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

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Happy Birthday, Helen!

This is a very special occasion.

 Helen Trostle Ettline 

was born 107 years ago

on January 9, 1911.

Every evening Helen was stationed behind
the counter of the Shady Dell snack bar
preparing treats to feed the masses.

As she worked, a steady stream of 1950s
doo-wop records 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 from the summer of
1958, the one that I have come
to think of as "Helen's Song."


 We love you and miss you! 


  1. Happy birthday to Helen! She was a hard working woman who made a lasting impression on many.

    1. Hi, Alex!

      Thank you for coming by again this year to help me mark Helen Ettline's birthday.

      You got it right, good buddy. Helen worked hard, always wore a smile and had a twinkle in her eye. Helen lent an ear. She was always eager to listen to what young people had to say and find out what was on our minds. She made the best sundaes, subs, French fries and cherry cokes in the lower 48. I will remember Helen always and continue to honor her on my blog.

      Thanks again for coming, Alex!

  2. Happy Birthday, Helen, and, Good Morning, Shady! I'll bet Helen had many snowy Birthdays in her day, and she probably enjoyed everyone of them. She could work, entertain, and not leave home!

    I would have loved to sit at Helen's counter just once and take in the ambience of the Dell, as burgers sizzled, the sound of ice being scooped into coke glasses, and the great music of the day! What a treat that would have been.

    You do Helen a great honor by remembering her on your blog anytime, Shady! I'll bet many of the surviving Dell Rats remember this lady with smile on their hearts!

    I don't remember the Little Anthony song you dedicated, but it is a great one, and Helen is surely smiling as she listens to one of her favorites, played by one of her favorite Dell Rats!

    This is a very nice tribute, Shady, and I commend you for keeping this memorable time and place alive. I hope your move goes with ease. Take care, dear friend. Have a safe and great week! ♫

    1. Hi, Suzanne!

      Thank you very much for coming to Helen's birthday party, dear friend!

      I never gave it much thought, but you are most certainly correct. While Helen was living in Pennsylvania, I am sure she looked out the window and saw snow on many of her birthdays. Keep in mind that Helen and John lived somewhere in Texas before moving to PA and buying the Dell, and so she might not have seen very much snow during that earlier stage of her life. One thing is for sure. As "First Lady of the Shady," Helen didn't need to put chains on her tires and drive to work every day. She and John lived right upstairs.

      Yessum, I wish you could have been there to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the Dell's snack bar. The wall of sound included oldies playing on the jukebox, TV shows broadcast on the old black & white set perched atop the refrigerator, the dinging and popping of a pinball machine, and the din produced by the teenage customers.

      "Two People In The World," a song title that I think should read "Two KINDS OF People In The World," is the killer B side of another doo-wop ballad, the Imperials big 1958 hit "Tears On My Pillow."

      Thank you again for spreading cheer with your visit and wonderful comment, dear friend Suzanne. I wish you a safe and great week as well and I hope to see you again Sunday before I break away from blogging.

      God bless!

  3. I did the math and she would have been in high school in the 1920s, long before the rock and roll era (though the actual music itself may have existed). It's great that unlike others her age, she obviously wasn't prejudiced against it.

    1. Hi, Kirk!

      Thanks for coming over, good buddy. I am delighted to see you!

      You and Suzanne (above) are being quite helpful today. You are both mentioning things about Helen that I never thought of before. I can't imagine Helen being in high school (the age I was when I knew her at the Dell) during the Roaring Twenties. Then again, Helen is/was only a year older than the late Margaret Schneider "The Oldest Living Dell Rat."

      I will tell you this about Helen and John. They might have been young during the age of the Charleston and the big band era, but they embraced the music teenagers of 50s and 60s listened and danced to. One of my favorite stories about the Ettlines is the time (Sept. 1968) that I took my girlfriend to see James Brown and the Famous Flames perform on the grandstand at the York Fair. As I sat there waiting for the show to begin I glanced around the crowd and there, a few rows behind us, sat John and Helen. Do the math again and you will realize how rare it was to see a white couple that age joining an audience of teenagers, most of them black, at a James Brown show in York, PA, a city plagued by racial tension at the time. The Ettlines walked their talk!

      Thanks again for coming to chat, good buddy Kirk, and enjoy the rest of your week!

    2. Hi Shady, I remember the racial issues on Duke St. that were few in the early 60s. Many of my friends in the hood were black and we didn't have issues. I had lunch with one recently and the Dell came up as a topic. He said that the Dell was known to be off limits to blacks. That is surprising as it was obvious that John and Helen were not anti black at least in music selection. However, I don't remember any of my black friends being at the Dell or even any of the black Delchords. I missed the James Brown show, but would have been there if at home.

    3. Hi, Jerre! (I can only assume that you are Jerre because you didn't sign your name as you usually do.)

      It's 2018 - Year of the Dell Rat - and I welcome you back for another fun-filled year, a year that will bring a big surprise a few months down the line. Stick around!

      As I am sure you remember, the topic of an all white Shady Dell has been discussed from time to time, especially in the early years of the blog. John and Helen were two of the most open-minded, unbiased people I ever knew. They listened to the music their young patrons played on the Dell's two jukeboxes. More than 50% of it, perhaps as much as 75%, was recorded by black artists and blue-eyed soul artists. Yet, I never saw an African-American at the Dell in the four + years I attended and neither did you. I believe I know the reason why. The Dell already had a bad reputation in the community. The place was under a microscope, carefully monitored by police. I don't think John wanted the additional hassles that might arise from a racially mixed clientele. It was a risk he couldn't afford to take.

      I wish you could have seen the James Brown show at the fair. It rained hard and bolts of lightning struck all around, but Mr. Dynamite never flinched, never wavered, never backed down. He sang and shouted, danced and pranced through a killer set of his hits old and new, and the crowd loved it, including an aging white couple named the Ettlines.

      Thanks again for being here for Helen's birthday this year, good buddy Jerre. Happy new year to you!

  4. I can tell from all you've said, Helen was a real treasure. Here's to celebrating the day of her birth!

    I enjoyed "Helen's song", too. :D

    Enjoy the rest of your week, Shady!

    1. Hi hi hi, Kelly!

      Thanks so much for coming to Helen's birthday celebration, dear friend!

      I'm pleased to know you enjoyed listening to the doo-wop ballad "Two People In The World," a golden oldie by Little Anthony & the Imperials that played so often on the jukebox in Helen's snack bar that I dubbed it "Helen's Song." I have reason to believe Helen is the one who played the record that often because I never did. I saved my dimes and quarters for the Dell's other jukebox, the one in the dance hall that played the latest releases.

      Thanks again for being here today, dear friend Kelly, and enjoy the rest of your week!

  5. Happy Birthday Helen! I can see her dancing with her sweetheart up in heaven..I'm betting there's a dance floor up there! I love the look of the snack bar, especially the wall paper! I know the Ettline's didn't have kids of their own, but as long as you're here they will always have someone who loved them dearly remember and honor their special days. Hope all is well with you Shady and thanks for letting us all join in the birthday wishes for a lovely lady!

    1. Hi, YaYa!

      Thank you very much for joining the celebration as we observe Helen's 107th birthday!

      Gosh, dear friend, I think this is the 5th or 6th year in a row that you have been here for this special occasion and listened to Little Anthony sing "Two People In The World." By now you probably know the words by heart and could sing it in the shower. :)

      I can picture John and Helen dancing on a grand oak floor in that Shady Dell in the sky. What a pleasant thought.

      Yessum, this is the time of year when I renew my pledge to continue these tributes to the Ettlines as long as I can keep the blog running.

      Thank you again for being on hand to mark this special date on the Dell calendar - Helen's birthday. I hope 2018 is being good to you and your family so far. Take care and I hope to see you again soon, dear friend YaYa!

  6. This is a beautiful tribute and love listening to this song. It makes me feel like I know just a little about this special lady that has touched many hearts. She was only 2 yrs older than my dad and my dad liked some of this music and my uncle loved Elvis. Anyway, a special happy birthday to an angel above

    1. Hi, Birgit!

      It was very nice of you for come down for my annual birthday salute to Helen Ettline, the First Lady of the Shady Dell. If Helen was two years older than your father, then that means your dad and mine were born the same year. How about that?

      I am very pleased that you enjoyed listening to this fab flip, the doo-wop ballad by Little Anthony that I nicknamed "Helen's Song" in her honor.

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

  7. Happy Birthday, Helen! I know you're spending this birthday, your very first birthday behind the Pearlie Gates and I can only imagine the celebration going on in heaven. Perhaps, Little Anthony & the Imperials are singing at her birthday bash. I don't know but you know it's gonna be the greatest because she's spending it reunited with loved ones.

    Like I've said before, Tom, I'm so glad you introduced this wonderful woman to me years ago. It was nice getting to know her what little I did and I know she will forever hold a special place in your heart, as well as all the other Dell Rats.

    Lovely tribute to truly a beautiful woman, my friend!

    1. Hi, Cathy!

      I am very happy to see you, dear friend! Thank you very much for coming over this week as we observe the 107th anniversary of Helen Ettline's birth. If I may correct you, Helen, the owner of the Shady Dell, died in 1984 just before I moved from Pennsylvania to Florida. You are thinking of Margaret Schneider "The Oldest Living Dell Rat" who lived 105+ years and died last May. I will be observing Margaret's birthday in April.

      Thank you again for helping me remember that other special lady of the Shady, Helen Ettline. Enjoy the rest of your week, dear friend Cathy!

  8. Hello friend Shady ... so good of you to honour your beloved Helen that way ... Me think that you are prolly the last of true gentlemen around ...
    and I like that ... smiles ... and that's why I am staying ... Me is still mesmerized by my travels in the Caribbean ... even more now as Winter is having a grip on me ... so enjoyed the sun and son Paul and daughter in law Leanne and cat Benny and their van life for xmas in Lauderdale ... but unusually cold weather is makin them move west quickly ... anyaway ... @paulleanneandavan if you are interested to follow ... as for me ... I am back in Igloo 103, Alberta, Canada for now ... as planning to work for 3 more years so toughening it out ... I really liked St Kitts and St Lucia ...
    Love, cat.

    1. ... "anyway" ... I hate spelling mistakes ... smiles ... c.

    2. Hi, cat!

      Welcome back for another year of fun here at Shady Dell Music & Memories. I am very happy to see you, dear friend! Thank you for joining me for Helen Ettline's birthday celebration.

      Yessum, our weather here in Florida turned unusually cold right after Christmas. I was thrilled to visit your travel site just now and sample the sights and sounds of your trip to Saint Kitts and Nevis. How lucky you were to break away from the frozen north country at the coldest time of year and bask in the warm sunshine on a tropical isle. I envy you!

      Your friendship means a lot to me, cat, and I thank you for choosing to follow me through 2018. This will be a pivotal year in my blogging career. Stay tuned for a big surprise coming a few months from now.

      Thank you again for your ongoing support and for your cheery comment, dear friend cat!

  9. Happy Birthday to her! She must be very happy for your tribute, surely. Have a nice week Tom

    1. Hi, Katia!

      It is very nice of you to be here for this year's observance of Helen's birthday.

      I will never forget how shocked I was in February 1984 to learn that Helen had died at a relatively young age. She had just turned 73. I would like to think she knows how much all Dell rats love her and that we still think about her often.

      Thank you very much for your kind visit and comment, dear friend Katia, and enjoy the rest of your week!

  10. Happy Happy Birthday Helen.
    Gosh I am the same age that Helen was when she died. I loved Little Anthony and the Imperials. I still like the music of that time.

    cheers, parsnip and mandibles.

    1. Hi, Gayle! Hi Mandibles/Winston!

      Thank you very much for dropping in to help me observe a special date on the Shady Dell calendar - the birthday of Helen Ettline.

      Yessum, it boggles my mind to realize that I am now much older than John and Helen were when I first met them at the Dell. Soon I will be where you are - the same age Helen was when she passed away.

      I'm glad you enjoyed this classic doo-wop ballad by Little Anthony And The Imperials, "Two People In The World" aka "Helen's Song."

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

  11. Happy Birthday to Helen! This was a very nice tribute to her. She lived in a time of some pretty good music!

    1. Hi, Sherry!

      Thank you for coming to this year's observance of Helen Ettline's birthday, dear friend!

      Helen didn't have a very long life, and yet, during her lifespan, popular music underwent tremendous change. She was a teenager during the Roaring Twenties, a young adult during the big band era, married to John during the doo-wop 50s, and embraced or at least tolerated rock, funk and disco as a middle aged woman. Helen died in the mid 80s when British New Wave and pop metal hair bands were popular.

      Thank you again for your visit and comment, dear friend Sherry!

  12. Hi Shady!
    Another sweet tribute ;-) I hope every day is a celebration for Mrs. E, she certainly deserves it. It's the goodness of folks like her that lends a lasting sense of hope in us all.
    Now you have me thinking of "Tears On My Pillow", also by Little Anthony ;-)

    1. Hi, diedre!

      Thank you very much for swinging by to help me remember and thank Dell owner Helen Ettline the week of her 107th birthday, a milestone that, unfortunately, she did not even come close to reaching. Helen has been gone since 1984 and I miss her still.

      I am delighted to know that "Helen's Song" brought to mind "Tears On My Pillow," the fab flip side of that 1958 Imperials single.

      Dear diedre, beginning this Sunday, I need to take a few weeks away from blogging because Mrs. S and I are moving to a new residence. If I happen to miss a post or two of yours during that span of time please excuse me and understand that I will be up to my neck in alligators packing, moving, unpacking and getting settled.

      I hope to return by late next month. In the meantime please take good care of yourself and thank you for your ongoing friendship and support, dear diedre!


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