‘Shady Dell rat’ blogs about southside York hangout where owners put out welcome mat

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Concert organizer Chris Huber attributes the success of the 1960s north side teen hangout White Oak Park to The Del-Chords. The first night the band played at The Oaks the line never ended. The Del-Chords are associated with south side hangout Shady Dell as well, playing on the jukebox there, according to a new Web site specializing in The Dell. Background posts: Shady Dell was home away from home , Shady Dell: ‘It was like family’ and The Oaks: ‘I would often look up there …’

Tom Anderson is a native of York County and an avowed Shady Dell enthusiast.
The mention of that teen hangout in Violet Hill, located just south of York Hospital before it closed in the early 1990s, stokes memories, and Anderson has captured those years on his new Web site Shady Dell Music & Memories.
Tom views the site as part personal diary and part tribute, honoring the memory of its owners, the late John and Helen Ettline… .


The site crosses paths with its counterpart in North York, White Oak Park and bands that played around York in the 1960s: The Emperors, Magnificent Men and Del-Chords.
The site nicely dovetails with an upcoming 1960s reunion set for Oct. 18 at Sovereign Bank Stadium in York.
Anderson comments on his site, where he writes as the Shady Del Knight:

I could produce a blog about the Dell that is nothing more than a repository for scholarly articles. However, that would be about as much fun to read as the Dead Sea scrolls. If I turned the site it into a weepy, sentimental eulogy, readers would only become depressed and log off. It’s a no brainer. Going to the Dell was fun, and that made me want to go back to the place time and time again. I want everybody who visits my Shady Dell blog to have fun as well, and to check back in on a regular basis. Therefore, you will discover that my blog is laced with humor… .
Unlike some blogs that sit idle for months at a time growing weeds, Shady Dell Music & Memories will be vibrant and alive with fresh updated posts at least once a week. I have already collected enough ideas and topics to keep it going for a year!

We’ll look forward to see how Mr. Knight’s, er, Mr. Anderson’s, site evolves.
He might have caught the leading edge of a popular wave that give an indicator of what it was like to grow up in York in the 1960s-early 1990s.
One last word from Tom Anderson, as he places The Dell in York’s history, on his new site:

What began as a home-based restaurant and bakery in 1945 evolved over the next two decades into the hottest teen nightspot in York county – complete with indoor and outdoor dance floors. It went beyond that.
Shady Dell owner John Ettline and his wife Helen put out the welcome mat, offering hospitality, comfort, support and encouragement to generations of young people. During its impressive 45-year life span, the Dell became a home away from home for countless area youth from a variety of backgrounds.
At the height of its popularity in the early and mid ’60s the Dell, located on the southern outskirts of the White Rose city, was as widely known as North York’s White Oak Park (“the Oaks”), Harrisburg’s Raven club, or any other youth-oriented venue in central Pennsylvania. The Dell attracted crowds from all over the region. It brought together under one roof kids from middle class families and kids from working class families – city kids, suburban kids, small town kids and farm kids.
The diverse cast of characters that constituted the Shady Dell family was a potentially volatile mix. Each of us had to find a way to fit in and get along (or risk being voted off the island.) In the end, in spite of our differences, most of us learned to dance together without stepping on each other’s toes.
‘Dell rats’, as we were called, had at least two things in common: a love of the music that played on the Dell’s jukebox, and a genuine respect for John and Helen Ettline, who graciously made their home our home.

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 .
Just try to resist this memory-tugging photography of White Oak Park, Part II.

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.
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