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, September 16, 2010

Sunny Side Up on the Shady Side of the Street - What's Cookin' at the Dell?

Put on your thinking caps, Dell rats. It's time for another
Mom & Pop Quiz. This one's multiple choice.

What are Rickey, Zombie, Phosphate & Jigger?

A. A personal injury law firm.
(If you've been wronged we'll make it right, and there's no fee unless we collect! )

B. The starting lineup of Poison after Bret Michaels went solo.

C. Types of soda fountain drinks once served at the Shady Dell.

Answer: C
If you flunked the test don't beat yourself up.
I could have sworn it was B!

But I digress...

The surprises keep coming here on Shady Dell Music & Memories. When I opened my mailbox recently I was astonished to find a package from John Ettline's niece
Nancy Rae Sieling. Nancy (seen below) sent a delightful that every Dell rat will appreciate!

Photo courtesy York Town Square/yorkblog.comSeems that in addition to being king of all Dell rats, Nancy's uncle John was quite a pack rat. After John's death early in 1993, Nancy worked countless hours cleaning up the Dell, sorting and organizing tons of memorabilia in preparation for the auction later that year.

In the midst of the house cleaning Nancy discovered and set aside this well preserved vintage 1950's Shady Dell menu! She saved it for more than 17 years before deciding to donate it for publication on the blog. Thank you very much for your generosity, Dell Rat Nancy!

Let's have a look at the menu starting with the front cover. Along with pictures of a sundae, a banana split and an ice cream soda...

there is also a conspicuous promotional plug for the dairy products division of the now defunct Borden company.

Flipping the menu over we find the familiar Elsie the Cow logo on the back cover.

The famous spokescow is another reminder that the Dell had a franchise agreement with Borden's ice cream. Borden's also manufactured the Elmer's Glue brand and promoted Elmer the Bull as the husband of Elsie the Cow.

Yeah no! You know what? Try as I might I just can't picture those two as a couple. I think Elsie could have done sooo much better. Why did she let herself fall for that bull?

But I digress....

By the way, do you remember Borden's ice cream as the sponsor of the 1950's TV series Fury (the story of a horse and the boy who loved him) starring one of my favorite actors, the late Peter Graves?

Fury was broadcast every Saturday morning on Lancaster's WGAL and Baltimore's WBAL. I distinctly remember each episode having an embedded commercial segment in which Borden's ice cream was dished up and eagerly consumed by orphan boy Joey Newton and his pal Pee Wee.

Yep, I still have a mind like a steel trap and a photographic memory.

One more thing...Fury would be happy to know that, according to the company's marketing literature, no animal products are used in the manufacture of Elmer's Glue.

But I digress.....

When we open the menu that Nancy sent we get a look at the surprising array of lunch and dinner items, snacks, desserts and beverages that were once offered at the Dell...enough to make the Galloping Gourmet green with envy!

Younger Dell rats might remember the Shady primarily as a place to hang out and dance and maybe buy a soda or a snack; but back in the day, as this menu proves, the Dell was in full swing as a restaurant, a bakery and more!

Indeed, if you go way back to the time before 1945, the year when John & Helen came along and purchased the property, the Dell, or whatever the place was then called, was a classy, upscale, white glove members only club that served alcoholic beverages and offered fine dining, music and dancing. The establishment was possibly set up as a private club in order to circumvent Pennsylvania's Blue Laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sundays.

During the early years of the Ettline administration, the late 40's and early 50's, the Dell featured live music performed by easy listening jazz combos and a piano player tickling the ivories of a baby grand in a front room designated as couples only. It wasn’t until droves of young people started hanging out on a regular basis in the late 50's that John began to cater to their needs by stringing lights, rigging loudspeakers, and turning the outdoor patio into a dance floor. Soon afterward John built an indoor dance hall with a fireplace down at the barn so that the party could keep going rain or shine, spring, summer, fall and winter.

As dancing grew more popular at the Dell, its role as a restaurant began to diminish. I consider myself lucky to have been a Dell rat in the mid 60's when those diner style booths still lined the pink room and waitresses came to your table and took your order.

Dell Rat Jerre and I both remember Helen waiting on tables and I also remember at least one other waitress. It might have been John's sister Louise Eppley who worked for the Ettlines at York's Central Market where the family maintained a kiosk to sell their baked goods.

There's little doubt that Louise also joined John and Helen behind the counter of the Dell's food and beverage stand at the York Interstate Fair. The Ettline's snack station operated for many years behind the grandstand as seen in this 1950's photo which appears on Jim McClure's York Town Square history blog on the network.

But I digress.....

The tipping point came at the start of the 1970's. The restaurant side of the Dell's operation was drastically reduced. The booths in the front room were removed and replaced first by a fooseball table and later by a pool table. At the same time the Dell's once extensive menu shrunk to include little more than the basic short order snack foods and soda fountain treats and seating was limited to the stools along the snack bar.

Taking a closer look at this menu of Nancy's, you will notice the Dell's telephone number, a reminder that in 1950's York phone numbers still had only five digits. Do you remember your old 5-digit phone number? I remember mine! It was 98236. It amazes me how I can remember totally useless information like my childhood phone number but can't for
the life of me remember where I put the lotto ticket that
I bought this morning! Oh well, back to the 7-11.

But I digress.....

This old menu harks back to a time when we lived our lives at a much more leisurely pace.

Soda fountains reached their peak of popularity in the 1940's and 1950's. In the early 1960's when America's love affair with the automobile became an all out obsession, soda fountains started to decline in number and in popularity. Drive-ins, Dairy Queens, and ubiquitous automatic coin operated vending machines that dispensed sodas in bottles and cans all helped to render osbolete the time and labor intensive soda fountain.

Did you know that the Dell menu once boasted 39 varieties of soft drinks? Frankly, it's hard for me to tell the difference between some of them.

As far as I can tell a nonalcoholic Zombie is made by mixing many or all flavors in the soda fountain - syrups and juices - along with carbonated water. It is also called Everything Mix, Swamp Water, or Suicide.

A Phosphate was made by blending milk and flavored syrup, squirting in seltzer and adding a pinch of phosphoric acid to enhance its taste and fizz.

Ade is defined as a sweetened beverage of diluted fruit juice.

Rickeys all contain lime juice combined with one or more fruit syrups and carbonated water. They are never shaken, Mr. Bond.

If a Shady Dell Jigger is related in any way to the jigger described in American writer Owen Johnson's Lawrenceville Stories, it is a malted milk shake made by blending ice cream, chocolate syrup and malted milk.

I remain clueless about one of the dessert items on the Dell menu. Potpourri for 100 Alex: what is a Terp 4 Tower?

At the bottom of the menu is a friendly reminder that you could bring home the bacon (along with the calves liver)
by ordering Helen's Shady Dellicacies to go!

Thank you once again, Nancy Rae Sieling, for contributing this wonderful Shady Dell menu! It is a very valuable piece
of the puzzle!

A final thought. When I hold this old Dell menu in my hands
I can't help wondering how many other Dell rats held it before me...and which ones. Dave Bupp? Buddy King? I also wonder if any of them ever ordered the same combination that I always ordered. It was my favorite combo back then and it still is now. I call it Shady Del's Grand Slam: a grilled T-bone steak, breaded veal cutlet, Taylor pork roll, oysters, scallops, tuna fish, pickled boiled egg, triple decker cheeseburger, chili-con-carne, waffles smothered in maple syrup and butter, a cherry zombie, pie alamode and a C.M.P.

Oh...and a cup of Sanka with Sweet'N Low - hold the cream, hold the sugar. I'm always counting calories.

But I digest!

Have a Shady day!


  1. I had forgotten many of the things on that menu. I do remember Helen's sub sandwiches and, I believe, her Big Boys, too, as well as onion rings. And can I place an order for that old favorite that is harder to find nowadays---the CMP?

  2. You're in luck, my friend! A CMP is included free of charge when you order my Shady Del Grand Slam! Thanks for your comment, Ron!

  3. Your blog is very interesting. The place where I went to have sodas and malts was the local Woolworths, which had round, red swivel stools. I loved going there as a kid.
    I worked at A&W in my twenties and that was the first time I heard of Zombies. Some of the customers would order one. Then when I met my husband I found out he liked them too.
    Thanks for the nostagia, and Shady Dells looks like it was a great place.

  4. Belle, it is a great pleasure to have you visit my blog. Your comments are welcome and very much appreciated!

  5. I was just at the York Fair, but could not find the Shady Dell stand pictured so I couldn't try the menu. I did have some Blimpies not on the Dell menu. I couldn't find any 25 cent hamburgers.


  6. Inflation, my friend. The other day I bought a candy apple on the layaway plan! Thanks for your comment, Jerre!


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