In 1989, I wrote an article for KANSAS! Magazine about The Film Clip, located in lower level of the Haskell Township Library in Sublette, Kansas. The Film Clip contains an impressive display of movie memorabilia and what is said to be the most extensive collection of literature relating to the entertainment industry in Kansas.
I recently contacted Jamie Wright, Librarian, hoping to update information for my readers, only to learn that The Film Clip collection was moved to the Haskell County Museum last fall, for safe storage, awaiting renovation of the library and is not available for viewing.
According to Wright the contract, calling for an addition to the library and remodeling of the interior, was awarded to Building Solutions LLC, of Dodge City. Present plans are for the renovation to be completed and The Film Clip open for viewing in the fall of 2011, she said.
WHEN I WAS A HARVEY GIRL
“My very first job was as a Harvey Girl,” said Marjorie (Marge) Smith, of Duluth, Minnesota. “It was 1930 and I was just out of high school when I went to work at The Harvey House in Kansas City.
“As trainees, another girl and I squeezed orange juice and cut butter into squares and put them into cabinets under the counter. After our six-month training period was over, we became full-fledged waitresses.
“My sister also worked for Fred Harvey and shortly after that, she and I and another waitress signed up to go to Cleveland, Ohio to work in the newly established Harvey House Restaurant there.
“What I remember most vividly were the uniforms we wore,” Smith laughed. “Getting dressed was the hardest part of the job. Hairnets and corsets were a must. We wore wrap-around white skirts, black tops in the morning, white tops in the afternoon, tea aprons with bibs and stiff white collars which were pinned on with white-headed straight pins. Everything was pinned on including the final touch, a black bow.
“My collar usually wound up being lopsided, but my sister always looked me over before we went in and pinned it on straight. We had surprise inspections periodically at which time the supervisors looked us over carefully for such things as crooked collars and uneven bows. They also checked our fingernails and made sure we were wearing corsets.
“A Harvey girl had to be wholesome, clean, neat, cheerful—and willing to abide by the rules,” Smith said.
“In spite of the strict regulations, I liked working at The Harvey House,” she added. “The tables, set with white cloths and napkins, nice china dishes and vases with a red rose, were beautiful, the atmosphere was always pleasant and the customers congenial. Movie stars traveled by train a lot back then and it was great fun to wait on them.
“Although the salary wasn’t much, the tips were good,” Smith said. “We were told to always wear a smile; I think that’s why we were tipped so well.”
After a year in Cleveland, Smith got homesick and returned to Kansas City where she lived until 1939 when a friend wrote her that a movie was being filmed in Santa Fe, New Mexico and The Harvey House needed waitresses.
Smith headed west.
“The title of the movie was ‘The Light That Failed’,” she said. “It was written by Rudyard Kipling—I still have the book. We were told that the indoor scenes were shot elsewhere and only the outdoor scenes were being shot in the Santa Fe area. This, they said, was because of the unusual cloud formations and because the desert made a good setting for the battle scenes.
“The movie starred Ronald Coleman,” she continued. “He stayed at Bishop’s Lodge, but the crew stayed at The La Fonda Hotel where the Harvey House was; that’s why they needed a lot of waitresses. We had to get up at 3:00 a.m. to serve breakfast. I usually served stunt men in the morning and makeup men in the afternoon.”
By this time, the waitresses were allowed to wear white uniforms, similar to those worn by nurses, with aprons over them, Smith said.
“In the outside dining room where I usually worked, however, we were allowed to wear colorful fiesta dresses; mine was red. They were loose fitting and a lot more comfortable than the uniforms.”
The Harvey House Restaurants, recognized as the first to offer railroad travelers quality service and good food served on fine china, were founded by Fred Harvey, an English emigrant, who deplored the slow service, high prices and unsanitary food served on rail lines at the time. Believing travelers deserved better, and that they would patronize good restaurants, he opened a lunch room for the Santa Fe Railroad in a small red wooden depot in Topeka, Kansas, in 1876.
This venture was so successful he began opening other restaurants up and down the line.
In 1883, the traditional male waiters (who tended to get drunk) were replaced by the first Harvey Girls, in Raton, New Mexico.
Early on, the Harvey Girls were dubbed “the women who civilized the west.” Will Rogers is quoted as saying that if the cowboys were the fathers of the west, The Harvey Girls were the mothers. So many left to get married that the company introduced a new policy; before being hired, girls were required to sign a contract agreeing not to get married for a year.
“Fred Harvey was long-since dead by the time I went to work for the Harvey House but I remember his son, Bryon,” Smith said.
In the 1930's, The Fred Harvey Company also began serving dining car meals.
As railroad travel declined after World War II, the company began catering to automobile travelers, and Fred Harvey restaurants, hotels and retail shops began appearing nationwide. Later expansion to national parks added greatly to the firm’s reputation for fine food and service.
The Harvey Company remained family owned until 1968 when the firm was sold to Amfac Parks and Resorts. The name was changed to Xanterra in 2002.
Now the nation’s largest park management company, Xanterra remains true to the legacy established by Fred Harvey and continues to set the standard for lodging, restaurants and concessions that complement the natural beauty of National Parks throughout the nation.
(Marge Smith died soon after celebrating her 100th birthday March 16, 2011).
Cessna Aircraft has been in the news a lot lately. For a bit of Cessna history, click on the link. To see why I would even be interested, see below.
Ungerer Flying Service, of Marysville, Kansas, had been in business only a few months when we acquired the dealership for Cessna Aircraft and became the proud owners of one of Cessna’s first post war airplanes. The Cessna 120 rolled off the production line in 1946, following the end of World War II. Shortly after, the 120 was followed by Cessna’s 140, 170, 172, 190, and 195 which we also acquired as they rolled off the line.
The Cessna Story
When 86 year old Mary Spurgeon was asked to sculpt an eight-foot likeness of Wyatt Earp, to be displayed on Dodge City’s Wyatt Earp Boulevard, she didn’t bat an eye. She was used to challenges—
THE DIRTY THIRTIES
How Mary Spurgeon dealt with "Black Sunday"
Mary Spurgeon, the artist who sculpted the Wyatt Earp statue on Wyatt Earp Boulevard, in Dodge City, Kansas, grew up in a family of five girls and no boys near Ensign, Kansas a small farming community fifteen miles southwest of Dodge City.
On Sunday, April 14, 1935, she was herding cattle four miles from home. It was a fine day with sunshine and a gentle south wind. Shortly after three o'clock, the wind swung to the northeast and a black cloud rolled across the plains, engulfing everything in darkness.
Seventeen year old Mary Johnson used her coat to protect herself from the stinging, blowing sand. For three hours, the storm raged, alternating between total blackness when "you couldn't see your hand a foot from your face" and brief periods of dim light. Finally, she was able to walk home, leading her horse, wiping the dust from his teary eyes and runny nose.
"It wasn't an easy life, but we had freedom--time to think and time to dream," said Spurgeon whose award-winning western sculpture and paintings reflect her pioneer heritage. Sitting her horse day after day, watching the cattle graze, Spurgeon had dreams that sometime seemed far-fetched.
LIVING OFF THE LAND
(Excerpt from article in May/June issue of Grit Magazine)
In 1949 my husband, Carl, and I decided to move to Arkansas, take life easy and “live off the land.” We had been operating a flying service in Marysville, Kansas since the end of the war and before that Carl had flown B-24’s and B-29’s for the Air Corp. I was a photographer. About as close as either of us had ever come to farming was Carl hoeing weeds in his Dad’s annual spring garden when he was a boy. He figured, however, that anyone intelligence enough to fly bombers and operate airports surely had enough sense to learn how to farm.
To read the entire article, go to:
HOMELAND SECURITY; MEADE COUNTY, KANSAS
"Sixty-eight percent of the world's beef is produced in a triangular area from Dodge City west to the Colorado border, south to Amarillo, Texas and back to Dodge," Stice said. "This includes range cattle, feed lots, and the three Southwest Kansas packing plants -- National Beef, Excel and IBP -- which process process a combined total of one million head of livestock a day."
MID-AMERICA AIR MUSEUM
"We have a great museum," Bert said. "You'd be hard pressed to find an aviation museum with the diversity of airplanes we have anywhere else in the world."
THE DALTON GANG HIDEOUT
Mystery surrounds the Meade, Kanas hideout used by the infamous Dalton Gang --