BRUNSWICK – Carrie Shaw Day lived through the Great Depression and two world wars, and taught piano until she was 98.

Now, as Morse High School graduates from across the nation gather in Bath for their annual alumni association banquet and reunions this weekend, Day is preparing for what might be one of the biggest challenges of her life.

Day, who turned 105 on April 27, has been invited to play the school song during the banquet. Her son, James Day, will escort her to the Bath Middle School gym, position her wheelchair in front of a grand piano and turn lyric pages as she plays.

More than 800 alumni are expected as Day plays “Blue and The White,” composed by 1916 Morse High graduate Rutherford M. White.

“Oh, yeah,” Day replied when asked if she is excited about getting the chance to perform in front of many of her former music students.

Day, who lives in Sunnybrook Village, a retirement and assisted-living facility in Brunswick, often plays the piano, attracting attention from the staff and residents.

Her son, a lawyer from Bath, said, “Back in March, she asked me, ‘Am I going to play again this year?’ and I said, ‘Of course you are, Mom,’ “

Carrie Day, the oldest living alumna of Morse High School, taught music in Bath schools for many years. Born in 1906, she is believed to be one of Maine’s oldest residents.

One of her former students, 88-year-old Harry Fullerton, another resident of Sunnybrook, watches as she plays.

“She was an excellent teacher,” Fullerton said. “I think it’s amazing that she’s still playing now, just as well as she did back then.”

After graduating from Morse in 1924, Day attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., where she received her degree in music. She returned to Bath and was hired in 1929 as supervisor of music for Bath schools.

She began working at the new Morse High School on the day it opened — Sept. 4, 1929 — about 18 months after the old school had been gutted by fire.

About a month after she started, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. In 1937, Day was laid off, a victim of school budget cuts, her son said.

James Day said his mother concentrated on raising him and his siblings, Jon and Anne. Her husband, Harry Day, died in 1967.

“She has been alone since he died. That takes courage,” her son said.

In 1954, Carrie Day was hired as director of music education for the entire Bath school system. She became a roving music teacher, visiting all of the schools in the city. “Mrs. Day comes today” was on school bulletin boards throughout Bath. She retired in 1972.

James Day said his mother probably taught music to thousands of Bath students, which is what will make Saturday’s performance so special. Many of the alumni at the banquet will be her former students. This is the third consecutive year she will perform.

“The first time she played, it brought tears to the eyes of those in the house,” said Troy Cunningham, president of the alumni association. “Even talking about it now, I get goosebumps on my arms. These kids today may not realize it, but the bond she has with Morse … it’s just incredible.”

Cunningham, who lives in Florida, said graduates from all over the country are expected to start gathering today in Bath for alumni weekend, which features a golf tournament, an “ice breaker” dance and tours of Morse High School.

Cunningham said the alumni association, established in 1891, has more than 4,000 active members and is believed to be the oldest such association in the United States.

Day’s performance will begin shortly after 5:30 p.m. Saturday, after the alumni have been seated. Last year, everyone in the audience stood and sang as Day performed.

“I remember watching one of the younger students. His mouth was wide open. He couldn’t believe that a 104-year-old woman was playing for him,” Cunningham said.

Day doesn’t seem to have lost her touch.

She reads the lyrics to “Blue and The White” as her fingers, nimble as ever, seem to glide over the piano keys.

And then her son pops a surprise. He asks his mother to play her favorite show tune.

Without hesitation, she starts playing “Night and Day,” a Cole Porter song, from memory.

James Day says his mother fell in love with the song years ago, when she heard it played in a ship’s lounge. The ship was bound for Bermuda.

“I always liked it,” she says, breaking into another one of her many smiles.

A moment later, she wants to know why a reporter is taking notes. It’s for a newspaper story, she is told.

“Oh great — big deal,” she laughs.

Asked her secret to living such a long life, Day said she never ate bananas. She also never smoked cigarettes. She used to enjoy a glass of Seagram’s whiskey every night before dinner, her son said.

But her love of music seems to have been most important in her life.

“I think that is the main factor,” her son said. “I think music has contributed to her longevity.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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