"Sometimes you're riding high in April," Shirak added, "shot down in May, but I know I'm going to change that tune when I'm back on top in June."
Last weekend was an emotional roller coaster ride for Shirak. Shirak, who also founded "From Here to Eternity," a Monroe Street museum devoted to Sinatra, awoke Saturday morning walking on air because the night before, a nationally renowned artist had donated a valuable 1963 painting of the Hoboken-born crooner to Shirak's museum. But his happiness quickly turned to surprise and loss early Saturday morning.
As Shirak approached Lepore's candy store at 537 Garden St., he immediately noticed that something was horribly wrong. Every morning, when he goes to open the store he takes a moment to admire the one-foot-long-by-one-foot-wide star that hangs outside the store, but that morning, he was greeted by only a blank wall and broken 3-inch studs.
The plaque had been ripped from the wall sometime during the night before.
Shirak had mounted the Sinatra tribute on the wall on April 1, 1996. The bronze star simply said, "Thank You Mr. Sinatra, April 1, 1996," but to Shirak, its presence had a multitude of different meanings.
On one level, it was his tribute to everything that the singer has lent to the culture and tapestry of Hoboken, but on another, it was heartfelt, personal thank-you from Shirak to the Chairman of the board because Sinatra acknowledged Shirak's self-published book titled "Our Way."
"Earlier that year , Mr. Sinatra wrote me a letter thanking me for my book," said Shirak. "I was so touched and moved by that gesture that I came up with the idea of the star to thank him for everything he has meant in my life. This star was our bond, our connection. Every morning I would walk by and feel that bond deep inside of me, but now I feel like something is missing."
While deeply hurt and saddened by the loss, Shirak still has a positive outlook and would have no malice toward the thieves as long as they return the plaque.
"I know its return is a longshot, but in the end, I just want it back," he said. "I am devastated, but I won't hold a grudge as long as it is returned. I hope whoever took it realizes that the star means more to me and the people of Hoboken than it ever could to them."
Throughout the week it was a common sight to see Hoboken residents wander into Lepore's candy store to console Shirak.
"This is just a horrible thing that they have done," said lifelong resident Ilene O'Leary, a friend of Shirak. "People have come from all over the country to see this star and now that is robbed from them." O'Leary took the picture that is the cover photo for Lepore's Sinatra tribute book, "Our Way." "Every day you see people stop and admire the beautiful star, but now it's gone. It's a real shame. For Ed's sake I hope they come to their senses and do what is right and return the star."
"From Here To Eternity: The Museum" is located at 415 Monroe St. and is a menagerie of autographed pictures, memorabilia and letters of correspondence between Shirak, Sinatra and his family. Also included are such items like a handkerchief Sinatra once gave a fan during a show, a menu from the Rustic Cabin in Englewood, where Sinatra began his storied career, and a display featuring a recently uncovered eight-inch record that is thought to be the first solo recording of the voice.
The museum is free to the public. For more information, contact Ed Shirak at 659-9440.