Saturday Scenes

Fri 25 January 2013

The Mystery of the Poe Toaster

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 14:27

Every year on the 19th of January, the Poe Toaster appeared at the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore. It’s not clear when the first visit took place, although by 1950 the local paper had already reported it as an annual event. The Poe Toaster was a mysterious person dressed in black with a hat and a white scarf who appeared at Edgar Allen Poe’s gravestone in the early hours of the morning of the 19th of Jan. Every year, he (or she) drank a glass of cognac at the grave and then left three roses and the rest of the bottle by the gravestone. Sometimes the Toaster left a note along with the gifts, including “The torch will be passed” in 1993. In 1998, visitors to the grave stated that the Toaster appeared to be a younger individual and the few notes left after that date were very different in tone, including a criticism of France after they opposed the war in Iraq: “The sacred memory of Poe and his final resting place is no place for French cognac. With great reluctance but for respect for family tradition the cognac is placed. The memory of Poe shall live evermore!” It’s commonly believed that the Poe Toaster’s son took over the visits starting in 1998 and continued the tradition until 2009.

Sadly, the Poe Toaster did not appear in 2010 and has not been seen since, although some “imposters” appeared at the grave. They did not make the signal that the Poe Taster did, nor were the roses placed in the traditional pattern which had not changed over 75 years.

However, others argue that the tradition of Poe Toasting lives on.

Poe Toaster | I was there — the Poe Toaster came – Baltimore Sun

When I arrived, I was told that there had already been three such imposters. Then, around 2 in the morning, a spry young woman in a cloche hat with roses and cognac tucked into her coat made her way deftly through the crowd. Without any pretension, she delivered her tribute to the grave and was gone – was whisked away in a passing car and disappeared into the night.

I left after that, satisfied, realizing that the Poe Toaster is not a particular person but rather a concept. An idea.

Although the “official” Poe Toaster was not photographed on the 19th of January in 2013, many Saturday scenes were taken and submitted, all according to the traditions built up over the past five years:

And here are those photographers who continue to show up every Saturday:

So the big question is: How many Saturday Scenes can we manage this week?

You know the drill: take a photograph, tweet it to @Satscenes with a location and bask in the glory.

I’m looking forward to many more scenes from Saturdays to come.

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