Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Of Edgar Allen Poe and the Mysterious Toaster

On January 19th, while it is still dark, a man in a black coat will walk the streets of Baltimore with a silver tipped cane. He will stop at a certain grave, drink a toast of cognac, and leave three roses at the tombstone before disappearing again into the night. Anyone lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this man will probably already know that the grave was none other than that of Edgar Allen Poe.

For a very long time, an old man was seen visiting this grave on Poe's birthday to have a toast and leave three roses. Eventually, the mystery man became legend and small crowds have gathered in recent to watch the tradition happen. It's very charming.

Knowing that he could not keep this up forever, and knowing that he was being watched, the Poe Toaster left a note one year that read, the torch will be passed. This was taken to mean that the old man was retiring and giving the responsibility to someone younger, a theory that was proven to be true when a younger man played the part of the Poe Toaster the next year (and in years since).

This younger visitor lacks a certain"'otherworldly" quality. He, too, has left notes for the Poe fans but they have not been as well received as those of his predecessor. In 2001 he left a note predicting that the Ravens would lose the super bowl to the Giants (he was wrong - and shouldn't he be a Ravens fan?) and in 2004 he left an impolite note about the French.

Another mystery is just how he's getting inside the cemetery. The crowd has to watch from the sidelines while this guy manages to sneak in and out every year. It's a neat mystery and a relevant one, since this Monday will be Poe's 200th birthday.

Here's the only picture anyone has, it's a little dated:

And for those of you who thought "Of Edgar Allen Poe and the Mysterious Toaster" was going to be a blog entry about a kitchen appliance, I have this link for you.


  1. i love stuff like this! thanks adam for the post! you have a flare for finding the most intriguing things.


  2. Are you a Poe fan? I like "The Masque of the Red Death" and "The Purloined Letter" best, but that could change the next time I read through some of the short stories.

  3. Well now. If I ever go to Baltimore, I'll have reason to do so on the 19th.

  4. And then the guards from the local mental institute quietly guide him back home in his favorite jacket.

  5. Almost that time of year again.. get your camera?