From my first phone call with Phyllis Shelton, I knew she would be much more than Elizabeth Tay-lor’s double. She did not disappoint. After several phone calls and hearing her infectious laugh, I got to meet with her twice for I’d like to say were interviews. She made them so warm and wel-coming that the word ‘interview’ doesn’t do it justice. Phyllis was the picture of Southern charm, which comes from her roots in Paducah, Kentucky. At first, I thought I should have my pinky up, but she is the most down to Earth person I can remember meeting in a long time.
Since she was once a model discovered in college, she has gone on to achieve show business leg-end, as well as locally. Her beauty has served her well, both inside and out. The first thing I no-ticed was how beautiful she looked with her porcelain skin and striking green eyes. She still has a radiance in her looks and has the charm of a Southern girl mixed with the sophistication of some-one who had a career in Hollywood and New York City, as well as a country girl love of horses and her beloved peacock. You may have noticed the signs by the property for ‘Goose and peacock crossing’. The peacock is just as colorful as Phyllis is with her stylish fashions.
I was mesmerized with her stories of being discovered and making it in the modeling world, as a college student. She also attended college with a journalism and education double major. I loved her story of how after doing so well and returning home for the holidays to surprise her dad with a gift. She collected different size boxes and inserted each within each other, with the smallest box containing a check to repay her father for all he had done for her. (I know…get the tissues……) Her father was touched, but also turned and gave her the check back. I think the character they both showed is touching, to say the least. It was then that she minded me of a friend that told her to give your children ‘roots and wings’.
Phyllis went on to become Elizabeth Taylor’s movie double. That should tell you how beautiful she was and still is to this day. She bonded with Elizabeth over their love of horses and of course, how stunning looks were extremely similar. That is not a bad gig: doubling for the woman thought of as the most beautiful woman in the world at the time and at the height of her career. Ms. Taylor went as far as surprising her with keys to her Puerto Vallarta home for her honeymoon to her sec-ond husband. She said she was very generous to those she knew. Phyllis is also the same way in that respect. She was part of Hollywood when stars were stars and glamour was at its best. There were no reality shows or internet stars….they were all generated through the magic of movies.
How lucky the area is that Phyllis went on to purchase the mill in Flanders. The Buckley Mill has been her home for over forty years. She has kept the original structure and charm with small addi-tions. She lives there with her companion of twenty years, Quentin Ketterson. Mr. Ketterson, was a successful attorney in Palm Beach, affiliating with Wall Street, and businessman. He is her confi-dant and I can see the humor between them, as well as the love. In fact, the way they met was a cute – meet story that let him do a quick check on her sense of humor. From there, they have carved out a wonderful life together at the mill. She is a proud mother and grandmother, too. She spoke glowingly of her son and daughter, as well as her grandchildren, one of which is following in her footsteps. She would adoringly show me photos of all.
Quentin gives the credit for the decorating to Phyllis. She has it jam packed with memories, eclec-tic pieces, colorful collections of antique finds, and quirky art. The word to describe her style is whimsical. The pops of color are prevalent everywhere, from the peacock to the yellow and white striped awnings outside. I felt like I had wandered into some sort of museum nestled in a fairy tale stone house. The mill is from the 1800s and that original look is what keeps this looking pre-served. It’s a lucky thing that Phyllis bought the home as a great real estate find in the 1960s. It may not look as beautiful and serene as it is today. It would have been a shame if someone gutted it and rebuilt it. I don’t think you could replicate the architecture and the rustic look today. It’s four floors of delightful things to look at, while Phyllis tells you the story behind each one. The mill home is vast and I think it’s the only ‘house crush’ I’ve ever had, because it’s that overwhelm-ing in structure and style she has given it inside and out.
The residence has a rich history in the area, located by the old creamery and general store. Behind the home is a tranquil and serene area, which can be seen from the back porch and decks above to really appreciate the landscape. The pond is calm now and will soon have the fountain pouring into the waters and paddle boats pedaling around. The stream and the sound of it flowing by in back was so soothing that I felt like getting a blanket and a picnic basket and sitting by it. I don’t think the ducks would mind.
The patio area is large and has been used for weddings of friends. The photos of the lush landscap-ing, waters, and fowl strolling around would be picture perfect. I can’t think of a more picturesque setting. Just basking in the splendor of it all is a feeling of a day trip and not realizing that you’re close to other homes or a highway. It takes you to a whole other place. They’ve created it that way. The mill home and surrounding garden and landscape epitomizes Phyllis’s tastes and her love of nature, including her undying love of horses and her peacock. The whole area is meticulous and upkept to withhold all the beauty you can take in. If you ever wanted to just daydream for a while, this would be the place. At that point, I didn’t know which was more photogenic, Phyllis or her property; both are so beautiful.
The area surrounding the home are homes that she also maintains. We all talked about how per-fect of a spot the mill and immediate area would be for a local village. Once sewers are installed, it would make a lovely setting for a BNB, local pub, café, bakery, and so on. With the scenic views, historic and picturesque settings, it would be a destination ‘must’ for not only locals to enjoy walk-ing through, but for out of towners looking for a quaint area to eat, walk, and get together. Their whole theory is how great it would be to keep the visible charms and allow the public to enjoy what it has to offer and have the local economy booming with new prospective ventures. It all sounded wonderful to me thinking of how it would be a village to take a Sunday stroll in, grab a bite, shop, and look at scenery in the area. It’s great to hear their ideas for the future, not only for themselves, but sharing it with everyone. They are very generous in thoughts and ideas.
Flanders is lucky to have Phyllis Shelton as a neighbor, friend, and entrepreneur. She is presently involved in many ventures, as well as being a realtor for over thirty years. She brings a smile and friendly face to whatever she does. Most times, you don’t know who your neighbors are anymore. You may have passed this lovely lady at an event, a food store, an antique store, or any of a thou-sand places. What you didn’t know was there was a bit of Hollywood right there. There is so much to talk about with her and so much she shares from every part of her life, not just modeling. She has had so much in her life from Kentucky to NYC to Hollywood to Italy to New Jersey. In the shadow and limelight, she is an inspiration. It would take more than just an article to do her justice. I truly enjoyed my time with both her and Quentin. They were more than welcoming and oh, so fun to talk to. Her laugh is one I will always remember.