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Chicago in the time the Day family lived there - Catholic Worker odds & ends
July 20th, 2010
09:26 pm


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Chicago in the time the Day family lived there
There is a book entitled "Sin in the Second City" by Karen Abbott which paints an astonishing picture of Chicago in the days when John Day Sr. moved his family there soon after the San Francisco earthquake. It is centered on the Everleigh sisters who ran the most elegant bordello in the city and the ubiquitous corruption of the police and city officials and the play "Front Page," which became a movie, gives one an idea of the newspaper game as it was practiced in John Day's time. One of the authors was Ben Hecht, whom Dorothy knew. It was not uncommon for the editors of the city's newspapers to call one of the hundreds of bordellos to locate a reporter when some story was breaking and he could not be found at his desk. John Day, I'm told, was no stranger to either bars or bordellos and money was scarce in the Day household when he was on a "tear," He seems to have thought it not a bad idea to introduce his sons to this world as part of their education, but it was an altogether different story with his daughters. They were to be brought up as proper young ladies, so when Dorothy defied him and set out to become a newspaper woman he disowned her. In the old man's defense it is only just to say that he knew what kind of world she was entering. The men she met at the radical publications she favored were certainly a cut above the average but it was inevitable that she meet the other kind as well and she did in the person of Lionel Moise. He was a tough guy, rough on his women and much admired by Ernest Hemingway. I have a vague memory of Dorothy making a disparaging remark about Hemingway but I don't know if she had known him. The liaison with Moise was almost the end of her as it led to abortions and attempted suicide.

It is interesting to note that when her mother was dying she asked Dorothy "Do you really believe we will see those we have known in life--your father, for instance? When Dorothy said yes, her mother responded "I don't know whether I want to see your father again."

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

Date:July 21st, 2010 05:09 am (UTC)
"Abortions" plural?
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Date:July 21st, 2010 06:50 am (UTC)
I did a double take on that also.
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Date:July 21st, 2010 08:18 am (UTC)
Dorothy intimated to a friend of mine back in the 70s that there had been more than one. I am assuming that Moise was the man involved in both. RS
Date:August 13th, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC)

Dorothy's brothers

Rachel deAragon, whose family was close to Dorothy in her pre-conversion days, especially, told me in an interview for my *Dorothy Day: Portraits by Those Who Knew Her*:
It was personally very important for Dorothy to see dismantled the decadent and sexually degrading arena of Havana night clubs. This had been, unfortunately, one of the her father’s stomping grounds, and its exploitative basis was something she felt very acutely. Further, it was a great joy to her to see a socialist country that was not anti-church or where the issues for both Church and State could be resolved without enmity. When she came home, she gave me a religious-political medal from Cuba, a Virgin with a dove of peace.
Dorothy didn't like the fact that her father had taken her brothers to Havana, particularly her younger brother John, whom she had helped to raise.
Date:August 15th, 2010 06:12 am (UTC)

Re: Dorothy's brothers

I'm confused by no quotation marks and no attribution in this comment. It's clear enough that Rachel de Aragon is talking to Rosalie Riegle, author of "Dorothy Day: Portraits by Those Who Knew Her," in an interview. But was this comment posted by Riegle? It says Anonymous. If not posted by Riegle, then what publication is this whole passage (quoting both Rosalie Riegle and Rachel de Aragon) lifted from? Thanks for clarification.
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