Friday, April 23, 2010

Remembering Daisy Earle Day

I had a telephone call a couple weeks ago from a ninety-eight year old woman who lives not far from me. She had read Guests Behind the Barbed Wire and was inquiring about one of the Aliceville residents mentioned in the book--Miss Daisy Earle Day. Miss Day's father owned a grocery store in Aliceville during WWII, and she taught school there at that time.

The name was familiar, but I didn't remember anything else. The woman who called explained that she had gone to Judson College with Miss Day and wondered what had become of her.

When I checked my notes, I knew why I remembered the name. Those of you who have read Guests will remember Mary Lu Keef, the little girl whose father brought the family from New York state when he took a job at Camp Aliceville during the war. Pickens County, Alabama was a strange new world for Mary Lu, who attended Aliceville Elementary School while both of her parents worked at the POW camp. In interviews, she often referred to her third grade teacher as an encouragement and inspiration to her when she came to Aliceville. Turns out that teacher was none other than Miss Day. Mary Lu thought so much of Miss Day that she sought her out for a visit when she returned to Aliceville for one of the POW camp reunions after she grew up.

I sent an e-mail to Mary Bess Paluzzi, director of the Aliceville Museum, to see if she knew the whereabouts of Miss Day, who would also be 98 years old now. Mary Bess remembered her well and noted that she had been the organist for the Aliceville First Baptist Church for fifty years. Her nephew had moved her to a nursing home in Brewton in 2003, and she passed away there in 2008.

I called the woman back and told her what I had been able to find out. Although she was sad to hear that her college friend had passed away, she was pleased to know of the many memories others had of her.

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