Saturday, June 22, 2024

History book now available

by Larry Wilson
| May 31, 2023 2:00 AM

Lois Walker has done it again! Several years ago she put together a North Fork cookbook which sold out two printings in just a few weeks. It featured recipes from homesteaders, old timers and new residents. The recipes appeared alongside photos of the cooks and immediately the cookbook became a collectors item. Its success was partially the terrific recipes, partially the photos, but mostly due to the excellent work of Lois, her writing and no doubt hundreds of hours of research and time spent chasing down cooks, getting them to write down their recipes and getting photos, mostly in their North Fork kitchens.

Now, Lois has put her research skills and writing ability to work to create a history of the Polebridge Mercantile. It contains ten chapters, one for each of the owners from 1904 to the present. This is not a dry history, it is a fun-filled story with information about the owners and their relationship with the community and how they were a part of it.

I was only mildly surprised that I knew nine of the ten owners. Bill Adair sold to the Rovers in 1943, four years before I became a North Forker.

Of course I was only ten years old when I first met the Rovers. Ben was quiet and sold me candy with a straight face and courtesy, almost like my nickel was as important as any other customer’s big purchase. Annette Rover was more active and known best for her work as postmistress where she admittedly read all of the postcards. She felt if you wanted privacy in your mail you should step up and buy a first class stamp and an envelope to seal up your letter. In those days income from the post office included a share of the stamp sales. Summer residents were encouraged to buy a winter’s supply when they left in the Fall.

When I was in high school, Ted Ross was the head of maintenance at Flathead High School. When I was a senior I was president of the Student Body and the Student Council did several school improvement projects. As a result, I worked with Ted and knew I would miss him when I graduated.

Imagine my surprise after my 1955 graduation when I stopped at Polebridge and there was Ted.

He and Esther were Mercantile owners for twelve years. They subdivided the meadow south of the store and onto the store. Probably the beginning of a tourist based enterprise, not a community supply point.

The book is for sale at the Merc for $24 and comes with a huckleberry bear claw. Or see Lois Walker. Books are also available at the Polebridge Mercantile website.