Hagerstown Restaurant was a mid-1950s location. It was very similar
to the dozens of other stand-alone locations that were operated
during the era, and unremarkable except that it was the site of
an international incident in 1961 involving the Charge d' Affaires
of Sierre Leone!
African diplomat, Dr. W. H. Fitzjohn and his driver had stopped
at the Hagerstown Howard Johnson's Restaurant for a bite to eat
in route to Pittsburgh. Needless to say they were refused service
even as the Howard Johnson Company had a policy of non-discrimination.
The matter was handled by the Department of State and other U.S.
departments, and even involved the President. President Kennedy
and other top governmental officials contacted Howard D, Johnson
at his private estate in Miami where he offered a public apology.
Finally Hagerstown officials and the Howard Johnson's Restaurant
invited Dr. Fitzjohn to be their guest, and the individual incident
was resolved. In the larger scheme of things, the Fitzjohn affair
and other Route 40 discrimination incidents invloving African diplomats
served to hasten the Civil Rights legislation that ended legal segregation
in the United States.
are links to some information about the episode in our history: