Every small town has got their own little nuances and niches, or sayings and experiences that make them unique to that specific area.
There are always going to be situations you find yourself in where a group of people are talking about something that you have no clue about, and yet that very specific something may be very important to that group of people.
Different towns and cities have different ways of life.
Take our verbiage, for example. A Facebook post by a Saskatoon radio station got me thinking about this. It was a humorous take on our “Saskatchewan culture” which stated, “Saskatchewan culture is saying ‘Alright well…’ to signal that it’s time to leave, and the other person responding with ‘Yeah, I suppose.’ Then someone lightly slaps their legs, and you both get up and get ready to go.”
Insanely on the money, right? I mean, we’ve all done that or been in a social situation where someone has done that, usually a family member, or at the very least, the person who drove.
But it made me think of the “Conquest version” of making one’s exit. I’m sure there are many other small towns where this phrase has been uttered for generations, but in my eyes, it developed first and foremost in Conquest, and for all I know, it may have been originated by my father.
The phrase: "Well, I guess..."
Typically said by one man in a group of other men, usually in a conversation where the group is sorting out the world’s problems, and said in order to mark the end of any conversation and for all parties to go their separate ways. For dramatic effect and to emphasize the desire to leave, recite this phrase while standing up and making a slightly pained groaning noise to tell others that while it’s been a long and fruitful conversation, you now need to go elsewhere.
I swear, I can still hear my old man uttering that. I’ve found in the last ten years or so that I say it too.
How about those decades-old traditions in other small towns? I know that every community has them. They’re just those little “slice of life” things that everyone eventually got around to doing, even if it’s just to pass the time.
In Outlook, for example, what generations of high school students with a driver’s license and access to a vehicle have enjoyed is what’s affectionately known as the ‘Cruise Lap’.
If you don’t know what the Cruise Lap is, you’ve either been living under a rock, or you just simply aren’t from Outlook or the surrounding area.
The Cruise Lap is exactly what it sounds like; a dedicated route around Outlook that senior kids have driven for decades. I have no idea on precisely when it became a popular pastime, but if I had to venture a guess, I’d say it goes back to the 1970’s or early 1980’s.
The route is a rather simple one. You start at Outlook High School on the southern end of Franklin Street and go north. From there, you make the right onto Saskatchewan Avenue, ‘cruising’ until you find yourself nearly venturing out of town. But wait, just before you find yourself on Highway 15 heading east of town, you cut a U-turn on the road leading to the industrial businesses in town just past Christie Street. You head back down Saskatchewan Avenue and make a left turn at the four-way stop onto McKenzie Street. From there, you make a left onto Conquest Avenue, which eventually brings you right back to the beginning at the high school.
I know that might sound incredibly boring to kids growing up in larger urban areas who have access to more amenities than simply driving around in a loop, but trust me, it produced its fair shares of great memories. As far as I can see, kids still drive the Cruise Lap today, which kind of makes me happy. I like knowing that something as seemingly trivial as driving around a small town is still a thing in 2019, and that it hasn’t gone by the wayside like so many other things from my generation or the generations that came before me.
I do know one thing, though; the music being played during a Cruise Lap in the old days was infinitely better than what’s being pumped out to the masses today.
There are similarities between towns of all sizes, whether it be in phrases or social experiences, but in other ways, we’re also capable of being quite different.
That’s life in a small town for ya!
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.