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, July 31, 2012

Kathleen Mae Schneider Presents..... The House on the Hill

Dear friends, once again it is my pleasure to present to you Kathleen Mae Schneider and Chapter 3 of her exclusive series In-Dell-ible Memories!

Chapter Three 

The House

on the Hill

Kathleen Mae 

   She just turned six - this brown-eyed little girl with the huge satin bow tied in her dark hair. Slowly moving back and forth on the porch swing, she dangles her thin pale legs in the warm spring air. In spite of a lingering cough, it feels good to be outside after being so sick.

   Margaret's parents had thought she was asleep, whispering as they stood by her side just a few weeks before. Lying on a makeshift bed in the kitchen, she could sense their worry as mother Allie’s cool hand gently soothed her feverish forehead and tucked blankets tightly around her. 
It hurt to breathe and she shivered in spite of being next to the stove. She didn’t understand the word ‘influenza’ but she heard them say it killed thousands of people around the world.

   Margaret wasn’t worried though because she knew her “Pop” George Brown would make her get well. He and Allie said her high fever would “burn it out of her” and his homemade nasty-tasting special syrup would stop her unrelenting cough. Fumes from the warm poultices of onions and garlic that Allie placed around Margaret's sore throat and on her congested chest stung the child's eyes but, sure enough, the fever left and she could breathe with-
out pain.

   As Margaret rested and slowly recovered she was comforted by her father’s confident voice coming from his office next to the kitchen. She heard him question a portly Southern gentleman sprawled on the couch in the bay window there, loudly extolling the virtues of some inexpensive land in a strange place called Florida.

   Pop propped his feet up on his desk and listened intently after offering his guest some of his favorite fresh roasted peanuts from a large bowl. Margaret heard their shells cracking and later the pinging of tobacco ‘juice’ as it hit the ornate brass spittoon on the floor between them.

   Two stenographers busily worked at their desks at the other end of the room, processing large stacks of orders for George’s thoroughbred hunting dogs, accounts for automobile parts and advertise-
ments for Brown’s Special Remedies. The noisy voices and tapping of typewriters were familiar sounds that helped little Margaret feel safe and secure as she drifted off to sleep. All was right with her world….

   Fast forward if you will to the present. Thanks no doubt to her father’s medicines and her mother’s gentle nursing, that little girl is still with us. The Great Influenza Epidemic of 1917-18 was just the first of several serious illnesses that Margaret would survive in her long life. Although frail and moving haltingly at the Shady Dell open house a few days before her 100th birthday, she frequently stopped and reverently looked around. She never knew the Ettlines or visited their snack bar, but she clearly remembered where her sickbed and the stove once stood in the old kitchen. She lovingly described the elegant room that she knew only as the parlor. As she lingered in the original office that is now a dining room, she proudly re-
called her father working long hours there as a successful entrepreneur.

   Is it any wonder I was unconvinced when someone recently said to me that I shouldn’t care who buys the Dell? “It’s just a house,” they said, but to me the Shady Dell is so much more than bricks, mortar and wood as it conjures up curious eerie feelings with every visit.

   When I was alone in the house for the first time, I strained to hear the voices and typewriters from a century ago and imagined a tiny cough from the next room. Standing outside, gazing at this stately and graceful building, my college archi-
tecture class about early Colonial Revival style with two-story Victorian bay windows fades. Instead there are visions of my grandfather energetically overseeing three businesses inside the one on the first floor and sharing Allie’s bed behind the one on the second.

   And what remains of the wraparound porch and Mother’s much-loved swing? The narrow band of brighter red bricks on the front of the house just above the first floor windows marks the spot that it once occupied. The original can clearly be seen jutting forward in this old photo.

(Photo courtesy of the Spangler family)

   Mother once told me with a wide shy smile that she was never allowed to even be near that swing when her older brothers and sisters “spent time” there with their dates, proving that long before "The Parking Lot" rightly earned its Shady Dell reputation, the house witnessed exactly the same raging hormones and heavy romance!

So this is “just a house? I don’t think so! See more reasons why not, next time, in:

In-Dell-ible Memories, Chapter 4

Allie’s Rats

With love to Mother and to All,

Chapter 2: Margaret is Born...and So Is the Dell 
Chapter 1: The Beauty and the Butcher
Introduction: My Shady Dell "Roots"
Margaret's Birthday


  1. What a wonderful piece! I thoroughly enjoyed every word. You write so descriptively that I felt like I was right there in the house. I am greatly looking forward to the next installment- thanks to you and Shady for making this possible for us!

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderJuly 31, 2012 at 6:36 AM

      Wouldn't it be wonderful if houses from our past could tell us all the things they've seen? The Dell house must have much to reveal because even without it talking, one senses its history intuitively, especially when it's quiet. It speaks in ways that draw us in, wanting to know more.

      Thanks for reading the third chapter in the series, and for your kind comments. There is much more to come about the characters in this narrative. I'm happy to have you meet them and share my experiences delving into their lives and the house where my mother spent her early childhood.

      Good luck starting the new school year. I vividly remember those end-of-summer feelings of mixed anticipation and anxiety. I spent more than half my life teaching and sometimes, like the old fire horse put out to pasture, respond to the sound of the bell!

      See you next time!


  2. It was wonderful reading her words describing the details of the kitchen and sounds during her illness and the determination of her parents to make sure she was a survivor. A wonderful chapter in her life and yes it is much more than just a house. Thanks for allowing us to share.

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderJuly 31, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      Hi Odie,
      I'm glad you were able to "visit" the Shady Dell when she was new. She must have been a beautiful house; she retains some of that even now after a century, much like Mother!

      Thanks for coming by and for your comment. Future chapters = more stories! Hope to have you along.

  3. Hallo again Kathleen. I can't tell you how much I am enjoying your series of posts on your mum's life and the original house that was to become known as The Shady Dell. You write so beautifully. Have you actually ever written a novel, because you certainly know how to draw the reader into a story. Gorgeous photo of your mum as that little girl with the large bow! It certainly is NOT 'just a house'. Your grandfather must have been quite a man in his time, running three businesses like that. I can imagine how the tap, tap of the typewriters must have given a sense of security to that little girl, especially when she was lying there on the makeshift bed in the kitchen. Can't wait for the next episode, Kathleen.

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderJuly 31, 2012 at 2:11 PM

      It's so good to hear from you again, Diane! No, I've never written a novel, but I'm flattered by your suggestion that I do so. It may be a possibility someday, once I collect all the stories and information, not to mention learning how to go about it. I'm not sure how to navigate the publishing world, but Tom is giving me an introductory course. LOL

      Yes, although I never knew him, my grandfather was a man of many talents and contrasts who had myriad dreams and much confidence in himself. He apparently thought he could achieve anything he put his mind to doing. It worked - up to a point.

      I can see that both he and my grandmother would easily fit the roles of tragic hero and heroine; their life together would easily fill a great big thick novel with many chapters. However, I'm afraid George Brown's confidence skipped this generation with me. I'll take your compliment to heart however, and will put the idea on the back burner to simmer for a while.

      By the way, congratulations on a spectacular opening ceremony for the Olympics. Mother and I watched spellbound, with me translating a lot of what was happening for her to understand.

      It reminded me of 1994 when my husband and I chaperoned my son's senior high school trip to London. We were absolutely charmed by the city and its people.

      Thank you again for your encouragement. I hope you find the upcoming chapters just as enjoyable.

      Have a great week!

  4. Kathleen - I just wanted to thank you, because you always take the time to write such a long reply to my comments on your guest posts over here at Tom's blog .

    Thank you, also, for your lovely comment on the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. That was so generous of you!

    Look forward to seeing you again next time.

  5. I've always had a fascination for old houses and the many stories they tell of the families who have lived in them. This house has such a rich history! I'm looking forward to reading every word!

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderAugust 1, 2012 at 4:41 AM

      There are all kinds of stories of "haunted" houses, but in the Dell's case the supernatural comes for me in knowing what went on there so long ago. I'm thankful that Mother is able to remember some of those times from her childhood so I can record them for future generations.

      What I'm finding both in her stories and in walking around this beautiful house and its grounds continually spurs my imagination and these stories are the result. It's good to share them with you.

      The next installment will add more characters to populate the Dell house. You'll meet other children and adults who lived there in the early twentieth century and follow their adventures as a family.

      I appreciate your stopping by to read and comment and be a part of this endeavor. I hope we'll see you next time, Karen.

  6. Who in their right mind would ever call The Dell "just a house?" There is too much history in those walls to be considered some run of the mill home. No sir, someone special deserves to call this place home. It still amazes me how far modern medicine has come. I couldnt imagine what it must have felt like to come down with the flu and have your prospects be possible death. Luckily she pulled through and now we all get to enjoy her history :) Looking forward (as always) to the next chapter!

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderAugust 1, 2012 at 6:35 AM

      Hi Amber!

      People I've met who are not immediately related to Margaret or are not sentimental in general do not appreciate the Shady Dell the way we do. I have to remember that for them, this house is like any other old property - long on upkeep and short on interest.

      I really want someone who understands the "history in those walls" to be the next owner so the house will be preserved and will survive to make even more memories for another family.

      As for the medicine my mother was given: one of my grandfather's recipes for cough syrup contained turpentine. I sometimes wonder how she ever survived the treatment as well as influenza! She claimed it toughened her up and helped her withstand other germs throughout the years.

      I also imagine my grandmother's anxiety when another of her children got sick, since she had lost so many others before my mother was born. She had to rely on her strong faith and her husband's remedies. Not a bad combination apparently!

      Thanks for sharing my enthusiasm for the Dell house and its history. Your comments are encouraging as I write future chapters. I'm really glad you are pleased with the stories.

      My mother is still amazed that so many others far away and whom she's never met are interested in her past. She's finding the technology of the "inner-net" almost overwhelming. It's a lot of fun for me to bring it all to her on my iPad and watch her reaction. Folks like you make her days - and mine - much, much brighter!

    2. I guess you are right. People who dont know the history are gonna just see it as some run of the mill house. I hope you can find someone who truly appreciates it though. I cannot believe she was given turpentine as a remedy for the flu! She is one tough cookie! Tell your mom I said hi and I hope she is enjoying all this "inner-net" love :)

    3. Thank you for sharing your inner-net love, dear Amber. You are a very special young woman and we all appreciate your kindness. Have a great weekend, dear friend!

    4. Kathleen Mae SchneiderAugust 3, 2012 at 5:44 PM

      You know, Amber, some people I've met know the history and still aren't impressed. However it's probably good that we are not all alike where preservation is concerned. If everyone was sentimental like me, few buildings would be destroyed because they hold history and meaning for someone. We'd really be crowded out!

      On the other hand, it takes people of my persuasion to want to preserve a few very special places. I'm just glad my ancestral home will be around for a long, long time. Were I rich, I'd buy it in a heartbeat as I suspect would many a Dell rat. Alas, most of us don't fit into that category.

      Thanks for your message to Mother. She really likes to hear these comments from her new friends. She often says she doesn't know why she is still here. I tell her we need her to teach us how to grow old - with grace, resilience and love. That's a pretty good reason!

  7. Kathleen I have known from the time I was in my early teens that the Dell was more than just a house . I was pulled to it than and I still am today, the Dell has its own magic that I have believed in most all my life. I still live in the same house that I lived in during my Dell years, I sometimes stand and look into the same bath room mirror and think back to the days I would stand there and get ready to go out to the Dell. I also remember when I was very young and my Grand Mother would use some strange medicine on me when I was not well. It really means a lot to me to hear you tell us the story of your Mother Margaret and the first days of our beloved lady the Dell house. I how feel as if the two of you our family, and you are both for sure very special to all Dell Rats. Please keep the stories coming because I can never know to enough about the Dell and you Mother. A Dell Rat All Ways Greg

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderAugust 1, 2012 at 3:01 PM

      I am so touched by your sincerity and authenticity, Greg! Many relegate the past, including old buildings, to the dustbin, but you obviously see it as an important part of who you are today. We carry within us all of our experiences and they influence the present. Your description of looking in the mirror - then and now - speaks eloquently of how houses can stand witness to all the stages of our lives and remind us of how we've both changed and stayed the same.

      Taking care of Mother and providing companionship for her here in the house that my father built and where I grew up has a similar effect. I often go up into the attic where I used to play and read as a little girl. It's funny how seeing my old dolls and toys and the sound of the rain falling on the roof takes me back to that time.

      My grandparents, my mother Margaret, me, Tom, you and your grandmother, all Dell rats and countless others who read these posts too - we're all connected by the century-old Shady Dell. In our world where there are so many divisions among people, we need more things like this old, old house to bring us together, don't we? Thank you for joining me in expressing your affection for it and wanting it preserved.

      Mother and I are honored to be included in the Dell rat family and circle of friendship. We'll do our best to get more stories written for you to enjoy. If George and Allie could read this blog and your comments, I bet they'd smile!

  8. I enjoy this series my friend. Thank you to Kathleen for sharing with us too xo

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderAugust 1, 2012 at 3:03 PM

      Hello, Katie!
      I'm glad you are enjoying In-Dell-ible Memories. There's lots more to come in future chapters that I think you'll like as well. Thanks for your visit and comment!

  9. These stories just go to show how much history a "place" can hold. The smells, the noises, the people who have shared experiences, joy and sadness over the years. It's amazing to think all of the stories those walls hold. Any place with that much history is definitely not "just a house"! It's hard to believe the natural remedies that people used to use, it's funny the things that nature gives us that can work better than any man made tablet!

    Margaret is obviously a strong woman to have survived all that she has over the years, what a privilege it must be to know her :)

    Thank you again Kathleen for another beautifully written and expressive story about your families history. My grandmother has just received documents from a distant relative with unknown details of our family's history and family tree and I find it so interesting to know what my ancestors were like. I hope to learn much more!

    Emma x

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderAugust 2, 2012 at 7:42 PM

      Hi, Emma!

      It's good to hear from you! It is fascinating to delve into our ancestry, searching for clues left by our forebears. I'm finding that these traces of their lives not only tell us about them, but also inform our present, helping us to better understand our family and ourselves in our time.

      Mother is a strong woman, and it is an honor to know her and help care for her. Her long life is a testament to the nature (genetics) and nurture (environment) given her by her mother and father. (Maybe the turpentine helped as well...)

      She is still teaching me after all these years! I'm happy to share her stories with you.

      Thank you for visiting. I hope we see you for the next chapter.

  10. The story of your mother's recovery touched me. I remember my own grandmother making mustard plasters and placing them on my chest when I was quite ill. I felt loved and taken care of. The house we lived in then with my grandma has many happy memories for me and when I am in California I usually go to see it.

    In my city of Kelowna we have many places chosen as Heritage Houses. They will never be torn down and must be well maintained by the owners. They are beautifully decorated at Christmas. Some houses are just houses, but your mother's house was a home with love.

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderAugust 4, 2012 at 7:55 PM

      Thank you for writing such a personal response to Chapter Three, Belle. As a child, I also benefited from plasters - the mustard ones and even ones with warm potatoes! When I asked my mother why they helped me get well, she said it was the "moist heat" that "drew out" the infection. If you think about it, these treatments were all natural, tested by time, and had no unpleasant side effects, unlike many medicines on which we've now come to rely.

      I'm glad to know I'm not alone in feeling attachment to my family's old houses. The Heritage House concept is a wonderful way of honoring special places and protecting them. I sure wish we could get the Shady Dell chosen for a similar designation!

      I appreciate your stopping by and commenting. Most of Mother's stories yet to come relate to the house and the land around it. I hope you visit again and perhaps will find more similarities between our lives.

  11. Hi Kathleen. A wonderful chapter, leaving us with much curiosity to return. I've seen your old photo of the dell, but, marveled at seeing it again. Such a wonderful old place, more than just a structure that housed a few people. What a beautiful photo of Margaret-a great treasure. I have never heard of using onion and garlic for illnesses, but, thank goodness it was effective, and she remembers the care her parents took to relieve her illness. You can go back and see the things the way they's still in your heart and soul! I lived only in two homes growing up, both on the same street. And, when I go back to visit, I remember the first one as a young child, then, moving to the second one as I was about to enter 7th grade. If I could just go into them again, I could tell a lot.

    No...not just a house! A wonderful post Kathleen! Best wishes to you and your mother.

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderAugust 4, 2012 at 8:41 PM

      Good to see you, Susan! I'm grateful for your favorable rating and appreciate your kind wishes for Mother and me.

      Every time I see that old picture of the Dell property it conjures up more background for Mother's stories. It validates her memories and brings the house to life by providing details for my writing and stirring my imagination.

      My father built the house where Mother lives now - right next door to the one that was our home until I was three. It took him six years to build it, working on it every night after work and during vacations.

      My older brother used to give me rides in the wheelbarrow that otherwise carried building supplies - of course seeking out and hitting every bump he could find along the way, nearly throwing me overboard! So even now, 62 years later, the house radiates the love and acceptance that it has always held for me, beginning before it was even finished being built!

      I think you and I can call these early homes of ours "places of the heart", don't you?

      Next month's post focuses on Mother and her siblings as youngsters, relaying more of her vivid recollections of life at the early Shady Dell. We hope it also will be to your liking.

  12. Hi Kathleen and Tom,
    As Tom knows I've been in and out with my blogging friends, while I enjoy a summer respite. I have been reading blogs and enjoying posts, but not commenting as frequently. This post is absolutely have really brought the 'Lady Dell' to life! I was enchanted with the story of your Mother as a young girl being 'tended' to by her parents. I also loved the part where he was not permitted to be on the porch with her older siblings and their 'guests'. Reminds me of a time gone by that would be nice to have again!

    Thanks so much for filling us in on the early days of the Dell and I look forward to your next installment!

    Tom, thanks for stopping in and I hope you are enjoying summer and sunshine and getting some 'real' time air!


    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderAugust 5, 2012 at 9:13 AM

      I understand,Sush. Commenting takes time and it's good to take a break from the keyboard now and again. I'd love to read and comment on more blogs, but helping to care for Mother makes a lot of time on the computer difficult. It's not that I don't care about the wonderful people who share their lives online; I find that fascinating. However my time with her is too precious at this point to trade for visiting any more cyberspace.

      I'm glad you are reading and enjoying the series. This is a new endeavor for me so I appreciate any and all feedback.

      Even though Mother is 100 years old, she is capable of surprising me with new tidbits from her life at the Dell house. Since I came along late in my parents' childbearing years,I only knew my aunts and uncles as old people. It makes me smile when I imagine them as teenage lovers, especially the ones who were so straight-laced later. One of my aunts took me to task for cutting my hair ("bobbing it" she called it) and wearing makeup at 18 for gosh sakes! She was one of them on the swing!

      The ways Mother took care of me when I was sick were learned from her mother, so I have a good idea what Allie was like as a nurse. Some things don't change with the passing years. Love and caring are universal and timeless. I'm so fortunate to have had that growing up as well as now.

      The next chapter is in the works with more surprises about the first Dell 'rats'. Until then, enjoy the remaining days of summer and thanks again for your visit.

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