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[00:00:04]

Hey, and welcome to the short stuff, I'm Josh and there's Chuck, and it's just the two of us, just a couple a couple of honcho's, a couple of ambriz, just doing our thing, rattling off facts and a superspeed manner with a limited amount of time.

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So this is short stuff.

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So we don't want to waste time with long intros. Right. Saying a necessary thing.

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Right, exactly. So the toaster, huh? Is this the beginning of our spooky content? Yes, it is. If that's OK with you. Yeah. It's our favorite month.

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I love October. I love Halloween. I've been sitting on this one since last year, actually.

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Have you heard of this guy before now?

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And obviously, I didn't just ask Chuck everybody if he's heard of Edgar Allan Poe. We're talking about a corollary to the pole legend. Everybody knows about Poe, the master author, the creator of the short story, believed to be the first person to ever write a genuine detective story. Edgar Allan Poe. Everybody knows about him. We're not talking about just him.

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No, but we are talking about his dead body. Yeah. Which Poe would love. He would totally love it. He died and he probably would even love dying under mysterious circumstances.

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There's no way he didn't. He was probably like as they were dragging him out of the street, he was probably like this. Oh, great.

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Well, he was 40 years old. This was in 1849. And he was buried in Westminster, burying ground in Baltimore where he made his home. And it was kind of not a big deal at the time as far as, you know, paying tribute to him. He had an unmarked grave for a while. Yeah. Finally, a relative stepped up and said, can we at least get, you know, his name carved into something?

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Yeah, he just showed up with a stick and carved it in the dirt.

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He may have, yeah, but yeah, it was he was still fairly obscure enough that he yeah, he was able to first be buried in unmarked grave, but some local academics started to recognize the man's genius and they actually held like an early go fund me to to create a monument for Poe's grave, actually. And they were successful finally in 1875.

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That's right. So they had a monument carved. It was he was actually moved. It was dedicated on a space a little more befitting one of the great authors of his time. And they you know, they exhumed him, moved the body. And about 10 years after that, his wife and his mother in law were buried along with him, which is sort of key in this story. Right.

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And hopefully he wasn't like a Fred Flintstone type where that would have really bothered him to have his mother in law so close by for eternity. Instead, I have the feeling that it was a very sweet gesture.

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Sure, so that you would think, well, that's it, that's the most you could possibly say about POWs remains laying in the ground at a grave, not true. That was the case from about 1875 to 1840 or 1949, I should say. And then allegedly on that year, the centennial of his death, he was visited by somebody who came to be known as the Poe toaster, a mysterious stranger who showed up at his grave on his birthday January 19th every year, dressed in an all black suit, a white scarf and a big black wide brimmed hat to cover his face and created this ritual out of whole cloth that eventually attracted the notice of people in Baltimore.

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Yes. So what would happen is this man presumably would show up with a bottle of cognac and literally tosspot and leave three red roses along with that bottle. Hmm. They are not. And this would happen sometime between usually midnight and 6:00 a.m. So it was even led more to the creepiness of the whole thing, right? Yeah. And no one did anything about it. No one said, hey, grab that guy and let's see who it is him.

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Rip off that hat and expose him. Right.

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It's Roy Cohn. But so what happened was. Well, first of all, we should address the cognac. No one knows exactly sure why he toasted with cognac, even though I read very quickly on the Internet that Poe loved cognac always in his stories. Yeah, he supposedly loved it but couldn't afford it unless someone else was buying because, you know, he didn't he didn't get rich in this. Right.

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So, yeah, a lot of people are like, well, he should be using amontillado because obviously The Cask of Amontillado is one of his great stories. I don't know why he would be using cognac, apparently. Now we do know why you just saw that mystery for me.

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Chuck, thank you. What about those roses? So he would leave three roses on the grave, like you said. And they've people have come to believe that that's a gesture to to to give a rose to each of the people who are buried beneath that monument. Poe, his wife, Virginia, and his mother in law, Maria. So that one's probably the likeliest explanation of that.

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Should we take a break? I think we should. But first, we'll reveal the identity of the Poe toaster after this.

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How's that for a cliffhanger? Pretty great.

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Are you ready? Mysteries, the heads fiction podcast, Men Bay, Yes, Regis's thrilling final season. This world is quick. From my heart radio and go talk productions, yes, the end is coming from my dear child. The fires have destroyed. She's dead. But she came back. Something is going to happen, you need to be ready from creators John Scott Dryden and Mike Walker. Why me? Because, Grego, you are the hinge of history.

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Scrolls were never about the past. They were about the future team in season four. Take me to to Monday, listen and follow Tim and be on the radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. What now? We wait. So I totally lied on the cliffhanger. No one knows who the toaster is, as far as we can tell, and we certainly don't. So there will be no revealing. We just wanted to keep you tuned in.

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Well, I mean, there is one guy who claims he was the toaster in 2007, a 92 year old man named Sam Porpora claimed it was him. He was a former ad exec, and he in 1960 was made historian at Westminster Presbyterian Church, which was apparently in disrepair at the time, and kind of just full of people getting drunk and, you know, not treating the graves with respect. Right. So he claims he did it as a promotional thing to sort of raise money and publicity.

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And it was he and his tour guides, this gentleman, Jeff Jerome, who is the curator of the museum. I think his quote was, there are holes big enough in his story you could drive a Mack truck through. Yes, but I couldn't find those holes. I couldn't like I looked everywhere and I couldn't find him specifically saying why he did not think it was him.

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Well, so, Jeff, Jerome has kind of become like the de facto historian of the Poe toaster because he he ran the Poe Historical Society for a while or the Poe Museum, I'm sorry. And a lot of people put a lot of weight into what he says. He claims that he had worked out a signal with the Poe toaster so that the toaster would signal him and let him know that he was the real deal.

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Because over the years, there were right.

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There were there were what are known as faux toasters who people pretended to be the toaster after the thing because it kind of became a big deal starting in the 70s. So that Jeff Jerome at least would know it was the real article. But he swears up and down and most people believe him that he has no idea the actual identity of the Poe toaster, the only interaction he'd had with the toaster is at Poe's grave on these specific nights over the years.

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Yeah, and I wonder why Sam Porpora would come forward and claim to be such so late in life. And they even asked him that in this article. And he said, like, why he came forward and he went, I don't know.

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Oh, yeah. That's not a very good yeah. That's a big hole in your story right there. You did not have a motivation. Yeah.

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If you're somebody who who starts out and here's the thing like this, this whole Poe toaster thing became a kind of a cause celeb in in Baltimore and places outside of Baltimore, people would show up and there'd be little groups of onlookers who would watch this thing every year. And like you said very coolly, never tried to find out who it was. They just respected it and watched from a distance. So it kind of became like this, this cool thing.

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But this guy was doing this for decades before it became a cool thing. So, of course, there's some sort of motivation behind all this in people who do stuff like they have a motivation behind everything they're doing, there's some larger meaning or something to what they're doing. So, yeah, he would I don't believe the Poe toaster would have come forward just for I don't know.

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Well, I mean, he said he said why he did it. He didn't say why he came forward and decided that he was the toaster. Yeah. I don't buy that story. Who knows? I buy it. OK, I think it makes sense as a former ad guy. But at any rate, the and he was on the scene as well as the historian of the church. Right. So anyway, I think it's I think there's a lot of credence there.

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But at any rate, the the gentleman, whoever it was, would leave these notes occasionally.

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And one note in 93 said the torch will be passed, like it said in quotes to be read and creepy Vincent Price voice when read out loud.

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And then in 99, there was one that said the toaster had died. And there was a theory. And I think Jeff Jerome buys the theory that the torch was passed to his sons because they kind of did a there were sort of lackadaisical about how spirited they were with their efforts.

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Let's just say that was that was a really diplomatic way to put it. Yeah. Sometimes they would show up in street clothes. And from what I've gathered, like the the minimum criteria for being the PO toaster is that all black suit, white scarf and not a huge hat. But yeah, there's a certain amount of deference that needs to be brought to this and showing up in like jeans and vans and like, you know, Counting Crows T-shirt. That doesn't cut it, buddy.

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Although the Crows, Counting Ravens, maybe Baltimore, I guess. I don't know.

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Maybe, maybe so. One of these notes, though, that supposedly was left by one of the sons, if you buy that theory, was a prediction of the Super Bowl in 2001, pretty late giants that the Giants would beat the Ravens. If it was his sons, then I totally see how Jeff Jerome would be like, they're not doing a great job. Exactly. So. So finally in 2009, I guess that's 20 years.

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10 years. Yes. Ten, ten years after the torch was passed, after the original protester died. Allegedly, they just stopped showing up all together and they didn't show up in 2010 11. And then finally in 2012, when they didn't show one more time, Jeff Jerome said, well, I guess I have as much clout as anybody being the curator of the museum. I'm going to officially declare this tradition ended forever.

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Yeah, but not so because he he turned on his heels four years later and 2016 said, you know what, let's just throw a big party. We're going to audition protesters. And this is where the story really like it's disappointing to me. I wish they would have just let it die. It's this mysterious, weird thing. Is it the raffle? Yeah, they have a raffle.

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They have a polo themed cake that you can win. You know, hundreds of people, they toast apple cider. And I don't mind them honoring Poe, but it just I think they could have just divided it and not made it part of the toasting thing that came and went.

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Yeah. Yeah, I have to I have to agree, I like that it's a I like the idea of what they're doing.

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I like the toast with apple cider, like all, but I think, yeah, maybe hold it at the local library or something because it really smacks of, like, the kind of event you would hold at a local library.

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Yeah. And it's during the daytime, I don't think we mention which. I mean, if it's not between midnight and 6:00 a.m., then just get out of here with that. True.

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But it does give the toaster an excuse to do some day drinking of cognac. That's true. Once a year at least.

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Or apple cider. Yeah, the supposedly the toaster does does drink cognac still. And so. Yeah. So I don't.

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Did you say that they held auditions for the new protester. I did. And the new poster plays the violin though. Added a little extra flair.

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Yeah. Maybe you know what's going to happen is they're going to hear about this and make us honorary posters and we're going to be way into it. Yeah, right, exactly.

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I'm going to where Counting Crows T-shirt and I learned to play the violin.

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All right. So that's it, everybody. The POTO, sir, this is one of those legends where I hope we never, ever find out who it was, because I think that's wildly appropriate in this case.

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OK, Pat Executive. Well, since Chuck said as executive, that's the secret word for short stuff to be.

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Oh. Stuff you should know is a production of radios HowStuffWorks for more podcasts, My Heart Radio, is it the radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows?