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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Shady Dell in Winter, with Fireplaces Burning and Records That Keep Turning...

As much fun as the

Shady Dell was in summer...

It was pure magic in winter. 

I spent several

New Years Eves at the Dell.

New Year’s 1969-70 is

particularly memorable

because I went to the Dell

in the middle of a blizzard.

When it was time to leave, John Ettline brought an ice scraper and shovel out to the parking lot and kindly helped me to extricate my car from the snow. That’s so John.

Let's go back 44 years to January of 1967 when three awesome ballads occupied slots inside the Dell jukebox
at the same time. These three cuddle classics warmed
our nights and our hearts all winter long.

Aaron Neville's debut hit single, "Tell It Like It Is" got the jump on the other two records, arriving at the Dell in early December. By mid-January, Neville's signature song had reached its peak of popularity and dreamy-eyed couples were swaying to the sound several times a night.

At the same time that "Tell It Like It Is" was breaking into the top 5 on Billboard and Cash Box, the two other featured Dell ballads were also making their chart ascent, both of them armed with a bullet.

By the mid 60's, Tommy Roe was transitioning from a respectable rock-a-billy singer to one who plied his trade with bubble gum and nursery rhyme pop...(not that there's anything wrong with that).

With a doo-wop sound and style held over from the late 50's when they called themselves the Legends, the Casinos were very much an anachronism on the 1967 pop music landscape.

Tommy Roe and the Casinos were not the usual suspects in
a Dell jukebox lineup that favored soul artists like the Temps and Tops; but these vanilla recording acts contributed two more essential winter time slow jams to the Dell, “It’s Now Winter’s Day” and “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.”

In the years following its release, “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” was undoubtedly played at thousands of weddings because it's tailor made for such occasions. At the Dell, it took the jaws of life to pry couples apart once the Casinos started to croon the lyrics to their syrupy song. Dell knights and Dellettes, locked in tight embrace on the dance floor, made all kinds of silly promises to each other while under the intoxicating influence of this dreamy ballad.

By January of 1967, Tommy Roe’s voice was already a familiar one at the Dell.

The previous June, Tommy’s infectious pop hit “Sweet Pea” (#186 on my Dell 200) had been an irresistible treat that the gang sampled many times during the early weeks
of summer vacation.

Please watch this "Sweet Pea" video
all the way through. The little girl who
performs with Tommy is adorable and
together they create a rare and magical
moment in the history of rock!

After witnessing the delightful chemistry between Tommy Roe and that girl, I read the YouTube comments and found two that I would like to share with you. They provide some closure for those of you who might be wondering whatever happened to that exceptionally poised young lady.

I found a comment that this girl left on
my channel a few months ago when she
was asking me where she could get a
copy of this clip to show to her

I contacted Tommy Roe about this video and he clearly rememberd it and the cute young lady.  I also got in touch with the girl in the video whom we'll call "Sweet Pea" and passed on Tommy's contact info to her. She was
so delighted. She and Tommy had a
sort of reunion and she received an autographed photo from Tommy.

When winter came, Tommy was back in the box with an even bigger Dell hit, the evocative ballad “It’s Now Winter’s Day.”

If you spent the winter of '67 at the Dell, I'm sure that you remember "It's Now Winter's Day." Here's an opportunity for you to use your imagination. Put yourself back in the barn huddled in front of that fireplace with fellow Dell rats on a frigid night in January 1967.

Outside it's chilling.
The mercury is dropping down

to minus ten below ("feels like" temp)

It's snowing hard. Your folks called you plumb loco for going out on a wretched night like this, but you just had to be there with the gang.

Feel the warmth radiating from the roaring blaze. John just threw another log on the fire. It must have had some wet snow on it because it’s starting to sizzle. Can you hear it?

Meanwhile, out on the barn's dance floor, guys and girls are falling in love all over again to Tommy Roe’s cold gold classic.

And so

in the dead of winter... 

there was life at the Dell…

and a palpable sense

of amicability...

and a roaring fire  

and a smoky haze...

body heat...

and romance...

that I still 
can smell...

Essence that

I liked so well...

(Clairol Herbal)…

Have a Shady Day!


  1. I have heard that song by the Casinoes and didnt know it was them. I like that song.

  2. I really enjoyed the time by the fire and conjuring up memories of beloved songs. That story about the little girl and Tommy Roe was precious and seeing her sing with him brought warmth to a chilly day.
    Thanks for the memory.

  3. Israel - Imagine how many wedding singers included this Casinos song in their repertoires w/o anyone in attendance knowing or caring who sang it originally. Thank you for joining the party, Israel, and have a super day in SoCal!

    Odie - That "Sweet Pea" lip sync duet is priceless. You just don't see that kind of chemistry very often. I'm pretty sure it was spontaneous, although it was executed so perfectly that it looked like they rehearsed the bit. Some speculated that she was Tommy's daughter but apparently that wasn't the case. If you are to believe the Y/T comments, she was a little girl who knew the song by heart, was at the right place at the right time, and is now a woman in her mid 50's sharing this extraordinary memory with her grandchildren! Unreal! Have a great day, Odie!

  4. What a wonderful post! Tom, You are very romantic:-)

  5. Wanilianna - Thank you, dear friend! That compliment means a lot coming from someone like you who practically invented romance! Have a delightful day in Poland!

  6. I agree with Israel, Then You Can Tell Me Goodby, is a good Doo Wop song. He would also enjoy "Eyes Of An Angel" and "The Legend of Love" by most of the same group when they recorded as the Legends. And the fireplace was also a big hit with us earlier Rats.

  7. Jerre - I have vivid memories of that barn fireplace as well as the one that once stood outside by the concrete slab. As you recall, that outdoor fireplace was torn down a couple of years ago. John Ettline could wield 80 pound logs like they were made of paper mache and the fires he built at the Dell were second to none. Thanks for your comment, Jerre!

  8. the dell looks magical in winter (it really looks magical anytime of year)

  9. Amber Blue Bird - You would have been a rock star at the Dell, I promise you that! U got the look and the tude. Thank you for coming over today and stay warm in frosty Connecticut, my good friend!

  10. Terrific post, Shady. I loved the video; such a pretty little girl and she sure knew that song. It's a sweet little song too.
    I liked all the other songs, especially, "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye." I had never heard the last song, but loved it.

  11. Belle - Thank you for taking the time to experience all three of those cherished winter ballads along with the summertime favorite "Sweet Pea." I hope you have a wonderful evening out there in Western Canada, my dear friend!

  12. What lovely memories you have Shady Del. I'm happy you can share them with us all. And you were right, the girl in the Sweet Pea video is adorable, I like how fondly Tommy Roe looks at her. Made me smile!

  13. Alabee - It makes my day when I can make people smile. I'm glad you and others discovered the magic in that "Sweet Pea" video just as I did. It's a very special moment that reflects the innocence of the times and luckily it was captured and preserved on film. Thank you very much for stopping by, dear Alabee, and please give Lucy and Cody a pat on the head for me!

  14. i don't know how but i missed this post! i loved reading it,you're a born poet and the video is just lovely
    thank you for sharing it


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