Baylor University Poage Library

My First 85 Years

To purchase a copy of My First 85 Years please contact the staff at the W. R. Poage Legislative Library.

About the Book

Truth really is stranger than fiction, and when it is presented as Bob Poage does it in this remarkable memoir, it can be even more absorbing to the reader. Bob Poage's career and intimate experiences as a Public Servant spanned nearly half a century, during a time period that involved some of the most momentous events in our nation's history.

The author modestly declares that his life story is significant only for the reason that it has been fairly typical of the period in which he has lived; however, a great many of the people of Central Texas, and his colleagues in Congress, will amply testify to the deep and lasting impression he has made.

Here is a thoroughly charming narrative of a dedicated and busy career, acted out in the vortex of the political life of our state and nation. History means people, it has been said, and here is history at its best.

About the Author

Our history will be the richer because of Bob Poage's decision to set down the recollections of his life, the most of which has been spent as a Representative in the United States Congress, from the Eleventh District of Texas. This was always predominantly an agricultural district, and for many years Bob Poage served as Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, with remarkable distinction. While being a truly cosmopolitan gentleman, who has "walked with kings," Bob Poage could never lose the common touch.

William Robert Poage was born on December 28, 1899, which validates his claim to three days in the nineteenth century. He retired from public to private life in 1978, but has predictably remained busy, with cattle and farming, and now equally dear to his heart, with the volumes and archives of the Poage Library of Congressional Affairs, erected in his honor on the campus of his Alma Mater, Baylor University. More recently he has endowed a landscaped garden spot in Waco's Cameron Park, planted with Texas wildflowers and named Miss Nellie's Pretty Place, in memory of his mother, Helen Conger Poage.

Carlton J. SmithDedication

To the memory of Carlton J. Smith Lawyer, Churchman, Citizen, Philanthropist, Politician (who never ran for office) my political advisor and helper, my business partner and for sixty years my dear friend, I dedicate this history of my life.

W. R. Poage

Carlton Smith was the son of a Baptist Minister. As a boy he lived in a number of small towns of Central Texas He attended Baylor University. He practiced law in Waco. He married Ruth McKinney. Like the author, they had no children. As a lawyer, he tried a few cases because he always sought a settlement. He never turned a client away for lack of a fee, yet he accumulated a nice estate, much of which he left to charity.


I would like to think that following pages were written in response to irresistible public demand for my memoirs. In the six years since I retired from Congress, I am sure that I had at least three maybe half a dozen friends suggest that I should undertake such a story. Nor do I look on my life as so unique or outstanding as to justify such a recital.

On the other hand, we are all to some degree pyramid builders. We seek to leave some monuments to remind future generations of our earthly sojourn. I am, I must confess, hard put to find any basis on which to build my personal pyramid. I have indeed lived through the most exciting period of world history since Christ walked on the Sea of Galilee. But I must share the marvels of life through most of the twentieth century with millions of others. I therefore have decided that I can offer the history of my life as being worthy of being recorded only because it is so typical of the period.

My life story is not that of the hero of one of Horatio Alger's books, but it contains a little of several aspects common to the twentieth century. I have not attempted to write a "history" of my times. My memory is not nearly as good as it once was. Some of the names and dates used are doubtless erroneous and misplaced. I can only hope that any reader will realize that this is only the effort of an old man to portray conditions as he saw and now remembers them.

I also discuss the most personal events and deepest feelings of my life. I cannot believe that any person's public acts can be uninfluenced by his or her home life. In like manner, I offer my frank appraisal of a number of friends and associates as well of my views regarding some of the issues which I see as vital to our country. I do not ask you to agree, but I hope that you may better understand my reasons.


  1. 1Forbearers
  2. 5The Ranch Country
  3. 11Life on the Lazy 'Leven
  4. 19School Days
  5. 27World War I
  6. 31Baylor
  7. 39The Texas Legislature
  8. 49Law and Land
  9. 55A Candidate for Congress
  10. 61A Congressional Freshman
  11. 71My Great Lady
  12. 77Where We Lived
  13. 83How We Lived
  14. 89The Agricultural Committee
  15. 95Travel
  16. 103The I. P. U.
  17. 107The "Third House"
  18. 111Congressional Staff
  19. 117The Eleventh District
  20. 121Health
  21. 125Church
  22. 129"Mr. Chairman"
  23. 137"A Conservative"—?
  24. 143A "Yellow Dog" Democrat
  25. 147Change of Command
  26. 153Eight Presidents
  27. 165A Dozen Tall Texans
  28. 171Twilight and Evening Star