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, August 7, 2009

It's a Nine O'Clock World -------------Time for "Hanky Panky"

Two of my teenage years were spent working in the produce department of a York supermarket.

While toiling at my work station at the rear of the store trimming lettuce, wrapping endive, and sniffing out rotten potatoes, I relieved the monotony by listening to the radio. Naturally, it was always tuned to WSBA.

One of the songs that kept me company while I peeled, chopped, sliced and diced my way through the summer of '66 was the bubble gum pop classic “Hanky Panky” by Tommy James & the Shondells. More about that in a moment.

My summer schedule often had me working until closing time at 9pm. There were half a dozen other guys my age who worked the evening shift in the grocery and meat departments of the store. Occasionally, a few of the lads got mischief in mind and engaged in an after hours storewide food fight. Tomatoes, peaches, plums and other soft produce were lobbed from aisle to aisle like hand grenades during these spontaneous altercations. In the aftermath of their nocturnal tomfoolery, the perps were required to expend substantial amounts of time and effort making sure the mess was cleaned up before leaving. These sacrifices prevented the impromptu produce wars from becoming a nightly indulgence. More often than not when quitting time arrived the fellas couldn't wait to punch the time clock and stampede out the door.

Every evening just after nine, the supermarket's parking lot looked like the start of the race at Le Mans. You could almost hear the cry, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” as young men rushed to their vehicles, turned the ignition, fired up their machines, and peeled out in all directions...eager to enjoy what was left of the night.

Invariably, my after hours destination was the Shady Dell.

Within minutes of arriving at Party Central, I would usually hear “Hanky Panky’ playing on the jukebox. A Billboard chart topper, “Hanky Panky" broke out in June and remained a Dell megahit for the rest of the summer. The song’s popularity and durability earned it a spot just outside the top 40 on the Dell’s Greatest Hits countdown. Dell rats scurried to the dance floor the moment the song began with the familiar refrain, “My baby does the Hanky Panky.” Many of the dancing Dellers enjoyed singing along.

As suggestive as the lyrics to "Hanky Panky" already were, my buddies and I were not satisfied until we had come up with our own set of naughty words. It's a guy thing! We felt the need to do the same with “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsmen, “Cara-Lin" by the Strangeloves, “Sock It To Me – Baby!” by Mitch Ryder, and the two Dell hits by the Swingin' Medallions, “Double Shot” and ”She Drives Me Out of My Mind.”

“Hanky Panky” was still getting heavy jukebox play in August when Tommy James released his next single, “Say I Am (What I Am),” a record that generated almost as much excitement as its predecessor. The song stopped just short of the top 20 nationally and landed just outside of the Shady Dell Top 100. "Say I Am" was especially popular with the guys and many a Dell viking sang along. The theme of "Say I Am" is a familiar one, repeated countless times throughout rock history. It consists of a young stallion boasting about his talents as a dancer and a romancer. "Say I Am" was a Dell rat primer, tailor made for an insecure guy like me who was eager to make my case with the ladies.

Teenybopper tunes by acts like Tommy James & the Shondells...

the Monkees ("I'm a Believer"/"Steppin' Stone"), Tommy Roe ("Sweet Pea"), The Beatles ("Yellow Submarine"), the New Vaudeville Band ("Winchester Cathedral"), the Royal Guardsmen ("Snoopy vs. the Red Baron"), Robert Parker (“Barefootin’”), and Bobby Helms ("Captain Santa Claus”), were the type of benign fluff that enabled a Dell rat to get in touch with his inner child.

Can you say, "Have a Shady day"?


  1. Yes, those good old days at Weis Market next to the A&P. Spent many hours on pick-up listening to WSBA and also many hours at the small snack table for breaks singing Doo Wop. It sent Mr. Kohler and Mr. Brown crazy. Did you ever put a watermelon in the creek behind the store to cool for after work?


  2. Jerre wrote:

    Did you ever put a watermelon in the creek behind the store to cool for after work?

    No, pal - but I once took a walk on the wild side and squeezed the Charmin when I thought nobody was looking. (LOL)


You talkin' to me?