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!