Cognac & Cooping

Raven Café has a variety of games upstairs in the library for you to enjoy while you drink and dine, but read further and try to solve a real mystery!

At birth, there is only potential; at death, any attempt the last. Mysterious visits, perhaps a tandem succession of a father and son, celebrated a writer’s birth, rather than the anniversary of his death for over 60 years.

Dating back to at least the 1940s, a mysterious man dressed in black with a white scarf and wide-brimmed hat had left three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac on the writer’s grave, but after the mysterious “Toaster” failed to appear two years in a row, fans planned one last vigil in 2012.

The deceased writer had been abandoned by his birth father, orphaned when his mother died of tuberculosis, separated from his siblings, expelled from West Point, disowned by his foster father, haunted by debt and, after writing timeless pieces of mystery and macabre for years, was found incoherent on the street. He spent his final days wavering between fits of delirium, gripped by visual hallucinations. The night before his death the attending physician reported he repeatedly called out “Reynolds”— a figure who, to this day, also remains a mystery.

Edgar Allan Poe is thought by some to have been a victim of cooping. Cooping was a form of 19th century voter fraud in the United States. Individuals were grabbed off the street by ‘cooping gangs’ working for a particular political candidate, kept in a room called the “coop” and given alcoholic beverages in order for them to comply. When Poe was discovered  incoherent on the street he was not in his own clothes. Sometimes cooping gangs would force them to wear disguises to prevent them from being recognized by election officials, forcing them to vote multiple times. If they refused to cooperate they would be beaten or even killed.

(Alternate theories speculate alcohol, beating, murder, flu, and even rabies.*)

Story by SK Mabry, Raven Media Specialist


1517933251746Like her hat, Carol wears her heart from the inside-out.

An unidentified woman seated herself at a table upstairs at Raven Cafe with a friend, positioning herself to look out through the stained glass art at the harbor. She smiled as Carol approached the table. Carol noticed the woman’s scarf, and the adjustments the woman made to keep it secure; she also noticed the coloring and pattern of the woman’s attire, and that of her coat and handbag.


Selecting a hat from the shelf, Carol returned up the stairs after serving their meal. “Here, I want you to have this,” she said, handing the hat to the woman. “It matches your outfit.” The woman reached up to receive the hat. “How did you know?” the woman asked, smiling and shaking her head in disbelief. “Today was my last treatment.” Carol knows a “warrior” when she sees one, and “I just know, and I admire your strength,” Carol said.

Carol Mason has shared the comings and goings at Raven Cafe for over 11 years. One of her greatest gifts is noticing a need and responding from the inside-out, sometimes in cahoots with others. Whether taking time to ask about someone’s well-being, finding a home for a kitten, folding and contributing over one thousand pounds of gently worn clothing to a charitable organization, or tying more winter scarves on the cafe’s pole for others in the community, Carol does whatever she can to share her time and talents.

1517933207649From first dates to new families, from beginnings to brave new adventures, she engages in the life journey of others. Her favorite travels, however, are with her husband, Dean – on a “gypsy trip”  – vacationing in an RV with no destination! She enjoys life remaining a bit of a mystery!

The creator of Mason Made Crafts currently features her acrylic loom knit hats (which can be special ordered in wool if desired), earrings and a Chai Tea Latte mix on the shelves and available for purchase at Raven Cafe, but it’s her sincerity (and the humble smirk, which may indicate she’s up to something) that you’ll treasure most at your table.

We love how she wears her hat!

Story submitted by

SK Mabry, Raven Media Specialist


Uncover the Truth, and Be Wed



“A Valentine” by Edgar Allan Poe was first presented publicly in 1846 at a literary salon. The name of Poe’s valentine was hidden in the poem. It is believed Poe met her in person while she was separated from her husband and Poe’s wife was becoming increasingly ill. Some described their relationship as a only a friendship, while others surmised more, but the couple never admitted to anything, nor did they ever wed (I’ll share Poe’s secret valentine with you at the end, if you don’t already know).



Eager to wed your Valentine?

Consider making it memorable at Raven Cafe! The Poe-themed venue provides a unique literary salon with all the amenities available for celebrating “I do.”

Pastor Pat of Pastor Pat Ministries is offering a free simple wedding ceremony for up to 25 traditional or same-sex couples from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, at Raven Cafe! Couples must submit a valid Michigan marriage license and provide two adult witnesses for their ceremony. No fee is required or expected, but we’re certain Pastor Pat would appreciate a token honorarium! Visit the pastor’s website at today!


Now, try to uncover the truth in the infamous poem, originally titled, “To Her Whose Name Is Written Below.”

A Valentine

For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
Brightly expressive as the twins of Lœda,
Shall find her own sweet name, that, nestling lies
Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly the lines!—they hold a treasure
Divine—a talisman—an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure—
The words—the syllables! Do not forget
The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor!
And yet there is in this no Gordian knot
Which one might not undo without a sabre,
If one could merely comprehend the plot.
Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
Of poets, by poets—as the name is a poet’s, too.
Its letters, although naturally lying
Like the knight Pinto—Mendez Ferdinando—
Still form a synonym for Truth.—Cease trying!
You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.

Frances Sargent Osgood

The name of Poe’s valentine is revealed by taking the first letter of the first line, followed by the second letter of the second line, and on and on to the end of the poem. The resulting acrostic spells the name of American female poet, Frances Sargent Osgood.

Please be my literary valentine.

Yours truly,
SK Mabry, Library Media Specialist, Raven Cafe

Bamboozle Unmasked!

Hi there!

“Oh, puppy farts…” I’ve been asked to unmask. Sometimes it stinks, like puppy farts, to have to share your secrets.

I’ve even been known to disguise myself as Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy to avoid unveiling my true identity and remain a bit of a mystery– I AM GROOT in those regards!

Now that I’ve been asked to disclose who the new Raven Café Librarian is hiding behind the blue police phone box door on the 2nd floor, I’ll open the door and let you in on another little secret: like the Dr. Who series, my world inside is much larger than it appears on the outside.

I’m happiest looking at the world through a child’s eyes, and that’s the only way I discovered an orchestra. Did you know that’s what a group of crickets is called, an orchestra? I didn’t until I heard them singing in a willow tree while working in Daytona Beach, Florida for three years and investigating who the voices belonged to. It was no common cricket!

Now take a moment to examine your thumb (someone else’s will work, if you don’t have one) and notice the distance from the top down to the second knuckle; that’s about as tall as they are after their third molting and they dress in clothes, only you can’t spot them unless you can be as a child, like me, and believe they exist. They’ve made life unpredictable for a diverse foster family and, recently, I discovered these mischievous crickets, Bamboozles, can be found almost anywhere, hoodwinking whomever they choose and changing the course of their lives.

In fact, I’m certain Bamboozles brought me to Raven Café last year on my quest for gluten-free menu options and a great cup of coffee, resulting in my recent return to fulfill my vision of becoming a children’s writer in residence. Raven Café feels like the kind of place you can be your quirky self and probably why a Bamboozle guided me here – I actually dreamt of readers one day coming to the café after the Bamboozles’ stories are published, just to see if there’s a Bamboozle hiding behind the door. Oh, how I hope I am!

Formerly I was all business, working in healthcare and legal offices to pay the bills for three decades, but that all gets too serious, ya know? I dabbled in freelance journalism, creative writing, children’s programming and community theater. Since I’ve given my bills away (thanks, honey!), I’ve found my voice to write children’s literature full-time. Bamboozles have given me the courage to take the leap and settled me into a tiny 651 square foot home on the banks of the Belle River in Marine City with my husband, Robert, and an extremely smart poodle named Ilsa.

As your new librarian at Raven Café I look forward to maintaining a comfortable literary environment and keeping you posted on what’s happening. I encourage you stop in and say hello, connect with me through email, or to drop off the last great book you read at my door to share with others- perhaps include a note telling me about your experience at Raven Café and why you think others might enjoy what you’ve read!

Yours truly,
Susan Mabry, Raven Media Specialist


Michael Martin “Digger”

Breakfast, anyone?

Doors open at 7:30 a.m. on weekdays and 9:00 am on weekends at the Raven Cafe, and the friendly staff is ready to get your morning started out right. Along with an assortment of breakfast items on the menu, you might want to try a house special called the Grave Digger’s Blanket.

Michael Martin, who’s been with the cafe since 2005, originally developed the combination of seasoned hash browned potatoes, skillfully grilled, smothered with your choice of cheese and topped with an over-easy egg, for his children. After preparing it for a server one morning it became a popular special request among regulars, and eventually a favorite on the Raven Cafe menu.

Who is Michael Martin? Friends know him as “Digger”, and soon enough we’re all friends at the cafe. He smiles when you ask him how he got the name. “It was a stage name,” he explains, “assigned to me when I worked as a lighting specialist for a band called the Salty Dog in Galveston, Texas.” He continued to use it as he traveled north to work on construction sites, because as he said, “when someone yelled ‘Mike’, every Mike turned around, but when they yelled ‘Digger’, there was only one.”

The oldest of four children, all boys, “I was a home cook. I learned many of the household cooking and crafts, including how to crochet and knit. I enjoy listening to people’s comments from the cafe as they enjoy the food I’ve prepared. My proudest moment at the Raven was when a young finicky eater tried a bite of their mother’s Grave Digger’s Blanket and went on to eat the entire thing!”

So dig yourself out from under those warm covers and head to the Raven Cafe for a warm breakfast. Try the Grave Digger’s Blanket, if you dare, and meet Digger if you’d like. He’s a great storyteller, avid collector of artifacts, and one of many friendly faces you’ll find at Raven Cafe! Breakfast is served until 11 a.m. on weekdays and until noon on weekends- come share the morning with friends!

Images & Story by SK Mabry, Raven Media Specialist 

C4W (Costumes for Woodrow)


The challenge.

“I’ll NEVER use this in life!” I can hear myself saying in 9th grade in Algebra, but recently the day arrived where I needed to utilize these skills for practical purposes. I had a 48″ wide board that I needed to cut into three pieces to create a triangular receptacle that neatly fit in the 90° corner of the small foyer of the Raven Café. Its triangular design was important to retain the space’s handicap accessibility. What’s a girl who failed Algebra in high school to do? Ask her co-workers for help, that’s what. They put their heads together and sorted out that it the formula needed was the Pythagorean theorem: A²xB²=C²


GM Alyssa Dauphinais & Handyman Higgins liked math in high school.

Coincidentally, this receptacle was for the use of collecting Halloween costumes for neighborhood elementary school Woodrow Wilson’s C4W’s (Costumes for Woodrow) initiative. Their new principal, Joe Kramer and his wife Sarah, were disheartened to see that approximately one-quarter of their students did not have costumes for their Halloween parade this year. They contacted the Raven and asked if we would be a drop-off spot for new and gently used costumes, so next year costumes would be available for students who came to school on Halloween without one. We at the Raven love Halloween (we celebrate all the way through New Year’s Day with jack-o-lanterns rocking Santa hats!) Halloween magic lives and breathes in our Poe-themed cafe, so we were on board!

Our triangular Frankenstein box contains one costume thus far. Woodrow Wilson Elementary and the Raven will be accepting donations through December 1st, so please consider donating your children’s old costumes or shopping the post-Halloween sales for some. Last year, Toys R Us had a whopping 90% off costumes after Halloween, which priced them at $3-$4!


Fun fact: The Raven has dungeon-like workroom in the basement.

Dark Arts… Poe Would Be Proud

Photo Credit: Karleigh Martin

Nature beckons patrons to the lowest recesses of the Raven Café, where the ever-changing chalkboard art of Mar Page enhances the lavatory. Admiring the unique sounds of low music and bands like Harley Poe, Horror Funk Punk, they display an unexpectedly upbeat, “almost comic style” in their own words as an artist, despite their frequent use of garbage animals and dark themes. Their Ghoulish Garbage art was recently featured at the 2017 Art Hop in Downtown Port Huron and select pieces, including unique graphic patches for $3 each, are still available at the cafe, where Page has been a cook for two years.

Many of Page’s flyers include renditions of opossums, and when the world’s tensions sporadically overwhelm them, they likewise retract until they release their emotions in the creation of their art. When Page is not creating graphic or culinary art or attending shows, they may be found cuddling with their six adorable rats, two felines, and a friendly tarantula. When asked if there was anything they would tell their twelve-year-old self, Page responded, “Don’t doubt yourself. You’ll get somewhere you didn’t expect to be,” expressing their path to becoming a member of the Raven Cafe family, as their gothic eyes smile.

Page keeps their prices reasonable, including their work they do as a graphic artist, designing show flyers, band art, shirt designs, album art, and other promotional materials for Mid-Michigan musicians. Their graphic designs are viewable on Facebook @hxrrorgrrl

Story by SK Mabry, Raven Media Specialist

Job Opportunity for Creative/Responsible Student

librarian2HOURS PER WEEK: 6 (9 once a month)
PAY RATE: $8.90 per hour
APPLICANT: High School or College Student

1. Manage Library

  • Check in new books
  • Organize and clean bookshelves as needed
  • Research old books, list on Amazon / process and ship orders

2. Manage Kid’s Table & Games

  • Check in new children’s books
  • Organize and clean children’s bookshelves as needed
  • Audit games for missing pieces

3. Some photography and photo editing

4. Stock and clean gift corner as needed

5. Assemble and package gift sets

6. Maintain online presence via Instagram, Facebook and WordPress

7. Similar miscellaneous jobs as needed

Ideal candidate will have strong communication skills (writing), basic photography knowledge, be comfortable working on a computer (Microsoft Word and Office) and be well versed in social media interfaces such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and WordPress.

Candidate will be a self-starter with the ability to work independently and without constant supervision. They’ll show a sense of urgency while working and be responsible with managing Raven social media vehicles without engaging in their own personal correspondence.

Interested candidates should submit a resume and 250-word writing sample that reviews a book or author they are familiar with to

The 16th Member

In 2015 I joined Team Unmentionables to compete in the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen (aka GISHWHES). For the uninitiated, it was created by TV star Misha Collins (Castiel of Supernatural) to spread kindness, weirdness and creativity, which are all ideas the Raven actively supports.

It’s common to have profound epiphanies amid the week-long hunt. It has a way of forcing you out of your shell and connecting you with people in ways you never thought possible. I always come out the other side feeling grateful to my friends and family who are willing to help me with my crazy items.

Specifically the Raven proprietor, my husband Sadaat Hossain, was incredibly supportive with this and past years’ hunts. When I wasn’t using his back as a canvas or asking him to pose for crazy photos he was caring for our children, facilitating completion of items for the hunt.

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Additionally, I realized that my team actually has the advantage of a 16th member: the Raven itself. The premises of the building, it’s creative staff and patrons have helped with many items over the years.

From the bottom of my heart, to all who have helped me over the years, thank you.

Jody Parmann

Feature Shelves

Feature shelves are relatively new here to the Raven and most people don’t know much about them, so we are always trying to find fun and creative ways to grab our customers’ attention.
You can tell whether a shelf is a feature shelf if they have a colorful backboard (as opposed to the exposed brick of our facility). Currently we have three shelves: Women’s Empowerment (red shelf), Blind Date with a Book (blue shelf), and Animal Lovers (green shelf.)
On the Women’s Empowerment shelf, we are featuring the Raven’s Women’s Rights Campaign, replete with beautiful art from some of our very talented female Raven family (more on that can be found here). Along with an array of books authored by influential women such as Maya Angelo you’ll find other Women’s Empowerment material, such as books of poetry to help combat and spread awareness on violence against women.
The Animal Lovers shelf is filled with memoirs, informational material, fiction and much more based around all animals. From creepy crawlers to poodle pups, if you’re an animal fanatic you will surely appreciate this shelf!
The third is the Blind Date with a Book shelf, chock full of unknown books wrapped in plain brown paper, ready for daring patrons to scoop them up and enter an adventure! New books are added regularly and ready for a new home.
These shelves change periodically, so if any of these pique your interest be sure to make an appearance before they change!


– K. Jones