He was an old man by the time we met although no one would have known this because he wore his age well like a fine wool coat does and then there was the perpetual smile along with a love for the company of others. This would have been in the mid-1990s and the first setting if memory serves was the second floor of the Hilton Garden Inn where he and Marion were being hailed for helping launch the New England Summer Nationals and staying loyal to the event through its ups and downs. He would have been wearing a double-breasted suit, white shirt and tie and shaking his head in disapproval of the salty ad-libbed remarks Bob Moscoffian was delivering from the podium but then he knew that Bob’s forte was promotion and so all would be forgiven. Their relationship went back to George and Marion’s days operating Speedy’s on Shrewsbury St. where the cruising crowd hung out, where the Jordan Levy’s and Gus Giordano’s devoured the famous burgers before a drag race on Lake Avenue and where the cool cats called their hosts “mom and dad” as if it was really true. So nothing had changed except for the passage of time. Green Hill Park would still be home to hundreds of classic cars on the weekend. The Main St. tunnel would still be the site of burnouts that attracted big raucous crowds to see the flame, hear the roar and smell the smoke. The Batmobile would still be parked outside the Hilton on Major Taylor Boulevard. George would still be flirting with Donna McCabe and Jeanne Hebert without compromising his affection for his beloved Marion. George and Marion would still ride through the city in the convertible in the sun of a June afternoon with the scantily-clad show girls in an effort to help drive attendance. After that our contacts would become more frequent and at each of these—at the Beechwood, at the Worcester Historical Museum when a display of Speedy’s Drive-In photos was unveiled, at the American Red Cross’s Central Massachusetts location where George donated his two hundred four pints of blood which is some kind of record, at Blithewood Playground for the holiday tree-lighting festivities of the Grafton Hill Neighborhood Association, at Chamber of Commerce functions at Union Station or Mechanics Hall and at the Busadas’ residence with the carport to the side on Massasoit Road (I would be invited to stop by for lunch)—he would express gratitude for the latest write-up about “George and Marion” in the newspaper. Or he would leave a thank-you message on the home phone, this invariably ending with the words “have a good one” which in and of themselves would assure that this is exactly what would happen. It would be a good day. It was always “George and Marion.” They were a matched set, like luggage, and they were married sixty-seven years. He enjoyed his afternoon naps, explaining that these were why he was able to stay up late to watch Johnny Carson or Jay Leno and then rise and shine early. He enjoyed picking on people he liked and a certain journalist was happy to be included as a target of his barbs, realizing that these were a sign of affection. At St. George Orthodox Cathedral on Anna St. on the afternoon of March 9th he looked different in repose of course, smaller and thinner than I remembered but content too as one by one mourners present for the four o’clock portion of the calling hours filed past and then stopped before Marion to offer their condolences and Marion in her graciousness and pride would introduce her granddaughter Alexandra (“Allie”)—next to her. There too was George and Marion’s daughter Pam and her husband Mike Haddad—a short line of family, cognizant in their grief of a life full of hard work, achievement, sacrifice and fun. Overseeing the entire production in the sanctuary was George’s cousin Philip G. Haddad Jr., a dear friend in his own right whose handling of the business George would have said was as sweet as the flowers positioned all around. Bending to take Marion’s hands and to tell her what a privilege it was to have known her husband, I saw that she was in a wheelchair, she also now the bearer in her frailty of good days and bad.
“I miss him,” she said.