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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Rats To The Rescue: "Adopt-a-Block" Project Yields Forever Homes for Stray Pieces of Razed Shady Dell Dance Hall!

When the walls come tumblin' down

When the walls come crumblin' crumblin'

When the walls come tumblin' tumblin' down

Shady Dell demolition (Oct. 2012)

Five years ago, in the fall of 2012, the walls
of the historic Shady Dell dance hall came
crumblin' and tumblin' down along with
the estate's century old barn and garage.

The Dell had recently been sold. When
the new owners conducted an inspection,
they concluded that the aging structures
were unstable and unsafe and could not
be restored. A bulldozer was brought to
the site and demolition commenced.

Before the dust settled, before the smoke cleared,
three loyal and very melancholy friends of the
Shady Dell converged on the property and
combed the rubble for artifacts.

They included former Dell owner Toni Deroche,
original Dell rat Greg Gulden, and Kathleen Mae
Schneider, author of In-Dell-ible Memories.

Margaret Schneider
"The Oldest Living Dell Rat"

In-Dell-ible Memories, as you recall,
is Kathleen's exclusive blog series
in which she shares stories of her
mother Margaret's childhood.

Margaret Schneider (left) age 10 (1922)

Margaret, affectionately nicknamed
"The Oldest Living Dell Rat," spent
her youth at the Shady Dell as a
member of its "First Family" in
the early part of the 20th century.

Returning now to that sad day in 2012,
the above named trio of Shady Dell VIPs
picked through the piles of concrete blocks
from the dance hall and salvaged a few
that have drawings and graffiti on them.

Today I am happy to report that five
of those old blocks have for the first
time found forever homes. They are
the blocks retrieved by Kathleen.

(above) Dell graffiti blocks salvaged by Kathleen

Lacking adequate space to keep the blocks
in her own home, Kathleen stored them these
last five years at mother Margaret's house.

Margaret passed away earlier this year
at the age of 105. Recently Margaret's
house was sold, prompting Kathleen
to search in earnest for a permanent
home for the blocks.

Kathleen decided to give one of the blocks
(pictured above) to her daughter Elisabeth.

The artwork on the block Elisabeth received
was a portion of the dancing couple drawing
(below) - a prominent wall feature that was
admired by generations of Dell rats.

Next, Kathleen contacted Toni Deroche to
find out if Toni knew anyone who would be a
worthy recipient of the other four priceless
pieces of the Shady Dell puzzle. Toni did
in fact know someone, an original Dell rat
named Kathy K who still lives in the York
area. According to Toni, Kathy K, like all
Dell alumni, gets sentimental whenever
she talks about the glory days of the Dell.
Toni went to Margaret's house, picked up
Kathleen's blocks and delivered them
to Kathy K who was surprised and
very grateful to receive them.

Now let me reintroduce my great friend
and guest host, Kathleen Mae Schneider,
who wrote to me recently and shared
memories of those dark days in the fall
of 2012 along with her thoughts about
parting with the Dell graffiti blocks
she rescued from the scrap heap.

On my miserable last day at the Dell, I collected the entrance sign and as many blocks as I could from the disjointed and piled-high rubble, and struggled up the hill with each of them to my car.

The blocks given to Dell rat Kathy K by Kathleen Mae Schneider
Picture courtesy of Toni Deroche @ The Shady Dell on Facebook

The ballet dancer was the only drawing
from which I could retrieve enough parts
to make an almost complete image.

The four blocks Kathy K received from Kathleen came
from a section of the wall on the right side of the above
picture directly beneath the big spray painted letter "E".

I knew there would be many folks (Rats)
in York who'd love to have those blocks,
and therefore didn't think I was the best
person to own them. Since the Shady Dell
wasn't the magical coming-of-age place for
me that it was for you and so many others,
and not part of Mother's life during the Dell's
heyday, they belonged, I felt, to those for
whom they formed a background and a
place to leave behind their names.

The Shady Dell dance hall (2012)

Remember, I was forbidden to go there
by Mother because of its bad reputation,
and I was preparing for a classical piano
career as a teen. Now I see rock and roll
for the important place it holds in our
history and can enjoy much of it,
unlike back then.

We delivered the last Dell block to Elisabeth's house today. She will keep it safe and treasure it.

(above & below) Kathleen's daughter Elisabeth
explores the Dell barn in 2012 prior to demolition.

To my daughter, the salvaged block she now
owns reminds her of those special times
that she and I were allowed to roam her
grandmother's original home and property.

She is an accomplished dancer,
unlike her mother,

"The Dance of the Dell Rats" (1961)

but both of us sensed the spirit of the
thousands of teenage dancers who spent
so many nights in the dance hall as we
walked its quiet floor and in spite of its
rundown and nearly ruined condition.

The reason I saved the decorated wall blocks
in the first place was to give to someone who
had gone to the dance hall as a teenager and
would appreciate them for their historic and
cultural value as well as their memories
of that very special place.

I'm happy that Dell rat Kathy
now has four of them.

Thank you very much, dear friend Kathleen,
for giving us closure. It's good to know that
this otherwise sad chapter in Shady Dell
history has a happy ending.

Have a Shady day!


  1. Tom,

    I'm glad a pieces of the Shady Dell have homes with some of the original "Dell Rats". I understand how a meaningful place as this is hard to let go. I think often these days what it'll be like someday when DH's father passes and his boyhood home going to his dad's caregiver. I had secretly hoped the house would stay in the family but things don't always work out like you want. Thanks for sharing and I'm so glad you're back again.

    1. Thank you very much, Cathy! It is good to be back among my blog friends. Thank you again for your kind and comforting words during my bereavement.

      Most of the blocks that came from the walls of the Dell dance hall were lost, taken to a landfill, and lost with them are the marvelous clues, the mysterious drawings and cryptic graffiti that revealed the Shady Dell culture dating back to the late 50s. However, thanks to Kathleen, Toni and Greg, several blocks containing significant amounts of artwork were salvaged. I am relieved to know that Kathleen's blocks have found permanent homes with people who will cherish them and not simply use them as construction material.

      Thank you again for your visit and comment, dear friend Cathy!

    2. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 15, 2017 at 6:20 AM

      Good morning, Cathy!

      We all have meaningful places in our lives, and the Shady Dell was such a gem for so many (then) teens that they revere and cherish their memories of the place all these many years later. When I witnessed the Dell's destruction, I impulsively carried away what I could, knowing it was probably my last chance to keep those symbols out of harm's way.

      Pack rat that I am by nature and decidedly the only one of my mother's three children that loves "old things" or those that hold stories, I just recently went through the very thing you dread happening in your family. Just six months after Mother's death, her house is sold and its contents dispersed.

      Like with the Dell, I carried home everything I could that held meaning for me or my parents' descendants that are now too young to realize their value. In that short time, I felt it was important to prevent it being trashed or auctioned off to strangers. It was painful to be sure, but it gave a measure of closure, and the property thankfully did stay in my extended family. I hope it will happen that way for you too.

    3. Kathleen,

      My in-laws have a will of specific things left to each of the children. When my MIL passed a few years back, I was given her pearls. She told me while she was still living that she wanted me to have them and now I cherish them. I just wish we could keep their house in the family. :( I know the selling your mother's home and going through her stuff was painful. Perhaps the mementos you took away from her home will warm your heart with much joy in the years to come until you are reunited. Have a joyful, blessed Thanksgiving!

    4. Tom,

      Indeed, I'm happy that pieces of the Shady Dell found a good place to call home and I know this place will be a landmark that will live in the hearts of Dell Rats forever. It's so nice to experience this era through your writings and mewsic. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friend!

    5. You too, dear Cathy. Thank you again for your visits and kind words. Stay safe and enjoy your holiday week, dear friend!

  2. Glad part of that wall was saved, even if only a tiny portion, and the blocks are in good homes.

    1. Thanks, Alex!

      I was going to call this post "Nice Save" because, for a while, it looked like Kathleen's blocks might need to be put out with the trash. Fortunately she was able to locate two people, her daughter and Kathy K, who were eager to take possession of the priceless Dell artifacts and give them forever homes.

      Thank you very much for your comforting words during my period of mourning, good buddy!

    2. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 15, 2017 at 6:29 AM

      Hi Alex!
      Originally, it seemed to me that the dance hall's wall blocks were destined for a landfill, but Toni, the first "savior" of the Shady Dell property, told me just recently that she believes the wrecking crew just evened out the rubble and covered them over with soil right where they lay.

      I wonder if, centuries from now, archeologists will dig them up, put them in order in an attempt to make sense of them and put them in a museum somewhere. Headlines will read "New Evidence Found of a Lost Civilization". Then they will be even more perplexed to find a few of the missing pieces miles away in other sites!

    3. Kathleen, initially I was going to speculate that the blocks were plowed under and covered over. It is somewhat encouraging to learn that might be the case, simply because the scenario you described might someday play out and the wall designs will come together again, perhaps in a museum, minus a few key pieces.

  3. Hi Shady! Goodness, I didn't realize that we've been blogmates for at least 6 years, going on more! I remember the demolition of the Dell, and how sad it was! It is still a sensitive event for you and it rekindles the fondest memories for all who frequented the Dell in its best days! I have to tell you, the scene even brought tears to my eyes...even though I wasn't there (gosh, I wish I could have danced on that floor)! A lot of us can relate even if we were on another dance floor in another part of the world!

    I am so impressed and happy that Kathleen and Toni retrieved the few blocks that had such great drawings of dancers, and, fun graffiti writings-those are true artifacts! And, now they are placed with and original Dell Rat, and, Kathleen's daughter who will take great care of them! The photos are truly great, thank you so much for sharing them!

    I am glad to see you back, Shady! You have truly been missed. And, now we have the winter holidays on our heels, knocking at our pocketbooks for treats and gifts, lol! This is a great memorable post, with good news for some of the Dell's history to be saved. Have a good end of week, dear friend! ♫

    1. Hi, Suzanne!

      Thank you very much for swinging by to reminisce with me 5+ years after the walls of the Dell dance hall came crumblin' and tumblin' down.

      Yessum, you are my second oldest active blog friend, Suzanne, and I very much appreciate you taking this journey with me through the years.

      At one point in his life, Dell owner John Ettline managed a ballroom. When he designed the Dell's dance hall in the 1950s he was clearly determined to do it right. The venue's oak dance floor was second to none.

      Imagine Kathleen, Toni and Greg, their hearts broken, fighting back tears, picking through the piles of blocks from the fallen dance hall and selecting the precious few that weren't broken and contained the most art and graffiti, leaving all the rest behind to be plowed underground. It was one of the saddest days in Shady Dell history. Fortunately the few surviving blocks have found homes with people who cared about the Dell and will treasure them.

      Thank you again for being here today and for giving me a warm welcome back to the blog world. Enjoy the rest of your week, dear friend Suzanne!

    2. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 15, 2017 at 10:04 AM

      Hello, Suzanne!
      It IS sad to relive those Dell demolition pictures, isn't it?

      When I first talked with the Dell's new owner, he had plans to fix up the dance hall, though for a different purpose. When I came back that last day I was shocked when I saw everything destroyed, but the demolition guys said the walls collapsed when they did some work around it, namely when they tore down my grandfather's barn to which it was attached.

      With probably a few million bucks, both the historic buildings could have been restored to their original glory, but no one stepped forward with that kind of money and/OR concern. Alas, I and most Dell lovers had lots of the second, but surely not the first requirement!

      I take comfort in that, in addition to the salvaged blocks with graphitti at least the house that Toni's family restored still stands. It was not only where my mother lived as a child (1912-1922), but also the much later home of John and Helen Ettline and site of the snack bar that Tom and innumerable Dell Rats frequented.

      The new owner did graciously give me all the remaining original shutters from the house, from which I hope to make a room divider, among other things. I'd like to make picture frames from the ones that are not sturdy, for portraits of my ancestors that lived there.

      It is good to hear from you, Suzanne!

    3. Good Morning Kathleen. I came back this morning to speak of you, and found this wonderful message from you.

      I was sadly moved to read your remembrances of your last day at the Dell. I can only envision how you must have stood there at first, gazing over the rubble of those concrete blocks. The photos truly give us the whole picture. It is heartwarming that you and the Dell VIPs were able to go through the piles and find the more memorable pieces, even with the mood being bittersweet.

      I can understand you feel that the items belong to the original Dell Rats, because this was not the "magical coming of age" place for you. Your heart is great for offering these memoirs to a Dell Rat and, your daughter. I am glad you kept a few pieces for yourself too. This tells us that in studying and learning the history of the structure's being from the early 1920's up to the present time, the Dell did become a "magical" part of your 'today' life! It brought about a new type of bonding between you and your mother, worthy of writing about, resulting in a very happy and positive impact on both of your lives! I can see that your daughter took an active interest in the Dell and family history-I envy you both, getting to sense the 'spirit' of the Dell's dancers in the old dance hall! I just find your story so intriguing. And, I am glad to know that you enjoy Rock and Roll music now!

      Thank you Kathleen, and Shady! Have a wonderful end of week!

    4. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 16, 2017 at 12:45 PM

      Hello again,Suzanne!

      "Helpless" is the best way to describe how I felt when a huge red dumpster appeared on the Dell property even before it was sold and the destruction began within a few days. So much history was there; so many stories were embedded in those beams and blocks!

      Alone that time, I walked the perimeter of the outdoor dance floor, imagining how Tom described it in "I see the lights" on the first of his Dell remembrances. It was missing the fireplace - forlorn and empty except for fallen leaves and vines. I climbed the cement steps that Toni told me once led to the entrance booth for Dell Rats to pay their quarters. (John apparently had many coffee cans full...)

      I stood on the still viable wooden floor of the dance hall and sensed the exuberant crowd that frequented it, seeing in my mind some pairs dreamily dancing cheek to cheek. I looked at the now cold fireplace that undoubtedly once gave off so much warmth and romance.

      I walked over the quiet grounds and tried my best to say good bye to them all - my ancestors who planted trees and built structures, the Ettlines I never met, and the thousands of youthful Dell rats who went on to lead their lives in myriad ways, but like Tom, carried part of the Dell with them forever. I tried to fix in my memory the historic and cultural richness of the place and accept that it would soon belong to the ages and be experienced only in the realm of memory.

      I feel the same helplessness even when seeing a tree in our neighborhood being chopped down. So on that day, I had to run my hands over the ancient and huge hand-forged hinges and latch on the barn door that my grandfather must have seen the day he closed it for the last time, leaving his youthful dreams behind. In my heart I thanked him for giving my dear mother life and kept her safe as she grew up in that place.

      All but the house are gone now, but I thank God I had that opportunity. The memories and pictures are invaluable to me, not because I came of age at the Shady Dell, but through my imagination.

      With my affection stoked by what I saw and experienced at the Dell, Mother's, Toni's and Tom's stories and those of others I continually meet who spent so much time there, the place took root and continues to grow in my heart. I'm also learning, at the 'tender' age of nearly 71, to expand my appreciation of the music I missed when 18!

      The Shady Dell still lives - in my daughter, in me, and in so many blog friends like you. That's why I'm so glad you commented again. Thank you!

  4. Love that art on those blocks. Did the kids at the Shady draw those pictures, or were they already there and thus separate from the graffiti that surrounds them? If it's the former, it's an excellent example of "folk art", and baby boomer folk art at that!

    1. Hi, Kirk!

      Thank you very much for joining Kathleen Mae Schneider and me today, good buddy!

      You raised a very good question, my friend, one that all of us are still trying to answer with certainty. Our research into the history of the Shady Dell has not led us to the name of the person or persons who drew those murals on the dance hall walls. We do not believe the main drawings were done by Dell patrons. We think Dell owner John Ettline hired a local artist to do the job shortly after construction of the hall was completed circa 1958-60. Fortunately, of the thousands of teenagers who went to the Dell through the decades, not a single one of them saw fit to ruin the main drawings. Instead they expressed themselves via graffiti at other spots on the walls.

      Thank you again for your kind words during my period of grieving and for your visit today, good buddy Kirk. Enjoy the rest of your week!

    2. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 15, 2017 at 10:38 AM

      You're right, Kirk. The boomer folk art is wonderful. I was born in 1947, making me a classic boomer, and since I am an artist - I am proud to say that it takes one to know one on both counts!��
      When I asked a young guy on the Dell's demolition team about the art, he was sure it was made by a famous local tattoo artist, now deceased. However, when Shady checked out the guy's birth and death dates, they didn't line up, so we are still in the dark.

      Something was interesting, however, for my daughter and I to notice about the Dell property, run down as it was by the time we explored it. Proving a testament to John Ettline's wisdom and understanding of teenagers, there was no graphitti anywhere else on the property!

      As ancient as cave drawings of animals and the imprinted hands of the prehistoric artists who made them, Egyptian pyramid wall art, the Catacombs and the buildings discovered in Pompeii, people always want a place to say "I was here". That's what happens in places where so many frustrated kids deface public buildings to say the same thing. John simply and naturally let it happen, and provided a place for Dell rats to do that, so no more was needed. That's why I thought the blocks are important and without a doubt worth saving.

      A few days before Mother's 100th birthday, we took her to her old home for an open house, and we visited the dance hall that was filled with "old" Dell rats. Some were dancing or chatting. Others were looking for their names and those of their long ago dates on the walls. I watched one elderly man silently and almost reverently touching a name, like you see the often-photographed military veterans doing at the Vietnam War Memorial. I wondered what was going on in his thoughts. The Dell's "magic" was obviously still intact!

  5. A lovely, bittersweet post, Shady. It's always sad to have to let go of the past, but as you know... the true memories stay forever in our hearts.

    How wonderful that parts of the Dell could be salvaged to help perpetuate those memories.

    So good to have you back here again.

    1. Hi, Kelly!

      Thank you very much for coming over, dear friend!

      I am grateful to have this opportunity to bring new friends like you up to speed on one of the biggest and saddest events in Shady Dell history, the 2012 demolition of three key structures - the barn, garage and the dance hall. Although those buildings are gone, victims of the wrecking ball and the bulldozer, memories of them remain as every original Dell rat will testify. Along with the salvaged artwork/graffiti blocks, we are blessed to have hundreds of pictures of those ill-fated Dell buildings (inside and out), taken over the years by Kathleen Mae Schneider whose grandfather built the Dell and by one time Dell owner Toni Deroche.

      Thank you again for your visit and kind comment and for the comforting words you wrote during my bereavement absence. Enjoy the rest of your week, dear friend Kelly!

    2. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 15, 2017 at 11:21 AM

      Thank you for your comment, Kelly.
      I gave my daughter first pick of the Dell's wall blocks that I salvaged. She is a dancer, as mentioned above. Because of her many years of ballet and modern dance instruction on a pre-professional level from the time she was three years old up until she majored in dance in college (until she blew out both her knees!), and still dancing for a local company, I thought she would pick the almost intact block grouping of the ballerina. I was wrong!

      Instead she chose just one block, that showing the head of the teenage girl perhaps dancing the jitterbug. She explained the reason for her choice.
      For the several precious days when she and I explored the Shady Dell, before it sold and the dance hall and barn's eventual destruction, both she and I sensed an almost eerie but wonderful spiritual quality to the dusty and derelict place.

      It seemed there were benign "ghosts" still inhabiting the walls and floors, happy we were there, proud of their place in time here, and emitting really good vibes about the youthful exuberance of life that once was its hallmark.

      At first we were a little "spooked" at strange sounds emanating from the leaking ceiling, wind in old broken windows and creaking beams under our feet. However, we soon found it easy to relive in our minds my mother's childhood escapades and were almost able to hear the loud rock and roll and feel the the atmosphere of the crowded dance hall. Instead of being afraid, now we were undeniably enchanted. It was THAT memory she found imbedded in the one block she chose.

      I would have kept the rest myself had I not been able to find, with Toni's help, a genuine Shady Dell lover out there to take them home. An antique dealer had already eyed them in my mother's garage, knowing he could surely could make a nice profit, but I knew that the value for a "Rat" would be inestimable. He didn't announce himself as one of that special "Rodentia", so I nixed his offer to "take them off my hands". From what Toni told me, the woman to whom she offered them frequented the Dell as a teen and chose to keep all of the remaining blocks, tearfully expressing how much they meant to her.

      My heart rests easy now. I can visit the one my daughter has in her home as a token of our treasured Dell visits any time I choose, and the rest are in safe and loving hands - still giving off those good vibes!

  6. Such a lovely post, friend Shady ... I can relate ... still have a wooden shingle of the roof of our old house ... once we build the new house things fell apart ... kids are here and there ... he is there ... I am here ... and life goes on until not. Happy Winter. Love, cat.

    1. Hi, cat!

      Thank you very much for being here today as I flash back to those dark days in the fall of 2012 when the beloved Shady Dell dance hall was demolished along with the century old barn and garage. It pleases me that you can relate to such a loss due to personal experience. Imagine how I felt when Kathleen Mae Schneider surprised me on my birthday with the Dell's "ENTRANCE" sign (shown in the post), one of the items she rescued from the rubble that day.

      Happy Wednesday and happy winter to you, dear friend cat. Thank you again for your visit today and for your caring words last week when I was in mourning.

      Lubbins lubbins lubbins!

    2. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 15, 2017 at 11:29 AM

      Great!! Another person who treasures sentimental objects carrying stories of special times and places! I'm so glad you kept that emblematic shingle, and happy you told us about it. (You can also be glad it doesn't weigh as much as a cement block!)

  7. Hi Shady,
    OH! I remember it all too well!It was such a sad , gloomy day watching those iconic walls crumble to the ground. All that history (and artwork) were burnt and buried! Now, only to be stored in our memories. Thank God for pictures and the Blog to help us keep the memoirs alive!
    It was so nice of Kathleen to part with her cement blocks. I knew I could fine a good home for them. Kathy K. is a lady I met years ago at a Wine and Spirit store. She knew I owned the Dell (at one time). I would keep her posted on the month happenings. When we sold and things were "changing", she would cry. For months and years after the demolition when I would see her, tears would still roll down her cheeks and she couldn't talk about it. She treasured wonderful memories of the Dell and especially Helen and John. Now she has a small part of her "coming of age" place. Just like you do with the "ENTRANCE" sign that Kathy saved for you! I, myself saved one block.
    It was sad but nice to relive that day back in 2012!
    Toni Deroche
    p.s. I do love that John Melloncamp song! It's very appropriate for what transpired!

    1. Hi, Toni!

      Thank you very much for taking part in the discussion as we revisit one of the darkest periods in Dell history, the 2012 demolition.

      You might want to thank God for all those great pictures, but I thank YOU and Kathleen for them. Without the two of you generously serving as photographers for Shady Dell Music & Memories, we wouldn't have hundreds of ultra rare images including the ones of the Dell walls covered with drawings and graffiti. How can I ever thank you enough, Toni? I also thank you and Kathleen and Greg for caring enough to lug those heavy cement blocks off the property and take them home for safe keeping.

      I am also thankful that you regularly came into contact with Kathy K in your travels around York and that she waxed sentimental about John and Helen and the Dell and willingly shared her feelings and memories with you. It allowed you to realize that she was the ideal candidate to receive Kathleen's blocks, thereby bringing a happy and satisfying end to an otherwise sad chapter of Dell history.

      Yessum, I treasure the Dell ENTRANCE sign, the tack room name plates, the wooden baton that John Ettline carried to maintain order, the Dell menu and other Dell related items that I have received over the years. I know you treasure your Dell block.

      Thank you again for all you have done to save and preserve the Dell, Toni, and for all you have done for me and for Shady Dell Music & Memories. Enjoy the rest of your week, dear friend!

    2. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 15, 2017 at 7:49 PM

      Hey Toni!
      We've often talked and shared stories from the Dell Rats we encounter all the time in York. But this story - the saving of the dance hall wall remnants - is extra special to me for a number of reasons.

      One is how we managed to find the small window of opportunity for you to get the blocks out of Mother's garage before you left town. Another one is your finding an appreciative protector/owner for them so soon after. It all came together in the most perfect way, didn't it?

      I often think if I had a whole truck of the Dell blocks, I could just drive around town doing errands or shopping and I'd encounter multiple people who spent significant time at the Dell when they were younger. If I handed out blocks as I went, they'd be gone in a few hours. There seems to be no shortage of locals who frequented the Dell, and still love what it represents in their own personal history.

      Mentioning the place has always elicited the same response you found with Kathy K.: of appearing to be transported back across the decades for a few minutes to one of the best, if not the very best, time of their lives. Sometimes that look is followed by a story, at other times tears.

      An example was a professional person working with Mother in her place of business. Her dreamy expression belied a different thought however and she told me, "Ah yes.... The Shady Dell.... I met my first love there and we spent many nights dancing there." She was silent for a few seconds and then said thoughtfully, "I should have married HIM."!

      As you have said before, Toni: If only those blocks from the dance hall wall could talk! Think of the stories they'd tell! They would make a great book wouldn't they?

      I'm so grateful to you for helping me find a suitable home for the blocks, and for restoring and thus saving Mother's childhood home. Had it not been for your persistence and vision, and your understanding of the value of the property, it would also only exist in our memories instead of proudly standing on that curve on Starcross Road. Like Tom, I cannot thank you enough.

      Yet another reason this story is special to me is it shows that two friends were able to simply bring happiness to others through involvement with a house and a very old woman whose home it once was. It was what she was all about, and like she was, I'm so thankful for your help and friendship!

  8. Shady,

    Welcome back!

    I'm glad to see some of the blocks were retrieved and I'm glad to see That Kathleen took pictures! Thank you for keeping the Dell's history alive.

    Have a great Thursday, dear friend.

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 16, 2017 at 3:53 AM

      Hi there, Jessica Marie!

      The pictures are all we have left of some parts of the Dell, so I'm glad we have them too. When I took my pictures, it was mostly to collect everything I could save of my mother's childhood home to illustrate the family history I hope to someday write. However now, being able to share the photos with others perhaps help them understand why Dell Rats love the place so much that they even write a blog about it!

      Thanks for stopping by to take a look and for your comment.

    2. Hi, Jessica Marie!

      Thank you very much for coming by, dear friend!

      Kathleen, Toni and I are pleased to present this post because it enables relatively new followers like you to travel back in time with us and witness the destruction of three principal structures on the Shady Dell property, the barn, the garage and the dance hall, then FF to present day for a related story that has a happy ending.

      I don't now how many blocks were salvaged by Dell rat Greg Gulden or what specific artwork and graffiti they have on them but, clearly, Kathleen and Toni rescued key pieces of the puzzle.

      Thank you again for joining us, dear friend JM, and enjoy the rest of your week!

  9. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 16, 2017 at 4:04 AM

    I also meant to say that I collected a few of the blocks because I knew at the time that they were some of the only tangible pieces left of the dance hall and therefore are precious artifacts to former Dell rats who couldn't get them on their own. I just wish I could have taken more out of the pile, but they were too heavy to move around easily to search for intact pictures.

  10. Thanks for sharing these really cool pieces of history. The drawings really depict the flavor of those times! Tom, did you sign the wall? If it was this day and age I can only imagine what kind of words would grace the wall. I'm glad the good memories and history of those days are now being enjoyed and appreciated. I'm glad I came to the Shady Dell through this blog! (Kind of like sneaking in the back door!) Thanks Kathleen for sharing this and also sharing your lovely Mother with us.

    1. Hi, YaYa!

      Thank you very much for coming over today, dear friend!

      I'm go glad you are on hand to join the Shady Dell VIPs on a trip back to the past as we remember one of the Dell's darkest days, that day in the fall of 2012 when the walls came crumbin' and tumblin' down.

      To answer your question, no, I did not apply any graffiti to the Dell's walls. I was never tempted to do so - it never even occurred to me. Maybe I considered it disrespectful, even though John obviously tolerated rats using the walls as a canvas or a huge parchment upon which to write their initials or express love and affection for a sweetie. You brought up a very good point, one that I mentioned in another reply. From the late 50s when the dance hall was built and the murals placed on its walls until 2012 when the structure was razed, the artwork remained remarkably untouched. A few people wrote on the woman's gown, but no one disfigured the faces. It would have been very easy for a thoughtless person to draw a mustache on her or for a vandal to spray paint obscenities all over those drawings, but it never happened - a small miracle I would say.

      Stay tuned, YaYa. Kathleen Mae Schneider is replying to all comments on this post and she will be around at her earliest convenience to respond to yours (from one Kathleen to another).

      We are very happy to have you here as part of our family, YaYa. Thank you again for your visit and comment today and for your kind words of comfort last week during my period of mourning.

      God bless!

    2. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 16, 2017 at 1:25 PM

      It's so good to see you here, YaYa!

      The Shady Dell must have been an exciting environment in which to seek and find acceptance, and to let one's mark, literally, if inclined to do so.

      From what our good friend Shady tells us, he was quite involved in pursuits other than graphitti, and too busy enjoying the music and people he encountered to take out a pen and sign the wall. But I think we can all be glad that he absorbed so much of the spirit, the people and the sounds of the place in such detail to give us the chance to visit and enjoy it vicariously all these years later.

      Still, wouldn't it be great to have a time machine and actually GO there, watch him and his friends dance, or have one of Helen's late night treats in the snack bar?

      I'd also like to go even farther back in time and see my 6-year-old mother swinging on the porch of the Dell house or smell my grandmother Allie's freshly baked sugar cakes laid out to cool on a dish towel on the kitchen table, in the very room that later became the snack bar!

      A favorite quote of mine is: "The world is shaped by two things — stories told and the memories they leave behind." (Vera Nazarian). That's certainly true of the Dell, and I would add to that 'shaping' the engendering of friendships our stories encourage in places like this blog.

      Mother always said that there are few things more important to our fractured world than people coming together to share the stories of their lives and by doing so, learn how to show one another the compassion and love that is in such short supply these days.

      Thank you so much for faithfully contributing your interest and kind words here. They bless us all!

  11. Am surprised that your Dell is no more, friend Shady ... as I did not know that ... All the more ... thank you for doing this very special post on your very special memories ... Whenever I return to Europe, I am looking up places, I used to roam ... not much left, but I did recognize 2 trees ... smiles ... a walnut tree and an oak tree ... smiles ... Love, always, cat.

    1. Hi again cat!

      Yessum, much of the Shady Dell estate was torn down in 2012 including the historic dance hall, the barn, the garage and the spring house along with many old trees. However, the three story house which once included the Dell snack bar is still standing. It was repaired and renovated in the early 2010s, so at least there's that.

      I am sorry to learn that your stomping ground in the old country has changed a lot, too, but it is fortunate that you recognize two trees that have remained standing all these years.

      Lubbins lubbins lubbins, cat!

    2. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 20, 2017 at 2:34 AM

      I'm late, Cat, but I wanted to tell you that I'm glad you appreciate the trees from your European past. Not many people I know treasure trees or associate them with earlier times in their lives.

      I'm told the ones at the Shady Dell are now gone; the new owners of the property must not have valued them, or perhaps they felt that they got in their way. It makes me sad because there were very old and large ones there that provided a beautiful wooded setting, wonderful shade in the summer and shared the history of the place.

      At my childhood home, there are still two giant sycamores in the front that I helped my father plant when I was a little girl. They were just saplings when I held them straight while he shoveled the soil around the root balls and watered them.

      Now they tower over the house at about 40 feet and their trunks are too wide for a man to get his arms around! They keep the house cool in summer, several squirrels have nests in them and a variety of
      songbirds abound. They they are the only trees left on the street because the neighbors cut theirs all down. They said they were too messy" (leaves to rake, branches to pick up after a storm, etc.).

      There are also beautiful pink and white dogwoods, maples, hollies and mulberry trees that my parents planted. The new owners of my mother's house told me I can go back and visit whenever I want. They love the trees too and hopefully I will, like you, be able to see those special souvenirs at the place where I "used to roam" a long time ago.

  12. Happy Saturday morning Tom! I finally made my way over here. It was very cool (and sad) reading about the demolition of the Shady Dell and I love how a trio of former Rats went and salvaged some keepsakes. The wall blocks are a perfect keepsake, for if those walls could talk, huh? I loved seeing the graffiti and cracked up when I saw that someone had scrawled the word "schmuck" on the skirt of the dancer! Haha.

    What wonderful treasures. I must say I was surprised that you don't have one of those blocks, considering how much you have kept the Shady Dell alive in your blog pieces about the dance hall and its owners and some of the regulars. But you have great photos of them and that's plenty to generate a feel for the history of that magnificent gathering place in York, PA.

    It was nice to also see Margaret here. Such beautiful pictures of her and the lovely Kathleen. I really like the photo of Elisabeth looking out the window. And the picture of Margaret with all the roses is magnificent.

    Thanks for sharing this bittersweet story.
    It's so sad to think that you just can't travel back to York and head over to the old stompin' grounds. As they say, you can never go back home...

    Have a good weekend, my friend.

    Michele at Angels Bark

    1. Hi, Michele!

      How are you, dear friend? Thank you very much for coming over on your weekend to experience this five year flashback to a sad period in Shady Dell history, one that has a silver lining and happy ending in present day.

      Did you know that Schmuck is a surname of German origin? With the York area populated by Pennsylvania Dutch it is possible or even likely that the word "Schmuck" written on the Dell wall was actually somebody's name. I recall knowing a family by that name. In those days friends often called each other by their last names only. For instance, my Dell buddies called me "Anderson." So, that is my theory about the meaning of "schmuck" on the dancer's dress. I think it was somebody signing it with his or her last name.

      Kathleen Mae Schneider generously offered me one or more of those Dell blocks but I declined. For one thing, it would be expensive to ship concrete blocks from PA to Florida. The second reason why I declined is because, like Kathleen, I lack the storage space. The pictures taken over the years by Toni and by Kathleen are priceless and they will suffice. Gazing at them allows us to imagine that the Dell is still standing, still in business.

      Yessum, I felt it was time to post pictures of Margaret, Kathleen and Lis to introduce them to my new followers. This post helps give the newer people some background on key people involved in the Shady Dell story and a look at the place before and after demolition.

      Thank you again for your kind visit and interesting comments, dear friend Michele. I hope Luca and Picasso are doing well and that you and your mother are AOK, too. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

    2. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 19, 2017 at 6:02 PM

      Hi, Michele!

      You know, I so wish I could have bought the Shady Dell. It would have represented a full circle of ownership for my family, by having it return to a granddaughter of the man who built it.

      As owner, I would have loved to turn the property into a bed and breakfast inn, with the dance hall restored and rented out for parties and receptions. The rebuilt barn also would have been perfect to board horses, just as John Ettline stabled the ones he and Helen owned there. However, such a dream was not possible.

      The picture you mentioned of Elisabeth looking out the Dell barn's loft window is also one of my favorites, as well as the one showing her on the steps. Although she never got to meet her great grandfather, she sensed his spirit, as I did, that rainy day we visited his barn. It was wonderful to see Elisabeth climbing the same stairs to the barn's loft that her grandmother did as a little girl when she went up there to play with her sisters.

      The portrait of my mother is very typical of her as a very old woman and the matriarch of our family on one of her last birthdays. She loved pink roses. Can you tell?

      To borrow from Paul Simon, "....Don't take my Kodachrome(s) away"! Thanks so much for your comment, Michele. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  13. Such a stirring post! I well know the feeling of growing away (from Grandma's house), and applaud the efforts to preserve the memories of time well spent ;-) Words of a song by Miranda Lambert come to mind:

    “If I could walk around, I swear I’ll leave
    Won’t take nothing but a memory
    From the house that built me”

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 20, 2017 at 10:44 AM

      Deirdre, that's a wonderful quote, both for Dell Rats and anyone else who's experienced the loss of a special place in their life.

      Sadly, I only could salvage a few pieces of the Dell because either they were gone by the time I got there, or what was left was smoldering and/or too heavy.

      At this point, after bringing into our house many loads of mementoes, furniture and myriad keepsakes from my own childhood home before its sale, my husband wishes ALL I would have taken were memories!

    2. Hi, diedre!

      I am late replying because I am celebrating my birthday today. Your cheery visit is a wonderful gift. Thank you very much for coming by, dear friend!

    3. Happiest of birthdays to you, dear Shady!

    4. Thank you very much, dear diedre! :)

  14. I thought I had commented ?
    Oh My Goodness... so nice that you were able to picked up a few memories. Happy The Dell still lives on.

    cheers, parsnip

    1. Kathleen Mae SchneiderNovember 20, 2017 at 11:11 AM

      That's okay, Parsnip! We're always glad to have you stop by.

      Yes, the few pieces that a few of us as Dell lovers managed to save fortunately found forever homes. Those now rare things, our pictures and of course this blog assure that our Shady Lady will never be forgotten.

      My grandparents could never have had a clue how long she would live in our hearts and minds. They would be amazed and very pleased, I'm sure!

      Thanks for your comment and have a wonderful holiday.

    2. Hi, Gayle!

      I just broke away from my birthday celebration to see what's happening here on SDMM. I am delighted to see that you and Winston paid me a visit.

      Thank you very much, dear friend, and have a wonderful week!


You talkin' to me?