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

Sunday, October 12, 2008

----- 360 Degrees in the Shady ----- The Grand Tour, Part 2

You're traveling through another dimension...

a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind.

A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.

That's a signpost up ahead! your next stop:

We now continue our tour of the Shady Dell as it looks today. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Deroche family for providing this excellent series of updated photos.

During one of my earliest visits to the Dell in 1965, I got off on the wrong foot with Helen, (both feet, actually). At the time, there was a bench located in this area near the front entrance to the house. In an effort to look cool, I sat up on the back of the bench with my Jack Purcells resting on the seat. Helen spotted me from way back at the lunch counter, came flying out the door, and gave me a good tongue lashing. I never made that mistake again. (Gosh, Helen..... my Jacks were clean. I promise!)

Stepping inside, we find ourselves in the foyer, proceeding down a hallway toward what used to be the restaurant section of the Dell.

Off to the right is a large living room that, according to Toni Deroche, features red, yellow and blue lights in the ceiling. During the '50s, kids hung out in this room and played pool. By the 60s, however, this space was considered off limits and the door was kept closed.

Today, with the door once again thrown open for our inspection, we can see that the living room still boasts a functioning "exit" sign that leads the way to one of two cozy porches flanking the house on that side.

Returning to the interior hallway, we veer off to the left and enter what was once the "pink room," a section of the house that over time was transformed from a restaurant into a game room.

Until the late 60s, this room was lined with booths where patrons could order from a menu and dine in comfort. I remember my first meal at the Dell. I sat in a booth on the left side of the room (as viewed from this angle) and enjoyed a burger, fries and vanilla shake.

Back then, there was only one door along this wall, and it led to the ladies' room.

The door marked "Men" in the photo was actually the ladies room door. The men's room had to be accessed from outside the house, over by the Dell's entrance.

Next, we boldly "go" where no man had gone before - no man who went to the Dell in the 60s, that is. Welcome to "the blue room," the brightly colored powder room that is now designated as the men's room but used to be the ladies' room. Confused? So am I!

By 1970, as I recall, John had removed the booths and installed a fooseball table. If you never heard of fooseball, watch this brief clip:

A pool table later replaced the fooseball game, most likely during the mid 70s. That pocket billiard table was sold in an auction. The table that is now the centerpiece of the Dell's pool hall was purchased by the Deroches.

Here's a terrific view of Helen's snack bar as it looks today. The diner-style stools remain anchored into the floor. Old fashioned steel menu holders can be found atop the L-shaped lunch counter. This part of the house, by the way, was never as tidy as it looks here. John was an avid reader, a news junkie, and a pack rat, (a subspecies of Dell rat). The counter was typically cluttered with stacks of newspapers and magazines. Is that a pinball machine I see over there on the right? Cool!

Breaking news! A reliable source confirms that a king once sat at this lunch counter! Buddy King, that is. Buddy, along with his Del-Cords/Mag Men cohort Dave Bupp, visited the Dell from time to time. I remember seeing Bupp at the Dell in 1965, before I even knew that he was a celebrity. He was sitting on one of those stools having an animated discussion with John and Helen.

Here's the large stainless steel ice cream bar where Helen prepared all of those milkshakes and sundaes.

You could order many other snacks including the previously mentioned burgers and fries, hot dogs, subs, and my favorite, cherry cokes.

Hey, grab your jumbo drink and let's roll.

I got a pocket full of quarters for the jukebox and I'm headin' down to the barn. I'll meet you there next time!

Have a Shady day!

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