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“Small Town Directions” I Have Given

I used to laugh at the “small town directions” everyone here uses. But eventually I started using them myself. It sounds crazy, but it’s the most efficient way to communicate out here. People know what you’re talking about.

1. “The Cenex.”

This refers to a small local chain of feed stores. It hasn’t actually been “Cenex” for like twenty years, but that’s just what people call it. If you refer to “Skagit Valley Farmer’s Supply” people will scrunch up their faces in puzzlement.

Also, you have to call it “The Cenex” not just “Cenex.” I don’t know why the “The” is necessary. It just is.

2. “The one by the blinking yellow light, not the one in town.”

This is me clarifying which Mexican restaurant I mean. There is only one blinking yellow light in La Conner, and in this context “in town” means Anacortes, the (slightly larger) next town over.

3. “It’s right next to that place that used to be a pizza restaurant.”

This is a classic example of small town directions: referring to businesses that have been closed for several years.

In The City businesses open and close so often that no one bothers to keep track. But out here, we remember who used to sell pizza, and where.

5 comments to “Small Town Directions” I Have Given

  • Oh, I know those kind of directions well. “Turn by the farm that used to be Ralph Jensen’s but everything burned down after he died.” What they don’t say is that all the rubble is gone and now the place is a soy bean field, totally indistinguishable from any other field. And Ralph’s place burned down in 1963, nearly 40 years before we moved here.

  • knitcrazybooknut

    Molly Ivins once said that she wanted to write a book called “Turn Left Where the Water Tower Used to Be.” Love it!

  • two silver cats

    I, too, only have one blinking yellow light in my town, but one year one of the rednecks shot it out with his 12-gauge.

    Also, stores are often referred to by their owner’s first names, no matter what the real shop is called. For instance, we have “Tim’s” (the hardware store), “Buddy’s” (the grocery store) and “Butch’s” (the local garage, except Butch died about 10 years ago– and of course nobody ever refers to it as “Pete’s”, which is the son who has taken over the business). It took me about three years to figure out who all these people were, and why you would go see them when you needed stuff!

  • Debi

    My family is in the south and I can do one also, “you ride on down to the stump, and veer to the right, and follow that down a peice and your there!!”

  • I’ve given directions that involve landmarks that were gone long before I moved here 25 years ago. And we all tend to call businesses by the names of previous businesses in that location. It does tend to confuse the newcomers, though I can’t think why…