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, March 20, 2013

"Dear Shady," - Rats Greg & Jerre Send Letters to the Editor & Tell it Like it Was


 John and Helen Ettline 







Dell Rat Greg Gulden responded to the anecdote
recalling my final visit to the Dell in August 1988.
In that story I explained that I drove up the hill
with every intention of going in to see John as I had
done four years earlier. Instead, I remained seated in
my car in the parking lot, unable to face the drastic
changes I was sure to encounter on the inside.

 GREG GULDEN:  Thanks for 
 getting it right. During the 60's 
 the Dell was all about the music. 
 Reading your Blog takes me 
 back to the best days of my life. 
 I loved John and Helen as much 
 as you could love two people. 
 You did the right thing on your 
 last visit to the Dell. I went one 
 evening just before the Dell 
 closed. It was one of the most 
 heart breaking times of my life. What all I saw that night 
 I will not tell. I went there to see John but all I found was 
 the shell of the man I loved so much. I must stop for now, 
 I can't see for the tears.  A DELL RAT ALL WAYS - GREG 

Greg, I thank you very much for sharing this. It's good to know you understand my reluctance to see John and the Dell so close to the end. I think such a meeting would have been awkward for John and for me. As for the music played at the Dell, every generation believes their stuff was the best and yet... when you compare what we experienced with that of any other generation... Well, you know what I'm saying. I feel very lucky to have been a part of the Dell scene during its golden era in the mid 60s and I wouldn't trade places with anybody. Thank you very much for writing in, Greg, and for helping us keep the spirit and the memory of the Dell alive!

Next, let's hear from our old friend, Dell Rat Jerre.
Jerre Slaybaugh, a 1961 graduate of York High,
started going to the Dell in 1959 and was a Dell
regular from '61 to '65. Jerre wrote in and named a
few of the records featured here on the blog that
are among his all time favorites.

 DELL RAT JERRE: 'I Love You' by 
 the Volumes (Very big at Haar's 
 Roller Rink). 'Need Your Lovin' by 
 Don and Dee Dee (I can't believe 
 you had this one.  I dug out my 
 old 45 just to listen to the 
 scratches.) 'Village Of Love' by 
 Nathaniel Mayer (I recall this as  
 a big hit at Zimmy's swim club). 

Aaaaaah yes, Zimmy's pool,
located a few miles south
of York in the village of Spry.
I went there for years, Jerre.

A strange thing happened to me at Zimmy's around age 11.

I outgrew my goggles, fins, snorkel, ear plugs,
nose plugs and Dimples the Dragon, my
bright green inflatable plastic pool toy.
(He was my very bestest friend!)

Okay...I admit that I still sleep with Dimples every night!

That year, in the summer of 1961, I went from
cowboys to girls. I gave up the trappings of
boyhood and started spending most of my time
at Zimmy's watching pairs of bikini clad lovelies
jitterbugging to jukebox tunes on that canopied
outdoor dance floor. I'll have you know that on
more than one occasion I forgot to go swimming!

Enough about me. Let's get back to Jerre who also
has memories to share about John, Helen and the Dell.

 DELL RAT JERRE:  Before 1961 
 I was at York High with no car 
 and only allowed out on week- 
 ends and yes, my parents were 
 originally very anti-Dell. I only 
 got to the Dell with older friends 
 that had a car and then only 
 before my 11:00 curfew. After 
 many discussions, eventually my 
 parents started to believe me 
 when I told them that John and 
 Helen were good people and 
 tried to keep out trouble makers. After 1961 many very 
 late nights (actually very early mornings) were spent at 
 the Dell. 

I asked Jerre to describe how the kids dressed at the
Dell in the late 50s and early 60s. According to Jerre,
the list of clothing essentials for the well dressed rat
started with a genuine Baracuta jacket from Lehmeyer's.

I had at least five Baracutas over the 
 years: tan, blue and the longer style. 

 And yes Jack Purcells were big. Other items that were must 

 haves were Weejun penny loafers. (No socks allowed.). 

 Khaki pants with the penny loafers and no socks was in. 
 Shorts were not as popular for the guys as they are now. 
 Another must item for the winter to replace the Barracuta 
 was a jacket that could only be purchased at the Army -  
 Navy store across the corner from the Hub on George St. 
 I believe it was Navy surplus. The jacket was an olive 
 green canvas type with fuzzy collar. They were extremely 
 'in' with the guys. It was also 'cool' to wear V neck 
 sweaters without a shirt under it. As I recall blue jeans 
 were not the fashion statement at that time. 

I asked Jerre to address the subject
of the Dell’s perennial bad reputation.

 DELL RAT JERRE: Most of the regulars, people that John 
 would wave in free from his booth, were not trouble makers 
 and were just looking for a place to hang out with their 
 friends and meet girls or guys. 

 Yes, fights happened, but mostly in the parking lot along 
 with the drinking. I actually think there was more drinking 
 done in the parking lot in my early years and the police 
 patrols sort of ended that. It was not a rarity for the 
 police to cruise the parking lot. I often felt bad for John 
 as I felt he did the best he could to keep it a clean, safe 
 place for the kids. I would like to think that the majority 
 of the trouble was caused by the outsiders and not the 
 regulars. Most of the people just wanted a place to go 
 and be with other people, especially after other places 
 were closed. 

 When White Oaks was open everyone started the evening 

 at the Oaks and those without a curfew ended the night 
 at the Dell after the Oaks closed. It was always the place 
 to go late in the evening after other activities. 

Jerre, as always I thank you very much for
writing in and sharing your recollections of the
people, the places and the times of your life!

My friends, I thank each and every one of you for your
comments. You are all valued members of the Rat Patrol!
By contributing to the dialogue here on Shady Dell Music
& Memories you are helping to provide missing pieces of
the puzzle. You are keeping memories of John, Helen and
the Dell alive and we are all having fun reminiscing.
Thank you once again for your participation!

Have a Shady day!


  1. What loving, rich memories of the Dell! I could picture it so clearly in my mind. I have to admit, though, that Greg's description of a later visit was truly heartbreaking, and if it was that for me, who's never been there in real life, I can only imagine what it does to those of you who were actually such a vibrant part of it.

    Thank you for sharing these today, my friend, and I hope the first day of spring is a spectacular one for you, Mrs. Shady, and Toto!

    1. Hi, Shelly! It might seem cowardly of me to avoid going inside the Dell in 1988, but I can't help believing that John would have felt embarrassed for me to see what had become of him and the place he and I loved so much and remembered so fondly. It was enough of a jolt in 1984 for me to see the radical changes there. I am very protective of my memories. I have found that memories can be permanently tarnished and corrupted when you try to go back and revisit a favorite place from your youth. It's just not the same.

      Thank you very much for the spring wishes, dear friend Shelly, and same to you!

  2. *sigh* Once again, I feel like I've been to the Dell. I feel sad after reading about how things ended there but I'm thankful to you and Jerre for sharing your memories.

    I laughed out loud when I read your account of Zimmy's pool and Dimples. I also enjoyed seeing the photos of of what was in fashion at that time. It's funny how times change, and often styles of dress seem to recycle over time.

    Thank you for allowing me to be part of the Rat Patrol, Shady! You and the rest of the Dell Rats are doing a wonderful job of keeping the spirit of King John and Queen Helen alive. Have a shady day! ;)

    1. Hi, Jenn June! I'm glad I gave you a chuckle with my Dimples story. (He says "hello" by the way.) Those genuine English Harrington-style Baracuta jackets are still being manufactured and still popular with old and young alike. Converse still makes Jack Purcell sneakers, too. I still have my original pair of "Jacks" along with my two original Baracutas, one "natural" color and the other navy blue. You will always be a valued member of the Rat Patrol, Jenn June, with a rank of Dellette First Class! Have a splendid day, dear friend!

  3. Hi, Shady! I enjoy hearing the old dell stories , too! When I hit the town, which is not too often, I seem to bump into old dell rats, who want to share their stories. I usually bring up the conversation and then that's all it takes, there's usually a story someone wants to tell. Just last weekend, I met a man in his 70's explaining that if a fight would break out inside the dell, John would bring the 2 outside, left of the parking lot (in the old horse ring area) , put boxing gloves on them and let them duke it out that way. There's also a woman who works at a local store in York, when I see her, tears (of joy and sorrow) come to her eyes of her memories of her dell yrs and the demolition of the dell. Dell rats are everywhere!!! I sure wish more would come out and write more of the dell memories on the SDM&M blog!!!

    1. Hi, dear Toni! I remember one fight at the Dell that started in the barn/dance hall a couple feet from where I was standing. I got knocked off balance by the pushing and shoving that ensued. Within seconds the whole place emptied out and the two principals led the rest of the pack to the parking lot. I don't remember boxing gloves but the two young men duked it out while the others watched. It was soon over and everybody filed back inside to resume dancing. I am a peace loving individual as was John Ettline; but if you think about it, settling a dispute the Dell rat way was far more civilized than that which we encounter in today's world. In other words, Dell rats didn't rely on weapons of mass destruction to even the score. Thank you very much for reading and commenting, dear friend Toni, and please keep beating the bushes for more rats and their tails (tales).

  4. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMarch 20, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    This post brings back a lot of memories, especially about growing up in York County in the 50s and 60s. I too had an inflatable plastic pool toy I loved that Mother got by saving labels. It's name was "Luna the Starkist Tuna". I guess that was before Charlie took over! Wait, I think he's gone too!

    It's really painful to see the places, things and people we love decline and eventually disappear. Those of us who saw the Dell property in transition certainly had broken hearts seeing the barn and dance hall reduced to rubble. Then just when I drove into York yesterday, I saw the old Avalong's dairy barn is being demolished. The dairy's drive-in and restaurant were favorite places to go after bowling or movies. Another piece of York history gone!

    We have our memories and thankfully, SDM&M to help us. Thanks!

    P.S. I wonder how Mrs. Shady feels about "Dimples"...

    1. Hi, Kathleen! Mrs. Shady doesn't know about Dimples. Mum's the word! I'm not ashamed to admit that I also hug a plush stuffed animal while I sleep. I pity the fool who tries to pry Miss Piggy from my arms! :) I don't remember Luna the Starkist Tuna and now you're telling me the Charlie ad campaign has also been retired? Sorry, Charlie! That's alright. I am greatly influenced by advertising. Years later it leaves an In-Dell-ible mark on me. For example, I still obediently refrain from squeezing the Charmin'.

      I hadn't heard the news about Avalong's. Makes me sad because it was another favorite haunt of mine. It was part of the East York circuit that included Gino's 15 cent hamburgers.

      Thank you very much for your visit and kind comments, dear friend Kathleen. Enjoy the rest of your week!

  5. I'm sorry that things went downhill in later years for the Shady Dell. I would suppose hard drugs were to blame, plus a lack of discipline at home. I'm sorry John had to go through that.

    The clothes you guys wore were quite snappy! I think it is quite cool you still have your jackets. Love the "no socks" rule. Hugs to all Dell Rats.

    1. Hugs to you, dear Belle! Yes, those of us who knew and loved John Ettline feel very sad knowing he had to endure disrespectful youth and years of loneliness without Helen before he finally decided to close the Dell's doors for good. As you know the elderly are not revered in Western culture the way they are in Eastern countries. I am confident that my generation would have treated John and Helen like the treasures they were even if they had been 20 years older when we went there.

      I'm glad you enjoyed Jerre's list of clothing that was regarded as Dell rat chic. I remember wearing my Jacks w/o socks on many occasions. In the summer, many rats danced barefoot indoors and out on the patio where John rigged remote speakers. Thank you very much for coming to see me, dear friend Belle. Have a terrific afternoon and evening!

  6. Hi Shady and guys! I remember the weejun loafers that were popular, 'no socks' for sure! And, the v-neck sweaters with no shirt...some guys did wear a white t-shirt under them. The burgundy colored and yellow sweaters were the most popular.

    As for coats, the trenchcoat, tan or black, won out (especially with the 'hoodish' guys)!

    Well, I'm sorry the goodbyes couldn't have been more pleasant. John was sad enough, I suppose, and, you guys saw the changes which brought a new reality to light! Now see, you've got me feeling it too! I couldn't have gone back-not even to the parking lot! If you were able to go in, you know his heart was glad to see you. Thank you for including us, your readers, as members of the Dell Rat Patrol! I'm glad I came by-and HEY! Most of us didn't have teen clubs that stayed open after hours!!! "THE ORIGINAL DELL RATS RULED!"

    See you soon Shady!♫

    1. Hi, Suzanne! At times during my youth I tried to dress and act "hoodish" but I don't think I pulled it off very well. (LOL)

      You made a good point there. The Dell never really closed until the day it went out of business. As long as patrons remained on the Ettline property, John stayed awake and let the kids entertain themselves, even if the crack of dawn was approaching. I remember being the last person to leave the Dell one night. I felt like king of the hill! No wonder I described the Shady Dell as a candyland for teenagers! It was a unique experience and one that made a lasting impression on thousands of kids.

      Thank you very much for coming to see ole Shady, dear friend. I hope Karo's back to 100% and that you and Scootie are doing fine, too!

  7. Cherished memories are always a little bittersweet, aren't they? They bring a smile to our faces, yet it's a little sad that we can't go back to that certain place or time. These memories that are recorded here are precious things, and great fun for those of us on the outside to read about and imagine that time you all have such fond memories of.

    1. Hi, karen! Yes, indeed. Thousands of kids just like me have precious memories of the people, the place and the time of our lives. If you read Kathleen's comment, you saw that another popular York gathering spot for teenagers during the 60s is also being dismantled. One by one, the landmarks that were "old York" are tumbling down, victims of the wrecking ball, all in the name of progress. I guess that's why I am so passionate about keeping the memories of my favorite hangout alive. Thank you for coming, dear friend karen, and enjoy the rest of your week!

  8. Great memories of Avalongs and Ginos. A dollar could fill up both me and my friend and I'm a big eater. Now you went and made me hungry for Macks ice cream and I will need to make a short trip south with the dry ice.


    1. Hi, Jerre! Yessir, your fast food dollar went a long way back then. On a typical evening at Gino's I used to order two Giants, large fries, onion rings, an apple pie and a shake - and that was only a couple of hours after eating dinner! I stayed slim as a rail, too. Just now I gained 5 pounds by merely thinking about all that grub! Remember the bobcat they kept at Zimmy's? Yeah, I lost interest in that, too, when I discovered what was happening over by the jukebox! Thanks so much for dropping by, good buddy, and come back soon!

  9. Hi Y'All! Great to read all those memories today from the Dell Rats.I'm glad to see that you're in top form dear friend, with tales of Dimples and Miss Piggy!! I expect Mrs Shady has got Kermie to snuggle into!! It's always so sad to see a place go downhill, after all the wonderful memories you had of that special place in your heart. You so did the right thing Tom, in not going inside that night and, yes, I think you're right - John probably WOULD have been embarrassed. Much better for you to hold onto your special memories. I'm so late I know - I do apologize! Make sure you come over to my place on Sunday, when I have a very special guest blogger to help celebrate my 500th post (and,NO! I'm afraid it's not Alfred!). Smooches.

    1. Ha! Alfred is the first "person" I thought of when you announced your guest blogger, dear Thisisme. Who could it be? Ruby Violet maybe? Our old friend Desiree? Barack Obama? (LOL) Yessum, I will be there Sunday with knobs on, as they say in merry old England.

      I want to salute you for being a superb blog friend, dear Thisisme. It makes me so happy to know that you read not only the text of my post but the comments and my replies as well. That means a lot to me! :) :) :) I hope you are feeling well and I look forward to seeing you Sunday. Let me be the first (hopefully) to congratulate you on your 500th post. Mine is coming up around Christmas this year. SMOOCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Hi Shady! This is my first visit to your blog and I am fascinated by the stories of the Shady Dell. It sounds like a place my brothers would have loved during the 60's. I think it's wonderful that you have kept this in your heart and have shared the memories here. The final closing and an end to the era of the Dell is a sad one. I agree that keeping the best parts alive is much better than a sad farewell. Thanks for sharing this and letting me visit!

    1. Hi, yaya! My goodness, I feel like I know you because I've read your comments on karen's blog and the blogs of two or three other mutual friends. I am delighted to have you over and you are definitely welcome back any time. What you'll find here at SDM&M is a blend of stories and articles, drama and pathos, smiles and laughs, great music from the past five decades and, best of all, genuine friendship. Every time you are kind enough to visit me here you will receive a personalized reply. That's my policy. It was Dell owner John Ettline's philosophy, too. To John every visitor was special and important and I intend to uphold that tradition. Thank you very much for coming to see me, dear friend yaya. My next post is Tuesday and I hope to see you then!

  11. what a wonderful collection of memories today. Thank you for sharing my sweet friend. Sending big hugs and happy weekend wishes your way xo

    1. Big hugs to you and Izzy, dear friend Katie! I hope spring has sprung in your region or at least is in the process of springing. Thank you very much for stopping by, Katie, and have a great weekend!

  12. Hi Tom,
    A lovely post...I am always surprised with how you are able to keep all things Shady Dell fresh! I had postponed reading this post so I could listen to your tune selections without waking my sleeping husband. i usually am able to squeeze my blog reading in late night. This morning I made time so I could crank up the volume and lo and behold it's 'Memories'! I so enjoyed hearing more stories about the Dell and how MUCH Helen and John really truly played important influences on so many. If only the world had more people like that today, perhaps our young ones would feel better and more secure in at least one corner of their world.

    Thanks again for a lovely post, and a great surprise.

    1. Hi, Sushie! I am pleasantly surprised to see you, dear friend! I often wonder what Helen and John would think of today's youth and the "new normal" that is our modern post-911 world. The Ettlines were already a vanishing breed when I first met them. They took in runaway girls and pregnant and battered women, gave them a place to stay, fed them and protected them from abusive spouses and boyfriends. They gave money to people who were down on their luck or owed gambling debts. John and Helen were hands-on people. They didn't need charitable organizations or government agencies to do what they knew they as citizens could do to help the needy. They stepped up and got involved. They deserve to be remembered and I am proud to do it in posts like this one.

      Dear Sush, I hope you'll be back for my next post on Tuesday. I will be adding music to the memories and the tunes are guaranteed to wake your sleeping husband or double your money back! Have a wonderful weekend, sweet friend!

  13. Tom as all ways you are right again, John and Helen are and all ways will be King and Queen of the Dell. With all the parts of the picture comeing together may be we will some day know why these two people that we love so much spent so many years of there lifes helping teens like we were get headed down the right road. I will all ways remember the Dell as that magical land on the hill with John and Helen as King and Queen.

    1. Hi, Greg! I'm so glad Nancy Rae Sieling donated the picture of John and Helen that I used in this post. This is how we should choose to remember the Dell King and Queen - smiling and healthy and full of life. I'm sorry you had to see John at a time when both he and the Dell were spent and on a sharp decline. Your contributions to this blog have been incalculable, Greg, and they are greatly appreciated. Thank you very much for reporting in, good buddy, and have a safe and happy weekend!

  14. Hi Tom, hope you're well! It's so heartbreaking reading Greg's account of how he felt after his last visit to the Dell. I can understand that you all want to remember the Dell and John and Helen the way they were, happy, full of life and joy and love of music! That's the way they all should be remembered, I'm sure you would agree!

    Emma x

    1. Hi, Emma! I absolutely agree. I am very protective of my memories. They can easily be tarnished and changed forever if you try to go back years later and revisit your youth. Inevitably, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. It's the same reason why I tend to shy away from "oldies but goodies" concerts because they tend to wipe away the original memories and replace them with new and less empowering images. I'm sure you know what I mean. Hey, I wanted to tell you that I finally watched Jackie Brown over the weekend and enjoyed it very much! Have a wonderful week, dear friend Emma!

  15. I love the site you created for my grandpa's brother. The Ettline family needs your help to to preserve history. Join our movement, to Preserve Historic Property in York County and help us Save 3790 East Market Street! Don't allow the Dollar General Store to demolish the former home and business (Antique) of Paul L. Ettline. This is a precious piece of historic property. We need the community to help support us!

    This property (former home of Paul & Dorothy Ettline) belongs on the National Register of Historic Places. Our goal is to get in listed in the registry and do everything possible to ensure that no demolition takes place for a Dollar General Store.

    Please don’t let history repeat itself. We all know what a mistake it was when the historic Avalong Dairy Farm barn was torn down to be replaced by a bank. The Springettsbury Township Historic Preservation Committee learned a hard lesson. Please consider joining our facebook group at: Preserve Historic Property- Save 3790 East Market St.

    The Ettline Family


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