High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Shady Dell in Winter, with Fireplaces Burning and Records That Keep Turning...

As much fun as the Dell was in summer... was pure magic in winter.

I spent several New Years Eves at the Dell.

New Year’s 1969-70 is particularly memorable because I went to the Dell in the middle of a blizzard.

When it was time to leave, John Ettline brought an ice scraper and shovel out to the parking lot and kindly helped me to extricate my car from the snow. That’s so John.

Let's go back 42 years to January of 1967 when three awesome ballads occupied slots inside the Dell jukebox at the same time. These three cuddle classics warmed our nights and our hearts all winter long.

Aaron Neville's debut hit single, "Tell It Like It Is" got the jump on the other two records, arriving at the Dell in early December. By mid-January, Neville's signature song had reached its peak of popularity and dreamy-eyed couples were swaying to the sound several times a night.

At the same time that "Tell It Like It Is" was breaking into the top 5 on Billboard and Cash Box, the two other featured Dell ballads were also making their chart ascent, both of them armed with a bullet.

By the mid 60s, Tommy Roe was transitioning from a respectable rock-a-billy singer to one who plied his trade with bubble gum and nursery rhyme pop.

The Casinos, with a retro sound, style, and name reminiscent of late 50s do wop groups, were an anachronism on the pop music scene of 1967.

While Tommy Roe and the Casinos were not the usual suspects in the Dell jukebox lineup, (like the Temps & Tops), they nevertheless contributed to the Dell two more cherished winter time slow jams, “It’s Now Winter’s Day” and “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.”

In the years following its release, “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” was undoubtedly played at thousands of weddings. The syrupy song is tailor made for such occasions. At the Shady Dell, you would have needed the Jaws of Life to pry couples apart once the Casinos started to croon the lyrics to their classic hit. Dell knights and Dellettes, locked in tight embrace on the dance floor, made all kinds of silly promises to each other while under the intoxicating influence of this dreamy ballad.

By January of 1967, Tommy Roe’s voice was already a familiar one at the Dell.

The previous June, Tommy’s infectious pop hit “Sweet Pea,” (#186 on my Dell 200), had been an irresistible treat that the gang sampled many times during the early weeks of summer vacation.

When winter came, Tommy was back in the box with an even bigger Dell hit, the evocative ballad “It’s Now Winter’s Day.”

If you spent the winter of '67 at the Dell, I'm sure that you remember "It's Now Winter's Day." Here's an opportunity for you to use your imagination. Put yourself back in the barn huddled in front of that fireplace with fellow Dell rats on a frigid night in January 1967.

Outside it's chilling. The mercury is dropping down to minus ten below (feels like temp). It's snowing hard. Your folks said you're crazy for going out on a night like this, but you just had to be there with the gang.

Feel the warmth radiating from the roaring blaze. John just threw another log on the fire. It must have had some wet snow on it because it’s starting to sizzle. Can you hear it?

Meanwhile, out on the barn's dance floor, guys and girls are falling in love all over again to Tommy Roe’s cold gold classic.

And so, in the dead of winter...

there was life at the Dell…

and a palpable sense of amicability...

and a roaring fire...and a smoky haze...

and body heat...

and romance...

and perfumed hair
that I can
still smell...

Essence that I liked so well...

(Clairol Herbal)…

Have a Shady Day!

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