I’d like to thank the folks in Temple, Texas, for hosting me this weekend to present at a dinner held at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum, in conjunction with the opening of their new exhibition, Kings of the River. They’ve got a great museum there, housed in the 1910 Santa Fe depot. Temple was — and very much still is — a railroad town, with both passenger service via Amtrak and a Santa Fe locomotive yard and maintenance facility just adjacent to the museum. I’d particularly like to thank Angela McCleaf, Steve Wolley, and the museum curator, Stephanie Long, with making my visit a memorable one.
A couple of interesting things I didn’t know before. The big health network in that part of the state is Baylor Scott & White. It turns out that Arthur C. Scott and Raleigh R. White were both contract physicians to the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad in Temple in the 1890s. The GC&SF had established one of their hospitals for the road’s employees there, but there was no similar facility for the citizens. Drs. Scott and White set up a private practice together, and eventually founded a civilian hospital which, ultimately, became Baylor Scott & White.
The other thing I discovered is that Temple had a Harvey House in the 1920s and early ’30s. Harvey Houses were restaurants and cafes, set up alongside railroad depots, to provide meals for passengers. They first appeared in the 1870s, and are generally credited as the first “chain” restaurants in the United States. (Take that, Ray Kroc!) Harvey Houses were staffed primarily by young women — “Harvey girls” — who signed a six-month or one-year contract and lived in dormitories under strict supervision. In a time when single women had very few respectable options for earning their own living, Fred Harvey’s chain of restaurants was a rare opportunity. Although I’d been aware of Harvey House restaurants for many years, I never really associated them with Texas. That was a mistake, now corrected.
Anyway, thanks to the good folks in Temple for hosting me. I hope to see y’all again soon.