'Poe Toaster' a no-show at author's grave

Jan. 21, 2012 at 1:00 AM
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BALTIMORE, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A 60-year tradition of someone placing roses and cognac at the Baltimore grave site of Edgar Allen Poe on his birthday may be nevermore, a Poe expert says.

The "Poe Toaster," as the mysterious figure, who has never been identified, has been known, did not show up Thursday morning -- the third straight year no one delivered the tradition tribute -- leading Jeff Jerome, curator of the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, to pronounce officially the end of the tradition, The Baltimore Sun reported.

"What I'll miss most is the excitement of waiting to see if he's going to show up," said Jerome, who joined friends keeping an eye out for the Toaster from inside Westminster Hall, the former church yards from Poe's grave. Fans outside included visitors from Rhode Island, Chicago, California, even Russia.

Until 2009, his last appearance, the Toaster had shown up every year since at least 1949 on Poe's birthday, wearing black clothing and leaving behind three roses and a half-emptied bottle of cognac.

Jerome, Poe House curator since 1979, said he and the Toaster had agreed to a way to make sure no impostor could pass for the real thing. Jerome won't say how but allowed it has to do with what the Toaster does at the grave site of Poe, who died in Baltimore in 1849.

Three impostors tried to pass for the Toaster this year, Jerome said.

"People will always be talking about it," Jerome said of the longstanding tradition. "It brought so much international attention to Baltimore, to the Poe House, to the Poe grave. It will live on in people's memories. People will always be asking, 'You know that guy who used to leave cognac and roses? Whatever happened to him?'"

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