Many of you are already acquainted with Robert, the lifelong companion
of painter Robert Eugene (called Gene) Otto, who received the three-foot-tall
straw companion from his Bahamian nanny when he was just a small boy.
The doll would be with him for the remainder of his life.
There are a number of stories about the nanny, obviously the pivotal
figure in this doll drama. Many say that, although she dearly loved
young Gene, she was mistreated and abused by his parents on a regular
basis. Some versions of the tale have the nanny practicing the dark
Voodoo arts and giving the doll to Robert out of revenge for her ill
treatment, but there is nothing to support this being the case. Evidently,
Gene received the doll, said to be a replica of him, as a gift of
love. He promptly named it Robert.
To say that Robert stayed by Gene’s side is an understatement,
for Gene was never without the little plaything. He even dressed it
in his own clothes and spent hours on end playing in his nursery with
only the doll as company. It is said that he was often heard talking
to the doll and answering himself in an entirely different voice.
Gene slept, ate and traveled with Robert by his side.
Within months after the arrival of the doll in the Otto household,
strange things began to occur. Objects would go missing and turn up
broken, Gene took to the unhealthy habit of sneaking out of his window
and wandering the grounds at night, and his parents began to suspect
him of all kinds of mischief. If he was caught in the act, Gene would
always hold out Robert and say, “Robert did it!”
Once a year, in October, Robert the Doll (in his case) is taken to
the Historic Custom House where he is placed on display. Some visitors
comment about the seemingly odd practice of peppermints being placed
in the display case along with the doll. They are usually fittingly
creeped out by the explanation: Robert, it seems, loves peppermints,
and placing some in his case will keep him from wanting to roam at
night. Skeptics might scoff at this practice, but it is reported by
museum and Custom House staff alike that each morning during his October
visit there are empty peppermint wrappings littering the bottom of
Robert’s display case…
Robert the Doll, still clad in one of Gene Otto’s sailor suits
and clutching a small teddy bear, can be visited at The East Martello
Museum and, in October, at the Historic Custom House in Key West,
Read More About Robert The Doll here:
Tales from a truly creepy toy chest PLEASE
READ MORE HERE!
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