Frank Sinatra Performed in My Apartment Building?!
It's wild what you can learn from casual conversations with your neighbors.
Recently, I moved into the Wadsworth, an older apartment building in downtown Portland. While waiting for the elevator and exchanging pleasantries with a neighbor, I pondered aloud whether the building used to be a hotel. He confirmed my suspicion and casually mentioned that the first floor of our sweet old Wadsworth, now the beloved cafe Dutch's, used to be known as the Morocco Lounge, a bumpin' dine and dance nightclub where - get this - FRANK SINATRA once performed.
I couldn't find a picture of the Morocco Lounge, save for a shot of the classy red doors in an old article about the Wadsworth's history - so we'll have to make do with our imagination. Dr. Kerry Citrin, the granddaughter of Morocco's owner, described the place in Portland Monthly's article:
The Morocco was very romantic. The chairs were wooden with leather seats. When you entered through the red leather doors you’d see my mother at the hat check, then the polished maple bar would be straight ahead. To the left was more seating and the decor of what an idealized Morocco looked like. There was a dance floor, with the band up on a box.
As for Frank, it was early on in his career - the year was 1940 and he was on a tour through New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Sinatra only appeared in the Morocco on a whim to perform a song or two. What he sang is anyone's guess; at this point, it's a faint memory kept alive through stories and dated autographs. His career exploded after that.
Just 15 years later, the Wadsworth changed hands and the lively nightclub was no longer. “After World War II, something happened to Portland,” Kerry says. “There were no more sailors.”
Man, if my walls could talk. Guess I'll be blasting some Sinatra tonight in their honor!