|Henry and Neva Hanna Crownover, circa 1910|
|Harvey Girl uniform|
Uncle Henry and Aunt Neva were packed and ready to leave their home in Decatur, Indiana and head into the wild west to visit her parents, Palestine and Mary Hanna, who were living in Albuquerque at the time. I adore their smart travel attire. Neva's wool houndstooth skirt, with matching coat, over one arm, complete with pocketbook, gloves and hat. Uncle Henry looks mighty dapper, himself, in his summer straw hat, and collar perfectly held in place with studs, and a lovely silk tie.
I heard a fascinating piece on NPR this week about Fred Harvey, responsible for bringing good food at reasonable prices in clean, elegant restaurants, to the travelling public throughout the Southwest in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They were well known for their great steaks, coffee, and excellent service. By its peak in 1928, the Fred Harvey empire ran nearly 100 restaurants and 25 hotels from Chicago to Los Angeles.
|Harvey Girls Maryellen Harris Skillman*,|
right, and friend
No doubt, Uncle Henry and Aunt Neva would stop somewhere along the way, at least once, at a Fred Harvey railroad eating house. The train would stop just long enough for hungry passengers to order a blue plate special, a sumptuous meal, served on china with a blue pattern. Men patrons were even required to wear a jacket and tie in order to be served. Uncle Henry would definitely pass inspection.
Harvey Houses were famous for their excellent service, provided by their staff of Harvey Girls. Fred Harvey sought out single, well mannered, educated ladies, and placed ads in newspapers throughout the east coast and midwest for "Young women, 18 to 30 years of age, of good character, attractive and intelligent." It's estimated that 100,000 women went west to work as Harvey Girls.
Today, the Harvey Girls are most likely known from the 1946 MGM musical The Harvey Girls, in which Judy Garland plays a young woman heading west, as a mail order bride, but ends up joining the Harvey Girls, instead.The hit song from the film "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe", won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer.
In this movie, it was said that the women were "conquering the West with a beef steak and a cup of coffee". Sounds pretty good to me.
This is a Sepia Saturday post.
*Thanks to Sheri Fendley for the photo of her grandmother.