Thursday, January 20, 2011


As one who appreciates the persistence of odd and mysterious traditions, I was disappointed to read that Baltimore's famous Poe Toaster has apparently ended his annual visits to the grave of Edgar Allen Poe. I use the term "apparently" somewhat cautiously, because, as an article in yesterday's Baltimore Sun points out, the Toaster and his intentions remain as enigmatic as ever:
For the second year in a row, the mysterious Poe Toaster failed to show up at his the writer's Baltimore grave Wednesday morning. And the curator of the Poe House, who has spent years protecting the famed writer's legacy and fanning the flames of the toaster's legend, is about ready to give up on the ghost.

"I will be here in 2012, but that will be it," said a weary Jeff Jerome, who stayed by Poe's gravesite until 5:45 a.m. waiting for the toaster. "If he's a no-show, I will officially pronounce the tradition dead."

. . .

For some 60 years, the toaster would appear every Jan. 19 to pay tribute to Poe, a Boston native who died on Oct. 7, 1849, in Baltimore under circumstances that have never been fully explained. Arriving at the gravesite without fanfare, he would leave behind three red roses and a bottle of cognac, then quietly disappear into the night.

Last year's no-show was the first since at least 1949. Speculation over the identity of the Poe toaster has raged for years. Many names have been floated, including a Fells Point prankster who died in 2010, an adman who said he started the tradition as a publicity stunt, a father-and-son team — even Jerome himself.

But Jerome, who has been shepherding the tradition since 1977, insists it's not him. And none of the other possibilities has conclusively panned out.

About a dozen people waited Wednesday morning outside the gates of Westminster Hall and Burying Ground on Fayette Street, but as dawn approached, it was clear the true toaster would not be showing up. Jerome eventually opened the gate and allowed the visitors to leave their own tributes on Poe's grave.
To read the rest, click here. AMDG.


At 1/20/2011 9:09 PM, Blogger Salvatore said...

I was also very upset to see this!! I love Poe, and I think that maybe the toaster was creeped out by a strange noise in the cemetery, which was actually Poe rolling over in his grave over this:

At 1/22/2011 10:52 AM, Blogger Joe said...

Thanks for that, Sal. That movie sounds pretty awful - I don't think I'll be seeing it!


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