Saturday, June 11, 2011

Clark's Bakery History, by Margaret Clark

My mom wrote this narrative about our family's bakery, in response to a request from someone in Juneau.


In June 1957 Bob Clark, his wife Margaret, and Daughter Linda flew to Juneau to venture into a new life of running a bakery, and living in Alaska. Margaret’s Father and Mother had started Ivan’s Bakery in a little Quonset hut down under the Douglas bridge. By the time our family got there, they had moved into an old building located in the heart of the city on Franklin Street.

Because Margaret’s father, Ivan had serious eye problems, he wanted to go to Seattle for surgery, and to not return to the bakery. He wanted Bob to buy and run the bakery. That was a nice offer, but Bob had no money with which to buy the shop. They made a verbal contract for Bob to work for a year, drawing no pay, and that would go for his down payment on the bakery. Margaret had started a job with Northern Commercial Company, and was getting a whopping $350 a month. They had left Salem, Oregon, leaving their house with a renter, and leaving their first new car parked, so there were debts to meet each month in Oregon. When Bob agreed to go to Juneau, the plan was for him to work a year for Ivan and then Bob and his family would go back to Oregon. Now, things changed quickly when the offer to buy the shop was on the table.

The Clark family moved into a tiny apartment which was located up over the Madsen’s Fishing Supply Company. The rent was $100 a month. It had only one bedroom, so Linda would go to bed in the bedroom, and soon her Dad would also go to bed because he was up at 4 a.m. to go to work. He had no car, so had to walk to work. When it was time for Margaret to go to bed, the davenport was made into a bed, and she would carry Linda out to that bed for the rest of the night. It was hard living, and we did not even have a hamburger out for an entire year, because money was scarce.

After a year of frugal living, it was time for Bob to take over the shop, and for Ivan to leave town for adventures of his own. The money was still not enough to buy the shop, and one day one of the local salesmen came into the shop and heard the story. He told Bob to take off his apron and come with him. Down the street they went to the 1st National Bank. The salesman co-signed for Bob to get the money he needed to buy the shop. What a blessing this was.

It was very humorous because at the end of the first day there was still no money in the bank, and Bob would take whatever money was in the cash register to go over to the Dock and get a sack of flour, and a sack of sugar to be open for business the next day. That went on for quite awhile before Bob had his feet on the ground and could afford to charge things that were needed.

This bakery building housed Ivan’s Bakery for about 5 years, before Sim McKinnon, who owned the building, decided to sell it. Bob’s and his family lived upstairs over that little building, so this was a major upset. The old building had been a House of Ill Repute in days past, and was not the best place to live, but it was good to be right on the site of the bakery. Margaret continued to work for North Commercial, for Elwyn Pym, hurrying home at the end of each day to help close up the shop, clean the cases etc. She also got up early enough to fry and glaze the donuts before she went to work at her other job.

Soon Nick Bavard, whose grocery store was across the street from the Bakery, decided that he wanted to rent the old store building. Bob took that project on, making many alterations in the old grocery so that the bakery could be housed there . Friends would come every evening and help us paint, lay floors, and do whatever was needed that day. Margaret’s brother, Ivan Womack was always there to help too.

This was a lovely big shop with a counter with about 12 stools where hamburgers or other sandwiches were served. Of course many came in just to eat some of the delicious Danish Pastry or donuts that Bob always provided. That building was located on the edge of the alley next to George’s Gift Shop. When Bob moved the business across the street, South Franklin Street was closed for most of the day while the moving company rolled his huge oven across the street. They took out the big windows to bring it into the building. Now the bakery became Clark’s Bakery and Coffee Bar.

Soon a second oven was added to that business as it grew too big for one oven to handle. It was a hard job because Bob cold find no one qualified to work for him. Bakers were not plentiful in Juneau.

After another 5 years, Nick Bavard decided to sell the building in which the bakery was housed. At that time there was a Spudnut Shop located just about 4 doors from us, and he was going to close his business, so Bob purchased that business, and moved his bakery/lunch counter to that location. This meant another huge move, and another remodeling job.

After moving in there, the business continued to be successful until about 1967 when the opportunity to sell it to a young man who had been in Juneau to work for Bob in previous years. He ran the business for awhile before moving it to the Foodland shopping area.

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