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

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Helen Ettline - Mother of All Dell Rats

 Shady Dell owner Helen Ettline 

 didn't have any children of her own. 

 In a way we were all her kids 

 and she was our mom. 
 Clearly Helen and John loved kids. 

 Why else would they have put up with 

 the aggravation all those years? 

 The Ettlines believed in kids. 

 They enjoyed counseling 

 and helping kids. 

 To remember and honor Helen on 

 Mother's Day I picked three songs 

 that I think she would enjoy. 


Women and girls alike love cuddly crooner
Bobby Vinton. In the summer of 1962,
Bobby topped the chart singing:

Roses are red, my love,
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet, my love,
But not as sweet as you

In the fall of '63 Bobby scored another #1
charting single with a cover of "Blue Velvet,"
a top 20 hit for Tony Bennett in 1951.

"Blue Velvet" - Bobby Vinton
(Sept./Oct. 1963, highest chart pos.
#1 Hot 100 & Cash Box)


It happened every year around mid May
in Central Pennsylvania. After numerous
false starts, spring finally arrived in earnest
to the delight of winter weary locals. Here's
a sound of the season that sizzled in 1959.
 It's one-hit-wonder Jerry Keller here to
remind us that it won't be long now-
here comes summer!

"Here Comes Summer" - Jerry Keller
(July 1959, highest chart pos. #14)



Last, but not least, simply because Helen
loved doo-wop, and because songs of that
genre played non-stop on the jukebox in her
snack bar, here's "Denise," a nugget by the
Queens, New York, doo-wop group Randy
And The Rainbows, a record that was hot
all summer long and into the fall of 1963.

"Denise" - Randy And The Rainbows
(July thru Sept. 1963, highest chart
pos. #10 Hot 100/#5 Canada)

 Happy Mother's Day, Helen! 

 We love you and miss you! 


  1. She's proof one doesn't have to have kids of her own to be a mother. Mothering comes from the heart.

    1. Hi, Alex!

      Nicely put, good buddy. Rats loved Helen, the boys as well as the girls. We felt comfortable talking to her, telling her things we wouldn't tell other adults, even our own parents. Helen listened w/o judging and offered advice when asked. I miss Helen.

      Thank you very much for your visit and comment, good buddy Alex!

  2. Kathleen Mae SchneiderMay 13, 2018 at 5:26 AM

    Helen exemplified the true meaning of motherhood in that special place called the Shady Dell. She was authentically there for all those teenagers. She not only fed them their favorite burgers and fries, but more importantly, fed the greater need of young (and all) people to be accepted and validated by creating, along with John, a safe place for them to gather.

    Nurturing defines motherhood, biological or not, and Helen made a place for you and your friends in her heart. What a special and beloved woman to be remembered and honored all these years later on this post. She would be happy I'm sure!

    1. Hi, Kathleen!

      I am pleasantly surprised to see you this Mother's Day morning, dear friend. Thank you very much for making time for a visit!

      I appreciate the words you chose, Kathleen. "Authentically there" is the perfect way to describe Helen and the important role she played in my life and in the lives of all the other young Dell patrons. Unlike some adults in our lives, Helen made a genuine connection with us. Helen didn't pretend to listen. She actually listened. Sincere warmth radiated from the lady. Feeling safe, as we always did around Helen and John, allowed us to open up and share ourselves, work through boyfriend or girlfriend problems, family issues and coming of age angst. As the years roll by my fondness for Helen Ettline continues to grow. In this modern world of instant communication, much of it cruel and nasty, the absence of kind and caring people like Helen Ettline and your dear mother, Margaret Schneider, is felt and the loss mourned.

      Thank you again for coming by, Kathleen, and for expressing yourself so eloquently as we remember and honor the great women in our lives on Mother's Day.

  3. Hi Shady! Gosh I wish Helen were still around to give you a much deserved hug for your gratefulness, and appreciation of her kindness and care of you and your Dell friends in the 60's. I know she must be beaming now, as she gazes at this special post written in her honor!

    I believe each of us either have, or will have someone come through our lives and touch us in that special way that stays with us always. For you, those special folks were Helen and John. And, for me...well, I've got a few too!

    I liked Bobby Vinton, and, his romantic songs-Blue Velvet was so popular. And, I also remember "Here Comes Summer"! Thank you for the reminder, but I'm not too interested in having another stifling Texas summer, lol!

    Ahhh..."Denise, Denise"! I love that song! Karo always had fun singing it, although he couldn't reach high notes! I never paid attention to who even performed that song, back in the day, so I really appreciate seeing the video, Shady!

    This is a wonderful post, and, a reminder that there are beautiful, caring people still out there, with patience, love, and "nerves of steel"! I am sure that Helen was special to many others during her reign at the Dell. I know, I would have loved her too! Happy Mother's Day, Helen!

    Thank you, Shady for the great songs and tribute to a wonderful lady. Happy Mother's Day to Mrs. Shady! Take care and have a shady-colored week! ♫

    1. Hi, Suzanne!

      Thank you very much for being here again this year for my Mother's Day salute to Helen Ettline - The Mother of All Dell Rats.

      Your kind and thoughtful words mean a lot to me, Suzanne. This is indeed a day for us to pause and remember all the special women in our lives, women who influenced us, shaped us and left an indelible mark upon our lives. I was fortunate to have been at the right place at the right time, the Shady Dell of the 1960s, and to have known Helen Ettline. She always had time for me, paid attention to me, smiled at me with a twinkle in her eye and made me feel important and special. I'm sure she did that for all the boys and girls, but that does not at all diminish what she meant to me. John was the same way. John gave respect to teenagers and they in turn were inspired to respect him, Helen and their house and property.

      I am delighted that you remember and like the three songs I picked for Helen this year. After scoring a #1 hit with "Roses Are Red (Violets Are Blue)" Bobby Vinton milked the color songs with follow-up singles that included "Blue On Blue," "Blue Velvet," "Blue Clarinet," "Petticoat White (Summer Sky Blue)" and "Red Roses For Mom," the latter released in May of 1967, making it an ideal song for Mother's Day:

      One-hit-wonder Jerry Keller hails from your region, Suzanne. He was born in Arkansas and raised in Oklahoma. The video of Randy And The Rainbows lip syncing their 1963 hit and signature song "Denise" was recorded recently. It's nice to see the group is still together and delighting doo-wop lovers old and young. Thanks for letting me know that my old buddy Karo enjoyed singing "Denise."

      I love what you wrote here, Suzanne:

      << a reminder that there are beautiful, caring people still out there, with patience, love, and "nerves of steel"! >>

      I would have to say that those same words describe you, my dear friend. I am very lucky to have you in my life. Thank you again for your kind visit and wonderful comment, Suzanne. I wish you, your son, and your grandkiddo Scootie a safe and happy week ahead!

  4. It's funny. I recognized neither the band Randy and the Rainbows nor a song named "Denise" but once I clicked the video on, I realized it was a tune I've known my entire life. I must have assumed it was called "I'm in Love with You"

    1. Hi, Kirk!

      Thanks a lot for hustling over on Mother's Day, good buddy! I am pleased to have you here as I pay tribute to a wonderful woman, The First Lady of the Shady - Helen Ettline.

      I'm glad you checked out the "Denise" song and realized you knew it your entire life, but never grasped the title or artist. If the song stuck in your memory all these years I hope that means you like it.

      Thanks again for coming by and helping me remember Helen on Mom's Day, good buddy Kirk, and have a great week!

  5. Happy Mum's Day to the wonderful Mother to you all.

    cheers, parsnip

    1. Hi, Gayle!

      How are you and Winston, dear friend? Thank you very much for being here for my Mother's Day tribute to Dell owner Helen Ettline.

      I still see Helen's face, her smile, the twinkle in her eye. I still hear her soft voice. I still feel the good vibe that let me know she accepted me as a member of her extended family. I miss Helen every day of my life.

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

  6. Mother’s Day was difficult for me but this post about your “adopted” mom Helen made me feel better. I love your tribute to her with these sweet songs from yesteryear. Bobby Vinton’s song is so great but I had to giggle at his lip syncing with Charlie’s Angels:) I never even heard of your second pick so it was nice to listen to. The last song is also great. Thinking of my mom, I would choose The Third Man or Harry Lime theme. Catch a Falling Star sung by Andy Williams(?) and How Much is that Doggie in the Window.

    1. Hi, Birgit!

      How are you, dear friend? I am very happy to see you today and I thank you for coming!

      This Mother's Day I was thinking about you and about our mutual friend Kathleen Mae Schneider because both of you lost your dear mothers within the past year. My heart goes out to you and to her.

      It pleases me to know that you liked these three song selections. As I told Suzanne (above), Bobby Vinton was really singing the "blues" during the 60s because several of his singles had the word "blue" in the title. Bobby also went to the "red" well a few times. My parents bought the 45 "Catch A Falling Star" by Perry Como and I played it often on my tiny tinny turntable in the basement. They also bought the Patti Page hit "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?," a record released decades before awareness spread about puppy mills supplying animals to pet shops.

      Although Helen Ettline departed this world in 1984, her memory lives on, and she continues to inspire those of us who knew her and people like you, the Dell rats of the 21st century.

      I am happy that you found comfort in this Mother's Day tribute to Helen. Thank you again for your visit and your kind and generous comments. I value your ongoing friendship and support. Take care and have a wonderful week ahead, dear friend BB!

  7. Tom,

    How very nice of you to pay such sweet tributes to a woman who meant so much to you and the other Shady Dell Rats. I know it would warm Helen's heart to know how affectionately you and others felt toward her. I think it's interesting that you shared 'Denise' which is the second time for me to hear it this morning. John from The Hand of One Hand Typing has it up on his 'Monday Monday' playlist this morning which is an introduction to me.

    I hope Mrs. Shady had a beautiful Mother's Day. I can only imagine how hot it was in Florida yesterday as we were in the low 90s. Thankfully, we had a gentle breeze which helped.

    Have a pawsome week and thanks for stopping by this morning, dear friend!

    1. Hi, Cathy!

      Thank you so much for dropping in, dear friend! It's always nice to have you here as I pay tribute to the leading ladies of my life. During the month of May they include Helen Ettline, "The First Lady of the Shady," and Margaret Schneider "The Oldest Living Dell Rat" and a member of the Dell's First Family in the early 20th century.

      John from One Hand Typing and I have similar tastes in mewsic, it seems, and you might have noticed him asking me questions from time to time over on your blog. This nicely remastered recording of "Denise" was too good to resist as I made my mewsical picks for Helen this year.

      Yessum, the heat is on in Florida, although I think it actually gets hotter up north where you are than down here. We are close to the water and enjoy cooling sea and land breezes.

      Thank you again for stopping by, dear friend Cathy. I wish you and your family a pawsome week as well! :)

    2. Tom,

      Yes, I've seen where John primes you with questions from time-to-time on my blog. I'm trying to do better about subscribing to comments and at the very least responding to replies left to mine. Perhaps in time I can pay better attention to all commenters on on someone's blog. It amazes me how you, John, and a few others can balance multiple conversations.

      Being near the water helps, I'm sure and if we ever moved to Florida then that would be our destination preference. Of course, I know the closer you are to the ocean, the more expensive it gets, too. Things are heating up and we're just getting started!

      Thanks for dropping by this morning to vote in May BoTB round two!

    3. Hi, Cathy!

      For me, blogging is all about effective communication and teaching and learning from each other. It shows respect to remember where you left off in a conversation with somebody or even quote or paraphrase the words they wrote in an old post or in a comment on your blog or somebody else's. Letting someone know that you remember their words makes them feel special and important, and that's how it should be. That's how Helen and John treated their teenage patrons. That's why the Ettlines were like parents to us and why we remember and honor them to this day.

      Thanks again for coming over to chat "Miss Photogenic." :) Enjoy the rest of your week!

    4. Tom,

      Now, you're teaching me the same, not that I didn't know this already but a better way to show my appreciation especially in cyberspace. There you go again making me feel special with "Miss Photogenic". :D

    5. Hi, Cathy!

      The common sense blogging principles that folks like you and I routinely practice help bring people closer together. I want everybody to know that they are invited to the party and I try to make everybody feel welcome. This method of reaching out to all kinds of people and finding common ground, is a model that can help a divided America.

      Thank you again for popping in, dear friend Cathy. See you soon!

  8. I missed my moms this holiday. I was so lucky to have three during my life: my own, my grandmother, and my mother-in-law. Each so special and each a big part of my life.

    You've made my day with Blue Velvet. I'll be humming that all day.

    1. Hi, Cheryl-Lee!

      How are you, dear friend? Thanks a lot for making it over for the celebration as I remember Dell owner Helen Ettline the week of Mother's Day!

      Thanks for pointing out that most of us are lucky to have had moms (plural) - great women who impacted our lives in a positive way, even those with whom we share no direct biological connection. Helen Ettline was like a mother to me and to thousands of other teenagers of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

      I'm happy to know "Blue Velvet" will be playing on repeat in your head all day today. Thanks again for joining us, dear friend Cheryl-Lee, and enjoy the rest of your week!

  9. I love that song, Denise! I haven't heard it in years. I prefer doo wop to today's music. It has a feel-good quality.

    This was a very nice tribute to Helen.

    Hope Mrs. Shady had a nice Mother's Day!

    1. Hi, Sherry!

      Thank you very much for popping in as I observe Mother's Day with my annual tribute to Helen. You have been with me for several of these posts and I appreciate your attendance, dear friend!

      "Denise' is a golden goody that I never get tired of hearing, especially now that it has been brilliantly remastered in the 2010s. I'm happy to know you like it, too. For a positive, feel-good vibe, you can't beat classic doo-wop of the 50s and early 60s.

      I hope you had a nice Mothers Day, too, dear friend Sherry. Thanks again for coming and have a terrific week!

  10. Some people are super great with children and some are not, I am lucky I have awesome parents but I also know some people who have horrible parents.

    1. Hi, Jo-Anne!

      How are you today, dear Aussie friend? Thank you for coming over again this year as I salute Dell owner Helen Ettline on Mother's Day!

      I am the first to admit that I am not great with kids. I would not have been able to do what the Ettlines did - throw open the doors of their home and entertain a hundred or more teenagers seven nights a week for decades. John and Helen were a breed apart.

      I am happy to learn that you are blessed with awesome parents. You are correct. Many people aren't.

      Thank you again for your visit and comment, dear friend Jo-Anne, and have a wonderful week in the land down under!

  11. Hi Shady!

    What a terrific trio of memorable tunes you've chosen to commemorate such an unforgettable 'Mom'! I'm sure you've brightened the day for all who knew her - and the rest of us as well ;-)
    At "Blue Velvet" I would have shot from my chair - had I not already been standing. I always liked that line about making a "Flat top curl" (Here comes Summer), and I had a friend who was certain the song "Denise" was written for her alone ;-)
    Thanks for inspiring such pleasant thoughts, my friend! I'll have 'ooby-do' on the brain the rest of the day ;-)

    1. Hi, diedre!

      Thank you very much for coming to this year's Mother's Day celebration in honor of Dell owner Helen Ettline. I also thank you for this wonderful comment, dear friend!

      It always pleases me when a friend enjoys herself or himself at SDMM and knows and likes the songs I select. I'm delighted to know you remember "Here Comes Summer" and can recite the lyrics. I'm going to take a wild guess that your friend's name was "Denise." :) I can think of worse fates than having the refrain "I'm in love with you, Denise, ooby-do" stuck in your head all day. :)

      Thank you again for being here for Helen and for me, dear friend diedre. It is such a pleasure to have you over. You have brightened my day. Enjoy the rest of your week!

  12. Shady, what a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman! Sometimes women who aren't mothers make the best mentors to others. :) She definitely made an impact on your life and I am thankful you keep her memory alive.

    Have a great week, dear friend.

    1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

      Thank you so much for joining us again this year as we remember the great Helen Ettline on Mother's Day.

      I agree with you, dear friend. One of life's ironies is that women with no children of their own can make the best mentors. Helen Ettline was a mother figure to thousands of teenagers. Dell rats will always remember her.

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

    2. Hi Shady,

      I can't biologically have children (health issues), but I try to mentor others as much as I possibly can. Most of the time it is appreciated. I hope that someday I can be like Mrs. Ettline. :)

      Have a great Thankful Thursday!

    3. Hi, Jessica Marie!

      Thanks for coming back over, dear friend! I applaud you for mentoring others. That's what it is all about for me as well. I believe you already are a lot like Mrs. Ettline.

      Thank you again for your cheery visit, dear friend JM. I will be over to see you tomorrow and I hope you will check out my new post coming first thing in the morning. See you then!

  13. I'm sorry I'm so late to your wonderful tribute to Helen. She may not have had children of her own but the influence she had on you and probably all the young people who came to the Dell is a real testament to what the word "mother" really means. Thanks for sharing your memories and love for her with us and also sharing her favorite music!

    1. Hi, YaYa!

      It's very nice of you to come over again this year as we pay tribute to Helen Ettline - the Mother of All Dell Rats. Thank you, dear friend!

      You expressed it nicely, YaYa. Helen's influence is a testament to what the word "mother" really means. Some of the Dell's young patrons came from broken homes and Helen was always there to listen, understand, care and offer guidance.

      Thank you again for being here for my Mother's Day salute to Helen, dear friend YaYa. Enjoy your Thursday and your weekend!


You talkin' to me?