Category Archives: Edgar Allan Poe


There was a minor stir in the back alleys of American literature yesterday:  for the first time since 1949, the enigmatic Poe Toaster failed to appear at Edgar Allan Poe’s Baltimore gravesite to mark Poe’s January 19 birthday.

The Poe Toaster is the mysterious figure — usually in a black coat and hat — who strolls into Baltimore’s Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in the early hours of January 19, silently walks to at Poe’s gravesite, toasts Poe with a glass of cognac, then departs, leaving behind three red roses and a half bottle of cognac on the grave.  It’s a neat tradition that’s been going on since 1949 — perhaps intentionally begun on the 100th anniversary of Poe’s death — and has gone on uninterrupted for the last fifty years, despite efforts of gawkers to block or unmask the mysterious Toaster.

It’s generally accepted that there have been at least two Poe Toasters — whether it’s a father and son is uncertain — because at one point, the Toaster left a note at the grave saying, “The torch will be passed.”  The newer Toaster, however, has annoyed Poe purists by leaving behind notes commenting on current events, starting with the 2001 Super Bowl between the Giants and Ravens (oddly, the Toaster chose the Giants) and taking an apparent jab at the French in 2004.

News trickled out early yesterday morning that the toaster — who normally makes his appearance between midnight and 5 a.m. on the morning of the 19th — had failed to appear.  I was hoping that perhaps he might be waiting until late last night to make his appearance, perhaps in an attempt to avoid the small crowds that have been gathering to watch his ceremony, but as of this morning . . . no such luck.

Jeff Jerome, curator for the Edgar Allan Poe house in Baltimore, offered several explanations for the Toaster’s absence, from sickness to car troubles to just plain deciding to hang it up for good.  After all, 2009 was the 200th anniversary of Poe’s birth, making a neat bookend for a tradition that began on the 100th anniversary of his death. 

Perhaps appropriately, it’s a mystery worthy of the writer and poet that inspired it.  Happy (belated) 201st, Edgar Poe.

Friday Free for All

Happy Friday!

We’re getting ready to head for Richmond this weekend for a three-day volleyball tournament.  It was during last year’s Richmond tournament, you may recall, that I visited the Poe Museum on that gentleman’s 200th birthday — but this year, I’ve got nothing quite so exciting planned (though I will point out that the Poe 24 Hour Birthday Bash begins at the museum tonight at midnight, with a seance at 2:00 a.m. Dress accordingly.)  There’s lots of sitting around between matches, so I’m hoping to finish off Stephen King’s massive Under The Dome. And yes, I’m enjoying it very much, thank you.

On the homefront, we’re under a cloud of dust as our ever-reliable handyman works to divide our somewhat enormous laundry room in half to create a kitchen pantry on one side, and a cozier laundry room on the other.  Doing so involves cutting a new arched opening from the kitchen, replumbing 60-year-old pipes (always a crapshoot in our house) and replacing the Hoover-era wiring.

It’s one of those small things that we think will make a big difference — at the moment, we really have no pantry space to speak of.  When we were redoing the 1950s-era kitchen when we moved in back in 2003, we took bad advice from the Home Depot kitchen planner, who convinced us we would love having a pantry with roll out shelves.  “It makes it SO much easier to find things,” he told us.


Problem is, if you stack even one can on top of another, as you pull open the shelf, Newton’s law forces the cans to topple.  So it’s completely useless to store anything other than cereal boxes and bags of chips. We’re looking forward to having a place with stationary shelves where we can stack pretty much anything and everything.

Finally, for those of you wondering what’s happening on the Project Blue Harvest side of things . . . well, things are still moving.  As usual, I can’t say much until everything finally firms up — and I know it seems this has been going on forever, but when it all comes together, I’ll explain everything.  Really.

Have a good holiday weekend.