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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Strangelove for Zimmy's Jukebox or: How I Learned to Start Worrying and Love Da Bomb!

Something went screwy

in my brain in 1961. 

I was eleven.
Until then I had been a normal, carefree kid. Summers were spent swimming in my backyard pool and going to the Jersey or Maryland shore with my family.

In the summer of 1961 my friends and I started going to Zimmy’s, a swimming pool and recreational complex located
in the village of Spry.

During my first couple of visits 99% of my time was spent frolicking in that spacious rectanglar pool. You practically
had to drag me out with grappling hooks.

The other 1% of the time was divided between visiting
the snack bar, watching guys playing shirts & skins on the basketball court, contemplating with envy the muscle men pumping iron at the weightlifting pit, or gazing at the monkeys, tropical birds and the bobcat at Zimmy's modest zoo exhibit.

It was around my third visit to Zimmy's that my habits began to change. I found myself devoting more and more of my valuable swim time to hanging out at a canopy covered dance floor watching pairs of girls dancing the jitterbug and the shag to jukebox records.

Before I knew what was happening, I was hopelessly addicted to poetry in motion.

A few specific songs are linked in my memory to Zimmy’s jukebox and to the dancing damsels that I enjoyed watching in 1961 and over the next few years.

“Tossin’ and Turnin’” was a monster #1 hit for Bobby Lewis
in 1961. The song became a fixture on WSBA and on the jukebox at Zimmy’s for the entire summer, racking up an astounding 23-week run on the Billboard chart.

“Raindrops” by Dee Clark is another record that took the country by storm in the summer of 1961.

The song broke in early May and went the distance, lasting three-and-a-half months on the record chart and, like the Bobby Lewis smash, taking us from the end of one school year to the start of the next.

“Mashed Potato Time,” the biggest career hit for Dee Dee Sharp, kicked off the warm weather season of 1962.

The dance record entered the chart in early spring and vaulted to #2 nationwide during the summer.

“Village of Love,” a ripsnorter by Nathaniel Mayer, kept the party going throughout the spring of ’62 and halfway through the summer.

The rocker staged a 12-week assault on the Billboard chart, ultimately reaching #22.

“The Loco-Motion” by Little Eva became number one in the land during the summer of 1962.

With an awesome 16-week chart duration, the song remained popular into fall. "The Loco-Motion" was also one of the most popular tunes that season at Zimmy’s.

A lost gem that I rediscovered in recent years was a song entitled “The Biggest Players” performed by the Ikettes, the backing vocalists for the Ike & Tina Turner Revue.

In the spring of 1965, WSBA got creative with its playlist
and flipped the girl group's top 40 hit “Peaches ‘N’ Cream” unleashing a true killer bee on the Susquehanna Valley.
The two-sider was popular on the radio during March,
April, and May, and I remember hearing it at Zimmy’s
during the summer months of that year.

Zimmy's wasn't the only place where one could witness the trance inducing spectacle of girls dancing together in pairs
or triads. It was also a common practice at the Shady Dell. Girls also danced with each other in the lobby of Dallastown High where a jukebox was installed. From the summer of '61 on, observing females dancing together became one of my favorite pastimes.

Don't get me wrong! Nothing matches the thrill of doing a belly flopper off Zimmy's high diving board and smacking the water so hard that it feels like you just got stung by a hundred bees...

Yeah, that's the ticket! And you thrash to the surface and try to scream in agony but as you suck in your breath you take a big gulp of warm, chlorinated pool water and swallow grass clippings and somebody's band-aid...and you frantically doggy paddle over to the ladder and climb out of the pool in disgrace while a hundred strangers clap and cheer...and you just wanna die but that'll have to wait because you gotta hurl first. No, nothing could top that...but watching those ladies dance sure came close!

Have a Shady day!


  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. Welcome to SDM&M! I'm glad you found the blog and I hope you'll stick around. Your comments are always welcome and greatly appreciated!


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