Issues regarding women have been a conversational topic for ages. In the past women and men had very different roles in society degrading women throughout the years. Women in the western culture had no other choice but to be a homemaker but now women have the right to choose their own career and share the same rights as men.
Although, today gender roles have shifted for women making a strong impact on society we still look back and realize that many of our injustices come from long before we’ve known. For example, one of the most popular bars would be hooters. We ask ourselves where does the background of this originate from. Where did it start that women would use their body to sell food, and why is it we only see girls with certain “characteristics”.
We go back through the years and we start with the Harvey girls. These girls were known for being young, single and independent women who had great characteristics and the sort of sense of adventure hey had which propelled them in the 1800s to work as a waitress. Their legacy was to help make travel in the west a lot more enjoyable by serving tasty meals in an enjoyable environment and bringing a touch of sense of graciousness the girls brought in. Although the Harvey girls wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Fred Harvey, an entrepreneur who left his ways from civilization to the west when the west was still wild. As an agent in 1870, Harvey spends a presumably enough time traveling via train to experience the difficulty of finding a good place to dine. Although there were roadhouses that were set up by the tracks, they only offered the limited quality of service and food. This was a breakthrough for Harvey, he recognized a business opportunity and sized a deal with Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe railway.
Harvey decided to open his first restaurant in Topeka, Kansas in 1876. Two years later Harvey was able to expand his idea to Florence, Kansas. By 1891, Harvey had 15 Harvey houses restaurants operating.As his operations were expanding, Harvey sought opportunity by using his cultural tourism education background. He created an “Indian Department”. He hired Native Americans to demonstrate pottery, jewelry, and other crafts.
Harvey decided to even take it a step further and his company began “Indian Detours” which allowed guest to stay at his southwest hotel and gave them real feel tours one to three days into Indian settlements from New Mexico and Arizona.But this is where the Harvey girls come in, they were a signature component to Harvey’s success and one of his most known legacies. Harvey solicited women between the ages of 18-35 to leave the civilization and come to the west and work as waitresses in his establishments. He looked for unmarried women with great “characteristics”. The girls had to sign a yearlong contract and they had to reside either next to or in the Harvey houses and had to be closely supervised. If the contract was breached before a year it was mostly due to marriage which resulted in the girls forfeiting a portion of their pay.
Not only did this waitress provide an enjoyable service but around the early years, they were often the only single young “great” character girls in miles which lured many men even if the food wasn’t up to standard.The girl had a very strict uniform, they had to wear a long black dress which was not allowed to be more than 8 inches off the floor, with a white apron, black stockings, and solely black shoes.By 1901, Harvey had 47 restaurants operating, 15 hotels and 30 dining cars on the Santa Fe railway. His legacy still continued into the 1960s as his son took over and later his grandson. By 19688 Amfac parks and resorts purchased the property and renamed it Xanterra Parks and Resorts in 2002. Although most of the original Harvey houses and hotels are gone, there are still a few that survived and turned into a gift shop.