Phil grew up in Boston, Mass. His best friend since 5th. Grade was Jimmy Skea. Jimmy met and fell in love with Donnie Sparks in Provincetown one summer and moved with him to New Hope. Phil came to visit them and decided to move here in 1972.
They lived at Hope Ridge Farm. Hope Ridge Farm later became “January’s Night Club” and Phil was the DJ there. The infamous club closed after one year and the then owners took over the Cartwheel.
Phil got his first job in New Hope at the Canal House. He said, “I never worried about what anyone thought of me. I could just be myself.” He also worked at “Grace’s Mansion” along with Robert Ebert. He said there were 6 tables and the owner’s dog, a big Mastiff layed across the entrance to the restaurant. Phil moved to Florida in the early 1980s and opened a restaurant there. Robert Ebert asked him to come back and work at the Raven for the summers. In 1988, Phil came back to the Raven full time and still works there today.
One of his favorite memories was having a 4th of July cookout behind the Cartwheel. He said, “We decided since it was the 200th. Birthday of Independence that we would hold up the New Hope Ivyland Railroad and pass out flyers seeking freedom and equality for all. We drew on paper plate with crayons slogans like “Freedom for all” and went and stood on the tracks in the woods with balloons and little flags and forced the train to stop. As we got on the train, I told the conductor that we were harmless and we marched through the cars handing out paper plates to the tourists onboard.”
Phil recalled the winter of 1997.”In 1997, I spent the winter in Key West and worked at La Ti Da as a bartender in the upstairs lounge. I heard that another guy was coming from Maine to work the downstairs bar and didn’t think much of it until I walked in on his first night to find a young, tall handsome man behind the bar. My first reaction was “Oh Christ, I’ll never get another customer; once they see him they won’t pass by to go upstairs.” Eventually the owners asked me to stay with him till closing, since my bar closed around 2AM and he had to stay till 4AM. We would sit and talk for hours and I would tell him stories about New Hope and we became good friends. When the season ended I was coming back to the Raven and told him he should come and work the pool bar for the summer. He said he couldn’t because he had committed to a job back in Maine, so I asked him to just stop for a visit on his way back. He did stop on a very busy Sunday afternoon and Robert told him he had a position open if he was interested. He said he’d go home and pack and be back. I told him the only condition was that he didn’t tell anyone that we never slept together because it would ruin my reputation. That person was Scott DeWitt who ended up owning the Raven in 2009. He still likes to remind me of the “condition”.”
Phil still loves New Hope and the beautiful country. He said where he grew up in Boston, the bars were segregated for gays and lesbians and straights. He found when he came to New Hope that everyone was hanging out together.
He said it’s not “as funky as it used to be” and back then it “was easier to be outrageous”. He can still be found at the Raven and he is proud to still call New Hope his home.