Seventy years before this Jan. 31, 1917 photo of a young waitress serving donuts and fruit was taken in a South Boston luncheonette, a Maine ship captain invented the donut as we know it today – with a hole.
On the day this photo was taken, Capt. Hansen Gregory was living in the next town and telling his cronies how he'd gotten the great inspiration to cut a hole in a donut.
He was an 85-year-old resident of the Sailor’s Snug Harbor in Quincy, Mass. His fame as the inventor of the modern donut had spread, and the Washington Post interviewed him in a story published March 26, 1916.
Capt. Gregory told the reporter he discovered the donut hole when he was a 16-year-old crewman on a lime-trading schooner in 1847:
Now in them days we used to cut the doughnuts into diamond shapes, and also into long strips, bent in half, and then twisted. I don't think we called them doughnuts then--they was just 'fried cakes' and 'twisters.' "Well, sir, they used to fry all right around the edges, but when you had the edges done the insides was all raw dough. And the twisters used to sop up all the grease just where they bent, and they were tough on the digestion.
He asked himself if a space inside the dough would solve the difficulty – and then he got the great inspiration:
I took the cover off the ship's tin pepper box, and—I cut into the middle of that doughnut the first hole ever seen by mortal eyes!
Capt. Hanson Gregory died in 1921 and is buried in the Snug Harbor Cemetery.
The photograph was taken by Lewis Wickes Hine, the social reformer whose photos of very young workers influenced the passage of child labor laws. His caption read, "Exchange Luncheon. Delia Kane, 14 years old. 99 C Street, South Boston. A young waitress."