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Local Writer Tackles His Own History, And That Of The Immigrant Community, In New Memoir

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The author with his memoir. (credit: John Ostapkovich/KYW Newsradio)

The author with his memoir. (credit: John Ostapkovich/KYW Newsradio)

John Ostapkovich John Ostapkovich
John Ostapkovich brings humor and wit, and a wealth of experience...
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By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Montgomery County writer’s exploration of his family history echoes that of many Philadelphians only a generation or two removed from the “old country.”

Cherry Delight is the title of Robert Cherry’s memoir, following the intersecting lives of immigrants from Ukraine who made Philadelphia their home, and also made an impact on how we snack.

“It was my father and his partner Al Levis who, sometime in the 1940s, created the product that became the Slim Jim,” Cherry explains.

The Cherry family tale is, of course, unique, but…

“There’s a universality to the immigrant experience, especially those who came in the early part of the 20th century, and I believe that I captured that, and the book is also a history of Philadelphia in some respects. My parents’ families settled in South Philadelphia. My father’s factories were in North Philadelphia. My grandfather worked in West Philadelphia. My parents, like many other Delaware Valley families, migrated from the City to the western and northern suburbs.”

Cherry says the idea for this book came from his father in the 70s, yet it took him decades to get around to spending the three years he’d need to pull it together, which included a trip to Ukraine.

Robert Cherry is also the author of the 2004 biography of Wilt Chamberlain, Wilt: Larger Than Life.

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