Thursday, May 8, 2014

Highway Hostesses

Have you ever heard of Highway Hostesses? I'm reading Fanny Flagg's book- The All Girls Filling Station's Last Reunion. The highway hostess is mentioned in the story.

Highway Hostesses were RN's hired to check out bathrooms.

Matilda Passmore was a registered nurse who was the "leader" of the Highway Hostesses. She believed, according to company literature, "in the need for daily use of an approved germicide such as Lysol to overcome the inherent fear of women for possible disease which may be contracted in contact with toilet facilities."

Highway Hostesses would visit  Phillip's stations at least once a month. At each stop they would inspect bathrooms as well as provide suggestions about how a station could be more appealing to motorists, especially the "feminine motoring trade."

Here's the link to read more about the Highway Hostesses


  1. It is hard to believe that RN's would be given this kind of job. What a job for a woman who has medical training. It is interesting to see how times have changed. I have read lots of Fannie Flagg books, and enjoyed most of them, tho some seem to go on and on. Glad that the "leader" felt the need for a kind of lysol product, they are sure needed in public bathrooms. Thanks LInda for another interesting blog.

    1. Myra, my first thought was why would a RN want to check on bathrooms? I bet it had to do with hours they worked and money. I bet they were given an gas allowance and they could work when their kids were in school.

      Another interesting mention was the WASP-

    2. Linda, you find the most interesting stories. I never heard of Highway Hostesses before. I don't think I'd want that job, but thank God they kept things clean and instructed gas station owners how to do so. I wish someone was still around to do this. I'm always reluctant to use the facilities at gas stations... although I have to admit, things have gotten much better over the years.


  2. YIKES! All that money to go to nursing school only to inspect the cleanliness of garage bathrooms? You're right Linda-there had to be some kind of incentive to do that-like a good paycheck or mother's hours......all that traveling couldn't have been easy. Not a job I'd want that's for sure-I bet they encountered some NASTY bathrooms. Geez, Phillips 66 hired only 6 nurses to check ALL THEIR filling station bathrooms? That's a lot of time on the road! And they had to go back once a month? AND help people on the side of the road with car repairs and medical issues?

    Wow-my hat is off to those women. They earned every cent of what they got paid and then some, that's for sure.

  3. I've been doing some research on the Highway Hostesses, after learning about them while driving Route 66 this month (6/2014). They were hired by Phillips 66 and checked the stations in Phillips' territory -- “from New Mexico on the southwest to Minnesota on the north to Indiana in the east. From the small start of 1,800 filling stations in 1928, Phillips increased its inventory in 1930 to nearly 7,000 stations, many as house-type designs." Whew, that's a lot of stations for 6 women to check monthly! They were supplied with uniforms, gas and a car, and (love this) taught the station owners how to clean a bathroom!