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, January 18, 2013

Grab Your Torch. The Tribe Has Spoken. Our Dell Alliance Can't Be Broken.



 I love to get feedback from you. 

Stories and memories sent in by those of you who were
there, still care and want to share are vitally important.
They expand our knowledge of the Dell and the Ettlines.

I also love to receive Dell related memorabilia and
I am delighted to present for the very first time here
on Shady Dell Music & Memories another ultra-rare
photograph of John and Helen Ettline!

The picture above showing John dressed in his Army uniform
and a smiling Helen at his side was sent to me by my good
friend Nancy Rae Sieling, one of John's nieces. Thank you
so very much, dear Nancy, for making another generous
contribution to our ever expanding Dell picture gallery!

Responding to my post honoring the memory of
John Ettline, "Lubie," an original Dell rat who
authors a blog called karma Payment Plan,
wrote in and shared her fond memories of John.

 LUBIE: Brought a tear to 
 my eye. John was a person 
 I could never forget. He 
 helped me do a school 
 project one year about 
 WWII and he sat and 
 talked to me for hours 
 about it. He and I would 
 talk for hours anytime. 

 Such a great man. Once he gave me money to go with 
 everyone else to the fair. What an awesome human he 

Lubie is among the youngest of all original Dell rats.
She didn't start going until 1988, just three years
before John closed the Dell for good.

 LUBIE: I feel very lucky to have caught the tail end of the 
 Dell years. I always felt that the end of the Dell, was an 
 end for John. I really think it kept him going. He still had 
 us to make up a little bit for losing Helen. I wish I would 
 have met her. 

Lubie's description of the Shady Dell of the late 80s
contrasts sharply with that of older rat packers who
attended in the 50s and 60s, the Dell's golden era.

 LUBIE: My brother was a Dell Rat in the early 80s. I know 
 the barn was open when he first went.  By the time I 
 started going the barn was closed and the jukebox and the 
 pool table were in the house. John had cans of soda and 
 chips and candy at the snack bar. He had stuff everywhere 
 and I don't think I honestly ever knew there were working 
 soda fountains and kitchen equipment there. There wasn't 
 really much dancing involved, unless you count the con- 
 stant brawls. They called me the peacemaker because I 
 was always stepping in between guys trying to fight. We 
 sat around at the tables outside when the weather was 
 good.  There was a lot of hanging out in the parking lot. 
 I think the most played song on the jukebox in our days 
 was Iron Man by Black Sabbath. It was definitely the 
 dark end days of the Dell years. Nothing like your 
 Golden Years. 

Very interesting, Lubie, and at the
same time troubling. Heavy metal
certainly doesn't fit in with the
Shady Dell that old timers like Greg
Jerre, Ron and I remember. I visited
John at the Dell in 1984. He and I had
a brief chat in the snack bar and then
I excused myself and walked down to the barn to have a look around. Upon entering and finding a dark, dingy, stone cold silent dance hall I knew at once that the Dell's glory days were behind her and that our beloved hangout was in "stage 4."

Thank you very much for sharing, Lubie! It's a safe bet
that every Dell rat has a similar story about John's generous
nature, a generosity that went far beyond financial aid.
John offered shelter and protection. He was equally generous
with his time. He imparted advice and wisdom but didn't
lecture or preach. John listened to us. He was always
willing to give a kid a second chance. John Ettline
made each and every one of us feel important.

Long time Dell goer Adrienne (aka A.J.) told me her
dream was to someday own the Shady Dell's jukebox.
Like many other Dell rats, A.J. also entertained a
fantasy about buying the Dell and reopening it
as an eatery and dance hall for teenagers.

 ADRIENNE (AKA "A.J."):  I went there for many years. 
  I loved John dearly. I would sit and talk to him for hours. 
 He was like the grandfather I never had. I went to his 
 funeral and we were allowed to go up there for one last 
 night and that was one of the saddest nights I can recall 
 to know that a very important piece of my teenage years 
 was gone forever. 

Thank you, Dell Rat A.J. Many of us feel exactly the same as you do about the Shady Dell and the leader of the pack, John Ettline!

Dell Rat Ron Shearer, who started going to the Dell in 1963 at age 14, wrote in and presented a plausible theory about the timing of John's death.

 DELL RAT RON:  You know, 
 I don't think it is coincidental 
 that John passed away 
 roughly a week after one of 
 Helen's birthdays. I think it 
 was another special day out 
 of the year that he couldn't 
 stand celebrating by spending 
 time without her, and he just 
 wanted to join her and pined 
 away his last. 

Astute observation, Ron. I never put two and two together
in that fashion but your explanation certainly has merit.
Perhaps I can also speak to that by referring once again
to my final visit with John at the Dell in March of 1984.
I was living in Lancaster at the time and never even got
word that Helen had passed away less than a month earlier.

I walked into the Dell house and found John by himself in
the snack bar reading the paper. Although we had not
seen each other in more than 13 years, John recognized me
immediately, remembered my name, jumped up and shook
my hand. "Where's Helen?" I asked. An awkward silence
followed and I noticed that John suddenly had a wistful,
far away look in his eyes.

I was stunned when John informed me of Helen's death. The loss of a spouse often takes a heavy toll as do yearly reminders of the loss including the wedding anniversary, a spouse's birth-
day and death date. John died one week after Helen's birthday and less than six weeks before the anniversary of her death. He had just spent another lonely Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year without her. Valentine's Day was only a few weeks away. All of those painful reminders must have weighed on John and contributed to his demise. It is amazing to realize that a man John's age was able to keep the Dell operating by himself for seven-and-a-half years after Helen passed away, enduring harsh winters and dealing with the increasingly rowdy and disrespectful teenage patrons!

 DELL RAT RON: John and 
 Helen were special people. 
 They had a lot of love for 
 themselves, each other 
 and countless of us. 
 Shady, you really do a 
 fine job paying homage 
 to the Ettlines and the 
 people they helped to 
 grow up, as well as helping us to look back and see where 
 we've come from and what's a part of us. 

Thank you very much for your comments, Ron!

 More original rats are standing by

 to testify, each with a special story

 about those days of Dell glory.

 Stick around for more feedback from

 our gang, the rodentia intelligentsia! 

Have a Shady day!


  1. I love how he continued to touch lives even when the love of his life was gone. I'm sure there are so many other stories of their kindness and generosity out there that haven't been told, and probably will never know. I'm so happy to know about them both through your stories and those of the other Dell Rats, Shady. They are a true inspiration to us all.

    1. Hi, Shelly! Shady Dell Music & Memories is in its fifth year and every year brings more surprises. New/old Dell rats keep coming forward to introduce themselves and share their stories. John's niece, Nancy Rae, continues to delight me by locating and sending rare pictures and Dell memorabilia for use on the blog. The Dell's beloved dance hall was torn down last year to the dismay of many, but memories remain I intend to keep bringing them back alive year after year with a little help from my friends.

      Leave all the blue days, think about the new days
      'Round every corner, 'round every corner
      Everything is yours now, open all the doors now
      'Round every corner, 'round every corner

      Thank you very much for your comments, dear Shelly, and have a great weekend!

  2. Hi dear Tom. I thought that Lubie looked a bit young to be an original Dell Rat!! Another wonderful photo of John and Helen. Isn't it lovely how these stories continue to come out and then to be posted on your blog, so that we can all read about them. I will never tire of reading about The Dell, and I am really looking forward to another post from Kathleen. It seems to have been quite a while - I do hope that I haven't missed anything! Have a lovely weekend my friend. See you again very soon.

    1. Hallo, dear Thisisme! It seems likely that Adrienne (A.J.) was also among the youngest of the Dell rats. When I did the math I figured out that the youngest of the original Dell goers, those who attended around 1990, could still be under the age of 40. Most of us are decades older than that. Yessum, Kathleen's post is coming up one week from today and it has been quite a while since her last one. I always provide links to previous chapters at the end of her posts just in case you missed one. Thank you very much for coming over to learn more about the mom and pop who meant so much to us, John and Helen Ettline. Have a terrific weekend, dear Thisisme!

  3. All these stories are so wonderful! John and Helen sound like the loveliest people ever, I wish I could have met them.

    1. I wish, too, dear Alabee. The Dell was a place where you could dance if you wanted to, listen if you wanted to or find a quieter, more secluded spot and engage in good conversation. You would have enjoyed it and your hosts, the Ettlines, immensely. Thank you very much for your comment, dear friend Alabee, and have a happy weekend!

  4. I am moved by Lubie's story about John - how he helped her with homework and talked with her for hours. He was a surrogate father to so many young people. What a gift of love he had in his heart! So many people dismiss teens, but he was full of love for them. Helen was like a mother to teens also. They were an amazing couple. It is good to hear new stories about them.

    1. Thank you, Belle! John and Helen instinctively knew how much freedom to give the teenagers who came to their establishment. It was more than most of us had experienced at home, at school or at other hangouts. It worked most of the time because of who John and Helen were. They gave and commanded respect. It felt good to be trusted. It felt good for older folks to assume that you could handle more freedom and responsibility. Thank you very much for expressing yourself so nicely here, dear friend Belle, and have a safe and happy weekend!

  5. John and Helen sounded like such wonderful people, and I'm sorry I never got to meet them. They've given so many people such wonderful memories.

    1. karen - In the four-and-a-half years I have been operating this online version of the Shady Dell, many people have come forward to testify about the difference the Ettlines made in their young lives. I think I stated this before but I know you would have enjoyed being around Helen and John because they were genuine, no nonsense people like you. Thank you very much for stopping by, dear friend karen, and have a great weekend!

  6. TOM i"m so sorry I missed the chance to say a few words for John on the last blog, I have had a lot going on and I just plain missed it. I know you know how important John And Helen were to me and what a big influence they had on our lives. Looking back to those years its hard to belive what a short period of time it was. It was only a few years but it seems like so much more. The golden years of the Dell were about more then just the Dell it happen in a time period that was drifferent than any other time in my life,during the 60s every one had a code of conduct, even the bad guys seemed to know what was going to far. Like you said may be we look at it thur rose colored glasses but you and I and the other Rats from that time know what I mean. John Helen and the Dell had such a huge influence on our lives. I belive we would have been much driffent people had it not been for those few years we had with John and Helen. Just the fact that here we are here 50 years later remembering and writing about those special days is testimony to how important it was and still is to us. A Dell Rat All Ways Greg

    1. Hi, Greg! I'm glad you checked the previous post. Can you believe that 20 years have passed since John's death? I agree with you that our years at the Dell, although few in number, influenced us tremendously. The Dell and the Ettlines had a profound effect on us and it is still being manifested today. Another point of agreement is concerning the code of conduct that was in place during our era but which has since been abandoned. The bullies and bad guys of yesteryear who bloodied noses with their fists have been replaced by super villains who kill mass numbers of people with assault rifles. That's why so many of us agree that a place like the Dell probably could not exist today even if the dance hall was still standing and it was reopened to the public. We were indeed fortunate to have come of age when we did and, just as importantly, WHERE we did, York, Pennsylvania. Thank you very much for coming to testify, good buddy, and stay tuned for the next chapter of In-Dell-ible Memories on Friday!

  7. Hi Shady, how nice to have received additional information from former Dell Rats. It is sad, however, to know that for some of the later patrons, things had changed so drastically, and, they could only experience a portion of what the Dell was really like. I feel for John in his quest to keep it alive. And, you will always have your fond memories and lessons that came with your Dell days. That is a wonderful photo of John and Helen! What a couple!

    Have a great weekend Shady...this was a wonderful post!♥

    1. Hi, Suzanne! You are right. The Shady Dell of the 80s was drastically different from the way it was during the golden era of the 50s and 60s. The music lost its sweet innocence, the barn/dance hall was closed, the restaurant/snack bar was no longer in operation and the crowd was rough and disrespectful to John, the man who had for decades opened the doors of his home to give thousands of young people a place to meet, dance and let off steam in a nondestructive manner. It's sad that it turned out that way for such a kindhearted man. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts on the subject, dear friend Suzanne. I hope you're feeling fine and I wish you a very happy week ahead!

  8. Wow, you always come up with even more info. Youa re a rock star! HUgs

    1. Well look who's talking! (LOL) You are the multitasking champion of the world, Katie, and I don't know how you do it and still manage to take such good care of Izzy. How deep is the snow out there today? We didn't get any here yet and I'm getting tired of waiting! (LOL) Yessum, there is always something new to learn about the Ettlines and their Shady Dell and I am very pleased to have so many original rats reporting in. Stay tuned for more throughout the coming year. Have a wonderful week, dear Katie!

  9. Tom it's so great that you were sent that photo and that you could share it with us! It's great hearing stories from different generations of Dell Rat and hearing about your final visit with John. Once again, I love hearing these stories and seeing photos of the lovely John and Helen!

    I hope you had a nice weekend Tom!

    Emma x

    1. Hi, dear Emma! I had a great weekend and I hope you did as well. I agree that this is a wonderful picture of John and Helen and Nancy is an angel for locating it and sending it to me. Every piece of the puzzle, whether large or small, is important. I am honored to host this site where so much information is stored about the people, the place and the times of our lives. Thank you very much for coming to see me, dear Emma, and have a safe and happy week ahead!

  10. hi Tom,
    another of your beautiful posts. I LOVE the first picture, they were a beautiful couple and their love story is so sweet. I love the fact that he couldn't bear to live alone , this meant that his love was reaaly true.
    thanks a lot for your beautiful comment on my wedding post, and sorry if I didn't comment on your blog for so long. I was busy with wedding first, and now I'm leaving for honeymoon:) see you when I'll come back!!

    1. Hello, dear Katiuscia aka Katia aka Rapunzel! My heart bursts with joy knowing that you are happily married and leaving for a honeymoon holiday. You have already seen so many beautiful places and you live in picturesque Italy. I hope your honeymoon destination is another exciting one and that you will post pictures of the scenery and architecture when you return. I was examining my follower roster recently and remembered that you were one of my first followers. It is a pleasure to welcome you back!

  11. Replies
    1. I didn't even notice your typo until now, dear friend. I read your message and understood it. I believe John and Helen's was indeed a love story. They were compatible and had a deep rapport. When Helen died a part of him also died. When the Dell closed, another big part of John's life was gone. I think we see in the Ettlines the kind of faithful devotion that is uncommon today. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your time and your friendship with me today, dear friend Katia, and have a delightful honeymoon!

  12. A lovely and heartfelt post, Shady. Thought I would check in on the blog and I'm glad I did.
    Rick Lil D Dillman

    1. Thank you, Ricko. I hope you enjoyed seeing these rare pictures of John and Helen and reading these testimonials sent in by original members of the rat pack. Take care, my friend!


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