh, yeah. Very warm. I tell you, we had a group of guys at Billy Hong's restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, in New York City one night. We had a group of guys from Hoboken celebrating their party. And, who walk in.. Frank Sinatra. So someone says, ' We're Hobokens here.'Frankie says,' It's a cold night here tonight.' But then, when they started to sing Happy Birthday, Frankie got up and chimed in singing Happy Birthday to Louie.

Q- Is Louie still around?
A- He certainly is He's a bartender. But, what I think is great about Frankie himself is that this man was really a charitable person, much more than we know he was. I mean, you go to Atlantic City and you see this hospital in Atlantic City and this one wing is in memory of Martin and Dolly Sinatra. He's done that many, many times in many, many places. He was a very charitable man. He wasn't a guy that went out bragging either.

Q- When you heard the news that Frank Sinatra had died, what went through your mind?
A- Oh, I was sad. We lost a great guy. He was really a guy that you would say was a role model, for people. Here was a fellow from Hoboken who gained so much fame. He entertained from Popes to Kings to dignitaries. Here's a little guy from Hoboken. I don't think he even finished high school. But look what he accomplished!!

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