CLOSE YOUR EYES. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. OPEN YOUR HEART.

SHADY DEL KNIGHT, ADMINISTRATOR

SHADY DEL KNIGHT, ADMINISTRATOR
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
HELLO STRANGER ... IT SEEMS LIKE A MIGHTY LONG TIME!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Remembering John


On January 16, 1993...

22 years ago today...


John Ettline passed away.

John spent the last nine years of his life
without his wife Helen. Imagine the strength
and courage it took for John, a man in his 80s,
to go it alone, endure the hardships of winter
and keep the Shady Dell in operation even as
teenage patrons became increasingly rough,
rowdy and disrespectful. How many of us
could have stood up to that challenge?


 Please listen to this song 

 as we honor the memory 

 of Mr. John Ettline. 






 John, you were the King of all Dell Rats

 If we have anything to say about it 

 you and Helen will always be remembered. 


 We love you and miss you, John! 


28 comments:

  1. That's so sweet, I've teared up and can't joke.

    Love, love, love this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, dear Cherdo! I'm glad to have you aboard this year to meet and learn more about John and Helen Ettline. They had no children of their own but to me and thousands of other kids they were like parents or grandparents.

      Have a safe and happy weekend, dear friend!

      Delete
  2. I've never heard of anyone like John and Helen.

    Thanks for the Frank song. You can really see his baby blues in that photo.

    Have a good weekend, Shady.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so very much, dear Susie. The Ettlines were part of a vanishing breed even back then in the 60s. Today it is very rare to find a couple with such a deep commitment to the youth of the community.

      Have a great weekend, Susie!

      Delete
  3. How lovely, John and Helen were clearly very special people, how I wish I could of met them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, thank you, dear Faye! This is a great time for you to be joining me at SDM&M because, at the beginning of each year, I introduce the Ettlines, the magnanimous mom and pop couple that operated the Dell for nearly 50 years and had a positive influence on countless young people.

      Thank you again for coming, dear friend Faye!

      Delete
  4. They made every young person who came to them their child. Do you visit John's grave? Do you visit anyone's grave? I don't. It seems pointless to me, but if I'd had a John and Helen in my life, when I was in the area I would probably make sure their graves had flowers. Now that sounds as if I'm trying to make you feel guilty if you're near there and you don't fuss over their graves. I don't mean that at all. I've only been to my dad's grave once. I was with my mom. I've never been to her grave. I don't even know why they were buried. They were cremated. Burying ashes seems silly to me. Okay, I think I've gone on long enough for no reason.

    Love,
    Janie, who wants to visit Sylvia Plath's grave to pay homage to her, as if she'll notice (but I will have tea with Sylvia and Emily Dickinson when we meet in Heaven)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, dear Janie! I'm like you in that I don't place a lot of importance on visiting graves. I haven't been to John and Helen's burial site, nor do I know anyone who has. I believe time and energy are better spent helping and being a positive influence on the living. John and Helen spent their lives doing that and I, in my meager manner, am trying to do that with this Dell tribute blog.

      Thank you very much for your visit and comments, dear friend Janie, and enjoy your weekend with WDW and Franklin!

      Delete
  5. Hi Shady,
    From what I heard from so many former Dell Rats , John was so kind and loving and helpful to so many. He wanted to keep the Dell going as long as he could, regardless of the disrespect he received in the later Dell years (80's -90's). In it's heydays , a father figure to most! Whatta guy! Sure wish I would have met him!
    This is so nice of you, Shady , to keep his memory alive!
    Toni Deroche

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, dear Toni! Thank you for coming, and thank you for doing what you have generously done year after year, and that is joining me here to observe the birthdays and death dates of our leading man and lady, the king and queen of Dell rats, John and Helen Ettline.

      I shudder to think of the heavy metal punks who disrespected John in his old age. Guys I knew in the 60s would never have stood for it. His is a story of unbelievable courage and dedication.

      Thank you again for being here to honor John, dear friend Toni. I know you would have loved him as much as we all did. Have a great weekend!

      Delete
  6. What more could a person want than to be remembered so fondly. Lovely post. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so very much for expressing this, dear Rita. I am merely one of the thousands of grown up kids who remember John and Helen fondly. We will continue to do so all our lives.

      Thank you again for helping me pay tribute to John Ettline, dear friend Rita, and have a great weekend!

      Delete
  7. What a wonderful post, Shady! It wouldn't have been easy for John to continue after Helen's death, but he seemed to carry on with finesse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Linda! Thank you for attending this special service to honor John Ettline, the owner of the Shady Dell and the King of all Dell Rats.

      When you lose a spouse it is especially hard to carry on, but John did so. To make life even more of a challenge, John had to deal with a rough crowd of youths that hung out at the Dell. I don't know how he managed to do it for so long. John finally closed the Dell and, a year-and-a-half later, with Helen and the Dell both gone, John died.

      Thank you again for coming, dear friend Linda, and enjoy your weekend!

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. Thank you, Jo-Anne. I selected this song written by Paul Anka and the classic performance of it by Frank Sinatra because it seemed a perfect fit for John Ettline. John never compromised his principles. He lived life with gusto and did it his way.

      Thank you once again, dear friend Jo-Anne, for joining me for this tribute to a great man, John Ettline.

      Delete
  9. Kathleen Mae SchneiderJanuary 18, 2015 at 3:21 PM

    "I've loved, I've laughed and cried
    I've had my fill, my share of losing..."

    These lyrics sure describe John, don't they, especially in the last years of his life? It really is amazing that he held onto the Dell as long as he did, given the decline of decent visitors and his own aging.

    Perhaps it took him that long to let go of the idea that the last batch of Dell rats would eventually respect him as much as past generations did. It could be that taking care of the Dell and keeping it open was the thing that gave the most meaning and purpose to his final days. We'll never know, but "his way" in the end was as authentic as this man was in so many other ways.

    I wish I had known him, since he gave new purpose to my ancestral home and kept it alive all those years. I would love to have shared my old pictures and stories about the property with him. Most of all, I would have loved introducing Mother to him. Since they were from the same generation, they would have had a great time getting to know one another!

    Alas, those are all hindsight wishes that can never be fulfilled, but John's greatness still lives on here in this blog. Thanks to you, his life of service and surrogate parenthood to countless young people will never be forgotten. The memories he engendered and lessons he taught continue like the ripples of a pebble dropped in a pond, ever expanding outward, and ensuring a lasting legacy.

    If he knew you are doing this in his honor, Tom, he would be touched I'm sure. Thank you for helping those of us who never met John to be inspired by his example.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, dear Kathleen! As you always seem do to, you have written a beautiful comment this evening and expressed yourself more effectively than I ever could. Thank you for making time for John and for taking time to honor him in such eloquent fashion.

      I believe that John held on to the dream as long as he could. When he knew in his heart that it was time to close the doors of the Dell forever it was the beginning of the end of his life as well.

      If I could rewrite history I would make it possible for you and Mother to have visited the Dell in the 50s, 60s or 70s, the Dell's golden years when John and Helen were both alive and the Dell was inhabited by friendlier kids. I can picture you and Mother sitting down with the Ettlines and sharing your stories with them. I know they would have been thrilled to do that and to learn all that I and the blog readers have about the early years of the Dell.

      Thank you again, dear Kathleen, for putting your thoughts into words and helping me mark the anniversary of John's death again this year. Please take good care of yourself and Mother and I hope to see you back here soon. God bless!

      Delete
  10. Sorry I'm so late in commenting...I've gotten a bit behind in my blogging. This tribute is so sweet and that's my favorite Sinatra song and it fits so perfectly with your descriptions and memories of Mr. Ettline. I'm going to picture him with his dear wife together again in heaven. It's a wonder how he managed after her death, and with his age. It's too bad the quality of youth slipped so far. Those kids missed a chance to know and respect a dear person. Have a good week and I'm assuming your weather is lovely and sunny...I did see Eddy yesterday and gave him an extra hug from you! (along with a vanilla wafer...he loves those!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, YaYa! You're right on time, my dear friend, and I thank you for coming over to help me remember John Ettline. You have been with me quite a while now and might recall that John and Helen's birth and death dates all fall within the first three months of the year.

      You're right. It's a shame that some of those 80s headbangers disrespected John and made his life without Helen even tougher. They missed an opportunity to connect with a wise man who would gladly have befriended them and offered guidance.

      It's a chilly start to a sunny day down here with not a trace of snow in sight. :) I hope your week is off to a fine start and will only get better. Please take good care of yourself, dear friend YaYa, and thank you for giving my pooch pal Eddy an extra hug!

      Delete
  11. That's a wonderful tribute for an obviously great man. Why don't we make more men like him today? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, SuperLux! That's a good question. It's trite to say they broke the mould after making John Ettline but that's how I would describe it. Thank you very much for paying your respects today, dear friend, and enjoy the rest of your week!

      Delete
  12. i think Cherdo's comment sums up everything i was going to say perfectly.
    and i may have mentioned this before, but John looks like the most wonderful picturesque retro dad. the glasses, the haircut, the shirt and jacket, being a war vet... he seems like a great guy. so blessed you were to know him.
    -Abigail and Daisy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Abigail! John Ettline was the quintessential father or grandfather figure. He had all the qualities a great man should have. He was strong, courageous, confident, even tempered, courteous, gregarious, educated and fair minded. I'm sure I left a few things out, but you get the picture. I wish you would have known John. I was indeed blessed to have him in my life at an impressionable age.

      Thank you very much for stopping by and for leaving such a nice comment, dear friend Abigail. Please give little Daisy a hug and a Milk-Bone for me and enjoy the rest of your week!

      Delete
  13. Thinking of you Tom! I hope you are well, I've been rather distracted lately, I had been spending as much time as I could with my sister before the baby was born and low and behold, she arrived last Thursday, the 15th, 2 days early and once again I am distracted! She is the best, just wanted to let you know my good news!

    January seems to be a month for birthdays and bereavement anniversaries.. As you remember John fondly on his anniversary, I am remembering my grandfather as it approaches two years since he passed away. Our loved ones are never gone as long as we remember them and talk about them.

    Emma x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, dear Emma! I am very pleased to see you back over on my side of the pond, my special friend. I am elated to learn the good news that there's a new baby in your family, and a girl at that. Congratulations!

      I well remember how hard you took it when your grandfather died a couple of years ago. You and I have some history together as blog friends by now and I appreciate you sticking with me all these years. (I wish our old friend Amber Blue Bird was still in our circle, don't you?)

      Thank you very much for helping me pay tribute to one of the greatest men I ever knew, Mr. John Ettline, on this the 22nd anniversary of his death. Please take good care of yourself, dear friend Emma, and enjoy the rest of your week!

      Delete
    2. Hi, Tom! I'm a little late in replying, having glanced at the blog a couple days ago. Tonight I sat down and played "My Way', which brought back a lot of memories---of John, of my late best friend Gary, and myself. Both John and Gary were mentors to me, but John was the first adult that treated me with respect and wasn't condescending and preaching. He led by example. My best friend, who would have been 65 on January 13 was that way also, the younger big brother I never had, and a veteran like John, only it was Vietnam. The people that touch us the most always stay in our hearts. I know John and Gary lived "My Way" and I've always strived to live my life that way also. I thank you very much for your excellent tributes to John and Helen, who did everything they could to make the world a better place. May we always strive to pass on our best to others. Peace, my friend.
      Dell Rat Ron

      Delete
    3. Hi, Ron! I'm very happy to have you join me again this year to share your impressions and memories of John Ettline as you have done in years past. I can tell that you are still trying to cope with the loss of your best friend Gary. If this Sinatra song seems a good fit for him as well as for John, then all the better.

      I think most Dell rats lived "My Way." After all, it was their independence and hunger for adventure that led them to attend the Dell in the first place. I consider us both very lucky to have been at the Dell when it was at its peak and John and Helen seemed delighted with their crop of kids. I'll never forget John's wide grin and Helen's bright smile and twinkling eyes. Those were the days, my friend.

      Thank you again, Ron, for coming here to testify as we honor John Ettline, King of all Dell Rats. Take care, good buddy, and come back again soon!

      Delete

You talkin' to me?