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.
Click to enlarge and you will see, embedded in the concrete block wall of the dance hall, a door to nowhere! (Watch that first step...it'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 a 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!
PUTS CART BEFORE HORSE
AND DEVOURS WAGON WHEEL!
"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.
(Did I hit 'em all?) Board yet?
of plenteous legend and lore, the century old estate is now cleaned, cleared, renovated and ready for occupancy.
YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY!