Today marks the 202nd birthday of Edgar Allen Poe, but it also apparently marks the end of a decades-old tradition as the legendary Poe Toaster failed to make an appearance for the third year in a row, forcing Jeff Jerome, the curator of Poe House and Museum, to declare the tradition dead.
“I more or less resigned myself that it was over with before tonight,” Jerome told the Baltimore Sun. “What I’ll miss most is the excitement of waiting to see if he’s going to show up.”
Ever since the 1940’s, a mysterious stranger cloaked in black would leave three red roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac on Poe’s grave every January 19th. His identity has never been revealed, nor is there a reason known for the annual vigil or the symbolism of the roses and cognac.
The Poe Toaster has also occasionally left notes at Poe’s grave, with Jerome indicating that one of the notes suggested a passing of the torch to a new Toaster a few years ago.
Of course, the master of the macabre has legions of fans so there have been many imitators Jereme has been a witness to the Toaster’s visits long enough to know they weren’t the “official” Poe Toaster.
“I give them an ‘A’ for effort,” says Jerome. “I was referring to them as fake Poe Toasters, but that sounds kind of harsh. But it was obvious, when we saw them, that they weren’t the original.”
With the tradition seeming to have come to an abrupt end, it appears that yet another mystery will forever be associated with Edgar Allen Poe.