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

Friday, April 27, 2012

To Dell and Back: Rat Packers of Old Make Historic Pilgrimage to Mecca!

 "The parking lot hasn't been this full in a 

 looooong time!" exclaimed Toni Deroche. 

 I agree, Toni! 

 I'm thinking the 

 last time was 

 the 4th of July 

 weekend 1965. 

 "Well over 300 people attended," Toni continued. 

 "My mother-in-law counted 46 cars in the lot at one time. 
 People couldn't get in or out and some had to drive by." 

 Wow! Just like the good old days, Toni! 

 They all were gatherin' here from far and near 

 up at the Function at the Junction 
(intersection of Starcross & Shady Dell roads).

Shady Dell owner Toni Deroche threaded the needle, picking a rare weekend in April that provided gorgeous weather for both days of her open house. The plan came together and the good times rolled!

 Let's have a look at some 

 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...

 (above) My Della Ratta fraternity brothers 

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. 

 I think the right person already owns the house. 

 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. 

 I told her that's the magic of the Dell. 

 Thanks again to you, Shady...
 and to Toni for making this journey possible. 

 A Dell Rat All Ways, Greg Gulden 

 Thank you, 

 Dell Rat Greg, 

 for helping me 

 to recap this 

 historic event... 

 The Thrilla on the Hilla 


(Margaret reads all about it in the newspaper) 

Have a Shady Day!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In-Dell-ible Memories, an Introduction by Kathleen Mae Schneider


Hello again, my dear friends! Tom Anderson temporarily filling in for regular master of ceremonies Shady Del Knight.

In my last post I had the pleasure of introducing Margaret Elizabeth Brown Schneider, the oldest living Dell rat, as she celebrated
her 100th birthday.

Now I would like you to meet Margaret's devoted daughter, Kathleen Mae Schneider. Kathleen is here today to launch her new guest blogger series In-Dell-ible Memories, the true life story of her mother Margaret's child- hood at the Shady Dell. The engrossing journey begins at the close of the 19th century when Margaret's parents met. It then moves forward to 1912 when Margaret was born and 1913 when her father built the Dell and it became the family's new home. As you read Margaret's diary you will get to know the Dell's first residents, follow their adventures, learn about the hardships they faced and the tragedies they endured. You will view dozens of rare, never before published photographs of the Dell as it looked
during the World War I years along with awe-inspiring images of young Margaret and her large family.

Ladies and gentlemen at this time I am honored to present the preface to a gripping saga, an inspiring story of survival, Margaret Elizabeth Brown's In-Dell-ible Memories written by her loving daughter and my wonderful new friend, Kathleen Mae Schneider!

My Shady Dell “Roots”

by Kathleen Mae Schneider

   A familiar antique glass and wooden inkwell 
sits right next to the computer on which I write. 
I often pick it up, turn it over in my hands, and am struck anew by the irony of these two vastly different writing instruments sharing my desktop 
(a real wooden one, that is, not virtual!), sepa-
rated in time by 100 years. The first is small, heavy-bottomed and humble in appearance. The 
second is large and streamlined, humming away 
as I type this.

   The old inkwell acquired an eerie significance last spring as I searched for connections to the past that would help me write my family’s history. I took new notice of some traces of ink on the con-
cave wooden top of the well. These stains silently bore witness to a time long before the computer, and held clues to my origins.

   It is easy for me to imagine a pen dipped into the black ink in the well and then briefly touched to the opening in the top to get off the excess. I can almost hear a delicate scratching sound as it carefully writes on a page in the front of a large Bible a century ago this week. It records the birth date and name of a 12th child welcomed into the family - Margaret Elizabeth Brown.

   The writer I envision is the baby’s father, George Andrew Brown, the man who fulfilled his dream of building the house that would someday be-
come The Shady Dell. He is long gone as are his two wives and all but one of his 14 children. That one remaining child is my mother, now an amazing 100 years old.

   She was an original Dell “rat,” having lived in the house her father built from infancy to age 12. She still remembers growing up in this mythic place. Ironically, all these years later, scores of people revere it as an unforgettable part of their growing up and coming of age. George would be proud that his beautiful house is held in such esteem and that it is now preserved for the future.

   Long before hundreds of teenagers enjoyed lis-
tening and dancing to rock-and-roll at The Shady Dell the house was simply known as 1501 Starcross Road. Instead of Elvis Presley or Buddy Holly its rooms were filled with the sounds of my ancestors’ voices as they discussed the day’s events or sang along with tunes such as “Over There” and “We 
Don't Want the Bacon (What we want is a piece of the Rhine)” from an old hand-cranked Victrola and player piano.

      They lived and loved one another in that house and worked long and hard to make their home the anchor of their lives. Although I never went there to hang out in my teen years (I was preparing for 
a career in classical piano and I was forbidden to go there anyway…), what transpired at my mother’s original home, and after the Brown family left it, has been an important influence on my life.

   In spite of her advanced years, Mother’s mind is alert. Having survived many rough spots in her long life she is now challenged by her slow recovery from a broken hip which she says is “the worst thing that ever happened” to her. She is frail and tires easily. However, except for occasional frus-
tration, she deals steadily with the difficulties she faces as she has done her entire life and her family before her. She is an inspiration to all who know her.

   She is well aware that she is the oldest living link to the Dell’s origins, relishing the notoriety given her. After an interview with a newspaper reporter and knowing about my posts here she tells everyone she is now on the “Inner-net”! This week we celebrated her centennial which is nothing short of miraculous.

   It’s incredible that someone so old is able to vividly call up so much about her childhood, but she willingly indulges my curiosity.  She tells me her memory is bad, but then enjoys surprising me with a story I never heard before. With a tricky sparkle in her eyes she’ll say, “Didn’t I ever tell you that?”

      The recollections she shares with me are frequently funny, sometimes sad, and more often than not, mysterious. My ancestors and their life at the Dell house seem to come alive again as she describes their time there. I’m given a rare window on the past because there are so few people around whose lives spanned so much of the 20th and 21st centuries let alone someone I know and love so much.

   Some of my questions about her early years are met with a quizzical expression and a shrug. She tells me that she merely “grew up”, trusting that her parents were taking care of her.  Long before the advent of child psychology and the fear of 
damaging tender self-esteem, the Brown children weren’t told a lot by their parents. Any trauma 
or misfortune the family faced (and they were considerable as future chapters here will show) were met with cautions “Not to dwell on it”. Then they were not mentioned again. Discussion closed!

   Because of this I have to mine details of some parts of her background from other sources. It isn’t that she doesn’t remember, she was quite simply never told those details. My venture into 
my maternal family’s history many times seems like a job for Hercule Poirot!


Margaret at 100!

 I look at Mother’s face now - lined, wrinkled and tired, but showing wisdom and acceptance that was hard earned from a century of living.

Margaret at age 4 or 5

 Portraits of her as a young girl show her with an innocent and trusting expression. I feel such respect and tenderness for her and this remar-
kable family as they all look back at me from their old sepia-toned photographs.

   They courageously adapted to difficult times and persevered.  My life is tied to theirs, including the house in which they lived. Both genetically and using the oral, pictorial and archived histories, I am entrusted with their legacy.

   I am so very privileged to learn about and be inspired by these resourceful and resilient people whose genes I carry. I am incredibly proud to preserve their story for future generations. As I share it with you in coming posts, may I do Mother, and her family, honor!

   Following next time is the beginning of Margaret’s story, starting with her parents.

 Soon: Chapter 1 -

The Beauty and the Butcher

With love to Mother and to All,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Introducing the Oldest Living Dell Rat... She's 100 Years Old Today!


Hello everyone! For those
of you who haven't "met"
me prior to this, my name
is Tom Anderson and I am
the author of Shady Dell Music & Memories.

Today, for the first time since 2010, I am stepping out from behind the curtain and shedding my Shady Del Knight persona.

I am outing myself so that you will know this is not one of my gag posts. I promise you this is not a put-on. I couldn't be more serious and I couldn't be more excited because today I bring you by far the greatest story ever told on this blog. Startling new evidence was recently uncovered which suggests that the Shady Dell is close to 100 years old, a full eleven years older than previously believed. The revelation opened up a heretofore unknown first chapter in Shady Dell history and led to the discovery of Margaret Elizabeth Brown, a little girl whose family moved into the Dell in 1913 thereby becoming its first inhabitants. The biggest and best news of all is that Margaret, a member of the Dell's First Family, is still residing in York!

What's more, today is Margaret's 100th birthday! To put it into perspective, Margaret Elizabeth Brown was born three days after the sinking of the Titanic! Margaret has received
a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama and
First Lady Michelle Obama and I hereby declare that from this day forth April 18th will be recognized and celebrated as one of the most important dates on the Shady Dell calendar!

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and followers all around the world, please join me in welcoming Margaret Elizabeth Brown Schneider to our Shady Dell blog family and in wishing dear Margaret a very happy 100th birthday and many, many more!

It was an exciting weekend for Margaret. On Saturday family and friends from all over the country gathered at her home for a special birthday celebration.

On Sunday, Dell owner Toni Deroche welcomed Margaret as the Guest of Honor at the Shady Dell Open House.

Margaret entered her childhood home for the first time since the Roaring Twenties.

I'll have more pictures of Margaret next week in a recap of the two day Dell Open House.

There is even more good news. Margaret has a sweet, loving and devoted daughter named Kathleen who also happens to be a gifted writer.

Beginning this Sunday, Kathleen Mae Schneider will be joining me as my special guest blogger and presenting In-Dell-ible Memories, a new and exclusive series in which she will share mother Margaret's recollections of her childhood at the Shady Dell. As each chapter unfolds you will be transported back in time to the World War I era for a glimpse of what life was like during the Dell's earliest years. You will follow Margaret and her family as they face challenges and deal with tragedies. You will view many rare, never before published photographs taken of the Dell and its first occupants.

In-Dell-ible Memories is the most significant event in the history of Shady Dell Music & Memories. It is an opportunity for all of us to get to know a remakable woman, Margaret Elizabeth Brown Schneider through the writing of her caring and compassionate daughter Kathleen.

Once again, happy birthday, dear Margaret! Your new friends all around the world send their love. Please join us again on Sunday as Kathleen begins your inspiring life story.

God bless you, Margaret!