OK, here are the dates for my Fred Harvey “Who The Hell Goes to Arizona in August?” tour:
8/1: 8 am signing, Williams, Grand Canyon Railway depot bookstore
8/2: Flagstaff, evening lecture for Santa Fe Railway Hsitorical society
8/3: Grand Canyon South Rim, lecture and book signing
8/5: La Posada, Winslow, lecture and book signing, special meal available at Turquoise Room
8/8: Phoenix, Heard Museum, 1 pm
Black Bart and I look forward to seeing you on the long, dusty road. We are, at the moment, trying to arrange for screenings of the new Harvey Girl documentary “Opportunity Bound” at some of these events. If not, it’ll just be me, talking about Fred and Ford and Mary Colter and the Harvey Girls, including all the new things we have recently learned about them.
And, if you’re interested in Americana cooking, epicurious just did a terrific story on the Harvey Girls Cookbook project.
Last night at the National Archives in KC, they brought together an amazing group of Harvey family members, and Fredheads who run Harvey museums or Harvey Girls groups in Santa Fe, Belen, El Paso, Dodge City, Florence, Topeka and Leavenworth. A huge part of the Fredisphere all together in one place, to see Katrina Parks’ new documentary on the Harvey Girls and to also see the National Archives new show “Fred Harvey: The Man the Brand and the American West.”
If haven’t seen the National Archives show yet, by the way, make plans to do so before the end of the year when it closes. It is jam-packed with photos and artifacts I doubt you will ever see together again in one place. Mazel tov to curator Dee Harris, and to Public Programs Specialist Kimberlee Ried for making all of this happen!
And we’re looking forward to seeing most of this crew together again today in Leavenworth.
If you’re a fan of the Harvey Girls or Fred Harvey—or have just been enjoying our Americana cookbook project—wanted to let you know that at the National Archives in Kansas City on 6/21 there will be a premiere of new documentary on the Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound by Katrina Parks, followed by a panel discussion with Parks, “Appetite for America” author Stephen Fried and other Harvey experts. The film will also be shown in nearby Leavenworth, Fred’s home town, at 9:30 Saturday morning, and both the Fred Harvey House Museum and the Leavenworth County Historical Society (where many of Fred’s things currently reside) will be open on Saturday for those who want to dig deeper into Harvey-ana. Here’s a link to the trailer of the film.
Here it is, your link to the the official trailer for the long-awaited documentary, The Harvey Girls–Opportunity Bound by Katrina Parks. I’m pleased to say I’m among the many people interviewed for it, and that I’ll be doing a panel discussion with Katrina the night of its official premiere, June 21 at the National Archive at Kansas City, as part of their exhibit “Fred Harvey: The Man, The Brand and the American West.” (For more information on the documentary and to arrange for later showings, contact the director, Katrina Parks, at email@example.com)
For those who love Fred Harvey, Americana Cooking and Harvey Girliana, please check out our Harvey Girls Cookbook site. You can follow it directly, or via its facebook page, or its twitter feed (or triple your Harvey pleasure and follow all three.) We post a “new” old recipe every day, and encourage today’s cooks to try them and report back their results. Also always looking for test chefs!
Black Bart and me in Glamour, February 2004 Valentine’s Day Story
In Sickness, In Health, In Love_Stephen Fried
In honor of today’s groundbreaking at La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, one of the last of the great Fred Harvey hotels, as it journeys forward into its past for a dramatic renovation that will bring back many of its original design ideas but also offer all that is modern (just as La Fonda did in the 1920s when it first became hugely popular), here’s a photo and a closeup of the original groundbreaking for the expansion of the hotel in 1928, with Fred’s grandson Freddy putting in the first shovel. Good luck to all our friends at La Fonda, and look forward to seeing you again soon!
More Fred Harvey restoration news: Dodge City, KS Tourism Task Force releases feasability study of expanding El Vaquero with a boutique hotel and restaurant! Proud to say my book (mentioned in story) and my visit there with Black Bart may have had some hand in this!
Big News in the Fred Harveysphere…I can officially announce that the Castaneda Hotel in Las Vegas, NM–the first of the great Santa Fe RR/Fred Harvey Mission-style resort hotels, and for years one of the nation’s most promising and most endangered historical landmarks–is under contract of sale to a new owner with big plans and, apparently, the wherewithal to carry them out! Mazel tov to Sloane McFarland, an artist and investor in Phoenix, who is buying the hotel, and to his partners in the city of Las Vegas and the local New Mexico Highlands University! May Fred be with them as they begin this great endeavor.
A wonderful 1939 cartoon by Art Huhta (known at the time in Chicago for his syndicated cartoon DINKY DINKERTON SECRET AGENT) of the lunch counter in the Fred Harvey/Santa Fe Dearborn Station. Done for longtime manager Louie Feichtmann (who started with the company in 1898 on the dining cars and retired in 1940), and shared by his granddaughter Sue Madsen.
I get a lot of requests for the lists of Fred Harvey business practices I use in my lectures. Here are my favorite words of business wisdom from the founding family of the American service industry—who created and ran the first national chain of restaurants, hotels, retail stores, in fact the first national chain of anything, starting in the late 1800s. The way Fred Harvey, his son Ford, and their heirs ran this visionary company from the 1870s through the mid-20th Century is still very relevant today. Their multi-million-dollar family business revolutionized the way we eat, drink and travel—as well as the way we see our customers, our employees, our suppliers and ourselves as professionals.
This advice comes from writing Ford Harvey did in the 1920s to distribute to his employees. A longer version can be found in my book Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civlizing the Wild West—One Meal at a Time (Random House), which the Wall Street Journal selected as one of the Top Ten Books of the Year.
1. Never buy a cheap thing: Everything you buy, you in turn sell. If you buy the best, your customer gets the best.
2. The best price is always the fair price: You may be the first on the market in the morning, but the buyer who is always seeking his supplies at a price under the market will fail to secure preferential consideration.
3. Concentrate your business in as few hands as possible: When you have formed the right associations, “stick” unless convinced your confidence is misplaced, and in that case be careful to see that you hitch up right the next time.
4. Loyalty is double barreled—if you want it, you must be loyal.
5. Plow your profits under: At every point, our growth has been clearly in proportion to our willingness to be moderate in our immediate profit-taking for the sake of the fullest possible satisfaction of the customer. We have not always been so moderate as we might, but always we have paid more for the fun than it was worth. Now, anything above the normal in profits in any section of the business is taken at once as a danger signal and calls for investigation. Generally, we have found, it means that somebody has been cutting costs for a profit showing—without enough regard for profits in the long run.
6. Be committed to complete customer satisfaction: In every venture from the Topeka lunchroom on down, we have been assailed and assailed again with the most plausible reasons for doing things less well. Sticking to our commitment in spite of all sorts of inducements to depart from it has really counted for us.
7. Hold constantly to a level of theoretical perfection: Of course we are not unfailingly successful in having our policies carried out. Of course some of our people fail to hold to our standards, some more often than others. But trying to attain perfection creates a process of natural selection that helps management with its purpose. If, unthinkably, I should direct our meat buyer to purchase second grade beef hereafter, I honestly believe that he would disregard the order. It is the same with all of our department heads and our buyers. Any one of our responsible executives under such circumstances would simply conclude that I had said something that I really did not mean, or that I had suffered a temporary aberration from which I would soon recover.
8. Catch employees young, or at least fairly inexperienced in your kind of business. We find we have a better chance with them that way than if we get them already trained by someone else.
9. Always promote from within your own ranks:We are firm about this. And it is not without a good deal of regret that we sometimes pass up the opportunity to add to our staff a particularly competent individual who has proved himself elsewhere. Our people recognize the opportunities that come to them because we will not hire a man for a responsible job if we can possibly fill it from within.
10. Gradually and steadily expand, so that we may make opportunities for the competent youngster who comes up from the ranks. If we did not expand, they might leave us.
11. Always please the cranks: Anything which suits a finicky customer is bound to be more than satisfactory to the great run of folks who take what is handed them without complaint. The unreasonable customer, by setting the standards to which we hold, has insured our pleasing the reasonable customers who would be satisfied with less. And the finicky customer is by disposition a talker. Take away any grounds for complaint, deprive him of his grievances, and he goes about the world praising you just as ardently as he would otherwise decry you.
12. Never take yourself too damn seriously.
Found this wonderful “new” quote about Fred Harvey as a travel companion–years before he opened his first trackside eating house in 1875–in a search through the Library of Congress’s wonderful “Chronicling America” newspaper database. It’s from Dan Anthony, the editor of the Leavenworth Times–who is best-known because his sister was Susan B. Anthony.
From this, it’s not surprising that Fred later became America’s travel companion.
“I have know Mr. Harvey many years as a railroad man, and as a newspaper man, but Fred is at his best as a travelling companion. He knows the best trains, the best cars, the best conductors, the best berths, the best eating houses and the best hotels, and with him, to know is to want a friend to share the pleasure with him.”
Leavenworth Times, October 13, 1870
In an excerpt from Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West–One Meal at a Time, how they celebrated July 4th in 1879 in the new American West.
Fred Harvey enjoyed Lakin, KS so much that in the summer of 1879, he brought his family there and invited the entire town out for a Fourth of July picnic.
The family had grown. He and his wife, Sally, now had five children: Ford, Minnie, May, Byron, and a brand-new baby daughter, Sybil. Besides the kids, three servants, and a rotating cast of dogs in the house and horses in their small stable, they had Sally’s mother, Mary Mattas, living with them now. The tiny Czech woman still spoke little English, but she communicated her love for her grandkids in other ways, such as praying for each of them in front of their bedroom doors each night. The whole family came along on the trip to Lakin, as well as Sally’s younger sister Maggie from St. Louis, who, at twenty-three, was more than ready to find a husband.
Fred chose Chouteau’s Island for the Fourth of July picnic, which was hosted by him and Sally and catered by his hotel. Prominent politicians, businessmen, and ranchers from all over southwestern Kansas flocked to the lovely spot in the Arkansas River, a Santa Fe Trail landmark since the early nineteenth century when a small band of trappers were said to have held off an attack by several hundred Pawnees.
The very young town of Lakin did not yet have an American flag for the celebration, so a group of local ladies volunteered to make one. Led by Mrs. Carrie Davies—a housekeeper at Fred’s hotel and the wife of the rancher “Wild Horse” Davies—they hand stitched the stripes and all thirty-eight stars. On the day of the event, the entire Davies clan proudly rode together, on horseback and in coaches, behind their flag bearer, C. O. Chapman. His mettle was tested, however, when the section of the Arkansas River they needed to ford to reach Chouteau’s Island turned out to be deeper in the middle than expected. Suddenly Chapman and his horse were completely submerged. He was barely able to hold the flagpole above his head until someone could rescue it— and then him.
Among the guests at the picnic was Colonel R. J. “Jack” Hardesty, one of the richest ranchers in the West. Hardesty lived in nearby Sargent, but his cattle, branded with a half circle over a lazy S, grazed farther south in “No Man’s Land,” the thirty-four-mile stretch that had remained unclaimed when Texas declared statehood in the 1840s and later became the odd little panhandle of Oklahoma. (The town of Hardesty, Oklahoma, was named for him.)
The Kentucky-born Hardesty had made his first fortune going west to mine in the 1860s, and he invested that money, including $10,000 ($243,000) worth of gold he claimed to have carried in his belt, in Texas cattle. He had a reputation for being a gentleman rancher—his cowboys knew better than to swear in front of him—and a generous host. Hardesty often sponsored grand parties: His Christmas ball in Dodge City was considered the social event of the year. But except for his golden retriever, Tick, he was alone at age forty-six, one of the most eligible bachelors west of the Mississippi.
Until he met Fred Harvey’s sister-in-law Maggie Mattas.
After the picnic, everyone went home to change for the July 4th gala at the Lakin depot hotel, for which a band was imported from Pueblo. As the ball began, Fred and Sally Harvey were asked to lead the Grand March. At one point in the evening, Sally saw her petite sister dancing with muscular Jack Hardesty—who looked every bit the western gentleman in his full beard, Stetson hat, and highly buffed cowboy boots—and knew that Maggie had finally met a man who would change her life the way Fred Harvey had changed hers.
Only months later, the couple was married at the Harveys’ home in Leavenworth. They moved into a fine new house in Dodge City, just a block away from the city’s most infamous tourist attraction—the Boot Hill Cemetery, where all the desperadoes from the city’s early days were allegedly buried with their boots on.