When November rolls around, I find myself recalling my first visit with Frankie Laine. It was mid-November 1985, when I took a Greyhound bus from my home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to San Diego, California. A few days earlier, I had contacted Frankie by telephone to relate my plans for a visit. “I just want to meet you and shake your hand,” I told him. He was obviously in disbelief when he replied, “Oh, Craig, you’re not coming all this way just for that, are you?”
Not only did Frankie welcome me to meet him, but he allowed me to spend the entire day with him. All I wanted to do was to shake my singing idol’s hand, and he went above and beyond by making my experience in meeting him into a treasured, unforgettable day. His kindness allowed me to enjoy an adventure that changed my life, forever, and the details of which will be passed down through generations of my family.
I actually began collecting Frankie Laine music as a teenager. I began with a few albums and later added a few old 78 r.p.m. platters I’d purchased at various second-hand merchandise shops when I was a musician on the road. I would dub all my Laine recordings onto cassette audio tapes, catalog them, and store them. I termed this my “avocation.”
I did a lot of research and subscribed to a few collectors’ magazines. I was able to buy movie posters, radio programs on audiotape, and more albums. The late Helen Snow, who was the president of the Frankie Laine Society of America, helped me tremendously by passing along information regarding what Laine recordings I was missing within my collection. We became long-distance friends. I was still in Iowa, and she was from New York. We were able to help each other out with elusive Laine items. It was both fun and rewarding.
I placed my growing Laine items into my Mom’s old “Lane” cedar chest that I had inherited. Through the years, my collection outgrew the chest. I purchased a couple of those suitcase trunks that department stores used to sell. Eventually, I had several of these filled with my collection. Fortunately, I kept a catalog of everything in my collection. It was always a hassle to find items in these trunks. Many times, I would need to dig out everything in order to find a buried item and bring it to the surface.
When my wife and I moved into our current home five years ago, I finally acquired a “Frankie room” in which to keep my large Laine collection. I purchased large cabinets specifically for my collection in order to empty the trunks and store everything properly. This was my “Library” of Laine works.
In the past couple of years, I have acquired many more Laine items thanks to the generosity of a couple of friends within the Laine circle. Each item is carefully cataloged and placed in cabinets.
I am still collecting for my library. After all of these years of collecting Laine career items, I still have some things I desperately need in order to make it as complete as it can be. It is still an ongoing avocation.
I have put much effort into my avocation. I have a worthy collection in my Laine library. I am a firm believer that everyone should have a hobby. Something one is passionate about. This allows an individual to enter into a world that is unique and personal.
On occasion, I was lucky enough to spend more time with Frankie Laine. We had a unique connection, and I will always treasure his friendship. This connection to him as a person has made building my library even more special.