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, December 20, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas Past: The Dell's Sounds of the Season!

Big John ambled into the barn carrying a seventy pound log. He crouched before the fireplace and with a mighty heave threw the massive chunk of lumber onto the glowing bed of embers.

Infused with fresh fuel the blaze quickly sprang to life. Light danced merrily on the wall as flames devoured the wood.

The TV room was bathed in a cheery glow as soothing heat radiated to Dell rats gathered 'round. Comforting crackles, pops and hisses from the fire blended with the sound of familiar tunes playing on the jukebox.

'Twas the most wonderful time of the year - Christmas time at the Shady Dell!

Some of my fondest memories of the Dell originated during the colder months and the holiday season. John always sprang into prompt action during a snow storm. Equipped with a winter busting arsenal that included jumper cables, chains, sand, and ice scraper, Mr. Ettline was Johnny on the spot whenever a Dell rat encountered car problems.

Armed with his trusty shovel John wasted no time clearing the front steps and the walkway connecting the house to the barn.

On cold December nights Helen was busy preparing treats to warm the tummy. My favorite cold weather order was a plate of sizzling French fries and a steaming mug of cocoa.

Next stop - the barn, and John had it handled down there, too, with the fireplace burning and records that kept turning.

During the holiday season no place made you feel more welcome, more at home than the Shady Dell!

In keeping with tradition I'm open for business throughout the holidays and I loaded the Dell's two holiday song classics into the jukebox.

"Jingle Bell Rock"/"Captain Santa Claus" by Bobby Helms (December 1957)

For your viewing pleasure I decked the halls and covered the walls with vintage seasonal soda pop ads.

This 45rpm record is one of the many two-siders to enjoy popularity at the Shady Dell. Both sides were enduring seasonal favorites.

"Jingle Bell Rock" first became a nationwide hit at Christmas time in 1957.

Every December thereafter the song would magically show up on the Dell’s dance hall jukebox just in time to help engender a festive holiday mood.

You might think that the Dell's inner circle would have avoided this old countrified Christmas classic, dismissing it as square. Instead, the gang eagerly got into the spirit of the proceedings and made it their own.

The record’s B-side, a nursery school ditty entitled "Captain Santa Claus," produced an extraordinary response at the Dell. The beginning of the song consists of a series of bizarre and instantly recognizable sound effects. Naming that tune in seconds flat, the crowd would erupt in gleeful, childlike laughter.

Jubilant rats would leap to their feet...
head out on the dance floor...
and skip around the room hand-in-hand
like merry little elves.

At the Dell, even the coolest kids were capable of letting their hair down on occasion and acting silly, particularly during Christmas break when Bobby Helms was serenading us.

The popularity of Bobby Helms' perennial holiday classics allows me to once again make an important point.

Dell rats of the 60s seemed to welcome the opportunity to embrace the music of the past and preserve the traditions of their 50s predecessors.

Oh what a night
Late December back in '65
I was happy just to be alive
As I remember what a night.

Have yourself a Shady little Christmas!

No comments:

Post a Comment

You talkin' to me?