January 19, 2012

The Poe Toaster

image fom wikipedia

Sometime in the 1930's, Edgar Allen Poe's grave received a mysterious visitor. a man in black, with a white scarf and a wide-brimmed hat, came to the graveyard at Baltimore's Westminster Church in the early hours of January 19th- Poe's birthday- with three red roses and a bottle of cognac. he toasted the writer and left his gifts at the grave site.

this apparently became an annual tradition starting in 1949, the centennial of Poe's mysterious death. the anonymous man was dubbed The Poe Toaster, and he faithfully appeared with his gifts every January 19th up until 1998, when it appeared that the tradition was passed onto "a son." the new Poe Toaster followed the footsteps of his predecessor through 2009, the bicentennial of Poe's birthday. he has failed to show for the past 3 years, and the official vigil keeper has declared the tradition over. no one knows what happened to the Poe Toaster; most are assuming he passed away. impersonators have attempted to keep the tradition alive, but none know the Toaster's trademark gesture that would identify him solely to the vigil keeper.

there are so many things to love about this slice of history: the intrigue of Poe himself- his life, his work, his death, the romance of a mysterious grave visitor, the peculiarity of his attire and gifts, his given moniker, the legacy passed down to a new generation, and even the death of the tradition itself. the fact that years later, a vigil is kept in the hopes that he might arrive again. a forever unsolved mystery- i hope the Toasters' identities are never discovered or revealed. our world needs a little more mystery.

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