The Brady Standard
11 April 1969
"The first poem I wrote was the most amateurish thing I have ever done.
It was perfectly awful, but I thought it was gorgeous at the time."
Thus said Rose Davidson Speer, alternate Poet Laureate of Texas.
Mrs. Speer was chosen recently to the position and will hold it until 1970. Appointed as Poet Laureate of Texas, is Mrs. Anne B. Marley of Austin, an 85-year-old Army widow.
"I have no idea what the alternate is supposed to do but I am ready to do anything I am asked. I think this is the first time this has happened," she said.
A visit with the poet takes you to a colonial type two-story house with our rising white columns. The home is set back from the street and fronted by a green lawn. The house is located on Pine Street, in Brady, a tree-lined avenue in which the large pecan and sycamore trees drape over the street, making a shady drive way.
On entering the house the visitor is immediately impressed by the beautiful antique furniture, pictures, and bric-a-brac.
Rose Davidson Speer was born in Lometa to Professor and Mrs. M. L. Stallings. Her father was a schoolteacher, and when they moved to Brady, he taught and was superintendent in the Brady schools.
The house, in which she lives, was built by her father, and much of the furniture is that of her parents and other antecedents.
She attended Kidd-Key College at Sherman, and has spent most of her life in Brady. Her home has been the mecca of many poets, both well known and unknown.
She has devoted study to music, art, and expression and interior decoration, but since about the 1930's she has devoted most of her time to writing.
Her first poem, incidentally, was called "My House", in which she told of the beautiful things in her home. One of those period pieces is a French console that has been in the Davidson family for five generations. She recently saw one by the same maker that was valued at $7,100. There is also a bookcase from Florence, Italy, that she considers priceless.
Her first book of poems- "Song of Living" - was published in 1938. The book was in two parts, the more serious verse being under the head of "Andante" and the light verse, was called "Staccato."
Mrs. Speer, she prefers to be called Rose Davisdon Speer, published a second book of poems, "Breeze Over Texas" in which there was three divisions: part one, "A Soft Wind Blowing"; part two, "Wanton Winds": and the third part, "Whirlwind."
She is a sometime cynical but always witty person, and her humor crops out in the third section in such bits as:
One critical comment on the book by Mrs. A. V. Yeager in the old Heart
of Texas News said "The poet busts loose with the caprice and devastation
of an August whirlwind on the Texas Plains. She flouts convention
and thumbs her fingers at sacred cows and raises the devil in generalÖAnd
she might be called Dorothy Parkerish in her use of the bon mot if she
were not so all-fired Rose Davidsonish."
The author has another book which sounds as if she might be putting some of her puckish humor to work when she entitled it "Half Wit and Half Woman." She says the material is light as a feather, and she hopes a fun book.
Form her first marriage, Mrs. Speer has three children: Mrs. Al Huffinton of San Antonio; Mrs. George Schwartz of San Francisco, and a son, William R. Davidson of Prescott, Ariz.
The son apparently takes after his mother for he is the author of a book which will be released soon. Mrs. Speer did not know its name.
Mrs. Speer leans heavily toward poetry. In fact she says she doesn't like to write prose although she has a book in the hands of her agent that is that style.
The prose effort entitled, "My Aching Back," is a story of the social life in Brady when Curtis Field was thriving. "My agent canít seem to sell the book. It is hard to break into the big time and unless you can get an unlisted agent it is hard to get anywhere. Of course I could subsidize the book, but I don't care to do that," she said.
An almost priceless possession of the author is a scrapbook containing letters and congratulations from numerous celebrities ranging from Presidents to home-town folk.
She has letters from Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands; the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower; the poet, Edgar Guest; the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt; the poet and broadcasting personage, Tony Wons who used some of her poems in his book on NBC; Ted Malone of radio fame; Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy, regarding a poem to the late President, John F. Kennedy; David O. Selznich of International Pictures, Inc; Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson; and Mrs. Hilton Greer, wife of Hilton Greer who used her poems in his "Southwestern Poet" in the Dallas Morning News. Of this feat, Mrs. Speer said that was about as high as a poet could go then, and it was hard to make.
Other personages she has communicated with are Grace Noll Crowell, beloved poet and former Poet Laureate of Texas; G. W. Cottingham, editor of the Houston Cronicle, who loved her poem, "Blue Bonnets," and numerous others.
She also mentioned "Smitty" (L. B.) Smith, who has published a number of poems in his Brady newspaper. Of him, she says she is very grateful "even though Smitty may not have actually read the poems, but he really helped."
"Maybe he, like most men, prefers the funny papers like Champ, my husband. He always finishes the funnies before listening to some famous honor about my poetry world. Of course you canít eat those honors, but who cares," she said.
Mrs. Speer considers the famous sculptress, Wauldine Tauch as a good friend and both belonging to the same Nation Society of Creative Arts,
The poet considers one of her highest awards the one she received from St, Louis, MO., awarded by the committee of the Eugene Field Society. It is a national association of World famous authors and journalists and names of those who receive the honor are perpetuated through the years.
For her appointment as alternate Poet Laureate she expressed thanks to County Attorney Murray Jordan, who submitted her name to State Rep. James Nugent of Kerrville, who in turn placed it before the Poet Laureate Committee in the State Senate,
Brady's Poet Laureate is a gracious lady who always has "the latch string out" and is ready to talk poetry or show off her beautiful antiques. She welcomes the known and the unknown in the writing world and is ready to lend a helping hand.