Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Legend Lives

I was outside, rearranging the seats in the minivan, when Daryl came and told me. "Frankie Manning is dead." Daryl doesn't sugar coat anything. He doesn't gently build up to bad news, hoping to soften any blows; it's just not his way. "Frankie Manning is dead. He died this morning."

I only met Frankie once, just about a year ago, and he was getting ready to celebrate his 95th birthday. His health was failing. Yet, I felt that I had just been told that a close relative had suddenly passed away. Frankie Manning was a legend. He had begun to become a fixture in everyone's minds; an immortal who would always be there. This man, this 95 year old man, who was born in Florida and grew up in Harlem; this retired postal worker, someone who had lived most of his life just trying to get by, became the inspiration for the song of thousands of Americans.

I could go into detail about the history of his life, but it is too easy to just google his name and find hundreds of tributes to him. I will only say this: Some people refer to him as "the original lindy hopper" but I think it would be more accurate to call him "THE lindy hopper." There is not a single move, not a single step, not a single turn that we do that was not touched or influenced by Frankie. We owe his legacy all that we are.


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