Hopkins Seal

 

Hopkins Grammar School
The Class of 1965

 

 


George Fasanella


George's Graduation Photo In the Fall, 1998 Views from the Hill, we learned that George was Clerk of Court in New Haven, but George and his life remained private until now..

In April, 2006, George died of cancer. Below is a reminiscence sent to us by Sal DeMaio on the occasion of his death.

 

 

From Sal Demaio, April, 2006:

"As I remember, it was early in the first form (seventh grade) when I met George Fasanella, at football practice. We wouldn't go very far with football, but our friendship grew from there. George and I were lifers at Hopkins Grammar School, six years.

George was a bit worldlier than I. He taught me where to buy my loafers (Barries); the difference between shell cordovan and scotch grain leather; and where I should get my haircut: at Phil's with that long line of barber chairs on York Street.

It was at his house where his mother showed me how even prep school kids could touch the earth as she set us to the chore of shelling peas from her suburban Orange garden. It was there that I learned what humility was, when I met his father, the renowned eye surgeon, Rocco Fasanella. He had a quiet self-confidence that I will never forget. He once removed a metal chip that had become lodged in my eye. His hands were so steady that I didn't flinch as he pulled it out with a metal probe. George was very proud of his father. He told a number of times that the Doctor's book, Complications in Eye Surgery, had been translated into many languages. Dr. Fasanella survives him, and George was actively organizing and participating in his father's home care. But I leave his adult achievements to others. We were boys and young men when we really knew each other.

It was a safer world in the early '60's, and George and I would take the train from New Haven to New York City, and spend the day exploring. We memorized Lexington, Park, Madison, 5th and Avenue of the Americas in order, and so became experts in the geography of New York. We would go to Manny's Music Store. We would go to Abercrombie and Fitch to play with the board games; then lunch at a Tad's Steak House, where you could get a steak, a slab of garlic bread and a baked potato the size of a softball for $1.19. So, we became gourmets together as well.

We would tease and even insult each other unmercifully. He was short, I was fat, and we didn't let each other forget it. I do not have many friendships that would weather that kind of abuse today.

Once, George had the idea that we smoke cigarettes in the locker room. I swear it was his idea. The locker room, can you believe it? At Hopkins, smoking was grounds for immediate expulsion. It seemed like an unreasonably low thrill to consequence ratio, but once the idea and opportunity arose, there was no turning back. Neither of us was a chicken. We lit up. He must have been as nervous as I was. Then we heard someone. We quickly put out our cigarettes and somehow disposed of the butts and ashes. It was athletic director, Bud Erich. He accused us of nothing. I can't believe that Mr. Erich couldn't or didn't smell smoke in his locker room; not with his lungs and living habits. But, he simply sent us on our ways, with an unspoken warning to a couple of kids who were pushing the envelope for the sake of nothing except proving to one another that we weren't chicken.

He was one of the funniest people I ever knew. The serious demeanor he took on later in life often surprised me. We were standing in the Hopkins dining hall one noon, waiting for the kitchen to open. From across the room we saw Allen Sherk walk up to the little window on the kitchen door and peer in. George could imitate people, especially Mr. Sherk, quite skillfully, and as our headmaster peered into that widow, George said to me in Mr. Sherk's voice, what I had said to him a few minutes before, when I had peered into that window: "Swedish meatballs, oh boy, I love Swedish Meatballs." I am sure that you had to have been there, but I got hysterical. Mr. Sherk looked over to see what the commotion was. There I was, laughing like an idiot. There was George, deadpan, slouching slightly, the way he did, with his hands in his pants pockets and the tails of his blazer casually draped over his wrists.

He had an eye and an appreciation for detail. It was George who first pointed out the beautiful diamond shaped volute on the back of the peghead of a Martin D-28 guitar. We played bluegrass music together, some with Larry Lane and Tim Cunningham and Tommy Berger. We hung out along with Peter Ewell and Peter Nagle. We went to the Newport Folk Festival together.

George bought a mandolin from Frank DeLeone's shop on State Street. It was a Gibson-A that dated from about 1913. He gave it to me as a wedding gift when I married in 1973. A few years ago, I gave it to my son, Pasquale, for his collection. It is a beautiful instrument, completely original, missing only the key to its worn, hard shell case. It has a natural blond top that has darkened to pumpkin color over the years, a real treasure, like these memories."


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This page created December 23, 1996 and last updated Monday August 23, 2010