If you know me at all, you know I love regional accents both American and British. I find them satisfying to hear, and when attached to regional humor, I am in love. I was introduced to Bert and I by my friend John years ago. In fact, the routines are often sprinkled in our conversation if you listen closely. In order to understand this post, you’ll have to listen to a bit called “Which Way to East Vasselboro.
Bert and I was the creation of a duo of humorists, Marshall Dodge and Bob Bryan. From Wikipedia:
“The title characters are fishermen by trade, operating a motor vessel named Bluebird (and later Bluebird II), based out of Kennebunkport. Many of the longer stories of Bert & I collections involve incidents during a day’s work, with careful detail given to the intricacies of the trade (especially through sound effects vocalized by Dodge).”
The bits are truly like music, bringing together age old tropes and the deep New England accents, colloquialisms, phrasing of rural Maine. In “Which Way to East Vasselboro,” you can also hear the brilliant and improvised sound effects that are an aural treat for their accuracy but also for their satirical sting. The Mainer on the porch talks about a foreign car and the sounds so perfectly mock the sound of an engine designed to make a show.
I’m in Maine. I had to go to at least one of the spots in Bert and I. It was a beautiful day and so I headed up to East Vasselboro. I wasn’t driving a loud foreign car but my rental, a Jeep. I fantasized about pulling up to a local and asking out my window, “Which Way to East Vasselboro?”
When I arrived I needed to find a sign, preferably an official one to make my pilgrimage work. It doesn’t make sense to go all the way to East Vasselboro and not get a picture in front of the sign at the edge of town saying, “Welcome to East Vasselboro.” Indeed, I did well, finding the post office which was perfect.
I noticed, though, someone looking at me from the Grange next door.
So I walked over, and met Greg.
Greg, I think, is mentally challenged or on the spectrum. I don’t have the politically correct language for it, but he is defiantly a character. He was welcoming and not at all bothered by me. I tried to explain why I was there.
“This town used to be 7 houses,” he said. “Now look at it.
Greg explained to me that he was allowed to sit here. Apparently he’s been chased away from various spots around town, which he named. A picnic table at the park. A bench near the edge of town. People, I guess, became annoyed at him just sitting there. He said the guy who runs the Grange said he could sit there with his bottle of tomato juice.
I played him the “Which Way to East Vasselboro” clip and he wasn’t impressed.
“Now the neighbor across there,” he said in a thick Maine accent. “He’s got a problem with me sitting here. And that lady over there too.”
He pointed to a house on the other side of the post office. He said she thinks he’s looking in the window.
“How can I look in the window? he wondered. “There’s a tree right there in the way.”
I asked if I could take his picture and he said yes.
“Always talk to the strange ones,” he said.
“Of course,” I said as I realized that Greg is the Roger Valdez of East Vassalboro. The strange ones always find each other. Thank God, and Bert and I.