You remembered in my last post, I have gotten a new TW200 and have been working on the transformation. Well, she is almost complete but I needed to take a time out from working on her and to take her on a short road trip down memory lane. You see, two weeks ago would have been our 5th wedding anniversary. So, I hopped onto my bike and first went to the cemetery to sit awhile and talk to Russ.
Once I was at the cemetery, I decided that I needed to visit the Harvey House as well to continue down the trip down memory lane. That is where we had our wedding ceremony. As usual, I didn’t hop onto the interstate to get there. I decided to take the long way around and get my kick on the old Route 66.
Let me tell you a little bit about the Harvey House and how our obsession began with that place. It actually began back when Russ took his horse trip across United States in 1993. One night he camped at the Harvey House in Barstow, CA. At the time he was there, it was stood empty and abandoned. He was fascinated with architecture and the local history behind the Harvey House. He actually envisioned that when he got back was to buy the building and restore it to its former glory. Little did he know that back in 1990 the city started a preservation project on the building already but it was halted back in 1992 when the Landers earthquake hit the desert area. It took the city and the preservation group another 8 years to receive Federal funding and finished the restoration.
So what is a Harvey House? It all started back in the 1800’s when traveling by train was glamorous and the Wild West was beckoning the adventurers to explore new area. An entrepreneur named Fred Harvey decided to open up a chain of dining rooms and boarding house for the weary travelers. Fred Harvey is actually credited for the starting the concept of “restaurant chains”. The dining room offered fine dining with food and drinks being served in crystal and china. The rooms in the boarding house were luxurious and comfortable.
However, it was the Harvey Girls who created the Harvey House reputation for friendliness and hospitality. Their job was not only to serve food but to provide conversation and information to the weary travelers. Originally, Fred Harvey hired men to work in the restaurants but found that they were as wild as the west was. So he began hiring women to do the job. In order to qualify as one of the “Harvey Girls”, the women had to have at least an eight grade education, good moral character, good manners, and be neat and articulate. They were paid good wages, as much as $17.50 per month with free room, board, and uniforms. In return, they would agree to a six month contract and agree not to marry while employed. In times, it was the most sought after jobs by the women.
Okay, so I got a little side tracked with the history of the Harvey House but I can’t help that since I’m a little bit geeky and passionate about local U.S. history. Anyway, today, the Barstow Harvey House, “Casa Del Desierto” is now home to an Amtrak stop, a Route 66 museum, a Western Railroad museum and rent out their ballroom for events.
While I was there that Saturday, the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce was setting up for another event for that night which brought back memories of the time we were setting it up for the reception after the wedding ceremony. I was getting emotional so I knew it wasn’t a good time to get back on the bike so I decided to check out the Route 66 museum. It’s a place that I have visited so many times but knew it would be a good place to clear my head.
While I was in there, a couple from out-of-town started asking questions to the museum’s docent, Steven and Karen Diffenbacher, inquiring where the James Dean memorial was and I politely interjected since I knew the answer. I used to live in San Luis Obispo and everyone who lives there know where it is.
While chatting, they noticed my motorcycle gear and asked what type of bike I was riding. I started to explain what a TW200 is but they already knew all about them because she has one. As we were discussing about the T-dub and how she doesn’t ride it much anymore. They’re thinking about selling it. However, her 90’s TW200 still have the original tires, no battery and the tank has been creamed by the previous owner. Steve even mentioned that at one point he almost had a replacement tank when they met a guy several years ago who had several TW200 and was willing to give to him one. However, they lost his phone number and was unable to get a hold of him. I immediately knew who he was talking about because Russ loved going to that museum and he had 13 TW200 on hand at that time.
Of course, I told them that I knew who he was and told them the story of his passing and my journey since then. It is interesting our how lives can cross paths throughout times and remind us of those times in the past. They are there to help us with the trip down memory lane…