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

Friday, June 15, 2012

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 agrees 

 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 video as we honor 

 John Ettline...every Dell rat's dad! 

 Happy Father's Day, John! 

 We love you and miss you! 


  1. Oh, what a lovely tribute. Got a little misty eyed with the video. Surely, John was a truer father in the best sense of the word than too many men who produce children of their own.

    I have to think our world is a much richer place because John Ettline lived and loved here.

    1. Nicely put, Shelly. Thank you! (I'm glad my post appeared in your reader this morning. I'm beginning to think the problem I was having resulted from publishing 9 posts in a row all with the same title except for the # at the end.) Have a great day and weekend, dear friend!

  2. Shady I really enjoyed Dell Rat Jerre"s story about the quarter. I will never forget the first time John pushed my quarter back to me,It was then I knew that John accepted me as a real Dell Rat.The ouarter was Johns way of telling you that you belong. A real Rat will all ways remember that time. Happy Fathers Day to my Dad and To John and all Dads every where. Keep up the great work and have a shady day. A Dell Rat All Ways Greg

    1. Hi, Greg! I think all Dell regulars share that memory of the first time John pushed your quarter back and waved you past his booth, through the entrance and into the Magic Kingdom. It gave us all a special feeling and it was a mandate to behave ourselves and not betray the trust John placed in us. Thanks for reporting in, Greg. I hope your dog Harley is doing much better by now and that you have a safe and happy weekend.

  3. It's so touching to hear these accounts of the impact John made on the lives of the people he came into contact with, I love how he greeted the youngsters by calling them Mr.....

    If only John could read these wonderful words, but something tells me he probably knew how much he was appreciated and loved as a second father to many!

    Happy Weekend Tom!

    Emma x

    1. Hi, Emma! Sorry, I almost missed your comment up here. Yes, I very much appreciated the friendly formality used by John Ettline. When he called Jerre "Mr Slaybaugh" and me "Mr. Anderson" it gave us a feeling of pride. We knew a member of the older generation respected and trusted us and that made us want to return the favor and treat John and Helen with respect. There aren't many men like John around anymore. Thank you, dear friend Emma, for helping me and the others pay tribute to this great man! Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. He sounds like such a great guy. The kind of guy I wish I had around when I was growing up. We need more people like John in the world.

    PS thanks ever so much for your comment the other day. It means a lot to know that you read my comments even when I post on older posts of yours. :) I'm always checking to see whats going on in your part of blogland, even if its to reread past posts. I hope your new blogging schedule gives you more time to hang with family and friends. Have a brilliant Friday good sir!

    1. You're the best, Amber Girly Bird! I often think back to the day we "met." You poked me on the blog of our mutual friend. I could tell in an instant there was something special about you. I picked up on the playful vibe that is your trademark. Since that day you and I have been enjoying each other's humor and learning a lot about music and life in general. I am thrilled to have you as one of my very best friends, Amber! Thank you very much for being here for John and happy Father's Day to your lucky man Kevin!

  5. He was surely a man to be remembered and the memories your friends shared speak of a genuine friend they could count on. Wish I could have known him.

    1. Thanks, Odie! The ripple effect of John's influence cannot be calculated but it is surely felt by those of us who knew and loved him. Thanks for checking in, good buddy, and I hope Puppy Kisses, Rocky, Soffie and Linda give you a happy Father's Day.

  6. Nice blog and great thoughts!! :)


    1. Hello, Susanna! What a nice surprise it is to have a young lady in Finland visiting my blog! You have four wonderful sites of you own, I see, and I wish you well as you continue to explore the world. I hope that you will make SDM&M a habit. You will always be welcome here. Thank you very much for your comment, Susanna!

  7. Kathleen Mae SchneiderJune 16, 2012 at 5:12 AM

    What a wonderful tribute from those who should know!

    To read this is to realize how much fatherhood is so much more than biological. John Ettline no doubt felt that the benefits of his friendship went both ways. I bet every young man or woman who entrusted him with their fragile egos was another reason for John to keep going on those days when it would have been easier to quit.

    By confiding in him and entering into a relationship of mutual trust, the "rats" enabled him to experience a real sense of worth and accomplishment in his life. He had to know that he and Helen filled a void in so many young lives and that had to be rewarding for them both.

    If only we could have cloned him! We sure could use more people like John today. His true legacy lives in the hearts of those who were privileged to know him, and the kindness and understanding he demonstrated continues through those whose lives he touched. He set an example for all of us to follow, whether we knew him or not.

    Thanks Tom for remembering and honoring such a wonderful man.

    1. Hi, Kathleen! Thank you for helping us to remember John at this time of the year when we acknowledge our fathers. I often wonder what drove John to establish a place like the Dell in the first place and what kept him going for so long. I think he got a kick out of hosting groups of people and watching them having fun. I can relate because I always enjoyed hosting large parties and at least one of them was legendary, attended by more than 100 people from all over Central PA. Consciously or subconsciously I was trying to recreate the Shady Dell. Perhaps John was trying to recreate the Valencia Ballroom in a way. Thanks again for your observations on this special occasion, dear friend Kathleen, and we all look forward to reading the next chapter of your mother's diary coming soon!

  8. Hi KNOW I couldn't let much time pass without checking in! Your posts on the Ettlines always truly express how beloved they are to you. The one for John for Father's Day is exceptional.
    Hope your summer is going great guns and you are getting your much deserved fair of fresh air and sunshine!

    1. Oh Sush, I am very happy to see you, dear friend. Thank you very much for being here for John and for me. I hope you are enjoying some down time with your beautiful family. I'll be seeing you around the circuit from time to time and I hope that you will continue to visit me because you are one friend I don't want to lose. Bless you!

  9. What wonderful tributes to a clearly wonderful man. You all seem to have been truly honoured to have him in your lives.

    1. Hello, dear Emma! I noticed your return to blogging today. Welcome back! I appreciate your visit to SDM&M and I'll be over to see you soon. Take care, dear friend!

  10. Good Afternoon, really like your father's day tribute. Mr. Ettline truly was 'Johhnny on the spot"! A compassionate man...he would have made a great dad. He watched out for you guys, and, without you realizing it-he taught you a few things.

    A truly great tribute Shady, and, I love the old photo of the Ettlines with John in his uniform. See you soon-catching up! ♫


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