Gilman's Bakery - Got Any Free Donuts Today?

by Mary Jane Dougherty

Our family lived on 2nd and Cordova in Anchorage Alaska back in the 1950's and my brother's and sister's and I had to walk to school. Our grade school was Denali Elementary on 9th and Cordova. Donning our winter gear and grabbing our sack lunches that our mother Feodoria made for us, off we went in the morning darkness and cold walking to school.

We trekked thru the snow across the field and up the hill, crossing several streets and finally making it to 6th Street and Cordova and there it stood. "Gilman's Bakery!" Mmmm,I couldn't wait to open the doors, go inside and smell the wonderful aroma of the best freshest donuts in all of Anchorage. It was also nice to get inside where we could warm up from walking in the cold and the snow.

Gilman's Bakery was a very large wooden structure and there were racks and racks of donuts. Our friends would also be in there enjoying the aroma and warmth. I was a very shy school girl, but every day I would say these famous words. "Do you have any free donuts?" The answer could be one of many. "No! Now get to school", "not now, maybe tomorrow", "donuts are a nickel" or my favorite answer, "yes! we do, here's a glazed donut for you." Glazed was my favorite.

Not everyone would get a donut just a lucky few. With donut in hand I took off my mitten to enjoy my donut prize and my family and friends would begin our walk to school. Later, I dipped my sticky fingers in the cold wet snow and then quickly put my mitten back on, but I could still taste that delicious glazed donut. Then there was after school.

Yep, believe it or not. When school was over and we walked in the darkness, the cold and in the snow, again we would stop in once again at "Gilman's Bakery" and I would say those five famous words, "Got any free donuts today?"


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My Dad Worked for Gilman's Bakery in the '40's
by: Sharon DeBoer

My dad, Vernon DeBoer, worked at Gilman's Bakery starting in 1947 or 1948.

He and mom had just arrived in Anchorage, and Mr. Gilman hired my dad to maintain the bread-wrapping equipment.

Dad loved working for him, and dad told many stories about what an honest, hard-working boss he had.

Good man, Mr. Gilman!

Tour of Gilman’s
by: Anonymous

Not sure what year, but as little kids we got a tour of Gilman’s and a free donut!

I can still see the big old wooden building and the aroma of donuts.

Loved Gilman's
by: Kathi Meachum

I loved Gilman’s Bakery.

We lived almost directly across the street from the Gilman's. I have many fond memories of tasting those wonderful donuts.

Just the smell inside the bakery would warm you up in the winter.

I spent time with the youngest Gilman's girl. We both lived across from Denali elementary.
Went swimming in an indoor place that gave us lessons. I remember riding the train up to a place called Sunshine. I think that was the only way up there. Gilmans cook/housekeeper would take us. It was in the boonies and so much fun.

Many fond memories with Janice Gilman and Dr,O’Malleys children across the street from us on 10th Ave.

loved how the dog sled races would run right by our house.

So many memories...

Free Donuts
by: Tracy

Us too Mary!

Loved those memories.

Gilman's Donuts
by: Anonymous

I would trade empty cardboard boxes for donuts (sometimes).

I don't remember ever asking for free ones, although finding a cardboard box was free so in that sense they were free.

I don't remember where we would find the empty cardboard boxes but we knew if we wanted a donut we'd have to find one somewhere. Sometimes it didn't work . . . either we couldn't find a box or when we did, Gilman's didn't want to trade that day.

Life could be bitter on the frontier if you were a little kid wanting a donut.

Yummy Gilman's Bakery
by: Michael Dougherty

Mary, you actually got free donuts?

I remember going to Denali elementary school and having another kid tell me that if I went to Gilman's Bakery and ask for a free donut, they would give me one. That seemed like a good deal.

So the next day, on my way to school, off I went to Gilman's.

I opened the door and walked up to the counter and asked, "could I please have a free donut?"

The lady behind the counter didn't even look up at me as she said, "we don't have any free donuts today."

I left and never went back.

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