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Morning Sun
  • Salsbury closing Six-0-One Donut Shop

  • As delicious as Merl Salsbury’s doughnuts, apple fritters and long johns were, his Six-0-One Donut Shop offered far more to many loyal customers.



    It was also a place to hang out, connect with friends and with Salsbury, a calm man who never seemed to get upset and enjoyed visiting with customers.

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  • As delicious as Merl Salsbury’s doughnuts, apple fritters and long johns were, his Six-0-One Donut Shop offered far more to many loyal customers.
    It was also a place to hang out, connect with friends and with Salsbury, a calm man who never seemed to get upset and enjoyed visiting with customers.
    After today, those customers will have to find someplace else to go. Salsbury is closing up shop after more than 50 years in the doughnut business.
    Dean Powell and Lynn Ferrell organized a surprise party Friday at the shop, which was filled with regulars.
    “We all come in here about every day, six to 12 guys,” said Dan Rodabaugh. “We’ve got pictures on the walls, and some of the guys have passed away.”
    “A lot of prominent people in the community would come, including Don Widner, Bob Bath, Jack Templin and Paul Hill,” Powell added. “We’d get some in-depth conversations going once in a while.”
    Rodabaugh said he had been coming to the shop at 601 S. Broadway for coffee since around 2004, but claimed to have been eating Salsbury’s doughnuts longer than any  other customer in the room.
    “I was eating his doughnuts before 1960, when he was still in Fort Scott,” he said. “Merl was delivering doughnuts in Pittsburg, and my grandparents had the Fieldcrest Superette on South Joplin.”
    Salsbury remembers that well.
    “Your grandmother always went through my change and saved the buffalo nickels,” he told Rodabaugh.
    Salsbury was born in Wisconsin, and reminisced with one customer about his school days there.
    “There wasn’t a road to the school, and the teacher had to walk there,” he said. “When we got to school in winter, the first thing the teacher did was check us for frozen heels and toes. We used to have to go to the neighboring farmer’s field and dip water out of his tank for our drinking water.”
    The family moved to Fort Scott from Wisconsin in 1950.
    “My father had a grocery store on the east side of Fort Scott and I was the butcher,” he said. “There was a man who delivered doughnuts there, and one day he said he’d like to sell his shop and go to Alaska. That was when they were building that first pipeline. I said, ‘I’ll buy the shop,’ and I didn’t even know where it was.”
    He started in the doughnut business in the last week of February 1955 and worked in Fort Scott for 10 years.
    “My brother Floyd was with me in the shop and I delivered doughnuts to Mulberry, Arma, Arcadia and Pittsburg, and Floyd delivered them to Bronson, Moran, Iola, as far west as Humboldt.”
    Page 2 of 2 - One of their Fort Scott customers was car dealer Ray Shepherd, who might order as many as 125 dozen doughnuts if he was having a big sale.
    “Once he had a Ford sale and a Chevrolet sale on the same day and we couldn’t keep up making doughnuts,” Salsbury said.
    After a time, Salsbury’s children needed to find jobs, and so did his brother’s family.
    “Floyd kept Fort Scott, and I moved to Pittsburg in 1965 because I’d delivered here for 10 years,” Salsbury said.
    His first Pittsburg store was at 2210 N. Broadway, a temporary location until he was able to buy property on South Broadway and build a new shop. He has been at 601 S. Broadway since 1993.
    Salsbury said he had stayed in the business so long because he was stubborn.
    “I worked harder and tried to make the best product I could,” he said. “I  was born and raised on a farm. That and making doughnuts is all I’ve ever known.”
    He never advertised in the newspaper, on radio or TV, but gave away whatever he had left over at the end of the day, to churches, businesses, banks, City of Pittsburg offices, etc.
    “That was my advertising,” he said.
    Now it’s time to quit.
    “I said a year ago that when my wife was in a rest home, I’d quit,” Salsbury said. “She’s in a rest home now.”
    He and wife Dorothy were married June 26, 1948, in Wisconsin.
    He’s got no special plans for his retirement, except maybe to stay up a little later and sleep a little later.
    “I go to bed at 5 p.m. and get up at 11:30 p.m.,” Salsbury said. “I’ll try to change that.”
    As his customers left the shop Friday, one of them wished him good luck.
    “I’ve had good luck,” Salsbury said.
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