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!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Helen Ettline - Mother of All Dell Rats


 Shady Dell owner Helen Ettline 

 didn't have any children of her own. 

 In a way we were all her kids 

 and she was our mom. 
 Clearly Helen and John loved kids. 

 Why else would they have put up with 

 the aggravation all those years? 

 The Ettlines believed in kids. 

 They enjoyed counseling and helping kids. 


 In observance of Mother's Day 

 I picked out a video that 

 I think Helen would enjoy. 

 Helen, this is for you. 





 Happy Mother's Day, Helen! 


 We love you and miss you! 

47 comments:

  1. Good morning, Shady. The best moms are the women who take in any and all children and show them love. It's sweet of you to pay tribute to Helen, as you do so often. I'm sure she knows that you honor her.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Thank you very much, dear Janie, for staying up so late or getting up so early to be here for Helen today. Helen and John gave thousands of kids a place to go and a sense of family.

      Thank you again for this kind message, dear friend Janie. I wish you a happy Mother's Day!

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    2. I had a lovely Mother's Day. Willy Dunne Wooters and Favorite Young Man took me out to dinner. By any chance, do you know the names of the first dancing couple in the Razzle Dazzle video? They're very good.

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    3. Hi, dear Janie!

      I can only guess they are two of the people listed as dancers in the cast credits for the movie (Rock Around the Clock) on IMBD:

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049682/fullcredits/

      As you saw there are several dancers credited and I don't know any of those names.

      I'm very happy to learn that you had a lovely Mother's Day with WDW and FYM. It's great to find you happy today, dear Janie, and thank you for the return visit!

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  2. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 10, 2015 at 6:28 AM

    Good Morning, Tom,

    From what you often describe, Helen certainly expressed all the instincts of motherhood. She demonstrated devotion, compassion, patience and tenderheartedness to young people at a stage of their lives when many natural parents find it difficult to do so toward their own offspring. How wonderful that she influenced so many with those simple yet profound gifts!

    I personally believe that we should celebrate Mother's Day every day by remembering all the women who nurtured us and literally made us who we are. However, it is exceptionally fitting for you to honor this very special woman today, on a blog you've dedicated to her and John and their Shady Dell.

    She accepted you and your friends all those years ago, merely letting you be teenagers without expectations for you to have been anything else. She may have cooked many a late night meal for you, but she also fed your souls with kindness and love.

    This tribute and your blog are proof of that!

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    1. Hi, Kathleen! Thank you for coming by to express some kind words for Helen Ettline. Even today it is difficult for many parents to have "the talk" with their children. Parents in the 60s were even more reluctant to sit down with their kids and have heart to heart talks about important and sensitive coming-of-age issues. The Dell's young patrons felt at ease around John and Helen. They opened up to them, shared their problems and concerns and asked their advice. I am very thankful I knew them and received the benefit of their guidance.

      Thank you again for being here, dear friend Kathleen. I wish you and Margaret a very happy Mother's Day. God bless!

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  3. Awww, beautiful post, Shady, and a wonderful tribute to Helen!

    Happy Mother's Day, Helen, mother to many!

    Also, Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers that follow your SDM&M blog!

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    1. Hi, Toni! Thanks a bunch for coming over to wish Helen a happy Mother's Day. Over a span of 40 years leading up to her death, Helen was a second mother to countless teenagers. She was loved and she is missed.

      Happy Mother's Day to you, dear friend Toni!

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  4. It seems if she could not have children of her own, she had the children from the neighbourhood. What lovely memories you have and they are filled with love. I love the film clip and wish I could dance like that. I know my Aunt and Uncle, 10 years prior, could dance the jive and boogie woogie.

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    1. Hi, Birgit! Thank you very much for coming down for a visit on Mother's Day. It's good to know you are getting acquainted with Dell owners John and Helen Ettline and realizing how greatly they influenced young people in the York community and all across Central Pennsylvania.

      I decided to add some "Razzle Dazzle" to this year's Mother's Day tribute and that's why I picked that energetic number by Bill Haley and the Comets from their 1956 musical film Rock Around the Clock. The dancing in that clip was amazing, wasn't it?

      Thanks again, dear BB, and happy Mother's Day to you!

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  5. Dear Shady, what a beautiful tribute for Mother's Day! Thank you so much for sharing, my cherished friend. :)

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    1. Thank you very much for being here, dear Linda. Helen was a sweet woman, somewhat shy and reserved, cordial, caring and considerate. You remind me of her.

      Happy Mother's Day to you, dear friend Linda!

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  6. I'm always touched by your sweet tributes to Helen (and to John). We choose the people we let into our world, for better or for worse. But sometimes, the stars and the planets align just so...and angels decide to live among us, at just the right time.

    I think that is what happened with the Ettlines.

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    1. Hi, dear Cherdo! Thank you very much for taking time out from your Mother's Day celebration to come over and help me remember Helen. What you wrote here is simply beautiful and I know that Helen got the message and appreciates it. So do I, dear friend. You and I are now into our second year of blog friendship and what you wrote certainly applies to us.

      Thank you very much for your thoughtfulness, dear Cherdo. I hope you had a very happy Mother's Day and I wish you a safe and happy week ahead!

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  7. What a fine time it must have been. If kids today could only have some of those same types of people and places to fill up their memories we might have better hope for our future and their future. Everything now is too fast, too stressful, and too lacking in the relationships that are closer to a real family feeling. Sometimes I wonder where the current state of affairs will take us all.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Hi, Lee! Thank you very much for coming by, my friend. I share your concerns about younger generations. Sometimes the stories told by baby boomers are dismissed as memories distorted by time. We are accused of viewing the past through rose colored glasses. Yet, you and I both know how different and how great it was back then. There was a sense of family and of community that has since been lost. Kids spent leisurely hours at the Dell interacting with each other face to face, one on one. We didn't get interrupted every few seconds by calls and text messages, never felt the need to be in constant touch with a hundred other people scattered around the world. We were too busy living and having fun. It's a shame today's kids are missing out on that kind of life.

      Thanks again for being here for Helen, good buddy Lee. Have a great week!

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  8. Good Monday morning, Shady!

    Your video was great. My Mom taught me to Jitterbug years ago. I had the urge to jump up and get to it! So I'm thankful you posted that for Helen - she is still the "giver." through your remembrances.

    Wishing you a pleasant week. (smile).

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    1. Hi, dear Dixie! Thank you very much for coming here and expressing this. I decided to add some "Razzle Dazzle" to my Mother's Day tribute for Helen this year when the jitterbuggers in that movie musical caught my attention. Helen served as the cook and waitress in the Shady Dell restaurant (snack bar). The Dell had a jukebox in the barn annex where the kids danced and there was a second jukebox in the snack bar where Helen worked. That box contained the older records from the 50s. Helen played a steady stream of oldies on her jukebox while she worked and it always makes me smile to remember that.

      Thank you again for your visit and kind comment, dear friend Dixie. Have a wonderful week!

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  9. I hope people realize how much influence we can have on a child without being a parent. Taking an interest in someone's life doesn't require a birth certificate. The Ettlines are perfect examples. I know they have touched your life because of your blog. So even though she's not here, Happy Mother's day Mrs. Ettline. Many former young people are better people because of you. Have a good week Tom!

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    1. Hi, dear YaYa! Thank you very much for being here for Helen again this year as I salute her for Mother's Day. It's true. The Ettlines were a childless couple, but they embraced the children of the community and took an active role in guiding and shaping them. When I went to the Dell in the 60s I didn't realize how much influence John and Helen would have on me the rest of my life. I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to share my admiration and respect for them through this blog.

      Thank you again, dear friend YaYa, and enjoy the rest of your week!

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  10. Sounds like she was a surrogate mother to a passel of restless teens--LOL! Obviously you have good memories of her. :)

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    1. Hi, dear Rita! Thank you very much for coming. I didn't expect to see you so soon in light of the recent tragic events in your life. If your visit to SDMM helped ease the pain for a while, then I am happy it helped you.

      I do have good memories of Helen. I can still hear her soft, polite voice and see the twinkle in her eye. She's been gone 31 years now and I miss her but memories linger on.

      Thank you again, dear friend Rita. Please take it one day at a time and remember that your friends across the country and around the world are thinking about you.

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  11. Dear Shady, this is a lovely tribute to a woman who was mother to so many. And I'm guessing some of the kids felt more at home and more accepted with her than they did with many other people. Experiencing unconditional love and acceptance helps us grow into secure adults.

    She certainly had in impact on you, as you have grown to be a kind and generous man.

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    1. Hi, dear Anne! Thank you very much for being here as I pay tribute to Helen Ettline again this year on Mother's Day. How true it was. Some of the Dell regulars I knew came from troubled homes. They felt much more comfortable opening up and sharing their problems with Helen and John than they did with their own parents. John and Helen never preached. They offered good advice when asked. They were old enough to be our grandparents but they never forgot what it was like to be young. That's why the kids could relate to them so well.

      Thank you again for your visit and for the sweet compliment, dear friend Anne. I am delighted to have you here again and hope you will stay close and visit often. Enjoy the rest of your week!

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    2. Oh yes, when children get of a certain age, they do not talk as openly to their parents. It's a normal part of development. Who they turn to is of the utmost importance for their futures.

      Their minds are as malleable as teenagers as they are as toddlers. Both are such critical periods of development. The unfortunate thing is that there are so few John and Helens in the world today. I am so glad that mine are raised and got through those years without making any big mistakes.

      I pray that my future grandchildren come into a world more like the one you grew up in.

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    3. Hi again, dear Anne! Thank you very much for expanding our thread with this thoughtful comment. It gives me an opportunity to tell you a little more about Helen and John, a secret that they kept at the Shady Dell for years, the details of which I learned when I interviewed one of John's nieces.

      Even back in the 1960s, John and Helen were already a vanishing breed of citizen. The secret that came to light is proves that assertion. John's niece told me that, for years, the Ettlines opened their doors and gave safe haven to runaway teens, pregnant single mothers and battered women fleeing abusive spouses and boyfriends. These women were given food and shelter and lived in a furnished suite in the large attic on the third floor of the Dell house. John carried a billy club in case he was ever confronted by an angry, violent man who somehow found out (or guessed) where his woman was hiding and showed up to drag her out of the Dell. Helen and John didn't leave it up to organizations and agencies to protect those girls and women. They stepped up and took responsibility themselves. In the 60s, there weren't many couples with such a profound sense of community that they were willing to put themselves out there to that extent to help strangers just because it was the right thing to do. It seems like there are even fewer around today.

      I share your concern about the younger generation and future generations. I believe if we all model the behavior of people like Helen and John we can help create the kind of world they envisioned.

      Thank you again, dear friend Anne, for taking time to express yourself here today. I am honored to have you here. Happy Tuesday to you!

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    4. Now that is a touching story. Doing such a thing in those days required bravery as unwed mothers were so badly shamed and association with them often resulted in finger pointing. Battered women weren't listened to either. One was expected to just take it as their mothers had done so. Yes, the world is a better place when people like these exist.

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    5. One point I forgot to make in my previous reply, Anne, was this. Over the decades, thousands of teenagers passed through the gates of the Dell. They danced, partied and laughed in the dance hall and snacked in the restaurant on the first floor of the house. All of those young patrons, myself included, remained totally oblivious to the drama that was going on behind the scenes up there in the attic. That is what made the secret so shocking when it was finally revealed all those years later.

      Thank you again, Anne, for sharing your thoughts with me and with the other readers who routinely read the comments and replies.

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  12. That was a lovely tribute to Helen. I think she would've loved the video. I know I did!

    I wonder if she had any idea the legacy she was leaving or how many people would love and appreciate her????

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    1. Hi, dear Robin! Thank you very much for dropping in to experience my Mother's Day tribute to Helen Ettline - The Mother of all Dell Rats. I'm pleased to know that you enjoyed the clip I selected from Rock Around the Clock. Bill Haley and the Comets were among the earliest contributors to the soundtrack of my life. My big brother, ten years older than me, collected their records and I often listened to them in the basement. They included "Rock Around the Clock, "Rock-A-Beatin'-Boogie," "See You Later, Alligator" and "Dim, Dim the Lights."

      Helen and John were two people who quietly went about the business of helping others, especially the young, without a lot of fanfare. I doubt either one realized the legacy they were leaving behind. Surely they never dreamed that someday people of all ages around the world would know about them and their Shady Dell and carry on its tradition by gathering together in cyberspace, listening to music, dancing, singing, having fun and building lasting friendships.

      Thank you again for your visit and sweet comment, dear friend Robin. Have a great week and I hope we connect again soon!

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  13. I imagine John and Helen could "cut the rug" in their younger years. Happy belated Mother's Day, Helen.

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    1. Anonymous - I imagine so. My parents were just a little younger than the Ettlines. They turned thumbs down on most rock 'n' roll records, but they did enjoy dancing to jumpin' jitterbug tunes like this one by Bill Haley & the Comets. Although I don't have any direct evidence of it, I think there's a good chance the Ettlines liked Haley's Comets, too.

      Thank you for your visit and comment!

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  14. SHECKY SHADY SHAFT ~
    A really nice tribute you put together here. And I dig a lot of those old tunes on the video. ...Except for Bill Haley And The Comets, those rebellious rabble-rousers. They SHOULD have been bodily ejected from the place before they got that chance to corrupt the morals of all those impressionable young kids!

    Hey, get off my lawn!
    Why don't you rockers go to the park and play?

    (Nobody even wished me a "Happy Mother's Day" yesterday, and I've been called a muhthuh lots o' times, so I figure it must be twue.)

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Hi, Stephen! Thanks for popping in, good buddy! You're the mother of all blog quipsters and I'm always happy to see your face in my place.

      I'm glad you appreciated my Mother's Day tribute for Helen. Ever since I started the blog in 2008, I have been observing the birth and death dates of the Ettlines and have been saluting them on Mother's Day and Father's Day. On Mother's Day I always dedicate an oldie to Helen, one that I think she would have enjoyed. This one by the Comets seemed right for the occasion.

      Thanks again for being here, good buddy, Stephen, and enjoy the rest of your week!

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  15. A woman doesn't have to give birth to a child to be mum. some of the best mothers are those who are unable to have their own children

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    1. Hi, dear Jo-Anne! Thanks for popping in for a look and a listen as I pay a Mother's Day tribute to Helen Ettline. I think you're right about what you wrote here and other readers have expressed the same. Helen Ettline and her husband John were living proof of it.

      Thank you very much for reporting in from far away East Coast Australia, dear friend Jo-Anne. I hope your Tuesday's off to a great start and hope the rest of your week goes well, too. Take care!

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  16. Something has to be said about a lady who was strongly there for teenagers over and over. Even as an older sister and friend it can be hard to see younger kids have to make mistakes and learn the same things i did, even though you try to tell them different, sometimes we kids don't listen and have to learn on our own! Both Helen and John sound like lovely, caring people, long suffering towards kids and our crazy ways, though still very much kids themselves. and i'm sure every person who came through the famous Dell knew that, if not immediately, than defiantly with age.

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    1. Hi, dear Abigail! You nailed it! Your wonderful comment sums it up perfectly. Helen and John grew old as the mom and pop of the Dell, but they stayed young on the inside. They were there for their teenage patrons but they didn't crowd them or micromanage them as parents and teachers often did. They gave us space and let us work it out for ourselves. If a young person screwed up they were given an opportunity to learn from their mistake.

      I'll never forget the day I went to see a James Brown show. A few rows behind me in the audience sat you know who - Helen and John - a white couple in their 60s - probably the only such couple in the whole crowd. John and Helen walked their talk.

      Thank you very much for coming and for composing such a wonderful comment, dear friend Abigail. I hope you and Daisy are having a fine week and I'll talk to you again soon!

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  17. I admire Helen more than I can say. She was a true mother to many needy young people. You chose a great video. I loved the dancing, my sister and I used to dance together like that when we were little. Of course, not that well! Helen deserves a Mother's Day tribute and this was lovely.

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    1. Hi, dear Belle! Thank you very much for swinging over, my wonderful friend. You've been with me longer than any other blog friend and you have read many tributes to Helen and John. With Father's Day coming up next month, another year's cycle will be completed. Now that I have welcomed so many new faces to SDMM in recent weeks, I will feel free to repeat some of the trivia about Helen and John that I posted in years passed, starting next January.

      Those old rock 'n' roll musicals are such fun to watch, aren't they? I always wished I was a better dancer and envied guys at the Dell who had the ability and nerve to perform a variety of steps on the floor. I never witnessed any jitterbug dancing at the Dell and can't be sure how popular that style of music and dancing was at the hangout. I'd love to know.

      Thank you again, dear friend Belle, for being here year after year as SDMM, the little blog that could, continues to grow. God bless!

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  18. A belated Happy US Mother's Day to Helen! We had our Mother's day a few month's ago but I always have to remember the one in the US to wish my Aunts a Happy Mother's Day. As it happens yesterday was actually my parents 30 year wedding anniversary, they spent it revisiting the church and hotel where they got married and had their reception! Hope you're having a great start to your week Tom!

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    1. Hi, dear Emma! Thank you for remembering Helen again this year around Mother's Day. Congratulations to your mam and daddy on achieving the marital milestone of 30 years. It was a splendid idea for them to return to the church in which they were married and to the hotel where they held their reception 30 years ago.

      Thank you once again, dear Emma. You are one of my oldest blog friends and it always makes me happy when you visit. Enjoy the rest of your week!

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  19. I'm really sorry for getting to this post so late. I did read it earlier, but only now found the time to come back and comment. I thought this was a very heartwarming tribute.

    It's my opinion that Motherhood is so much more than a simple biological fact. So many women contribute to the upbringing of other peoples children. Normally those children are grateful for the associations they have with these women, but on a day specifically set aside for Mothers they are forgotten. Therefore, I applaud your honoring of Helen and her wonderful contribution to your life as well as the other 'Dell Rats'. I also think mothers everywhere are grateful for whatever positive contributions are made into the lives of their children. We simply can't be everywhere and want to know that when we are not around/available/nearby there might be someone who will step up and give the necessary 'mothering'.

    As usual your thoughtfulness is limitless.

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    1. Hi, dear sweet FAE! Thank you very much for coming. There can never be too many positive influences in a young person's life. Helen and John Ettline stepped up to the plate and shared responsibility for helping kids of the community grow into good citizens. It's ironic because their hangout, the Shady Dell, had a bad reputation. Some called it a "den of iniquity" and many parents refused to let their children go there. They didn't know what kind of people the Ettlines were. They chose to believe the rumors and the gossip. My parents were against me going to the Dell, but I went anyway, and they tolerated my disobedience. I feel very fortunate that it turned out that way because I wouldn't have wanted to miss knowing those fine people. I have dedicated this blog to them.

      Thanks again for being here for Helen, dear friend FAE. I'll see you tomorrow when we meet again and present our band battles!

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  20. I'm sorry that I missed this before. This was a lovely tribute to your dear friend. It was so nice how she went out of her way for all of the kids in the neighborhood. Thanks for sharing this wonderful video too, Shady!

    Julie

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    1. Hi, Julie! Please forgive me for overlooking your beautiful comment until now. I need to remember to check my back pages more often.

      I am grateful for the opportunity to introduce new friends like you to the Ettlines and to let you know in posts like this one just how special they were. If you haven't already done so, I urge you to read my exchange with Anne O'Leary (above). It provides even more evidence that Helen and John were a breed apart, two people who rolled up their sleeves, got their hands dirty, walked their talk and served the community for decades.

      Thank you again for your faithful friendship, dear Julie. I'll be connecting with you again soon!

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  21. Nice tribute to her. IT sounds like a great place.

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