Remaining in the Loop

It was during the early 1980s that I became an official member of the Frankie Laine “circle.” I had joined the Frankie Laine Society of America (FLSOA). Since then, I have remained active in writing to acquired friends made through the Laine fellowship, as well as several Laine associates. In November 1985, I met Frankie Laine in person for the first time.

Subsequently, I have written newspaper and magazine articles, been featured in the same, and have produced my own single-run special radio program The Laine Project. I have been featured on television and radio regarding my Laine association, and I have produced my own Frankie Laine class production Remembering Frankie Laine, which ran for three days once a year for three years. In 2005, I published my book, Reaching for a Star, highlighting my friendship with Frankie.

Surprisingly, 14 years after Frankie Laine’s death, I am still involved with Laine business. Not only do I continually add to my Frankie Laine Library of his works, but I communicate with people associated, either directly or indirectly with Frankie, almost on a daily basis! I find this fascinating! After all these years, I continually have Frankie Laine playing a role in my life.

A Telephone Conversation

I have worked in Iowa Government as a director of one of the legislative offices at the Iowa State Capitol for going on 25 years. Prior to that, I was the editor, writer, photographer for a weekly newspaper the North English Record. I would like to revisit a special telephone conversation that I had with Frankie Laine during this time.

This excerpt is from my book:

One of the duties of all writers in our corporation was to write opinion columns, ultimately published in all the area weeklies owned by the corporation in Iowa County. We rotated and each was responsible for a column every month. Since I was the news editor for the North English Record, I named my column “Record Scratches.” The corporation allowed us to write about almost anything we wanted. I decided to write a column about how I had become friends with someone because of my Frankie Laine association. My article examined the power of a published article. In this case, it was my Frankie Laine feature.

Because I needed a human-interest feature for the North English Record, I decided to write a condensed version of my original Frankie Laine article. When finished, the rewrite filled almost an entire page in the newspaper, even though it was more concise than its predecessor. On March 6, 1997, the revamped article appeared. A total of three of the even newspapers owned by the corporation featured it.

As soon as my revised article appeared in the newspaper, I sent Frankie a copy. A few days later, I was at the corporation headquarters when I received a call from the secretary who worked at the office in North English. Excitedly, she informed me that Frankie had called me, leaving a message on the voice mail system. She’d saved the message for me. I raced back to North English. I was elated over Frankie’s message:

“Hi Craig—Frankie Laine. I just read the article all over again. It brought back a lot of memories. Give me a call if you feel like talkin’. Thanks a lot. Bye.”

I drove home and, before I lost my adrenaline rush, telephoned Frankie. When he heard my name, Frankie replied, “Hey, Craig! How the hell are ya?” For me, that was a great icebreaker. After I told him that I was glad he liked my article, Frankie said, “Yeah, it’s wonderful.”

He asked me how I was doing, and I answered that I was fine and extremely busy. “Good, I’m glad to hear that,” he replied with a caring tone.

I wanted to know how things were going in his life. “Well, if everything goes along like this—the way it has been for the last couple of months, I guess I’ll be all right. Getting old ain’t for sissies,” he said as he chuckled.

I pointed out to him that he was always young at heart and then asked him about his new album. Ironically, he informed me that one of the songs to be included on the album was the standard classic “Young at Heart.” (Soon thereafter, the album was released on CD as Wheels of a Dream.)

Frankie suggested I try publishing my article nationally, and he gave me a contact name and address. He asked me whether I was going to stay in journalism. I informed him that I most likely would until I discovered something more lucrative. He answered with the best advice I ever could have received from him: “Do what you love to do because the money will come later.” He concluded our conversation by asking me to say hello to Latisha (my daughter) for him.

I was in awe, and my whole body tingled with a pleasant shock after our phone conversation. I felt as close to Frankie as I had in 1985, both during and after our visit. He was as insightful and jovial as he’d been back then.