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The Truth About Philadelphia
"Frankie Sodano"

Glenn Holsten Lead-in:
I'm working with a team of writers; Bruce Grahm, Sonia Sanchez, Michael Hollinger to create a film called the "Truth About Philadelphia." The characters in the film I'm making are going to be based on the real people who live here. Since starting the project my antenna's always up whenever I encounter someone new. I met Frankie Sodano in a cab on South Broad Street. I was traveling just a few blocks, hardly enough distance to squeeze in a lifetime story but he tried. Soon after, he served me tea and cookies in his home when he continued the story.

Frank -- Frankie Sodano, my name is and umm, occupation is -- actually I'm retired really. But I -- I pick up little odd jobs so I could have extra money to spend. Like I clean the lawn, sweep the streets, I drive a cab. I told you I'm writing a book. It's here here somewheres. I had around 90 amateur fight, yo. I lost finally in the 1948 summer Olympics. I came like fourth place. You don't get a medal at that position… but it was still you know…I you know …they'd be wow you won the Olympics. Yeah, I feel pretty good. It was quite an achievement, you know? I didn't even know what they were. When they asked me, I said, "what do I want to go, I just won the United States Championship, the Nationals, what's bigger than that," I said? And they said, "Well this Olympics," and I went, "what's that?" He said, "Frank, try out," he said, "believe me, you'll like it." And I did.

My life was a boxer. I did it for 10 years. But as I write that, I also write stories about how I was a kid, how I worked on a farm. I -- I bring this out in my book. As -- as a boy -- and -- I used to have to go to the farm, cause that's the only way my Mom could make the family survive. And uh, we got help, as -- as a family too. They had welfare, when I was a kid. And uh, my family went on welfare when -- I think it was in 1932, '33 something like that. And uh, it was a big help to us, you know? And of course if you use it as that, as a helping hand, it's a good thing, as long as you don't sponge off it, you know?

I -- I boxed seven years professional, I even tried to win the professional championship there and I didn't win that. Then after that, I umm, I met a young lady and we got married, and she didn't want me to box. And uh, I would like to have gone a few more years, but I did not.

I start selling I stuck to that for around 10, 11 years. I sold vacuum cleaners. And uh, I would win trips every year for being the top salesman, and they would invite me and my wife to uh, like uh, Boca Raton, Florida. And uh, I mean it was really classy, you had to have money to go on that trip. But I -- I won it, and I enjoyed it, and I'm sure my wife did too. I'd -- mean she'd -- got all dolled up and all. And then -- and I bought my house cash from umm, from selling. And I raised eight children with them too, all through selling, you know? Well, I was born here. Sometimes I'll tell people I wasn't, cause they want to hear that, and they think I'm born in Italy. Oh, you born in Italy, that makes them feel good, I'd say yeah, yeah, I born in Italy, yeah.

But I was born here. I was raised here, my mom and pop were born in Italy. And uh, they were both limited on their education. But uh, I always, umm, well of course you know, it's my mother, I loved her, and uh, I hold her in high esteem, because uh, she used to tell me things that -- I can't read them in books, but -- and she was limited in her education, but uh, when I think back, the -- the wisdom of her words, li -- she, she would tell me a lot of times, like parables. And uh, I don't forget them, cause the parables like sort of stick to my brain, you know? Like as -- in Italian, she would talk to me (SPEAKING ITALIAN). This is said that -- that he who walks nice and easy and careful, will go far and he will get there in one piece. And uh, when she used to say it, I didn't think too much. But now, you know, haste makes waste is how we might say it in American.

But uh, that's how she used to say it, and uh, it was pretty wise. And she talked to my sisters a lot of times and -- and I try to tell my ex-wife that, she never mind -- my ex-wife never was a real good cook. She was a German girl, she can bake good, but she couldn't cook my Italian food that good.

A matter of fact, one dish it -- was terrible, and uh, and I didn't want to, uh, insult her, because she would start to crying. And I felt bad for her, I didn't know what to tell her how -- I just -- it didn't taste good, I couldn't finish it. And she says, why you like it so much when your sisters -- and yet...And I said, "Well why don't you go to my mom?" She said, "Well I phoned and I asked for the ingredients."

Well, my mom didn't go by ingredients. And uh, she used to tell my sisters, "You watch me, you stop there, watch me, you watch what I do, and you learn how to cook." And that's how she'd do. And they'd watch, and my -- all my sisters cook good, they're all good cooks. And all they done was a watch me, you know? And uh, you know, cause she gets it (SMACKS LIPS), tastes it, stir it a little bit, puts in a little bit, and uh, she don't go by ounces and stuff like that. She goes by wha -- how it's tasting as she's putting it in.

Anyway, my mom was a wonder woman, cause my mom had 10 kids, she was 5' -- no 4'10". My father was 5'1", he was much bigger than her. And uh, he used to, uh, rap her around a little bit, you know, when we were little I let him, because I couldn't do nothing, but that didn't happen when I had started boxing. I was around 15, he's -- he feared me -- he was ascared of me, cause I would've hit him.I told him about it, you know, I only -- I didn't hit him, I just would warn them, don't put your hands on my mother. And he was scared, and he --- and he cut down his beatings a great deal.

The only thing I could think would be dramatic is, I had an old guy in the cab one time, he owed me two bucks, or three, and he gave me a dollar tip. He gave me three tens, he couldn't see. I said, "Pop," well, he was much older than me, you know, and this has been quite a whi -- a few years back, I said "Pop, you gave me three tens."

"Oh," he said, "my gosh," he says, "I can't see good," he says, "what could I do for you?" I said, "Some day somebody'd do something to you and you remember what I did for you." I meant it, because I think this is what it -- what happens, it goes down the line, you know? If you help me, some day somebody'll help you. And that's what I asked him to do. Then I thought that was dramatic.


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