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

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dell Show and Tell: Probing Mysteries on the Dark Side of the Shady




That is especially true at the Shady Dell.

Who can forget Toni Deroche's close encounter with the creepy caretaker down in the basement?

I... (state your name)... being of unsound mind... do hereby join Shady Del Knight and ghost chasers/photographers Toni D, Kathleen Mae Schneider, Kathleen's husband Bob, their daughter Elisabeth Anne Clunk and Greg "A Dell Rat All Ways" Gulden, as we explore the Shady's underbelly, probe nooks and crannies, discover places previously considered off limits, and see things that no Dell rat has ever seen before.

 What lies one step beyond? 

 What will we find at the Dell's outer limits? 

 The handwriting's on the wall. 

 There's a signpost up ahead... 

Our next stop... 

Click to enlarge and you will see, embedded in the concrete block wall of the dance hall, a door to nowhere! (Watch that first's a doozy!)

A view of the dance hall/barn/garage taken from the bushes at the edge of the parking lot.

Tidied-up entrance to the old dance hall.

Here's a new picture of the freshly cleaned dance hall. To the right of the post is the recessed area where the Dell's jukebox was located.

The "make-out room" as you've never seen it before - no fire in the fireplace, no sofa, no chair, no television in the corner, no panting rats.

I spoke too soon! Here's one of my old buddies atop a media cabinet that contains an old radio and a turntable.

Kathleen Mae Schneider and her daughter Elisabeth (aka Lis) visited the Dell on April 18th before joining the rest of the family for Margaret Elizabeth Brown Schneider's 100th birthday observance.

 "The 18th was a miserable, cold, 
 rainy day!" remembers Kathleen. 
 "Elisabeth and I went anyway 
 before the second birthday 
 gathering at Mother's house and 
 spent several hours in the dance 
 hall, garage and barn, playing 

 "It was very spooky, 
 with darkness so great 
 we had to use flashlights, 
 spongy flooring in spots, 
 rain dripping through holes
 in the roof and strange 
 knocking sounds probably 
 made by the wind and 
 branches rubbing on the 
 barn's sides and windows. 
 We stayed together!!" 

Kathleen and Lis needed those flashlights when they crossed over to the opposite side of the spacious dance hall, moved that old TV set aside and walked through the door behind it.

The door leads to the cavernous barn and the attached garage. Dell patrons were prohibited from going to those areas. That was then - this is now. The snoop sisters threw caution to the wind, passed through that portal and boldly went where no Dell rat had ever gone before.

The Dell's original snack counter is stored here in the garage surrounded by the ghosts of Dell rats who bellied up to the bar and fressed on burgers, fries, subs, CMP's and Helen's cherry cokes. A steel menu holder is still attached to one section of the snack bar.

 "I think this is a truly haunting photo," Kathleen whispered, 
 "and I didn't ever order there! Lis aimed her flashlight onto 
 the surface for me to get the shot." 

The amateur sleuths summoned the courage to poke around the loft which can be reached by means of a staircase along the back wall of the barn. In the picture above the stairs are visible to the left of Lis.

 "I took this picture from above as Lis climbed the stairs 
 to the loft where Mother used to play as a child. As a 
 little girl, Mother never could have envisioned her grand- 
 daughter here," Kathleen marveled. 

Upstairs in the dark and lonely loft the pair combed through
a stash of forgotten items searching for clues about the lives of the Ettlines, the Spanglers, and their own Dell family, the Browns.

 "We found a will, the obituary of John Ettline's father 
 (his sons were his pall bearers), an old tintype photo, 
 assorted books, straw and chicken wire from pre- 
 sumed cage for foul, a very old croquet set that Mother 
 said looked like one her family owned, what look like 
 original shutters and windows, a Victorian era screen 
 door, etc. Oh yes - and a few beer bottles!" 

As Lis gazed out the window the rains came, reinforcing a pervasive feeling of wistful melancholy that came from examining generations old artifacts.

Looking up, Kathleen studied a wooden sign that appears to help support the roof at its peak.

 "The lettering on this piece of wood fascinates me," she 
 said. "My grandfather did own an automobile business ...." 

The stairway leading from the loft to the first floor seemed to harbor secrets of long ago.

 "This is where I could imagine children's laughter from 
 the past," sighed Kathleen. 

 "Another stairway in the middle of the barn leads down 
 to the stable area below the barn," Kathleen explained. 
 "It was there that we discovered this window with vines 
 growing on the inside as well as the outside!" 

These triangular saddle racks were discovered in an add-on tack room located on the main floor of the barn/garage complex.

They are hand crafted with "John" and "Helen" name plates on the ends.

In the picture above you can see the knotty pine wall of the tack room behind Lis and the doorway to the dance hall in front of her. Our work here is done. Let's head back over to more familiar territory.

Now we're back on the other side of the wall in the dance hall. See the large window on the left? Take a closer look!

The picture window at the rear of the dance hall is dotted with bullet holes. The shots apparently came from the woods outside the barn. (Ballistics tests do not support the theory that the shots were fired from the grassy knoll.)

Here's a close-up of one of the holes believed made by a shooter using a high-powered b b gun or a pellet gun.

In this slightly wider shot you'll notice the end of a stone wall below. That's next.

Here is that old stone wall running behind the barn. Click the pic to enlarge and you will notice that a small porch was built onto the back of the dance hall but was never accessed or used by Dell rats.

Kathleen inspected the wall and rear of the barn. She learned that the Ettlines raised horses for showing and that this wall, along with the metal gate and a fence which has since been removed, most likely formed a corral for livestock or horses.

Here's the barn viewed from the rear.

Kathleen has also learned that the area that became the Dell's parking lot and the additional spill over lot farther to the left of it were originally used by the Ettlines as a training ring and pasture for their horses.

When John took possession of the Dell in the mid 1940s the land on the orchard side of the house was a gradually sloping hillside as shown in this rare photo provided by Phil Spangler whose family lived at the Dell from the mid 20s to early 30s.

John added tons of fill dirt to create a level grazing area and show ring for the horses.

This area was chosen for the horse pasture because there wasn't enough space on the back side of the property.

When John modified the hill a steep ravine was formed at edge of the plateau.

John placed logs and utility poles around the outer edge of the parking lot to prevent cars from running down the ravine.

Even so, I remember
seeing a drunk, fed up
after repeated attempts
to start his old clunker,
push his heap off the cliff
one fine Shady Dell night!



According to Kathleen Mae Schneider, it might be time to contact Ripley's Be-LEAF It or KNOT! An expedition to the outer reaches of the parking lot yielded a wheel-y strange find. It seems the Dell has a tree with an appetite and the cast-iron stomach of a billy-goat. Kathleen and Bob dubbed it the "wheel tree," the remnants of a horse drawn farm wagon with one of the wheels enveloped by the tree trunk! 

 "What probably happened," 
 speculated Kathleen, "was 
 the wagon was parked or 
 discarded there and not 
 moved for many years. 
 A seed was deposited 
 beneath it and a sapling 
 took hold. As the years 
 passed and the tree grew, 
 it simply encapsulated the 
 wheel into its center and 
 made it a part of the trunk." 

 "In the picture below you can see the scar on the 
 bark where it grew over the iron rim of the wheel." 

I'd say its bark is worse
than its bite, wooden EWW?

 "It is really, really cool to see!" Kathleen exclaimed. 
 "It sends chills down my spine!" 

After reading your tree-tise, Kathleen, I can tell there's something shady up on Violet Hill, and it's a tree-mendous mystery. You weren't kidding when you said you wanted to branch out, lumber over to the Dell and explore your roots.
(Did I hit 'em all?) Board yet?

The picture above was taken in 2009 before the Shady Dell's historic renovation began. The vintage car in the foreground reminds us that, until recently, the Dell was an aging fixer-upper enshrouded in trees and in desperate need of repair. 

As we wrap up our Magical Mystery Tour we take one last look at the Shady Dell as it appears today. The focal point 
of plenteous legend and lore, the century old estate is now cleaned, cleared, renovated and ready for occupancy. 



Have a Shady day!


  1. This is completely fascinating to me, just so intriguing.

    I was with them each step of the way, exploring. I would have loved to have been there in person.

    Someone pushing their car over the edge? Wow! The tree growing around the wheel? Another wow!

    Thanks to all fo you for teaming together to show us such a comlplete picture of the Dell. What other mysteries does she hold?

  2. Hi, Shelly! That's right. This post was a joint effort. It includes pictures contributed by Toni Deroche, Kathleen Mae Schneider and Greg Gulden. It's great to have more people getting involved in photographing the Dell and exploring its rich, colorful history. Thank you for taking the tour with us this morning, dear Shelly, and have a wonderful day!

  3. It has been such an interesting journey seeing the Dell from start to finish. I am always amazed at how nature adapts and overcomes obstacles. Your example is about as dramatic as I have seen. As Shelly said, thanks to the teamwork this was a wonderful journey. Have a great rest of the week good buddy.

  4. Hi, Odie! I never saw that phenomenon before - a tree consuming a large wood and metal wagon wheel. The Shady Dell has many mysteries and that's surely one of them. Thanks for joining the soul patrol, good buddy, and have a great day up your way!

  5. Hi Tom. What an absolutely fabulous post today, with never seen before shots of the old Shady Dell. It must have been quite spooky nosing around in the attics, and down the stairs. I liked the vine that was growing on the inside as well as the outside of the window! Oh my, it probably hadn't been touched for years. This really is such a fascinating tale of that old building. Who knew that John and Helen kept horses and were obviously very keen on them. I wonder how quickly a buyer will come forward to buy The Shady Dell! It would certainly make a lovely family house now.

  6. Tom There are so many things I need to say about your post today I known I will miss something. As I started to read this story flash bulbs started going off in my head. When you took us from the dance floor up stairs in the barn it hit me, what if 2 or 3 years ago the wrecking ball would have demolished the house and the barn and today they would be deep in a land fill. We would not have all of this beautiful history of the Browns, Spanglers and of John And Helen Ettline.It made me think of what we call the golden years the 1960s when we were young and we had the Dell going strong. We were all so busy growing up and trying to be adults that we missed what was happening in York. The powers that be at that time belived the way to move forward was to tear down the old. York lost many of its old buildings during the 60s in the name of progress. This reminds me of another one of my favorite sayings ( what some see as progress I see as destruction). York has lost so much of its history and when its gone it can never be brought back. As Shady says at the top of each new page "The Dell is more than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind". A dell Rat All Ways Greg

  7. Thisisme - Here's an idea: I think you should buy the Shady Dell and you and your whole family, Alfred included, should move across the pond and become the new keepers of the castle! Yes? I can just picture Alfred sniffing and snooping around the property, can't you? (LOL) I'm glad you made mention of the horses. It's important to remember that the stables were an important part of the Dell. The Ettlines loved horses. They were both equestrians and they also entered horses in the harness racing events at the York Fair. New information seems to surface every day concerning the generations that lived at the Dell. It's a very exciting time indeed and I'm so glad you're enjoying the history lesson. Thank you very much for coming by, dear friend Thisisime, and have a marvelous afternoon and evening in Devon!

    Greg - I totally agree with you, good buddy. Somewhere along the line the wrecking ball became a symbol of progress and much has been lost as a result. As you have seen in post after post on my (our) blog, fate intervened and the Dell was saved from almost certain destruction the day Toni and her family became the owners. Our alma mater couldn't be in better hands. We can only hope that the new owners realize all that the Dell stands for and continue to preserve what's left of that golden era. Thank you very much, Greg, for sharing your thoughts today and for taking many of the wonderful pictures we've all been enjoying in the last two posts. Have a terrific day, my friend!

  8. I really enjoyed this little tour. I'd have loved to be with them as they combed through the old dusty artifacts! I always find it to be so interesting, as well as a little bittersweet when I think of all of those who used to live there and/or frequent the grounds. It would be an amazing home for someone now. I especially enjoyed the fact the original owners were horse lovers, as I have loved horses all my life. Even owned a few, showed them, and loved them well.

  9. karen - Hello, dear friend! This post made me think of your recent essay in which you revealed the effect that rain can have on your mood. Imagine how it was for Kathleen and her daughter there in the dark and dusty loft on mother/grandmother Margaret's 100th birthday, rummaging through miscellaneous articles left behind and wondering if any of them would provide clues about Margaret's childhood at the Dell. That scene could easily be extracted from a work of fiction but it is fact and I am overjoyed to present Margaret's story here on SDM&M. Thank you very much for being here. Your visit is greatly appreciated as is your friendship, dear karen, and I wish you a very happy day and week!

  10. Your post today brings life to the words...'if walls could talk'! Imagine going through your ancestor's home and finding clues to your past. I know the Dell has been home to many...and it is so fantastic it has been lovingly restored. I love the tree that grew up around the tire wheel, the rainy window scene, the attic with more stories from the past. Oh thanks for sharing yet more of the life of the Grand Dame...Ms Shady Dell!

  11. Hugs to you, Sush! I agree. If the walls of the Dell could talk I'm sure we'd get an earful. There is still an 11 or 12 year "blind spot" in its history that nobody has been able to illuminate. It's the period from 1933/34 until John and Helen took possession of the place in 1945. Kathleen has been working on that piece of the puzzle. Thank you very much for joining our ghost posse, dear friend Sush, and have a wonderful evening!

  12. Sorry I'm late today, Tom. I didn't know the Ettlines showed horses! How wonderful. That has always seemed like such a fun thing to do. It is nice how John made the land level, and the tree is fascinating! I didn't know a tree would do that. It goes to show that nature will triumph over man-made things in the end.

    The attic finds were very interesting. Imagine those articles still being there! I love they left the bullet holes in the windows. I know how that guy felt when he pushed his car over the cliff. We had an Astra that deserved such an end. Wonderful post, Tom as always!

  13. Hi, Belle! I'm just wondering how many years it took for that tree to gobble up the wheel and why nobody noticed it until now. It's a great example of nature's adaptability, isn't it? Remember my story/metaphor about the lowly weed growing through the cracks in the pavement and producing beautiful flowers? I'll never forget that guy pushing his car off the cliff! He got behind it and pushed with his back, if you can picture what I mean. He's lucky he didn't go over the edge along with his lemon. Thank you very much for brightening my day with your presence, dear friend Belle, and enjoy your evening in B.C.

  14. That is SO cool! One of my favorite shows is If These Walls Could Talk which is basically stories about people who have found hidden letters, pics, etc in their homes mostly during renovations. I would love to rummage through the Dell and see what I could find :) Thanks for tour!

  15. I've heard many people talk about Shady Dell, but I never knew exactly what it was, or where it was. After experiencing it through this story, I want to see it for myself. I've always found the stories I enjoy writing the most for my own blog involve places I'm able to visit, which allows me to add my senses to the words and photographs.

    Thanks for sharing.

  16. Amber Blue Bird - Hello, dearie! I can picture you doing the Nancy Drew thing at the Dell. You'd love it! We're reporting more than 100 years of Dell related history in the months to come and I know you'll enjoy it. There are many interesting stories about Margaret Brown and her family and daughter Kathleen will present the next chapter of the diary less than two weeks from now! Thank you for coming, dear Amber, and happy WW to you!

    Blake - Hello and welcome to Shady Dell Music & Memories! I'm so glad you stopped by to have a look around and learn more about the Dell. I'm sure Toni Deroche and Kathleen Schneider would be happy to meet you and have you tour the Dell and blog about it. New info and stories are coming to light almost daily and I hope you'll join me here again and again. Thank's for your visit and comment, Blake!

    1. Kathleen is actually the one who directed me to your blog and asked for my assistance in tracking down the history of the property during its mystery years. When I get some background information from her I'll be able to start digging around to see what I can uncover. Cheers.

    2. Blake - That's great news! I hope you can help fill in some of the blanks. Stay in touch!

  17. This is so interesting! I love historic locations, even the photos send my imagination whirling. It's so interesting to see how much this place is loved by so many. What a miracle that it has been restored. Thank you for sharing such a great collection of photos and funny commentary.

  18. Hi, Jenny! I'm glad you found the photos fascinating and got a kick out of my Pun-sylvania humor. The Shady Dell was once a playground for the young. Now it's becoming a haven for history buffs. Few houses can claim a history as rich and colorful as the Dell's as you will find out in upcoming chapters of Kathleen's series. Thank you very much for visiting and commenting, dear friend Jenny, and once again happy birthday to you!

  19. Hello, Tom!

    I just completed the Shady Tour and I must admit I was quite intrigued. It had me sitting on the edge of my seat---I had to put on my reading glasses and sit close to the screen! I had turned off an in depth investigation of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, where "The Shining" was filmed. The TAPS team on "Ghost Hunters" were checking out paranormal claims. But it had to take a back seat to the revealing photos of The House on Shady Hill. Excellent photos, and I'm pleased at everyone's contribution to the article, from Dell Rats from all different eras. I look forward to learning even more as you continue to present The Reveal. By the way, your puns to Kathleen near the end of the article rivalled any half-hour narration on TruTV. Have a great week!


    1. Hi, Ron! At least nobody found the word "REDRUM" scrawled on a mirror! (LOL) I'm glad you got into the SPIRIT of the proceedings as Kathleen, Lis and other members of the poltergeist patrol spooked around the Dell. How about the "Helen" and "John" saddle racks? We're making new discoveries week by week and I'm totally amazed by it all. Stay tuned for the rarest photograph ever posted on this blog. It's coming up next Tuesday as part of my Spring of Surprises! Thanks for coming by, good buddy!

  20. Hi Shady. So sorry I haven't been around for a while. Been out of pocket for over a week now with work, and, 'Scooter". I have read and gazed in amazement at your Shady reunion post, and will go back to say hello there. This was very fascinating...right up my alley. It's so fun to explore and look into past residents' lives, so to speak, just by examining every nook and cranny of an old place. You can really imagine and speculate on the events that may have taken place in all of those years. What an exciting piece of property. The photos really do tell a story! And, you present so well, it keeps one wondering. Thank you for so much real history of such a grand place! And, have a wonderful weekend!♫

    1. Hi, Susan! I'm so glad to see you back here, dear friend, and hello to Scootie! Yes, we can only speculate on all the events that transpired at the Dell over the past 100 years. Kathleen will soon be getting her mother's story underway and believe you me there was plenty of drama unfolding at the Dell during the WWI years. Thank you so much for catching up on posts you've missed, dear Susan, and enjoy your weekend!

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