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PCC celebrates women's history month with guest speaker

16 March 2017

In celebration of March Women’s History Month, Pratt Community College LINDA HUNT MEMORIAL LIBRARY and PCC instructor Rhonda Westerhaus’ EDU 277 Children’s Literature class hosted guest speaker Michaeline Chance-Reay from the Kansas Council on the topic of “The Harvey Girls” on Mar. 16.

Fred Harvey, a “British Gentlemen” came to America as a ship’s mate.  The experience as a kitchen worker helped land him a job in St. Louis, then another job on as a mail clerk on the Santa Fe Railroad.  His interest in quality food and the void of it along the Santa Fe stops inspired him to make a “Gentleman’s Bargain’ with the Santa Fe Railroad.  This handshake led to a chain of 20 hotels, 30 restaurants, and 50 newsstands along the same rout.

“Though the McDonalds chain is celebrated as the first fast food chain, Fred Harvey really had a system figured out long before,” said Chance-Reay.

Reay, who teachers women’s Studies and Education at Kansas State University entertained her audience with facts, anecdotes and advice all to be learned from Fred Harvey and his 100,000 waitress employees tied across more than six decades of Harvey Houses.

When asked if anyone in the audience had a connection to Harvey Girls, Carolyn Heaten, noted that her twin aunts were both Harvey Girls in Syracuse, Kan.

“Co -curricular events such as these are so important to the total education of any young person, but especially tomorrow teachers,” said Westerhaus. “Like Harvey, these young teachers will need to connect to available resources in their community.”

This project brought in a PCC students and Club 62+, the children’s author, Carolyn Meyer, two libraries, K-State University, the Kansas Humanities Council, our local PEO chapter, and local book club.

“It does not get much more “Co-Curricular’ than this”, said Westerhaus.

Michaeline Chance-Reay with Sandra Wagner (PCC Director of Learning Resources), Rhonda Westerhaus and students from Children’s Literature class