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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mr. Guest and a Raisin Pie

"Life is a gift to be used every day,
Not to be smothered and hidden away."
Edgar Guest

Meet Mr. Guest.

(courtesy of wikipedia)

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.

Edgar A. Guest is credited with with writing over 11,000 poems which were syndicated in over 300 papers throughout the United States. He has twenty books to his credit, including A Heap o’ Livin’ (1916) and Just Folks (1917). He also hosted a weekly Detroit radio show from 1931 until 1942 and a national NBC television series, A Guest in Your House in 1951. He was the first and only Michigan Poet Laureate appointed by a Senate resolution in 1952. "The text of the resolution follows:"

A concurrent resolution designating Edgar A. Guest the Poet Laureate of the state of Michigan. Whereas, Thousands of people in the State of Michigan throughout the years have looked to the poems of Edgar A. Guest for moral support in times of stress and have enjoyed his subtle humor and homespun philosophy; and Whereas, The poems of Edgar A. Guest have depicted the daily lives of the people of the state of Michigan, and have reflected the American principles on which the United States of America is founded, now therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That the members of the Michigan Legislature, convened in the Regular Session of 1952, are proud to bestow on Edgar A. Guest the title of Poet Laureate of the state of Michigan, with the knowledge that Edgar A. Guest at all times will truly reflect in his poems that people of the state of Michigan in their daily lives; and be it further Resolved that a suitable copy of this resolution be transmitted to Edgar A. Guest. The concurrent resolution was considered and adopted. (Journal of the Senate of the State of Michigan, Regular Session of 1952, v. 1, March 25, p. 788.)

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.

Although Home is one of his most beloved poems, today (actually tonight) I have chosen two of my favorite goodies. First, a poem I shared when I first started blogging in 2007. Since I doubt anyone ever saw it, here it is again with one of my favorite cookie jar die-cut cookbooks.

The Cookie Jar by Edgar A. Guest
Like the love of the mother it shines through our years,
It has soothed all our hurts and has dried away tears;
It has paid us for toiling; in sorrow or joy,
It has always shown kindness to each girl and boy;
And I'm sorry for people, whoever they are,
who live in a house where there's no cookie jar.

Another tasty work of deliciousness by "Eddie Guest" is Raisin Pie. There's also a recipe from the "folks" @ Sun-Maid for your enjoyment:)

Raisin Pie by Edgar Guest
There's a heap of pent-up goodness in the yellow bantam corn,
And I sort o' like to linger round a berry patch at morn;
Oh, the Lord has set our table with a stock o' things to eat
An' there's just enough o' bitter in the blend to cut the sweet,
But I run the whole list over, an' it seems somehow that I
Find the keenest sort o' pleasure in a chunk o' raisin pie.

There are pies that start the water circulatin' in the mouth;
There are pies that wear the flavor of the warm an' sunny south;
Some with oriental spices spur the drowsy appetite
An' just fill a fellow's being with a thrill o' real delight;
But for downright solid goodness that comes drippin' from the sky
There is nothing quite the equal of a chunk o' raisin pie.

I'm admittin' tastes are diff'runt, I'm not settin' up myself
As the judge an' final critic of the good things on the shelf.
I'm sort o' payin' tribute to a simple joy on earth,
Sort o' feebly testifyin' to its lasting charm an' worth,
An' I'll hold to this conclusion till it comes my time to die,
That there's no dessert that's finer than a chunk o' raisin pie.
Old Fashioned Raisin Pie
Ingredients:
2 cups Sun-Maid Natural Raisins
2 cups water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 double unbaked pie crust
Directions:
COMBINE raisins and water and boil for 5 minutes. 
BLEND sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt.
ADD to raisin liquid and cook, stirring until clear.
REMOVE from heat.
STIR in vinegar and butter/margarine. Cool slightly. Turn into pastry-lined pan.
COVER with top pastry or lattice strips.
BAKE at 425 F about 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Makes 1 pie (8 servings).

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...

You are the person who has to decide.
Whether you'll do it or toss it aside... 
~Edgar A. Guest~

Resources
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:)

29 comments:

  1. It looks tasty, but since I'm not a huge fan of raisins, I'll have to bring this pie to work and share!

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  2. I had never heard of Edgar Guest before... Lovely poetry.

    That pie must be divine! I love old-fashioned treats.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. Already a Guest fan, so what a lovely post. Can't wrap my mind around a raisin pie though. The texture... ??

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  4. Dear Louise I love your post, all! and I love this history and the raisin pie! Look georgeous! I have to do soon!! (Other to bookmarked he,he) huggs, gloria

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  5. I always learn something when I visit you! This is the first I've heard of him, but it looks like he left is mark on the minds of Americans back when. And, lol - I watched that clip and I remembered it! I didn't remember that she quoted Guest, but I looked up that poem and it's beautiful and true . . . "takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home, A heap o' sun an' shadder, an' ye sometimes have t' roam Afore ye really 'preciate the things ye lef' behind, An' hunger fer 'em somehow, with 'em allus on yer mind. . . " And this is the first I hear of raisin pie. Now that's old-fashion sweetness! Thanks Louise!

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  6. Very informative and I for one love raisins! Love 'em in the raisin state, as grapes, as wine.........

    Lots of folks have been writing about pie lately and I am ready to start making some here. The sweet tooth is talking!!

    Hope your weather is getting cooler....still too hot in Florida for my Pennsylvania blood, no matter I've lived down here half my life now!!

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  7. 1) I live in Michigan, didn't realize he was local.
    2) I had only heard the negatives, I love this upbeat view.

    thanks... mae

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  8. Louise, thanks for introducing me to Eddie Guest. I did not know him, but I'm glad I do now. Can you imagine a time when poetry was printed in the newspaper, and illuminated the tasks and joys of everyday life? How wonderful that his words live on.

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  9. I had honestly never heard of Mr. Guest before...I'll need to remedy that! Good post Louise!

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  10. Food-related poetry! This stuff is great! I mean really, utterly charming. I'd not heard of Guest before, but you piqued my curiosity, so I googled him. He also has a poem entitled "Thanksgiving" and as I have that dinner every year, I'm going to work that into the place settings somehow. A wonderful post, as always. I learn so much here, and am truly in love with your die-cut cookbooks (and the poem about the cookie jar).

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  11. Love this; another one of your great posts. I admit i never heard of this gentleman, but would have love to know him. What a nice cookie jar poem; raisins are #1 in our house and my husband's favourite pie.
    Rita

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  12. Very interesting! I love poetry!
    Thanks for sharing!!

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  13. My grandmother used to bake a lot of pies. She often baked a pie every day. One of my favorites was her raisin pie. Great to see a raisin pie here today!

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  14. Loved this post!! Interesting story about Edward Guest, and this actually looks like a great pie recipe. I am becoming a big fan and will be back to read more.

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  15. Life is a gift, yes..life is a gift ;)...I just wish I have a pie as a gift since I don't bake.

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  16. Nice post Louise...I never heard of My Guest neither raisin pie...they are all new to me. The pie looks yummie!
    Hope you are having a wonderful week :-)

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  17. I never heard of him but I bet I've seen his poems before!.I love the cookie jar one! And raisin pie? I like raisins, I like pie, I probably like raisin pie!

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  18. What a lovely post. Prior to reading I had only a faint recollection who he was. Now I'm curious to learn even more about him. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  19. Louise - Can't imagine a newspaper today wasting any space on a poem. So sad, really. I do love looking at your collection of die-cut cookbooks--you have so many nice examples!

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  20. I have an early Edgar A. Guest book, called Making the House a Home. It seems to be rather autobiographical, and sad while serene. Your raisin pie looks great!

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  21. The cookie jar poem is so true! I think my kids would really like the raisin pie.

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  22. i had enjoyed reading the poems. thanks for putting this up again!

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  23. i thought i had eaten nearly every type of pie in the world, but i've never tasted a raisin pie! i think golden raisins trump red raisins in every application, so i might give them a go, even though they're not traditional. :)

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  24. Louise enjoy seeing your die cut cookbooks. So lovely. I always enjoy reading poems. Thanks for sharing another interesting and informative post. Each time I visit you, I learn something new!

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  25. Go right ahead, Yummy. It's delicious!!!

    So glad you enjoyed it, Rosa. Old-fashioned treats are indeed, the best!!!

    I'm beginning to think you are a bit "fussy" about your food choices, Channon:) And the Knight, would he like raisin pie, I wonder?

    You should see the list of bookmarks I have, Gloria. I just want to devour your blog!!! Let us know how the raisin pie turns out:)

    I had to control myself, Linda. Edgar Guest was so prolific I wouldn't even know where to being sharing his verse. Edith was hysterical, as usual, in that clip! A Heap o' Livin' is probably one of his most recognized but there are oh so many more...Thanks for "popping" in:)

    If I were a baker, Tina, pie would be my preference. I somehow convince myself that it is neither as "fattening" or "unhealthy" as other choice sweets:) I would LOVE to see your creation of raisin, wine and grape pie! Florida is too hot for my New York blood too. I guess that's why I've acclimated myself to PA.

    Thanks, Mae. So glad you enjoyed it.

    I can only imagine, T.W. I think it is one of the reasons I enjoy "visiting" the past:)

    Thanks, Jesse. LOVE your heirlooms:)

    As much as I don't want to rush Thanksgiving, Pattie. I can't wait to "see" what place Edgar takes at the table!

    Delighted you enjoyed this post Rita. Edgar Guest was a prolific "folksy" verse writer. Wait until you discover the goodies he composed!

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  26. Thanks, Tiffanee. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. BTW, that's a GREAT Back to School Give-Away you're having at your blog!!!

    A pie everyday? That's what makes grandmas so special:) glad you like it, Lisa. I "see" the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, your latest Ginger peach Muffins post sounds heavenly!!!

    Welcome, Susan Thanks for dropping by. So glad you enjoyed this post. It was fun to do. Pop by anytime!!!

    I don't bake much either tigerfish. A gift of pie crust would sure help remedy the situation:)

    Glad to be the one to introduce you to both, Juliana. Now bake your self some pie and visit one of his "poetic" websites:)

    You would probably like both the pie and Mr. Guest, Reeni. His verse sounds Pooh like:)

    Thanks Mary. His folksy charm is quite captivating...

    Give it time, Miranda. You've got a lotta catching up to do:)

    Thanks Kathy. The die-cuts are becoming more and more difficult to find. Do remember me if you should come across any:)

    So very sorry to hear about Thor, Marjie. While I was preparing this post, I happened upon this verse by Edgar Guest.
    A Dog
    'Tis a pity not to have a dog, for at the long day's end 
The man or boy will know the joy of Welcome from a friend. 
And whether he be rich or poor or much or little bring, 
The dog will mark his step and bark as if he were a king.
    Though gossips whisper now and then of faults they plainly see, 
And some may sneer, from year to year my dog stays true to me. 
He's glad to follow where I go, and though I win or fail 
His love for me he'll let me see by wagging of his tail.
    Now if I were to list the friends of mine in smiles and tears 
Who through and through are staunch and true and constant down the years, 
In spite of all my many faults which critics catalog 
Deserving blame, I'd have to name my ever-faithful dog.
    'Tis pity not to have a dog, whatever be his breed, 
For dogs possess a faithfulness which humans sadly need. 
And whether skies be blue or gray, good luck or ill attend 
Man's toil by day, a dog will stay his ever-constant friend.


    It is charming, isn't it Pam. I showed it to the grandkids when they were here and they enjoyed it too. Kids LOVE raisin pie!!!

    So glad you enjoyed your visit, Quay Po. Drop by anytime:)

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  27. ooh coffee ice cream sounds SO good right now!

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  28. This brings back an old memory of a bar cookie from my youth. The cookie was studded with raisins and given the inglorious nickname of "fly cemeteries" After hearing that I could never quite bring myself to try them...

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came to early,
none returned to late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise