A Jewish Bullfighter from Brooklyn

Sidney Franklin (Frumpkin)

I have often been asked how I came to be a bullfighter; what there was in my background that led me into such a unique profession. Frankly, when I try to review my early life I am puzzled to find an answer to that riddle. To me, at the time, the journey from Jackson Place in Brooklyn to the Plaza de Toros Monumental in Madrid was an entirely natural though exciting one. One thing followed another and, instead of selling insurance or filling someone's teeth, I fought bulls.

Certainly nothing could have been further from my mind than a bull ring that day in 1922 when I boarded the S.S. Monterrey and headed for Mexico. I guess I knew from the time I was ten years old that sooner or later I would leave home in a huff. My father was a strict disciplinarian and a terror for a small boy with a hot temper of his own. Pa was a big, strong, broad-shouldered man with a florid complexion and large mustaches. His word was, law; and be not only made the laws but was an excellent police. man of them. We were always at war.

An average, middle-class property owner, Pa carried his strictness over into his business affairs. Sentiment was never taken along when Pa went out rent collecting. If a tenant missed a payment, no matter how heart-breaking the reason, out into the street he went. Pa did not learn to the day be died that Mom often used to send the rent money to his tenants the day before he was scheduled to make his rounds.

Pa never missed an opportunity to impress on each of his nine children (I was somewhere in the middle of the family hierarchy) that education was of supreme importance. Only after we had educated ourselves would he consider us able to think for ourselves.

At seventeen I decided that my education was completed (to my satisfaction at least). I believed that I bad presented Pa and the world with ample proof that I had grown up. Pa didn't agree. The explosion came one day shortly after I had started a silk-screen poster business, making car cards and window displays. I had shown some talent for drawing and this seemed a sensible and profitable way to spend my time.

While I was at a shore resort with my business partner one week—I was unable to telephone my parents to give them complete details about my plans. The lines were busy every time I tried and later, for one reason or another, I never got around to it. When I returned home, my father didn't say a word. I walked over to him to offer an explanation. The next thing I remember is that I was sitting on the floor and he had gone.

On June 8, 1922, I sailed on board the Monterrey for Havana and Veracruz.

The family were certain that I would be back in the fold within a week or two. If the truth were known, I never expected to make more, than a three-month trip out of it. Certainly none of us ever dreamed that my Pa's hot temper had spawned a matador.

From: Bullfighter from Brooklyn: An Autobiography of Sidney Franklin (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1952), pp. 3-5. Copyright © 1952 Sidney Franklin. All rights reserved.

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