Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Finding Love At The El Tovar

This is what the El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon looked like when my grandparents met there in the early 1900s. Anna had left her native Buda, in Hungary, not too many years before, so she was no stranger to adventure. Still in her teens, she answered an ad that read "Young women, 18-30 years of age, of good character, attractive and intelligent". Anna bid her family in Indiana adieu, rode a train to the Grand Canyon, and took a position with a one year committment as a Harvey Girl at the El Tovar Hotel. She earned the princely sum of $17.50 per month, with room and board and a strict 10 p.m. curfew.

Fred Harvey had started the world's first chain of restaurants, in partnership with the Santa Fe Railroad, and served food, in grand and not so grand buildings where the train stopped, always on fine china, with Irish linen. The El Tovar is one of the few still in operation.

Harvey Girls were said to have "helped civilize the American Southwest". Anna certainly had that effect on my grandpa. He was working at the same hotel as a chauffeur, driving dignitaries and wealthy tourists in a huge touring car. Once Anna's yearlong commitment to Fred Harvey was fulfilled, Grandpa brought his fiance back to his hometown on the coast in southern California, where they were wed, created their life together and raised their four children ~ my dad and aunts and uncle.

1 comment:

Mar gar et said...

Your blog is simply incredible. As a native of the DC area, it provides rich history, and photos, that I've not previously seen.

Your grandmother's brave decision to follow her heart is truly amazing. What a treasure, this photo!

I am reading through your blog in awe, but haven't commented on many of the entries, all certainly worthy of high praise.