Editor’s Note: This column was originally printed in the Teton Valley News in 1979, and again in 2000. We figured it was about time for another rerun. Thanks to Tresha Beard for the reminder.
Colloquialisms have a way of being simple for some and complicated for others. For example, new residents of the Teton Valley should be aware of some of the peculiar forms of speech the hard core residents use or they may encounter some frowns.
The other day I was renewing acquaintances with an old friend, who has been living in the valley for the past several years.
During the course of our conversation, I slipped up and mentioned that I had to drive down to St. Anthony. By the way he reacted you would have thought that I had insulted his mother.
“You don’t drive ‘down’ to St. Anthony,” he said. “You drive ‘out below’. Don’t you know how to talk?”
I had forgotten all this, but I was in an argumentative mood, so I said, “I don’t see what difference it makes. Besides, doesn’t ‘out below’ mean anywhere from St. Anthony to Blackfoot? If I say I’m going ‘down’ to St. Anthony, I’m being more specific.”
“You are dumb,” he said. “Teton Valley residents like to be ambiguous. Anybody knows you can’t drive ‘down’ to Idaho Falls. You drive ‘out’.”
“Then how come when you’re in Idaho Falls, you drive ‘up’ to Teton Valley,” I said. “You never hear anybody say they are going to drive ‘in’ to Teton Valley.”
“I can see,” he said, “that you need to be re-educated in Teton Valley customs and colloquialisms.” With that he started in on his lecture.
“If you are in Driggs,” he began, “you can drive ‘up’ to Victor, ‘down’ to Tetonia, and ‘up’ to Targhee. Tetonia is the only place you can drive ‘down’ to from Driggs in Teton Valley.
“But if you are in Victor, you can drive ‘down’ to Driggs and Tetonia. The only place you can drive ‘up’ to from Victor is Targhee.
“You have to go ‘out’ to Sugar City, West Jefferson, Firth and Ririe. But when you’re coming back you had better go ‘up’. You can’t go ‘down’ to any of those places, but you can go ‘down’ to Pocatello or Salt Lake City.”
He paused for a breath.
“If you’re in Cedron, Bates, Clawson, or Chapin, you can drive ‘in’ to Victor or Driggs, but those are the only places you can drive ‘in’ from. You can also drive ‘down’ to Driggs and Tetonia from Chapin and Cedron.
“If you are going to Swan Valley or Jackson you have to drive ‘over’. You can drive ‘over’ from any place in the valley, but you don’t drive ‘across, up or down’.
“And finally, if you plan on going to any place from St. Anthony to Blackfoot you had better say you are going ‘out below’ or you’ll be sorry.”
I had sat patiently through his little tirade, but his last comment got my back up.
I said, “I am going to prove that a person can drive ‘down’ to Idaho Falls from Teton Valley.”
“O.K.” he said. “But I’m not going with you.”
I got in my car and started driving. I drove about three miles, hit an icy spot on a turn and plowed into a snowbank. By the time I got out it was too late to go ‘down’ to Idaho Falls.
Maybe next summer I’ll try going ‘down’ to Idaho Falls. Until then I think I’ll go ‘out’ because I hate being stuck in snowbanks.