I am Charles Cramer Sr, the mayor of Kennett Square prior to Mayor Leon Spencer. I respect Mayor Spencer and we are very good friends. I am now 93 years old. I was councilman for two terms and then became mayor.
I love Kennett very much. I was born in Kennett Square and went to Kennett School. was in the first grade and we marched down Union Street from the old Mary D. Lang school to the first grade in the new Kennett Consolidated School. The black children and their teachers had to go to the first floor in the left wing. We had to stay in that section.
When we reached the seventh grade things changed. We were mixed. I graduated and was drafted into the Army in 1943. I was sent to Europe from Normandy Beach through France, Belgium and Germany. When the war ended we were preparing to go to Japan. I came back to Kennett Square in 1946. They had a parade with me in it. They gave me a certificate from Kennett for my service.
Kennett did not have a mayor, it had a burgess, Walt Grace. When I left the parade, there were places I could not eat. I could not find a nice job. I could not get a house on certain streets. Why did I go to war overseas risk my life and make those people free and come home and be a second-class citizen? I got married to Thelma Wilson and we had children which I raised in Kennett Square. I joined the SCCNAACP became Vice President eventually president.
We fought for good jobs, affordable housing, which was not successful in Kennett, we tried to end discrimination, get equal housing and a lot more. William Buffington was a very good friend of mine. He was by my side. We opened the first food cupboard in Kennett. I joined the Kennett the Kennett Fire Co. I was on the United Way Board. I was on the Senior Center Board and belonged to many more organizations.
We were trying to make Kennett a better town. I helped to start Anson B. Nixon park. We gave a lot of hard work and time in the park to develop the park. I was on the board for the park and was manager for a while. I appreciate the granite stone they put in the park with a bronze plate with my name on it.
I walked down State Street with the governor of Pennsylvania and we told him our plans and he gave us one million dollars for the parking garage. Change was going to come to Kennett. I saw Stores like Tingles and Sheldons and other stores close. I was there one Sunday morning when the heavy equipment started tearing down buildings. This was done to make room for Genesis and the parking garage.
I am proud of how Kennett has grown and I still love Kennett.
The only thing is that when we travel through the streets of Kennett Square, I seldom see a black person. Linden Street and Cedar Street were about 90 percent black and blacks were on Walnut Street, Birch Street, South Street, Willow Street. There is no affordable housing.
Our children love Kennett but could not find a place to live in Kennett.
I came up to the church I belonged when I lived in Kennett and most of the congregation was from out of town. I go to New Garden UAME Church. They have left Kennett where housing is cheaper. I still love the town of Kennett and the people in it. My wife and I love Kennett and come to Kennett and ride through and have lunch. We have many good memories and a few sad ones. God bless a II of you.
Charles S. Cramer Sr.