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

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Remembering Helen



The following song, performed by the late
Natalie Cole and her father Nat, reminds
me of a very special person, the first lady
of the Shady Dell...Helen Ettline.

Unforgettable, Helen.

That's what you are!
We love you and miss you.


  1. This is a lovely tribute to Helen-- particularly poignant this year in the wake of Natalie Cole's recent death.

    Thank you, Shady!

    1. Thank you, Kathryn!

      It is shocking to know that Helen has been gone 32 years now. It seems like only yesterday when I returned to the Dell for one last visit before moving to Florida. It was late March 1984. I entered the snack bar expecting to encounter Helen's smiling face. Instead I was greeted by a solemn John who broke the news that Helen had passed away a few weeks earlier.

      I have been using this "Unforgettable" song and video for years to mark the anniversary of Helen's death. This year we are also remembering the unforgettable talent of Nat and Natalie Cole.

      Thanks again, dear Kathryn!

  2. She will be remembered well by you and many others.

    1. Thanks, Alex!

      It's good to have you in my circle this year as I mark the birth and death dates of John and Helen Ettline. As it turned out, all four of those dates fall within the first two-and-a-half months of the year.

      Thanks again, good buddy!

  3. Dear Shady,
    It's so nice that you keep Helen (& John) fresh in our memories with these annual tributes. God Bless them. It's so unfortunate that we have to add Natalie Cole to this list, too! All three are "unforgettable"!

    1. Hi, Toni!

      That is very nicely put, dear friend, and greatly appreciated. Memories of Helen's smile, her voice and her quiet demeanor, are all still fresh in my mind, even though it has been nearly 45 years since I last saw her. She and John are truly unforgettable.

      Thank you again for paying your respects to Helen today, dear friend Toni!

    2. Ah, thanks for the treat of that timeless song, dear Shady!
      As artists, Nat and his daughter Natalie have always rated high on my list of favorites; especially that song! If I'm not mistaken, the song was a mix of each of their renditions because Nat had already passed (?)
      I do believe Natalie deserved much more of a send-off upon her passing.
      I can see why you choose this as tribute to Helen and John; how wonderful to have known them long enough to have made such lasting memories:-) I think of my grandma every time I hear 'Moon River'.

    3. Hi, dear Diedre!

      Thank you very much for joining me in remembering Dell owner Helen Ettline as well as Nat and Natalie Cole. Yessum, Nat died way back in the mid 60s and was only age 45 at the time of his passing. Natalie, who was born two months after Shady, lived 20 years longer than her dad, but 65 is still too young to leave this world. She released her version of "Unforgettable," a virtual duet with her father, in 1991.

      "Moon River" brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Jerry Butler's version is my favorite. I'm happy to know it is a powerful anchor song for you, bringing back memories of your grandma.

      Thank you again for helping me pay tribute to Helen this year, dear friend Diedre. Enjoy the rest of your week and weekend!

  4. This was a very nice tribute to her!

    And I want you to know, that you are unforgettable. Don't want to wait until you're gone to tell you! Have a wonderful week, dear friend!

    1. Hi, dear Sherry!

      Thank you very much for being on hand this year as I pay tribute to Helen Ettline, the first lady of the Shady.

      Dear Sherry, what a super nice thing to say (write)! I am very touched by your message and will remember it always. I feel the same about you, kiddo!

      That's why, my friend, it's incredible
      That someone so unforgettable
      Thinks that I am
      Unforgettable, too.

      Thanks again for your visit and kind comment, dear friend Sherry!

  5. Replies
    1. Hi, Chris!

      Thanks for coming by. That's right, good buddy. You were here with us in January when we paid our respects to John. Now it's time to remember Helen. I wish you would have known her.

      Thanks again, Chris. I'll see you tomorrow!

  6. this is a beautiful tribute with this special song. It is amazing how one person or a select few can change our life so dramatically. She was too young, in my book, to pass. I take it that the older couple wee her parents or in-laws. I am certain she is smiling down and thankful for your memories of her. we now get to know more about her.

    1. Hi, dear Birgit!

      Thank you very much for dropping by to help me pay tribute to Dell owner Helen Ettline on the 32nd anniversary of her death. For the last few years I have been using the song "Unforgettable" to honor Helen. This year, with the passing of Natalie Cole, it takes on even greater meaning.

      The other two folks on the tombstone? I am not completely sure, Birgit, but I think they are probably Helen's mother and father. John had a brother named Paul, but Paul was the youngest of the Ettline brothers and the birth and death dates on the grave don't match.

      Thank you again for being here for Helen and for me, dear friend BB! I also thank you for the follow-up comment you left on the previous post. I'm glad I found it! Enjoy the rest of your week and weekend!

  7. People who are kind and loving, like Helen, are indeed unforgettable. It is wonderful she loved so many young people and the love was returned. I wish I had known an adult like her when I was young.

    1. Hi, dear Belle!

      Thank you very much for coming down this evening. I hope all is well with you, dear friend.

      You have been with me longer than any other regularly commenting blog friend. I'm sure you remember watching this same Natalie Cole video year after year. At times I have considered selecting a different song for this annual post but none seems as perfect, especially this year when we are also remembering Natalie Cole.

      I have often stated that you would have made a great Dellette, Belle. I can picture you hanging out in the snack bar chatting with Helen. I know the two of you would have become friends and that she would have had a positive influence on you as she did me. I still miss her and think about her all year long.

      Thank you again for helping me mark this occasion again this year, dear friend Belle. Take good care of yourself and come back and see me again soon!

  8. How wonderful of you to remember Helen in such a sweet way.

    cheers, parsnip

    1. Hi, Gayle!

      I am pleased to have you on hand this year as we proceed through the first 11 weeks and observe the birth and death dates of Shady Dell owners John and Helen Ettline. As long as I keep this blog going I will continue to honor the Ettlines on their special dates along with Mother's Day and Father's Day. I will also be including tidbits and trivia about them as we go along so please stay with me.

      Thank you again for your visit and comment and have a wonderful weekend, dear friend Gayle!

  9. Absolutely beautiful tribute, dear friend. I hope all is well otherwise.

    1. Hi, Jessica!

      Thank you for coming, dear friend! You are the 7th new blog friend to comment on this post, meaning that at least 7 of my current readers were not here at SDMM a year ago when I began the yearly cycle of announcing birth and death dates of the Ettlines. Posts like this one allow me to share pictures and memories of the Ettlines and convey little known facts about them.

      Thank you again for your visit and comment, Jessica Marie, and have a nice weekend!

  10. Beautiful song and tribute Shady. I know how much you loved her and John. They are smiling at the song I'm sure! February holds many memories of family members who have passed. My Dad
    s birthday was Feb. 18. Jack's parents passed in Feb..2000 for his Mom..2001 for his Dad. My nephew who passed away would have be 31 this Feb...Thankfully we have many good memories of our loved ones to keep a smile on our faces when we think of them and a song in our heart when we want to honor them. I hope your weekend is a good one down where it's warmer than Ohio! (atleast today anyway!)

    1. Hi, dear YaYa!

      Thank you very much for attending this year's tribute to Helen Ettline as we mark 32 years since her death in 1984. You have been with me for eons and have seen this post over and over again. I will continue to remember and salute Helen and John the rest of my life.

      February is also a month of sad memories for me. Along with Helen, who was like a mother or grandmother to me, my mother died 21 years ago on Feb. 16, 1995. I miss her every day.

      We are getting a refreshing extension of winter down here. Thanks for sending us some cool air. We'll take all you have to give. :)

      I can't wait to read your "Oh To Be 14, Pt. 2" post which should be showing up on your blog any day now. :)

      Thank you again for your faithful friendship all these years, dear friend YaYa, and for showing up today for Helen Ettline.

      God bless!

  11. Nice tribute. 1984 seems so far away to me now.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    1. Hi, Lee!

      You said it! Think how different the world was in 1984. Have we moved closer to the Orwellian condition described in that antiutopian novel?

      Thank you very much for being here for Helen today, good buddy!

  12. Lovely tribute, Shady. How sad that we also lost Natalie Cole. Both gone, much too young.

    1. Hi, Debbie the Doglady!

      Thank you for coming down and helping me observe the anniversary of Helen's death. Yessum, Helen had just turned age 73 when she died. Natalie Cole was only 65 and father Nat only 45! "It seems the good they die young."

      Thank you again for your visit and kind comment, dear friend Debbie. I hope you are in good spirits and better health today.

      Bless you!

  13. Kathleen Mae SchneiderFebruary 29, 2016 at 2:59 AM

    Whenever I learn about the lasting influences that people such as Helen Ettline continue to have on you, I'm reminded of Chaos Theory and the Butterfly Effect.

    Although I'm very familiar with decidedly less scientific chaos in my own life, I'm not into these quantum physics terms because I can't wrap my mind around algorithms that involve the flapping of a butterfly's wings contributing to a tornado on the other side of the planet.

    What I CAN understand though, is that very small events, chance circumstances and role models in our lives can cause very big results somewhere down the road.

    I was trained, and made a career as a teacher. However, I've been incredibly blessed to have learned so much from others who never would have considered themselves educators. They had huge, huge influences on who I am and how my life turned turned out. With no classrooms or texts - they taught by the way they lived.

    Their examples continue to shape me and others, and therefore the world. As I reflect on what makes someone unforgettable, I remember what Maya Angelou said: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

    This can be taken in a cautionary sense, in that there are both positive and negative influences to be projected. Then too, in some situations words and actions are equally important. However, it sounds like Helen and John Ettline's humble and most treasured memory-maker was that they made people feel special and accepted. They taught how actions contribute to self-respect, and kindness is the best currency in life. What a gift that was to all the young visitors they welcomed to the Shady Dell!

    It's obvious you are one of their star pupils, Tom! Thank you for giving them the credit and honor they deserved. By doing so, you help to extend their "butterfly effect" on the world.

    1. Hi, dear Kathleen!

      Thank you for this wonderful and very kind comment, dear friend, and for all the words of wisdom that you shared.

      Another reader asked if John and Helen ever danced at the Dell. I told them that I never saw them dance. I think the Ettlines knew better than to inject themselves into the mix down at the dance hall. The dance hall was the domain of the young. Within its walls we were allowed to interact with each other w/o adult supervision. "The psychodramas and the traumas" unfolded almost on a nightly basis, but we policed ourselves and dealt with them. Helen almost never showed her face in the dance hall and John only entered a few times a night to throw logs on the fire or fix a problem with the jukebox. He did not linger. He made himself scarce and returned to the snack bar or did various chores around the property. By keeping a low profile, maintaining a hands off approach and staying out of the way, the Ettlines actually grew in stature in the eyes of their young patrons. We appreciated and idolized them. We thanked them for giving us space and allowing us to learn how to deal with different kinds of people and cope with different situations on our own.

      The Ettlines led by example and I am happily under their influence every day of my life.

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with me this morning, dear friend Kathleen!

  14. Great song choice. A great tribute to a dearly departed.

    1. Thanks, Jeffrey!

      It's kind of you to take a look at posts you have missed in recent weeks.

      Thanks for being a great friend!

    2. I was so sick for awhile, I hate when I miss posts. I do like to go back and see what I missed, and I needed to comment on this one since it's a post dear to your heart.

    3. That is greatly appreciated, Jeffrey. You are what I call a "full service friend" and I am going to point that out in my MWA acceptance speech this Friday. I hope you can be here!

  15. Wonderful song, wonderful tribute. It is so visible the love and respect you have for the Ettline's.
    February 25 , 199- I had my first huge loss when my grandpa ( Poppy) took his last breath on that day. We were so so close and I will never forget that day and time.

    1. You are very sweet, dear Holli. I hope I can find all of your kind comments. You are a great friend for devoting so much time to catching up on my posts.

      I can tell that you miss your dear Poppy. Memories of the day you lost him are burned into your memory. My mother died Feb. 16th, 1995. I vividly recall that awful day and miss her still.

      Thank you again, dear friend Holli!


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