Sorosis gets a lesson in Harvey history

March 19, 2013

Author and historian Tom Taylor, of Westwood, Kan., shows off part of his Fred Harvey Company china collection on Monday at the Heard House. Taylor was the guest speaker for Sorosis and presented background on the company and its famed Harvey Girl waitresses. The company’s “blue chain” china, such as the piece Taylor is holding, was originally commissioned for the opening of Union Station in Kansas City in 1914, though the pattern would be used on other Harvey pieces through the years.

Taylor told attendees that the company’s iconic waitresses, were made famous by their prevalence throughout the American frontier and by the 1946 Judy Garland film “The Harvey Girls.” Taylor said the women, aged 18 to 35, acted as “a civilizing force in the American West,” as the company’s founder opened thousands of Harvey Houses along train routes, bringing good service and good food to travelers who had been making due with the week-old coffee and recycled menu items that were the staple of Old West eateries.