I’m not old enough to remember the cookie plant as well as some do. Most of my memories are bits and pieces…how good the town smelled when cookies were baking…school trips to the factory where we were given a cookie to eat, memories that had actually been long buried until various people began sharing both their own memories and their photos with Missy Jones and I. With Missy’s help, I began to look for more info.
You will be able to find more photos and (hopefully) a filmed interview at the Comanche County Historical Museum.
Like every venture, the cookie shop began with an idea…or maybe it first began with a job, a job anyone would have been thrilled to have during those depression years.
Twenty-year-old Earl Oden went to Dallas in the early 1930s in search of a job, and the job he was lucky enough to land happened to be in a bakery. The young baker spent six years in that bakery, and he baked everything his particular store offered, learning the trade very well and also learning that cookies offered more profit with less trouble than did other baked goods.
The young man also dreamed while he baked…dreamed of owning his own bakery, a bakery that specialized in cookies, however. Fortunately for the town of Comanche, Earl Oden also fell in love while he was baking in Dallas. The young lady was Miss Edith Braziel whose parents just happened to be from Comanche, Texas. The couple married, and Earl decided that it was time to follow his baker dreams so the couple moved to Edith’s hometown.
In March of 1937, the Earl Oden opened his bakery in a rented building on the south side of the square in Comanche. He had one oven, and with that he began baking cookies. He had enough money to buy sugar, 12 pounds of lard, and 25 pounds of flour, and he made as many cookies as he could with this amount.
Some things never change, and if you live in a small town you will understand that a new guy in town, a new business, and BOUGHT cookies were probably not an overnight success, to say the least. However, Earl did finally sell those cookies and made enough off of them to buy a larger amount of ingredients and bake more cookies.
Gradually, the business grew until Oden was baking large amounts of cookies two days a week and selling them the other three days, transporting them in his Model A. Eventually, the business outgrew its little building and was moved to the north side of the square into the building where years later I would shop for fabric with Ben Everidge. In this building the baker was able to upgrade to a double oven.
In 1945, the Oden’s purchased the South Austin Street property that most of us remember, and the business continued to thrive and grow. That building was the old Howard Garage, and Oden remodeled it into what I am told was a very modern facility for the day.
By 1950, what we all called the cookie factory, the cookie plant, or the cookie shop employed more than 20 people with a payroll of over 25,000, not much by today’s standards, however, a boon to the 1950 Comanche economy for sure! The Model A delivery service was long gone, and the company owned 5 of its own trucks and hired about 30 more independent truckers.
At some point, and I am unclear as to exactly when, Oden’s brother-in-law, Spurgeon Braziel joined him as a partner in what was a very successful business.
And here at United our thank you goes out to Bo Elrod and James Ray Oden for the photos and the memories!