• Clinton's Early Risers
  • The 63rd Missouri Photo Workshop / Clinton, Mo.
  • For 17 years Chris Dehart, 51, has owned and operated Daylight Donuts, a small donut shop in the central town square of Clinton, MO (pop. 21,094). Once a part of a bustling small downtown, today the square is a mixture of shuddered storefronts and, according to Chris, several struggling mom and pop businesses. Daylight Donuts is one of those shops.

    Chris works hard to maintain the shop, waking up at 1:30 a.m. everyday to make donuts in order to serve them hot and fresh to her first customers, many who arrive by 5:00 a.m. Chris works alone six days a week, resting only on Sunday. She begins with mixing the dough, then spends the next two hours mixing, kneading, rolling, proofing, cutting, frying and glazing. Chris doesn't start the day, of course, without brewing coffee--she pours a cup then another, and waits for her regular customers to arrive. By the end of the morning, Chris will have made 20 or more pots of coffee.

    Chris's donut shop has been a staple of the Clinton community since opening in 1994. Her shop is the aging confectionary community equivalent of the infamous sitcom "Cheers"--a community living room for Clinton's early risers who frequent her shop. Twilight at Daylight Donuts is quiet. The regulars, half-asleep, wait in the shared comfort of their familiar shop while chain-smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. With time and caffeine, they awake, conversing over family, politics and fishing as Chris serves donuts or cooks breakfast. As the day unfolds, many people pass through Chris's doors, laughing and shouting jokes at fellow friends scattered about the vinyl seating.


    Chris enters the shop at 2:00 a.m. to begin preparation of the day's donuts. She opened the shop in 1994 with her late husband Michael. Since his death from a rare gastrointestinal cancer four years after the store's opening, she has managed the shop on her own.

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