by Owen Morris
BY LORNA PERRY
Long before '60s-era flight attendants became icons of grace and wholesome beauty, the Harvey Girls held the nation's heart. In 1876, freight agent Fred Harvey opened a depot diner in Topeka. At the time, railroad passengers didn't have much in the way of food options at the stops. Choices were limited to roadhouse fare, which usually consisted of spoiled meat and bad coffee.
By 1883, Harvey Houses had sprung up across the Midwest and the Southwest, but Harvey, tired of no-shows and fight-prone waiters, had instituted a new rule: Only young, attractive, educated single women could be servers. Dubbed "the Harvey Girls," they inspired both literature and movies and are often credited with helping civilize the Southwest.
At tonight's 6:30 presentation of Hometown Hostesses, Tom Taylor presents a historical examination of the Harvey Girls. Hear the tale at the Waldo Branch of the Kansas City Public Library (201 East 75th Street, 816- 701-3486). Fashions by Bonnie Hansen recall the Harvey Girls' style. Call 816-701-3407 for more information.