Saturday, September 1, 2012

Who were the Harvey Girls?

Have you ever heard of a Harvey girl? Chances are, you probably haven't. So, I'm going to tell you about them.

  The Harvey girls were girls between the ages of 18-30(although some lied about their age- a few were only 14!) who worked in railroad dining places known as Harvey Houses during the late 1800-1920's.  they worked as waitresses and helped out in the kitchen or worked at the counters.The requirements for the jobs were very strict. No make up, gum, dating, smoking, drinking, or trading jobs. Fred Harvey wanted all his restaurants to serve good food and have good workers. "Service with a smile"= a Harvey girl was always supposed to be polite, even to the most irate customer. They went through months of training to learn how things like the 'cup code',(how to tell what drink someone wanted by the way the waitresses held the empty cup) how to memorize orders, and how to keep there uniform perfectly clean without wearing an apron. One angry manager was said to have tipped a table over as it was not set perfectly-one fork was out of place.

  Some compared Harvey girl training to being in the army, but it was a highly sought-after job. It paid well, and although the managers were very strict, there was a chance of becoming a boss of your own Harvey House someday. Harvey Houses offered young women a chance to see the world and "leave the farm", which is why many took the jobs.

 If you want to learn more about the Harvey girls, I suggest you read Harvey Girl, by Shelia Wood Foard. It's a fictional story, but all the historical details are accurate.

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