Not to be smothered and hidden away."
Mr. Guest was born, Edgar Albert Guest, on August 20, 1881 in Birmingham England. In 1891, his family settled in Detroit Michigan. When Edgar's father lost his job in 1893, the young Edgar sought employment at the local drug store washing soda fountain glasses. One day, "Eddie" as he was fondly known to his friends, confided to one of the customers, who just happened to be a bookkeeper in the office of the Detroit Free Press, that he had the ambition to be a newspaper reporter one day. In the summer of 1895, the Detroit Free Press was in need of a assistance. The bookkeeper put in a few good words for the ever so dilligent Edgar and he landed a job. Eddie would remain at the Detroit Free Press for almost sixty-five years. To paraphrase the man himself, "I am a newspaperman who writes verse."
...Eddie Guest was 10 when his parents took him to Detroit from England. His first job was jerking sodas. One of his customers was a Free Press bookkeeper, who helped Eddie get a job marking scores on the Free Press's baseball bulletin board. He was soon copy boy in the editorial rooms, graduated to general reporting, to conducting a weekly column called "Blue Monday..."By most accounts, and believe me, there are many, Edgar Guest was a "people person." His philosophy of life gushed freely through his weekly column, which was to become his "key to the city" any city, as he was loved by all who read his prose on the trials and tribulations of every day life. "The People's Poet" they called him and his appeal was universal.
...After a while, the column became a daily Free Press feature, and Guest the wonder of the staff for the ease with which he metamorphosed everyday trifles into folksy copy. When the Guest family put their Oleander out in the spring, it was duly recorded. It made the column again when they brought it in in the autumn. The children (Eddie Jr. & Janet), Mrs. Guest's pickles, a friend's fancy vest, were all grist for the rhymester's mill...(Time Magazine Feb.24, 1936)
|Home Cooking. . . . I dine on rare and costly fare|
whene'er good fortune lets me,
but there's no meal that can compare
with those the missus gets me.
The Free Press was a morning paper in those days and Edgar's "poem-a-day column" was filled with motivational messages that greeted his readers with inspiring sentiments and optimistic prose. Edgar Albert Guest never pretended to be a poet. Said he: "I am a newspaperman who writes verse." He was first, last and always a newspaperman. He once said, "I just take simple every day things that happen to me and figure that they probably happen to a lot of other people and I make simple rhymes out of 'em and people seem to like 'em."
The ever effervescent Edith Bunker, from the television sitcom All in the Family, is said to have only quoted one poet in all her years on television. Who was that "master of words" she committed to memory? Eddie Guest of course.
I don't mind saying, I had a difficult time compiling this post for "Eddie Guest Day" (celebrated in Michigan until the mid 50s.) There are nearly as many volumes written about the man as there are published in his name. It was most difficult selecting glimpses of his fertile life within fleeting browses of text and images. Therefore, I leave you with these words about him...
He is the nation's poet of every day life. He is the poet of the household and of the common people. His verses appeal to the best that is in mankind and his admirers are to be found among all kinds and conditions of people. But to no one perhaps does he have a stronger appeal than to the children of the land. His verse is read by lawyers and congressmen, by business men and clerks—and by a host of people who look for and read his poems every day. Recently one of the most cultured of our supreme court judges said that he not only read the poem in the Free Press every morning before he began the day's work, but that he always carried two or three of his favorites in his vest pocket in order that he might resort to them for comfort or for cheer during the day. Many business and professional men carry the soft leather editions in their traveling bags when taking journeys...(Michigan State Board of Library Commissioners-1920)And by him...
Whether you'll do it or toss it aside... ~Edgar A. Guest~
1. The Rotarian Dec 1922 @ Google books
2. "Our poets of today" by Howard Willard Cook (1919)
3. Collection of Edgar Guest's Poetry
4. Poems by Edgar A. Guest
5. Eddie Guest-Himself: The Rotarian Sept. 1940
6. Detroit Free Press (website)
7. Baked Brie with California Raisins and Port Wine in Puff Pastry
8. Raisin and Almond Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce
*A special thanks to Jane Sweet Baking Journal for materializing the link for the Detroit Press Food Site. (I couldn't find it for the life of me:)