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

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, John!


 John Ettline was born 106 years ago 

 today on March 12th, 1906. 

Things to know and remember about John:

* John was a graduate of York High School.

* John played football and baseball and was considered very athletic.

* John was
an extremely intelligent man.

* John attended a junior college until his father pulled him out to help with the family farm in Foustown, the Cousler Park area north of York.

* John was a collector of antiques. He purchased many pieces from his youngest brother Paul who was an antiques dealer. The late Paul Ettline always spoke very highly of his oldest brother.

* Looking back at John Ettline’s life, it's safe to say that he was a John of all trades and a master of many.

* John worked in coal mines.

*John was a music agent, scheduling bands for local clubs.

* John managed various York clubs including the historic Valencia Ballroom, America’s first air conditioned dance hall.

* John also managed Lehmeyer’s, the classy men's clothier on North George St.

* John was a dapper dresser, a great dancer and a very handsome gentleman.

* John was a ladies' man, a man's man and very much his own man.

 Most of all John was a wise man and 

 he shared his wisdom with all of us. 

 I thought it fitting, therefore, to post 

 a video that offers the kind of advice 

 that John would have dispensed.  

 I would also like to offer this timeless 

 message of hope as we remember, 

 our leader, Mr. John Ettline.

 Happy birthday, John! 

 We love you and miss you! 



  1. Happy Birhday, John! Since your lovely post about Helen's birthday, I've been looking forward to reading one about John's on his, and now we have it. What a renaissance man he was- so many different talents and skills, and it sounds like he did them all so well. I think what I admire most about him (even though I never had the pleasure of meeting him) is that he chose to invest so much of himself into young people, a scary proposition for most.

    I'm sure he altered the course of lives for the better in doing that, and what better legacy can a person leave than that?

    Thank you for sharing him with us today, my friend!

  2. Shelly - Good morning, dear friend! Your comments capture the essence of John Ettline and I thank you for them. My hat goes off to you and other teachers for devoting your lives to working with young people, an even scarier proposition today than it was during John's time. Thank you again for the early morning visit and spot on comments, dear friend Shelly. I hope you have a terrific week ahead!

  3. What a beautiful tribute, Tom! 106 is a great age. I do hope he's smiling down on you today. If he is, he must be feeling exceedingly touched to know you still faithfully remember each of his birthdays. Your devotion (not sure that's quite the right word) is testimony to not only the influence John (with Helen by his side) had on all of you, but speaks volumes of his character. Through you, the Ettline's legacy survives and that is quite remarkable, because I'm quite sure that at the time they had no notion of the effect they were having on all of you, apart from offering a safe place for you to 'hang out' and have some fun. Your regard for John and Helen also speaks volumes about you and the kind of man you are. I suspect that, in some ways, you might have modelled yourself on John? The dapper dresser, an exceedingly polite man who gets on equally well with ladies and gentlemen, and who is highly intelligent and able to converse with conviction on a wide range of topics. That's how you come across to us out here in Blog Land :)

  4. Desiree - You are too kind, dear friend. I'm no John Ettline and not half of what you described here. It's all smoke and mirrors, I assure you. At the same time I deeply appreciate your sweet comments. They reveal a profound understanding of what the Dell was all about and what the Ettlines were all about. I agree that they had no way of foreseeing the ripple effect of their influence on young people, especially so many decades into the future. I fully intend for the rest of my life to continue these birthday, Mother's Day, Father's Day and date of death observances in honor of John and Helen. Thank you very much for coming here again today and sharing your intelligence and wisdom with us. Have a wonderful week, dear friend Desiree!

  5. Happy Birthday John. He was a truly remarkable man that is still touching lives today through a good friend. We can all learn from John and somehow tweak our lives to be a little better from his never out of date advise. We may not have known John or Helen but their memories will be ever present to help and guide us thanks to good friends. I really needed to see this again Tom. Thanks

  6. Odie - That's right, good buddy. You've been with me more than a year and I'm sure you remember seeing this tribute before. John gave off a vibe that drew kids to him like a magnet. We sought his advice, talked sports, debated current events, and just enjoyed hanging out with him. Yet he was old enough to be our grandfather. That's saying something! Thank you very much for visiting and commenting, Odie, and have a wonderful week doing whatever pleases you!

  7. John sounds like he was a wonderful human being. People like that need to be remembered and you've done a fine tribute to him (and not just today). Wish there were more like him in the world. I love the Sunscreen Advice. One of my favs.

  8. Happy Birthday John I owe you so much. A Dell Rat All Ways Greg

  9. BB - Hello, dear friend! That "Wear Sunscreen" video has been viral for several years now and it's always good to replay it to help keep your priorities in order. As I've said many times John Ettline was already part of a vanishing breed of men back in the 60s and there are few like him around today. Thank you very much for coming to John's b-day party, Barb, and have a terrific week!

    Greg - we all owe John a debt of gratitude. He showed us what it really meant to be a man - rock solid, strong yet caring and compassionate and always ready to lend a helping hand. Thank you for coming over to testify today, Greg, and stay tuned for a Spring Season of Surprises here at SDM&M!

  10. Hi Tom...John shared his birthday with my Grams. Seems like two very special people were born on that day. Your tribute was so very loving for the man that was so central to your teen years and beyond.

    Thanks for the kind comment about our sweet Holden, I hope Toto is doing fantastic and you have many more years together.


  11. What a neat post and wonderful blog. Happy Birthday to John. :)

  12. I always wanted my dad to be a coal miner so I could pretend the song Coal Miners Daughter was about me. :)Happy Birthday John, wherever you are!

  13. Hi dear Tom. Happy Birthday to John. I really love it how you are keeping the Ettline's memory alive with these remembrance posts of yours. Well done you for doing this. John was obviously a very special man and how touched he would be to know that you are remembering him like this. I just watched the little video on Odie's blog, and it was well worth watching again. When I first met my husband all those years ago, he gave me his copy of Desiderata. I loved it then and I love it today. Thank you for a lovely post dear friend.

  14. Sush - I remember your Grams' birthday last year and how it coincided with John's. Dear friend, I've been thinking about you and wondering how are you doing. My heart still aches and I say a prayer every night for Holden and for your family. I wish I could erase this pain but you and I know that it will subside over time. That does not mean you'll every forget the wonderful animal companion that spent her life with you. Thank you very much for coming by, dear Sush, and I hope it will be a better week for you.

    Elisabeth - Hello, my new friend, and welcome to Shady Dell Music & Memories! I'm so pleased that you dropped by to have a look around. If you decide to come back you can always expect this same warm welcome. My mission is to give you something to think about and something to smile about. Thank you very much for your visit and comment and please come back soon, Elisabeth!

    Amber - There's no pretending. The song "Coal Miner's Daughter" was written with you in mind. So was "Little Miss Go-Go" and "You're the Devil in Disguise." (LOL) I'm so happy to see your smiling shoes on my doorstep again today. Have a great week, dear friend, and I'll be seeing you over at your blogspot soon. That's not a threat - it's a promise.

  15. Hi, Thisisme! The Desiderata has held special meaning for me all these years, ever since 1971 when Les Crane made it into a hit record and won the Grammy for Best Spoken Word recording. "Desiderata" and "Sunscreen" both contain the type of advice that's easy to forget. Once a year it's a good idea to review both videos and that's why I post them each year on John's birthday. Thank you very much for your friendship, dear Thisisme, and thank you also for your sweet and supportive comments. Good night to you in South Hams, England!

  16. Tom- Happy Birthday to John, and I'm sure he would be pleased to know what a positive affect he had on your life and all the other teens he met. I wish he had been next door neighbor to my grandsons. I know he would have taken them under his wing and shown them what a good man was.

    You are right, we need to watch these videos at least once a year. I was very moved by them and I think I will copy out the words for my granddaughters. 'A child of the Universe,' what a beautiful thing to be.

  17. Belle - That's a great idea! You should print out the entire Desiderata poem for your granddaughters and also send them the clip so they can hear the angelic choir that accompanies Les Crane's reading. They can also learn some valuable life lessons from "Sunscreen" if they aren't already familiar with it. I am very happy to see you, dear friend. Thanks for coming to John's party again this year and have a happy evening up in B.C.!

  18. Hi, Tom!

    I just wanted to express my appreciation, once again, for your tribute to John on this, his 106th birthday. John was a rare adult in our lives back in the sixties. He and men like him are missed. Hopefully we can continue to carry on many of the positive qualities which he possessed, and inspire the younger generations, as well as our own. I was thinking of drinking a toast to him, but I think I drank more than enough in the Dell parking lot back in the days. We sure did appreciate those over 21 who ran down the hill to pick up some beer for us, and also thankful that John "looked the other way", as long as we weren't maintaining and didn't bring any booze inside, except those who went out and poured liquor into their soda fountain drinks and returned. He didn't expect us to be saints, but he did expect us to be responsible. Am I correct in remembering that he did allow the police inside to walk around upon their request just to maintain the imagine of the Dell, and not cause trouble? Anyway, "here's to you, John! Thanks for allowing us to be teenagers, but responsible, and not talk down to us like many parents, having faith that we would make mistakes and learn from them. You are missed."

    "Sunscreen" is so true, and "Desiderata" is always an inspiration!

    Your buddy,

  19. What a lovely tribute. I'm relatively new here so I hadn't seen it before. I especially liked the fact that John was a dapper dresser, a great dancer, and was very much his own man. Some good qualities NEVER go out of style, so they?
    Loved the sunscreen speech. Sage wisdom, that.

  20. Hi, Ron! I vaguely recall John escorting an officer down to the barn one time to look around or maybe to take one of the gang into custody for one reason or another but it didn't happen often. I remember getting really drunk one AFTERNOON and driving to the Dell. I went down to the barn and the place was absolutely empty. I was standing there zoning out when John came in the door and told me that my dad was waiting out in the parking lot to drive me home. I remember feeling very ashamed that John had to see me in that condition and for putting him in the awkward position of having to face my glaring dad who probably somehow blamed John for what I did. Your comments are sensational, Ron, and I thank you for them. The next installment of Dueling Doo-Wops is in the pipeline and coming soon!

    Hi, karen (with a small "k")! Welcome back, dear friend! I'm glad you got a chance to see a picture of John and Helen Ettline, the mom and pop who ran the Shady Dell. John outlived Helen by nine years and kept the Dell in operation even though he was in his 80s and some of the kids were becoming rowdy and disrespectful. It took strength and courage to carry on and those are two of the words that define John Ettline. Thank you very much for coming to the birthday celebration, dear karen. I hope your week if off to a great start!

  21. Happy Birthday to John! A child of the universe who shines on!

    Baz Lurhman was partially responsible for my A in film class, because I was able to write clearly about his style of film making. It was a treat to see the video. I perked up when he said that undecided folks in their forties are INTERESTING.

    It's fantastic that a man with no children continues to live on in the people whom he influenced.

  22. Hi, Jenny! I wonder what Baz Lurhman thinks of undecided folks in their SIXTIES? (LOL) Your observation about John is a good one. He had no children and yet he was like a father or grandfather to thousands of young people. Helen was like a mother or grandmother to us and theirs was our home away from home. John Ettline's influence was far reaching and incalculable. Thank you very much for your kind words, dear friend Jenny, and have a pleasant evening up your way!

  23. Thanks Tom for another wonderful tribute to John. I think he might have been right at home in modern Dublin doing what some of my friends do booking bands to play in intimate venues! It's always lovely to learn about someone who meant so much to you and so many others.

    Emma x

  24. Happy Birthday John! Wow...106 years ago! I only watched your first video-so powerful! And, I can envision John giving that advice and making those statements. How wonderful of you to bring him out into the open. "Respect your elders." I never hear that anymore, perhaps I live in the wrong neighborhood. But I've never forgotten that message, and, still practice it to this day. Thank you Shady...that video made my day. See you at your next post-playing catchup!


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