Wayne County Wanderings: Tom & Gail Fasshauer
Our tale begins more than three decades ago, right here in Honesdale during the winter of 1985.
It stars Tom and Gail Fasshauer and it's the story of their very first date.
Well, more accurately, it's the story of the events that led up to their first date ... a date that eventually evolved into a lifetime of happiness.
And it all starts with a classified advertising form, a well-intentioned mutual friend and three dollars...
Karen Smith worked at The Wayne Independent as a member of the advertising staff in the 1980s.
Affectionately known as “Smitty,” Karen was friends with both Tom and Gail. When I reached out to her yesterday, Smitty was thrilled to tell the story.
“I loved Gail and I knew she had a bit of a crush on Tom,” she said. “So, I told him he should really ask her out.”
One December day, Tom dropped by the paper to take care of some business.
When Smitty heard his voice, she asked him to come back into her office because she had an idea ... a brilliant one, as it turned out. Gail was in charge of the Classified section, so Smitty handed Tom an ad form and told him to fill it out.
Back then, these forms were just single sheets of paper with blank spaces. You filled in the words, one per space, and that was what went in the paper.
The price of the ad was completely dependent on how many words you included.
“Tom wrote: ‘Will you go out with me?’ or words to that effect,” Karen recalled. “Then he took it back out, handed it to her and asked her to proofread it for him.”
What he actually wrote (and we know this because they still have that memorable piece of paper) was this: “What are you doing Sunday night? Would you like to see a movie with me? Please respond ASAP.”
And then, my absolute favorite part (because after all, it is a classified advertising form), Tom added: “Price negotiable. Good condition.”
Gail read it right there in front of everybody in the office. She turned red, started giggling, flipped the form over ... and wrote down her phone number.
“My door was open so I got to witness the whole thing,” Smitty said with a laugh. “Just epic! Best fix-up ever.”
Much to Smitty’s delight, Tom and Gail did in fact go out that Sunday. In fact, she was there to witness it as part of a “double date.”
The young quartet traveled to Scranton to take in a movie.
“Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in ‘48 Hours,’” Tom said. “Then Pizza Hut afterward for dinner,” Gail chimed in. “We had a really good time.”
And the price for setting up this first date? Well, even that's preserved at the bottom of the ad: $3.05.
The Price of Love
While things went swimmingly on that first date, Tom and Gail's budding relationship was tested for the first time just two weeks later.
“I had planned a trip to Jamaica quite awhile before that,” Tom said. “It was all paid for, so I had to go.”
“That was it,” Gail interjected, throwing her hands up in mock exasperation. “I knew I'd never see him again.”
As it turned out, she needn't have worried.
“That was definitely an eye-opening experience,” Tom said, a twinkle in his eye. “I came back more convinced than ever that she was the one for me.”
Tom and Gail have been together ever since.
They've been married 31 years and are still living happily ever after. They have three children (Marissa, Brad and Jared) all of whom have happily embarked on successful lives of their own. But, each one still regularly circles back to the family homestead in Beach Lake.
“I'm a lucky man,” Tom said simply.
In the Beginning
Tom Fasshauer graduated from Honesdale High School in 1976. He then attended the Worthington, Scranton Campus of Penn State University.
After receiving his college degree, Tom began working at Hess's Department Store in Wilkes Barre. Eventually, though, his father … the local legend Arthur Fasshauer … asked him to come home and take up the family business.
“I didn't really have much choice in the matter,” Tom said. “I wasn't quite ready to come back, but I did and now I realize it was all part of God's plan for me.”
Tom dove headlong into “Art's” and laid the foundation for what would become a happy life … a life that began with his father's vision.
Art Fasshauer served his country in the US Army during World War II. He was a member of the 12th Air Corps based in the Mediterranean. Art saw action mostly in Italy and Sicily beginning in 1941.
He was discharged and returned to Honesdale in 1945. After working for a couple of years under the tutelage of Manny Freeman, Art decided to use his savings to start a career.
So, he enrolled at the Cybick School of Tailoring in New York City.
After finishing up, he came home once more and opened “Art's Custom Tailor Shop” in a room above the building that currently houses Mary Beth Bridal.
A few years later, through sheer force of will and good old-fashioned hard work, Art bought the building next door, 843 Main Street. That's when things really took off.
Art expanded his business to include “ready-to-wear” clothing.
Seventy years later, Tom and Gail are faithfully continuing the Fasshauer family tradition. They still provide custom tailoring and ready-to-wear men's and women's clothing.
However, they also offer dry cleaning, tuxedo rentals and so much more.
Most of all, though, they've remained true to Arthur Fasshauer's business motto, which is all about customer service.
“The most important person in this business is the person coming through our doors,” reads a sign that still hangs behind the counter.
Gail graduated from Narrowsburg in 1983.
After she married Tom and children began arriving on the scene, she left The Wayne Independent to be a stay-at-home mom.
Once the kids were off to school, she went to work at the store, too. It's one more decision neither Tom nor Gail has ever regretted.
“We love Honesdale,” Tom said. “We love living here and having the store here. Most of all, though, we love the people here.”
They've learned many lessons along the way, some joyful and some painful. Each one, though, has taught them something.
And, to be honest, this charming story has taught me something, too.
Love comes in all shapes and sizes. You never know when it's going to appear on the scene and change your life forever. There's also no set price for purchasing “happily ever after.”
In some cases, it could cost millions of dollars. In Tom & Gail's case, though, it began with an investment of just $3.05 and grew into a relationship of incalculable value.