Early Thursday morning, a tired Jeff Jerome, curator of the city's Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, "officially" pronounced the Poe-toasting tradition over. Having spent the night inside Westminster Hall, awaiting the toaster's arrival, Jerome declared that the furtive stranger's poignant tribute would be left nevermore.
"I more or less resigned myself that it was over with before tonight," said Jerome, who has been curator of the Poe House -- and de facto keeper of the Poe flame -- since 1979. "What I'll miss most is the excitement of waiting to see if he's going to show up."
As he had for the past 15 years or so, Jerome spent the night inside the former church on West Fayette Street, just yards away from Poe's grave, with a select group of friends and acquaintances. Outside, a few dozen fans -- including visitors from Rhode Island, Chicago, California and even Russia -- held their own vigil. But the toaster, whose identity has remained a mystery since at least the 1940s, never made an appearance.
Others, however, did their best to make up for the toaster's absence. Three would-be successors showed up, but there will be no acknowledged successor to the toaster throne, Jerome said.