Allen’s Quality Bakery


2501 Valley View Drive, Springdale, AR 72762

s I grew up in Searcy it seems I was always trying to get a job.    Indeed, I did manage to work at many different places in town.  One job I remember fondly was at Allen’s Quality Bakery located on the north side of Courthouse Square only two blocks from my home.  Sam Allen opened the bakery in the Vaught building on April 9, 1930, and later moved to 113 East Center Street.   I worked at the bakery on Saturdays in the early 1930s for a few cents an hour plus day-old goodies.  My first job was frying doughnuts.  Mr. Sam, the owner, instructed me in how to place the uncooked circles in the hot grease, being careful not to splash the grease or put my fingers in it.  I was provided with a dowel about 18 inches long with which I could turn the doughnuts for even cooking on both sides.  When the cooking process was complete, as judged by the color and puffiness, the doughnuts were lifted from the grease by inserting the dowel through the holes about a dozen at a time.  The hot doughnuts were laid on a cloth spread on a table to drain excess grease. 

            When cooled somewhat, the doughnuts were put in the glazing kettle, again with the dowel.  From there they were placed on racks so excess glazing could drip off.  Next was transfer to trays for the sales display case.   Another task to which I was assigned was slicing and wrapping bread.  We had an electrically powered slicing machine with many blades that moved up and down.  The bread was pushed sideways into the machine and out the other side.  Mr. Sam warned me to keep my fingers out of the slicer, as a bloody machine was difficult to clean up and sterilize!  The sliced bread was wrapped in waxed paper and pushed through a device that had electric heating elements for sealing the wax paper on each end of the loaf.  A truck delivered bread throughout the city.    

            The job I liked most at the bakery was filling the cream puffs and chocolate éclairs.  I was provided with a device that pushed the yellow custard cream through a thin nozzle that was inserted in the hollow puff or éclair.  A slight pull on the handle completely filled the pastry.  Filled puffs received a dusting of confectioner’s sugar while éclairs were finished with chocolate icing.  Yum, yum!  

            Mr. Allen made all kinds of breads, cakes, pies, cookies, rolls, doughnuts, cream puffs and éclairs but my favorite was salt rising bread.   It had an aroma, no, odor that defies description.  Its highest and best use was for breakfast toast.  My dad was very fond of salt rising bread but called it “Sock Heel” because of its peculiar odor.           Sam Allen died in 1951 and his wife Mary continued to operate the bakery until it was sold to Charles McGinnis in 1966.   The Allens were fine Searcy people I cherish in my memories.  


nother Society member, Burl Hunt of University, Mississippi, also worked at Allen’s Bakery. “But my duties were not as appetizing as Ray’s.  I washed pots and pans. There were a lot of them and I usually did not finish with them until past midnight.  I had to wait until the dayshift was done to start. I was the night shift.  I shared one duty with Ray.  I sliced and wrapped bread on a machine that he described. The blades did not worry me. It was the heating elements that sealed the bread wrappers. It was easy to burn your fingers pushing the bread through.  I had to keep sliced bread on the side and slip three slices into each loaf that I sliced to meet some requirement for the weight of the loaf.   I do not know where the requirement came from.  I assume the other alternative would have been to buy all new baking pans that were three slices longer.  Then I would have had to wash all those pans that were three slices longer.  I remember one person that worked in the bakery. His name was Grady Jackson.  I called him Grady Garms because I saw that name imbedded in several sidewalks in Searcy. I assume Garms was the contractor that laid the sidewalks.   I was attending Searcy High School while working at the bakery.  The theatre was on one side of the bakery and a streetcar diner on the other side.  The owner of the diner told me any time that I got hungry and did not have any money to come in and order what I wanted.   While I was in Searcy, Grady lived in the same rooming house that I lived in.  I paid a dollar a week for my room.  The owners were named McGee.  They rolled their cigarettes on a Bugler cigarette roller with Bugler Tobacco. I bet that roller would be worth something now.