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, June 18, 2011

John Ettline: Every Dell Rat's Dad

Just in time for Father's Day some friends 

dropped by to offer a few words about 

John Ettline, every Dell rat's dad. 


How I remember John!  John was always the first one 
to meet you when going into the Dell. He would be in 
his booth waiting to get his quarter. I don't know how 
many times he forgot to take my quarter so I could 
spend it on the jukebox. I do know he always said  
hello by being formal and using the last name and saying 

"Hello Mr. Slaybaugh". 
He would often have 
some type of joke or 
remark such as you're 
early or late tonight. 
Somehow he knew all 
my close friends, also 
Dell Rats, and would 
let me know who was 
already there and who 
was missing. Of course 
John was always in 
control and had rules 
that the "gentlemen" 
were to follow. 
My friends and I were not trouble makers and John knew 
that. He also knew we would back him up if he needed it 
to keep the peace. We respected him and we had earned 
his respect. I guess that is why he often forgot to take our 
quarters. I think he treated all the regulars that he knew 
well as if they were his own kids. Somehow he learned 
enough about the regulars to know them, their back- 
ground and their friends fairly well. I know I always 
looked forward to talking with John and made it a point 
to say good night before ever leaving. It was not common 
for teenagers to have good friends that were "old". But 
John was a good friend to me and if he would have had 
kids he would have been a great Dad for them. He was 
just a great step-Dad for all the Rats. - Jerre Slaybaugh 


John was the kind of man 
that I think we all wanted 
for a father. He wasn't 
condescending, always 
commanded and gave 
respect, treated you like 
an intelligent person. 
If anything happened 
that you screwed up 
and got victimized, 
he would resolve it to 
his best, and pass on 
advice to you without 
making you feel stupid. 
He would take time 
out during the day if 
you had to leave your 
car there the night before 
because it wouldn't run, and would help you with it---
even to the point of advising your own Dad, inspiring 
respect from parents that had previously thought ill of 
the Dell. I can only say good things about John. 
Wishing him a Happy Father's Day for all the teens 
he "fathered". - Ron Shearer 


I'm trying to write some 
words to honor John for 
Father's Day. It's hard to 
put down in words your 
feeling about someone 
that if only for a short 
time played such an 
important part in your life. 
I cannot write this without 
saying a few words about 
another great man, my 
father Clair N. Gulden. 
These two men never 
knew each other but they 
both came from that great generation that fought a World 
War in hopes that generations to come would never know 
war. In my eyes these were the two best men I've ever 
known. John never had kids of his own but was a second 
Dad to hundreds of Dell Rats over the years. Whatever 
made this man decide to devote so many years of his life 
to having a home away from home for hundreds of kids 
we may never know, but all of us that became Dell Rats 
will all ways be grateful to John. He gave us his home 
and then stayed in the background and let us make it 
what we wanted. We all had a great deal of respect for 
John and his words of advice when we needed them. 
The Dell that I knew during the 60s was a place of pure 
magic, you could feel it when you walked in the door to 
the barn. John made the Dell a special place for all of us. 
So to John and my Dad Thank You & Happy Father's Day 
to all. - A DELL RAT ALL WAYS Greg Gulden 

John Ettline never had children of his 

own, but every Dell rat knows that 

John would have made a great father. 

In winter John always made sure that the barn was
warm enough by keeping a blaze going in the fireplace.

If you had car problems when it was time to leave,
John was the go-to guy for help.


Car buried in

the snow?

Your heap

wouldn't start,

Locked your
keys inside
your car,

Mr. Ettline 
was always
Johnny on

the spot!

Problems at home?
John was always willing to dispense wisdom.

John Ettline was like a dad to us all! 

Things to know and remember about John: 

* John always looked out for the welfare of his family.

* John lived at the YMCA for a period of time with his 

brother George.

* John had a profound love of horses. He once 
a rare WWII era photograph of Hitler, Mussolini, and 
some high ranking officers enjoying the company of 
women. John traded that vintage photo for a picture 
of a beautiful horse. 

* John possessed a photographic memory.  
He could 
always match a face with a name. 

* John always had his nose in a newspaper.  
He knew a lot 
about a lot of things.  He was extremely knowledgeable about sports, history, current events, city, state and local politics. 

* John sponsored a number of sports teams in the 

York area, providing them with T-shirts and jerseys.

* John relished the role of host. He loved to entertain, 

make people feel right at home and show them a good
time.  He got a kick out of seeing kids having fun in a 
setting of his own creation, the Shady Dell. 

* John's quiet manner commanded respect.  He was loved

by family, friends and all of the kids who attended the Dell.

Please play this clip as we honor 
John Ettline...every Dell rat's dad! 

Happy Father's Day, John! 

We love you and miss you!



  1. Few people in this world inspire the kind of love and respect that the Ettlines seem to have done. It's so lovely to read about how important John Ettline was to all these different people. Makes you wish you were lucky enough to meet him sometime.. :)
    As usual, your song selection is perfect, Shady.. :)
    Have a happy day! :)

  2. A lovely and touching post for Fathers day. It sounds like John was an amazing man and you were very lucky to have known him. Hope you have a lovely Sunday Tom x

  3. The more I read about the Ettlines the more I wish I could have known them. I can feel the love in all the testimonies from the Dell Rats. It was so fitting that you chose to dedicate today to John. Awesome post my friend.

  4. This is such a lovely Father's Day tribute to John! Your songs are so perfect for it!
    Also! E-mail me when you get a chance! :) thanks!

  5. One can just feel the love in this post and I hope John Ettline is feeling it today. I like what Jerre shared about John forgetting to take the quarter for admission. After reading Ron's tribute, I came away with the idea you don't have to be a biological father to be a dad. Greg's loving memorial of comparing his own father to John was special.

    Paul Peterson singing "My Dad" from The Donna Reed show was perfect!

    A special, special post, Shady. Hope this day of honoring fathers is a good one for you.

  6. I agree with all the other comments my dear friend. You have told us so much about John and his lovely wife, that I really do wish that I had met them both. They were obviously such a special couple to everyone that used to go to The Dell. I think it's really wonderful how they haven't been forgotten and how you always post about them on special occasions such as Fathers Day. Excellent post. Thank you!

  7. What great tributes, Shady. These men are the kind who truly make the world richer, as are you for highlighting such wonderful things.

  8. How wonderful of you to highlight these John. He was lucky to have known you as well. I'm sure he enjoyed every second of your vibrant company.

    There is nothing like a loving father figure to help us make sense of this wild world. Beautiful post, Shady.

    And thank you so much for the lovely review of my most recent story. You never cease to have me grinning from ear to ear with your kind words.

  9. PencilGirl -
    Kelly-marie -
    Odie -
    Kristina -
    Cindy -
    Thisisme -
    Shelly -
    Crystal Pistol -
    Jerre -
    Ron -
    Greg -

    Thank you all for helping me to honor Mr. John Ettline on Father's Day. Every one of your comments is very special to me.

  10. This is a beautiful tribute to John. He was an unusual and beautiful person. Few people have the patience and understanding that teenagers need. His life was a blessing to his corner of the world.


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