In Ghana, a Travel Agent Is Crowned a Queen

The ceremony began with the so-called "lesser kings," decked out in blinding gold and Ashanti cloth, wearing royal sandals, shaded by Ghanian umbrellas and surrounded by dancers. Drums throbbed and the crowd swayed. Then came the "great kings," and the two "greater kings."

And finally came a woman from Atlanta who would be made a queen that hot day not so long ago in Ghana.

They seated Freddye Scarborough Henderson, pioneer of tourist flights to Africa, on a carved stool. They draped her in kente cloth, the cloth of kings, and placed slippers of gold on her feet. Before it was over, Henderson had a new name: Nana Akwantu Hemaa. She would be called Queen Mother of Travel and Tours, and honored for "opening the doors to tourism in Ghana."

The "enstoolment" of Henderson, 82, took place in Accra last month during the meeting of the joint 33rd World Tourism Organization Commission for Africa and the Africa Travel Association's 24th International Congress. More than 300 representatives from countries throughout Africa came to the tribute.

Freddye Henderson and her late husband, Jacob R. Henderson, founded Henderson Travel Service in 1955, the same year that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. Henderson's daughter, Gaynelle Henderson-Bailey, who now runs Henderson Associates and Henderson Travel Service -- now headquartered in Silver Spring -- said the agency was the first in the United States to organize tours to Africa, beginning in 1957, when Ghana won its independence.

"It was hard for blacks to travel across town in a segregated South, and here was my mother organizing tours to Africa," Henderson-Bailey said.

The origin of Henderson Travel came from an idea: that black professionals living in a segregated country might be interested in traveling to places where they could get first-class service.

Henderson's idea blossomed from a trip to Paris she had organized for black fashion designers in 1954. "She was so excited about how well-received blacks were" in Paris, recalled Henderson-Bailey. "They were treated so much better there than in the South."

"I said to my husband, `Maybe some of these people would go to Africa.' I hadn't been to Africa. I hadn't been anywhere," Henderson recalled. "I thought, `I know more blacks . . . would travel if they knew they were treated like this.' " When she offered some friends a chance to go to Africa, 50 people signed up. She found the market for organized travel among black professionals was untapped.

Over the years, the agency has become famous for its African tours. It was the travel agency to which major leaders turned when they needed to make a trip.

"I escorted Martin Luther King and his party to the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. We booked the whole trip," Henderson recalled.

Back in Atlanta and many years later, Freddye Henderson, now Queen Mother of Travel, Nana Akwantu Hemaa, is thinking about her enstoolment.

She is a queen.

"I'd like to say I always feel like one. I haven't been treated differently by my subjects. Nobody bows to me."

And she chuckles.

-- DeNeen L. Brown

Henderson Travel Service, 7961 Eastern Ave., Silver Spring, 301-650-5700 or 1-800-327-2309.

I'll Have a Cup of Joe, a Piece of Pie and an E-mail to Go

E-mail is going interstate -- as in highway. A Kansas City, Mo., company that has spent the past couple of years installing online terminals at truck stops around the country -- until now mostly as a communications aid and advertising medium to truckers and shipping companies -- is now offering free e-mail service to the rest of us.

As of last week, TIMM Communi-cations' Driver Net terminals -- which have a touch-screen keyboard and can be found at some 375 Pilot, Petro, Travel Centers of America and other similar travel plazas in most of the lower 48 -- allow those who've signed up on the Web for a free e-mail address (you do that at www.freetrip .com) to check or send mail while standing (in the shade, with any luck) at any Driver Net terminal. (You can also check or send e-mail the, um, old-fashioned way by logging onto TIMM's Web site at www.drivernet.com).

A company spokesman says its next step will be to offer pay-by-the-minute Web access at Driver Net terminals. E-mail access, though, will remain free.

-- Roger Piantadosi

Travel Tip 101

Driving, With Children

So it's come to this . . .

Here's a tip for those who plan to drive to their vacation destination with their children, from Rita Phelps of Bowie: "At the start of the trip, give each child a roll of quarters ($10) and an explanation. Each time they whine, argue or become stubborn, they have to give back a quarter. At the destination, they get to keep all the money that is left for souvenirs. Money talks! And you would have spent that much on souvenirs anyway."

A Travel section T-shirt goes to Phelps for her unabashed acceptance of one of the central truths of taking long car trips with small children -- namely, whatever gets you through it. Want to win a shirt of your own? Here's our two bits:

Travel tips (100 words or less) may be sent by e-mail (travtips@washpost.com); postcard (Travel Tips, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071; or fax (202-334-1069). Include your name, address and phone number. One tip per postcard or e-mail. Winners receive a Washington Post Travel section T-shirt. No purchase necessary. Tips submitted become property of The Washington Post, which may edit, publish, distribute and republish the information in any form, including paper and electronic media. Weekly winners are chosen on the basis of utility and novelty.

Ground School

Local events offering information, inspiration and motivation for travelers between trips

TUESDAY, JUNE 22. European Budget Travel Workshop. The scoop on air and rail travel, accommodations, safety, currency and more, by Hostelling International experts. 7 p.m., 1108 K St. NW, 2nd Floor. Additional workshops are scheduled for July 8 and 20, and Aug. 3, 19 and 31. Free, but reservations required: 202-783-4943.

Send event info by e-mail to travel@washpost.com or by fax, 202-334-1069.

Exit Lines

The nonprofit, Washington-based Clean Beaches Council, which recently launched a certification program promoting beach cleanliness and safety, has announced that nine Delaware beaches (including Lewes, Bethany, Rehoboth, Dewey and Fenwick) meet its standards. The fledgling campaign, which also names the Florida beaches of Hollywood and Dania among the nation's user-friendly, awards certification based on such factors as lifeguards, water quality and safety. What about other area resorts, such as Ocean City and North Carolina's Outer Banks? According to spokeswoman Carrie Collins, they haven't flunked -- they just haven't applied for certification yet. For more info: www.cleanbeaches.com.

CLICK FOR MORE

To visit the Travel section on the World Wide Web -- for an archive of Travel Tips, searchable Travel Q&A columns, updated last-minute fares and more -- go to www.washingtonpost.com and choose "Travel" from the far-left column. Comments? Questions? E-mail us at travel@washpost.com.

CAPTION: Queen Mother of Travel Freddye Henderson, center, in Ghana last month with her daughter, Gaynelle Henderson-Bailey, and Ghana's minister of tourism, Michael Gizo.