York-area memories about ‘The Oaks’ pile up

For an upcoming compilation album, Phil Schwartz has found 26 tracks from 11 bands that performed regularly at White Oak Park, better known as The Oaks. Here are the bands he has tracks for so far: The Del-Chords; El Dantes (pictured here); The Exciting Invictas; The Tranells; The Crystalaires; The Ambassadors; Seven Dwarfs; G.L. and The Vesters; The Chateaus; The Magic Monorays and The Calientes. Chris Huber, concert organizer at the Oaks in the 1960s, attributes the venue’s success to The Del-Chords, pictured here. The first night The Del-Chords played the Oaks, Huber told the York Daily Record, the line to get in lasted all night long.

It started out with a query for information about White Oak Park, and it has resulted in a number of posts here of the now-defunct Manchester Township hangout.
Phil Schwartz Sr. continues to look for Oaks memorabilia from the heyday of band battles in the 1960s. He is producing a compilation album of the regulars at the Oaks: “White Oak Park – Battle of the Bands.” Contact him at pschwa7845@aol.com.
Meanwhile, York Daily Record writer Jason Cox wrote a story last week about the Oaks:

A little north of York in Manchester Township lies a patch of land that used to be home to some of the largest parties and concerts in the county – although you’d never know it today. White Oak Park, better known as the Oaks, is no more. All that’s left is an empty parcel of land near the Masonic lodge off of Masonic Drive.
But the memories and music from that era live on. Phil Schwartz Sr., founding member of Keystone Record Collectors (KRC), a music collecting group based in Lancaster, has begun a project to preserve Oaks memories.
Schwartz became interested in the Oaks after hearing stories from Ed Lincoln, whom Schwartz dubbed “The Godfather of York rock ‘n’ roll,” and Chris Huber, who helped put on concerts at the Oaks in the 1960s.
“White Oak is legendary,” Schwartz said. “They had a regular battle of the bands thing at the concerts. Bands from York, Lancaster and Harrisburg. I’m not really sure how they determined who won, but they’d have a winner. I asked different
people what they got for winning, and they said it was bragging rights.”
Schwartz took the idea of those band battles and began work on “White Oak Park – Battle of the Bands,” a compilation album containing tracks of the various bands and artists, most of whom were regulars at the Oaks. Schwartz has taken it upon himself, with the help of a few other KRC officers, to track down music from the popular performers of the day.
Schwartz has pieced together 26 songs so far from 11 bands, pulling together demo recordings, home tapes, practice session recordings, acetates and more. He hopes to release the album sometime this summer.
“Some tracks we’ve found from old band members, and some we’ve found by dumb luck,” he said. “Somebody in the record club might’ve found something at a yard sale. Sometimes we have bad luck, too. Sometimes we get there too late.”
The park was a popular picnic area after World War II. In the early 1960s, Chris Huber, who worked in sales at WSBA-FM (910) at the time, wanted to see it become something that could compete with area music venues such as Shady Dell in Spring Garden Township. He partnered with the landowners of the park and began organizing and promoting weekly dances there. Unfortunately, things got off to a slow start.
“We ran dances on Friday evenings, and just when we were ready to close up because we couldn’t get the crowds, we got The Del-Chords one night,” 70-year-old Huber said. “From the time we opened up that night, the line to get in was there until 11 o’clock. After that, we ran dances Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
The Del-Chords were a popular mixed race rhythm and blues group of the day from York. Some of their members later went on to form The Magnificent Men, an even more successful group. Huber said that he thinks that famous day took place in 1962, although admitted his memory wasn’t perfect. The venue continued its success for many years until the race riots of 1969.
“We closed the dances down when York had the riots,” Huber said. “It was still pretty popular, but the black and white situation was getting real bad. We felt it would be a little difficult to do. We were hiring as many as 10 police a night, and that was too much.”
Decades passed, memories faded, groups disbanded, but the music survived – even if it was a bit hard to dig up. While Schwartz has compiled plenty of songs for the planned album, he has hit a wall finding photos and other memorabilia from the Oaks.
“We have bands photos, but not at the park,” he said. “I suspect there are many pictures out there, but people lose things, leave them in the attic. It’s just a matter of getting to the right person.”
El Dantes was a popular band from the White Oak Park era, although little is known about the group today.
Additional posts on the Shady Dell or White Oak Park:
Just try to resist this memory-tugging photo of White Oak Park.
Stadium will be site of The Oaks music reunion
Wanted: Old photos of teen hangout.
Memorabilia from ‘the Oaks’ hard to come by.
Memories of The Oaks pile up.
Memories of The Oaks pile up – Part II
The Dell: ‘It was like family’.
White Oak Park welcomed Blaw-Knox workers .

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
This entry was posted in Archives, all posts, Events, Explanations/controversy, Local journalism & Web, Local landmarks, Mail bag, Nostalgia & memories, People. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to York-area memories about ‘The Oaks’ pile up

  1. Bill (Cheeks) Schlosser says:

    As an original member of the Del-Chords, I took great pleasure in seeing the photo and article on the resurection of “The Oaks” I have been living in Toledo, Ohio for nearly 40 years but I travel to York quite frequently to visit with family and friends. On the morning that the article appeared in the York Daily Record’ I received several phone calls from York letting me know that they had clipped out the story and were sending it on to me! It was fun to share the news clipping and the Yorktowne Square web site with all of my Toledo friends. I have many wonderful memories of the “Del-Chord” days….times never to be forgotten! Thanks for sharing these good times with not only my generation but with our children and grandchildren as well. Keep the comments coming. They are fun to read!

  2. Holly says:

    This is GREAT!!
    My father is an original member of the El Dantes. Can you tell me how to get a copy of this compilation and article? I no longer live in PA, and my dad is living in GA. I’d love to send both to him!
    Thank you!

  3. Jim McClure says:

    Holly, Phil Schwartz, pschwa7845@aol.com, would have information about the compilation album. Our article is in this post. If you want an original – the newsprint copy – e-mail our librarian, jmcinnis@ydr.com.
    Feel free to search on this blog, http://www.yorktownsquare.com for other White Oak Park and Shady Dell posts. Also, people are sharing memories of the venues at “Having Fun” on our bulletin board, http://exchange.ydr.com.
    Jim McClure

  4. Holly says:

    Hi Jim,
    Thank you so much. I’ve been in touch with and heard back from Phil. I really appreciate the email address on how to get a copy of the article. I’ve never seen this picture before, so it means a lot to me to have one of my dad in his glory days! And I’m sure it will crack him up to see how young he looks in the picture! haha!
    Thanks again!

  5. Charles R Sweitzer says:

    Anybody have any photo of White Oak Park

  6. Charles, we posted several photographs in the entry: “White Oak Park welcomed Blaw-Knox Workers.” Just search on http://www.yorktownsquare under “White Oak” and you’ll find it and other postings.

  7. Jim Isenberg says:

    As Dave Bupp has said, The Del-Chords were comprised of a “host of characters”. If memory serves, they included Dave Bupp, Bill “Cheeks” Schlosser, Jeff Hildebrand, Jere Hetrick, Edward “Buck” Generette, Otto “Spike” Sexton, Edward “Ike” Bowers, Allen “Jap” Shue, Don Sponsler, Dale Saxon, Ernie Banks, Ron Searle, and Adrian “Buddy” King. Does anyone out there have any additions or corrections?

  8. Bill Schlosser says:

    To Jim Isenberg,
    Don’t ever forget Eddie Woltman! He played electric piano/organ for us in the early days. He was a true classic pianist who’s talent was unsurpassed! Eddie died in a tragic car accident. He will never be forgotten for his contributions in making the Del-Chords who they were!

  9. Jim Isenberg says:

    To Bill Schlosser,
    Thanks for reminding me about Eddie; he was a great musician. I also neglected to include drummer Larry Smith.

  10. Dean Friend says:

    I wonder what ever happened to Larry Smith? I think he became the drummer of the Soul Clinic, a soul band that was extremely popular in the late 60’s. My sisters had a record by them titled “She’s So Sharp” backed with an original tune called “Nobody Loves Me Anymore”. Larry was an excellent drummer.

  11. Bob Hess says:

    I think I might have played at White Oak Park a few times with the Del-Chords!

  12. Bill Schlosser says:

    Bob, Good to see your comments! You played a mean sax for the Del-chords! Enjoyed the time we spent together in the group! E-mail me and let me know where you are and what you are doing!

  13. Bob Hess says:

    I live near Atlanta with my wife and son. Retired!
    A little group history – V-12 Greech to get to the jobs, uniforms from Lehmeyers, Jeff Hildebrand on drums, very conservative parties with Brian Knoll at various locations and having to leave on occasion via the bathroom window, your MG-TD that seemed to have loud main bearings for at least three years, Ramona, YJC.

  14. Alan Coates says:

    I recently returned to my home town of Oxford, Pa after a 40 year absense and always a follower of the Mag Men and others from WSBA Land. I am looking for information on two groups out of Coatesville in early 60’s. Speedy B and the Roketones and The Galaxies. The lead singer for a while in both groups was “Little Eddy.” I now do free lance writing and would like to do a story about them but need to have names of the members to contact. I remember first names but not last names of some of the Galaxies. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Chuck Coleman says:

      Alan – did you ever get the names of the members of The Galaxies and The Rocketones? I also seem to remember Sir Gregory and the Lords from the Coatesville area. Any recollection of them?

  15. Edward Ike Bowers says:

    Hello all, Many great memories came to mind when I found this site. White Oaks was a truly unique place. The “Oaks” had an aura about it that took you to a better place. Seeing your friends, meeting new ones, learning all the new dances and seeing some incredible groups are just a few of the things that come to mind. Does anyone remember the Limbo contest where the guy limboed under the one foot, yes I said, one foot pole? I also recall Chris Huber coming on stage one night and asking us to stop playing. He was afraid the building was going to collapse. I think there were over a thousand kids dancing that night. Bill, it’s great to see you and Bob posting on here and Cheeks, you’re right. Bob did play a mean sax. I have been in contact with a member of the York High Class of ’66. I think it’s a great idea to get the group back together for their reunion in Oct. Let me know what you think.
    I presently live in Northcentral PA but do get back home from time to time. To paraphrase the title of my first lead, White Oaks, Why Did You Have to Go?

  16. Tom Dabler says:

    Didn’t the MonoRays with Buddy King and Bill Dabler play at the Oaks.???Shouldn’t they be included. Buddy King should be able to enliten us more on them.

  17. Bill Schlosser says:

    Hey Bob and Ike,
    I haven’t been to this site for awhile! Checked it out today and saw the E-Mails from you guys! I forgot all about “the Greech” and leaving through the bathroom window on many occasions! Our days together at White Oak Park will never be forgotten. Hope we can all get together some day to share all of the good times we had as members of the Del-Chords. You guys were a very special part of my life! Let’s stay in touch!

  18. Jerre Slaybaugh says:

    Hi to Cheeks from a York Hi 1961 grad. Hope you make it back for the reunion.

  19. Bill Schlosser says:

    Glad that you found this site! I’ll look forward to seeing you in October!

  20. Annie O'Shea(formerly Sherry Wisner) says:

    Hey Bill(Cheeks)
    I heard from my high school friends about the happening at White Oaks and I will be there! I live in Oregon and your brother (Johnny) was my FIRST boyfriend! Tell him hello for me. I can’t wait to see and hear the music. Such fond memories. Also my sister and her boyfriend had their first date there.
    Annie (Sherry)

  21. Louis McKinney, Sr says:

    When I came across this site, it just took me back to the days when everyone was either walking or riding with someone out North George Street to the Oaks and it was so cool to see everyone enjoying the bands and the dance contest. But I guess I will show my age here now because i remember the Del Chords practicing over at Marys Sub Bar on South Penn Street by College Ave, and they eally sounded great back then. Also there was a band out of Harrisburg called the Emperors and one of their guitar players was Ron Bowers from Steelton, and Ron and I were stationed in VA together in the Army. And Buddy and I sang in high school together at York High along with his sister Diane. Class of 66 is in the house yall. Oh to go back to the memories of the good old days, hey Ike, nice seeing you in here also, the Monster Mash Man, take care, Lou

  22. Jim Sharp says:

    I would be very interested in purchasing the album White Oaks Park- Battle of the Bands! Was it ever released and hoe can I get it. Class 69 York High

  23. Jim McClure says:

    Jim, try emailing Phil Schwartz, pschwa7845@aol.com. He was the original promoter of the album.
    You might also query Becky Janney, who helped with the White Oak reunion a few years ago: rgjanney@aol.com.

  24. Cliff says:

    Does anyone know how I can contact Jeff Hildebrand ? He is an old friend of mine

  25. Cliff says:

    Jim McClure thanks you very much for the info. I have left a message for Luci and very much hope to hear from her soon


  26. Norman Gaines says:

    Unfortunately I never got to The Oaks in its day, though we heard about it in Harrisburg. My furthest travel for the love of music (and the furthest place we could find a ride) was Lancaster’s Regency Room, home of GL and the Vespers.

    I was wondering though with all the talk of the “Amen Break” if anyone here had ever heard Jesse Alphonso of Harrisburg’s Thundering Sentries’ famous “Superette Beat”. He had a drum beat/break that we ALL knew. Maybe someone should seek him out (I understand he’s still in Harrisburg) and record him for posterity…

  27. Sam Martin says:

    Played in group circa 1969 – 1970 (NATO & Sam Bacoo) with Jeff Hildebrand. Is he still around York? Other members were Rick Terlazzo, Bob Herr, Clark Miller, George Scott (deceased).

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