The chill in the early winter morning didn’t stop anyone from coming. The news had ripped through town like a kid opening a Christmas present, and one by one people from all around were filing in through the door, hoping to get one last doughnut. Even with the best efforts, the shelves were almost empty by 8 that morning.
If you have lived in Douglas for any amount of time, attended a wedding or birthday or enjoyed the doughnuts that someone had brought into work, then you have experienced one of the tastiest treats around.
The two-story building across from the bowling alley has been a local establishment that generations of Douglasites have enjoyed. It was the place to go for some candy after a swim in the town pool on a hot summer day. The screen door creaks as you open it and the chime rings loud as you cross the threshold and step on the welcome mat.
Now after 56 years in business, the Home Bakery has closed its doors for good.
“We opened the place in 1962, I think,” owner and baker George Smith recalled. “We opened it when we moved here to Douglas.”
After considering a bakery job in Texas, George and his wife Mae came west from Nebraska to check out the new truck stop that was being built east of Douglas.
“We got lost in Glendo,” Smith recalled with a laugh.
One of the original owners of the Big Wheel Truckstop moved the bakery to the building on Third Street, and the Smiths were offered the opportunity to run the bakery.
The building has a second floor which had eight small rooms for living quarters, which wouldn’t work for the Smith family, according to George. So a builder was contacted and the top floor was transformed into an apartment.
“It turned out to be a really nice place for a family,” Smith said.
One part of the bakery was working with Wonder Bread and delivering bread items to all the little shops in town.
“Back then, Douglas was small town U.S.A.,” Smith said. “I’ll never forget (after a year of running the bakery) – Beef Bolln owned the building. Beef came in the building one day and asked why I didn’t buy the building, not knowing that he owned it.”
Smith replied with sure he’d like to, but where would he get the money?
“Beef left and I didn’t give it another thought,” Smith said. “Not one word was said for the next 30 days. Beef then came in and told me to get over to Provident Federal Credit Union to sign the papers.”
Smith recounts how that’s the way that business was conducted in Douglas. People knew everyone and all it took was a handshake to confirm a deal.
Bolln had arranged financing and coordinated the sale of the building. If that hadn’t have happened, Smith is sure that they would have moved on to a bigger community.
“Back then there were only 2,900 people in the whole county,” Smith said. “We weren’t sure we would stay.”
So for the next five-plus decades, George and Mae raised a family while they ran the bakery and supplied Douglas with cakes, cookies, fresh bread, rolls and other treats.
“I can’t even venture a guess as to how many cakes we’ve done over the years,” Smith said. “We’ve done so many wedding cakes over the years. We’ve even made wedding cakes for second and third generations.”
During the more recent years, George and Mae have slowed down and looked for someone to take over the business. The bakery has been on the market for a number of years, and Smith wasn’t sure they’d ever find a buyer. That’s when their realtor decided to sell it as a building, not a business.
“That changed everything,” Smith said.
In a short time, their building was viewed and the contract to buy was written up.
The last day of business was bittersweet as locals came in one by one to buy doughnuts, which sold out before 8 that morning, and many wished George and Mae well on their new chapter. When the doughnuts were sold out, people grabbed the cookies by the dozen just to have that one last taste of their childhood.