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

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Shady Dell, the College Years: February/March 1968

February 1968, like any other February in Central PA, touched off an epidemic of cabin fever. It doesn't matter what the whistle pig declares in his annual Ground Hog Day prognostication. Everybody living north of the Mason-Dixon knew then what they know now - from here it's a slow March toward spring.

It's time for another edition of College Years, the songs that were most popular at the Dell after I flew the coop and took up a four year residence in Happy Valley. Here now are the jukebox giants that were packin' heat in the Shady Dell barn during the chilly months of late winter and early spring 1968.

February 1968

"Wrap it Up" – Sam & Dave

"I Thank You" – Sam & Dave

"There Was a Time" – James Brown

"La – La – Means I Love You" – Delfonics

March 1968

"(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone" – Aretha Franklin

"I Got the Feelin’" – James Brown

"At the Top of the Stairs" – Formations

"Funky Street" – Arthur Conley

"Put Our Love Together" – Arthur Conley

"Cry Like a Baby" – Box Tops

We'll sample the greatest Dell hits from the spring and summer of 1968 in the next College Years...coming soon!

Have a Shady day!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Remembering Helen

Helen Trostle Ettline passed away 26 years ago today on February 25th, 1984.

Things to know and remember about Helen:

* Helen was real people.

* Helen was genuine.

* With Helen, what you saw was what you got.

* Helen was never afraid to speak her mind.

* Helen had the warmest smile around and when she smiled there was always a twinkle in her eye.

* Helen could not have children of her own but she loved kids and welcomed generations of them into her home and into her life.

* Every evening while Helen presided over the Dell's snack bar...

and Dell rats occupied booths and whiled away the hours feeding their faces and gabbing...

and the pinball machine near the rear door buoyed spirits with its incessant dinging and popping...

the jukebox at the end of the counter next to the ladies' room door played a steady stream of doowop oldies.

Helen, this one's for you.

Unforgettable, Helen. That's what you are!

We love you and miss you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

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 dull and 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 attack 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.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Here We A-Go-Go Again: Out on the Floor and "In" with the Crowd!

45 years ago today...this was rockin' you!

While the late 80s movie The In Crowd was based on Jerry Blavat and his TV dance show, the title song recorded by Dobie Gray seemed like it was made with me in mind. Oh, alright...maybe it was a stretch for me to claim way back at the beginning of 1965 that I was in with the "in" crowd, but records like this sure made me want to be; and by later that year when I became a card carrying member of the Dell rat pack I surely felt like I was.

As Charger 105 galloped into the top 40 on the Billboard chart in late January on its way to a #13 finish, the song it carried, “The 'In' Crowd,” fired my imagination like few songs have ever been able to do, tapping into my adolescent craving for excitement, adventure, and peer group acceptance.

A veritable Pied Piper, Dobie Gray beckoned me on with promises of endless thrills and effortless romance - benefits that were seemingly reserved exclusively for members of his mythical "in" crowd. Listening to the song made me determined to become a globetrotting jet setter or maybe even a spy for the F.B.I. - yeah, that's the ticket!

Although Dobie Gray achieved a bigger hit a few years later with “Drift Away,” his earlier calling card, “The 'In' Crowd” is, most definitely, Shady Del’s Pick To Click!

Mama...welcome to the mid 60s!

It was a great time to be young. In the 1960s, much more than in previous decades, the youth market became the focus of the mass media. Television programs geared to teenage tastes were rushed into production to cash in on the post-Beatles youth craze.

Shows like Hullabaloo (and Hullabaloo London), Shindig, and Where the Action Is began springing up like weeds, along with concert films and rockumentaries like the T.A.M.I. Show (Teenage Awards Music International aka Teen Age Music International) and the Big T.N.T. Show.

It seemed like everything was coming my way and everything was going my way. I felt lucky to be a kid. It was great to be alive in '65!

Here's Dobie Gray performing "The 'In' Crowd" on an episode of Hullabaloo hosted by Frankie and Annette!


"The 'In' Crowd" is a great song and The In Crowd is a great movie. Both are stupendous as the bombastic Geator with the Heater might say.

Among those fortunate few who have seen the movie there is tacit agreement: The In Crowd is a family friendly teen musical with a heart - sophisticated, funny and thoroughly entertaining. Plaudits notwithstanding there is definitely something wrong with this picture when fans of this groovy movie are required to purchase worn out, beat up VHS copies on eBay while vastly inferior trash is being rush released on DVD!

Shhhhhhhhhh...I'll let you in on a little secret. It's all about money. (Ya think?) The corporations don't care what kind of rubbish they inflict on the American public as long as it's profitable. On the flip side of the coin they don't care how good a movie is, they won't release it unless they believe it will be profitable. If you're wondering why trash movies are selling like hot cakes let me remind you that junk entertainment like junk food is habit forming. You develop a taste for sugar, salt and fat. You keep craving it and you keep buying it. You can break the cycle by cleansing the palate and giving your taste buds a chance to get used to and appreciate more nutritious fare.

Admittedly, The In Crowd has become available on DVD in recent years, but we're talking brand X tape to DVD-R transfers. You might as well buy a burner and make your own dub! You could also watch the movie in bits and pieces on YouTube, but let's get serious. Orion Pictures is owned by MGM. I don't know who's in charge of green lighting DVD releases from the corporate library but whoever it is needs to get on the swizzle stick, recognize that they are sitting on a true teen angst classic, and expeditiously roll out The In Crowd on DVD...preferably in our lifetime! Oh, and while you're at it, mister businessman or mizz businesswoman, make sure you load it up with special features like cast interviews, bios, bonus BTS footage, the making of featurette, and all the other obligatory extras that you just had to include in the unrated widescreen HD director's cut of Mean Teen 13...okay, pal?

The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed...for lack of a better lack of a better word! And so I declare that the person or persons unknown who consistently overlook The In Crowd for DVD release are tonight's.....


Have a Shady day and as a very close personal friend of mine mister Jerry Blavat always said, "keep on rockin' coz you only rock once!"

Monday, February 15, 2010

Same Year, Different Del: A Movie Review by Shady Del Knight

Del: "Pick a College Yet?"
Vicky: "College?.....Del, I'm a GIRL!"

Ah, yes...1965...a time when the only glass ceiling that girls like Vicky knew about was the one in daddy's greenhouse.

Vicky and Del (no relation) are the central characters in The In Crowd (Orion 1988), a movie that I highly recommend.

While Hairspray is set in 1962 and revolves around a televised dance show for teenagers in Baltimore...

The In Crowd changes the venue to Philadelphia and moves the timeline forward to 1965. Once again, a popular local TV dance show is the focus; but, contrary to what has been written in customer reviews on the web, The In Crowd is not about Dick Clark and American Bandstand!

It is instead a sweet, nostalgic baby boomer musical that brilliantly captures the essence of Philadelphia radio and TV legend Jerry Blavat, the Geator with the Heater, and his Discophonic Scene.

Jump to the 4:30 mark of this clip and witness Del, a suburban Philadelphia teenager played by Donovan Leitch, Jr. (son of 60s folk rock superstar Donovan) as he watches Perry Parker on TV and practices his dance moves. Del's plan is to audition and win a spot as one of the regular dancers on the show. Gail, the girl next door (played to perfection by Wendy Gazelle), drops by to do what she does best - bring Del back down to earth.

Del sneaks into the studio so that he can join the cast of dancers on The Perry Parker Show. At the 7 minute mark of this clip you will find a realistic scene in which Perry Parker inspects the troops (including newbie Del) prior to air time.

Here's my favorite scene of the movie!

Joe Pantoliano, as popular Philly dance show host Perry Parker nails his portrayal of Jerry Blavat. I mean, Pantoliano doesn't just play Jerry Blavat...he becomes Jerry Blavat! Joe Panto does the Geator better than the Geator does the Geator!

Watch the first two minutes of this clip and you will witness an amazingly authentic depiction of Jerry Blavat and Discophonic Scene.

The ego...the patently pompous patter...the mixed metaphors - they were all things that we came to know and love about Jerry Blavat.

In this scene, Perry Parker barges in on Del's lit class and dispenses some of his infinite wisdom, addressing one of his favorite subjects...the pompatus of love:

The In Crowd boasts several entertaining production numbers including a musical interlude at the 40 second mark of this clip that finds Perry's yon teenagers dancing in the street to the energetic beat of "I Do" by the Marvelows:

The In Crowd is a delightful high school musical that explores stereotypes while avoiding predictability. The characters are likeable; no cynical, mean-spirited heroes or heroines to drag you down. Even the bully finds redemption. It's a feel good movie that every member of the family can enjoy. The In Crowd is available on original Orion VHS and has also been released in the form of tape to DVD-R transfers by independent companies. In recent years the movie has been presented in glorious HD on the MGM-UA cable channel. One way or another, I truly hope that you get a chance to see it!

Next time we'll turn our attention to the movie's title song "The 'In' Crowd" by Dobie Gray. I hope you'll join me!

Have a Shady day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

You Bowled Me Over..... and it was Love at First Strike! Revisiting Valentine's Daze of the Past!

This old Dell rat's feelin' lazy.

So this Valentine's Day, I'm gonna skip the mushy stuff. This year there will be no waxing philosophical about love and romance. Instead, I have elected to change lanes and go with a bowling theme. Why? Why not?

Along with some vintage soda pop print ads depicting guys and girls enjoying themselves on bowling dates, I selected some songs that were popular on V-days during the late 50s and early 60s. As if all that wasn't enough to keep you entertained for hours, I would also like to share with you a few of my favorite bowling memories. How romantic!

Let's roll!

"Too Much" - Elvis Presley (Valentine's Day 1957)

Some of my earliest bowling memories revolve around establishments that still employed human pinsetters. As I saw it the pin boy had the coolest job in the world. Maybe he did!

Bowling alleys, as they were called back then, began changing over to fully automatic pinsetting machines in 1946, but some of the lanes that I remember visiting during the 50s at beach resort towns in Maryland and Jersey still used pin boys.

"Magic Moments" - Perry Como (Valentine's Day 1958)

"Catch a Falling Star" - Perry Como (Valentine's Day 1958)

When I was eight years old something truly wonderful happened. York's Suburban Bowlerama, located atop South Queen Street Hill, opened its doors for the first time. The Bowlerama was located only a couple of blocks from my home and it quickly became one of my favorite hangouts. (In 1958 I didn't even know that the Shady Dell existed!)

During the summer months my friends and I loved to spend scorching hot afternoons at Suburban Bowlerama because, in addition to bowling, pinball, arcade games and vending machines filled with snacks, the place offered something else that we could not get at home - air conditioning. In those days, a/c was considered by many families, including mine, to be a luxury rather than a necessity.

"Peter Gunn" - Ray Anthony & Orchestra
(Valentine's Day 1959)

Wild, wacky, wonderful moments in bowling:

I once saw a bowler lose his grip on the backswing and his ball bounced through the settee and into the spectator gallery where it was caught by a guy who simultaneously spilled a cup of soda all over his lap! I saw another bowler lose his grip and roll the ball down the lane adjacent to his, resulting as you might expect in a gutter ball. I saw a ball roll into the channel, jump back onto the lane and make a Brooklyn strike! I saw a ball hit the metal sweep bar while it was in the down position, reverse course, and roll all the way back up the lane and into the hands of the show-off who launched it! I saw a child use both hands to push the ball toward the pins but it was rolling so slowly that it stopped halfway down the lane!

"Beyond the Sea" - Bobby Darin (Valentine's Day 1960)

With my antenna pointed southward I was able to pull in a strong signal from the three Baltimore TV stations, WMAR, WJZ and WBAL. Along with kiddie shows, horror movie hosts, dance parties, Colts football and Orioles baseball, I enjoyed televised bowling programs including the ones created and franchised by Bert Claster, the man who also gave us Romper Room, a show originally hosted by his wife. Remember Miss Nancy?

Pinbusters and Bowling for Dollars, which involved regulation tenpin bowling, and Duckpins for Dollars, which used shorter pins and much smaller balls, both aired on Baltimore's NBC affiliate, WBAL Channel 11.

"There's a Moon Out Tonight" - Capris (Valentine's Day 1961)

From 1960 to 1964 I loved to watch Make That Spare, the 15-minute program that featured top bowlers attempting to make difficult spare combinations for cash prizes.

Bowling legend Don Carter was my favorite. I loved his unusual technique and his marvelous skill. Around Halloween 1961, Don became the first bowler on Make That Spare to convert the nearly impossible 6-7-8-10 super split, collecting a prize of $18,000. That's the equivalent of a gazillion today!

"(Do the New) Continental" - Dovells (Valentine's Day 1962)

The most strikes in a row that I ever managed was seven. They all came at the start of a game. When a crowd gathered behind me and I heard murmurs about a perfect game I choked and came nowhere close to 300.

"Little Town Flirt" - Del Shannon (Valentine's Day 1963)

My least favorite bowling memory was the night in 1966 when I pulled out of the Suburban Bowlerama parking lot in my VW but forgot to turn on my headlights. I got as far as Carlo's Pizzeria just down the block before being pulled over by law enforcement. Seems the cops were on patrol that night looking for vandals who had recently smashed mailboxes in the vicinity. As luck would have it, the modus operandi used by the evildoers was to drive through neighborhoods with their headlights turned off.

Wrong place - wrong time!
"Please remember ossifer," I pleaded.
"All Dell rats are presumed innocent
until proven guilty in a court of law!"

Have a Shady day...

and a ratty Valentine's Day!