Rise of Carhop Majorettes

In 1938, J.D.  (1907-1986) and Louise Sivil (1918-2006) opened Sivil’s Drive-In Restaurant in Houston. To attract customers, they employed “pretty and firtatious” women 18-25 years old and dressed them in sexy majorette costumes. The uniforms varied in style but often included skirts, shorts, cropped tops, boots and plumed hats.

Bogarting Majorettes

The carhop majorettes were Louise’s idea. I’ve heard her described as having a knack for running a roadside stand; however, in reality, she was a shrewd businesswoman who had a keen understanding of advertising strategies, particularly sex appeal. She used it to persuade people to buy their steaks and burgers, sodas and shakes. In addition, she used the majorette persona, bogarting it a way that impacted public opinion of the young and growing sport. After all, one of her sexy majorettes, Josephine Powell, ended up on the cover of LIFE in February 1940. At the time, it was  one of the most popular magazine’s in the nation. In fact, it reached one-quarter (25 percent) of the population.

Josephine Powell, LIFE 

We are searching for more information about Josephine Powell, who lived in Houston in 1940. Specifically, we’d like to know what became of her. Did she ever twirl baton or march with a band? Why was she the carhop chosen for the photo shoot? 

Josephine Powell, Life Magazine
Sivil's Carhops Houston

Following the cover story in LIFE, Sivil’s expanded to Dallas where the drive-in enjoyed enormous popularity along with their now iconic carhop majorettes. Located in the Oak Cliff neighborhood, it became a huge part of the lives of local teens from the 1940s through the 1960s.

It’s one of those places that seems to have reached almost mythic proportions on the nostalgia scale.

Paula Bosse

Researcher, Flashback : Dallas


Sivil’s closed in 1967, reportedly because fast-food chains were taking over and the owners may have wanted to retire. Since that time, it has become Texas legend, widely covered in Lone Star publications, local websites and history blogs

McDonald’s Majorette Carhops

Speaking of fast-food, the first McDonald’s opened in San Bernardino, California, in May 1940. Three months after the Powell appeared on teh cover of LIFE, they hired women to dress up in majorette boots and costumes and serve customers. (Source: Vintage Everyday

Scrapbook of Sivil’s Carhop Majorettes

A Flickr Pro User generously designated this amazing photo series of carhop majorettes with the Creative Commons License. They are from his grandmother’s personal scrapbook and document the days she worked at Sivil’s and Prince’s Drive-Ins from the 1940s-1960s. The images were actually postcards of the young women and were sold as souvenirs. 

Required Attribution: Kevin Trotman, Grandmother’s Scrapbook. This material may not be used for commercial purposes. No derivatives may be made. 

Carhop MajorettesS Scrapbook Cover, 1940s
Carhop Majorettes
Three Carhop Majorettes with two children on a car
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Carhop Majorette
Sivil's Carhop Majorette in front of 1950s Automobile
Carhop Majorettes
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Carhop Majorette
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Carhop Majorette with Baton
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Sivil's Carhop Majorette with Baton

Katson’s Majorette Carhops

Robert Virgil Katson opened Katson’s Drive-In in May 1940. He also jumped on the majorette carhop bandwagon as you can see from this vintage Katson’s postcard. The drive-in was located in Albuqerque’s popular motel district and fronted Route 66.

According to Route 66 Postcards, this is “generally considered to be one of the most extraordinary, beautiful linen postcards made for an Old Route 66 business in New Mexico…The dusk slipping away into the night in 1939…”

If you’ve ever been down old Route 66 in New Mexico, we highly recommend it. The sky looks exactly like this.

Carhop Documentary, 1974

In 1974, a short documentary was made about Carhops. It features magnificent footage of carhop majorettes. It’s featured below in two parts. In addition, visit Texas Archive to see a short 35mm clip of Sivil’s carhops about about the 9 minute mark.

Finally, how do you think product marketing has impacted majorettes and the sport of baton twirling? For further exploration, read our post about majorettes in advertising for cigarettes, shirts, chewing gum and soda. 

What is Ephemera

Baton twirling ephemera is collectible memorabilia that is often written or printed and used for a specific period of time. It includes things like programs, posters, patches, ticket stubs, score sheets, stickers, magazines and newsletters, etc. Do you have baton twirling ephemera to share?

Majorette Memories

We welcome pictures and scans of your vintage baton twirling memorabilia. 

We’ll digitally preserve your memories      in high-quality scans. Thank you so      much for supporting this project.  


Majorette Boot Clipart

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