What? No! The Poe Toaster is a no show

For years, the mysterious Poe toaster has appeared at the grave site of Edgar Allan Poe with a bottle of cognac and roses.

The Poe toaster has never been identified, but since 1949, the tradition carried on annually at Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore, Maryland. The shadowy figure, clad in black and carrying a silver-tipped cane, raised a glass of cognac to Poe at each visit. In 1998, a new but still unknown person is thought to have taken over for the original Poe toaster, but the tradition remained. Over the past few years, several curious onlookers have assembled to observe the tradition, and in 2006, the Poe toaster was accosted and an unmasking was attempted. (This is believed to be due to strange statements about current events made by the second Poe toaster.)

In 2008, 150 attendees gathered, and a smaller crowd assembled in 2009. But this year, 2010, marks the first year that the Poe toaster did not show up to deliver the cognac and roses. As no one has successfully identified the person or persons behind the tradition, the reason for the no-show remains unknown. Has the tradition ceased after 50 years? The curator of the Edgar Allan Poe House spoke to local press about the Poe toaster’s absence:

This is the first time since Jan. 19, 1949 that the person, whose identity is unknown, failed to arrive, said Jeff Jerome, curator of the Edgar Allan Poe House.

“I was very annoyed,” he said.

“I’ve been doing this since 1977, and there was no indication he wasn’t going to show up,” Jerome said.

Jerome, however, sadly pointed out that if the tradition is finite, 2009 would have been a good time to stop:

Another possibility: 2009 was the bicentennial of Poe’s birthday. “And if it was going to end, that would be the perfect time to end it,” he said.

Jerome plans to maintain the vigil for the next two years, in case “the flu” or “car trouble” are responsible for the break in tradition.

“After two years if he doesn’t show up, I think we can safely assume the tribute has ended,” Jerome said.