Eureka Springs Independent Newspaper Column for September 10, 2014 by Steve Weems

Years ago, my wife was pregnant with twins and a gentleman took me aside at a meeting of the Eureka Springs Rotary Club. He said, “Everyone says that twins are twice as hard, but don’t believe it. They’re ten times as hard.”

Now go back in time to 1982 when I was a lowly freshman at Eureka Springs High School. Sophomores Lori and Lisa Bingaman were twins, as were Juniors Amy and Scott Bingaman, all the progeny of Don and Lynn. If one set of twins is ten times as difficult, how would one do the math on two sets of twins so close together in age?

As mentioned previously, Don Bingaman and his older brother Claude purchased the Eureka Bakery on Spring Street from Al Neumann in the early 1960s. Illness forced Claude to close the popular bakery in 1984.

After the first set of Bingaman twins were born, Lynn pushed Amy and Scott in a side-by-side double stroller in the Annual Folk Festival Parade. The top of the stroller flipped up and said “Double Your Pleasure With Fresh and Tasty Homemade Bread and Pastry – Eureka Bakery.” They won first place in the walking division of the parade.

Lori remembers going by the bakery in the early morning and getting “a hot fresh donut out of the dripping glaze and eating it on the way to school.” She also recalled helping out at the bakery: “I was able to help my dad with the bread slicing. I would put the bread down the chute, he would put it in the bag and I would put the tie on the bag. He realized, after some customers mentioned it, that the ties were put on backwards. You see, I was left-handed! My career was short-lived.”

Work begins at a bakery in the middle of the night and bakers have to nap when they can. Lori said, “I remember my dad would be asleep on the couch in the living room. When he would awaken, we had fun beating the couch and watching the flour emerge in a cloud!”

Eureka Springs Independent Newspaper Column for September 3, 2014 by Steve Weems

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.