It’s Thursday, January 19, 2017; posting will be light today as I have a piece of journalism to do, so bear with me. It’s National Popcorn Day, a comestible that I find an adequate substitute for dinner when I just can’t face cooking. It’s also the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe (1809, died 1849), marked by the Poe Toaster at his grave in Baltimore. What is the Poe Toaster? Here’s Wikipedia’s story:
Poe Toaster is a media epithet popularly used to refer to an unidentified person (or more probably two persons in succession, possibly father and son) who, for over seven decades, paid an annual tribute to American author Edgar Allan Poe by visiting the cenotaph marking his original grave in Baltimore, Maryland, in the early hours of January 19, Poe’s birthday. 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 made the annual visitation 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 has he appeared any year since, signaling an end to the 75-year tradition.
On this day in 1853, Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Il trovatore had its first performance in Rome, and exactly 100 years later over 70% of all American television sets were tuned into I Love Lucy to watch Lucy give birth to Little Ricky. On January 19, 1978, the last VW Beetle was made in Germany (they’re still made elsewhere). I never had one, but I much admired them and rode in many.
Notable people born on this day include, besides Edgar Allan Poe, James Watt (1736), Robert E. Lee (1807), Paul Cézanne (1839), Lester Flatt (1914), Phil Everly (1939), Janis Joplin (1943), Dolly Parton (1946) and Cindy Sherman (1954). Those who died on this day include Thomas Hart Benton (1975), James Dickey (1997), Hedy Lamarr (2000), Wilson Pickett (2006) and Stan Musial (2013; one of my baseball heroes and a great guy; I watched him play once). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is affronted at not having a proper place to sleep:
Hili: This is an imitationA: What of?Hili: A proper cardboard box.
Hili: To jest imitacja.
Hili: Porządnego kartonu.