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

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Happy Birthday, Margaret Schneider! Three Big Cheers for 103 Years!

I am delighted to welcome back my friend and guest blogger Kathleen Mae Schneider, author 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. Today, Dell rats everywhere are toasting Margaret on her 103rd birthday!

Above you see our guest of honor, Margaret Schneider,
affectionately nicknamed "The Oldest Living Dell Rat,"
reading one of her birthday cards. Now it gives me
great pleasure to introduce her daughter Kathleen
who wrote this special 103rd birthday tribute.

A Very  

Special Day

Kathleen Mae 

I watch Mother sleep contentedly on this, the 37,595th day of her life. Her fragility and timeworn features belie the toughness and resilience that she still possesses at her age.

Today however, because it's her birthday, I imagine her napping at another place and time, held close in the warmth of her mother’s arms as a tiny week-old infant. My mind conjures up a fine spring day in 1912, with her sturdy mustachioed father along with his wife and eight other children standing on a wooded hillside envisioning their successful future.

The tragic news of the week before - the sinking of the HMS Titanic - was still fresh in their minds. However, with masses of wild violets blooming everywhere, the beauty of that valley stretching out below them and a stream winding its way at the bottom of a steep ravine, their thoughts were transformed.

Photo courtesy of Phil Spangler whose ancestors followed mine
at the Dell.  This is Mother's childhood home as she remembers it.

Here my grandparents, George and Allie Brown, would fulfill their dream of establishing three business enterprises that would provide for tiny newborn Margaret Elizabeth and their growing family.

Here's Margaret as a one-year-old when
the new Dell house became her home.

Years later, long after the Brown family and other owners moved away, John and Helen Ettline transformed the site into the night spot of Tom's (aka Shady's) and myriad teenage Dell rats' youth. The new owners called it the Shady Dell after the locals’ name for the nearby woods and ravine. For decades, music would emanate from the buildings and colored lights reflected off the trees, some of which might have been planted by my grandfather.

But when Mother lived and played in this place as a child, the world was experiencing a time of momentous change. Post-Victorian and Industrial Revolution years saw my grandfather take advantage of a burgeoning middle class that had the means to enjoy all sorts of new inventions and luxuries.

My grandfather was a well-respected businessman. His kennel provided purebred hunting dogs and other animals that were in demand as pets, as well as carrier pigeons used for battlefield communication in World War 1.

Fashion dictated why my grandfather raised so many “coon”
hounds. Raccoon skin coats were all the rage in the 1920s.

George Brown's automobile business helped to outnumber the horse-drawn vehicles that had previously filled the streets.

The Dell garage with some of George’s
automobiles. He is second from the right.

Before the advent of antibiotics, my grandfather George's homemade medicine (Turpentine was a main ingredient) helped Mother survive the Great Influenza, the world’s first pandemic.

It’s hard for post-moderns like us to imagine our world without computers, jet travel, cell phones and television, but Mother’s life spanned eras long before all of these were invented. Hearing her describe her long life is to witness living history. She sometimes expresses bewilderment at all the change she’s seen.

Attitudes about a woman’s right
to vote are just one of many societal
changes since Mother’s childhood.

Bankruptcy ended my grandparents’ version of the American Dream. The family dispersed and became almost nomadic, finding work and a place to live wherever they could. Mother, traumatized by the lack of schooling (She only completed 6th grade because education was not yet compulsory.), the lack of a solid place for home (sometimes living in a tent), and family deaths (her father and sister), finally found lasting love and family life when she met my father Ralph.

Ralph Schneider and Margaret Brown during courtship

My parents, Ralph Schneider and Margaret Elizabeth Brown, courted for six years before they married during the Great Depression. Their life together lasted 45 years and produced three children, all of whom were given a college education.

My Mother often looks at this
25th anniversary portrait on her dresser
and comments, “I miss him so much…”

After my father’s death in 1980, Mother lived alone until 2011,
when recovery from a broken hip required round-the-clock support. This past year her second hip broke, but she again rebounded and is once again in the home my father built with her children caring for her. As old as she is, she still finds much to be happy about every day. Her mind is still good, although adaptation to failing eyesight and hearing are challenging.

(Summer 2014) Margaret helped husk
one of her favorites, sweet corn.

Mother likes to be productive and helps with chores when she is able. Sweets of all kinds are her favorite food, especially if it melts in her mouth.

One can never have enough chocolate!

Mother still remembers the Shady Dell house and wistfully tells me about her life there. The Dell will always be a part of her, and of me, because I’ve been given the legacy of her stories and was fortunate to visit the restored house before it sold the last time.

The Shady Dell, Mother’s restored childhood
home, looks a lot like she remembers it.

As for Mother's frequent naps: Recently I asked her why she sleeps so much these days. “Don’t you know?” she asks. That’s just the way it is when you’re old.” I told her that after her long and productive life, she has more than earned the right to catch 40 winks whenever she likes.

My wonderful mother at 103,
beginning her nap.

Happy, Happy Birthday, dear Mother.

I love you always and forever!


  1. Margaret, my birthday wish for you is that the Good Lord will bless you on this very special day with many happy memories and fill you heart with abundant joy in the coming days.


    1. Kathleen Mae ClunkApril 18, 2015 at 11:29 PM

      Good morning, Donna, and a big thank you from Mother and me for your birthday wishes for her.

      She certainly does consider herself blessed! She thanks God daily for not only a long life, but also for being able to stay in her home, with relatively good health at her age, surrounded and cared for by those who love her.

      Making new friends via the "inner net" (as she calls it) is another blessing she enjoys, thanks to people like you who are thinking of her on her special day.

      Thank you for stopping by, and may God bless you too!

  2. Dear Margaret:

    I consider living to 103 quite an accomplishment! I’ve always imagined that I will be able to accomplish the same – and with the same pizzazz and panache as you do— sitting around eating cheese balls and candy. What a life! Hope there are many more tubs of cheese balls and Hershey bars in your future. All my love, Kathryn Anderson

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 19, 2015 at 6:40 AM

      Hi there Kathryn!

      Having been around Mother so much these last few years has taught me much about how to live happily. For example: Mother has never adhered to any diet regimen, but eats, (..with the doctor's blessing, I might add ��) anything she wants. Her years of hard physical work with her garden and house are surely over, but I think they've paid off now, in her overall strength and endurance.

      Thanks much for your comment. I hope, like Mother, you reach a ripe old age, approaching every day with gusto and the joy of simply being alive.

  3. Happy 103rd Birthday, Margaret!

    It's interesting how people’s paths cross. I am so delighted ours did and I treasure our friendship! Meeting you and your daughter, Kathy has been so special for me. Along with our special connection, you have brought the Dell to a whole new light for me. I always enjoy your interesting, historic, coming of age stories of yesteryear. I wish you health and happiness throughout the year, sweet Margaret.

    1. Kathleen Mae ClunkApril 19, 2015 at 7:10 AM

      Well, Toni, we thank God continually for your friendship too!

      Without your foresight and love for Mother's original home, it would only exist in pictures. With every visit, Mother and I appreciate your kindness and caring even more, and we look forward to many times in the future when we can spend a few hours or an afternoon with you, chatting, laughing and catching up on one another's lives.

      Chance has perhaps intertwined our worlds, but love and friendship will be the basis for continued encounters. You have given an immeasurable gift to both Mother and me, and the rest of my family too, by saving the Dell and sprucing her up for future families to live there, thus keeping her alive for more generations to fill her rooms.

      Now, just knowing you has grown the gift beyond that original one. I feel like the Dell house helped me gain another sister and Mother another daughter. Our hearts will be forever grateful!

  4. Happy Birthday to Margaret from someone who spent many hours in the Dell barn in the 1960s when we were both young. I hope you have a great very enjoyable day and many more to come. I have enjoyed learning about your past and the amazing history of your home. Again, Happy Birthday and many more.

    Dell Rat Jerre

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 19, 2015 at 8:20 AM

      Hi D.R. Jerre!

      Thanks for stopping by to wish Mother a Happy Birthday, and reminding us of your connection to the Shady Dell.

      Mother is still mentally sharp enough to find this process of meeting new friends who spent time at her childhood home quite amusing and fascinating. We were just talking the other day about what my grandparents would think and say if they knew how many people in the future would love the place they called home.

      Mother and I are pleased to hear from you and hope you enjoy the rest of her story when I get around to writing it. Thanks again for your visit and kind comment.

  5. Hi Shady,

    This is a fine tribute to a very fine lady - happy birthday Margaret, you deserve the Hershey's and the nanna naps! Great storytelling by daughter Kathleen Mae and what a lot of significant events to have lived through from the sinking of the Titanic, (as a baby) with the family working during the Industrial Revolution, supplying carrier pigeons for communication in WW1 and living through the Great Depression and more. How interesting the home remedy to fight the Great Influenza and key ingredient being turpentine, helping Margaret survive the world's first pandemic. The fumes in themselves are strong enough to kill any bugs in my opinion :) Good luck - longevity reigns here! All the best - cheers Allie-Millie

    1. Kathleen Mae ClunkApril 19, 2015 at 1:29 PM

      Hi Allie-Millie!

      I don't remember if I mentioned this before, but interestingly, my grandmother's nickname was Allie! (from Almedia). Our friends' daughter, Alison, is also called Allie.

      It's good to read your reaction to the history that is embedded in my family's history. I think everyone would be fascinated, with just a little bit of research using the internet tools available to them, and talking with older relatives if they are still with you, to discover what the world was like when your ancestors lived, loved and surmounted obstacles all those years ago.

      It's certainly been a fascinating journey for me so far. With Mother, I'm blessed with time to spend with an eye-witness to history that I love so much!

      As for turpentine fumes - I remember working late into the night on oil paintings in my dorm room while in art school. Headaches were common among "artsies" as we were called. I wonder how much of the problem was caused by the turpentine we used to clean our brushes? Back then in the sixties, it wasn't considered a hazardous substance!

      Mother and I appreciate your visit and comment, Allie-Millie. I will make sure to show Mother Australia on a map. She will be thrilled that someone so far away geographically not only knows about her, but also wishes her a happy birthday!

  6. Dear Margaret, Happy birthday! This is a lovely tribute. and I have read much about the Titanic and seen many photos of it. It was a huge and luxurious ship and the sinking could have been prevented, I feel, had the iceberg warnings been taken seriously and the captain slowed the ship down.

    Dear Margaret, may God bless you! I enjoyed reading these lovely memories.

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 19, 2015 at 2:03 PM

      Hello, Linda.

      Mother tells me that when she was born at home, the doctor assisting my grandmother in labor took a break and asked my grandfather if he knew whether any other survivors of the 'Titanic' sinking had been rescued.

      Here's a true and funny story (or a pathetic one, depending how you choose to frame it...): Once when a teenage clerk in the grocery store overheard me telling another customer that my mother was born the same week the Titanic sank, he got very pale and said, "You mean that really happened?" He said he thought it was a great movie, but wasn't aware of the actual event. Since my husband and I are retired teachers (He taught high school history.), we speculated what else he might not know!

      From the accounts I've read, it does sound that the tragedy could have been prevented. I guess this is a good example of overconfidence leading to bad decisions with disastrous consequences.

      I'm also reminded of that Erma Bombeck quote that reads,"Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart."

      There are more of Mother's memories to be chronicled here when time apart from caring for her allows. I hope you return to read them too.

      Thanks for coming to our party and writing a greeting full of good wishes!

  7. Margaret, you are a darling! What a lovely tribute - I really enjoyed the back story.

    There's so much "Americana" in this family bio - the Titantic, the raccoon fur coats that were all the rage, the flu epidemic. I was saddened to read that the family fell on hard times. But it seems like Margaret has thrived, in spite of all and that is a testament to her character and fortitude.

    To Kathleen - thank you for your family's story. I feel the love and pride - it's well earned.

    Happy Birthday, Margaret!! God bless and keep you. I hope you have a wonderful day.

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 19, 2015 at 2:45 PM

      Dear Cherdo,

      Mother actually blushed when I read your comment to her! She's a very humble and quiet soul who just shakes her head with a shy smile when she receives compliments such as yours. "Thank you very much," she says I'm to tell you.

      What I know of Mother's life perfectly illustrates Nietzsche's assertion - "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger." She knew much hardship as a child and young woman, and again when the love of her life passed away, but has outlived all her siblings and continues to show us how to hold onto all that is good about life and not to "dwell on" the bad.

      When I began writing the family's history several years ago, she was reticent to discuss the hard times from her past. The shame and deprivation caused by her father's bankruptcy and the subsequent loss of the Dell property that she loved so much, returned to haunt her once again. I still have to be careful how I discuss the past with her so as not to upset her - all these years later.

      One of the lessons she learned from her past and has handed down to me is "Nothing lasts forever." She applies that to two distinctly different situations. The first is an obvious response to sad or painful events. The second indicates life should be enjoyed every day and small joys (like her beloved chocolate...) savored because they are fleeting like time itself. She'd never call herself a philosopher, but her homespun knowledge gained from living for more than a century repeatedly rings true.

      When an unspeakable tragedy hit our family 9 years ago, she said to me with a steely but calm and reassuring voice, "You're tough like me. You WILL get through this."

      I appreciate your recognition of Mother's character and personality. One of the ways I can get her to unleash her memories is to tell her how beneficial her stories can become to others, encouraging them to hold on and survive when painful things happen to them.

      I look forward to your future impressions of Mother's recollections, as I think they surely are "keepers". I join her in thanking you for extending Tom's birthday tribute with your comment!

    2. Every family needs a family historian to remember the good along with the bad and draw the road map of a family's impact on this world - and the world's impact on them.

      As a fellow family historian, I can say that you've done a beautiful job.

      Love, Cherdo

  8. What a wonderful look back over the years!

    As I head onward toward my seventh decade on this earth I sometimes marvel at how far I'm come in my life, but then I look to those people like your mother and realize how far I still have to go and will I have what it takes to get that far. Maybe a bit of tough times in our lives makes us stronger, more resilient.

    Your mother has a great story filled with many little stories to tell and she's had a rich life. She deserves those naps--I understand completely where she's coming from on that one.

    Kathleen, you are indeed fortunate to have that treasure of a mother still there for you to enjoy. I want to wish Margaret Schneider a very happy birthday! You, dear, are a real hero.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    1. Kathleen Mae ClunkApril 19, 2015 at 3:47 PM

      Hello, Arlee,

      Although Mother says she never expected to live this long, I don't ever remember her speculating about it. Her mantra up until a few years ago was, "I take life one day at a time..." Now she claims that she takes it an hour at a time"!

      I, like you, look at her and realize that at my age she was still incredibly productive. She bottled homemade root beer, baked bread and tended large flower beds. She raised and put up vegetables and fruit from her garden (most of which was given away. She babysat grandchildren and boarded family pets. She accompanied my retired father on his gourd-craft presentations. Always, she remembered absolutely everyone she knew with cards, letters and small gifts. Did I forget to mention she mowed her lawn (sans riding mower) until she was 96? I really don't know how she did it all, but I think it helped to keep her strong and happy.

      As I see it, she's always been the antidote to so much of what is wrong in our world. She really does light one small candle instead of cursing the darkness.

      I am profoundly aware of her as a hero and a treasure, as you referred to her. Confronting my own mortality at 68, I watch her with a tender heart, trying to learn how to emulate her kindness, humility and graceful acceptance of the indignities that accompany aging. When I ask her how she feels about the process, she typically says "Well, it's no fun to get old". That's the most philosophical she ever gets. Then she changes the subject to the weather or curiosity about the neighbors.

      I think that's why she isn't depressed like so many people, in spite of poor eyesight and hearing, and obvious frailty. She just accepts both the good and bad that life hands her, does what she can with what she has left, and doesn't pine away and ruminate over what cannot be changed.

      She and I both appreciate your thoughtful and kind comment, Arlee. It means a lot to us and really brightens our day.

      Don't forget to nap when the urge hits you!

  9. Dear Margaret,

    I love the picture of the two of you in the grass and dirt!
    Have a Happy Birthday.


    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 19, 2015 at 5:37 PM

      Hello, Susie, and thanks for your comment about my parents' courtship portrait. It's one of our favorites too.

      When Mother just looked at it again, she said, "We were so happy." If the clothing was changed, I think it would look like it was taken in our time. True love is timeless!

      He's been gone for 35 years, but we all still miss him, especially Mother. He was a great guy!

      Thank you also for the birthday greeting. Mother enjoyed it so much.

  10. Dear Mrs. Schneider,
    I am so grateful to be included in your day of celebration. Happy Birthday!

    This tribute, written by your daughter is so interesting. I'm compelled to express my admiration and excitement to the "The Oldest Living Dell Rat." That Phil Spangler photo is amazing - a piece of heaven on earth! Of course I thought nothing would top that photo of you shucking corn! Surely not - and yet - a giant Hershey Bar? I love corn, but it's so much easier to "clean" the husks from the Hershey (smile). I think I've become a fan!

    Did you know that naps produce a fine nectar? I suppose you may have thought those little bees, hoovering over the flowers, were working hard? Not always - exactly. Some are power napping. Ah! Nature's way of telling us to take a break before returning to gather... more of life... more nectar. (But you know all of this - don't you?)

    Have a wonderful day!

    My thanks to Kathleen Mae Schneider, and to Mr. Shady Del Knight.


    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 19, 2015 at 6:44 PM

      You are most welcome, Dixie. I'm glad you joined us for Mother's big day and enjoyed the post and photos. The Spangler view is the only one that we have that best shows what Mother remembers of the Dell home of her childhood.

      When I first saw it, chills went down my spine, because it perfectly matched the stories about the place that I'd heard all my life.

      My grandparents were interested in a lot of the new technology of their time, but photography apparently wasn't one of them. The few pictures we have were taken by younger members of the family or friends.

      I hope to not make the same mistake and fail to record these precious moments I have while caring for my mother. I have many "Kodachromes" of her! She typically goes at the corn with vigor, removing nearly every strand of silk to prepare it for a meal.

      When it comes to chocolate, no wrapper or paper ever stands in her way to getting the taste she loves. One time she told me she wasn't hungry for her supper, and I would have been upset if I hadn't noticed traces of melted chocolate on her hands!

      I didn't know bees power-nap. Since honeybee numbers are in decline, I'm always thankful when they gather pollen from my flowers, so I'm glad they rest when they need it.

      Mother naps whenever and wherever she feels like it. I agree that those short rests enable her to enjoy more of life when she wakes up.

      Thank you for being here for Mother's 103rd year celebration, and writing such an interesting comment!

  11. I want to add another very sincere and hearty "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARGARET" to the collection!

    What a long and full life she is living, and to have come through so many tough times before the invention of many of the conveniences that some of us just seem to automatically take for granted is quite an accomplishment.

    I particularly liked that photograph captioned "Ralph Schneider and Margaret Brown during courtship". I love the period clothing Margaret was wearing, a style that I have only seen in movies. I guess fashions for gentlemen haven't really changed all that much: wide tie, thin tie, wide tie, thin tie. The women get all the really imaginative stuffs.

    Staring at that photograph I can almost hear Hoagy Carmichael's 'Lazy River' playing in my mind. If there really wasn't a small river or stream very nearby when that photo was taken, please withhold that information from me.

    I also like that picture of the Shady Dell captioned "restored childhood home, looks a lot like she remembers it." That's a great photo - the colors and shadows - it almost even looks airbrushed for that "Memory Lane effect". That would make a fantastic post card for all the people who lived and loved at Shady Dell.

    Again, hearty Birthday Congratulations to Margaret, and also an enthusiastic Roger Miller "Atta Boy Girl!" to Kathleen for a very, very nicely written tribute.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 19, 2015 at 10:07 PM

      Hello, Stephen, and thank you for your genuine interest in Mother's life and times.

      It's amazing that she still remembers so much. She told me, for instance, about a man visiting the Dell house every few days to deliver a huge block of ice to keep the family's food cold in their wooden, metal-lined "ice box". She still has the huge pair of pincers used to carry the heavy ice. It was a far cry from our refrigerators today, with instant ice and water dispensed from the door!

      Mother also still has the knickers she wore for that courtship photo. She saved everything! She said to tell you the picture was in fact taken along the bank of a stream, close to the small bungalow where my father lived at the time.

      Since he felt sorry for his sister whose husband abandoned her and their two sons, he took them under his roof temporarily. To keep their spirits up, my parents took the three along on most of their dates - the reason six years went by before they married!

      When I look at this photo, I imagine this stream bank as a favorite spot for just the two of them to get some precious minutes together. Mother doesn't remember who took this picture, but it could well have been my father's sister. So much for privacy!

      Someday I plan to use acrylics or watercolors to paint a landscape of the restored Dell house. I would have loved to paint it en plein air, but it sold before I had the chance. I like your idea of Shady Dell post cards!

      Mother and I are glad you stopped by with your birthday greeting and comment. I appreciate your compliment about the post too. Thank you so much, and we hope to see you again for more stories from Mother's life.

    2. How kind of him to take care of his sister and nephews. Today, many families spread out around the country. I seldom see my biological relatives, so I've had to create a family.

    3. KATHLEEN ~
      Thanks so much for the reply!

      And I was glad to learn that in fact there was some running water where that "courtship" photo was taken. It just seems right... and I knew I was hearing 'Lazy River' for some reason.

      I will certainly be returning to this blog and will absolutely read more as more gets published. Looking forward to it.

      Thanks again for taking the time to respond!

      ~ Stephen (D-FensDogG)

  12. I said that I would be back and I am grateful that this morning I remembered your pleasant invitation and return I did. As a matter of fact, I first read this post on my phone and haven't yet read another online article until I could open the computer and comment.

    FIRST AND FOREMOST - 'A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARGARET and a SINCERE WISH for AS MANY MORE AS YOU HOPE FOR". Thank you so much for sharing a part of your story here through your kind and loving daughter. It is a beautiful glimpse into your life. The love and care your daughter Kathleen has taken to preserve your memories and the stories of not only your life but some of yours and her ancestors is a testament to the care you must have taken to raise her.

    To Kathleen - With this snippet is a foreshadow of your Memoir 'In-Dell-ible Memories' I simply must read more. Someone, please tell me is this a book or a blog title and give me some direction to find you.

    With so many negative things written today almost everywhere you look about parents, parenting, and especially ; it truly warms my heart to see such a loving honor her mother with this fine tribute. Bravo Kathleen and thank you for allowing us a peak into your past.

    Again Margaret may you enjoy the HAPPIEST OF DAYS in the circle of love that is your family.

    To Mr. Shady Del Knight, much appreciation and gratitude for the invitation to this marvelous Birthday Party. Interesting for me a very special girl who is extremely close to my heart, shares this Birthday with Margaret with a separation of only ninety-four years. So, I also say Happy Birthday Macy, may you live as along a life as Margaret and be as well loved.

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 20, 2015 at 11:45 AM

      Dear Farawayeyes,

      We are very glad you sent a birthday greeting for Mother's celebration. She is overwhelmed by all this attention because she doesn't think of herself as anything extra special, but comments such as yours stand witness to that!

      She has been a wonderful mother and role model not just for her children, but also for many others who know her, including her doctors and even her mailman! I feel so blessed to be helping her now in her old age, and am grateful to Tom for encouraging me to write about her on this blog.

      "In-Dell-ible Memories" is a series I began writing in conjunction with researching my maternal family history. I sought information about the house where she grew up online and found this blog, and Tom asked me to be a guest blogger with the series.

      Here are two links that will connect to what I've written so far:

      The first will take you to last year's birthday post.
      The second connects to all the chapters in the series. You will have to back track to the introduction to get the full story.

      Thank you again for your kind comment, and the favorable 'review' of this post. I hope you enjoy reading the series and will return back for more chapters as they are completed.

    2. Kathleen, thank you so much for the kind and heartfelt comment. I have been following the comment and reply thread of this blog post and am most impressed by your sincere replies to all of the comments. I realize that like myself, many of these people are new to the Shady Dell Blog and you have no idea who we are,and yet you take the time to respond with such thoughtful replies. In this day and age of the sound bite and the fifteen second attention span, it is truly heartening to see that the art of writing, especially a sincere note of thanks, is not completely lost.

      I was going to wait to form any sort of reply until I had read through all of your previous posts about your mothers past 'In-dell-able Memories', but when I started this morning I found it so delightfully intriguing that I didn't want to rush through. At this writing I have only read about last years birthday celebration and the first two posts in the series, but I am hooked. I can't wait to finish and yet I want to take my time and savor the stories. Your writing is wonderful and the subject matter most interesting.

      My father passed away in 1999 at the age of 90. He would be 116 this coming September if he were still alive. He left me with many fond memories of my growing up, Although he and Momma were well advanced in years when I was born they gave me a childhood that was full of surprises and most memorable. How I wish he and Momma were still with me.

      I thank you again for sharing your mother and her past with us. I shall enjoy reading further and hearing 'the rest of the story'. I also look forward to your continued appearances here at the 'Shady Dell Blog and keeping up with you and Margaret.

      Both you and Mr. Knight are so fortunate to have found each other and I consider myself privileged to have been found by you both.

    3. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 22, 2015 at 4:24 AM

      Hello again, farawayeyes! I feel the need to reply to your sincere and expressive second comment.

      First of all, I'm so sorry you have lost both your parents. My father passed away in 1980 and I am amazed at how our parents continue to really form who we are in many ways. I also think we get a sense of our own mortality when they pass, and we take stock of what we've done or not done to make the world a better place.

      Writing about our parents gives others a window on their influences and honors them. It reveals part of how they raised us. Although your Mother and Father are no longer with you, it's obvious to me from your well-written comments that they raised a fine, sensitive and intelligent child. They would be proud!

      I am inspired to continue my series by your compliments and hope you will find the coming chapters enjoyable. Thank you again!

  13. A beautiful and heartfelt Happy Birthday from a stranger on this blogland. My dad would be 102 if he were alive. You lived during the First world war, the flu epidemic, the roaring twenties and the depressive thirties. I am certain you could write a book. Your daughter wrote something beautiful here. I love the courtship picture:) You must have gone to the flickers in the 20's and seen Chaplin, Valentino, Gilbert never mind the greats from the 1930's. My dad loved the movies and sweets! I hope you enjoy the chocolate:) May you have a healthy and happy year ahead!

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 20, 2015 at 1:14 PM

      Hi Birgit!

      It sounds like your dad and Mother could have compared notes about early 20th century America.

      Mother does remember Rudolph Valentino, Claudette Colbert, dancing the Charleston with my father and the thrill of the first 'talking' pictures. In her childhood home at the Dell there was a player piano with all the latest hits of the era.

      She claims she wasn't really a "flapper", but some of the pictures of her from that time, an old beaded purse that my father gave her as a present, and her memories of dancing the night away at the famous Valencia Ballroom in York tell the true tale!

      Forgive my lateness in replying to your comment. Taking care of Mother and our family party for her big day prevented an earlier response. I am nonetheless sincere when I say thank you for making the day extra special with your greeting and kindness.

  14. Wow. A well-told story for what sounds like a wonderful woman. And a beauty too- then and now. Happy Birthday!

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 20, 2015 at 1:25 PM

      It's good to have you read Mother's story, Chris. She is a wonderful woman and the hardest part of writing about the anniversary of her birth was trying to get many of the interesting anecdotes from her long life written down to fit a reasonable blog format.

      Mother always emphasized that inward beauty is more important than what is first seen on a person. Even so, she puts her makeup on every day, calling it her "health"!

      Thanks for stopping by and being part of our celebration!

  15. This lady has definitely earned her right to nap. I enjoyed the sweet tribute by a loving daughter. The information about the homemade medication that warded off the flu of 1918 fascinated me, as did the raccoon coats. I love the photos of Margaret and Ralph. I know you miss him, Margaret. A Ralph is impossible to replace. They are the best men. Happy Birthday to the oldest, and no doubt the nicest, Dell rat.

    Infinities of love and best birthday wishes,

    Janie Junebug

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 20, 2015 at 2:56 PM

      Thank you, Janie, for coming to our blog birthday party for Mother, and for writing a comment and greeting.

      Many of the facts in Mother's stories seem like fiction instead of reality. The remedy recipes my grandfather cooked up on the Dell's stove were given to him by an old Native American woman. Mother remembers they were quite effective, both for humans and the myriad animals that were raised and sold at the Dell. Her father also was a folk healer, and was called upon to "pow-wow" over the sick.

      Although my father is irreplaceable, Mother finds some of his physical and personality traits in her three children. We keep his memory alive for her.

      It is gratifying to see Mother engaging with the blog and internet. At her age she is still capable of learning new things! Thanks again for your birthday greeting.

  16. Happy Birthday dear Margaret.

    I'm rushing out to Puppy School with mummy now but when I get back I'll visit you again. I want to know ALL about you dear Margaret. WOW! 103 years young....and I'm just 15 weeks old. I bet you can teach me a lot of things!

    Woof! Woof! Sniff you later!

    Xiu Xiu (and mummy)

    1. Margaret Elizabeth SchneiderApril 20, 2015 at 3:40 PM

      Dear Xiu Xiu,

      When I was a little girl, my father raised a lot of puppies like you. I used to help him take care of them. I still love puppies and dogs of all kinds although I am a very old woman. Thank you for wishing me a Happy Birthday.

  17. Happy Birthday Margaret! It is wonderful to see you again through pictures. I love chocolate too and would eat it every day if I could.

    I also enjoyed the photos. The portrait with your husband is so lovely and I admire the beautiful dress you wore. I laughed at the picture of a "woman's mind". I guess they thought we had too much to think about to crowd politics in there!

    What a beautiful snapshot of you as a child. Of course, the one of you and Ralph when dating is so cute. Those men look funny in their raccoon coats but I bet they were warm in the winter.

    My grandmother, who has passed on, was born in 1900. She used to tell me stories of growing up on a plantation in Tennessee. She was raised by a lovely woman she called Mammy. She used to take my mom to the movies three times a week because that was how often the movie theater changed the shows!

    Thank you for allowing Tom to share your life story with all of us. I really appreciate it. God bless you and all of your family.

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 20, 2015 at 3:59 PM

      Hi Belle! It's good to see you here again.

      Mother and I are late getting responses out to everyone. We had quite a big weekend with grown grandchildren and assorted friends paying visits, and having our birthday party for her 103rd year.

      I've learned from Mother that children were treated differently back when she was small. The older children took care of the younger ones, and the parents' job was to provide for them, not play with or entertain them. Mother never had a birthday cake or gifts as a child; it just wasn't done! So we try to make up for that now. She really enjoys all the decorations and cards.

      She loves hearing these comments. However they are just mystifying to her. She has trouble grasping why all these people are wishing her a happy birthday, when they've never met her. I explain that her Shady Dell connection is important, and that her life is inspiring to many people. They feel affection for her just because she has endured so much and survived.

      Thank you for stopping by, reading our post, and sending such a kind comment.

  18. A very special Happy Birthday to you Margaret. 103 years today…..quite an achievement dear Margaret.

    Mr Shady Del Knight invited me to your party and it is such a privilege to wish you all the best for this very special day.

    What wonderful memories you must have of your life at the Shady Del…..and also your 45 year marriage to your dear husband, Ralph. Bravo Margaret!!

    The portrait of you two at your 25th wedding anniversary is lovely but my favourite is the photo when you were courting. Ralph was so handsome Margaret….and you look gorgeous in this photo. In fact, the both of you look really dashing!!!!

    Anyway, Xiu Xiu and I are sending you a great big birthday kiss…all the way from Brisbane, Australia.

    Enjoy your special day. You are one special lady!


    Robyn (Xiu Xiu's mummy)

  19. Fantastic post Kathleen. I can tell your mother is a really special lady and Mum for you to have written such a loving post for her.

    All the best and thanks for sharing her story.


    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 20, 2015 at 4:50 PM

      Hello Robyn,

      Mother thanks you for your big kiss! If you were here, I know you would be the recipient of an equally big hug! She once hugged the plumber who fixed her sink, "because he was nice and he looked like he needed it!"��

      Mother has a box of her and my father's love letters and they are so touching to read. He had a job at the shore one summer after they started dating, and they missed one another terribly. Letters took days to arrive, so they wrote to one another every day, all summer long. My father decorated the edge of his envelopes with forget-me-nots; it was so sweet!

      I'm happy that people find Mother's story interesting, and my writing of it worth reading. I love to write, and I do love and admire my mother so much. I'm glad that's evident for readers such as you and Tom's other blog friends. It is very gratifying, and I thank you for the compliment!

  20. Margaret, Happy, Happy Birthday! I can't imagine hearing and reading those words more than 100 times in a lifetime..amazing! I wish you all the best and please enjoy those naps! I'm hoping chocolate is the answer to a long, happy life since it's one of my life pleasures too! I love reading your daughter's writings about the Dell and your life. I love the old were (and still are!) a beauty! I'm so glad you have a loving family to help care for you and to keep you can also be a key to good health! Happy Birthday Margaret!

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 20, 2015 at 5:05 PM

      Hi YaYa!

      Mother says to tell you that dark chocolate is best for your health! She enjoys small amounts most every day. Napping seems to help her energy levels, so we encourage it. It seems that every time I try it when I'm here with her, either the phone rings or someone's at the door. That doesn't disturb her because her hearing is so bad!

      I hope you catch upcoming chapters when they are ready for publishing. I have many other stories and old photos to share.

      Thank you for your comment and good wishes, YaYa!

  21. 103! What's the secret? And she can still read! Some deteriorates at 60. They just stop functioning and wait for death to fetch them.

    Happy birthday, Margaret. Oh my, what a long and I'm guessing full life. :)

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 20, 2015 at 6:36 PM

      Thanks for your comment, Lux!

      Mother has a few rules for living longer.
      They are: love everyone (no exceptions), don't
      "dwell" on your problems, help others, work hard, and the most important - forgive.

      Mother continues to be interested in life and wants to be productive. She just folded laundry tonight!

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  22. One of my grandmothers lived to be 104, but she wasn't doing as well as your mother. Didn't even recognize anybody anymore and had lost both long and short-term memory. Your mother is a marvel!! Amazing when you think of all the things they lived through and how much our society and daily life has changed. What a beautiful tribute and I love all the pictures! Thanks for sharing her with us. :)

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 21, 2015 at 5:01 AM

      Hi Rita,

      We are indeed fortunate to have Mother with us both physically and mentally. She is the exception to many rules! Because she is alert and happy in her home, we are committed to keeping her there as long as we can. I'm sorry your grandmother wasn't able to interact with you at the end of her life. It is a common problem that longevity does not always equal quality of life.

      Thank you for you gracious comment and compliment about the post. This is not only a wonderful way to enrich Mother's life, but to have others enhance their understanding of the past century. There's more to come, and I'm only too happy to share!

  23. Happy 103rd birthday, Mrs. Schneider. Wishing you a memorable birthday and blessings all year long!!!

    Betsy Page (Tom's cousin)

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 21, 2015 at 5:07 AM

      Thank you, Betsy!

      Every time I read "Happy Birthday" to Mother, she grins from ear to ear. I'm slow getting replies out to everyone, but when I re-read these warm and beautiful comments to Mother, it extends the celebration for her. So being late is perhaps not too bad after all!

  24. 103 is a bloody good age and she looks so good for her age, wouldn't pick her for being 103, it is wonderful that she still has her memories and family around her

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 21, 2015 at 5:22 AM

      Hi Jo-Anne!

      I often remind Mother that she is a walking miracle, and I can always get her to laugh when I tell her that she doesn't look a day older than 99!

      Thanks for sending your greeting. It keeps her smiling even more!

  25. i remember this lady, i remember her from the post last year and once again, i can only say WOW. What a gal. I didn't grow up in Shady Dell, nor had i ever heard of it until winter of 2014 when i stumbled up on this blog. Now i can only wish that i was a part of those days you all hold so dear as well :)

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 21, 2015 at 5:37 AM

      Good Day, Abigail, and thank you for your comment.

      I'm a lot like you, in that I never went to the Dell as a teenager or shared Tom's Dell Rat status. (Actually, I was forbidden to go there!) However, I grew up with these stories and photos that I share here. By reading and seeing those authentic touchstones from the last century, you learn about our Shady Lady's original past.

      By being a part of this blog community, Tom and his other Dell Rats fill in the gaps of experience for you with their descriptions of her second life as a teen hangout. We've got you covered!

      It's wonderful, isn't it?

  26. Kathleen, thank you for all your replies. Your mother is a perfect example of how to grow old gracefully, always looking on the bright side of life. I try to do this too as I wobble down the road of life. Lol

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 21, 2015 at 5:44 AM

      LOL back atcha Belle! I'm "wobbling" more every day it seems!! It does help, though, to keep our chins (double as they might be for some of us☺️) up, and to look for anything positive and bright wherever we can find it! It got Mother to where she is today!

      Thanks much for your encore comment. It added some sunshine to my morning.

  27. Sorry I'm so late to your mom's birthday party. Your mother has led such an amazing life, and continues to be an exemplary role model for others. Thanks for sharing her wonderful stories with us, and please wish her a very happy belated birthday! I'm so glad that Cherdo sent me over!


    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 21, 2015 at 5:56 AM

      Hey, Julie! Not to worry one bit!

      Mother and I are still trying to recover from Mother's party on Saturday, so your comment isn't late at all. We enjoyed seeing you here, so thank you for being a part of Mother's cyber party. It's great we can continue to bask in all these good wishes. When you are 103 (or 68 like I am..), good things are even better in small doses!

      I'm glad you enjoyed the stories and pictures in this post. When things slow down a bit schedule-wise, I hope to write more for Tom to publish. We'll be looking for you then!

  28. What a tremendous story (life) your mother had. How fortunate are you that she's shared so many of her memories with you. I think that's how we all live on... in the memories of the people who knew and loved us.

    Happy birthday!!!

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderApril 21, 2015 at 5:24 PM

      I agree, Robin. We see this in Tom's tributes to John and Helen Ettline, his parents and various artists he highlights on this blog. They live on in his memory and in others' as they learn about them.

      Some people consider taking care of an elder loved one a burden, but I feel my time with my mother as her caregiver is an incredible gift. Although it is bittersweet to be sure, being able to hear Mother tell these stories as if they happened yesterday is very gratifying. I mean to write down every one while I am blessed to have her with me.

      Through my writing and sharing photos from her life, I hope to insure she will never be forgotten. I'm so thankful Tom has asked me to be a guest blogger so that I have a vehicle for Mother's memories.

      I'm also incredibly grateful, as she is, for readers like you who enjoy the narratives we've set down here and write their impressions of the post. Thank you so much!


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