The Blue Ribbon bakery in Carterville was known for breads, pies and pastries.

Ancestors, Legends & Time

Blue Ribbon bakery supplied Lakeside with thousands of hamburger buns

Jeanne Newby

Jeanne Newby

February 7, 2024

The year is 1925 and things are changing in Carterville, Webb City and the surrounding areas. The mines are struggling since the big ore strike in Oklahoma in 1918, but businesses and manufacturers are steadily increasing as folks are trying to keep the area cities in operation. Streetcar schedules are starting to change as Joplin prepares to make the switch to buses (but the transition would take 10 years). Streetcars are still going on the half hour from Carterville through Webb City to Joplin. Folks around town are complaining that gas had gone up 5 cents a gallon, reaching the ridiculous cost of 19.9 cents per gallon. Lakeside’s popularity is still strong even with the questionable streetcar future. Life goes on.

A young couple, Charles E. and Fay Allard Burke are looking around the town of Carterville and see a need for a bakery. So they find a partner, Clarence Stevens, and start planning their new venture. Charles was born in Carterville in 1894. His mother had been born on a farm north of Carterville in 1865. He had roots in Carterville and folks liked him. They find the perfect location for their new bakery at 102 W. Main St.

The Blue Ribbon Bakery gains popularity from the very beginning. It is equipped with a built-in brick oven. Loaves of bread are baked on racks in the oven and removed with big wooden paddle. The smell fills the air, beckoning the people of Carterville to venture out of their homes to buy some of that wonderful homemade bread. The menu consists of white and brown bread, hamburger buns, cookies, cakes, pies and pastries.

The hamburger buns are a favorite among the customers. The bakery itself is quite a favorite among the basketball and football players of Carterville because Fay spoils them. She cooks them hamburgers in the back room on a little hot plate and serves them up on those fresh hamburger buns.

Charles makes his daily trips around the area delivering the bakery goods. According to the bakery records, on one Fourth of July, Charles delivered 40,000 hamburger buns to two different stands at Lakeside Park. The hamburgers at Lakeside sold for a nickel each.

Charles meets lots of interesting folk and makes lots of new friends while making deliveries. On one delivery to Oakland corners, he times it just right to get introduced to the one and only Clyde Barrow of the famous duo Bonnie and Clyde.

Being a family operation, Clyde and Fay take their daughter, Beatrice Alyne Burke, whom they call Babe, to work with them, and she grows up at the bakery. Each day her mother gives her a sack of doughnuts or cookies, and she occupies herself inside the bakery or out front. It’s a common sight to see the beautiful little girl out in front of the bakery, greeting customers as they arrive.

Charles and Fay sold the Blue Ribbon Bakery in 1928, but Clyde continued to be active in the community. He was elected mayor of Carterville in 1939, 1954 and 1957. He served on the water board, special road district, the school board, and was a charter member of the Carterville Lions Club. He retired from Atlas Powder in 1966.

In the meantime, Babe Burke grew up to marry George H. LeRoy Jr. They had two children, Dennis and Jane. That made the children fourth generation Carterville residents.

Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.

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