Following the Second World War, US Army Staff Sergeant Claude Bingaman returned to his native Eureka Springs and went to work at the Eureka Bakery. At the time, it was owned by the German-born Al Neumann. Besides serving the general public, they delivered rolls and pies to area restaurants. In about 1962, Claude and his younger brother Don purchased the bakery from Mr. Neumann.
There are three things I’ve always heard about the popular Eureka Bakery (or sometimes referred to as the Bingaman Bakery). First is the beautiful aroma produced by the bakery that permeated that portion of Spring Street. Claude’s daughter, Ellen Bingaman Summers says aroma was the best advertising the bakery had. She said, “It was interesting there was an exhaust fan that was always on and it blew the smell of whatever he was cooking out into the street. People would come in and say they just couldn’t resist the smell.”
Second, people still talk about how fresh and delicious everything was at the bakery. I’ve asked several about what item was best and the usual answer is the donuts, followed by the brownies. My mother voted for the pies, especially the cherry. And during the right time of year, the well-liked pecan pies would be displayed in the front window.
The last thing I’ve heard is that running a successful small-town bakery like the Eureka Bakery is hard work, with long stressful hours. The workday began at 4 am or earlier to bake the day’s offerings.
Stephanie Stodden, Director of Operations at the Eureka Springs Historical Museum, told me that her grandfather Claude would work all day and come home for dinner and a nap. After the nap, he’d return to the bakery and work until midnight. After a few hours of sleep, the cycle began again.
Before the war, Claude Bingaman and his bride Mozelle had resided in Rogers where he was employed by the Harris Baking Company. In 1984, after a lifetime in the bakery business, Claude was forced to close the Eureka Bakery due to ill health. He passed away in 1986 and is buried in the Eureka Springs Cemetery.