A Place for the Dishpan

large old-fashioned kitchen sink
Source: School and Home Cooking (1920) by Carlotta Greer

The 1922 edition of Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries has a chapter titled “Kitchen Discoveries.” One of the Discoveries was a suggestion for storing the dishpan:

A Place for the Dishpan

To save reaching under the drainboard to get my dishpan from a nail, which is the usual place for putting it, I have had a shelf built under the drainboard just low enough to take the dishpan. There I keep the dishpan, rinsing pan, and drainer where they may be reached without any effort. 

K.S.C., Mass.

This tip left me scratching my head. I couldn’t quite picture how dishpans, rinsing pans, and drainers were stored a hundred years ago. Clearly the typical kitchen sink back then was different from modern ones. And, I’m guessing that many of us don’t regularly use dishpans, rinsing pans, and drainers, which makes it even harder to understand the tip (or the need for it).

Then I remembered a post that I did several years ago where I included a picture of a sink. I found that picture, and though not exactly the same set-up described in the Discovery tip, I think that I have a better understanding of what the author described.

Belle De Graf and Her Cookbook

Belle De Graf
Source: Mrs. De Graf’s Cook Book (1922)

Each year I buy several cookbooks off eBay for whatever year is currently exactly a hundred years ago. This year one of the 1922 books I bought was Mrs. De Graf’s Cook Book. One of the front pages has a photo of the author, Belle De Graf. The photo is glued into the book, and beneath it is the printed signature of the author. The opposite page contained information about her.

Description Belle De Graf
Source: Mrs. De Graf’s Cook Book (1922)

Intrigued, I googled Belle De Graf, and a bio of her popped up on a site called Lovely Antique Ladies.  She lived in San Francisco, and married at 18. A few years later her husband went to prison at San Quentin for seven years for grand larceny. The 1900 census lists her as a widow – even though she had a husband in prison. It doesn’t sound like they ever really got back together, and by 1916 she was teaching cooking classes for the Sperry Flour Company. In the 1920 census she is listed as the Director of Domestic Science at Sperry Flour.

It’s fascinating how Belle De Graf  was so resilient and somehow managed to navigate her way through a difficult situation to become a successful cookbook author and Director of Domestic Science.

Hundred-Year-Old Advice About When to Eat

woman eating
Source: Household Arts for Home and School, Vol. 2 (Anna M. Cooley & Wilhelmina H. Spohr, 1920)

Here’s what a hundred-year-old magazine said about when to eat:

When to Eat

Do not eat between meals. East regularly, but when not hungry, eat sparingly.

Do not eat after violent exercise.

Do not eat when excited or fatigued.

East sparingly on hot days.

Do not eat within three hours of retiring.

Do not exercise violently, or sleep after a meal.

Eat regularly at specified times. This accustoms the stomach to receive food at these times, and encourages proper digestion.

Do not overeat; rather undereat, and leave the table unsatisfied than risk the danger that attends overeating.

Animals seldom eat when ill. Instinct is a good judge.

A normal, healthy person should be hungry at meal times. But if not hungry eat only a piece of fruit to retain the normal rhythm. A day fast often gives the digestive system a much needed rest. A short walk, before breakfast, helps digestion, and aids bowel movement.

American Cookery (August – September, 1922)