Tom Dresser’s Favorite Tourist Questions

(And Marty Nadler’s favorite snappy answers.)

Tom Dresser of Oak Bluffs – writer, essayist, and the editor of the calendar in our own magazine – has an interesting day job: He’s a school-bus driver during the fall, winter, and spring, and a tour-bus driver during the summer season.

A former nursing-home administrator on the mainland, he moved to the Vineyard in October 1997 to be with his future wife Joyce. He’s been giving bus tours since the summer of 2002.

Marty Nadler, of East Chop, was a script consultant on The Odd Couple, head writer on Happy Days, and producer and story editor on Laverne and Shirley (as well as charter member of the former summer theater known as the Vineyard Players, which introduced him to the Island in the mid-1960s). He bought his home in Oak Bluffs in 1981 and moved to the Vineyard year-round, in 1991, where he does stand-up comedy now.

 Given Tom’s experience driving newcomers all around the Island, we thought we’d ask him to list for us his ten favorite questions called out from the back of the bus. And when we couldn’t come up with any really snappy answers of our own – at least none that we could publish – we decided pretty quickly to turn to Marty Nadler for the ripostes:

Where’s the bridge?
“The bridge to the Vineyard was taken away in 1966 when a bridge recall took effect in  Massachusetts and Vermont. We’re still waiting for parts.”

What do you do in winter?
“We enjoy the quiet of an Island  winter, where the only sound you hear is booze going over ice. I’ll tell you what we don’t do: we don’t look for parking spaces.”

What happens when someone dies?
“Their name gets taken off the standby list at the Steamship Authority, and everyone moves up a notch. And a bell rings in heaven.”

What state are we in?
“Very good if the sun’s out.”

Is this part of the United States?
“The United States thinks so. But what they don’t know won’t hurt them.”

Why is Vineyard Haven also called Tisbury?
“It’s from the time the town went into the Witness Protection Program.”

What’s the crime rate?
“Not very much. The last crime was in 1967. A drive-by fish in the face. And the gang member was so nice, he filleted it first.”

Do they lock up the Island in the winter?
“No. They tow it to the Caribbean.”

Why is the Vineyard so expensive?
“It’s such a beautiful Island, we had to find one thing to have you complain about.”

Do you get cell phone reception?
“Not very well. Our cell tower is also a school for bungee jumping.”