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Grayson Savoy “Sid” Stratton (1900-1993) was born in Doylestown and educated at the Pennsylvania Soldier’s Orphans’ School at Scotland, PA, where he learned the printing trade. In 1917, he returned to Doylestown where a printer’s job at the Doylestown Democrat newspaper lasted one day. “When I came in to work a couple of fellows on the staff objected to me being there and threatened to quit. Because of my race, you know,” he said.

Sid traveled to Philadelphia in response to an ad to run the No. 29 elevator in the Wanamaker Department Store. He got the job and every day he carried John Wanamaker up to his office and back down again. Wanamaker took a personal interest in the young elevator operator and suggested that he might like to learn tennis on two regulation tennis courts on the roof of the store. At Wanamaker’s invitation, Sid went up and found an instructor waiting with tennis balls and rackets, and his lessons began.

During his five years at Wanamaker’s, Sid also attended the Hyperion School of Music, studying piano, harmony and the alto saxophone. He was recruited to play for the store band which led to a lifelong career. Sid moved back home and in the early 1920s decided to launch a small orchestra in which he played, sang and conducted. The orchestra played its first engagement in Atlantic City, frequently performed in Asbury Park, and played for several years on Philadelphia’s Main Line. On Nov. 26, 1924, the band appeared at the Armory in Doylestown; and The Intelligencer billed it as “Philadelphia’s Leading Colored Dance Orchestra.”

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Sid and his orchestra also had a radio program on WCAU in Philadelphia.

In 1933, 33-year-old Grayson Savoy Stratton married 20-year-old Dorothy Ramie. The newlyweds moved into the Stratton family home on East Ashland where they raised six children and lived for the rest of their lives. Sid continued his career in music, and in his side yard he constructed the best clay tennis court in town.

Source: History of 186 East Ashland by J. Kurt Spence, Doylestown Historical Society, 2023.

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