Santa Fe’s Own Harvey Girls

Identical twin sisters Beverly Ireland and Bernette Jarvis worked at La Fonda in 1955.

Beverly Ireland and her identical twin sister Bernette Jarvis worked as Harvey Girls at La Fonda in 1955. The twins were hired because they had previous experience working as waitresses at the Jolly Green Giant factory restaurant in Minnesota. While the twins were working they got to know all of the politicians, writers and artists who ate at La Fonda. As Harvey Girls they also got to meet several movie stars who stayed at the hotel.

Finesse & Hospitality

In the late 19th century the Englishman and entrepreneur Fred Harvey helped define Southwest hospitality. He recruited the help of young refined women that he hired to work for him. They became waitresses at his Harvey House chain of restaurants and hotels along railways from Kansas to California. Known as The Harvey Girls their legacy became synonymous with the lore and lure of the west. MGM studios made the movie The Harvey Girls in 1946 staring Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury. The film forever solidified the fame of legions of young women that helped tame the image of the “Wild West.”

A Lifetime in Santa Fe

After graduating from high school in Litchfield, Minnesota in 1955 Beverly and Bernette came to Santa Fe to visit their cousin, Sharon Curtis, who lived on Acequia Madre. The reason they took the jobs as waitresses was because they didn’t plan on staying long and just needed temporary work. Sixty-five years later the twins are still in Santa Fe. In addition to working at La Fonda, they got married and raised their children in the capital city. When they’re not busy with family the twins both do volunteer work in the community.

Fond Memories of La Fonda

Their first job in Santa Fe has always been the most memorable. Since they weren’t twenty-one and could not serve alcohol, the twins worked the breakfast and lunch shift. Beverly and Bernette wore the standard white uniforms that were required during the day. The Harvey Girls who worked the evening shift wore fiesta blouses and skirts. All of the staff at La Fonda followed the strict standards set by Fred Harvey. His nephew, Stewart Harvey, was in charge of the La Fonda operation. All of the food and beverages had to be carried out of the kitchen on a tray. Even a single cup of coffee was handled with the utmost care as it was carried out on a tray.

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