Bessie D. Sinkey, age 39, had her small slice of fame back in 1935. She won five 1st and 2nd place prizes at the Los Angeles County Fair. That many prizes is – and was – quite an achievement.
Multitudes of women vie for blue ribbons at county fairs across the nation. The competition is fierce. The winners are few.
In 1935, 29 women (13 of them from Pomona, CA) won prizes for their baked concoctions. A small cookbook commemorated the women, acknowledging their award winning delicacies.
Mrs. Gertrude Beauchamp, 261 W. 8th Street, Pomona
Helen Armstrong, 2101 Canyon Drive, Hollywood
Mrs. C. E. Gregg, 703 N. Vine, Ontario
Miss Jody F. Reynolds, Rt 1, Box 719, La Canada
Mrs. Clara Ayers, Rt 2, Box 54, Covina
Miss Katherine Bower, 506 Randolph Ave, Pomona
Mrs. Sam Teeter, La Verne
Mrs. Beth Williamson, Box 4, Pomona
Mrs. R. J. Hoover, 476 E. Center, Pomona
Mrs. Glenn Morgan, 432 W. Second St, San Dimas
Bessie D. Sinkey, 444 W. Alvarado, Pomona
Mrs. C. C. Comerford, 1239 E. Franklin, Pomona
Mrs. R. M Netzley, 2318 Bonita, Covina
Mrs. Mary Planka, 615 S. Hamilton, Pomona
Mrs. Walter E. Carey, 547 N. Friends, Whittier
Mrs. B. F. Thompson, 2431 E. 7th Street, Long Beach
Ruth Einsiedel, 2424 Beverly Avenue, Ocean Park Mrs. S. M. Rosedale, Yorba Linda Mrs. Ethel M. Brown, 810 Merrill St, Corona
Mrs. Anna Davis, 844 Huntington, Pomona
Mrs. O. D. Hall, 183 E. Pearl, Pomona
Kathryn Brown, 236 San Francisco, Pomona
Mrs. J. M. Linville, 247 N. Lake St, Los Angeles
Kathryn Mills, 226 S. 29th Street, San Diego
Mildred Whitehead, 1300 Dudley Street, Pomona
Mrs. C. S. Kinzie, 9214 Magnolia Avenue, Arlington
Mrs. Helen Gadegaard, 1904 W. Holt, Pomona
Kathleen Adamson, 1873 Elwood, Pomona
Mrs. W. E. Neil, San Dimas
At some point in time, Bessie and her husband Leo, a caretaker at a citrus grove (per the 1940 census) moved to Oroville, California. Leo died in 1949; Bessie in 1985. Both are buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Oroville.
No one else is alive today to share the stories of Bessie’s achievement. No one tells of Bessie’s delicious Ginger Snaps. No one raves about her tasty Date Loaf Cake.
I don’t know who Bessie was, nor what she looked like. I don’t know what her dreams were. I don’t know what she liked. She is gone. But written proof of her baking skills still exists.
I do know that on one of the 17 fair days in 1935, Bea Bender and Pauline Washburn attended. Bea and Pauline, owners of Bender’s Fudge with shops in Duarte and Catalina Island, brought home a cookbook souvenir with the winning recipes.
The cookbook sat, amidst a lifelong collection of post cards, photographs and newspapers. The two women aged and lived the rest of their lives in Glendora, next door to a little girl named Patsy. In the mid 1970’s, following their deaths, the cookbook – along with other mementos – joined Patsy’s collection. Again, it lay unappreciated for another forty years.
Until the little girl grew up. And wanted to share stories of the people of the past.
Now, once again, Bessie’s fifteen minutes of fame is revived, along with the other 28 women who placed in the Los Angeles County Fair in 1935.
By buying and saving the cookbook, Bea and Pauline had a part in honoring the memories of these women so many years later. When they brought the cookbook home, I doubt either of them thought, “I wonder if someone will use this cookbook to write an article about these women 80 years from now?”
Carol LaChapelle wrote, in Finding Your Voice, Telling Your Stories, “… people die twice: when they physically die, and when we stop telling stories about them.” Today, we keep these memories alive for a little longer. For another fifteen minutes anyway
Do you know any of these women? Do you have any stories about ‘the good ole days’ that you’d like to share? Contact Trisha Faye at firstname.lastname@example.org