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, January 31, 2010

Grab Your Torch................................ The Tribe Has Spoken....................... Our Dell Alliance Can't Be Broken!

Dell rats are coming out of the woodwork! I am delighted to read your feedback and your stories and to get to know some of you as friends.

Your input is not only welcome, it is very important because it helps us to expand our knowledge of the Dell, the Ettlines, and related topics of interest. I would like to take this opportunity to share with all of our readers some of the wonderful comments and anecdotes that I have received.

In response to my
January 16th post
honoring the memory
of John Ettline...

TheLubeFaerie, a wife, mother and fellow blogger who lives in South Central PA shared some fond memories of John.

"Brought a tear to my eye," she wrote. "John was a person I could never forget. He helped me do a school project one year about WWII and he sat and talked to me for hours about it. He and I would talk for hours anytime. Such a great man. Once he gave me money to go with everyone else to the fair. What an awesome human he was~"

Thank you, Lubie! Many of us have similar stories about John's generous nature - a generosity that went far beyond financial aid. John offered shelter and protection. He was generous with his time. He imparted wisdom and advice without lecturing, preaching or pontificating. He listened to us. John was willing to give every kid a second chance. He made every one of us feel important. Thanks again for your comment. It is greatly appreciated! I urge everybody to check out TheLubeFaerie's blog Karma Payment Plan by clicking here.

Long time Dell goer Adrienne (aka A.J.) says she dreams of owning the Dell jukebox someday. Like countless other Dell rats A.J. also fantasizes about buying the Dell itself and reopening it as an eatery and dance hall for teenagers.

"I would love to own (the Shady Dell) and open it for kids to keep John's legend alive," A.J. wrote. "I went there for many years. I loved John dearly. I would sit and talk to him for hours. He was like the grandfather I never had. I went to his funeral and we were allowed to go up there for one last night and that was one of the saddest nights I can recall to know that a very important piece of my teenage years was gone forever."

Thank you, A.J. Many of us feel exactly the same as you do about the Dell and the incomparable Mr. John Ettline!

Dell Rat Ron, who started going to the Dell in 1963 at age 14, offered some feedback about the John Ettline post.

"Your bio and tribute to John was very moving and well done," Ron wrote. "I like the way you researched him, and the song 'My Way' has always been a favorite of mine. Very appropriate. I also liked your praise of Helen on the previous blog."

Ron also presented a plausible theory about the timing of John's death. "You know, I don't think it coincidental that (John) passed away roughly a week after one of (Helen's) birthdays. I think it was another special day out of the year that he couldn't stand celebrating by spending time without her, and he just wanted to join her, and pined away his last."

Thanks, Ron! I never put two and two together in that fashion but your explanation certainly has merit. Perhaps I can also speak to that. My final visit to the Dell came in March of 1984 less than a month after Helen died. I was living in Lancaster at the time and never even got word that she had passed away.

When I walked in and found John by himself in the snack bar and asked "where's Helen?" I was met with an awkward silence and noticed that John suddenly had a wistful, far away look in his eyes. I was stunned when he informed me of Helen's death. It's well documented that the loss of a spouse takes a very heavy toll as do yearly reminders of the loss like birthdays, wedding anniversaries and death dates. John died one week after Helen's birthday and less than six weeks before the anniversary of her death. He had just spent another Christmas and New Year's without her and Valentine's Day was only four weeks away. All of those painful reminders might have been weighing on John and contributed at least in part to his demise. It amazes me to know that a man John's age was able to keep the Dell operating by himself for seven-and-a-half years after Helen died, enduring harsh winters and dealing with rowdy guests! That, my friends, is a profile in courage!

"Keep up the good work on your blog," Ron wrote. "John and Helen were special people. They had a lot of love, for themselves, each other, and countless of us. You really do a fine job paying homage to the Ettlines and the people they helped to grow up, as well as helping us to look back and see where we've come from and what's a part of us."

Thank you very much for your comments, Ron!

Finally, here's the clean-up hitter...our old friend Dell Rat Jerre. Jerre is a 1961 graduate of York High who started going to the Dell in 1959 and was a Dell regular from 1961 to 1965. Jerre told me he's enjoying my countdown of The 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever!

"Just wanted to let you know that as usual, I really enjoy your Perfect Storm series. You have already listed several of my all time favorites.

'I Love You' - Volumes (Very big at Haar's Roller Rink)
'Need Your Lovin'' - Don and Dee Dee (I can't believe you had this one. I dug out my old 45 just to listen to the scratches.)
'Village Of Love' - Nathaniel Mayer (I recall this as a big hit at Zimmy's swim club)"

Aaaaaah yes, Zimmy's pool, located between Spry and Dallastown! I went there for years, Jerre. Around age eleven I suddenly outgrew my goggles, fins, snorkel, ear plugs, nose plugs...and Dimples the Dragon, my inflatable plastic pool toy.

(Dimples was my very bestest friend in the whole wide world and I just loved to hug him and squeeze him for hours and hours and hours!!!) Wait a minute-No! mistake! That Dimples thing happened later age 35. Anyway, I went from cowboys to girls. I gave up the trappings of youth and started spending most of my time at Zimmy's watching bikini clad lovelies jitterbug to juke tunes on that canopy covered dance floor. On more than one occasion I completely forgot to go swimming!

Jerre also kindly shares with us a few of his memories of John, Helen, and the Dell.

“Before 1961 I was at York High with no car and only allowed out on weekends and yes my parents were originally very anti-Dell. I only got to the Dell with older friends that had a car and then only before my 11:00 curfew. After many discussions, eventually my parents started to believe me when I told them that John and Helen were good people and tried to keep out trouble makers. After 1961 many very late nights (actually very early mornings) were spent at the Dell.”

I asked Jerre to describe how the kids dressed at the Dell in the late 50s and early 60s. According to Jerre, the list of clothing essentials for the well dressed Dell rat started with a genuine Baracuta jacket from Lehmeyer's.

“I had at least 5 over the years,” Jerre recalled. “Tan, Blue, and the longer style."

"And yes," Jerre continued, "(Jack) Purcells were big. Other items that were must haves were Weejun penny loafers. (No socks allowed.)"

"Khaki pants with the penny loafers and no socks was in," Jerre remembers. "Shorts were not as popular for the guys as they are now. Another must item for the winter to replace the Barracuta was a jacket that could only be purchased at the Army Navy store across the corner from the Hub on George St. I believe it was Navy surplus. The jacket was an olive green canvas type with fuzzy collar. They were extremely 'in' with the guys. It was also 'cool' to wear V neck sweaters without a shirt under it. As I recall blue jeans were not the fashion statement at that time.”

I asked Jerre to address the subject of the Dell’s perennial bad reputation. “Most of the regulars, people that John would wave in free from his booth, were not trouble makers and were just looking for a place to hang out with their friends and meet girls or guys,” Jerre explained.

“Yes fights happened, but mostly in the parking lot along with the drinking. I actually think there was more drinking done in the parking lot in my early years and the police patrols sort of ended that. It was not a rarity for the police to cruise the parking lot. I often felt bad for John as I felt he did the best he could to keep it a clean safe place for the kids. I would like to think that the majority of the trouble was caused by the outsiders and not the regulars. Most of the people just wanted a place to go and be with other people, especially after other places were closed."

"When White Oaks was open," wrote Jerre, "everyone started the evening at the Oaks and those without a curfew ended the night at the Dell after the Oaks closed. It was always the place to go late in the evening after other activities.”

Jerre, as always we thank you very much for sharing your recollections of the people, the places, and the times of your life!

My friends, I sincerely thank each and every one of you for your comments. You are all valued members of the Rat Patrol! By contributing to the dialogue here on Shady Dell Music & Memories you are helping to fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle. You are helping to keep memories of John, Helen and the Dell alive and we are all having loads of fun reminiscing. Thank you once again for your participation!

Have a Shady day!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Perfect Storms: The 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever! (Part 3)

Now let's finish our countdown of the most exciting records from the pre-Beatles era, the mid-50s through 1963:

5. “A Fool in Love” – Ike & Tina Turner (September 1960)

No legitimate Most Exciting list would be complete without something by Tina Turner. You would be hard pressed to find any Ike & Tina records that were not exciting. Like many of the artists featured in this survey, Tina Turner's electrifying live performances are what launch her songs into the stratosphere. Here's Tina, Ike and the Ikettes on the Big T.N.T. Show singing "A Fool in Love" and "It's Gonna Work Out Fine."

4. “Reet Petite” – Jackie Wilson (August 1957)

Bright and brassy, the Berry Gordy penned "Reet Petite" (the finest girl you ever wanna meet) stands as one of Jackie Wilson's most durable recordings. It was Jackie's first single on Brunswick as a solo artist after leading and then leaving Billy Ward's Dominoes. "Reet Petite" still sounds fresh today. I simply never get tired of hearing it!

3. “Jailhouse Rock” – Elvis Presley (October 1957)

Jailhouse Rock was one of Elvis Presley's better motion pictures and the title song was used in one of the most entertaining and memorable production numbers in movie musical history!

Jailhouse Rock is dripping with legend and lore. Elvis reportedly refused to watch the movie because he was devastated over the tragic death of his beautiful co-star Judy Tyler. Judy was killed in a car crash just three days after filming was completed.

2. (3-way tie) Jackie Wilson singing lead
with Billy Ward & His Dominoes

"You Can't Keep a Good Man Down" (Fall 1953)
"Give Me You" (January 1955)
“St. Louis Blues” (March 1954)

Breathtaking melismas, spine tingling vocal gymnastics, unsurpassed operatic virtuosity, a wailing sax...they're all here in this Jackie Wilson triple play!

Presenting three of the best early recordings laid down by the Titan of Soul when he was singing lead with Billy Ward & His Dominoes. "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down" went to #8 on the R&B chart in the fall of 1953.

"Give Me You" was recorded in January of 1955. A March 1954 studio session gave birth to the "St. Louis Blues." This stuff still sounds fresh and vital today!

"St. Louis Blues" is my favorite of the three because of its syncopated rhythm and wicked sax break. Listen to Jackie Wilson's youthful exuberance on these recordings. It's no wonder they called him Mr. Excitement!

1. "Village of Love" - Nathaniel Mayer & the Twilights
(May 1962)

Solid proof that the so-called other Motown yielded some of the finest R&B/Soul ever made, here's Detroit native Nathaniel Mayer & the Twilights with their barn burner "Village of Love." It's too cool for old school!

"Village of Love" is way off the chart - the most exciting record of the pre-Beatles era!

Golly gee, we're just getting started! Join me next time when my search for the 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever moves into the post-Beatles period. See ya!

Have a Shady day!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Perfect Storms: The 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever! (Part 2)

Welcome back! As you recall I'm conducting a spinoff in my search for The 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever!

In Part 2, let's pick up where we left off with more of the most exciting songs of the 50s and pre-Beatles 60s:

10. “Twist and Shout” - Isley Brothers (June 1962)

Look up the word "longevity" in your Funk & Wagnalls and beside it you'll find a picture of the brothers Isley. The Isleys boasted a recording and performing career that spanned six decades. Major contributors to the mid-60s Shady Dell soundtrack, the Isleys capitalized on the Twist craze by releasing the hi-energy dancer "Twist and Shout." Although the Beatles gave the world an exciting cover, I'm going with the Isleys' version of "Twist and Shout" as one of the most exciting records ever made!

9. "Lost Someone" - James Brown & the Famous Flames (Recorded live at the Apollo in October 1962)

"Exciting?"...a ballad? When it's James Brown at the Apollo, you bet! Some-bot-tay scream!

8. "Sixty Minute Man" - Billy Ward & His Dominoes

The underrated Clyde McPhatter was fronting Billy Ward & His Dominoes when "Sixty Minute Man" became their signature song. Although it is Bill Brown's bass that is heard on lead, Clyde McPhatter's tenor pierces through the harmony mix with electrifying results. Listen now to the granddaddy of dirty 50s R&B songs "Sixty Minute Man!"

7. “Baby Workout” – Jackie Wilson (February 1963)

By 1963 Jackie Wilson's career was slipping. Well meaning handlers seemed determined to transform the dynamic and soulful Jackie into a tired Vegas lounge act. Jackie was drifting away from his roots, wasting his talents on syrupy, heavily orchestrated pop. Many of his recordings were over produced - contaminated with horns and strings - their quality further diminished by a superfluous and oft times annoying female chorus. Jackie's own vocals were frequently overwrought. Fans yearning for Jackie's fuel injected R&B had to settle for a night at the opera.

Yo! Word up, mister record executive: If I want easy listening I'll play one of my great grandpappy's Ray Coniff albums or just go hop in an elevator! You're turning the Titan of Soul into a fugitive from Lawrence Welk! What you're doin'...don't do dat!

With the incendiary "Baby Workout," Jackie Wilson temporarily redeemed himself and silenced the critics. Even with the obligatory chorus chiming in, Jackie cuts through the clutter and turns in a shouting R&B vocal performance reminiscent of his glory years with the Dominoes.

6. “Hound Dog” – Elvis Presley (August 1956)

Even at age six it was easy for me to choose the raw, intense earthiness of Elvis over the clean cut, safe, nonthreatening image of Pat Boone. Boone, the young pop singer who garnered the parental seal of approval by publicizing his deep religious beliefs, recorded a string of sanitized covers of black r&b for consumption by middle class whites. Several of Boone's whitewashed ditties became hits, eclipsing the chart performances of the black artists' originals. However, the tables were turning on artists like Pat Boone and companies that promoted them. The times, they were a changing. It wouldn't be long before parental approval was considered the kiss of death in the record biz and was avoided like the plague!

The countdown of the most exciting pre-Beatles records continues in my next post. See ya soon!

Have a Shady day!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Perfect Storms: The 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever! (Part 1)

The task seemed simple enough at first. I wanted to present my list of the 10 Most Exciting Records Ever Made. I had every intention of limiting it to 10, but my list kept growing until it reached more than 50 with no end in sight.

To make the task less daunting I separated the songs into four music categories and ranked each song within that category. Next, I took the winners, the highest ranking songs in each category, and conducted a spinoff competition to determine the 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever!

As you might expect I limited the entries to songs released during the baby boom era of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Today, in Part 1 of my 13-Part series, I kick off the competition with a countdown of the most exciting records from the pre-Beatles years, the mid 50s through 1963.

Let the games begin, Jungle Lad!

15. “The Lonely Surfer” – Jack Nitzsche (August 1963)

This classic sun & surf instrumental starts out like a ripple on a pond and steadily builds in intensity until it is a towering 50-footer. "The Lonely Surfer" is a powerful metaphor for facing life's greatest challenges alone and conquering them!

14. “All Shook Up” – Elvis Presley (April 1957)

In the spring and summer of 1957, "All Shook Up" was on the radio, on record players, and on people’s lips. In America and abroad, the phrase “all shook up” became a commonly used slang expression for millions of young people. Songwriter Otis Blackwell allegedly invented the catch phrase when somebody shook up a bottle of coke and challenged him to write a song about it. “All Shook Up” reminds me of another pop culture phrase in ‘50s America, “crazy, mixed-up kid.” Most likely the expression came from one of the many movies that dealt with troubled teens and juvenile delinquents like those portrayed by actors Marlon Brando and James Dean. In the mid 60s, the girl group Patty & the Emblems seemingly combined the two phrases into one for their hit song, "Mixed-Up, Shook-Up, Girl."

13. “I Love You” – Volumes (May 1962)

There's a word for this song: EXCITING! In the spring of 1962, "I Love You" by the Volumes and "Duke of Earl" by Gene Chandler were the two hottest records on the jukebox in the lobby of Dallastown Area High School. While the boys played ping pong, the girls danced nearby in front of that record machine. Meanwhile, guys like me who were more interested in girls than in table tennis spent lunch break engaged in that welcome distraction known as girl watching. Can I get a witness?

12. “Don’t Be Cruel” – Elvis Presley (August 1956)

I was six when my older brother brought home the 2-sided blockbuster "Hound Dog"/"Don’t Be Cruel". From the start I was hooked on Elvis Presley and the new brand of music he performed called rock ‘n roll. Although only a child, I could tell that Elvis was the real deal. He was much more exciting to listen to and to watch than Bing Crosby and the other big band era crooners that my parents liked. I knew that something was happening here...something big!

11. I Need Your Loving – Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford
(June 1962)

When it comes to gravel-voiced shouter Don Gardner, too much of a good thing is never enough. That's why my drug of choice is Don's full length, five-minute-plus version of "I Need Your Loving." Don's hit 1962 call-and-response duet with Dee Dee Ford is an R&B classic. The call-and-response song style is a favorite of mine. It has been successfully performed by Ike and Tina, Mickey and Sylvia, and Peaches and Herb to name a few. Those recordings are all great but this sizzler by Don & Dee Dee is the most exciting!

My countdown of the most exciting pre-Beatles recordings continues soon, so stick around!

Have a Shady day!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Remembering John

17 years ago today...

on the 16th
of January, 1993...
John Ettline
passed away.

John spent the last nine years of his life without Helen.

Can you imagine the strength and courage that it took for John, a man in his 80s, to go it alone...enduring the hardships of winter and keeping the Dell in operation even as the clientele became increasingly rough? How many of us could have stood up to that kind of challenge?

Things to know and remember about John:

* John never had any children of his own but he loved kids and believed in them.

*John was the oldest of eight children, four boys and four girls, and took on the responsibility of caring for his siblings.

* Shortly after marrying Helen in Texas John enlisted in the U.S. Army. Nearly 40 years of age, John was believed to be the oldest enlisted man in WWII. He was promised the cavalry but, as fate would have it, wound up in a communications unit. John’s unit referred to him as Pops. John attained the rank of sergeant, served in the European Theatre, and participated in the Battle of the Bulge. John was hit in the head with shrapnel and ordered to go home but he reportedly refused to leave his men.

* John was a card shark, a gambler, and a wheeler dealer – a larger-than-life type of person – a colorful, loveable, and memorable character.

* Am I my brother’s keeper? To that question, John Ettline boldly answered “Yes!” To John, a friend in need is a friend indeed was more than a familiar old proverb, it was a policy statement – they were the words that John lived by. John was known to give financial aid to friends who were down on their luck or owed money to unsavory individuals. Neighbor helping neighbor was the John Ettline philosophy. John and Helen opened their doors and opened their hearts to troubled youth, battered women and others who needed their support. John and Helen walked their talk.

* As a member of his family expressed it, "John was loved and respected by everyone he came in contact with...especially his family. He offered love, guidance and advice to anyone who would give him the respect and listen.”

Please take a moment and watch this video
as we honor the memory of Mr. John Ettline.

John, you were the King of all Dell Rats.
If we have anything to say about it
you and Helen will always be remembered!

We love you and miss you, John!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Meet the Newly Inducted Members of Shady’s Law Hall of Fame (or is it Shame?)

One of my favorite various artists record albums of the 1960s was The Motown Sound, Vol. 6.

I bought the 16-track LP because it contained several of the Dell’s greatest hits:

“Don’t Mess with Bill"
‘Going to a Go-Go”
“My Baby”
“This Old Heart of Mine”
“Just a Little Misunderstanding”
“Truly Yours”

I was also delighted to find three other excellent songs on the album that were unfamiliar. All three quickly became favorites. These three songs were so good that I wondered why I had never heard them before. When I acquired Joel Whitburn’s Record Research books a few years later and looked up the three songs I was surprised to see how poorly they had performed on the Billboard chart.

One of the gems that I discovered on the album was Tammi Terrell’s “I Can’t Believe You Love Me.” This fine solo effort by Tammi charted in January of 1966 and ran out of steam at #72.

Tammi Terrell bonus track:

Tammi tried again. In the late spring of 1966 she released another soul satisfying single, “Come on and See Me.”

"Come on and See Me" was right in the pocket, yet it also performed poorly on the chart, grinding to a halt at #80 around the 4th of July.

Another great song on The Motown Sound Vol. 6 was "As Long as There is L-O-V-E Love" written and produced by Smokey Robinson and sung by Jimmy Ruffin.

“As Long as There is L-O-V-E Love” turned up on the Billboard Bubbling Under chart on the first day of 1966.

The song bubbled for three weeks and only got to #120 before it fizzled out!

Jimmy Ruffin bonus track:

A major northern soul dance floor filler in the clubs of Great Britain, "He Who Picks a Rose" remained unreleased as a single.

With the same backing arrangement as "I Gotta Find a Way to Get You Back," Jimmy's "Rose" was a bloomin' hit just waiting to happen. Too bad it never hit the streets as a 45. "Gotta Find a Way," meanwhile, was a great slice of Motown recorded by the Temptations, by Tammi Terrell with the Dennis Edwards-led Tempts and by Tammi solo. Here's Tammi's version.

Like the Marvelettes, the Velvelettes were another Motown girl group eclipsed by the Supremes.

The best known Velvelettes record, “Needle in a Haystack,” was also included on my Motown Sound album. Of all the featured songs in this post, "Needle" was the most successful. It climbed the charts in October and November of 1964 and finished at #45. A superb soul song like this one should have gone top 10!

Now let's sample a couple of Velvelettes bonus tracks.

The Velvelettes were an attractive girl group with a wonderful sound and some great material. They should have been a star attraction. Instead, their releases became less and less successful. Case in point: “He Was Really Saying Something” from February 1965, a record that stalled at #64.

Another excellent recording by the Velvelettes was “These Things Will Keep Me Loving You.”

Yet another chart underachiever, "These Things" bubbled under in October of 1966 but never climbed above #102.

What happened? Was the seven word title "These Things Will Keep Me Loving You" too long and cumbersome to allow this fine song to catch on?

Not one of the above Motown masterpieces made it into the top 40. Most didn’t even come close. Why didn’t these songs become hits? Why didn’t these talented artists become superstars?

It is disheartening to realize how many gifted artists failed to achieve the success that they deserved because they weren’t promoted properly; and how many times record company execs ordered black music to be cleaned-up, prettied-up, sanitized and repackaged to make it more palatable to white audiences.

The weasels didn't think that white America could handle the truth! Listen up, mister businessman. When it comes to soul music I take mine black. Hold the vanilla. Give it to me straight. Give me some truth. Give me Linda Jones!

Have a Shady day!