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, December 21, 2011

Spreading Holiday Cheer Year After Year "Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms














"Jingle Bell Rock," a single released by Indiana born country singer/guitarist Bobby Helms was one of the many two-siders to enjoy popularity at the Shady Dell. Both sides of the record were enduring seasonal favorites.

"Jingle Bell Rock" first became a nationwide hit at Christmas time in 1957.

Every December thereafter, the song would magically show up on the Dell’s dance hall jukebox just in time to engender a festive holiday mood.

"Jingle Bell Rock" - Bobby Helms 
(December 1957, highest chart position #6)

You might think that the Dell's inner circle would have avoided this old countrified Christmas classic, dismissing it as square. Instead, the gang eagerly got into the spirit of the proceedings and made it their own.

The B-side of the single, a nursery school ditty entitled "Captain Santa Claus," produced an extraordinary reaction at the Dell.  The record begins with a series of bizarre and instantly recognizable sound effects. Naming that tune in seconds flat, the crowd would erupt in gleeful, childlike laughter.

Jubilant rats would leap to their feet, head out on the dance floor, and skip around the room hand-in-hand like merry little elves. At the Dell, even the coolest kids were capable of letting their hair down on occasion and acting silly, particularly at Christmas when Bobby Helms was serenading us.

"Captain Santa Claus" - Bobby Helms (December '57, B side of "Jingle Bell Rock")

The popularity of these two perennial holiday classics allows me to once again make an important point about the Dell rats of the 1960s.  They were always eager to embrace the songs of the past and preserve the traditions of their 50s predecessors.















  1. Have a great holiday, Shady my friend! Merry Christmas!
    And here's something in relation to Christmas classics:

  2. Hello, dear Joanna! What a wonderful surprise to see you here this morning! I followed your link and read the list of popular Christmas songs from the boomer years. Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas," Jimmy Boyd's "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and Joe Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad" are among the most memorable for me. I wish you and everyone close to you a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year. Please stay in touch in 2012, dear friend Joanna!

  3. What a wonderful time I had listening to your Christmas post my friend and of course I had to listen to the dogs more than once. Have a very merry Christmas and a super duper new year.

  4. thanks a lot for your comment,I wish you happy holidays and merry xmas

  5. Odie - I never get tired of listening to those dogs barking "Jingle Bells." Thanks for coming over and merry Christmas and happy new year, good buddy!

    Katia - Happy holidays to you, dear friend, and may you have much to smile about in the coming year! Thank you very much for your visit, Katia!

  6. Having just witnessed our kindergarteners doing their little choreographed number to Jingle Bell Rock (as they do each year), that song is something I think of very fondly. I'm glad you added it here. What I didn't know anything about was the B song. How fun to hear it and to know you all also enjoyed it without thinking it too corny. I will find it on I Tunes nad pass it on to our early childhood teachers for next year!

    A sidenote about Tiny Tim: I can remember as a very little girl watching him on TV with one of my even littler sisters. We could not figure out if he was an odd man or a very unattractive woman.

    Thank you, dear friend Shady- Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!

  7. Merry Christmas Tom! Thank you for all your lovely and kind words this last year and for the last few posts specifically! We indeed had a lovely vacation and celebrated the event with humor and joy! I have always loved Jingle Bell Rock..who couldn't but was new to the flip side! I can see you and your Dell friends carrying on the tradition of dancing merrily to this tune!
    Tiney Tim was such a bird of a different feather wasn't he? And I would like to say in reference to your dogs...I have two puppets (dogs) that sing exactly like your recording when you move their mouth up and down! And the kids go wild......!!!
    Love and happiness...Comfort and Joy to you dear Tom and all you hold dear in your huge tender heart!

  8. Shelly - I'm glad you're discovering "Captain Santa Claus" (and his reindeer space patrol) and that you will be passing it on for more people to enjoy. Sometimes I tell little white lies for the sake of humor but in the case of that B side ditty I'm telling it like it was. I can still picture the Dell rats circling the floor two by two skipping along to that song.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Tiny Tim in 1986 when he came to the television station where I was working as production manager. We had a talk show similar to Good Morning America and were able to fly in celebrities like Tiny Tim as guests. I shook hands with Tim and he behaved exactly as he did whenever he appeared on The Tonight Show, politely addressing Johnny as "Mr. Carson." Tiny Tim addressed me as Mr. Anderson and even bowed to me as if in the presence of royalty. He was one-of-a-kind and died too soon.

    Shelly, I can't tell you how grateful I am to have added you as a friend this past year. You were here for me before I was there for you and that's something I will remember always. Merry Christmas and happy new year, dear friend Shelly!

    Sush - We do it to each other, don't we? You brought me to tears with your beautiful comments and I thank you very very much. It feels so good to give love and get love in return. Your mandate is something that will carry me through the coming year.

    As I told Shelly I met Tiny Tim at my television station and, from all indications, he was not putting anybody on. He was the genuine article, a kind and gentle soul, an eccentric, a preservationist of a bygone era. Tiny Tim was the personification of innocence. He sang simple songs that invited the child in all of us to come out and play.

    Dear Sush, I'm so glad our paths crossed here in the blogosphere. I treasure our friendship and intend to keep it growing. Your family is an inspiration to us all, a model of a strong, loving, nurturing American family. I wish you and all your loved ones the best Christmas ever and peace and prosperity in the coming year!

  9. Jingle Bell Rock is one of my favorite Christmas songs.

  10. Ashton - It's the kind of song that never seems to go out of style, isn't it? Christmas is a time for remembering and both sides of this record bring the memories flooding back. You are one of my oldest blog friends, Ashton. I wish you a merry Christmas and all the best in 2012!

  11. What a fun post Shady my friend! Loved seeing Tiny Tim. I remember watching his wedding live to Miss Vicki. What a weirdo! All these Christmas songs are great but there is something about dogs and Christmas Carols!! Have a very Merry Christmas!

  12. Bouncin' Barb - Yes, I vividly recall the wedding of the decade, Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki married on The Tonight Show. It was almost as big a deal as having an astronaut walking on the moon. Was any living being surprised that it didn't last? :) Dogs help to lighten us up throughout the year and especially at Christmas. Let's all remember our pooches in our holiday gift giving. Thank you very much for visiting and commenting, BB. I also want to thank you for your friendship and your support this past year. Merry Christmas to you and let's make our connection even stronger in 2012!

  13. Hi dear Tom. I've just popped back into blogland and there you were! I hope you are still enjoying all your company. I couldn't believe you had been to a family gathering of some 140 people!!! Emma said we would be lucky to be able to muster 14 in our little family!! Tiny Tim was certainly a one-off, but I rather liked him!! We were listening to Elvis singing A Blue Christmas whilst eating our evening meal just now, and Brenda Lee was always a favourite of mine. Thank you for your friendship during this past year my dear friend. Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Let your Heart be light. From now on our troubles will be out of sight ....

  14. Thisisme - Hallo, my dear friend! It would be a blue Christmas without you, that's a certainty. I've been thinking about you and your family and hoping that everybody's having loads of fun including Alfred. Actually the number of people at the family gathering that I attended was quoted to me as 114, not 140, but that makes little difference. As I approached 100 followers this past week it occurred to me that it's both a blessing and a curse. More followers means more potential friends and maintaining friendships takes time. I love your family and I cherish your friendship and I am determined to give you all my best in the coming year no matter how big my blog gets. Bless your heart, dear friend Thisisme, and merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones!

  15. I bet the Dell was extra awesome during the Holidays. I would have loved to see the Dell cool cats acting silly and dancing to Mr. Helms. :) The chipmunk Christmas song always gets my family acting silly. Hope you are having a splendid time with your loved ones. Merry Early Christmas friend!

  16. those puppies are soooooooooo cute:-)

  17. Amber Blue Bird - (May I call you that?:) You would have made a swell Dellette, my dear, and I would have enjoyed elfing it up with you at Christmas time. Do Oliver's ear perk up when he hears the dogs sing "Jingle Bells"? You, dearie, are one of my oldest blog friends (oldest meaning that you and I have been following each other for a long time). We've both stated this before but it bears repeating. Our friendship is proof that people can break down the barriers that separate us by age and gender. You and I appreciate each other's humor and we're always there for each other to offer encouragement. I deeply appreciate your bloggy love and support. Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful little family, Amber!

    Wanilianna - Perhaps you can teach your lab to bark "Jingle Bells" yes? You are another of my early followers who has stuck with me through the changing seasons. You and I are of different generations. We live in different parts of the world and have vastly different lifestyles. On the surface we have little in common. What better reasons to become great friends? This is what the world needs to understand. We have the most to gain when we reach across the aisle, reach across the pond, and reach across the age and gender gaps. I have gained a wonderful friend in you, Wanilianna, and we will continue to strengthen our bond in the coming year. Thank you very much for coming and peace be with you, my dear!

  18. Hi, Tom!

    I just haven't been spending much time on the computer lately, but I've caught most of your previous blogs, although late. I enjoyed this latest blog immensely in all its simplicity. I have a lapse and probably heard Bobby Helm's B-side and saw the dance, but can't place it. I enjoyed your choices of songs and comments. I remember as a teenager thinking Tiny Tim was really naive and somewhat of freak. Now I see him as just a very simple, sincere man, who enjoyed singing an old type of music to make others happy. I hope that he found happiness in his life and wasn't always treated like an eccentric. Wishing you and all the other Dellrats and Dellrattettes a happy holiday and happy new year ahead!

    Your friend,

  19. Hi, Ron! In the late 60s when the whole world was rockin' Tiny Tim dared to be different. Here's how Wiki put it: << When Tiny Tim first became well-known to the American public, pundits and journalists debated whether or not this character being presented was just an orchestrated act, or the real thing. "It quickly became clear that he was genuine" however; and that he could probably be best described as "a lonely outcast intoxicated by fame," and "a romantic" always in pursuit of his ideal dream. >>

    Tiny Tim kept performing even after suffering a heart attack on stage and being warned by his doctor to retire. In 1996 Tim suffered a second heart attack while performing and died. We should all be so lucky as to die while doing something we love, right? Thank you very much for your comments, Ron. Happy holidays to you, good buddy!

  20. I loved 'Jingle Bell Rock' when I was a kid and still love to hear it. I'd never heard the other side before, it was cute. I also remember Tiny Tim getting married on the Johnny Carson Show. My sister Chloe and I loved Johnny and watched his show whenever we could. We saw Tiny Tim first sing 'Tiptoe Through the Tulips' on his show too. We thought he was strange, but we liked him.

    I am extremely grateful I met you this year. As others have said, your kind comments have made my life brighter. You are a dear friend, and I wish you and your family a happy Christmas and hope the new year brings you happiness.

  21. Thank you so much for that lovely comment above dear Tom. We will certainly think of you on Christmas Day. Sending blessings your way at this special time if the year.

  22. Belle - I'm glad that you and Bouncin' Barb share my memories of seeing Tiny Tim on The Tonight Show. My mother actually had a strange "brand loyalty" to the NBC television network and loved the show and Johnny Carson. I started watching The Tonight Show in the mid 50s when Steve Allen was host. As you might recall, Jack Paar took over as host in 1957 followed by Johnny Carson in '62. The Carson years were the greatest of all.

    Belle and Thisisme - You are two of the brightest stars in my universe. We met in the fall of 2010 and I am blessed to have spent my first full year knowing and loving both of you. It was a year of highs and lows, laughter and tears. We stuck together and helped each other through illness and tragic loss. We will continue to be there for each other in the coming year because blog love is real love. Thank you both for being excellent bloggers, great friends and outstanding citizens of the world!

  23. Thank you, Tom. You have been a real help to me this year and I appreciate it so much. You are right, blog love is real love!

  24. Belle - Ditto, my dear dear friend. Ditto!

  25. Yesterday I read your blog and you know how I "ponder" things. Last night for the first time Clint and I discussed Tiny Tim. (:-) I know, it does sound 'funny')I asked Clint to share his thoughts about Tiny Tim. Clint told me how he liked Tiny Tim, described him as a "real person" being himself and an "American Original". I sat there stoically while Clint talked and he said, "I have a feeling you didn't like him". I answered, "I loved him". Years ago I felt like Tiny Tim was often ridiculed and worse. It's like Ron said, when he saw your blog video with hindsight he viewed him as a "simple sincere man". This was even more evident to me when I saw the video, too, after the passing of decades. I can just see Tiny Tim bowing before you, Tom. As I have stated before on here, I am a Carson fan. I remember watching the Tiny Tim/Miss Vicki wedding as if it were only yesterday. :~D BTW, Tiny Tim died at the age of 64. Eccentricity is a fascinating topic for me. I am always in awe (the good kind) of those who dare to be different (themselves). That must be why my favorite quote is "To Thine Own Self Be True". (not that I would be a little eccentric myself :-D )

    If I may, I just have to share that while Clint was at Furman in 1965 he sang in a folk music group called The Lamplighters. They sang "Tiptoe Through the Tulips. I had always assumed the song was originally sung only by Tiny Tim but it was published in 1929.

    "Jingle Bell Rock" is a big favorite! Side B was fun to listen to and so different. I loved the way you described the Dell Rats, reactions when they heard Side B, "Captain Santa Claus".

    A wonderful post and I appreciate your kind remembrance of Tiny Tim. If I don't "see" you before Christmas, have a very Merry One!

  26. Cindy - Only an exceptional blogger takes a day to ponder and discuss a topic with her spouse before returning and commenting on a post. You are an exceptional blogger and a superlative friend. You even do the same thing when replying to the comments on your own blog. You take time to think, Google things and do other kinds of research before formulating a reply. When it comes to being the complete blogger and the complete friend, nobody does it better. (I think there's a Carly Simon song title in there somewhere.)

    I feel exactly the same about eccentricity. One of a kind originals fascinate me. I love them, recognize their place in the world, and want to preserve memories of them. If people would dare to break free of the imaginary shackles of conformity that tie them down they would experience true freedom. I'm also glad to know that you are a Carson fan because much of my humor comes from him and the regular guests he brought on the Tonight Show over the years (like Monti Rock III). These days I need to be careful when making references to Carson because younger readers might think I mean Carson Daly. It's hell as the years pass by and more and more of our references become "dated" references. That's why I appreciate having somebody like you in my world, Cindy. You actually remember many of the things that I remember. You get my jokes. You share my reality. It's a wonderful feeling when somebody connects with you to the extent that you do. I am deeply grateful to have you as a friend. Thank you and Merry Christmas to you, dear Cindy!

  27. Merry Christmas to my new friend Shady! Thank you for the music and the stellar commentary! I hope you are surrounded in light, joy and fun this holiday and always.

  28. Hi, Jenny! I always look forward to your visits and comments, my new friend, and I thank you for these beautiful holiday wishes. I wish you and your family the same. You are an intelligent and talented woman, an asset to blogging and to the world. My hope for the coming year is for you and I to grow our friendship. I believe that we have much to share. Thanks again, Jenny, for taking the time to join me here!

  29. (i got so carried away with Tiny Tim yesterday that i forgot to tell you how much i enjoyed hearing those "singing" dogs ... am gonna play that for my grandson this am when he arrives ... thank you, again, Tom! :~D)

  30. Cindy - I like it when you get carried away! :) I did some research on The Singing Dogs and found out they were four dogs named Dolly, Pearl, Caesar, and King. The recording was made by a producer in Denmark who spliced their barks together to make songs. A 45rpm single with "Oh! Susanna" on the A side was released 1955. On the B side the dogs sang a medley that included "Pat-a-Cake," "Three Blind Mice" and "Jingle Bells." The novelty record cracked the Billboard top 30 and sold half a million copies with "Jingle Bells" becoming the most popular portion. Even so, "Jingle Bells" by the Singing Dogs was voted the most hated Christmas song in a 2007 survey! I can't understand why because I love to hear it every year! I hope Canyon gets a kick out of it, too! Bless you for stopping by again this morning and merry Christmas, dear Cindy!

  31. My dear friend! Yes, you have right!!! :-) We live in different parts of the world but our worlds collited! Merry Christmas to you!!!!!

  32. Thank you for stopping by...Have a truly wonderful xmas...

  33. Wanilianna - Although you aren't very near to me you're very dear to me. You're an artist and a historian and I am thrilled to have you as a friend. Thank you very much for coming over with holiday greetings and have yourself a merry little Christmas! Bless you!

    Hi, Sharren! Thank you, my dear friend, for stopping in with holiday wishes. You and I have known each other since Christmas of last year (even before that) and I am very thankful that we're still connecting. I wish you all the best in 2012, dear Gingey!

  34. Tom: Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and the most joyous and healthy of New Years. My favorite Christmas album was by Johnny Mathas. My mother use to put a stack of albums on the stereo console (can't find those anymore) while she was baking cookies. It brings back memories anytime I hear one of his songs off of that album. The Dell at Christmas seemed more crowded than at any time of the year. Friends getting together some from across town and others coming back home again. Beautiful memories.

  35. Brian - Hello, good buddy, and welcome back home to our virtual Shady Dell now in its 4th year of operation! You're right. The original Shady Dell was always packed during the Christmas holiday period as college kids, those in the military, and even Dell alumni in their 20s and 30s came flocking back in to visit Helen and John and mix with the local regulars. Words can't describe the magic but we all felt it. Now's the time to play those old seasonal favorites on the hi-fi. It's what John and Helen loved to do and it's guaranteed to get you in the spirit if you're not already there. Thank you very much, Brian, for sticking with me during the past year. Merry Christmas to you and stay tuned for more music and memories in 2012!

  36. Greetings Shady! I remember Bobby Helms and his 'Jingle Bell Rock'. I had not heard Captain Santa Claus, so I played your B side...nope, didn't recognize it. But, oh man, Jingle Bell Rock will live on just like 'Frosty The Snowman' and other early, early Christmas tunes. You're right about the song, even among those who try to remain 'cool' while listening to a silly song! You just can't help but get up, jump around, and at least mouth the made for good comradeship. And a popular #1 favorite of Bobby Helms was 'My Special Angel'. They still play it today on oldies stations. Bobby Helms was a lot of fun, and contributed much to our music history! AND, the jingle bells dogs! I'd hate to think that not many people have heard that one. It's also been used in auto commercials to get you to buy that cadillac for your sweetheart for Christmas! Haha!

    And, poor Tiny Tim...the guy you love to hate. I always gave him credit for jumping out there, he did make a name for himself!

    The Ronnettes had some great Christmas songs, 'Sleigh Ride' was good. Of course, I'm partial to Ronnie Spector and the Ronnettes.

    Shady, I like your Holiday Special of 75% off...funny and cool picture-it popped right out at me on my reading list!!! And I enjoy your headlines that lead up to the subject at hand...that's what keeps us all coming back and reading! This is a most enjoyable post.

    Once again, thank you for your music and history... A very Merry Christmas goes out to you and yours! See you soon, my friend.

  37. Susan - What a great friend you are for taking time from your holiday vacation to join us here. Thank you! You're the first person to mention "My Special Angel" which was Bobby Helms' top 10 hit a couple of months before "Jingle Bell Rock" hit the chart. It's interesting to note that "My Special Angel" was so popular that it crossed over and became a top 10 hit on the R&B chart as well! Imagine, Bobby Helms backed by the Anita Kerr singers, high on the black singles chart! Let's also remember that Bobby had a top 30 hit earlier that year with "Fraulein" and that Bobby died at age 61, younger than many of us are now! I'm so glad you're enjoying yourself here, Susan. I certainly enjoy having you. I wish you a merry Christmas, dear friend, and a happy new year!

  38. Hey Shady!!
    I am absolutely in love with Bobby Helms right now.. Thanks for the introduction. :D Jingle Bell Rock was so much fun! And Captain Santa Claus has to be the most amazing Christmas song ever! Of course, the dogs singing Jingle Bells give it close competition. :D :D
    A few years ago I'd hardly heard any Christmas carols. I guess Jingle Bells and Rudolf, the red nosed reindeer, were the only ones I was familiar with, and maybe snippets of a few other carols I had gathered from movies here and there. The only one I actually knew (and could sing) was Jingle Bells- and so it has a rather special place in my heart. Hearing dogs sing it was an out of the world experience for me. :D
    Of course, now I study in a college that is run by nuns, and Christmas is a more familiar festival for me, as are carols. :) :) It's still great to hear Christmas classics that have remained popular through all these years. I can totally understand why, now that I've heard them. :D
    Thank you so much, Shady, for sharing your Christmas with me.. :) Wish you a very merry Christmas, filled with joy and cheer, and hope you have an amazingly exciting and prosperous new year! :)

  39. Hello, dear PencilGirl! You definitely made my Christmas more special with your visit and I thank you very much for being here with me today. Although some regard the barking dogs record as annoying I find it charming and always enjoy listening to it during the holidays. The record was made in 1955 and is a part of my childhood experience. Bobby Helms started hitting the charts in 1957 with his country crossover recordings and is also a voice from my past that I treasure. Let's stay connected in the coming year, PencilGirl. Your life fascinates me and you and I have much to learn from each other. I hope that 2012 is a breakthrough year for you, dear friend, and that all good things come your way. Bless you!

  40. Merry Christmas to you Tom And to all your blog friends out there. A special Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all Dell Rats , may we all share Love And peace in the comeing year. A DELL RAT ALL WAYS Greg

  41. Hi, Greg! Merry Christmas to you, good buddy! It's just like Brian was describing in his comment. Everybody's coming back to the Dell for the holidays and it's absolutely wonderful to see you and everybody else showing up to say hello. Thank you for your friendship, support and steadfast Dell loyalty, Greg. I hope your Christmas is filled with cheer and that you'll stick with me throughout the coming year. Take care, Greg!

  42. Tom, hope there's a Merry Christmas going on today at your home in the sunshine state! Thank you, Greg, and I want to wish you, the Dell Rats and all of Tom's loving and faithful blogger friends a very Merry Christmas and a very blessed New Year. Tom, I know of no other blogger who has as many loving and loyal friends as you. Maybe the attribute of you being a good friend might have something to do with it? :~)

    Just know you must have some rockin' new year post up your sleeve for us!

  43. Merry Christmas Tom, hope you have had a wonderful day. Thanks for your lovely friendship over the past year. Sending festive love to you and your family.

  44. Cindy - Hello and Merry Christmas, my dear and wonderful friend! I'm just getting in off the road after a long drive and another day long holiday party with family. I was thinking about you today and wondering how Canyon liked my singing dogs. I hope you and your family had a splendid Christmas. I am thrilled that you circled back here for another visit. Your encore on Christmas day is the best present I received. It means more to me than I can express. I'm sure Dick Clark will do a much better job of rockin' in the new year but I'll give it a go in my next post to be published tomorrow. Thank you again, dear Cindy, for making my Christmas all the more special with your thoughtful visit and kind words!

    Kelly-Marie - Hello, my dear London friend! Welcome back! I'm delighted to find that you've returned to blogging. I hope that you and your loved ones had a wonderful Christmas celebration. Let's make a vow to connect more often in the coming year. Bless you and sleep well, dear friend Kelly-Marie!


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