“Frank” Sickinger was the first child of Catherine
Tinneny and Michael Sickinger. He was born on
January 19, 1901 while his parents lived on Sydenham
Street in Philadelphia. Frank attended Saint
Mary of the Assumption School in Manayunk.
His mother Kate worked as a domestic for the Bergdal
family, a wealthy German family in Philadelphia.
Frank became friendly with Mr. Bergdal and by the
time he was 14 or 15 years old he was working on
Bergdal’s racing cars.
Photo: Frank’s First Holy Communion or Confirmation
photo. Courtesy of Bob Sickinger
When he was 16 years old Frank enlisted in the
United States Army. He served in Europe during
World War I. Drawing on his pre enlistment
experience the army assigned him as a driver.
He frequently drove motorcycles with a sidecar.
He drove many of the senior officers and celebrities
who visited the troops at the front including the
famous songwriter Irving Berlin.
Following the war and his discharge from the Army
Frank married Mary Raimonda in November 1921.
They had two sons Francis who was born in 1922 and
William Robert "Bob", who was born in 1925.
When the couple later separated the two children
were raised by their mother and remained in the
Roxborough Manayunk area. Mary and the two
boys spent a good deal of time at the home of the
their grandmother's brother, Jim Tinneny and his
wife Gert, on Pechin Street.
Photo: Mary Raimonda 1921. Courtesy of Bob Sickinger.
When he got out of the Army,
became very friendly with a man named A. T. Baker
who lived in Manayunk. Mr. Baker was a major
manufacturer and supplier of blankets used by the
army in World War I. Frank had always had an
interest in mechanical things and vehicles. In
support of that interest Mr. Baker gave Frank his
first truck at either no cost or for just a token
cost. The truck was probably surplus since the
war was over and Baker no longer had a need for it
since he no longer had the blanket contract.
Frank didn't limit his endeavors with mechanics and
driving to land based vehicles. According to
his son Bob Sickinger, Frank was the first person to
set a speedboat record of over 100 miles per hour.
He raced hydroplanes.
Frank built the single truck that he received from
Mr. Baker into a major trucking company of the time.
The company was called Sickinger Motor Freight.
At it's peak, Frank owned 21 Freihauf tractors and
trailers and had licenses to operate in all of the
states. He had two garages in Manayunk, one on
Green lane near the school and another in lower
Manayunk. He also had a garage in
Conshohocken, which is just outside Philadelphia.
That garage was located on a side street off of
Fayette Street where it tops the hill coming up from
the Schuylkill River. He also had a garage on
Dexter Street near Roxborough Ave. in Philadelphia.
His company delivered much of the materiel used in
the 1939 Worlds Fair in New York.
On November 17, 1931 Frank
married Wadyslava [Charlotte] "Lottie" Grabowski
after divorcing his first wife Mary. Lottie
was born in the town of Nanticoke, which is in the
coalmining region of eastern Pennsylvania, on
February 24, 1905. Frank and Lottie met one
day when he was visiting his mother at the State
Hospital in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Frank
and Lottie had three children. They are
Shirley, Patricia and Charlene.
Photo: Charlotte Grabowski
Sickinger, November 1930. Courtesy of Patricia
1939 Frank sold the business to several different
companies including Atkinson and the Motor Dispatch.
After selling the business Frank
went to work for War Assets. In his late 50s
moved to Ship
Bottom Island, New Jersey where he opened a little
bait and tackle business. He raced
hydroplanes for Sacony-Vacuum Mobile Gas Company.
Mobile Gas gave him a Mobile Station at Ship Island
in New Jersey where he did boat repairs. In
the winter he drove an oil truck for Atlantic
Refining Company. One time he got caught in
the middle of a robbery and he was afraid of the
fuel truck would be shot.
In the off-season he drove a school bus. He
was liked very much by the children he bused to
school each day.
Photo: Frank and Charlotte 50th Wedding
Anniversary 1980. Courtesy of Patricia Sickinger
At his very successful marina at
Brant Beach on 42nd Boulevard he rented
and sold boats, motors, bait and fishing tackle. In
1980 he sold the marina and moved to Cedar Bonnet
Island by then he had built the marina from nothing
to 60 boat slips.
Frank died at Port Saint Lucy, Florida in September
1982. At his request, his remains were
cremated, returned to New Jersey and scattered in
the waters off Barnegat Bay.