Today’s card takes us to that wonderful food service invention once called a cafeteria. Today, these establishments are called other, sexier things like garden bars or buffets, or omelet and waffle stations – my favorite! In any case, all of these take care of those people with whom one is dining, but cannot agree on food choices.

Here we have what appears to be the preeminent cafeteria in Phoenix. The Arizona Republican, dated Wednesday Morning, October 15, 1930, devotes almost an entire two pages to the décor, food, chefs, training, rooms and equipment.

First, the building appears to be standing, in 2019. I wonder if any of the interim owners or tenants found, knew or restored the murals decorating the walls. By the way – love Google Earth. These murals were painted by Albert Russell and includes the “lakes of the Salt River Project Dams”, Camelback Mountain, Apache Trail and others. One panel was a relief map of the Salt River Valley, with Phoenix in the background. Our fine establishment had lounge rooms for men and women to lounge while waiting for appointments. I love this!

I’ve scoured a number of newspapers as I’ve been blogging about these postcards. One of the things I find illuminating is the 1930’s version of product placement and associated advertising. Suppliers to the business, in this case, McGough’s, have ads on the same pages as the news coverage. The news coverage has no disclaimer that the articles are paid advertising and I am unaware of the custom in the 1930’s. Perhaps a new cafeteria was indeed newsworthy. According to the articles, hundreds of people arrived to tour the dining room and kitchens before the restaurant opened.

The advertisers included Holsum Bread, Kelvinator Electrical Equipment, Oil-O-Matic (can’t figure out what that is exactly), bakery, flour, coffee, and my all-time FAVORITE – wait for it – Donofrio’s Ice Cream “that healthful food”. Please let it be true that ice cream is a health food!

Looking at the card, you just know the floor is linoleum, which the newspaper confirms. The tables are made of some kind of new-fangled rubber composite, which support the “hygiene” and “sanitation” goals of the establishment. Today, with the piano, some good guacamole and that waffle and omelet station, totally rehabbed, I think this place would be a hipster hit.

On to our writer. He writes:

“Dear Thelma

Am on my way to San Antonio and am in Phoenix tonight. Will leave for El Paso tomorrow. Write me at {Flying Cadet Detachment, Randolph Field, San Antonio, Texas}. I am having a fine time and the trip is a great experience. Best of luck, Ralph”

The Great Depression was underway, the military was recruiting and our writer was on the way to Randolph Field, where presumably he learned to be a pilot.

As I do with all of these cards, I wonder about the writers and recipients. This is from Ralph to Thelma. I checked a genealogy website and found a Thelma Collins in Oklahoma, the right age, who was living with her parents at the age of 31, 9 years after this card. It would be 8 more years until the Depression ended.

Thelma was living in the middle of the hardest hit area of the US. Ralph was off to learn to fly. McGough’s seems to have survived a few years in business, but fades out of mention in the papers by 1935. Phoenix was suffered from the Depression, but recovered. What became of Ralph, Thelma and McGough’s? The proprietor, B. F. McGough appears again in 1969, having catered the Pioneers Barbeque, hosted by the local paper to celebrate people who lived in the state before December 31, 1890. Imagine the change they saw between 1890 and 1969! From a desert town, with actual cowboys and Indians, a western outpost to a thriving city in a lifetime. I think that a person from 1890 sent into the 1969 future would think they had been sent to another planet.

Here’s to buffets, salad bars, guacamole and taco bars and dining options!


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Sherry Dewane is very much an Angeleno, living in Los Angeles, but her roots are firmly planted in rural Wisconsin. Years living in Montana and travels throughout the American West shape her worldview. Sherry’s imagination, love of the outdoors, Midwest work ethic and love of reading were nurtured on an iconic lake in the woods, where she enjoyed her early childhood. She spent the first 11 years of her life on English Lake, in rural Wisconsin, exploring woods, fields and the lake, endlessly walking, swimming, ice skating, water-skiing and enjoying the seasons, reading and writing.


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