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, November 29, 2013

In-Dell-ible Memories Chapter 8 - Curious (about) George

I am delighted to welcome back my friend and guest blogger Kathleen Mae Schneider who is here with the latest chapter of
In-Dell-ible Memories, a chronicle of her mother Margaret's childhood at the Shady Dell in the early years of the 20th century.

Chapter 8  




Kathleen Mae 

    The man who built the original Shady Dell is sometimes difficult to find. I should know because I've been searching for him these last three years. He was long gone by the time I was born, so all
I have to help me are my mother Margaret's and
my cousins' stories, archived documents and old tattered letters and photographs. Even if he
wasn't my grandfather, these remnants of his
life would still make me wonder what this man
was like and why he fell from such amazing wealth into abject poverty. The best way to know him is through these relics from Mother’s belongings.

A youthful George Andrew Brown

   Tantalizing clues paint at least a partial portrait of George Brown. From what I can tell
he was a handsome but rough-hewn man with large appetites, culinary and otherwise. He dreamed big and apparently felt there was nothing he couldn't do if he put his mind to it.

   Possessing legendary stubbornness, George was nonetheless quite capable of deep tenderness and loyalty to his friends and family. He was a pro-
tective and caring father to his 10 surviving children. One of Mother’s stories proves this.
Once I asked her why we never ate seafood at our house. Her face filled with consternation as she described her father bringing fresh fish from the Baltimore, Maryland harbor and her family eating
it frequently at the Dell house. As a young child, she once complained of getting a fish’s bone in
her mouth during a meal. George took her plate
and put the pieces of fish into his mouth to
remove the sharp bones, then took them out and
put them back on her plate, sans bones, for her
to eat. Now this might have been a loving act,
but Mother could never eat fish for the rest of
her life, mainly because she remembered the taste
of the tobacco that her father regularly chewed
added to that of the fish!

I sometimes imagine smiling Mary Grace, the baby of the Brown family, being lifted up into this
old carriage by her
father and him pla-
cing his hat on her
to take her picture.
Of course it’s all
speculation on my
part, but it seems
like something my
grandfather might
have done.  The
building next to
the carriage in 
which little Mary Grace posed was the
shipping house for George’s animal business.

   George loved his children and bought them many toys, at least in the early days at the Shady Dell house. I grew up with this wooden child's desk that originally belonged to the Brown children and was kept in their Dell house attic playroom.

   Having seen much use from Mother's 3 children,
7 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren, it is now retired and in my proud possession! It holds many happy memories of my childhood spent preten-
ding that I was writing a book and illustrating it with my crayons while sitting at that little desk.

   Like his father before him, George was a butcher and a prodigious hunter. He lived intimately with death and took pride in his skills as both a pro-
creator and a terminator of life.

George Brown (2nd from right), newly returned from a deer hunting
trip with his sons and friends, posing in front of the Dell garage.  Note the automobiles and an enclosed truck - the latest models at the time.

   In spite of being vegetarian, I treasure another old artifact that belonged to my grandfather.

It's George's heavy steel butchering saw that he used for cutting sinew and bone, one of the
tools of his trade that helped to
build his fortune.  

I imagine him wielding it with great confidence
and strength.

   The saw isn’t rusted after 100 years because its surface was protected by all the fat from the meat that it processed.

   George was equally at ease whether he helped one of his purebred dogs deliver a litter of puppies or when he assisted his wife in labor with most of his twelve children. When my grandmother was asked why she had so many children to George she replied,
“I never refused him.” What a glimpse back to the early 20th century!

The birth record in the Brown family Bible showing George's and his
wives’ birth dates and those of his progeny.  His first wife Annie died
young and five of his children did not survive infancy and childhood.

   My grandfather loved beautiful things and was passionate about acquiring them, whether it was a beautiful woman who came into his butcher shop to buy dinner or a sweetly-scented rose garden he later planted for her when they married.

George Andrew and Almedia Jane (Allie) Brown
about two years after their marriage

   Having envisioned an empire on a hill with
an expensive and comfortable new house boasting fashionable details, a large barn and additional outbuildings, he made it happen in a short time. He, along with his wife, older sons and daughters and their mates, established a profitable kennel,
a thriving automobile dealership and a homemade ailment-remedy business. For a while, it looked like he succeeded.

The Dell property as it looked when the Spangler family moved in
after the Browns left.  Note the frame to the far left above the smaller
dark building. This is where game animals would be hung for butchering.

   Known for his medicines to heal everything
from pneumonia to removing lice from poultry, George mixed and bottled the strange preparations in the Dell house’s kitchen and basement.

   Mother remembers the odd smells, as well as her father's bitter-tasting cough syrup that probably saved her life from influenza when she was 6.

Copy of a page from George’s recipe book with indications and
suggestions for use to the left.  I wonder how many doctors today
would recommend medicine with turpentine as an ingredient!

   Butchering was George's default profession,
but of course his favorite career was that of breeder and trainer of hunting dogs. He expanded that business by raising and selling other kinds
of dogs for use as pets and for other kinds of
work in addition to raising and selling other
types of animals.

An illustration from Brown's 1916-17 catalog
showing the kinds of dogs offered for sale

(below) One of scores of testimonials in the same catalog
 Brown’s Kennnels.                             
         St. Mary’s City, Md., Oct. 26, 1913   
 Gentlemen— The beagle which I bought from you 
 arrived in good condition and I am very much  
 pleased with it, and think it will make a     
 very fine hunter. I am very anxious to have   
 a coon hound, and what have you in that line. 
 Please let me know by return mail if possible,
 as this is the coon hunting season.           
                               John W.Kennedy. 

    From all of the above and much more that
I've discovered in my search for him, I’ve found that George was a complex and fascinating man who wore many hats and dealt with multiple triumphs
and tragedies in his 53 years. I wonder if, as
a doting father, he reached out with his scarred
and calloused hands for one-year-old Margaret's tiny ones as she took her first wobbly steps
toward him. Certainly I'll never know that
and so many other details of his life.

The father-daughter connection

  However, when I recently handed Mother her father's old butchering saw and she laid it gently across her lap, I was moved by the sight of her very old but beautiful hand resting on the saw’s wooden handle, summoning tender thoughts of my grandfather and of Mother’s life with him more
than a century ago at the Shady Dell.

   You've met George Brown, the devoted father
and respected businessman, but was the man mother remembers the real George Brown? As it turns out George had a darker side and it contributed to
his financial ruin and the family's loss of their beloved Dell home.

 Join me next time for the story of
 how George Brown's house of cards
came tumbling down. 

Don't miss:

In-Dell-ible Memories
Chapter 9

The Dell is Lost!

With love to Mother and to All,

Chapter 7: The Demise of the Dell, Pt. 2 Fighting City Hall
Chapter 7: The Demise of the Dell, Pt. 1 Harvest of Tears
Chapter 6: The Dream Becomes a Nightmare
Winter Count: Margaret's 2013 Birthday
Happy Birthday, Margaret! Oldest Living Dell Rat Turns 101
Chapter 5: Home Sweet Dell
Chapter 4: Allie's Rats, Pt 2: Margaret's Pig Tale
Chapter 4: Allie's Rats, Pt 1: Hill and Dell
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

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Tale of Two Ditties

 50 years ago,  

 in November of 1963, 

 two records entered the pop chart. 

 Their trajectories were destined to 

 collide at a critical juncture on the 

 timeline of American history. 

The first of those records was “Wonderful Summer”
performed by one-hit-wonder artist Robin Ward.
The second was “Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen.

These two recordings formed a musical bridge
that for all intents and purposes led America
from the 1950s into the 1960s.

The wholesome teen ballad "Wonderful Summer"
epitomizes the Fifties and an age of innocence
that was drawing to a close at the end of 1963.
The rough and rowdy "Louie Louie" helped
usher in the tumultuous Sixties.

With its lush string orchestration, overdubbed vocals
and atmospheric sounds of sea birds and crashing waves,
Robin Ward's "Wonderful Summer" is a wistful, evocative
recording that is today classified as a girl group sound.

"Wonderful Summer" began climbing the chart
the first week of November. For those of us who
lived north of the Mason-Dixon, the record
took us back to those warm, carefree days
of summer and strolling the beach with
that special someone.

Mid month, "Wonderful Summer" peaked
on the chart at #14.

One week later our sweet dreams of casual summer
romance were shattered and we awakened to the
cold, harsh reality that our charismatic young president,
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, had been taken from us by an
assassin's bullet. The sense of safety, security and order
that our generation had enjoyed until then was suddenly,
brutally and permanently violated on November 22nd, 1963.
That date, 50 years ago today, marked the end of
innocence and idealism in America and the
beginning of an age of cynicism and
irreverence that persists to this day.

"Wonderful Summer" is forever linked in my memory
to the slaying of the president, the soothing sounds
of terns and tides drowned out by the relentless,
maddening beat of muffled drums
across the Potomac.

Enter "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen, one of the
greatest and best known rock 'n' roll records of
all time. Driving sales and forever cloaking the
recording in legend and lore were the song's
allegedly dirty lyrics. No one was ever able
to prove the obscenity theory because the
vocal track is buried beneath a dense layer
of crashing cymbals, drums, guitars and
organ, rendering most of the words
unintelligible. As a result of the murky
mix, the Pacific Northwest band was
able to deny that its interpretation of
a song originally recorded in the 50s
by R&B singer Richard Berry
was anything but benign.

Teens everywhere wanted needed something to
believe in.  They therefore remained convinced
that "Louie Louie" contained naughty lyrics.
 My best friend and I were among the die hard
disciples. We played the record over and over,
 listening for clues, brainstorming for hours trying
to break the code, decipher the message and
identify every delightfully filthy word that was
embedded in the song.  We played the 45 at
different speeds. We even played it backward
and when we did I was sure I heard someone
utter the words "The walrus was Paul." 
"What could that mean?" I wondered.

Play this clip and you’ll discover that the
actual lyrics to "Louie Louie" are as
safe as momma’s milk. (Shucks!)

Historically, the Beatles are credited with shaking up
pop music and in the process jolting grief stricken
Americans out of their depression following the
assassination.  As I remember it, "Louie Louie"
provided us with a much needed distraction
even before the Beatles arrived.

In the weeks following the assassination, “Louie Louie”
climbed to #2 and was just starting to fade off the chart
in January when the Beatles dropped the bomb with
“I Want To Hold Your Hand.” That’s why I say
“Louie Louie” deserves to be recognized as the
first major musical stimulus to help our nation
recover from those tragic events in Dallas.

It's hard to believe 50 years have passed since that black Friday, the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Those of us who were children and teenagers on the 22nd of November, 1963, remember the shocking, unthinkable event that took place that day
much the same as 9-11
is remembered today by Generation Y millennials. The world we knew - the world we thought we knew - was changed forever and the future was fraught with uncertainty and apprehension. Today, as we mark this grim anniversary, I have vivid flashbacks of my mother lying on the sofa in front of the television all that weekend crying her heart out.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a brilliant leader.
 Intelligent, quick witted and able to inspire millions
around the world with his vision, his youthful
vigor, confident manner and winning smile,
John Kennedy was the greatest president
I have known in my lifetime. 50 years
after the senseless act that took
his life, I still feel the sting and
a tremendous sense of loss.

Anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked around and he's gone.

Have a Shady day!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wise Man Say, Grasshopper: Journey of 500 Smiles Begins With Single Chuckle!

 Dear friends, today I am 

 celebrating my 500th post on 

 Shady Dell Music & Memories!  

In honor of this special occasion I'd
like to answer a question posed by
original Dell Rat Jerre Slaybaugh.

 DELL RAT JERRE: A trivia 
 question for the trivia expert - 
 Who said "Plunk Your Magic 
 Plunker Froggy"? 

That's a real memory flogger, Jerre, or maybe I should say "frogger."
The catch-phrase was actually "Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy!" and it was uttered by Andy Devine, host of the kids' television series Andy's Gang (1955 to 1960).

As I'm sure Jerre remembers, those famous words
were used to summon Froggy the Gremlin, the little
green mischief maker who appeared in a puff of
smoke exclaiming "Hiya Kids! Hiya! Hiya! Hiya!"

I hadn't thought about Froggy in eons, Jerre.
Thanks for reminding me. I watched Andy's Gang
regularly and before long begged my parents
to buy me a Froggy the Gremlin toy.

Apparently mom and dad couldn't find the official
Froggy the Gremlin for me, but they located a
reasonable facsimile at a store in Hanover.
It was a large, brightly colored rubber frog
that squeaked, sold primarily as a dog toy.

I loved Froggy. He became my constant
companion and my best friend.

Then came that dreadful day...

It was the day Mommy took Froggy away
from me, insisting I was, in her words,
"too old to play with dolls."

I'll never forget how she stormed into my room
and ripped Froggy from my arms as I lay in bed
in the fetal position, quivering, whimpering and
sucking my thumb... making my 39th birthday
the saddest and most traumatic day of my life.

 Six Degrees of Andy Devine 

Remember Andy Devine in the role of "Jingles,"
Guy Madison's sidekick on the western series
Wild Bill Hickok? I never missed that either.

Continuing our game of Six Degrees,
remember Guy Madison in
The Beast of Hollow Mountain?

Thanks for sending in your question,
Jerre, and for being a faithful follower of
Shady Dell Music & Memories from day one.

 Thank you all very much for 

 allowing me to entertain you 

 over the course of 500 posts. 

 I am very grateful for your 

 friendship and support! 

Have a Shady day!

Monday, November 11, 2013

You Find My Blacklist Intriguing, Lizzy?


You see, Lizzy, an old friend of mine 
a long time acquaintance named Shady 
asked me to sub as host of his blog.

I brought you here to serve as my muse 
while I spin some records for Shady's friends, 
thereby proving that old school is cool.

For those of you
who don't know me, 
my name is
Raymond Reddington.

My line of work? 
 A little of this and a little of that.

Alright, let's call a Spader a Spader.

I'm a hat model. Spiffy! 
Now listen and learn, Lizzy.


Kenni Woods was a stage name used by Northern Soul sweet-
heart Kendra Spotswood. During her career, Kendra used several other names to make records including Sandi Sheldon. Fifty years ago, in November 1963, Kendra released a single with
a theme and sound similar to
"My Boyfriend's Back," a #1 hit for the Angels a couple months earlier. Kendra's record, "Back With My Baby" by Kenni Woods, sold poorly as did many great 45s released when the nation was in mourning over
the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

"Back With My Baby" was written and produced by
Van McCoy and featured backing vocals by soul stars
Dee Dee Warwick, Cissy Houston and Doris Troy.
Here is the vastly underrated, under appreciated
Kenni Woods with one of the best girl group
records you never heard, "Back With My Baby."

 "Back With My Baby" - Kenni Woods 
 (November 1963, uncharted) 


In the spring of 1964, the Merseybeat band
the Searchers became the second act from
Liverpool, after the Beatles, to score a
hit in America. They did so with a cover
of Jackie DeShannon's "Needles and Pins."

Stateside, Kapp Records released singles
of "Needles and Pins" by the Searchers
with two different B sides, "Ain't That
Just Like Me" and "Saturday Night Out."
The latter was released as the B side
of the original Pye single in the UK
and was used as the title of a British
musical comedy depicting the early 60s
Swinging London scene. The Searchers
appeared in the film performing the song.

 "Saturday Night Out" - The Searchers 
 (April 1964, uncharted B side of "Needles and Pins" 
 scene from 1965 movie Saturday Night Out


Few vocal groups of the 70s epitomized Philly cool
as much as the Stylistics. Led by Russell Thompkins, Jr.,
the Stylistics scored hit after hit during the decade,
all of them ballads. In 1971 "Stop, Look, Listen
(To Your Heart)" came off the group's self titled
debut album and became their first top 40 hit,
top 10 R&B. You want cool? You got it.

 "Stop, Look, Listen (to Your Heart)" - Stylistics 
 (July 1971, highest chart pos. #39 Hot 100/#6 R&B


From the late 1950s through the mid 60s
Connie Francis was the top female vocalist
in popular music. The Jersey girl was versatile,
achieving hits with tender ballads, mid tempo
material, novelty numbers and rock 'n' roll.
Try this one on for size - a great example of  
the latter, a Sedaka-Greenfield penned song  
called "Fallin'" which Connie took to  
the top 30 in the fall of '58.

 "Fallin'" - Connie Francis 
 (November 1958, highest chart position #30) 

If "Fallin'" sounds familiar it's because you
heard it here on SDM&M last year, the cool
cover recorded by Wanda Jackson.


A surf rock band from Buffalo, New York?
Only in America! The Rebels, a group named
after Duane Eddy's backing band, recorded
an instrumental version of "Wild Weekend,"
a song used by WKBW DJ Tom Shannon
as the theme of his top 40 radio show.
The Rebels eventually changed their name
to The Rockin' Rebels to avoid being
confused with Eddy's group. Their catchy
tune "Wild Weekend" was released as a
single at the end of 1962 and became
a top 10 hit early in 1963.

 "Wild Weekend" - The Rebels 
 (February 1963, highest chart position #8) 

Oh dear me... look at the time. 
I'd love to stick around but 
I need to see a man about a horse.

Before I go, I'd like to thank all of 
Shady's friends for the warm welcome.

I'd also like to invite you to join Lizzy 
and me every week as we do all sorts 
of fun things together... the time we sat on a park bench 
pretending not to know each other 
while engaging in a lengthy conversation 
about top secret FBI stuff.

...or the time she and I pretended to be a
May-December couple out on a dinner date.

F-Y-I, it's not Lizzy. It's Elizabeth, but 
you will call me Special Agent Keen
Now what we are doing here?

Let me ask you this, Lizzy. 

 Ever heard of the old dine and dash?

...or the time she stabbed me in the neck 
when I revealed that I'm her father and  
asked if I could bounce her on my knee
and play "This Little Piggy."

Maggie Gyllenhaal 
never had a problem 
with it.

Well, Lizzy, that wraps up our guest blogger stint.  
Have I proved to you beyond a shadow of a doubt 
that old school is cool?

After all, my dear, I practically invented cool.


Have a Shady day!