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Spunky Farm Girl Finds Herself

Book chronicles the tales of a Harvey Girl hopeful.

TTU Press

Written by Kathryn Faucher

December Book Cover

Following a disagreement with her father, 14-year-old Ozark farm-girl Clara Fern Massie runs away from home in the early morning hours in search of a new start. With no money and only the clothes on her back, Clara heads to her grandmother’s home in hopes of intercepting her visiting cousin.

Clara’s older cousin, Opal, worked as a Harvey Girl and frequently spoke of the unique opportunities her career offered. Clara resolves to become one of the highly-regarded Harvey House Girls; however, she gets more than she bargained for in this charming novel published by Texas Tech University Press.

Set in 1919 in the rural west, “Harvey Girl” by Sheila Wood Foard describes Clara’s adventures as she struggles to learn the demanding “Harvey Way” and attain the independence and respect that she so dearly desires.

As a former English and journalism teacher, Foard is a writing instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature and the author of the teen biography “Diego Rivera.”  Foard’s fascination with Harvey Girls began when she read an article mentioning the profession. She interviewed former Harvey Girls to get their stories firsthand and visited remaining Harvey Houses in the southwest in preparation for “Harvey Girl.”

The Slaton Harvey House (in the background).
Photo courtesy of Slaton Railroad Heritage Assoc.
click to enlarge

Harvey Girls were waitresses to passengers of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway during the late 1800s and early 1900s. With 100 locations and about 100,000 Harvey Girls over the years, Harvey Houses were a common sight for rail travelers in the American West. The Harvey eateries introduced a level of elegance not previously available to rail travelers.

For more information or to purchase the book, visit the Texas Tech University Press Web site.