Monday, July 21, 2008

Harvey Houses Remembered at Tea in Arlington Kansas

Sunday Teresa, Julie, Jan and I went to tea in Arlington, Kansas. This is a fundraiser tea and it's just completely lovely.

Verna is one of the ladies who organizes it. They transform their church basement by carrying in tons of wonderful decorations. And, the food is always very good.

This was just one of the little desserts they served. Yummy.

Their program this year was about Fred Harvey and Harvey Houses. Joanne Stanley came from Topeka to give the program.

Fred Harvey developed a system, in conjunction with the Santa Fe Railroad, to serve food to rail passengers. The first Harvey House was in Topeka in 1876. For 35 cents you got eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, pancakes, coffee and apple pie. It was served on real china on real linens. It was a revolution in the industry.

Within seven years, Harvey had 17 places in operation.

The lady in the blue, over to the right edge, was a Harvey girl herself.

Her name is Evelyn Nunnemaker. I went over afterwards and asked if I could take her photo. She was just lovely and have a great smile, but I couldn't get her to show it to me when I was taking a photo. She worked at the Harvey House at the Grand Canyon. She taught school and was looking for a summer job and got that one.

She was hired on the spot and sent the next day, which was unusual. Many girls trained in Newton, Kansas. All the laundry for the whole chain was done in Newton, too.

Fred Harvey started out with men serving, but in 1883 when the male waiters had been in a brawl the night before and didn't show up for work, a manager in New Mexico suggested using girls instead and Fred Harvey liked the idea. He started advertising for women 18-30, attractive, educated and of good character.

The speaker, Stanley, brought some items to show, as well. Harvey bought his first hotel in Florence, Kansas a few years after he started. He hired the chef from the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago and paid him $5000 a year. No doubt he was the best paid man in Florence, Kansas, at the time.

Harvey girls worked hard - usually 6-7 days a week from 12 hours a day. They lived in dormitories as part of the Harvey system.

We all had a good time...

That's Julie in the hat, and Teresa...

And this is Jan, who loves tea, too. It was a great afternoon.

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