I've long been a fan of this writer of the macabre. As a kid, I fondly remember the Simpson's Halloween special that featured Homer as the main character in "The Raven". In middle school, I read the entire poem for the first time and absolutely fell in love with the creepy mystery of it. From then on, I read many of his works in and out of school, studying the imagery that he painted with his words, and imagining what made this mysterious and melancholy man tick.
About three years ago, I started working with a government agency, which means that I get off of work for every holiday imaginable, including Columbus Day which is recognized/celebrated around the 12th of October. Since Poe's death day was October 7th, I usually spend my Columbus holiday day reading Poe's poetry or stories or about Poe's life.
This year, I decided to reenact my version of the mysterious "Poe Toaster's" yearly tradition, since I have my very own Poe tombstone.
The Poe Toaster has kept his tradition of visiting Poe's grave on Poe's birthday (January 19th) every year since 1949 and up till 2009. It's been recorded that he would show up around midnight, in a specific black hat and attire, leaving three red roses (arranged in a particular fashion) and a half full bottle of Cognac at Poe's grave site in Baltimore.
Jeff Jerome, who is the curator of the Poe House in Baltimore, has witness the Poe Toaster's tradition since 1977. Jerome watches for the Poe Toaster from Westminster Hall, confirming the toaster's arrival by a signal that the toaster gives (which only Jerome knows), the arrangement of the roses that he leaves and the attire that he wears. Sadly since 2009, the Poe Toaster seems to have stopped the tradition. It has been speculated that the toaster may have passed away or, that whoever took up the tradition from the original toaster (speculated to be a family member) decided to stop the tradition on the year of Poe's bicentennial birthday, which was in 2009. This will be Jerome's final year watching for the toaster. He has stated that if the toaster does not show up this year, that he will take that as a sign that the tradition is officially over. The toaster's identity has never been discovered.
Although the true Poe Toaster seems to have disappeared, many look alikes have shown up at Poe's grave site in the toaster's likeness, to carry on the tradition. Other Poe fans visit the grave on that night to hold a vigil of sorts and to celebrate Poe's life and works... and of course, to hopefully catch a glimpse of the toaster.
I would love to make a pilgrimage to Baltimore to take part in this tradition, but since I won't be going anytime soon, here is my contribution to Poe's memorial.
May you rest in peace.