THE HARVEY GIRLS: The Women Who Civilized the West by Juddi Morris

THE HARVEY GIRLS: The Women Who Civilized the West

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KIRKUS REVIEW

According to Morris, the railroad trip west wasn't worth taking until a young Englishman, Fred Harvey, began providing food along the way. Harvey, who started out in New York as a ""pot walloper"" (dishwasher), longed for his own first-class restaurant. When he took a job as a railroad freight agent to finance his dream he saw a chance to replace the notoriously bad station cafe food with fine fare in quality restaurants. ""Harvey Houses"" on the Santa Fe line became legendary not only for their meals but also for sterling service by waitresses recruited and trained in the ""Harvey way."" Farm girls, widows, immigrants, adventurers -- they answered Harvey's newspaper ads for attractive and intelligent young women ""of good moral character,"" lived in dormitories, donned smart uniforms, and served cowpokes and miners from Kansas to California. Retired waitresses report a happy, convivial life and a demanding but fairly enlightened employer who offered opportunities (primarily to whites) for advancement and education through booms and busts. Before the decline of passenger trains after WW II, some 100,000 spunky young women had worked in 100 Harvey establishments, pioneering the way West for other working women. Interesting b&w photos (with brief captions) amplify the cheerful text; source notes; bibliography; index.

Pub Date: June 27th, 1994
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Walker