Tuesday, January 19, 2010

End of an Era: Poe "Toaster" Gone Missing

Every year in Baltimore since 1949, an unidentified person has come to Edgar Allan Poe's grave on the eve of his birthday, leaving behind cognac and roses. Until this year, that is.

Poe Toaster is 'Nevermore'
A longtime tribute to Edgar Allan Poe may have come to an end with the absence of the "Poe Toaster," who for more than half a century has marked the poet's birthday by laying roses and a bottle of cognac at his original grave site.

This is the first time since Jan. 19, 1949 that the person, whose identity is unknown, failed to arrive, said Jeff Jerome, curator of the Edgar Allan Poe House.

"I was very annoyed," he said.

"I've been doing this since 1977, and there was no indication he wasn't going to show up," Jerome said.

The curator said the toaster usually arrives between midnight and 5:30 a.m. He said he arrived at Westminster Hall at 10:30 p.m., because one year the toaster left his offerings at 11:30 p.m.

He sometimes kneels at the tombstone or puts his hands on it, Jerome said. "There's no elaborate ceremony — it's very short and touching," he said.

A crowd of 30 to 50 people waited on the sidewalks surrounding Westminster Hall and the adjacent cemetery, he said. "They were very happy people, very jovial," Jerome said, even singing "Happy Birthday" to the poet several times through the night.

However, by 5:30 a.m., there was no sign of the shadowy figure from his vantage point within the hall, Jerome said, so he went out to break the news to the spectators.

This is one of those things on "my list" I've been meaning to check out, and undoubtedly, it ends up slipping my mind, or taking a backseat to other responsibilities.

It comes as a reminder to actually DO those things, before they go away forever.

Also – drink more cognac. That's what Jay-Z would do (if only I could find the SNL Robert Goulet version):

1 comment:

  1. wow, I guess the only thing one can assume, given that it's been going on for 50 years, is that the Poe Toaster has passed on!! I wonder if anyone will discover his secret identity? SO romantic, and kind of gothic!