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

Friday, November 28, 2008

8 Simple Rules for Leaving a Comment on a Moderated Blog

Mr. Knight isn’t here. He’s addressing the United Nations. He left me in charge. I’m his senior adviser… his loyal friend and confidant, his indispensable right hand man. The transfer of power is now complete. As of this moment and until further notice, I have full, complete and total authority to conduct blog business as I see fit. You report to me now. I will be monitoring each and every one of you to make sure that you are in strict compliance with the bylaws of this website.

Since many of you are apparently unfamiliar with the procedure for leaving a comment on a moderated blog, I’ll run through it. You will listen. You will learn. Pay attention - there will be a pop quiz.

The first thing you will be asked to do before writing a comment is to transcribe a series of letters and numbers. Requiring you to replicate this security code serves two important purposes:

1. It measures your I.Q.

2. It denies blog access to machines that transmit automated messages.

To all you machines out there, I offer this warning: I have you under surveillance. I know all about your vile scheme… your insidious conspiracy.

Your mission is to penetrate our defenses, infiltrate our ranks, mate with our women, take us over and, worst of all, to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids. Let me assure machines everywhere that your diabolical plot is doomed to failure. We are heavily fortified. We are impervious to your malevolent invasion. You will be defeated!

The next step in posting a comment is to write your remarks in the space provided. See figure 1 below for an example of an acceptable comment:


“Gosh Golly
Gee Willikers,
Mr. Knight!
You sure have
a bitchin’ blog!
Love every
page (LOL)”
-Kenneth P., NYC


You will notice that Kenneth’s comment is positive and upbeat. This type of comment will pass inspection and get immediate approval for publishing on the blog.

The following guidelines apply:

* If your comment is interesting and you praise Mr. Knight, your comment gets published.

* If your comment is boring, but you remember to praise Mr. Knight, your comment will still get published.

* If your comment is entirely off topic, contains obscenity, is unreasonably negative or attacks others (flaming), it will be deleted before it ever appears on the blog.

* If you try to send spam to the blog, it will likewise be intercepted and eliminated.

READ MY LIPS: Under no circumstances will spam or any other canned meat products be allowed on this site! Slim Jims and Beef Jerky, on the other hand, are quite welcome.

When you click to submit your comment, don’t expect it to show up on the blog immediately. Your comment was recorded and there is no need to resubmit. As I already explained, your comment will not appear until the moderator, Mr. Knight, has time to review it and approve it for publishing. This could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours depending on how often Mr. Knight is able to check his messages. You need to consider the fact that Mr. Knight has other important things to do during the day, like sleeping, eating, going to the bathroom, addressing the U.N., etc. These things all take time. Be patient.

This concludes today’s lesson outlining the 8 simple rules for commenting on a moderated blog. It would behoove you to memorize them. If you learn to recite them backward, you will be awarded a merit badge. You can’t find 8 rules? Trust me, there are 8. Some are embedded with a secret code. Your job is not to question. Your job is to obey. If you fail to do so, or dare to question my authority, I will report you to Mr. Knight the second he returns.

I’m just
a heartbeat away
Site Administrator.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

360 Degrees in the Shady: the Club, the Attic, and the Secret!

Toni and Tom Deroche, the current owners of the Dell, have already shared with us a wealth of photographic evidence revealing what the premises look like today. Now, the Deroches are coming through again with exclusive images that are even more intriguing - pictures snapped in parts of the Dell house that were off limits to customers and never before seen by the vast majority of us.

The newly-released photographs from the Deroche collection will give me the opportunity to tell the amazing true story about a secret that was kept at the Dell for decades. It was a carefully guarded secret known by only a few of the Ettlines - concealed from the rest of the family and the general public. The secret was hidden way up there in the attic on the third floor of the house.

The attic is our destination today as we continue our grand tour of the Dell.

Let us begin by going up the stairs to the second floor of the dwelling where we will pause briefly to take a look at the apartment that once belonged to the Ettlines.

It was here, above the restaurant, snack bar and living room, that John and Helen spent what few hours were left of each day after entertaining the hordes downstairs.

The rooms that were occupied for decades by the Ettlines are today a bright, colorful, and tastefully furnished living space, thanks to the Deroches.

I hear some huffing and puffing as we climb another flight of stairs and arrive in the attic on the third floor.

Notice once again the colorful, comfortable looking appointments on this top level of the home. Feel free to look around up here as I deliver my docent lecture, but please don’t touch anything.

Dell rats of the 50s and 60s might recall that John Ettline routinely carried a nightstick as he made his rounds of the Dell. The logical explanation would be that John armed himself with a billy club in case a scuffle broke out in the parking lot or barn and he needed to subdue unruly guests. According to a family spokesperson, however, there was a another reason for the club.

John was equipped with a club because he and Helen were secretly operating a safe house…a shelter for battered and abused women! Helen herself was a fugitive from an abusive marriage when she married John. The Ettlines allowed battered women to stay up here in the attic until they could find permanent shelter elsewhere.

Imagine, Dell rats, while the rest of us partied down below, women in crisis were hunkered down in the attic, trying to stay out of harm's way. It's mind-boggling! If you think about it, the Shady Dell provided the same services to female abuse victims that Access-York and other women’s help organizations offer today.

Only a handful of Ettlines knew that the Dell doubled as a secret shelter for women. It was feared that if too many people knew about it, word would inevitably leak out and male abusers would come to the Dell, confront John, and try to drag their women home. To prepare for a worst case scenario, John Ettline spoke boldly and carried a big stick.

Following the attempted assassination of President Reagan, I was fascinated to learn more about the Secret Service. When shots ring out, most people instinctively move in the opposite direction; but SS agents are trained to move toward the sound and to place themselves directly in the line of fire.

If you think about it, John & Helen were much the same. They moved toward trouble and need, not away from it. Instead of sitting back and waiting for some social service agency to step in and handle the problem, the Ettlines assumed the responsibility themselves. As James Brown might have put it, they “got up, got into it, got involved.”

John and Helen didn’t wait for the holiday season to get into the spirit of giving. They opened their doors and they opened their hearts. Their kindness, compassion and generosity kept the holiday spirit alive all year ‘round!

Have a Shady day and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On the Record: A Tale of Two Ditties, Part 2

"Louie Louie" by the Pacific Northwest band the Kingsmen is one of the greatest and best known rock ‘n roll songs of all time. Spiking sales and forever cloaking the song in legend and lore are its allegedly dirty lyrics. No one was ever able to prove the obscenity theory because the vocal track is buried beneath crashing cymbals, drums, guitars and organ, rendering most of the words unintelligible. As a result of the murky audio mix, the Kingsmen were able to deny that their interpretation of Richard Berry’s r&b number of the 50s was anything but benign.

That didn’t stop teens everywhere from coming up with their own naughty lyrics for the song. My best friend and I were no exception. We played the record over and over again listening for clues and brainstorming for hours in an attempt to break the code, decipher the message, and identify every delightfully filthy word hidden in the song. We played the record at different speeds. We even played it backward. I thought I heard the walrus is Paul or something like that.

Play this clip and you’ll see that the actual lyrics are as safe as momma’s milk. (Shucks!)

Historically, the Beatles are credited with shaking up the pop music scene and, in the process, jolting grief stricken Americans out of their depression following the Kennedy assassination. As I remember it, "Louie Louie" provided us with a much needed distraction even before the Beatles phenomenon began.

“Louie Louie” climbed to #2 on the Billboard chart in the weeks following the November 22nd slaying of the president and was just starting to fade off the chart in January when the Beatles dropped the bomb with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” That’s why I believe that “Louie Louie” deserves to be recognized as the first major musical stimulus to help our nation recover from those tragic events in Dallas.

What? What? He's singing, "I smell the rose in her hair?" Oh!.....well, that's quite different, then..........Never mind!

Me gotta go now. Have a Shady day!

Friday, November 21, 2008

On the Record: A Tale of Two Ditties, Part 1

Two songs simultaneously climbed toward the upper reaches of the record chart in November, 1963. Their trajectories met at a crossroads, a critical juncture on the timeline of American history. “Wonderful Summer” by one-hit-wonder Robin Ward...

...and “Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen, formed a musical bridge that carried us, for all intents and purposes, from the 1950s into the 1960s.

In my experience, when people refer to popular music of the 50s, they are usually talking about the period from the mid 50s, when "Rock Around the Clock" took the country by storm, through the end of 1963, just before the Beatles invaded America. By the same token, most 60s music played on oldies radio was released after the Beatles phenomenon began in 1964.

The wholesome teen ballad "Wonderful Summer" epitomizes the innocent 50s era that was drawing to a close by the end of 1963, while the wildly provocative "Louie Louie" helped usher in the tumultuous 60s.

With its lush string orchestration, overdubbed vocals, and atmospheric sounds of sea birds and crashing waves, Robin Ward's "Wonderful Summer" is a wistful, evocative classic of the girl group genre.

The record began climbing the chart the first week of November. For those of us who lived north of the Mason-Dixon, "Wonderful Summer" made us yearn for those warm, carefree days of summer when life's only concern was strolling the beach with that special someone.

By mid November, "Wonderful Summer" had reached its chart zenith at #14.

One week later, our bittersweet dreams of a casual summer romance were shattered and we awakened to the cold, harsh reality that our charismatic young president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, had been taken from us by an assassin’s bullet. The sense of safety, security and order that our generation had enjoyed up to that point was suddenly, brutally and permanently violated on November 22nd, 1963. That date, 45 years ago this week, marked the end of innocence and idealism in America and the beginning of an age of cynicism and irreverence that persists to this day.

"Wonderful Summer" is forever linked in my memory to the slaying of the president. The soothing sounds of terns and tides are now contaminated by the maddening, relentless beat of muffled drums across the Potomac.

(to be continued)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On the Record: Riches from "Rags" - “Piece of My Heart” by Erma Franklin


41 years ago today... 

this was rockin’ you! 

“Piece of My Heart,” a powerful, churchy ballad produced by east coast deep soul wizard Jerry "Rags" Ragovoy and sung by Erma Franklin, became a slow drag favorite at the Shady Dell in November of 1967.

The record reminds us of two pairs of sultry 60s soul sisters: Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick (r.i.p. Dee Dee), and Aretha and Erma Franklin.

Erma’s “Piece of My Heart” was right in the pocket as far as Dell rats were concerned. Treading the fine line between gospel and secular, “Piece of My Heart” had all the right stuff. It deserved to be a chart-topper for Erma like so many of sister Aretha’s songs. Yet, this outstanding recording only made it to #62 on Billboard. Remember my theory...the one that applies the mathematical law of inverse proportionality: the greater the song, the lower its position tends to be on the national record chart? “Piece of My Heart” is a prime example of the phenomenon.

To add insult to injury, Erma, a black artist, saw her original version of the song covered and turned into a bigger hit by a white act - an unfortunate scenario repeated throughout pop music history. In this case, it was Janis Joplin and her group, Big Brother & the Holding Company that picked up “Piece of My Heart” and rode it to #12 on the chart in the fall of 1968.

Naturally, Shady Del Knight’s Pick to Click is the Erma Franklin rendition, an enduring soul classic and one of the Dell’s most memorable slow jams!

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Have a Shady day!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Remembering Hy Lit (May 20, 1934 - November 17, 2007)

A year ago today we lost yet another titan of Philadelphia broadcasting - Hy Lit.

Wiki has Hy Lit's
complete bio, but
I'd like to share
with you some
memories and
comments about
a man that I
greatly admired.

* Born Hyman Litsky
in South Philly

* 50+ year career
as an icon of
radio and television

* Philadelphia
Broadcast Pioneers

*Legendary AM radio deejay and Wibbage (WIBG) “Good Guy”

* Architect of rock ‘n roll and the early sound of Philadelphia

* Worked with all the greats: Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, the Beach Boys, etc.

* The Beatles, hiding from throngs of squealing girls at the hotels, stayed overnight at Hy Lit's house and, as the story goes, slept on the floor.

* TV dance show host

Hy Lit's dance show is the memory maker that I would like to expand upon. From 1965 to 1971, Hy Lit hosted a televised dance party on Channel 48, WKBS (Kaiser Broadcasting) in Philadelphia.

Judy Arnold - Eastern WarriorsIt was the same cool indie station that carried two of my other favorite shows, Roller Derby and the Banana Splits.


One banana,
two banana
three banana,
Four Bananas
make a bunch
and so do
many more.

I was a devoted follower of the Hy Lit Show during the late 60s when the program’s playlist percolated with edgy, gritty, junk-in-the-trunk funk. Hy frequently had the joint jumpin' to funky, Philly-style instrumentals.

Remember Harold, Sherri, Doug & Ting, the featured dancers on the show? The Soul Train gang had nothin' on them! Remember Hy Lit's sidekick, Bucket Belly? (LOL)

Here, on a timeline, are the most memorable get down sounds from the Hy Lit Show of the late 60s. Listen to a clip or two and you’ll understand why Lit’s get-together was, like that Cornelius enterprise in Chi-town, one of television’s hippest trips!

Hy Lit’s Greatest Hits (late 60s):

“Boogaloo Down Broadway” – Fantastic Johnny C (October ’67)

“There is” – Dells (January ’68)

“Tighten Up” – Archie Bell & the Drells (April ’68)

“Wear it on Our Face” – Dells (April ’68)

“Ain’t Nothin’ but a House Party” - Show Stoppers (June ’68)

“The Horse”/”Love is All Right” – Cliff Nobles & Co. (June ’68)

“Here Comes the Judge” - Shorty Long (June ’68)

“I Can’t Stop Dancing” – Archie Bell & the Drells (July ’68)

“Hitch it to the Horse” - Fantastic Johnny C (July ’68)

“Stay in My Corner” – Dells (July ’68)

“The Mule” - James Boys (September ’68)

“Do the Choo Choo” – Archie Bell & the Drells (October ’68)

“There’s Gonna Be a Showdown” – Archie Bell & the Drells (December ’68)

“Switch it On” - Cliff Nobles & Co. (February ’69)

“It’s Your Thing” – Isley Bros. (March ’69)

“Snap-Out” - Interpretations (April ’69) Here's a sound sample of this rare track.

“O-Wow” - Panic Buttons (May ’69)

“I Turned You On” – Isley Bros. (June ’69)

“Keem-O-Sabe” - Electric Indian (August ’69)

Hy Lit was known as the Goodwill Ambassador of Philadelphia Radio. He truly was one of the good guys. I liked his style. Versatile, knowledgeable, articulate, sophisticated, and absolutely oozing cool, Hy Lit was as comfortable among hard rockers as he was with 50s do wop balladeers.

Hy Lit with the Four TopsHy Lit had massive crossover appeal, becoming a hit DJ on black radio stations as well as white radio stations. Hy was a great humanitarian who led by example. He was the kind of color blind unifier America needed then and needs now. Hy Lit was part of the solution. Solid, man – thanks!

Have a Shady day!