Flashback: The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes

On a recent trip to the library, I was surprised and very pleased to see this book on display.

The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes

By Phyllis Krasilovsky  and illustrations by Barbara Cooney

Doubleday Books (First published in 1950)

This was a book I’d forgotten about over time, yet as a young student it was a book I borrowed time and time again from the school library.

As a child I found this book hilarious. I couldn’t imagine eating my dinner out of a soap dish or an ash tray. I also remember feeling sorry for the man who lived alone. I was from a family of seven so I imagined he would’ve been incredibly lonely. I wondered how his story might have been different if he lived with other people. They could have shared the load a little.

Now that I look back at it, this was a foreshadowing book for me to enjoy as a child. Little did I know as a child that I would become this man, although I haven’t quite learned my lesson like he had. If you visit my house on any day of the week you will usually find a pile of unwashed dishes on my bench, too busy and too tired to do the daily chores of an evening.

Do you remember this story from your childhood?

The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes is about a tidy man who lived alone. Each night he would cook and clean for himself.

One night however, he was simply too tired to clean his dishes. He thought no harm would come of leaving the dishes until the following night.

But on the next night he was feeling even more tired and there were more dishes to do, and so he left them for the following night. He became more and more tired with each night, and the stack of dishes just got bigger and bigger. Slowly he was running out of crockery and cutlery until he was forced to eat his dinner from plant pots and soap dishes.

This went on until he became so unhappy. He looked around at the dirty dishes filling his house. The job had become too big. Cleverly, he took his dishes outside and let the rain do the work for him. He returned everything to its rightful place and learned his lesson. He wouldn’t deviate from his routine again.

This book was published a number of times between 1950 and 1983, so the illustrations are in retro colours of green, orange and black. Books have certainly come a long way in their colours, typeset and illustrations but a wonderful story will always be a wonderful story. I read The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes now and laugh along with the story. I’m sure leaving dishes is a common practice for many other people too.

Which books do you remember from your childhood?

I wonder if you could find them at one of these online stores:

We Heart Books

Birdy Popcorn

Honeybee Books

The Hungry Bookshelf

Flashback: The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes

  1. I loved that book too. My other favourite was “Come Back Amelia Bedelia”

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