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, October 9, 2012

Allie’s Rats, Part 1 – Hill and Dell

Dear friends, once again it is my pleasure to present to you Kathleen Mae Schneider and Chapter 4, Part 1 of her series In-Dell-ible Memories!

Chapter Four 

Allie’s Rats Part I

Hill and Dell

Kathleen Mae 

Last fall I sat by my 99-year-old Mother, Margaret Brown Schneider's hospital bed holding her hand 
and gazing out the window as she awaited surgery. Directly below was the small town of Violet Hill – Mother's birthplace – and up across the valley 
The Shady Dell, where she lived in the house built by her father, George A. Brown.

Mother remembers this spot long ago when instead 
of a state-of-the-art hospital there was a one-room schoolhouse where she learned the three R’s. She recalls it was also an excellent sledding hill.

Margaret’s fifth grade school picture

As Mother slept fitfully, I thought how this place must have looked and sounded to her on a winter day as a 5-year-old. I could imagine her along with her siblings and friends with rosy cheeks and noses bundled up against the cold in woolen scarves, hats and mittens, clambering up the steep hill pulling their sleds behind them. Their delighted shouts and squeals echoed down the valley and their breath made vapor clouds in the frigid air as they careened wildly down the slope and tumbled laugh- 
ing into the snow before trudging back home to dry their wet clothing beside their mother Allie's kitchen stove.

The Brown children’s home was a veritable paradise, with deep green woods to explore and a barn’s large loft for playing on rainy days. There was an ideal tree-climbing orchard with blossoms perfuming the air in spring and abundant fruit ripe for the picking at harvest!

Since their father, George Andrew Brown, owned a kennel and animal business at their home, they were surrounded by what must have seemed a zoo: dogs, rabbits, ferrets, a horse, cow and pigeons lived 
in and around the barn. On the third floor of 
their house was a large attic playroom, filled with dozens of toys and a real live monkey. They quite simply "had it all", as my aunt once said.

Mother and her sisters loved playing in the woods across from their home, using flat stones they found there as walls for pretend houses. She still remembers the sweet smell of the arbutus that bloomed in profusion, along with drifts of wild violets and huckleberry bushes everywhere.

The Shady Dell Woods today. 
 By the way, on a recent visit 
I discovered a real house farther up the hill.

I love this next picture! The earliest photograph 
I have of my mother shows the first children to play at the Dell house and proves that my grand- 
mother Allie was 'with child' nearly all of her young-adult and middle-aged years. It also shows the children's emerging personalities.

The first Dell Rats, lined up 
on their proud grandparents’ porch!

From left, serious and obedient Earl, sits next to his mild-mannered younger brother Austin, who sits stoically squeezed in next to his younger sister Ethel. She glances at her shy cousin, Thelma, as 
if to say, "What's your problem?” Baby Mildred is next, looking restless in bunched-up leggings and leather shoes on an obviously warm day.

My dear mother is on the end with tousled dark hair and bare feet, even as a toddler looking contented and happy. Poor Florence, Allie's and George's oldest, has a lap-full and smiles broadly as she holds her squirming baby sisters and tries to keep them more or less still for the picture.

All these children are gone now – except for Mother. Their old home house still stands though, all gleaming from her face lift and ready for new youngsters to fill her rooms. I am more than blessed by having had the chance to visit her and indulge in the ironic scenarios and mental time travel of my mother’s beginning. Now whenever I remember my ancestral home and see her in treasured photographs, my heart fills with tenderness for all the generations of my family, past and present.

In the 1920s, when Margaret and a younger sister perhaps visited the Dell house attic for the last time before they had to move away, she never could have imagined the end of her family’s story in that treasured place: two other little girls, one the same age that she was, carrying her genes into the future and enjoying the sunshine in the very same spot nearly a century later.

Margaret’s great granddaughters Kate and Samantha 
in the attic at the Shady Dell open house in April 2012

Read more First Dell rat stories in:
In-Dell-ible Memories, Chapter Four Part II 
 Margaret's Pig Tale and Other Close Encounters

With love to Mother and to All,

Chapter 3: The House on the Hill 
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. Kathleen Thank you for this beautiful look back to a different time in the Dells history. Back to a time when there was so much life and love on the hill. I like the part where you tell of the school and what the area was like. Thank you for sharing the pictures with us, they must be some of your most treasured keepsakes. This story and the others you wrote I will be reading over and over again as long as I can. I am so gald we had the chance to spent a little time together this past week. It made what was a very hard time for me less difficult. The events of the past week were hard on all of us. I will never be the same, my heart is broken and the little bit of hope I had is gone. I hope you and your mother are both well. Take care you are both like family to me. A Dell Rat All Ways Greg What others may see as progess I see as destruction.

    1. Thank you for your touching comment, Greg!
      I also like to think back to York in the beginning of the 20th century. I see the past through the lens of my own experience though, so I often imagine it was a simpler time when Mother sledded down that hill. However, she reminds me that her time was as complex as ours, just in different ways. For instance, in 1918 before the discovery of penicillin, a simple ear infection could kill a child of her age.
      As I research Mother's story I often feel sad too at what is now gone forever: the schoolhouse, her parents, brothers and sisters, the trees she used to climb and the barn where she played.
      Like everyone else, Mother and I both have had our hearts broken a lot in our lives. She still teaches me how to survive hard losses. When our hearts break we need to pick up the pieces and go on, only looking back as long as we can remember the good times without focusing on the bad, and letting the time and beauty still left to us heal the pain.
      I touch my head and my heart, and know that those great experiences and people are all still in there, very much alive and vibrant. They are probably even better in memory and imagination than they actually were!
      Thank you for your good wishes for Mother and me. We are doing well. She is recovering from a fall last week due to her walker malfunctioning, but so far, no serious damage. (She says because of her hard head.)
      We are glad we seem like family to you. The more friends we have in this world, the better!

  2. Hallo Kathleen. It was so good to see you here again today at Tom's Shady Dell Music & Memories. It is a real delight to read these nostalgic stories of an earlier age. To me, each part is getting better and richer. Is this going to be a book that you hope to get published? I, for one, would certainly buy a copy, and I am sure that all the other Dell Rats would willingly buy one as well. You really do write so beautifully - when I read these posts, it is as if I am there on the sled tobaggoning down that hill, and sitting on the porch with the family. What a delightful photo that is of all the little ones together! How special to have that photograph of Margaret's great granddaughter posing in the attic that she would have once played in with her siblings. It must, indeed, have been idyllic when your dear mum was growing up with all the other children and the animals that were there! I wonder if she remembers it as a wonderful time. I'm sorry, I'm rambling on a bit here, but I just want you to know, Kathleen, how much I really do appreciate and enjoy these posts of the early days of The Shady Dell, and hearing the story of Margaret's life. Thank you! I do hope that you are mum are keeping well.

    1. It's good to hear from you, Diane. I hope it won't always be as long between installments as it was this time!

      Writing this story of Mother's is taking on a life of its own. There are more details coming to light to be investigated, newly-found and re-acquainted members of my family with wonderful anecdotes about my ancestors coming forward and recent events at her childhood home requiring attention. Meanwhile, enjoying being with Mother, my husband and daughter vie for my time and preclude writing a book right now.

      I can easily see this both as a novel and non-fiction account because I love writing and there is certainly plenty of material. It's encouraging to hear that I would have buyers for my book should one ever materialize.

      The whole publishing process scares me a bit however. One of my friends attempted to sell her wonderful mystery series to a number of publishing houses and was rejected multiple times until she eventually gave up. From what she's told me, most editors are not as patient as Tom...

      What I've written thus far here was based on Mother's earliest accounts and memories, so up until this point in the narrative things were halcyon. In future posts, it will become apparent that all was not as wonderful in Mother's childhood as it would first appear.

      I absolutely love your "rambling", as you call it; bring it on! Your good wishes are always heart-warming. Your appreciation and feedback are the fuel that inspires me to head back to the source and my computer to keep the story flowing. My "Mum"and I are happy to oblige!

      Our best to you and your family as you settle into autumn in the UK.

  3. sounds like Margaret and her siblings had a great childhood. I would have loved to have been surrounded by all those little animals! Its always a pleasure to learn more about Margaret and the Dell so I have to thank you sincerely for all your posts. They are a true delight :)

  4. Thanks for reading the first part of Chapter 4, Amber. There are so many stories about animals at the Dell house that I couldn't fit them all into one post! It surely must have been fun to live amongst all the furry and feathery creatures.

    Apparently my grandfather knew a lot about many things. He especially considered himself an expert in animal husbandry. So in addition to being a part of her environment growing up, caring for animals was a big part of Mother's non-school education. It must have carried over to me since I'm an unabashed animal-lover, though I certainly didn't inherit all of George Brown's confidence.

    I look forward to hearing from you again after the next post which is about more animals, among other things. I'm glad you're enjoying Mother's story.

  5. Another wonderfully written piece of the Shady Dell history Kathleen! I loved seeing the photographs, what a nice one of your grandchildren at the end, I'm sure they will treasure the visit to their great grandmother's old house. Wishing you and your family well Kathleen and again I look forward to your next installment.

    Emma x

    1. I appreciate your compliment, Emma. It seemed almost magical having Mother's children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren exploring her childhood home close to her 100th birthday. I know having them there meant a lot to her, and to me - well - let's just say my imagination was working overtime and I couldn't wait to write about it!

      I am fortunate to have other pictures waiting to share with you that illustrate more of Mother's life. They are like gold to me! I'm glad you like them as well.

      Thank you for your visit. I hope you'll be back for the next post in the series. There will be a change of the family's direction in some of the events chronicled. See you then!

  6. Kathleen, as a lover of the Dell for 2 years it is wonderful to know what it was really like in the beginning and to know the experiences of your mother. I identify since I have an Aunt Katie who just turned 104 Sept. 21st and I have treasured the stories of times when she was a child as I know you have hearing your mothers stories. Thanks for sharing all this with us and giving us a glimpse back to an era when life was simple but rich.
    Odie in NC

    1. Hi Odie!
      Thanks for stopping by to read about the young Shady Dell and a big Congratulations to your Aunt Katie on her 104th birthday! She must certainly be a wonderful lady who, like my mother, still has much to share with us about her amazing life.

      Mother often compares things at the beginning of the 20th century to today. I wonder if we live to be as old as she and Aunt Katie are, if we will be able to describe our past in the same way.

      We'll be able to tell younger generations of our family about learning to use computers and cell phones and men walking on the moon for the first time. They will find it hard to believe and also think our lives were much simpler because our technology will have taken us to such a different world by that time.

      There's more delving into the Shady Dell's past in the next part of the series. It will be good to have you along!

  7. Beautiful and touching. The photographs brought it all to life. When my grandmother was still alive (she would have been your mother's contemporary) I loved to listen to her talk about life in Mesa, AZ in the early 1900s. All the fun of running around with her siblings, and trying to stay cool in the Arizona heat with no A/C. It's a time long gone, and having people like your mother with us to help us record the history is invaluable. You can step back in time like magic. I especially loved the image of Kate and Samantha in the Shady Dell attic - very ethereal.

    1. Hello, Karen, and thank you for reading and commenting so graciously about In-Dell-ible Memories.

      It's easy to see why elders are so respected in traditional societies. They share lasting impressions made on their lives and in so doing, lovingly pass on to us how they prevailed against all that life dealt them. We are who we are because of them - who they loved, what they learned and what they survived. Would that we inherit their resilience and strength!

      That last picture of my great-nieces still gives me goosebumps too! How fortunate we are to have older pictures from our ancestors and now digital photographs to embellish our own memories in the making!

      I look forward to your comments after reading and seeing more pictures in the next part of Chapter 4.

  8. Hello Kathleen, Thank you for sharing your memories and thoughts. The part about sledding down the hosipital hill reminded me of many winter days spent sledding down the reservoir hill across from a golf course that is now York College.


    Note to Dell Rat Greg - Hang in their buddy. We still have the good memories.

    1. When tobogganing down reservoir hill, I recall you got a lot for your money. (It was free, wasn't it?)

      If you didn't hold on real tightly to the sled and weren't fully paying attention to the serious bumps ahead that sent the toboggan airborne, your friends made it to the bottom still on the sled while you ended up unceremoniously making the rest of the ride down that steep slope on your backside.

      I was a slow learner and did that repeatedly (on a date for Pete's sake!) before learning how to lean correctly and pay attention. (A second date never happened with that guy - I wonder why?)

      Thanks for reading Mother's story Jerre, and calling forth - ahem - "archived" sledding stories from our own past. I hope we'll see you here next time for In-Dell-ible Memories.

    2. At age 13 I wiped out on my sled going down reservoir hill. I rolled over on the steep slope, the steel runner raked across the bridge of my nose and I began bleeding profusely. A stranger drove me to York Hospital in his car. Several stitches were required to close the wound. Good times!

  9. Hello Kathleen, what a wonderful chapter. It seems that when you read other's memories, your memories come back to mind. Woolen scarves, hats and mittens...I wore them plenty in Kansas. We received quite a lot of snow during my childhood, and rode two and three at a time on our sleds! And, there is something romantic, even as children, about roaming through the woods. It must have been so adventurous for your mother, and her siblings to discover and search for various items that can be found on property such as theirs was.

    I love your mother's 5th grade photo, she was a lovely girl, so poised. And, the photo of all the children is such a treasure. But, most of all, your final photo says it all. I keep going back to it and gazing through the window with the two girls. It almost gives me chills, because it's that photo that brings us to the reality of the lives you're puts me there! It's simply beautiful. I've enjoyed this chapter very much Kathleen. I wish you and your mother well. Have a wonderful week!♥

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Susan. I'm glad the stories this time elicited good memories for you. We carry so much of our childhood within us as adults, but it sometimes seems that it takes a story to bring it to the front of our consciousness.

      Yes, my mother and her brothers and sisters must have been a lively bunch - all seasons of the year from what I hear. They had the freedom to explore and play outside where nature taught them so much and their imaginations could flourish.

      I just recently saw a course offering for parents in our area called "Teaching Your Children How to Play Outdoors"! How sad is that?!

      Mother still remembers the name of her first grade teacher and when I asked her recently, "What was the name of that first grade teacher that you liked?" She replied without missing a beat, "Her name was Miss McSherry, and I never said I liked her!"

      I appreciate your comment very much, Susan, and I hope fall brings good things your way.

    2. Mother Margaret remains sharp as a tack and never hesitates to spring her wry sense of humor on you.

    3. You're so right, Tom! It is one of the reasons I find helping her at this stage of her life to be such a privilege. She keeps me smiling, often through my tears, with her comments. Once when I told her I never know what words will come out of her mouth she said, "Don't you know by now - I'm unpredictable?"

  10. Kathleen,
    I've enjoyed this installment, as well as the previous two which I had missed earlier. Your mother is a treasure. Indeed, she is pretty in her 5th grade picture,and I love her sharp memory and sense of humor. I can easily see how you enjoy her reminiscences and finally decided to share them so others could enjoy them as well.
    I can picture sledding down the hill that is now York Hospital. I'm sure they had a lot of fun. I used to get bundled up in 5 layers of clothing and go sledding down the street in front our house, which fortunately wasn't cindered and had very little traffic. I always went inside soaked to the skin. I know your mother. her sibling and friends had a lot of fun doing that.
    Regarding her siblings, Mom and I would go to Loganville several times a year to buy fruit at Earl's orchards and a jug of cider when they pressed it. A friend of mine recently retired from managing Brown's store also. Goodling's got some patronage from us, but only if Brown's didn't have it.
    Thanks again for sharing these memories and pictures. I always wondered why it was called Violet Hill. My parents and I used to visit friends there, but I never saw any violets. They lived on a street away from woods. Thanks for showing me. I can see how much fun the woods, the upstairs and barn would have been for your mom and the other kids. The outdoors were a lot of fun.
    Looking forward to reading more from you,

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderOctober 14, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your memories, Ron. Mother and her history are indeed too good to keep to myself!

      A lot of folks have sledding memories it seems. Close to Mother's house where I grew up there is a steep, curving, perfect sledding hill, also not-travelled on snowy days; people just didn't venture out in icy weather. My brother, sister and I would make triple-decker descents -me on top. I'd often wipe out long before the bottom, which I believe was their intent!

      Sledding teaches kids a lot about life I think: how to move beyond our comfort zone sometimes and take chances, hold on when things get rough, and try it again when we fall.

      I always associate good smells and wonderful flavors of ripe fruit with visiting my Uncles' (both Earl's and Austin's) orchards as a kid, and now too, with my cousins in charge. The Loganville store sure has grown beyond the small stand I remember next to my Uncle Earl's house.

      Next time, I'll be writing about the origin of the Shady Dell's name, which Mother just recently revealed. Hope you'll be back then for more stories, both yours and mine!

  11. Wow what a nice post i am really so inspired here could you more share here i will be back to you as soon as possible keep continue sharing.

    Dell PowerEdge 1855

  12. What wonderful photographs. Your mother was so pretty and I love the last photo - it is moving. The childhood your mom had is one I would have loved for my childre but alas, we have always lived in cities. The mountains have never been far away though.

    I'll be very interested to hear the origin of the Shady Dell's name. Thank you for these lovely stories.

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Belle.

      I feel like I'm knee-deep into photographic forensics as I discover these old pictures. Many clearly illustrate so many things I didn't know about my ancestors.

      Photos such as the lineup on the porch and my great nieces in the Dell's attic easily bring stories into everyone's mind even though 99 years separate them.

      Others such as the school picture present more mysteries to be solved. What kind of student was Mother? Why didn't she like some of her teachers? What was recess like back then? Did they have homework? What about bullying?

      The woods photograph appears to be a very typical stand of trees, but what went on when my mother played there? Did deer appear out of nowhere then as they do now? How far did Mother wander into the forest and did she ever have any frightening adventures?

      I race time to find these answers as I gently question Mother about her past and do my best to get her stories recorded. I am so fortunate she remembers much of her time at the Dell house. (I can't remember a lot about my childhood and I'm not 100!)

      Other important things about her family are totally lost, or in many cases were never explained to her. Those unknowns lead me on searches into the local archives and online ancestry sites. Mysteries abound!

      Unlike in Mother's early years, convenience, technology and crime concerns dominate many childrens' lives today. I've lived both in urban and rural areas and find there are riches for kids in both places - if the adults guide youngsters to appreciate them.

      We can't go back and in some cases wouldn't want to, but we can learn the lessons the past holds for us. It's a fascinating quest!

      See you next time when Mother and I will spin some more of her "yarns of yore". I hope you will enjoy reading them.


You talkin' to me?