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WHERE ARE ALL THE INDIANS? AT NORTHFORK?

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DALLAS-More than 2 million people visit Dallas each year for either business or pleasure (or both), and many of them take private tours in an effort to see the “real” Dallas. Local tour operators, whose real job description requires them to have the patience of a saint, are prepared to answer the inevitable dumb questions that these tourists can’t wait to ask.

Carolyn Paris, who runs D-Tours, didn’t have to think too long when we asked her what dumb questions some of her clients ask. “I swear to you,” she says, “they want to know whose finger is used to write the beautiful ’F’ in the Fairmont Hotel ashtrays.” Paris says that the question has been asked too many times for her to think it’s a joke.

Guides at Kaleidoscope Tours offered quite a range of dumb questions. They say that tourists always ask: “Is everybody who lives here rich?” and “When do we get to the desert?” Tour guide Kaki Hayden says she once became really frustrated with a group of Oriental tourists who wanted to see the real Dallas. They kept asking, “Where are the Indians?” Hayden says that she tried in vain to explain that most Indians live on reservations in other parts of the country.

Mary Joe Warden, a charter guide at Gray Line Tours of Dallas, says that a real problem for her is trying to convice foreign tourists that J.R. and Sue Ellen Ewing don’t live at Southfork Ranch (sometimes, she says, tourists call it “Northfork”).

Warden adds that when she takes passengers past downtown’s Dealey Plaza, they think the statue of the late Joseph Dealey is a statue of John F. Kennedy and say, “How could a city do that?”

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