Dorothy Day

(1897-1980)

Where most people would find filth and disgust in intercity life, Dorothy Day had the ability to find beauty. She saw past the run-down apartment buildings and families cramped into tiny living spaces. She heard the sounds of families laughing and babies crying. Her nose would pick out the tantalizing aromas of fresh coffee from the coffee shops on the corner and bread baking in bakers oven's. She could see the small gardens (some so small as to be on fire escapes) with the smells of tomato plants and geranium bushes. Fresh roasted garlic, just tossed in the pan of sizzling olive oil wafting from the open windows. 

"Here," she said, "was enough beauty to satisfy me."

Dorothy Day understood the life of the cramped apartment building. In 1906, after surviving the earthquake in San Francisco, her family moved back the the Eastern United States to Chicago. With her father out of work she came to understand the shame of Southside life. Even after her father got a job for a local newspaper and they were able to move to the North side of Chicago, she still maintained her interest of the parts of town that people avoided.

Jim Forest

The Catholic Worker

Return to Home                                    Religion in American History                                          Next  Page

web mistress Arin Cox

04/01/01