candids snapped at
The Thrilla on the Hilla
The familiar sounds of music and laughter echoed across Violet Hill on April 14th and 15th, 2012, when once again the doors of the Shady Dell swung open to the public.
Scores of Dell rats scurried up the hill to revisit their old stomping ground and relive golden memories of their youth.
It was an opportunity for everyone to explore the Dell and see the results of two years of renovation work.
Nearly a century old but looking like new, the Shady Dell is
currently for sale by owner, the Deroches, Toni and Tom.
The candid camera was clicking all weekend as Dell alumni returned to their venerated alma mater.
The Walk of Fame (sidewalk) leading to The Magic Kingdom (the Dell) looked like the Red Carpet on Academy Awards night as cars pulled up, celebrities disembarked and made their way to the gala.
Who's that making his way down the paparazzi line wearing an original Shady Dell approved natural color Baracuta? Is it George Clooney?
No! It's my cousin, Bill Lewis, bass player for the popular York doo-wop group The Sting-Rays, posing above with wife Sally and another dignitary, the Dell's First Lady Toni Deroche.
My old buddy and fellow Dell rat Tom Landis (in the blue shirt) is a vocalist for the Sting-Rays. Tom assembled his men in the barn and entertained the crowd singing doo-wop songs a cappella. During the mid 60s Tom and I worked together at Weis Market on Edgar Street and gave each other rides to the Dell.
Here's one of John Ettline's nieces, Lynne Beck. Lynne is the daughter of John's sister, the late Louise E. Eppley, and the sister of my good friend Nancy Rae Sieling. Lynne posed next to the recently created collage of Dell memories that hangs on the wall of the great room which was once the snack bar.
There were Dell rats from the 1980s...
Dell rats from the 1970s...
Dell rats from the 1960s...
Dell rats from the 1950s....
There were even a couple of rats that hung out with Helen and John in the 40s. However, the Guest of Honor made those 80-somethings seem like baby Dell rats.
100 year old Margaret Elizabeth Brown Schneider, the oldest living Dell rat, arrived Sunday afternoon with her entourage. In no time, Margaret attracted a crowd.
Margaret was the center of attention, surrounded by curious visitors, fans and the news media.
Margaret, who lived at the Dell as a little girl, explored the first floor of her old home and noted how different it looks nearly a century later. She remarked that it is "beautiful." Memories flowed. In the front room, Margaret told daughter Kathleen, "That's where we had our couch, and over here is where the piano was."
Margaret made her way down the path to the barn and took a peek inside the old garage where she once played.
She also took a look around the barn/dance hall.
For the first time in decades rats packed the barn and music filled the air.
My good friend Greg "a Dell Rat All Ways" Gulden (above left) did an excellent job of summing up the historic Shady Dell Open House of 2012.
This was a weekend I will not
forget. Not only was Toni's
open house a success but a
new chapter has been added
to the history of the Dell.
When I got to the Dell Sunday afternoon it took me back
to the golden days. The lot was full and I had to make my
own spot to park. There were cars with out of state tags
on them, It was just like the old days.
The best part of the weekend was meeting Margaret Brown.
She is 100 years old and her father built the Dell house the
year she was born. She is one of the most beautiful ladies
you will meet.
I spoke with her son about the stories she would tell about
growing up in the Dell house and playing on the grounds.
When she saw the inside of the house she said its just
not the same. It reminded me of a saying, [You can
never go home again, only in the memories of your mind.]
When I walked in the barn the Sting Rays were singing.
It sure was good to hear that sound again in the barn.
I talked with Toni on Saturday and she said she hoped
the right person would buy the house, someone who
would take good care of it.
As my wife and I set out on the old outside dance floor
she looked at me and said there's something about it here
that makes you want to stay and not leave.