My head is still reeling from my 24-hour visit to Dodge City (literally reeling, the pollen count in Kansas is, I believe, infinity). I gave two talks at the fully restored Fred Harvey El Vaquero Hotel building–complete with Fred Harvey meals served by the wonderful new chef there (we’ll be posting his recipes on the Fred Harvey Cookbook Project site.) Everyone there was incredibly nice to Black Bart and I (the highlight for her–her placecard read “Black Bart”), the food was amazing, and I was even made an honorary marshall (and have the badge to prove it.

And it sounds like Dodge City really has some ideas about exploring its Fred Harvey heritage more. They’re going to restore a guest room at the El Vaquero to look authentic (I’ll be interested to see which time period they choose, the hotel was run by Fred Harvey from 1896 to 1948). And they’ve decided to “sister” with the other nearby Harvey House, in Waynoka, OK. Both locations are, at the moment, still off the beaten FH trail in Arizona and New Mexico, but we’re hoping that changes, and more people continue east from Santa Fe, checking out the Harvey properties in Las Vegas, NM and continuing to Waynoka and Dodge City–a longer but ultimately more satisfying “Tour De Fred.”

Anyway, here are some shots from our stay in Dodge. thanks again to everyone who brought us there, and please get us the hell back into Dodge soon.


New DVD release of priceless archival western films–Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938–includes “The Tourists” from 1912, filmed at and around the Fred Harvey Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque by Mack Sennett, and a 1926 Indian Detours promo film made by the Santa Fe railroad in and around La Fonda in Santa Fe.

Nice big academic review of Appetite for America in “Reviews in American History”: “the research is priceless and the writing eloquent … a work that will find its way to the bookshelves of scholars of the Western U.S. as well as historians interested in American business, social, cultural, culinary, and tourist history … [and] will most likely find its most comfortable home on the shelves of foodies, who will be entertained by Fried’s engaging narrative.”

In fewer than 24 hours in DC, I had the rare pleasure of speaking to the regular Tuesday Colloquium of curators at the Smithsonian Museum of American History (joined by colleagues from the new Museum of the American Indian), and then a terrific public event at the National Archive, as part of the their incredibly popular show, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam.” My goal–besides meeting Fredheads and signing books–was to help people at the Smithsonian and National Archives understand that the Fred Harvey story is now very much a living, growing history, worthy of their curatorial attention.

The Fred Harvey story–a wonderful prism through which to see and understand the American West, Native American art and artistic commerce, the rise of the American service industry, foodie culture and the hospitality industry–was once considered a pretty static, almost cartoonish saga for which most of the pertinent details (and artifacts) had been lost to time. The museum show at the Heard in Phoenix in 1996 was considered its first and maybe last hurrah, the restored hotel and restaurant at La Posada in Winslow its only new shrine to the original heroes of Fred Harvey company (Fred and Ford Harvey, Dave Benjamin, Herman Schweizer, Mary Colter and others.)

But I think people all over the country are starting to realize that Harvey history is alive again, and what I did with the research and writing of Appetite for America is only the beginning. Not only are we now able to see the known major collections in Phoenix, Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Winslow, Tucson, Santa Fe, Topeka, Waynoka, Dodge City, Florence, Kansas City, Leavenworth, Chicago, and others with fresh eyes, but we’re finding new collections all the time–everything from “new” diaries of some of the earliest Harvey Girls to, a large donation of Indian jewelry and artifacts from Kitty Harvey’s home, which we just found in the Smithsonian’s holdings (almost by accident, after QVC started marketing a ring copied from one in the Smithsonian collection, which belonged to Fred’s daughter Marie Harvey Hall.)

Let’s try to encourage museums that might be interested in a big Fred-related show to get one going while there are still living Harvey Girls, and Harvey family members who worked in the business and knew the main characters of the Fred Harvey story.

Keep spreading the Fred. I know I will.

Looking forward to returning to Fred Harvey’s home state, Kansas–where the governor just named him one of the 25 most important Kansans in history, and where Appetite for America is being honored as one of the Kansas Notable Books of the Year. Hope to see you at one of these events:

9/21: Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, 7:00 PM
9/22: Dodge City, Depot Theater (in the beautifully restored Fred Harvey El Vaquero hotel), dinner/lecture/booksigning, with reception beginning at 6:30
9/23: Dodge City, special presentation and book signing for Santa Fe Trail Association convention, 8:30 am at the Magouirk Conference Center. brunch presentation and signing, 10:30 am
9/24: Topeka, Kansas Book Festival; noon, Kansas Notable Book Awards ceremony and signing; 3:00 pm, I’m on a panel, “Figures in Kansas History” in the Museum Classroom #3 with Beverly Buller and Cynthia Harris.

The Smithsonian has licensed a ring currently being sold on QVC that is a replica of one originally owned by Marie Harvey Hall, Fred’s daughter. She purchased it at the Grand Canyon in 1910–presumably at Hopi House–and left it to her niece (and Fred’s only granddaughter) Kitty Harvey. At Kitty’s death in 1962, it was donated to what is now the Museum of the American Indian.

Since we weren’t aware of this donation, we’ve asked the Smithsonian (where I’m speaking to curators on Tuesday afternoon) to see what else they have from Kitty’s bequest. Someday, who knows, there could be an entire collection of Fred Harvey-inspired jewelry from the Smithsonian (and I could be on QVC hawking it with Daggett Harvey, Jr. Stewart Harvey and Helen Harvey Mills.)

Here is the original ring (and pic of Daggett and I from the Chicago club last spring; he’s the one holding the original FH gong):

Check out this really moving tribute to Ruby McHood, one of the last living Harvey Girls from the company’s golden age, who died in Winslow. It was written by her daughter.

She was captured in Tina Mion’s wonderful painting The Last Harvey Girl. That’s Ruby in the forefront, offering a cup of tea.

The fall paperback tour for Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the West–One Meal at a Time, begins in Washington, DC 9/13 and 9/14, when I speak at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History Tuesday Colloquium in the East Conference Room (9/13, tea and cookies at 3:30, talk at 4:00), followed by a more public lecture at the National Archives (9/14 at noon).

Here’s the rest of my fall Fred Harvey talk schedule. Hope to see you at one of these events:
Wichita, KS: Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, September 21
Dodge City, KS, Depot Theater, September 22
Topeka, KS, Kansas Book Festival (Kansas Notable Book Awards), September 23-24
University of Pennsylvania, Fox Leadership Program, September 26
Purdue University, Darden Series Executive in the Classroom lecture, October 18
Albuquerque Jewish Book Festival, October 23
San Gabriel/Pomona CA Jewish Book Festival, October 29
Las Cruces, NM Railroad Museum October 31
El Paso, TX Transportation Museum November 1
Drexel University Hospitality Management program, November 7
Fairfax, VA Jewish Book Festival November 10, noon
Rockville, MD Jewish Book Festival of Greater Washington, November 10, 7 pm
Reading, PA Jewish Book Festival, November 18, noon
Chicago Food Film Festival November 18-20
Omaha Jewish Book Festival, December 6

Check here for more details about events, or at my Facebook author page. May Fred be with you in paperback.

Interesting mystery on the Fred Harvey yahoo discussion group–a member posted one of the oldest postcard pictures of Harvey Girls that I have ever seen and wondered if anyone had a clue where it might be. (He also posted a closeup of the signs if that helps.) It was manufactured by CYKO (so not a Fred Harvey card), which made cards from 1904-1920. And since the since says “Temporary Santa Fe Lunch Room” we can assume it is a city where FH just took over food service, or where a new depot was under construction, or a place where there had been a fire. Ideas?

Several readers interested in Indian art have asked what happened to the watercolors of sand paintings which were used to create the controversial murals at El Navajo in Gallup, which had to be blessed by Navajo leaders before it was allowed to open in 1923 because they incorporated “forbidden” images made from sand paintings, which were from the private collection of Minnie Harvey Huckel and her husband John Huckel.

While the El Navajo was knocked down in the late 1950s, the images still exist: they now reside in the Taylor Museum of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. It’s not clear if anyone by Navajo leaders can see them. They were the subject of a 1971 book by Leland C. Wyman. If anyone ever gets a chance to visit the museum and explore whether the paintings are allowed to be seen–or can get any more information–please post it here.

Terrific travel piece in the Wall Street Journal about Americana travel in the west in an RV. and what was the author’s recommended “Road Read”?

“Before you leave,” she says, “pick up ‘Appetite for America’ by Stephen Fried.”

May Fred be with her!

All Fredheads wish a speedy recovery to our friend from Belen, NM Maurine McMillan–the absolute dynamo who runs the Harvey House museum there. She busted her hip on June 21 in a typically Maurine way–she was waiting for an exhibit to be delivered and decided to try and move a display panel in the museum herself and it fell on her.
She’s reportedly mending fast–doctors are amazed how quickly (although, it wouldn’t surprise any of us who know her)–and she vows to be ready on July 30 to be able to walk down the aisle at her granddaughters wedding in Las Cruces. We wish her all the best.

Two interesting takes on the historic discussion about what Fred Harvey brought to Native American art, and in what ways it might have commercialized it. First, a Q&A with me by the author of a new book on Navajo Artist Quincy Tahoma, exploring Harvey’s influence. Here’s part one of the interview and Vera, the author, says she’ll be posting part 2 soon.

Also, in the new issue of New Mexico magazine, there’s an article by Tibby Gold about Fred’s influence, timed for market in Santa Fe. Unfortunately, NM Mag doesn’t post all their content on-line so you’ll have to check out the article in the actual mag.