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 26, 2012

Shady Dell the College Years..... December 1967 and January 1968

 In today's edition of College Years 

 the timeline advances to the Christmas & 

 New Year holiday break at the end of 1967. 

When December arrived I couldn't wait for classes at PSU
to end so that I could bust loose, drive back home to York, get up the hill to the Dell, check in with Helen and John and check out the jukebox tunes in the barn. Here now are the hottest records that were playing at the Shady Dell during the Christmas-New Year holidays in 1967 and on into 1968!

 December 1967 

 "My Baby Must Be a Magician" – Marvelettes 

 "I Can’t Stand Myself (When You Touch Me)"
 – James Brown & the Famous Flames 

 "Chain of Fools" – Aretha Franklin 

 "A Love That’s Real" – Intruders 

 "Judy in Disguise" – John Fred & His Playboy Band 

 January 1968 

 "We’re a Winner" – Impressions 

 "I Wish it Would Rain" – Temptations 

 "I Truly, Truly Believe" – Temptations 

 We'll flash back to the greatest 

 Dell hits of February and March 1968 

 in the next edition of College Years

 I hope you'll be here! 

 Have a Shady day 

 and a safe and happy 

 new year celebration! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Yule Love These Dell Holiday Classics!

Big John ambled into the barn 

carrying a fifty pound log.

The King of all Dell Rats knelt before the fireplace and
with a mighty heave tossed the massive chunk of lumber
onto the bed of glowing embers.
Encouraged by a fresh supply of fuel
the blaze quickly sprang to life.

Light danced merrily on the walls of the TV room
as flames devoured the wood.
 The room was bathed in a cheery glow as
soothing warmth radiated to Dell rats gathered 'round.
Comforting crackles, pops and hisses from the fire
blended with the sound of familiar tunes
playing on the jukebox.

'Twas the most wonderful time of the year...

Christmas time at the Shady Dell!

Some of my fondest Dell memories
recall the colder months, especially the
December holiday season.

Whenever a snow storm struck John sprang into action. Equipped with a winter busting arsenal that included
 jumper cables, chains, sand and ice scraper, Mr. Ettline
was Johnny on the spot when a Dell rat encountered
car problems. Armed with his trusty shovel,
John wasted no time clearing the front steps
and the walkway connecting the house to the barn.

On cold December nights Helen was busy
preparing treats to warm the tummy.
My favorite cold weather order was a plate of
sizzling French fries and a steaming mug of cocoa.

Next stop - the barn, and John had it handled
down there, too, with the fireplace burning
and records that kept turning.

During the holiday season 

no place on earth made you 

feel more welcome, more at home 

or more alive than the Shady Dell!

In keeping with tradition our online version of the
Dell will remain open for business through the holidays
 and I loaded into the jukebox the Dell's
two most popular Christmas classics.

For your viewing pleasure I decked the halls and
covered the walls with vintage seasonal soda pop ads.

The two holiday songs I'd like you to hear
were released back-to-back on the same 45,
one of many two-siders to enjoy popularity at the Dell.
Both sides of the platter were enduring seasonal favorites.

"Jingle Bell Rock" first became a national hit
at Christmas time 1957. Every December thereafter
the song magically showed up in the Dell’s
dance hall jukebox just in time
to engender a festive holiday mood.

"Jingle Bell Rock" - Bobby Helms (December 1957)

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 record’s B-side, a nursery school ditty entitled
"Captain Santa Claus," produced an extraordinary response at the Dell. The beginning of the song consists of a series
of bizarre and instantly recognizable sound effects.
Naming that tune in seconds flat, the Dell crowd would
erupt in gleeful, childlike laughter and 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
and acting silly, particularly during Christmas break
when Bobby Helms was serenading us.

"Captain Santa Claus" - Bobby Helms (December 1957)

The popularity of Bobby Helms' perennial holiday classics allows me to once again make an important point.

Those of us who attended the Dell in the 60s eagerly embraced the music of the past, welcoming the opportunity to preserve the traditions of our 50s predecessors. In that respect I believe we could be called "the last great generation" of Dell rats.

Oh what a night

Late December back in '65

I was happy just to be alive

As I remember what a night.

Have yourself 

a Shady little Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cruisin' 1955 with Jumpin' George!

 It started one summer day in 1970. 

I marched into a record store and bought seven albums.

They were the first seven volumes of Cruisin'.

Over the next two years I added half a dozen more 
Cruisin' long plays to my collection.

Ron Jacobs, Program Director at KHJ Los Angeles
and creator of the Cruisin' series, assembled some
of the greatest deejays of the rock 'n' roll era 
in seamless reproductions of their radio programs.

The air checks featured authentic patter by the
legendary top 40 jocks along with original commercials,
jingles and sound effects.

Each volume of Cruisin' was highly collectible,
not only because of the radio hall of famers
and the classic oldies they played...

but also for the colorful, eye popping
Mike Royer cartoon cover art.

As I salute the Cruisin' series in the months to come, 
I will spotlight a favorite song or two from each volume
and throw in a few other great recordings that
were released the same year.

I will also be displaying nostalgic soda pop
print ads to help bring back the period.

 Let's start our journey where 

 Cruisin' started: Frisco in '55! 

 "Jumpin'" George Oxford 

  KSAN, San Francisco 


The earlier the better I always say, and the early career output of Ray Charles (late 40s to mid 50s) is where it's at for me. It was a time when brother Ray's recordings were
still raw and unpolished. Unpolished is bad and bad is good!

"I've Got a Woman" aka "I Got a Woman" was released as a single in December of 1954 and spent a whopping 20 weeks on the black music chart, going all the way to number one.

 "I've Got a Woman" - Ray Charles (March 1955, 
 highest chart position #1 R&B Singles) 

Rolling Stone ranked "I've Got a Woman" #235 on its list of
the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Frankly, I don't think that I could place that many others above it!


In early March of 1955 "Close Your Eyes" by the Five Keys was beginning its long journey up the record charts on its way to becoming The Mother of All Dell Songs. That same week "Pledging My Love" by R&B vocalist Johnny Ace was reaching its peak at number one on the black music chart and top 20 on the pop singles list.

A song with a more tragic story behind it would be hard to find. The record was released posthumously after Johnny died of a self inflicted gunshot wound. It happened on Christmas Eve 1954. Johnny was backstage at a Houston auditorium between sets of a concert performance. As the story goes Johnny had been drinking and clowning around with a pistol when he accidentally shot himself in the head. He died Christmas day. For decades it was widely reported that Johnny had been playing Russian Roulette but that scenario was disputed by witnesses. Knowing the back story makes Johnny Ace's ballad "Pledging My Love" sound like a death dirge.

 "Pledging My Love" - Johnny Ace (March 1955, 
 highest chart position #17 Hot 100, #1 R&B) 


Dean Martin was one of the few recording artists that my parents and I could agree on.  No question about it, Dean was a cool cat. Better make that rat as in The Rat Pack.

At age six I spent countless hours in the basement sifting through my parents' collection of 45rpm records and playing them on my teensie weensie, teeny tiny tinny turntable. "Memories Are Made of This," Dean's big Christmas season hit, was a favorite of mine back then and it still is today.

 "Memories are Made of This" - Dean Martin 
 (December 1955, highest chart position #1) 

My curiosity soon led me to flip Dean's record over. Imagine my delight when I discovered one of my first killer bees, a lively number entitled "Change of Heart."

 "Change of Heart" - Dean Martin, January 1956, 
 uncharted B side of "Memories Are made of This") 


Before we hit the road, Jack, I give you "Greenbacks," another Ray Charles favorite released in 1955. This is Ray at his underground, bluesy best before he became the darling of the jet set and the Playboy After Dark crowd, added the Raylettes, crossed over into country music and lost me as a fan.

"Greenbacks" went top 5 R&B but never made a dent in the pop chart. It doesn't take Columbo to figure out why. In the mid 50's the so-called Hit Parade was about as vanilla as you could get. It was dominated by big band instrumentals and Caucasian crooners from the World War II era singing pop standards and showtunes and making rhymes with words
like moon and June. Benign ditties like "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window" by Patti Page were the kind of songs that my parents listened to on the radio and played on their hi-fi set. The music was safe, sane, sober and sterile - the antithesis of rock and roll and nitty gritty rhythm and blues.

When you examine the lyrics and listen to the
clip that follows you will understand why street wise
sly, slick and wicked R&B numbers like "Greenbacks" rocked the sensibilities of many white middle class Americans and made the church lady grab her hanky and clutch her heart.

 As I was walking down the street last night 
 A pretty little girl came into sight 
 I bowed and smiled and asked her name 
 She said, "Hold it bud, I don't play that game" 
 I reached in my pocket, and to her big surprise 
 There was Lincoln staring her dead in the eyes. 

 On a greenback, greenback dollar bill 
 Just a little piece of paper, coated with chlorophyll 

 She looked at me with that familiar desire 
 Her eyes lit up like they were on fire 
 She said, "My name's Flo, and you're on the right track, 
 But look here, daddy, I wear furs on my back, 
 So if you want to have fun in this man's land, 
 Let Lincoln and Jackson start shaking hands." 

 On a greenback, greenback dollar bill 
 Just a little piece of paper, coated with chlorophyll 

 I didn't know what I was getting into 
 But I popped Lincoln and Jackson, too 
 I didn't mind seeing them fade out of sight, 
 I just knew I'd have some fun last night 
 Whenever you in town and looking for a thrill 
 If Lincoln can't get it, Jackson sure will 

 On a greenback, greenback dollar bill 
 Just a little piece of paper, coated with chlorophyll 

 "Greenbacks" - Ray Charles (November 1955, 
 highest chart position #5 R&B) 

Yes, you heard right. Ray's best laid plans went sideways when the shady lady got up to powder her nose.

 She just slipped out the back, Jack 
 She made a new plan, Stan 
 Didn't need to be coy, Roy 
 Just listen to me 
 She hopped on the bus, Gus 
 Didn't need to discuss much 
 Just went for a pee, Lee 
 And got herself free. 

 Don't miss the next exciting 

 edition of Cruisin' coming soon! 

Have a Shady day!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Miracles Are Happening in Episode 20 of The D-Team!

In 1972 a crack Dell Rat unit

 was sent to prison by the 

 Unific Court of Love for a 

 crime they didn't commit... 


 These men promptly escaped 

 from a maximum security 

 stockade to the York, PA 

 underground. Today, still 

 wanted by the government, 

 they survive as soldiers 

 of soul and revivers of 

 rock ‘n roll.

 If you have a problem 
 (with hip hop divas and gangsta rap)... 

 if no one else can help 

 and if you can find them 

 maybe you can hire... 


 I pity 

 the fool  








The Miracles hit big in the early weeks of 1961 with their top 5 charting single "Shop Around." It would take two full years before the Smokey Robinson led Motown group would return to the top 10 with "You Really Got a Hold On Me." Although they weren't exactly burning up the charts during the lean months in between the Miracles nevertheless made some outstanding recordings.

In the late summer of 1962 "Way Over There" died on the vine at #94 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart and never even registered on the R&B Singles survey. My Pick to Click is the uncharted B side which sounds a little like "Raindrops," the Dee Clark hit from the previous summer. Here are Smokey and the Miracles singing "If Your Mother Only Knew."

 "If Your Mother Only Knew" - The Miracles 
 (September 1962, uncharted B side of "Way Over There") 

In 1967 the Miracles laid down an album track that became
a classic dance number in the South Philly/Jersey area.

"It's a Good Feeling" was featured on the radio and television programs of boss jocks like Jerry Blavat and Hy Lit and was played for years at regional record hops. The people in this video are performing the Wagner Walk, one of the Geatorific line dances of the 60s, a variation of which was also popular with our gang at the Shady Dell.

 "It's a Good Feeling" - Smokey Robinson & the Miracles 
 (from the 1967 album Make it Happen) 



During the Christmas season of 1966 "You Keep Me Hangin' On," the chart topping single by the Supremes, was playing nightly at the Shady Dell. At home, I frequently flipped the record and listened to Motown's most popular girl group per-
forming the exquisite B ballad "Remove This Doubt."

 "Remove This Doubt" - The Supremes (December 1966, 
 uncharted B side of "You Keep Me Hangin' On") 



Here's how I can tell that I'm getting old. There are millions of people alive today who never heard of A list soul groups like the O'Jays, the Spinners and the Pips. There are millions more who only know those acts from their 70s hits like "Back Stabbers," "Rubberband Man" and "Midnight Train to Georgia." What a shame, because all three acts were at their best in the 60s.

Gladys Knight & the Pips were already experienced veterans by the time they cut their first record in 1961. The family R&B/Soul act from Atlanta waxed some excellent sides on
the Fury and Maxx labels before signing with Motown and achieving their first major hit with "I Heard it Through the "Grapevine." One of those pre-Motown gems was released
in the spring of 1964 and cracked the top 40. You would be hard-pressed to find a ballad with more drama and feeling than "Giving Up."

 "Giving Up" - Gladys Knight & the Pips 
 (June 1964, highest chart position #38) 

 Only two things you done 

 need to know, fool... 

 Ain't Hannibal or nobody else

 gonna get me up in no 

 AIR - O - PLANE!!! ..... 

 and the D-Team plays 

 the best music! 


In the 70s some of the coolest sounds around were coming from the Memphis studios of Hi Records.

"Rhymes," co-written by Al Green and performed by R&B great O.V. Wright, made only a brief chart appearance in the fall of 1976, but Wright's silky smooth vocals and the song's compelling lyrics made a lasting impression on me.

 "Rhymes" O.V. Wright (September 1976, highest chart 
 position #87 R&B) 




The barbershop harmonies of the Chordettes were among
my earliest musical memories. I was barely five years old
in December 1954 when the female quartet hit #1 with
"Mr. Sandman," a record my mom and dad owned and that
I played often on my tiny tinny record player. In 1956 the popular girl group had a top 5 hit with "Born to Be With You," another of my parents' records I listened to again and again. In 1958 the Chordettes reached #2 with "Lollipop" followed by a top 20 single, the theme from one of my favorite TV series Zorro.

For decades those were the only Chordettes recordings I knew about. In the 1970s a friend gave me a box of records he no longer wanted and in it I discovered "A Girl's Work is Never Done," a poor selling Chordettes single released in 1959. Featured on the picture sleeve was Jackie Ertel, daughter of one of the original Chordettes, Janet Ertel. Jackie's other claim to fame was marrying Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers. "Girl's Work" is an obvious girl group knock-off of the Coasters' hit "Yakety Yak" and I didn't pay much attention to it.

Instead, I found myself spinning the heck out of the killer bee side of the record. "No Wheels" featured Jeff Kron doing his best imitation of hipster Edd "Kookie" Byrnes and Jackie Ertel credited for screaming "NO NO NO!" Both sides of the record benefited from the instrumental prowess of bandleader and tenor sax player King Curtis. "No Wheels" is so bad it's great! Dig it, man. It's far out, the coolest, like way gone, daddy-o!

 "No Wheels" - The Chordettes with Jeff Kron & Jackie Ertel 
 (September 1959, uncharted B side of  "A Girl's Work is 
 Never Done") 

 Don't miss the next thrill-packed episode 

 of The D-Team, coming soon! 

 I love it 


 a plan 



Have a Shady day!