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Emily Day

Emily Day

Settlement House Director, Richfield Historian & Nature Center Volunteer

Born: Richfield, MN, United States
Heritage: European American

Keep your eyes open and take every chance you’ve got to learn more about this wonderful earth we happen to all be on. You’ll find more and more places you like You can support yourself with helping others. There’s no place on earth that you couldn’t be helpful.

Emily Day

Settlement House Director, Richfield Historian & Nature Center Volunteer

My name is Emily Day. I was born October 20, 1913, in Chicago. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio. My mother’s name was Vera. She had been a schoolteacher and taught Latin, French and German. My dad’s name was Harry West, and he was a lawyer. I had two older brothers and two younger sisters.

I remember the people marching down the street when World War I was over in 1918. I was five. When I was seven, women got the right to vote. There were black and white kids in our grades. I went to public school and was just sixteen when I graduated. I went away to Oberlin College in Ohio. It was the first college in the whole United States that accepted women as well as men in 1833. There were black and white girls in my dormitory. I grew up with a feeling that all of us were people who were together. I marched with other people in Washington D.C., for the civil rights movement.

When I graduated from college in 1934 there were no jobs. It was in the depths of the depression, and poverty in the United States was very severe. I found a way to get a master’s degree in social work. I worked in a settlement house in Cleveland and Chicago. I was still in Chicago when Pearl Harbor came. I volunteered for the Red Cross. During the war we got vouchers for everything. Women began to work and began to wear slacks.

After moving to Minnesota to work in another settlement house I met a man who was the head of the Big Brothers and ran a camp at Lake Milacs. A. Whittier Day was his name. I got to know him and married him two years later. We lived on a farm in Bloomington and then found a house in Richfield in 1949. We had four children. I have lived in the same house for 57 years.

When my youngest child was in first grade I went to night school and got a teaching degree so I could be on the same schedule as the kids. I became a teacher in the Richfield schools until I retired. I thought I could really teach children how to read.
I left teaching, but continued volunteering. I’m on more things than you can shake a stick at. I volunteer at the Richfield Historical Society and over at Centennial every Friday. I’m also on the board for the Woodlake Nature Center. I do as much volunteering as I can. I can do things other people need. When they tell me I can do something well it makes me feel like I’m worthwhile.

My greatest hobby is to travel. I just love to learn about all the fascinating people on this earth. I started quite young when I first graduated from college. I have been very lucky being able to travel to a lot of different places. I’ve been to all the continents including Antarctica.

I’m proud of my kids. I have three doctors. Sally is a pediatrician. John is a neurologist. Tom is in charge of a family practice. My fourth child is mentally challenged. The thing I am most proud of is probably my work with mentally challenged people. My appreciation for what they do for her in her group home and how I can help other mentally challenged people is the thing I get the biggest kick out of. I have nine grandchildren but none of them are married. They are busy.

I am grateful to have such a wonderful chance to live. Shakespeare could tell about getting old. He wrote, “That time of year thou mayest in me behold. When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.”

Notation: Download PDF

Honoring Emily Day

In These Times We’re Living Now

In these times we’re living now
In these times we’re living now
Don’t know where I’m bound
In these times we’re living now
My name is Emily Day
I was born in Chicago
Back when women could not vote
I grew up in Ohio
It’s hard to realize
Where on Earth you’re bound
When you are young
In these times we’re living now
The man who across the street
From me was a veteran
Of the Civil War
He was seventy years young
Twenty years younger
Than I am right now
From the war to end all wars
To these times we’re living now
I recall one little boy
Joseph Walker was his name
Who happened to be black
In my early grades
He had the most perfect
Handwriting in my class
He got the highest grades
Of anybody white or black
I went to college
When I was sixteen
To a place called Oberlin
Back in 1833
They were the first to
Admit both women and men
Of every race and class
In my school back then
I found work in a Settlement House
Before World War II
Without running water
And a bathroom
Everybody had to go
Down many flights of stairs
To find a bathroom
To wash up and comb their hair
When the war started
The whole world began to change
Women began to work
In slacks building planes
While the men were off to war
The women had more say
Then they ever had before
Thank God some things do change
That time of year
Mayest in me behold
When the yellow leaves or none or few
Hang above that creek so cold
I am so grateful
To have such a wonderful chance
To have lived a full life
I think it’s time to dance

Words by LARRY LONG with Mrs. Valorie Carroll’s
6th Grade Class of Richfield Middle School
(Richfield, Minnesota)

© Larry Long 2007/ BMI