Looking at the People of Saugus
Submitted to John Burns this week for the proposed new book, "The People
of Saugus, 1900-2000," was the following admirably structured description
of the lives of Stan and Al Day.
It captures the essence of what this book is hoping to gather and pre-
serve; it supplies rich detail about these men and our town which we should
treasure in our storehouse of memories.
We are looking for a balance of submissions from those who lived out
their lives in Saugus and those who went out to seek their careers - among
them the ordinary and the extraordinary, a mix of the Saugonians who represent
these 100 years of Saugus.
We are hearing from other sponsors with entries on the way, the most
recent from the McCullough family. We are encouraged with these developments.
Please send submissions to:
John Burns, 30 Cliff Road, Saugus MA 01906 - 781-233-1282
ALBERT CORNELIUS DAY & STANLEY WARREN DAY
A FATHER & SON'S CIVIC DEDICATION TO SAUGUS
Albert was the seventh generation descended from Anthony Day of Gloucester,
who emigrated to America from England in 1635 aboard the Paule of London. Awareness of these early colonial ties instilled in both Albert and his son, Stanley, the sense of civic duty prevalent among their forefathers. Another genetic predisposition common to both men was an incredible mechanical aptitude which would tend to shape their public contributions to Saugus.
Al was bom March 16th, 1867 at Wobum to Thomas Day, a blacksmith and the
son of a blacksmith, and Clara Melissa (Smith) Day. He was the twelfth of fifteen children
bom to Thomas, and was named, as was common in those days, after an older sibling who had died shortly after birth. In 1886 Albert married Margretta Dorherty by whom he was to father eight children.
Albert was quite an entrepreneur and inventor. Over his life he designed and built a
plant for reducing bones to bone meal, manufactured covered wood heals for me Lynn
shoe industry, was involved in a coal mining enterprise, drilled for oil in Wyoming and
Texas, designed a "flying piston" for a two-cycle engine developed by the Giles motor
Company, built a power generating plant which ran on peat, dabbled in real estate, owned a jewelry, a piano, and a paper goods store. Unfortunately Al was much better at starting businesses than making them profitable.
Around 1896 Al and family moved from Wobum to Saugus, eventually settling at
17 Emory Street. It was here that Stanley, the youngest of the eight children, was bom on
February 22,1904 amidst a snow storm. Stanley's mind was even more acute than that of
his father. From his earliest years he was rather a prodigy in things electrical At age ten
he built a spark gap radio telegraph in the attic of his father's home. He burned a hole
through a pane in the attic window using acid, through which he strung an antenna wire.
His broadcast was received in Key West, Florida. The Day family Christmas tree was the first to feature electric lights strung together by the boy genius. He built a working steam engine from pieces of scrap, and smoked glass so that he and the other children on Emory Street could observe a solar eclipse. At age fourteen Stanley built a two bay garage complete with sliding doors, a concrete floor, and a hip roof- all by himself. This garage is still standing after 85 years. It was from this garage that Stanley began a "Starting, Lighting, and Ignition" business for automobiles in 1918. This business would later be moved to 277 Lincoln avenue in Cliftondale, next to the Post Office, and eventually to 9 Vine Street where it would be called A.C. Day & Sons. Like the garage, this shop is still standing.
What would be by today's medical standards a minor incident, in 1909 changed the
course ofStan's life. It started when a child shoved a piece of paper in his ear and an
decrepit civil war doctor was called upon to remove it. Using a rusty tweezers held in trembling hands he ruptured Stanley's eardrum, thus beginning a long series of ear
infections which would, in adulthood, nearly cost Stan his life, and would terminate with
mastoid surgery. There were no antibiotics in those days and the only relief came when Al
would sit by his son's bed blowing hot tobacco smoke into his ear until the abscess broke. The lassitude caused by chronic ear pain was misinterpreted as a discipline problem by Stan's ninth grade teacher, causing him to quit school in 1918.
By age sixteen he was the chief trouble-man at Lynn Gas and Electric Company,
which at that time generated power using reciprocating steam engines and 72 pole
alternators. As part of his duties for LG&E he frequently visited the General Electric
Company in Lynn. It was there that he was befriended by Charles Proteus Steimetz.
Stdmetz, a world renown scientist known for his mathematical analysis of alternating
current circuits, saw within young Stanley a thirst for knowledge and took the time to
encourage that spark of genius. Nor was Steimetz the only man of scientific renown Stan
had the pleasure to have met. His interest in early radio gave him opportunity to meet
Thomas Alva Edison. And, through his brother-in-law, a reporter for the Boston Post, he
was invited to attend an interview with Albert Einstein.
On October 26th, 1938 Stan went to the Tax Assessor's office to complain about
an excise tax bill. The clerk listening to his complaint, Anna A. Swanson, would, in 1941,
become his wife. Both Stan and Anna, better known by her middle name, Arvida, were
Town Meeting Members, Stan from precinct 1, and Arvida from precinct 5. Stan would
remain a Town Meeting Member for some twenty-five years.
In 1946 both Albert and Stan served on the Water Committee. Albert, age
seventy-nine, was the chairman of that committee. Both were convinced that Saugus'
future interests would best be served by connecting to the Metropolitan District
Commission's water system It was largely due to their advocacy that Saugus enjoys the
clean abundant water supply it does. Their mutual zeal in this pursuit at times manifested
itself in confrontations at Town Meetings. On May 26th Stan invited one of the Selectman
"outside" over differences around hooking up to the MDC. Albert too was well known for waving his cane in a threatening manner at his political antagonists.
In 1940 Stan went to work for General Electric Company in then- welding
laboratory. Here he pioneered spot weldmg of dissimilar metals, and won GE's
coveted Coffin Award in Engineering for his work on thyratron controls, which
contributed to the development of a more accurate bomber sight for the U.S. Army
Airforce during WWDL Later in his career Stan would become a Registered Professional
Engineer in the State of Massachusetts.
From 1952 to 1954 Albert served as a member of the Planning Board. In 1954, the
year the new Saugus High School was being constructed and Hurricane Carol wrecked
havoc in Saugus, the planning board recommended the passage of Article 6 which
rezoned the old town farm on the west side of the Newburyport Turnpike, opposite the
new H. S for light industry and commercial use. It was this action that opened the way for
construction of Sears Shopping Center. At that time Albert, age 88, enjoyed the
distinction of being the oldest living elected town meeting member in Massachusetts.
1954 was also special for its celebration of Saugus' 325th anniversary with its
dedication of the Saugus Iron Works that summer. The cover of the town's 1954 annual
report displays a photograph of Al Day as "Mr. Saugus" clothed in colonial garb with a
three cornered hat, flanked by steel executives from around the U. S. and by Christian
Herter, the then governor of Massachusetts. Four years later, in January 1958, Al passed
away only two months short of his 91st birthday. One obituary concluded, Al was "An
individualist, with the courage to express his deeply held convictions, he was considered
an expert on the water problems of both Lynn and Saugus and was frequently called to
give expert testimony in court cases. Saugus has lost a loyal, usefal and devoted citizen m
Stanley's service to Saugus would continue into the 1980s, m 1957 he was hired
by the town to look into shoddy contractor wiring of the new High School In 1963, in
line with his empathy for the working man, he vociferously supported and voted for a 5
raise for town employees. In 1967 the town manager, John 0. Stinson came under heavy
criticism by the Board of Selectmen. On March 7,1967, amidst a political firestorm, Stan
was appointed temporary town manager in Stinson's place.
Stanley's stint as town manager lasted about six months. But during that time he
did battle with the power company over rates charged the town for street lighting and
went to bat for the residents of East Saugus over health and environmental issues caused
by DiMatteo's dump and incinerator. The dump was 28 feet above the grade level
authorized at its founding. Stan led a battle against an array of opponents including sixteen
surrounding cities who used that dump, the rubbish haulers, and the dump's owner. In the
heat of battle he received threats of violence against himself as well as attempts at bribery.
Nonetheless Stan held his ground, issued the order to DiMattio to "Cleanup or
shutdown", and then joined Saugus residents in picketing the entrance to the dump. The
dump issue wouldn't be resolved under his tenure, but the die was cast which would
eventually bring relief to East Saugus.
In the ensuing years between 1968 and 1983 Stan worked to maintain the aging
sewer pumping system. Many times he actually had to manufacture parts in his own cellar
to repair obsolete equipment still critical to the proper operation of the pumping station.
On June 23rd, 1983, at the tender age of 79, Stan took over as head of the Saugus DPW. He would hold this post through October of 1984. Like his father before him he was hailed as the oldest town official in Massachusetts.
In recognition of Stan Day's long service, on October 28th, 1987 the Town of
Saugus named its new East Saugus pumping station after him And, on September 15th,
1989, Stan was honored by receiving the first ever "Annual Founder's Day Citizen's
Award". At the time of this writing Stan just celebrated his 99th birthday.
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