Know how much you love those Seinfeld reruns?
(NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT!)
Well, you're gonna love mine, too!
That's right, my fellow Dell rats! The graffiti is on the wall. The robot got it right in my last post when he warned that Shady Dell Music & Memories is coming to an end. It is!
But wait a minute.....dry your eyes, honey chile!
As it turns out Dr. Smith was right, too! It's full speed ahead for Shady Dell Music & Memories in 2011 and beyond!
When I created Shady Dell Music & Memories in 2008 it was never my intention to present it as a typical daily diary style weblog. I envisioned it as an online encyclopedia of sorts - a collection of in depth articles, stories, images and music clips that would serve as a comprehensive reference source for anyone seeking to learn about the Dell, John and Helen Ettline, the couple that owned and operated it, and the music that became popular there. I believe that mission has now been accomplished.
The first chapter of Shady Dell Music & Memories comes to an end with this post, but an exciting new chapter is about to begin! Starting with my next post on Saturday, January 1st, I will be presenting the best of the old and the new. I'll be digging into the archives and reposting evergreens that many of you will be seeing for the first time. There will also be plenty of fresh content including breaking news updates about the Dell, its renovation and its sale, new information about the Dell's history and more vintage photos as they become available. I will also be following new threads provided or inspired by readers like you!
Let me assure you that I have no intention of abandoning the blog or my loyal readers. I will not resort to phoning it in. I won't lose interest and let weeds grow. I will be right here to keep the discussion going as long as there are Dell rats like you who care and want to share.
I have chosen to end this amazing year by letting my friends and followers know who I am, what I stand for, and where I'm coming from. This special Unmasking post is the culmination of a two-and-a-half year fight to save the Dell from demolition and to prevent the Dell and John and Helen Ettline from permanently fading into obscurity. I believe theirs is a story is worth telling. Theirs is a legacy worth preserving.
I said what I came to say. Now it's your turn, citizen. From now on Shady Dell Music & Memories will be transformed into part blog, part feedback forum. Whenever you want to share your memories or introduce a new discussion thread simply submit it in the form of a comment. If you give me enough to work with I'll be able to add my own input and develop it into a new post. Your thoughts, opinions and stories are every bit as important as mine and I will be happy to publish them on the front page. In essence, you will become a guest blogger as did Dell Rat Jerre, Dell Rat Ron, Lynn B., Greg Gulden, Belle Unruh and others.
A few days ago I introduced some of the kind and generous people who helped to make Shady Dell Music & Memories a success. Now, I would like to introduce myself.
My name is Tom Anderson and I.....................
Don't tell me.....
Not another blasted
Please scroll down.
My name is Tom Anderson. (Yeah, I know - shoulda stuck with the first pic!) I have been the author of Shady Dell Music & Memories since its inception in July 2008. Contrary to popular belief I am not Shady Del Knight. Mr. Knight is a character that I created to host the site and tell you about my Dell adventures. I am not into self promotion. I am not
an exhibitionist and it was never my intention to become an escribitionist. For that reason I chose to remain anonymous and let Shady Del Knight do the talking for me.
I got the idea for the Shady Del Knight avatar from Wolfman Jack in American Graffiti. When Curt asks the deejay if he's the Wolfman (the most loved, most influential radio voice in the Valley) Jack denies it, preferring to let the Wolfman remain an enigma, a mystery man who is heard but not seen. To me, Shady Del Knight (or the Dell Knight as some of you call him) is like the Wolfman - a larger than life character,
an ambassador of goodwill, a purveyor of fun and frolic. Shady Del Knight is greater than me, greater than all of us. He symbolizes the Dell spirit that remains alive inside us through our adult years. He represents all Dell rats past and present, the living and the dead. Do you believe in magic?
I do. I also believe in Shady Del Knight. He inspires and empowers me. I hope that he will continue to have the
same effect on you.
Who is the jovial gent with the pipe in his mouth...the one who pops onto your screen like a Jack-in-the-Box whenever you log onto SDM&M? I don't have a clue. Whoever he is or was I hope he doesn't mind that I used his photo to give a face and personality to my Shady Del Knight character.
Luckily for you this is the first and only time that I will disclose my real name or post pictures of myself. I promise that I will not be showing home movies of my second cousin's wedding reception or slides of my visit to Branson! The only excuse I have for boring you with my photos now is because many of you have pestered me repeatedly to post them!
Figure 3-b should serve as a friendly reminder.
Be careful what you wish for!
I delivered the keynote address
at the Tony Robbins Invitational in Pacific Palisades, California.
My self help workshop was entitled
"Be Rat Here Rat Now:
Breaking Through to
Rat Thinking and Rat Living."
By the way, Tony, thanks for puttin' the
Vulcan Mind Meld on me. It worked! I expanded my chain of Kool-Aid stands, rode an elevator for the first time, and let a clown kiss me on the cheek. Baby steps, big guy! Rat on, rat on!
Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's hit rewind and go all the way back to the beginning. Here, in pictures and words, are some highlights of my youth. As Bill Cosby once said,
"I started out as a child."
I was born and raised in York County, Pennsylvania.
Beginning in 1953 with House of Wax, I went to the movies practically every weekend with my older brother and saw hundreds of horror and sci-fi movies during that decade!
I attended York Township Elementary.
I went through what can best be described as an awkward stage. Yes, that's me on the left!
During my childhood I enjoyed:
* watching stock car races at Susquehanna Speedway...
* movies at the Stoney Brook and Lincoln drive-in theaters...
* the York Interstate Fair...
I got a basketball jones by age 10 and won a free throw shooting tournament at age 11.
I attended Dallastown Area H.S.
During the early 1960's I enjoyed:
* swimming and girl watching at Zimmy's, Wise Haven & Playland...
* bowling and hanging out at Suburban Bowlerama...
* watching Orioles baseball with Chuck ("Crabs & Bo") Thompson...
* Pete the Pirate on WBAL...
* P.W. Doodle on WBAL...
* The Buddy Deane Show on WJZ...
* and American Bandstand!
I became a Dell rat at age 15 and practically lived at the Dell from fall 1965 through fall 1967.
During the mid 1960's I also enjoyed:
* making the scene at The Oaks and other regional dance clubs.
* frequenting Bud's Drive-in on Violet Hill.
* listening to WSBA radio and deejay Ralph Lockwood.
* Ed Hurst's Steel Pier Show...
* The Lloyd Thaxton Show...
* Where the Action Is.
* Rutter's banana splits & shakes and those great big pretzel rods!
* Gino Giants
* cruisin' the East York loop from Gino's to Avalong Dairy Drive-in.
In addition to raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, these were a few more of my favorite things:
* watching Batman...
* Geator's Discophonic Scene...
* The Monkees...
* late dinner/early breakfast at The Ram (York's Ramona restaurant)...
* catching the latest Russ Meyer flix at the Trail.
(Sorry, mom...the guys made me go!)
During my late teens I enjoyed:
* watching The Hy Lit Show...
* Philadelphia Warriors Roller Derby...
* The Banana Splits Show. (Tra-la-la!)
During my college years
my interests included:
* amateur moviemaking...
* vacationing in
Myrtle Beach, SC...
* watching Philly horror host Doctor Shock.
(R.I.P. Shocky Doc!)
Our Shady Dell Music & Memories blog is part history book, part personal diary, part True Confessions and yes, part
Mad Magazine. Writing and publishing it has been challenging, rewarding, cathartic, and loads of fun.
Over the past two-and-a-half years with the generous help of my friends I have attempted to tell the Shady Dell story as completely and accurately as possible in words, pictures and music.
Together we have exploded myths, solved mysteries, and revealed little known facts about John and Helen and the incomparable oasis they created for generations of young people to enjoy.
Through this blog I have tried to reach back into the past, grab those memories and bring 'em back alive so that they could be reexperienced, not just studied in a detached manner like ancient history.
With each new post I have tried to entertain as well as inform, to leave you with something to think about and something to smile about.
Following John Ettline's example, I kept my virtual Shady Dell open 24-7-365. I even waived the 25 cent admission fee because I regard each one of you as family. I trust that you also noticed and appreciated the fact that I kept the site free of pop-ups, spam, advertising banners and other kinds of clutter.
If there's one thing above all else that I would like you to remember about John and Helen Ettline, it is that they were two of the most generous people you would ever want to meet.
For decades John and Helen opened their doors and opened their hearts. They offered consolation, aid and shelter to girls in trouble and battered women. They lent a sympathic ear to kids with family problems and gave money to friends in need.
Although John and Helen had no children of their own, they treated all of their young Dell guests like family.
They made us feel important
They gave us
a sense of belonging.
Shady Dell Music & Memories is dedicated to the memory of John and Helen Ettline.
I would also like to dedicate this blog to the memory of my high school friend and Dell rat buddy Dale Gill who was right by my side during many of the Dell experiences that I have shared with you. Gilly, you were a great pal and
I miss you!
In the end I think the most important lesson I learned
by going to the Dell is tolerance.
With teenage patrons from the city, the suburbs and the country converging nightly on 1501 Starcross, the Dell was
a grand experiment...a model...a microcosm of society.
Dell clientele consisted of kids from differing socioeconomic backgrounds. There were long standing school rivalries to contend with, turf wars and love triangles. "Can't we all just get along?" Yes! Most of the time we did. More often than not we heeded the message that David Ruffin so eloquently conveyed:
It takes all kinds of people to make a world.
Oh, yes it does!
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker
The doctor, the teacher, the lawyer and the preacher
It takes the typist, the chauffeur, talkin' 'bout the
real estate broker
The dancer, the singer, the square and the swinger
When will we learn to live together like sisters and brothers?
When will we turn...the tide of hate to loving each other?
Come on and get it together
Open up your mind and you'll discover
That it takes all kinds of people to make a world...
Here's what I learned about Dell rats:
* Dell rats were a hardy, stouthearted breed.
* Dell rats were made of sturdy stuff.
* Dell rats were naughty and nice.
* Dell rats were tough on the outside...tender on the inside.
Dell rats loved:
* Sweet soul music
* Blue-eyed soul
* Churchy, gospel-tinged love ballads
* Classic 1950's
* Blue collar working class anthems
* Seasonal sounds
* Novelty tunes
* Dell rats were not hung up on superstars, supergroups
or million selling hits.
* Dell rats had an affinity for struggling artists and obscure songs that told the truth.
* Dell rats identified with the underdog.
* Dell rats respected the traditions of their Dell predecessors.
* Dell rats respected John and Helen Ettline.
What about The Dell itself? Was it just "a dirty old farm" as Marty Markham first thought?
Point well taken, Master Martin. The Shady Dell wasn't much to look at. The house wasn't the Ritz, the restaurant wasn't
The Rainbow Room, and the dance hall wasn't Studio 54. There was no valet parking. There was no men's room attendant offering scented soaps and fancy colognes.
The Dell was bare bones basic. Dell rats gathered in a modestly appointed barn annex and danced to jukebox records. But the Dell was ours and we loved it!
As I noted from the beginning, this blog wasn't only about the Dell. It was about all things York and York County during the 1950's and 60's. Baltimore and Philly, too!
When I was very young my church held its Sunday school picnics at a place on the north side called White Oak Park.
I loved to go there and ride the merry-go-round and participate in cake walks inside the large pavilion. Years later, I was back at the park when it evolved into The Oaks and hosted weekend dances.
The Oaks had more to offer than the Dell because it boasted live performances by popular local and regional bands. Please watch this fabulous tribute to the Oaks and the bands that played there.
As the end of that video reminds us and as our own Dell Rats Jerre Slaybaugh and Lynn B. explained, many kids capped off a Friday or Saturday night by swinging by the Dell, a teen hideaway that stayed open until the last patron left.
To avoid hassles at home, many kids kept their nocturnal Dell visits a secret. Although the Oaks was somewhat notorious in its own right, at least it had a better reputation than the Dell. Real or imagined, the Oaks was considered safer than the Dell because there was police security on the premises. When the Spring Garden Township cruiser pulled into the Dell parking lot it was never an encouraging sign.
At the Dell you were pretty much on your own. Sometimes the only things that stood between you and a pummeling were your bravado, your wingman, and John Ettline. As we
all know John was a one man swat team who carried a billy club and could take on any bully. Admittedly, there were a few at the Dell. That's why many parents didn't mind if their kids went to the Oaks. They considered the Oaks to be the lesser of two evils, a choice they could live with if it kept their offspring away from the G-D Dell!
Know what I say to that, Dell rats? In the final analysis
I believe that I chose the Dell precisely because it did not earn the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval!
So what if the Dell failed to win the endorsement of parents, teachers and clergy? At that point in my life I didn't want safe. I wanted adventure. I wanted to test myself. I wanted the Dell!
Wrong side of the tracks?
Damn right, mister...and proud of it!
So c'mon you...you dirty Dell rats.....
Stand up and be counted!
Stick together...now or never!
Be true to the Dell!
When some loud braggart tries to put me down
And says his hangout is great
I tell him right away
"Now what's the matter buddy
Ain't you heard of the Dell?
It's number one in the state!"
So be true to the Dell now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to the Dell now
And let your colors fly (black and blue)
Be true to the Dell!
Spread the word...the Rat Pack is back!
The lyrics to the Kiss anthem "Crazy, Crazy Nights" are perfect for revealing how loyal rats feel about the Dell.
Click on the music clip below, scroll down, change a few of the lyrics, and sing along with me to “Shady, Shady Nights!”
Whoo! Here's a little song for all you Dell rats out there
People try to take my soul away
But I don't hear the rap that they all say
They try to tell us we don't belong
That's alright, we're millions strong
This is my music, it makes me proud
These are my people and this is my crowd
These are Shady, Shady, Shady, Shady nights
These are Shady, Shady, Shady, Shady nights
Sometimes days are so hard to survive, oh yeah
A million ways to bury you alive, hey!
The sun goes down like a bad bad dream
You're wound up tight, gotta let off steam
They say they can break you again and again
If life is a radio, turn it up to ten!
These are Shady, Shady, Shady, Shady nights
These are Shady, Shady, Shady, Shady nights, whoa!
These are Shady, Shady, Shady, Shady nights, cmon!
These are Shady, Shady, Shady, Shady nights, yeah, woo!
And they try to tell us that we don't belong
But that's alright, we're millions strong
You are my people, you are my crowd
This is our music, WE LOVE IT LOUD!!!
Yeah, and nobody's gonna change me, 'cos that's who I am, oooh!
These are Shady, Shady, Shady, Shady nights, whoa yeah!
These are Shady, Shady, Shady, Shady nights, whoa!
These are Shady, Shady, Shady, Shady nights, yeah yeah!
These are Shady, Shady, Shady, Shady nights, hey!
(Keep repeating that chant forever, Dell rats!)
Bottom line: Other joints came and went...
but for nearly half a century the Shady Dell was the
greatest hangout in York,
the best in the state,
best in the U.S.A.,
best in the world,
what else ya got?
The Dell was and will always be Number One with a bullet.
Every true Dell rat knows it!
I urge you to remember and put into practice the teachings of our intrepid leader, Shady Del Knight.
Think young, act young, and you will be young. “Grow up!” will be the magpie's incessant chatter. Don’t listen!
I'm proud to be the poster boy for arrested development!
The folks who are always telling you to grow up are the ones who already fell asleep in the cave and went over to the other side to join the pod people. They're lost. They're gone. You can choose not to go with them. Fight the power!
Remember the Dell rat credo:
Never grow up...
never grow old!
“You can’t live in the past,” the skeptics will advise you. Don’t listen! Ask yourself, "what's so great about the present anyway?" The past, after all, is where all your good stuff is kept -
your youthful energy, your optimism, your enthusiasm,
your childlike curiosity, your mojo. Tap into those things every day. Let them empower you!
Get up, get into it, get involved!
Let's shout and turn the joint out!
If you want to combat the aging process and avoid hardening of the attitudes you must declare war!
Tired of living in a cage, Chief?
Tired of living in a box, taking orders and following somebody else's rules?
This ain't livin', Chief. You know it and I know it. We're not gonna take it anymore. It's time for a change, my friend. Time to take the proverbial bull by the horns!
See that hydrotherapy control panel thingy over there, Chief?
I want you to pick it up and throw it through the window. You and I are bustin' out of this L-7 square! Sure, it's hard. Sure, it's heavy...and the sky is blue and the Pope is Catholic and Charlie Daniels plays a mean fiddle! What's that got to do with the price of eggs in China? If you think you can't do it you won't. If you believe you can...you will. Now march on over there, give that bad boy your best bear hug, lift that s.o.b. high off the floor and knock the whole frickin' wall down! You and I got places to go and people to meet, Chief!Let's bounce!
C'mon, Chief! It wasn't so long ago that you couldn't even raise your hand or find your voice. You've come a long way. Don't stop now! That God damn block of stone and steel isn't what's stopping you. You know what's stopping you? I'll tell you what's stopping you, Chief. You're stopping you. All that's standing between you and freedom...all that's preventing you from having the kind of life you want is your own limiting belief. The only thing holding you back is you. How hard it is is irrelevant. All that matters, Chief, is how much you want it!
Don't wait till it's too late, Chief. Do it now!
29 months ago when I started Shady Dell Music & Memories, Shady Del Knight wrote:
More than a place...
the Shady Dell was
and will forever remain
a state of mind.
From the moment that I became a Dell rat in 1965
I promised myself that I would remain in a Shady Dell
state of mind all my life.
45 years and counting.....
Once a Dell rat...always a Dell rat!
Thank you, Helen.
Thank you, John.
Thanks to all of you, my dear friends!
Happy New Year!
Bless you all...
and may all your days be Shady ones!