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The shadowy figure, dressed in black with a wide-brimmed hat and white scarf, would pour himself a glass of cognac and raise a toast to Poe’s memory, then vanish into the night, leaving three roses in a distinctive arrangement and the unfinished bottle of cognac. Onlookers gathered annually in hopes of glimpsing the elusive Toaster, who did not seek publicity, and was rarely seen or photographed.
According to eyewitness reports and notes accompanying offerings in later years, the original Toaster visited the tomb from sometime in the 1930s (though no report appeared in print until 1950) until his death in 1998, after which the tradition was passed to “a son”.
Controversial statements were made in some notes left by the post-1998 Toaster, and in 2006 an unsuccessful attempt was made by several onlookers to detain and identify him. In 2010 there was no visit by the Toaster, nor did he appear in 2011 or 2012, triggering speculation that the 75-year tradition had ended.