Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stillwater Valley folk turn out to celebrate 'Nye Mall' institution

Bill and Judy Henderson, above, thank several hundred well wishers who gathered at Nye's Fire Hall Sunday.
Both expressed bittersweet feelings about their return to Michigan. "You've touched our hearts," said Bill.


Cookie and Judy have a laugh before the festivities begin.

IT WAS A community affair, with lots of laughs and some tears, as several hundred Stillwater Valley residents gathered Sunday evening.
A tribute and pot-luck dinner honored Bill and Judy Henderson, who came from Detroit 43 years ago to open a small store in Nye that has taken on giant proportions.
They've sold Nye Trading Post and are returning to their Michigan roots.
Community folks chatted and supped, to honor Bill and Judy.
Through the years, everyone who lives within 40 or 50 miles has shopped at the store.  It is famous for providing everything from nails to birthday candles -- with food and drink and staples at the ready.
The road to Carter's Camp and the nearby Fire Hall, photographed Sunday.
I was asked to emcee the event, at Nye Fire Hall.  A host of volunteers engineered the lively evening, with Penny Keogh spearheading the effort to honor the longtime community pillars.
People visited and reminisced, enjoyed a bountiful potluck, and celebrated the passing of the gauntlet from one couple to another.
The new owners made a brief appearance, acknowledging the long shadow into which they walk as the Hendersons pack up decades of memories and head out.
Nye Fire Hall, photographed at twilight, as the cars began to pull out.
Through my 20-plus years on the West Fork of the Stillwater, my family has enjoyed shopping at "Nye Mall." It was there my sister Misha bought worms to catch her first fish! 
Countless times, we zipped to the store for a can of pineapple, a half-gallon of ice cream, cake decorations, a pound of hamburger and pickles, milk for a baby, dog food, even foam to drive nesting hornets from the eaves.
Countless quick tanks of gas! What a gift to have this treasure trove just "down the road." And always with a cheery greeting and a cat or dog to keep Judy company. 
Here, at request, is the poem I wrote to pay homage: 

Misha Minesinger's worms -- purchased at Nye Trading
Post -- hooked this trout on her first try! (Catch/release.)

Folks came from miles around to enjoy a meal and thank Bill and Judy.

"There once from Detroit came a pair:
Bill and Judy in search of fresh air
A place in the quiet, away from race riots.
A small store they filled with their wares.

Through the years, Nye Mall’s been legendary
Because of the wonders they carry,
In need of some diapers?  Perhaps windshield wipers.
They’ll have it, or order, not tarry.

As I look around at their shelves,
I’m certain these landlords are elves
Through the years, what I’ve bought, it’s a wonderful lot!
A true work of art from themselves.

The cooler’s my favorite addition
Walk in -- milk, cheese, beer in position;
Goods are tidied each day, but besides the array,
Cures hot flashes and other conditions.

Nye Trading Post, aka "Nye Mall,"
is an institution in the small town.

Need some dog food, some Triscuits or ice cream?
Maybe fancy some biscuits or sun screen?
Pop into their store, there you’ll see “more is more”
Even unplug your john, get your bowl clean!

On our list Bill and Judy are tops
For stocking odd items like mops
Worms for fishing, you betcha?  Can’t stump them, they’ll getya.
Even ordered our workers Shock Top.

“Should I call them?” you  think “maybe not.”
Volunteers arranged a bountiful supper of casseroles, meats, and more
as Bill and Judy Henderson bid farewell to the Stillwater Valley, below.

What you need they most surely ain’t got.
But you’re wrong, they’ve got jello, red wine and marshmallows
By friends here, they ne’er be “forgot.”

One more thing now, the critters they’ve saved.
“Way too many,” Bill sometimes would rave.
They’ve a penchant for cats, there’s one now, as you chat --
And a doggie named Duchess, so brave.

Now we’re sad that they’re going away
But we notice we’ve turned their hair grey.
So a toast, raise a glass, job well done, lord and lass.
We salute you, good luck, happy days!"
The West Fork and Stillwater Valley won’t be the same without Bill and Judy.  Cookie and Keller and their Yorkies, Nick and Nora, are among their admirers and grateful friends in Montana and the greater world! Safe travels, Bill and Judy. We'll hold you in our hearts.
Cookie entertains at Montana Jack's piano bar, here
Saturday night with Rex Anderson, Absarokee veterinarian,
who plays whistles and flutes. Cookie's at Jack's Aug. 31

WE'LL BE BACK here at the blog and website, to our regular Wednesday and weekend posts at:
Here, we provide lively commentary and pretty photos of world travels and happenings in our two bases, the Beartooths of Montana and San Diego. We promise a sense of fun as we navigate the globe. Tell your friends and check us out for a novel approach to life, taking time to explore, learn and live. Wednesday's post takes a close-up look at another Beartooth institution, Montana Jack's, where Cookie plays piano, locals sit in to jam, and the food is world class! Check us out Wednesday and please share today's link with friends of "Nye Mall."

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