Book Captures Heart of the Past in ‘Cherrydale’

By Claire Abshire

With an office full of accolades, sports memorabilia, and family pictures, it’s rare to stop by the office of Dean Phillips and not hear a good story. Combine his expertise in media relations and broadcasting with his love for family, and it’s possible to hear about anything from millionaire murderers to his latest trip to the pumpkin patch with his granddaughter.

The author at a book signing in June.

The author at a book signing in June.

However, in between teaching classes, meeting with students and consulting as a media relations expert to various clients, Phillips found time to write his first book, Cherrydale, as a token of a promise he once made to his parents.

The book is set in the 1920s and ’30s and introduces readers to Cherrydale, a small village in Arlington, VA, where Phillips’ father, Les, grew up. The idea for the book came from the fascinating stories that Les would tell his son.

“My father was very influential and a well-known storyteller. He would tell me stories about his childhood, anything from gypsies to murderers to the time he sat on Babe Ruth’s lap, and in my head I was thinking the whole time Cherrydale is a book,” Phillips said.

Dean Phillips 8

Babe Ruth signed this ball for Phillips’ father in the Yankees’ locker room.

Phillips promised his parents he would write the book while they were alive, but his mother passed in 2003 and his father in 2006. Now, Cherrydale is one of Phillips’ most prized accomplishments, which showcases a collection of short stories from his dad’s childhood.

Dean Phillips with former student Leah Brown.

Dean Phillips with former student Leah Brown.

“These are true stories, and I was knocked out by some of them. They’re funny stories, ones that could never happen again,” said Phillips while reflecting on his father’s childhood.

One of the most interesting elements in Cherrydale is its time in history. The stories from Les Phillips’ childhood represent a time when families didn’t lock doors to their homes and kids got up with the sun and came back home just in time for dinner. In Cherrydale, readers learn about a time that is so much different than the world we live in today.

While Cherrydale reflects on both happy and sad times, once you get Phillips reflecting on his own stories with his father and the process of putting the book together, it’s obvious that it is all extremely special. Even if you think Phillips’ voice resonates like a professional broadcaster, just ask him about Cherrydale or Les Phillips, and you will hear passion and love ─ in a voice like you’ve never heard before.