Category Archives: North America

Discovering Fred Harvey

The time has long since passed for me to expect surprises beneath the Christmas tree.  Not only do I select most of my presents, I wrap them too.  Which, in all honesty, is absolutely fine with me.  But this year there were two unexpected gifts bearing tags addressed to me.  What wonders would they behold?  The first, an insert for my Nalgene bottle, was the practical gift.   Apparently I missed the lesson in preschool about not dribbling down the front of yourself when drinking.  It’s an embarrassing habit and one which has long inhibited my quest for hydration.  This insert makes it more likely I’ll ingest the water, rather than wear it.  The second gift was, of course, a book.

During our cross-country adventure I discovered a fascinating piece of history – Harvey Houses.   Fred Harvey revolutionized the hospitality industry during the late 1800’s by developing restaurants and lodging along the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.  Fred Harvey was a person, but also a company and a brand.   He brought refinement and quality to the West – changing the face of travel and setting standards that are still emulated to this day in customer service.  One particular aspect of his methodology really captured my attention.  Fred Harvey needed a work force that would uphold his strict requirements for quality service, consistency, and respectability.  His answer was to hire responsible, unmarried women.  Harvey found himself a reliable staff, and the Harvey Girls had respectable jobs and financial independence.  This mutually beneficial arrangement was quite progressive – and successful.  How had this morsel of American Women’s History eluded me for so long?

To remedy the gap in my knowledge I purchased several books on our trip and read with enthusiasm.  But it is my Christmas present, The Harvey House Cookbook, that is the crowning jewel.  The Cookbook provides an overview history of Fred Harvey, Harvey Girls, and Harvey Houses.  It also provides recipes from restaurants along the Santa Fe line.  Although my children aren’t clamoring for me to make “Jellied Chicken” anytime soon, I delighted in reading about the delicacies offered more than a century ago to weary West-bound travelers.

Several Harvey Houses, under different management, are still in operation.  Stay on the edge of the Grand Canyon at El Tovar Hotel and enjoy a meal at Bright Angel Restaurant (we did) where you’ll find several authentic historic Harvey House items still on the menu.  In Santa Fe, New Mexico you can stay at La Fonda and in Winslow, Arizona spend a night at La Posada.  Take an hour while traveling historic Route 66 to see the Painted Desert Inn for a glimpse into the glory days of Harvey Houses.  Barstow, California is home to the Casa Del Desierto, a former Harvey House converted into multi-use space including museums, offices, and event rooms.  If you can’t get away, but want to know more about this delightful piece of history check out some great books about Fred Harvey.  You may even want to try your hand at making “Albondigas Soup” or “Lobster Americaine”!

Diary of a Waitress: The Not-So-Glamorous Life of a Harvey Girl by Carolyn Meyer – The fictionalized diary of young Kitty Evans an aspiring journalist who, due to unfair and unfortunate circumstances, has to find a job instead of going to college.  Follow Kitty as she journeys West finding adventure as a Harvey Girl during the 1920’s.  MR/YA -6/8

Appetite For America by Stephen Fried  – This comprehensive history of Fred Harvey the man, the company, and the brand is engaging and entertaining.  Reading like a novel, with clear benchmarks of well-researched historical documentation, it is a must for anyone interested in Harvey, the American West, and rail travel. Author Fried gives a presentation on the history of Fred Harvey at La Fonda which you can check out HERE.  Learn more about the later years of the Fred Harvey company in a Q&A session with Fried and Daggett Harvey Jr.  HERE.

The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened The West by Lesley Poling-Kempes –  A history of the Harvey Girls combining oral history and well researched details.   This book acknowledges the long overlooked contributions of the women who, in search of respectable employment and independence, were influential in altering the fabric of life throughout the American Southwest.   For more about women who, against convention, braved the West read Poling-Kempes Ladies of the Canyon.

The Harvey House Cookbook by George H. Foster & Peter C. Weiglin – As stated above, a delightful overview of Fred Harvey the man and the company, as well as Harvey Girls, the changing landscape of the American West, and the rise and decline of rail travel in the U.S.   Plus many delicious and entertaining recipes sure to whet your appetite or possibly cause revulsion to your modern dining sensibilities (anything with the word aspic is nausea inducing for me).  A great complement to the Harvey history and a wonderful addition for any food historian!

Fred Harvey Houses of the Southwest by Richard Melzer – Harvey House history told through remarkable photographs of the people and places that made up this groundbreaking brand.  A wonderful visual documentation of the history and diversity of the Harvey Houses across the Southwest. (Images of America series)

PBP note: Fred Harvey, at the turn of the 20th century, made another extremely progressive move hiring Mary Colter, a schoolteacher and untrained architect, to design and develop many of the Harvey House locations.  For nearly 50 years. she worked in a male dominated field as the chief architect and decorator for Fred Harvey.  Read more about her remarkable spirit, her building and design philosophy, and her legacy in Mary Colter: Builder Upon the Red Earth  by Virginia L. Grattan

 

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Filed under cooking, cross country, History, hotel, North America, United States

Philadelphia Freedom

We are taking a road-trip to Philadelphia!  The agenda includes the standard sights: Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, Rocky Steps, and Reading Terminal Market.  While that’s all fantastic, the best part of this trip isn’t the sightseeing or even the food (gasp!) – it’s the people.  We are meeting up with a group of my dearest friends from college and their families.  There will be 34 of us – nearly half of whom are children ranging in age from 6 months to 14 years old – reuniting with the main goal of just hanging out together.   I’m not sure what to expect, except it will be amazing.  Ahead of us are two days filled with friends, food, history, laughter, beer, and ax throwing.   There may be a slight possibility of disaster, but I am choosing to only see the potential for greatness in this trip.

As a planner, organizer, and schedule keeper it is often a challenge to travel with others.   It’s a delicate balance juggling a large group, with different priorities and agendas.  In the past I’ve been so focused on my travel goals, while simultaneously trying to accommodate everyone,  that I’ve found group experiences often result in frustration and disappointment.   Whose disappointment? Usually just mine, since I’m the one with rigid expectations.  So thankfully, over time, I have learned to ease up a bit and embrace the journey rather than just the destination.   An important key to happy travel is determining the real purpose of your trip, and keeping it in mind as events transpire.   The purpose of this weekend is about the company we keep, and less about the sights.   For the first time, maybe ever, I have only a loose idea of what this weekend will involve – and all of that comes courtesy of the amazing Philly locals who are hosting this “jawn”.    Embracing the true purpose of this trip, and trusting others to guide the planning, was actually quite liberating.  Overall this weekend feels like exactly what it is supposed to be -an opportunity for my own version of Philadelphia freedom.

Check out the Philadelphia page in locations – if you simply must plan ahead!

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Filed under American Revolution, History, North America, United States

Q is for….

It wasn’t enough that his mom remarried, started a rock band, and is spending a year traveling the U.S. on a mega-tour – turns out his new stepsister has skeletons in her past that are threatening their new life just as they were settling in.  Another day on tour with..

I, Q by Roland Smith

Quest, known as Q, is glad his mom, Blaze, finally found happiness and love with Roger.  He isn’t quite so sure about the new lifestyle though.  Not only did Blaze and Roger get married they also collaborated musically and spawned a huge hit record.  Now Q, and his stepsister Angela (whom he is even less sure of), are spending a year off from school traveling the United States on a concert tour.  Unbeknownst to their parents, who are consumed by the tour, Angela and Q are being threatened by some mysterious characters from Angela’s past.  Adventure and intrigue are at every turn, and every mystery has Q and Angela exploring the coolest spots in each city they visit! (MR-5/6)

Qindependance HallI,Q: Independence Hall – Getting settled into his new lifestyle begins with a cross-country drive from California to Philadelphia in the luxury camper that Blaze and Roger have chosen as their family home for the next year.  Early in the trip things get strange. Are they being followed?  How did Boone, and old roadie friend of Blazes’, find them in the middle of the desert?  Who is he really?  Philadelphia has history at every turn, but it is Angela’s history that is the biggest mystery!  The first book in the series sets the scene for adventure to come across the country!

QwhitehouseThe White House– 24 hours in Washington, DC at the home of the President.  The intrigue and mystery just gets more exciting for Q and Angela, but so does the danger!

 

 

QkittyhawkKitty Hawk– The president’s daughter has been kidnapped and Q and Angela are part of the team working to save her.  They follow the trail to the Outer Banks -but will a freak storm ruin their chances?

 

 

QalamoThe Alamo – With a huge concert planned at the Alamo Q and Angela find themselves in the heart of Texas, and a the heart of another Ghost Cell attack.   Are they being chased across the country?  Or are they doing the chasing?  All is not as it seems as Q and Angela try to find out if they are the hunted or the hunters!

 

QWindycityThe Windy City – Q and Angela may have been thwarting international terrorism, but all their parents see is a lack of attention to their studies.  With the threat of boarding school, Q and Angela hit the books when they get to Chicago in order to avoid leaving the tour -which would mean leaving Boone and their work against the Ghost Cell.  But when Boone and the crew don’t make it to Chicago as planned Q and Angela know that there is a mole feeding information to the Ghost Cell.  Who is it?  And how do they stop the Ghost Cell’s next plot – a chemical attack on the Windy City?

QAlcatrazAlcatraz – Things have just become too intense and, although they plan to continue the tour, Blaze and Roger think it is time for Q and Angela to return home to San Francisco and attend boarding school.  It’s a race against time to find the leader of the terrorist cell before Q and Angela find themselves removed from the team hunting the Ghost Cell.

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Filed under A to Z, History, Middle Reader, mystery, North America, travel, United States

M is for…

Two ordinary kids, a tree-house in the woods, and books about every subject imaginable.  Add a little magic, mystery, and adventure and you’ve got the classic early-reader series that transports every kid to places they’ve only dreamed of!

Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osbourne

Jack and Annie, siblings from Frog Creek, Pennsylvania, are transported through time and space to help the mythical Morgan LeFay save the library at Camelot.  Along the way they meet dinosaurs, visit ancient Egypt, tackle ninjas, sail on the Titanic, immerse themselves in American History, and more!   Each book is its own stand-alone adventure, but the books connect in groups of 4 to solve larger mysteries. There is a Magic Treehouse story to complement just about any trip, holiday, or historical event.

These are great stories for those ready to tackle chapter books.  However, they are perfect for older Pre-K and Kindergarten readers who are ready for a complex read-aloud.   Suitable for a wide range of readers, Magic Treehouse books address a variety of experiences in an age appropriate way.  And for more inquisitive readers, the Magic Treehouse Fact-Trackers are fantastic non-fiction companions to the series.  For even more check out magictreehouse.com to play and learn with Jack & Annie.

*A Paperback Pigeon All-Time Top 10 Favorite*

mth1-4Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-4: Dinosaurs Before Dark, The Knight at Dawn, Mummies in the Morning, and Pirates Past Noon – Real dinosaurs?  Medieval Knights?  Ancient Egypt? Swashbuckling Pirates?   Adventure is just a turn of the page as Jack & Annie begin to discover the magic in their treehouse! (ER-K-3)

mth5-8Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 5-8: Night of the Ninjas, Afternoon on the Amazon, Sunset of the Sabertooth, and Midnight on the Moon –  Time and space are no match for the Magic Treehouse – or for Jack & Annie – when they travel to ancient Japan, voyage down the Amazon River, tackle the Ice Age and land on the Moon!!!

mth1-28Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-28 – Sets of 4 books just not enough to satisfy your curious reader?  Get all 28 of the original Magic Treehouse Books and join Jack & Annie for every single magical, mystical adventure from Shakespeare’s England to George Washington’s Revolutionary War encampment.

mthchristmasincamelotChristmas in Camelot (Magic Tree House, No. 29) – In the first book in the Magic Treehouse Merlin Missions, Jack & Annie take on more mythical challenges.  The series elevates in reading level, growing with its readers, as well as in content depth and story length. (ER-2/3)

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Filed under A to Z, Africa, animals, Asia, Early Readers, europe, History, Holiday, magic, mystery, North America, series, Time Travel, Uncategorized, United States

C is for….

Finding true friendship is sometimes all we need to discover who we really are.

Cornelia & the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley Blume

Most consider it good fortune to be the daughter of someone famous.  For eleven-year old Cornelia the reality is absentee parents and a quirky personality.  Seeking solace in a dictionary, the isolation makes her reclusive.  This is the world of Cornelia, and eleven year old in New York City, until the mysterious, elderly Virginia Somerset moves in next door with her servant Patel and her french bulldog, Mr. Kinyatta.   As Virginia shares the stories of her worldly travels with Cornelia a mutual friendship develops.  Cornelia learns more about Virginia, and herself, with each story.  But as they spend more time together Cornelia realizes that Virginia’s stories are her legacy, and she is running out of time to gift them to Cornelia. MR/4-6
corneliaandsomersetsisters   Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters

*A Paperback Pigeon All-Time Top 10 Favorite*

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Filed under A to Z, Africa, Asia, europe, History, Middle Reader, North America, travel

Easy as A, B, C…..

This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer.  As my husband and I are both educators, this upcoming week means that all five people in our house head back to school within days of each other.  The lazy, hazy days of summer (which alternated with crazy, busy days) are behind us and we are returning to the welcome routine and rhythm of the fall.

This return to school also means a return to homework.  My girls in elementary school are asked to read 15 minutes per night, any material of their choosing, as part of their ELA homework.  That means making sure that reading material is readily available.   We start with trips to the library to get a variety of choices, or visit Barnes & Noble to get the latest “must-have” in a series, and check Amazon for ideas to help us prepare.

As we embark on another school year I thought it would be great for the Paperback Pigeon to get back to basics…so, for the foreseeable future, each week I will be posting a suggestion for a book or series to excite your reader about travel – and their independent reading requirements for school – from A to Z.

A is for Agatha: Girl of Mystery by Sir Steve Stevenson

Twelve year-old Agatha Mistery is called on by her cousin Dash to help him solve mysteries and complete assignments from his prestigious academy – the Eye International Spy School.  Jet-setting around the world, Agatha uses her remarkable photographic memory, Dash’s cool spy school gadgets, and the help of her intrepid former-boxer butler, Watson to gather clues and solve crimes.  Exploring locations across the globe – from Egypt to Scotland to Niagara Falls – Agatha tackles curses, heists, treasures and murder.  This exciting series keeps readers turning the pages while introducing diverse and exciting locales around the world. ER/3-RA

agathamystery1The Curse of the Pharaoh #1   In this debut story Agatha is off to Egypt to recover a missing artifact from an archaeological dig in the Valley of the Kings.

agathamystery2The Pearl of Bengal #2  Agatha heads to India to discover the truth behind the theft of the Pearl of Bengal.  With the help of Dash, Watson and her Uncle Raymond, a wildlife photographer, Agatha is sure to solve the crime.

agathamystery3The King of Scotland’s Sword #3  A missing sword leads Agatha to Scotland where she tackles mysterious curses and frightening ghosts to solve the mystery.

agathamystery4The Heist at Niagara Falls #4  A jewel heist takes Agatha to Niagara Falls where she and Dash encounter Canada’s most notorious thief.  Can they take on this mastermind criminal and return the jewels to their rightful owner?

agathamystery5The Eiffel Tower Incident #5 The stakes are higher in the city of lights….this time it’s murder.  Agatha and Dash rush to Paris to solve the mysterious murder of a Russian Diplomat.  As they travel the streets they only have the clue “Red Rose” to guide them in catching the culprit.

agathamystery6The Treasure of the Bermuda Triangle #6  A missing gold Mayan calendar leads Agatha on another adventure, but this time solving the mystery isn’t the only challenge- the Bermuda Triangle has it’s own mysteries and dangers that Agatha and Dash must contend with.

agathamystery7The Crown of Venice #7  Publication date Nov 13, 2014 – The Crown of Venice is missing!  This famous ancient artifact was stolen during carnival and everyone is a suspect!

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Filed under A to Z, Africa, Asia, Early Reader, Early Readers, europe, Multi-Cultural, mystery, North America, series, travel