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Behind the scenes look at old Zimmerman's bakery

This is a photo of the oven in Zimmerman’s Bakery, as it was when Wayne Turner worked there during the 1950s. Frazers photo, 3004 St. Mary’s Ave. Photo contributed by Randi Quinn Widaman.


Wayne Turner was just 16 when he went to work at Zimmerman’s Bakery, located at 722 Broadway in Hannibal. The post office was at Sixth and Broadway; the jail was at Third and Church; two hospitals competed for business, one on Market and the other on Broadway and Virginia streets.

Turner was still in high school at the time - it was 1948 - and got a job racking bread when his first cousin, Darrell Baldwin, left the bakery’s employ.

“He couldn’t work there anymore, because he played football,” for the high school, and couldn’t do both. “Darrell later became an airplane mechanic in Minneapolis,” Turner said.

Turner, now a retired baker, is 92 years old and lives in Fort Wayne, Ind. His latest claim to fame is that he is the father to Gerry Turner, the current “Golden Bachelor” on the TV series on ABC.

Explaining his first job, Turner said, “they would dump bread on the table, and I would put it two at a time onto a rack, then push (the rack) into the other room, where Raymond V. Wells would wrap it.”

In those early days, Marian Easley and Jack Sederwall were foremen for Zimmerman’s Bakery, and Howard Sederwall was a baker.

When Zimmerman’s sold the business circa 1959, two employees were offered jobs with the new company. Turner and Harley Jones moved to Iowa. Turner stayed, but Jones soon returned to Hannibal.

Turner attended the International Bakers School, which ultimately gave him a step up the promotion ladder.

“I left my job and wife and kids, they stayed in Ottawa,” in order for him to become a smart baker. "It payed off; if you told somebody you graduated from The International Bakers School, they would hire you.”

He was the oldest student in the class, at the age of 35.

“I worked in South Bend, Ind., and a guy from Fargo called. They offered me a job as superintendent and I got a $15,000 raise.”

HHS student

He moved to Hannibal with his parents in 1948. While a student at Hannibal High School, he took an auto mechanic’s course at a building downtown, near the railroad tracks. “I walked there every morning, three or four blocks, then we caught a school bus, or rode in a car, to the high school” on McMaster’s Avenue. When riding with friends, “We’d stop at Maid Rite and get hamburger and a coke.”

In the afternoon, he had three or four academic classes. “Most of the kids (in the school) didn’t even know I was there.”

He got his first car in December 1948.

Six weeks later, the car was totaled.

He took a few friends on a fishing trip into Illinois. “I went to make a left hand turn off the highway,” when a Hannibal Quincy Truckline truck “rear ended me.

“It put two people in the hospital for a couple of days,” he said. “I got to keep my car, sold for $400-$500 for scrap; they paid the hospital bills.

He didn’t get another car until after he graduated.

He continued to work for Zimmerman’s following his graduation from high school in 1949. He was married to his high school sweetheart, Jane Mudd, in 1950. “She was a grade behind me,” he said. 

He stayed in bread baking for 50 years. “In my profession, I was good at it. I was a manager and production superintendent for several plants.” He retired from Cortenerias Baking Company in Virginia Beach, Va.

Pictured is the overhead proofer, an integral part of the bread-baking process. Wayne Turner said the that dough was divided into loaf sizes, and it would then ride in the overhead proofer for 20 minutes before it went into the pan. “Every plant has one,” Turner said. He remembers that the man who ran this machine in the 1950s was named Joe. Frazers photo, 3004 St. Mary’s Ave. Photo contributed by Randi Quinn Widaman.

Wayne Turner in the 1950s, when he was employed as a baker for Zimmerman’s Bakery. Contributed photo


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