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      Edwin "Pop" Bay's older brother, Hans, moved west from Michigan in 1908 and started a grocery store in Corvallis, and two years later, 17 year-old Ed joined his brother in the business. Since then, Bay's Market has burned down twice, changed locations and been sold. But, after 70 years, Pop is still a fixture in the store.

     Pop recently turned 87 years old and cut his working days to afternoons, but he still moves about the aisles of Bay's Market with tireless energy and a familiar twinkle in his eye.

     The first time I shopped at Bays was 12 years ago, shortly after I moved from issoula to the Bitter Root valley. After ringing up my groceries, Pop gave me back my change rounded up to the nickel. When I commented that he'd given me too much, he said "Keep it, whatill you do with pennies?" Then he threw in two ballpoint pens and a package of black licorice for good measure.

     Pop is ageless. He's changed his green apron for a gold cotton blazer, but aside from that, he looks the same as he did a decade ago. "The only problems is my eyesight; I can't see much anymore. Everything else is perfect."  he told me when I recently interviewd him in the store's meat department. It was a few days before Pop's March 24 birthday, and he was excited about the big birthday party that was going to take place in the store. Pop's birthday party is a tradition that has been carried on by Don Tice since he bought the store from Pop's son, Vance, two years ago.

     Whne I asked Pop if woking keeps him young, he replied, "Absolutely. I'll tell the world it does." H flashed me his trademark grin, nodded his head vigorously, then added, "That and the 15 vitamin pills a day my chiropractor has me on. Isn't that something? I used to take a few, but last month he put me on 15. I don't eat enough meat, so I need them. Yessirree, tyhey keep me healthy."
     Pop was born in Lewiston, Michigan, the son of Danish parents. "My father, Rasmus, changed the name from Bey to Bay when he came to this country - I don't know why, and I don't know why it's such a short name when most Danes have long names. Now I named my oldest son, Rasmus, but he prefers Robert. Rasmus is Danish for Robert, so it's all the same." Pop said.

     Young Ed Bay grew up in Johannesburg, Michigan, a town Pop said was named after his mother, Johanna. Johanna;s brother, Rasmus Hansen, owned a big sawmill that Pop said kept the town going. When I asked Pop if his father worked in the sawmill, he replied, "Nope, he ran a grocery store, had seven clerks working for him."

     Shortly after Pop moved to Montana, he was joined by his parents and a younger brother, and his jolly, robust father was soon working in the Bay Brothers General Merchandise Store. Sadly, Pop's younger brother died after an ilness at age 19.                           
     Some of Pop's most vivid childhood memories are about trips to Denmark. His tall, statelyy mother took her three young sons home for numerous visits, a formidable journey in the early 1900's. "I remember, she dressed us up in little sailor suits," Pop grinned. He said the ocean journey took 12 days, "like a slow boat to China." During each visit, the mother and sons stayed a month in Denmark, visiting relatives and indulging in five meals a day. "Five small meals, that's the way they eat. It's good - that's the way Bob and I started to eat, rather than stuffing at one meal." Pop said.

     Pop and his bachelor son, Bob, live together in the house Pop moved to with his bride. After graduating from a Michigan highschool, Pop said he followed his mother's wishes and attended a church college for a year, and then he followed Hans to Montana. He said he made the journey with another Dane, Lars Christofferson.

     "Hans had cut down trees where the fire hall is now (in Corvallis) to build his store. I was 17 when I came out, and I started working in the store with Hans," he said. In those days, grocers used wagons for much of their work and about eight years ago, I wrote a story about Pop that featured a wooden Studebaker farm wagon. The vintage wagon, stamped "Made for Bay Brothers," was sold to a Corvallis farmer, John Hawker, in 1928 and was owned by the Martins of Corvallis when I wrote the story. Pop recalled that some of the Bay Brothers wagons were outfitted with tin stoves and lap robes and were used to haul kids to school.

     Pop married a Montana native, Lillian Hedges, a local schoolteacher, and honored her by naming his two black cayuses, small western horses, after her. Thoughts of those horses made Pop chuckle.

     "The railroad delivered goods at Woodside (three miles west of Corvallis), and I'd get them in a surrey with my two black horses. I'd go way up in the hills and deliver stuff, and the horses would sometimes get away from me. Groceries would fly. Why, one time a whole bunch of lard was scattered all over the territory."

     Selling methods have changed since horse and buggy days. Back then, the store would barter for produce, trading groceries with local farmers. And prices have changed. Pop remembers when a pair of shoes could be purchased for a $1.50. He said the store handled everthing from corsets to fence posts. And, in those days people didn't have much money and everything was charged.

     "I'd send the statements out. I went to Spokane for awhile to a business school so I could learn bookkeeping," he said. That stint in Spokane was the only time away from the grocery business Pop has had since 1910. "Yup, times have changed," Pop said, and then he added good naturedly, "But people haven't changed much. Nope, people are all right."

     Pop flicked the ash from his cigarette and reached into his pants pocket. "I got something here I want to show you," he said, as he opened his wallet and, with a flourish, took out a folded piece of paper. "Here, take a look at this. Bob printed it out nice like this for me," Pop said proudly. On half of the paper was printed Pop's wife's name with the dates 1892-1974, and on the other half was Pop's name with 1892 and a blank space. Undeneath was nicely lettered, "They Loved People."

     "Ah, it's your eiptaph," I said. "Yup, what'd I tell you? I love people and so did my wife, so it's right there on our tombstone," Pop said with a big grin.

     Pop and his wife had two sons, Bob and Vance, both of Corvallis. Vance owns Bays Hardware in Corvallis. Pop has four granddaughters and one greatgrandson.
                                                                                                                                            Jo Rainbolt
                                                                                                                                            The Missoulian,  April 2, 1979