On the Harvey train

Yesterday’s Zippy takes us to Alfred Harvey’s comics and (via the strip’s title) to Fred Harvey’s railway depot restaurants:


First, the allusions in the panels, to Casper, the Friendy Ghost; Little Lotta; Richie Rich; and Little Dot. Then the Harvey Girls.

Casper began as an animated film character. And then (from Wikipedia):

Casper went on to become one of the most famous properties from Famous Studios. Casper was first published in comics form in 1949 by St. John Publications; Alfred Harvey, founder and publisher of Harvey Comics began producing Casper comic books in 1952, and in 1959, Harvey purchased the rights to the character outright.

Casper is, so to speak, embodied in two different ways: as a humanoid, with feet:


and as a footless and rather sperm-like spirit entity (which, however, thinks and talks):


Panel 2, Little Lotta. From Wikipedia:

Little Lotta is a fictional character published by Harvey Comics from 1953 to 1972, and then sporadically until 1993. A contemporary of Little Audrey, Little Dot and Wendy the Good Little Witch, she was one of Harvey’s best-known female characters during the 1960s and featured in many of the company’s child-friendly comedy titles. Like many of Harvey’s comic headliners, Lotta was notable for a ‘quirky’ defining characteristic – in this case, an insatiable appetite giving rise to superhuman strength.

Lotta stories were penned by Warren Kremer and Howard Post, and for the majority of the years that she appeared in comics, she was drawn by Sid Couchey and Dom Sileo.


Golfing with food.

In panel 3, Richie Rich. From Wikipedia:

Richard “Richie” Rich, Jr. (often stylized as Ri¢hie Ri¢h) is a fictional character in the Harvey Comics universe. He debuted in Little Dot #1, cover-dated September 1953, and was created by Alfred Harvey and Warren Kremer. Dubbed “the poor little rich boy,” Richie is the only child of fantastically wealthy parents and is the world’s richest kid.

Then came a Saturday morning cartoon show starting in 1980; a second animated tv series starting in 1996; and a 1994 live-action movie starring Macaulay Culkin.


The first issue

Finally, Little Dot. From Wikipedia:

Little Dot was a comic book character published by Harvey Comics about a little girl obsessed with dots, spots, and round, colorful objects.

Dot first appeared in 1949 as a supporting feature in Sad Sack and by 1953 was given her own series, joining Harvey’s growing cast of child-oriented comedy characters. The title lasted almost three decades between 1949 and 1982, and then sporadically until 1994. Dot introduced several other popular headliners (including Little Lotta and Richie Rich) as back page fillers. Another spinoff title which ran for thirteen years was Little Dot’s Uncles & Aunts, about the adventures of Dot’s impossibly extended family, each with an obsessive interest or quirky personality trait of their own.

Like most of the so-called “Harvey Girls”, appearing also in the Richie Rich Girlfriends title, Dot reached her peak between the mid-1950s and the late 1960s, eventually eclipsing Audrey in terms of sales. Her popularity began to wane during the 1970s as an industry-wide distribution slump began forcing child-oriented comics off the newsstands. Dot’s eponymous title stalled between 1982 and 1986, before being permanently discontinued in 1994.


Watching dots, eating dots, wearing dots, on a dotted floor

I haven’t tracked down a transgender FBI agent in the 1969 Little Dots, but Bill Griffith being the scrupulous person he is, I’ll bet she’s there (though she might be transvestite rather than transgender).

On to today’s other Harvey, Fred (I disregard here Paul Harvey, the conservative American radio broadcaster; Steve Harvey, the American comedian; and many others with this family name). From within the Wikipedia article on the entrepreneur:

The subsequent growth and development of the Fred Harvey Company was closely related to that of AT&SF [the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway]. Under the terms of an oral agreement, Harvey opened his first depot restaurant in Topeka, Kansas in January 1876. Railroad officials and passengers alike were impressed with Fred Harvey’s strict standards for high quality food and first class service. As a result, AT&SF entered into subsequent contracts with Harvey wherein he was given unlimited funds to set up a series of what were dubbed “eating houses” along most of the route. At more prominent locations, these eating houses evolved into hotels, many of which survive today. By the late 1880s, there was a Fred Harvey dining facility located every 100 miles along the AT&SF.

… Fred Harvey is credited with creating the first restaurant chain in the U.S. Harvey and his company also became leaders in promoting tourism in the American Southwest in the late 19th century. The company and its employees, including the famous waitresses who came to be known as Harvey Girls, successfully brought new higher standards of both civility and dining to a region widely regarded in the era as “the Wild West”. The popularity of the Harvey Girls grew even stronger in 1946 when Judy Garland starred in the film version of Samuel Hopkins Adams’s novel The Harvey Girls.

… [in more detail] In 1883, Harvey implemented a policy of employing a female, white-only serving staff. He sought single, well-mannered, and educated American ladies, and placed ads in newspapers throughout the East Coast and Midwest for “white, young women, 18-30 years of age, of good character, attractive and intelligent”. The girls were paid $17.50 a month (approximately $444 in 2016 dollars) to start, plus room, board, and gratuity, a generous income by the standards of the time.

Some genuine Harvey Girls:


And then there’s the movie:


From Wikipedia:

The Harvey Girls is a 1946 MGM musical film based on the 1942 novel of the same name by Samuel Hopkins Adams, about Fred Harvey’s famous Harvey House waitresses. Directed by George Sidney, the film stars Judy Garland and features John Hodiak, Ray Bolger, and Angela Lansbury, as well as Preston Foster, Virginia O’Brien, Kenny Baker, Marjorie Main and Chill Wills. Future star Cyd Charisse appears in her first film speaking role

Note Marjorie Main and Chill Wills. And the theme of Good Women as Civilizing Forces (against masculine chaos, crudity, and violence).

One Response to “On the Harvey train”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    Now watching the Harvey Girls movie, and caught this nice word play in “On the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe”:

    Even so, we aim to say we love to honor and oh-
    Baby, are there any more at home like you?

    See discussion in my posting of 7/28/10, “Splitting up: the enjambment connection”, especially on “As / Tor Bars”:

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