Tarrant County, TXGenWeb
White's Bakery of
At one time in Lake Worth, residents woke up to the heavenly aroma of fresh baked bread, pastries, sweet rolls and doughnuts. If you followed your nose, it would take you to a building called White's Bakery. A well-dressed woman could be seen inside, cooking and selling her scrumptious bakery wares.
That woman was Vivian (Hodgkins) White, the youngest of the 9 children in the Hodgkins family. The Hodgkins name was synonymous with good cooking, and Vivian was no exception to the rule, as the people in the local area soon found out.
Vivian was also well educated, a hallmark of the Hodgkins name, especially since Jim "The Judge" Hodgkins was heralded with starting the Lake Worth school system. Vivian received a full education, graduating High School and then attending classes at Texas Christian University.
During her stay in Fort Worth, Vivian met Hubert White at Eskimo's, an old hamburger stand at Henderson and 7th St. and they married about a year later. Hubert was a talented plasterer, placing stucco on the exterior and interior of buildings at a time that was popular in the architectural world. His work included plastering ornate patterns on the ceiling of the Fort Worth Club, among other landmark buildings in the area.
But Uncle Sam had other ideas for Hubert, and he was drafted into the service during World War II. Vivian really needed something to supplement her husband's paycheck. Although they came in steadily, military pay has never equaled the private sector. So like many other women during the war, Mrs. White found herself in the position of having to work and take care of a family. Many women had to start their own business, or work for the war effort - perhaps Consolidated Vultee in Fort Worth. The children of this era had to grow up fast in those times, assuming responsibilities of cooking, cleaning and laundry duties.
She knew there was no bakery in Lake Worth, and that the closest one was Bluebonnets Bakery in Fort Worth. She also knew that she was a good cook. The answer for her was obvious. With 4 sons to feed and care for, Vivian opened White's Bakery in 1941.
Using a small, rectangular building that her father let her use, she converted it into a Bakery. The building was located on Jacksboro Highway where the auto inspection building now stands. In the baking area, she added an oven, some 10 feet wide by 6 feet high, with various sized doors and thermostatic controls that allowed her to bake various items simultaneously. An industrial mixer, some five feet high could handle the tough jobs. The other half of the building was the retail area consisting of glass display counters and a hardwood floor. The customer would point and Vivian would pick it up with wax paper and deposit it into a paper bag - no different than today.
Vivian was no stranger to work. The Bakery was open 6 days a week, only taking Sunday off. Work began at 4 a.m. to have all the culinary delights ready for her customers by 7 a.m. and she would stay 12-16 hours a day, staying until everything sold out for that day. Everything sold was fresh!
And that's what kept everybody coming back to the store. The Bakery never made deliveries, but the customers came on a daily basis to buy their staples - perhaps hypnotized by the smell. Bread was a favorite for repeat business. She made various kinds of bread, and it was simply delicious. The recipe, passed down from generation to generation, is still a closely guarded secret to this day. So unless you made it at home, it was difficult to buy unless you lived in Fort Worth or another big city. Mrs. Bairds did have a bakery by that time, but Lake Worth was not on their route. The bakery also made french pastries, gingerbread men and kolaches. Mrs. White also made specialty cakes for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions.
The bakery continued serving customers through the wartime period. Mrs. White's sons helped her out whenever possible. During the summer months, business would be a little more brisk, serving Casino Park employees, fishermen and other congregators. Regular customers would come in, talking about the war - discussing about Hitler's attempt to dominate the world, or perhaps the attack on Pearl Harbor. But eventually good defeated evil and it was time for our soldiers to come home. Mr. White, who had been a drill instructor at Fort Dix, came home to continue his plastering business.
The end of the war also closed the chapter on the bakery. With her husband home, Vivian decided that after 6 years of the bakery, 6 days a week at 12-16 hours a day, it was time to "take a rest" and resume a normal family life. There is no doubt that many customers missed her. But the name lives on in the form of White Street. And her recipes have not been forgotten!
Our thanks to Barry and Geoffrey White for their contributions to this article!
Interviews with sons Geoffrey and Barry White
This page was last modified 20 Feb 2003.
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