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

Monday, January 9, 2017

Happy Birthday, Helen!

This is a very special occasion.

 Helen Trostle Ettline 

was born 106 years ago

on January 9, 1911.

 Things to know and 

 remember about Helen: 

* Helen loved horses and was a skilled rider.

* Helen married John in Texas prior
to his joining the U.S. Army and
serving in WWII.

* Helen was patient and tolerant.

* Helen was a great listener.

* Helen was a warm, gracious hostess.

* Helen always had a twinkle in
her eye and a winning smile.

Every evening while Helen worked behind
the counter of the Shady Dell snack bar
preparing treats to feed the masses she
enjoyed listening to a steady stream
of doo-wop era oldies that
played on the jukebox.

Let's celebrate Helen's birthday by
listening to one of her favorite songs,
the ballad "Two People in the World"
by Little Anthony and the Imperials,
a Dell classic that I affectionately
nicknamed "Helen's Song."


 We love you and miss you! 


  1. The years roll on, don’t they? This is a nice birthday tribute to Helen-- and I remember the Little Anthony song from years past. With oldies like that playing on the jukebox the Dell snack bar must have been a fun place to hang out. Happy birthday, Helen!

    1. Hi, Kathryn!

      Thank you for coming by to wish Helen Ettline, The First Lady of the Shady, a happy 106th birthday even though she is no longer with us. Yessum, the years are whizzing by and numbers like 106 do not compute. I still picture Helen vividly in my mind’s eye as she was in the mid 60s, a woman in her mid 50s. Helen was born a little more than a year before our dear friend Margaret Schneider, “The Oldest Living Dell Rat.” Helen has been gone since 1984 and Margaret lives on.

      Yessum, the Dell’s snack bar had a personality all its own thanks to Helen and the doo-wop oldies that constantly played on her jukebox. The box in the barn contained all the current sounds plus a few evergreen favorites carried over from earlier years. Helen’s jukebox housed the classic 50s oldies including this one, “Helen’s Song,” the one I remember hearing more often than any other.

      Thanks again for helping me remember Helen on her birthday. Have a great week, Kathryn!

  2. Happy Birthday, Helen! She was a remarkable woman loved by many kids from the Shady Dell given your recollections you shared with us. I think it's wonderful that she was kinda like a second mom without the judgement or retribution for many of the fellow Dell Rats to go to when the world was less than happy. While it was good for the kids to have someone like Helen, I can imagine it was a hard line for her to walk without interfering with the parents' teachings and to shoulder the burden when parents thought she crossed that line. I'm sure that wasn't often given the era. People were so much different in those days than they are now. Oh well, here's to Helen, may the angels go all out to make her birthday extraordinary. Have a good day, my friend!

    1. Hi, Cathy!

      Thank you very much for coming over and offering such eloquent birthday greetings for Helen. She was indeed a remarkable woman and I still miss her. Today's world could use a few more people like the Ettlines.

      Some parents around the community subscribed to the rumor mill and believed that the Ettlines and their Shady Dell hangout were a bad influence on teenagers. I think the opposite was true. John and Helen opened their doors and gave young people a place to enjoy themselves and party hearty within reasonable limits. They offered counseling and advice when it was sought. They listened w/o judging. The Dell was a unique experience and I feel lucky to have been at the right place at the right time to reap its benefits.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts this morning, dear friend Cathy!

    2. Tom, given the time frame that the Shady Dell existed parents not only were influenced by rumors but made sure their kids stirred clear of shady (no pun intended) places not that the Shady Dell was a shady place but you get what I'm saying. Parents should want to check out local teen hangouts then and now to make sure it's a safe, reputable place for their children. I believe there's a difference in the way folks counseled then verses now. People of yesteryear listened and gave advice without overstepping their bounds. Today, counselors want to paint the parent as the evil causing a greater rip in a parent/child relationship. I'm glad your experience was good at the Shady Dell and the Ettlines were such remarkable people. They left behind a legacy that they probably had no idea they'd leave when they left this world with the Shady Dell Pack Rats!

    3. Hi again, dear Cathy!

      Good points you make here. Today's society is a lot more complex, and good parenting is a greater challenge than ever before. In some cases, John and Helen Ettline assumed the role of parents and gave respect, advice and encouragement to kids who didn't get those things at home. I doubt the Ettlines had any idea of the extent of their influence and the legacy they would leave behind.

      Thanks again for continuing our thread, dear friend Cathy!

  3. Happy Birthday Helen!! What a mark you made on so many people's lives young and old.
    You're the sweetest thing Mr Shadester to dedicate post to one of your influencers.

    1. Hi, Holli!

      Thank you very much for dropping by on Helen's birthday, dear friend!

      Yessum, Helen made a mark on the lives of the young and old, including my life when I was young and now when I am old. For as long as my SDMM blog continues to run I will pay tribute to Helen and John on their special dates.

      Thank you very much for the visit and for your extra kind words, dear friend Holli, and have a wonderful week ahead!

  4. Happy Birthday Helen!! As a former bar owner, I celebrate your dedication to your patrons. You sure made an impact on the lives of many!
    Such a nice tribute Shady. You sure have brought her to life for the rest of us who never had a chance to know her.

    Happy Monday!

    Michele at Angels Bark

    1. Hi, Michele!

      Thank you very much for coming by on Helen's 106th birthday. It is my pleasure to help you get to know Helen and John through posts like this one and enable you to understand how much they meant to me in my life. I will continue to honor both Helen and John for as long as I keep publishing SDMM.

      Thank you again for your visit and kind words, dear friend Michele!

  5. Happy birthday, Helen! You touched many, many lives.

    1. Hi, Alex!

      Nicely put, good buddy! Thanks for participating in this year's b-day salute to Helen Ettline. Have a great week!

  6. Helen sounds like she was a great gal! This was a very nice tribute to her. Happy Birthday, Helen!

    1. Hi, Sherry!

      Thank you very much for joining me for my annual salute to Helen on her birthday. I can't wrap my mind around that 106 figure because she was younger than I am now when I knew her.

      Thanks again, Sherry, and have a great week!

  7. Bless your heart, Shady. Always a lovely tribute for Ms. Helen. She'll forever remain in the many hearts she touched and they will forever be better for it ;-) I can just see her there behind the counter, humming or singing along to the tunes of the times of the kids she so adored. Nice!

    1. Hi, diedre! (I remembered :)

      Thank you very much for helping me pay tribute to Helen on her birthday again this year. You have been with me long enough to remember last year's b-day salute. You might also recall that the first few months of the calendar are busy ones because they include the birth and death dates of both Ettlines along with the birthday of Margaret Schneider, "The World's Oldest Living Dell Rat," who is approaching her 105th birthday in April.

      The mental image you formed of Helen presiding over the snack bar is accurate, dear friend. She was a sweet, warm person and she loved her doo-wop oldies. I miss her to this day.

      Thank you again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, dear diedre. Have a super week!

  8. Happy birthday, Helen! What a wonderful woman! Wish there were more people like her today.

    1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

      How are you, dear friend? Thanks for coming!

      I agree. The world could use more like Helen Ettline and her husband John. Thanks you for offering birthday wishes to Helen on what would have been her 106th.

      Have a great week ahead, dear friend JM!

  9. She loved some great music. I'll bet her snacks were the best. The thing that's wrong in this universe is that we lose such precious people. Happy Birthday, Helen. I hope you're humming and keeping time to the song.

    1. Hi, Cheryl Lee!

      Thank you very much for swinging over for Helen Ettline's 106th birthday celebration. I wish the guest of honor could be here so that you could meet her.

      Yessum, Helen loved classic 50s doo-wop sounds and she made great subs, burgers, cherry cokes and soda fountain confections. She was sweet, soft spoken and a great listener. I miss the First Lady of the Shady.

      Thanks again for your kind visit and comment, dear friend C-Lee!

  10. Happy birthday, Helen and thanx 4 mentioning her, friend Shady ... not the same, but I had an adopted grandmother like that once ... her name was Sophie and she was always there 4 me when we travelled through her town ... Love, cat.

    1. Hi, cat!

      Thank you very much for coming down to see my birthday tribute to Helen Ettline, a wonderful lady who influenced and inspired me. Your Sophie sounds like a wonderful lady, too, and I thank you for sharing your mewsings (correct kitty spelling :) about her.

      It's hard to fathom, but Helen was 10 years younger than I am now when I hung out at the Dell. Even so, I have not aged mentally or matured one bit since then. :)

      Thank you again for helping me remember Helen on her special day. Have a fabulous week, dear friend cat!

  11. Isn't it a wonderful life when one lady has touched the hearts of many and you show it here on your blog. She may not have known how much she did while here on this earth but she knows now and I bet she has her wings and didn't need to earn them as she earned while still here with you and everyone else at the Dell. It is very sweet and very special to give her tribute here and letting us know just a little bit, how great her beauty is.

    1. Hi, Birgit!

      Thank you very much for coming down and expressing yourself so eloquently on this special occasion, the 106th anniversary of the birth of the Shady Dell's First Lady, Helen Ettline. I appreciate your words and I am sure Helen got the message, too. I think we all dream of being fondly remembered long after our passing. I intend to make sure that Helen and John are remembered for many years to come.

      Thank you again for this wonderful comment, dear friend BB, and enjoy the rest of your week!

  12. Happy Birthday to your friend Helen. She sounds wonderful and much needed in today's world.

    cheers, parsnip

    1. Hi, Gayle!

      Thank you very much for dropping in to help me mark the 106th birthday of Helen Ettline, one half of the mom and pop team that operated the Shady Dell hangout I attended as a teenager.

      I often wonder how Helen and John would react to the world as we know it today, a world far more complex than it was in the 60s. I am sure they would have sound advice for young people, same as they always did.

      Thanks again for your visit and comment, dear friend Gayle, and happy birthday to you, too!

  13. Gosh, 106 years! I still love seeing the photos of the Dell...what a cool place! And, it's so good that you have photos of Helen and John, to keep this great piece of history alive. I probably would have begged Helen for a job. I always liked the idea of working behind a counter serving cokes, and fries, lol! I did get my chance as a teen.

    A very nice tribute Shady. I love Little Anthony and The Imperials. He has such a nice voice. And, you know, Helen and John had to love the music, or they wouldn't have been able to do this! Take care, my friend! Happy Birthday, Helen! ♫

    1. Hi, Suzanne!

      Thanks so much for coming to the birthday party in honor of Helen Ettline, second mother/grandmother to many a Dell rat including me, at our home away from home, the Shady Dell.

      That grainy pic of Helen and John was copied from a newspaper article. One of my greatest regrets about this blog is not having enough good pictures of the Ettlines and the Dell as they looked way back when.

      I remember one or two young women working as waitresses at the Dell the very first year I was there, 1965-66, when it still had the restaurant booths and served a more extensive menu. I'm pretty sure one of the girls was related to the Ettlines somehow. Shortly thereafter, they scaled back the menu and from then on served only snack bar foods and Helen worked behind the counter alone. The diner booths were removed and a fooseball table installed in that room. It wasn't the same Dell after that, but the barn annex dance hall remained much the same at least until I stopped going in 1971.

      I'm pleased that you like this number by The Imperials, "Two People in the World" aka "Helen's Song," the killer bee side of their big hit single "Tears On My Pillow."

      Thank you again for coming by, dear friend Suzanne. I hope your week is off to a fabulous start. See you soon!

  14. Happy Birthday in Heaven dear Helen! I certainly would have loved to have met her. I'm in awe of people who can not only relate to kids but to also have such an influence over them that they are remembered so fondly many, many years after they are gone. It's especially interesting because the Ettlines had no children of their own yet they operated a safe haven for young people to dance, eat, learn how to be cool (right Shady?) and be counselors when a listening ear was needed. You were lucky to have the Shady Dell when you were young. I bet every time this song is played Helen's smiling down on you!

    1. Hi, YaYa!

      Thank you ever so much for attending Helen's birthday party again this year. My goodness, by this time you have been following SDMM so long and have joined me for so many of these celebrations that you can recite the principal points about the Dell and the Ettlines as well as I can. It actually brought tears to my eyes to read those words knowing they came from your fingertips and your heart.

      Thank you again for your kindness, dear friend YaYa! Enjoy the rest of your week and I will see you soon!


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