Have You Seen America?
By: Karen Hunter, October 26, 2012
Enterprise - Andy Dufresne
Adrian Charles Joseph Dufresne was born on Glenwood Avenue next to Town Hall eighty-one years ago, back when Falmouth had about 4,500 residents.
"Adrian was an odd name when I was growing up," he says, "so they nick-named me Andy." Andy Dufresne has been working in a barber shop for almost seventy years, since he started as a shoe-shine boy in his father's shop on Main Street (the current location of Steve's Pizza) in 1944.
Today, you can find him at Andy's Barber Shop where he continues to work four or five hours a day unless one of his other barbers is out, in which case he works longer hours. "I can still work a full day," he says, "but my back gets tired." Not tired enough, apparently, to stop him from riding across country on his motorcycle, solo, for two to six weeks at a time.
Averaging one trip a year for the last decade, Mr. Dufresne has crossed the country by motorcycle eleven times, usually by a different route each trip, including six 10,000 mile trips from here to California as well as some shorter treks.
Last summer's trip included a visit to a great-granddaughter in Colorado, he explains, "so I went down through Tennessee through the Smokies and worked my way across to New Mexico, and from there I went through Durango and Colorado, where I spent five or six days. Then I went up to Wyoming and South Dakota, and came back via Route 90 and down through Vermont." Asking Andy Dufresne about his cross-country trips sets off a stream of response: "I've gone through the forty-eight states," he says. "Each state has something to offer, so I've gone from Canada to Key West and Cape Cod to British Columbia. I never get tired of the beauty of the western mountains."
First exposed to a motorcycle in Sandakan Borneo while in the Navy ("if you can picture six wild sailors on three motorcycles - we must have broken every English traffic law at the time," he says), Mr. Dufresne's real interest began when his son, the youngest of his five children, wanted a motorcycle to commute to his job as a life guard for the Town of Falmouth. He got the motorcycle, and his father got one too so they could ride together, mostly around the Cape. "When he left to go off on his own," says Dufrasne, "my bikes got bigger and my distances got further."
Many residents know Andy Dufresne as an active public official in Falmouth. In 1969, he became a beach commissioner, an elected position at that time and one he held for ten years. "We were very active in land acquisition and restoration. The new building at Old Silver Beach happened during my tenure," he says. "We got involved in everything because back then we were the ones who ran the business, which is not so today. Right now it's very difficult for the Beach Committee to do the things necessary to run a million dollar business; they don't have the same authority," he explains. During his first month on the job, Mr. Dufresne was instrumental in banning parking on Surf Drive as a measure to restore the dunes. Residents at the time were not happy about the ban, but they got it passed as a "safety issue" because children would run out between the cars that were parked into the dunes. "Now, after forty years, he says with pride, "we have beautiful dunes on Surf Drive. I will always support the effectiveness of the beaches to bring people to Falmouth."
From 1979-1984 Mr. Dufresne was on the Finance Committee, where by his own admission, he established a reputation for being outspoken. From there he was elected as a full time Selectman. He refers to that era as "we were the ones where the buck stopped, with the Board of Selectmen. I'm actually a student of the older form of government and sometimes I'm a little stubborn about it," he admits. In 1989, Mr. Dufresne went back on the Finance Committee, where he served another twenty years before stepping down a few years ago.
On the topic of long-distance motorcycle riding, however, there is no talk of Mr. Dufresne stepping down. "Mentally, I'm planning next summer's trip, probably from the Adirondacks to Prince Edward Island," he says. When asked how his family feels about his long trips, he gives this response: "My wife does not ride with me. She did years ago on shorter trips. We've been married sixty one years and my feelings and hers may not be the same as far as me riding a bike, but we get along very nicely and we don't have any restrictions on one another." The family did insist upon a cell phone, however, after a trip in 1993 where Andy called home only once in six weeks. "If you've ever gone out west and you try to make a phone call without a cell phone, it's tough. You have to go through about three exchanges," he explains in his own defense. "Now I have to call home very day."
Of accidents, Dufresne has had a few. "In Oregon," he says, "I slipped on an oil slick and woke up in a hospital where I stayed for thirty days. At least the guy behind me didn't run over me. I've broken an ankle in Vermont; severed an Achilles tendon in Onset (trying to life the motorcycle); got thirty-one stitches in the back of my leg in Yellowstone National Park and had another accident in Fishkill, NY coming back from a southern trip," he elaborates. "But these are the non-exciting parts." Traveling with a well-marked Atlas (no GPS) and a bathing suit "just in case," Mr. Dufresne shares the exciting parts in conversation: "Every state has an interesting point," says Dufresne. "I've been to the oil fields of Texas; the cattle farms of Kansas; and Key West is very interesting. I love Vermont - the white, steepled churches in every town and beautiful vistas. The country is gorgeous! I've done the California coast and the Oregon coast; such a beautiful ride. His standard response when friends talk about their trips to Cancun or Bermuda is, "have you seen America?"
Look for Andy Dufresne and his motorcycle, which he decorates, in the Falmouth Christmas parade, probably with his granddaughter riding on the back. In closing, he says, "Tell Bill Hough to take a ride with me sometime!"