Red Hamer and Karl Kuerner have described their personal experience of the Brandywine Valley through their creative writing. They have both published several books with detailed memories and knowledge. Hamer has rubbed elbows with popular sports figures, while Kuerner has elaborated on his childhood; both convey exceptional insight into the Brandywine Valley.
Hamer started working for The Evening Bulletin, former President Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House, Mickey Mantle hit 42 home runs for the New York Yankees, and Ken Rosewall was dominating tennis courts around the world. Rosewall’s pursuit happened to be Hamer’s favorite sport. Coincidentally a local tennis star himself; Hamer became a full-time professional sports writer in 1958. Covering various other sports at the newspaper from 1958-1974, Hamer was the main reporter following University of Pennsylvania football and the Penn Relays. He met Rosewall, Rod Laver, and Arthur Ashe in 1968, which later on that year Ashe became the first African-American tennis player to win the U.S. Tennis Open. Hamer even played Laver, the only man to win the Grand Slam twice in a friendly match at The Spectrum in Philadelphia.
His exposure to sports over the years often brought him into interesting situations. In 1971, he participated in the Boston Marathon. Along the course, a blind runner passed him. Humbled by the experience, Hamer later announced that he completed the race ?in only 2 hours and 171 minutes.? Naturally athletic, he used his abilities and connections to meet many of the local sports figures of the 1960s and 1970s. He met Villanova track star Marty Liquori, chatted with former Phillies ?Whiz Kid? center-fielder Ritchie Ashburn, and hit balls with tennis pro Bobby Riggs. Hamer met Luciano Pavarotti while capturing a splendid moment on film as the tenor great rode in the 1991 Philadelphia Columbus Day Parade. When Hamer decided to focus his talents on photography, it was partially due to the natural beauty of the place he called home?the Chesapeake Bay. Living along the Bay for 20 years, he depicted landscapes rather than dominant sports figures. Utilizing his roots in the Philadelphia area in 1979, he released his first coffee-table book titled The Four Seasons of Chester County. The Four Seasons of Chester County made it into the time capsule buried in front of the Chester County Courthouse. He went on to write The Four Seasons of Chester County, Volumes [amazon-product]0960540040[/amazon-product]II, [amazon-product]0960540075[/amazon-product]III and [amazon-product]0960540091[/amazon-product]IV, as well as two volumes of ?The Four Seasons of the Chesapeake Bay. Volume II was a best-selling book in the eastern United States in 1982. Hamer’s focus on scenic local countryside is also highlighted in his book A Chester County Christmas.
Another local icon, artist Karl Kuerner, grew up admiring his bucolic surroundings in Chester County. His grandfather emigrated from Germany in 1926, renting the historic Ring Farm in Chadds Ford. Later he purchased the property which had ties to the Battle of the Brandywine, which had stray cannonballs and grapeshot buried in the soil. A sense of history was important to Howard Pyle the father of ?The Brandywine School? of artists and one of his students, N.C. Wyeth. Wyeth’s son Andrew focused his talent conveying a natural sense of the beauty of the region and later gained national recognition. In hundreds of his paintings, Andrew showcased the Kuerner Farm. By the early 1970s, young Karl Kuerner had been actively painting on his own. Showing one of his works to Andrew’s sister Carolyn, Karl Kuerner began a lifelong infatuation with the serenity and rustic elegance of the Brandywine Valley.
Pursuing his work assiduously for many years, Karl Kuerner released his book [amazon-product]1892142325[/amazon-product]All In A Day’s Work in 2007. ?This is the Kuerner Farm from the Kuerner’s perspective,? Karl Kuerner said after its release. In the introduction to the book, Andrew states, ?I have watched him grow? with his own vision. His work is inspiring and deeply introspective.? The book captures whimsical scenes from Karl’s childhood and includes a portrait titled Andy At Work.
Karl Kuerner’s books also illustrate less heralded aspects of life along the Brandywine. Ike At Night is a capricious look at his 6-year old cat that goes on adventures prowling the countryside, while toasting ?mousemellows? around the campfire. Ike Takes Flight follows suit, depicting feline pursuits with a different twist. Karl Kuerner says his paintings are ?abstracts disguised by realism. Many people are drawn to the region to capture the lovely scenery on canvas. ?There are many local painters? but few artists,? Karl Kuerner says.
Karl Kuerner will be signing copies of his books at the Chadds Ford Historical Society. Hamer will also be at the society signing copies of his books and photographs. Light refreshments will be served and the historic John Chads House (1725) will be open for tours. This event is open to the public. For more information visit chaddsfordhistory.org or call 610.388.7376.
Gene Pisasale is an author and lecturer based in Kennett Square. His six books and lecture series focus on local history. Gene’s latest work is The Forgotten Star, a novel about the War of 1812 which highlights true mysteries surrounding an American icon- the Star-Spangled Banner. Visit his website at GenePisasale.com.