General Ulysses Simpson Grant Fry’s restaurant in Luray
From the May 11, 1922 issue of the Page News and Courier.
General Ulysses Simpson Grant Fry, colored, is advertising his restaurant ‘on the hill’ for rent in this issue of the News and Courier. General is prepared to give some real fact and argument about the question, ‘What’s in a name?’ and he concludes that a name is a matter of real importance. Not for moment does he believe that a rose smells as sweet if you give it another name. General knows better than that.
Eighteen years ago , General went into the restaurant business in the colored part of town on the road to the Luray Caverns. Business was not extra good, but one day Fry got a pointer from the late A.L. Jamison, a shrewd businessman of Luray. ‘General,’ said Mr. Jamison, ‘your name should be your fortune. Spell it out fill on your restaurant sign and try its effect on the Yankees who come to see the Caverns.’
General was impressed by this advice, put up his sign in big letters, ‘General Ulysses Simpson Grant Fry Restaurant’ and waited for results. A few weeks later along came a Caverns party from Maine. They halted in front of the restaurant shouted and laughed and yelled for the General. Fry, whose complexion is fully as dark as that of his ancestors of the equatorial jungles of Africa, was for a time afraid to go, vaguely fearing that perhaps his name was going to get him into trouble. Finally, he decided to show himself and stepping out in the road gave the party from Maine a brisk military salute. He was greeted with cheers and huzzas and the entire party filed into his restaurant to be fed. This process has been repeated a number of times in the years that have fled. General says that he has always been careful to give food and service worthy of the great name he bears. His guests always receive the most approved military salute. Probably no soldier in town can give the salute as well as General. In parting with his restaurant business he is in doubt whether he should rent out the name that has brought him prosperity. One thing is sure, if his successor uses that name, he must keep up the reputation of the place.
There is no sham or commercialism about General’s name. he was the first baby in the family after the civil war and his father, Wesley Fry, of Madison county, who was a soldier in the Northern army [likely a private in Co. E, 2nd U.S. Colored Infantry, but possibly Co. K, 64th U.S. Colored Infantry], insisted that this offspring should be named general Ulysses Simpson Grant Fry, and it was done. Wesley Fry was a slave of Mrs. Matt Graves of Madison county, mother of Robert A. Graves of Syria. At first he was sent to the Confederate army as a teamster, later joining the Federals at Culpeper.
General Fry is a good citizen and has cared for the gifts fortune has bestowed upon him. He has combined farming and janitor work with the restaurant business, sleeping from midnight till five a.m. and working the rest of the time. He objects to working on Sunday any longer. He loved the farm and the babbling of the brooks and the rustling of the trees. He is able to quit and is going to quit.