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Walking into the Happy Harbor is like walking into a time warp.
— ironic review of the Inn at Bay Weekly Online

Fags and coloreds…what a blast from the past, with a twist! The Maryland town of Deale’s The Happy Harbor Inn really has a handle on that old hospitality thing. (WashBlade):

The Happy Harbor Inn, a popular dockside restaurant in the southern Maryland town of Deale, displayed the sign next to its main entrance as saying, “ATTENTION BIKERS: NO COLOREDS, FAGS, CLUB ATTIRE, (no) EXCEPTIONS,” according to two people who visited the restaurant on May 3.

On May 20, nearly three weeks later, the sign had been changed. A visit to the restaurant by a Washington Blade reporter showed that the letters “eds” and “f” had been covered by white paint, with a faint outline of the letters still visible.

From a distance, the sign on May 20 read, “ATTENTION BIKERS: NO COLOR, AGS, CLUB ATTIRE (no) EXCEPTIONS.”

“It could be a violation of Article 49 of the state’s human relations code,” said J. Neil Bell, deputy director of Maryland’s Human Relations Commission

…Records with the Anne Arundel County Board of Liquor Commissioners list Barbara A. Sturgell and Karen Kay Sturgell as the owners of the Happy Harbor Inn.

By the way, Barbara Sturgell, known as The Anchor of Deale, big surprise, contributes to the GOP. An interesting tidbit – she worked for the FBI under queen J. Edgar Hoover as a correspondence typist; he came by the restaurant from time to time. (BayWeekly):

Larger-than-life J. Edgar Hoover was known as an iron-fisted FBI head; only after his death was his private life scrutinized. Barbara Sturgell rose to become superintendent of the correspondence section, a trusted position, and had the job of delivering paperwork to Hoover’s home on weekends.

“I think he was a great man,” she says, recalling how she instructed her employees to work hard when Hoover came around and never to make eye contact with him.

Hat tip, PageOneQ
UPDATE: As mentioned in the comments by Lulu, a subsequent WaPo article includes the reaction of the owner of the restaurant, who was not available for comment in the Blade piece:

Barbara Sturgell posted the sign on the door of the Happy Harbor Inn in Deale four years ago after a fight between Hells Angels and Pagans ended in a cloud of pepper spray and bullets.

The 72-year-old business owner broke down and cried yesterday as she wondered why someone had altered the sign on the door by painting out certain letters and adding others to discourage black and gay patrons.

“I have no idea who would mess with my sign. I can’t believe that someone would be that vicious,” said Sturgell, who has run the inn for 30 years.

That would seem to put things into context, but the article also quotes a patron who sees it differently.

Ted Harris, an African American who has frequented the restaurant since the 1960s, doesn’t hold Sturgell blameless. He and a friend spotted the altered sign on the door during a visit May 3.

“It was all in the same ink. It was professionally done,” he said. “. . . When we came back, it was painted over, but you still could see the ‘E-D-S’ from the word ‘colored.’ “

And the Blade updated its article with additional information that still leaves the situation murky.

Sturgell said that about three weeks ago, one of her employees told her someone “altered” the sign by replacing the letter “r” with an “f” and made a similar substitution to change the word “colors” to “coloreds.”

“I think they wrote it in with magic markers,” Sturgell said in a telephone interview on May 23. “We took Clorox and wiped it off,” she said. “It was at night when it happened.”

When told that two witnesses reported seeing the sign with the words “fag” and “coloreds” at lunchtime as far back as May 2, Sturgell said her employees most likely first noticed the altered letters during their nighttime shift.

“I never saw it,” she said. “I walk by there almost every day, but I didn’t notice anything until an employee brought it to my attention.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding