Picture taken by Susan Smith
Good evening, Creeps and Creepettes. Welcome to my haunted library of ghosts, goblins, and squatches. A world of frights and delights; of monsters, ghouls, and dolls that creep and crawl. I'm here to open my grimoire and tell you about urban legends, cryptids, folklore, mythology, and haunted curiosities hidden away in the Warren's Occult Museum. Most importantly, I'm going to tell you which of them I could kill with my bare hands.
Today's case is Robert the Doll, one of the original 'Haunted Doll' cases in America. Robert is an absolute menace, a straw-filled scoundrel that brings disaster and misfortune to anyone who disrespects him. Nowadays he can be found in a museum in Florida, and he'll stay there if he knows what's good for him.
There are two generally accepted origins for Robert: one is the truth and the other is a (way more exciting) piece of absolute hogwash. Hogwash or not, it is my solemn pledge to you to never let the truth get in the way of a good post.
The Urban Legend:
Tales have been told around the campfire of the Otto family. Thomas Otto, his wife, their son Robert, and...their servants moved to Key West, Florida in the late 1800s. It's cool, it was a different time. That's why it was also acceptable for them to treat their servants like garbage. This stupid doll had more rights than all of the maids combined. One particular servant (who was never named because she didn't exist) was hired with the sole purpose of taking care of Robert. She was a woman of Haitian descent, which is a detail that is only given because she's a practitioner of, you guessed it, voodoo. One day Mama Otto caught said nameless servant practicing black magic and fired her. Before leaving, she gave Robert a doll with buttons for eyes and human hair and misfortune soon followed.
What Really Happened:
Robert's grandpa bought it as a birthday present. As funny as it is to imagine the maid from Tom and Jerry giving a child a haunted doll as revenge for her voodoo-related pink slip, the reality is The Eldest Otto Octavius came back from Germany with a doll he saw in the window.
|Square up you potato-faced bitch|
He saw this straw-filled harbinger of hauntings and thought "I do say, my grandson would love this. Their new home is bereft of screams and I have just the thing." Robert receives his gift and loves it, which is an immediate red flag. If someone gifted me that thing now I would assume something sinister was afoot and stuff it in the fireplace. Robert names the doll Robert, which is another immediate red flag, and next thing you know Robert the Kid and Robert the Doll are inseparable. Robert the Kid foregoes his own name to the doll and chooses to go by Otto. This little freak was gifted an Insidious ghost and let it have his entire identity. That sailor suit you always see him in? That's not a cutesy little outfit that grandpa bought from the Annabelle toy store, it used to belong to
Robert excuse me, Otto.
Rocket Boy talked to Robert all the time and took him absolutely everywhere with him, never letting him out of his sight. That means if you're one of his parents, you are never getting a break. You are a 7/11: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year you are listening to this dandy little rich lad have one sided conversations with a doll. This name-abandoning, sailor suit-wearing, never-worked-a-day-on-the-railroad, snot-nosed little runt prattles on and on with his Christ-defying soul coffin and mouth breathes as he waits for a response that will never come.
He blamed various shenanigans on the doll, doing what kids do and getting into bouts of mischief and blaming it on someone else. "Robert broke that vase, Robert drank the rest of the milk, Robert spray painted 'Blacks Rule' on our neighbor's driveway." Typical kid behavior and not particularly indicative of a haunting, but they are strikes 1 and 2 on the way to a lobotomy. His parents agreed and shrugged it off for a while and saw it as mostly harmless. When I messed up as a kid and blamed it on one of my friends, my parents knew good and well I didn't have any, but it was easier to tell me to be more careful next time than it was to confront the wobbly psychological support systems I was constructing in my adolescence. And besides, if giving a doll your own name, talking to it at all hours of the night, and never letting it out of your sight is weird then my last name must be Yankovic.
It was cute at first, but the shenanigans quickly escalated into tomfoolery. Strange noises would come from the doll when nobody else was around. Toys would be thrown around the house when nobody else was home. Robert's expression would change, glaring angrily at anyone who upset him or badmouthed his precious Otto. Then the tomfoolery became full-on hijinks. Otto's parents (Raymundo and Tito) would wake up to Rocket Boy screaming and crying and they'd run to his room to find all of the furniture overturned and Robert would be sitting at the foot of the bed looking like a menace. Enough was enough and Robert was locked in the attic. You would think this is the scary second act of this story, where the parents find the attic door slightly askew at night and go into Otto's room and he's sitting in a rocking chair brushing Robert's hair or something, but no. They would occasionally hear giggling and footsteps from above them, but they never let him back out. The doll was locked up there and Otto grew up and moved out and got married. All was said and done, until...
One day Dear Old Dad passes away and Otto inherits the house. Otto and his wife move into his childhood home and guess who is still hanging out in the attic? Otto once again became obsessed with Robert, taking him with him everywhere and bringing Robert's favorite chair from his childhood into the room Otto now shared with his wife. Look at him again. Look at his face
Imagine that thing watching you consummate your marriage. Yeah, she wasn't a fan either, so back up into the attic he went. He wasn't stuffed in a box or hidden under a blanket, he was perched in front of a window to absolutely terrify neighborhood children, which is actually the first thing I've agreed with Otto on to this point. Incredible power move. On an unrelated note, Otto died in 1974 of "natural causes" and a woman named Myrtle Reuter bought the house. She took one look at Robert and banished him back to the attic, and afterwards she spent 20 years listening to giggling and footsteps coming from above her until 1994 when she threw her hands up, said "fuck this I can't take anymore" and donated him to the museum where he currently resides. Myrtle was a Saint, I've only had my cat for a couple of years but if she wakes me up before the Sun comes up one more time, I'm putting her in a bassinet and leaving her at a fire station.
Modern Day Sightings
If you're looking to hit this little shit with a furious barrage of Liu Kang bicycle kicks, look no further than Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida. No Squatch hunting gear or ouija board necessary, just buy your ticket and let this malevolent little twerp know how you really feel. The only advice I have is to make sure you land a kill shot, because he can make your life a living hell. If you visit him it is important that you treat him with respect, and if you want to take a picture of him you must ask him for permission first. Otherwise he will put a curse on you until you apologize. Call him old fashioned, but he's a stickler for manners.
Pictured: Music legend Ozzy Osbourne apologizing to Robert for farting in his presence
The museum receives letters every day asking Robert for forgiveness and apologizing for not showing him the respect he deserves. They also receive letters asking Robert to curse people, which is a power move and one I'm going to employ the next time my girlfriend won't fuck me because I insist on having my puppets watch us.
Tale of the Tape
Robert's curses are very powerful if museum visitors are to be believed. Upsetting him has led to traffic jams, arrests, divorce, getting fired, broken bones. Things that happen to people every single day but definitely probably maybe happened because some tourist didn't get down on one knee and say "you win the Internet today good sir" to a doll. Outside of that? WoOoOoOo it scowls at you sometimes and can move around on its own, but only when it's dark and nobody is around.
Robert is 118 years young, 3 feet tall, and couldn't be more than 20 pounds soaking wet. I know all dolls from the early 1900s were made with pigskin, straw, and famine, but there's nothing stuffed into that sailor suit that I couldn't rip out with my bare hands. Meanwhile I'm a spry 32-going-on-67, 6 feet tall on certain apps, and while I'm heavier than I'd like to be, I've never been kicked off an airplane for being too fat. It's a complete mismatch for him and he absolutely doesn't stand a chance.
How Scared Would I Be?
If I came face to face with him I would show no fear. Fear is the mind killer, and I am the doll killer. Oh look everyone, the scary toy likes to be a sneaky little devil when the lights are out. Terrifying. You're real mischievous when nobody is looking, aren't you? Well look at me, Doll. Look at me getting up and walking around at any time of day. Walking right up to you and knocking that stupid stuffed dog out of your hands. Oh no, if I make him too mad he might make an angry face at me and then throw a bunch of toys around the room in a little temper tantrum. I've never seen this doll in my life and yet every day my life is a series of Mr. Magoo incidents; an ouroboros of mishaps and near-disasters. It's nothing I haven't seen before, you have no power over me.
Fight or Flight
The choice is clear. His ki is abysmal and I would best him in combat without breaking a sweat. His curse wouldn't stand a chance against my fists. He's been on this planet for almost 120 years, I would turn his old bones to dust with one well timed knee strike to the chops. He would be on Snake Way before he had a chance to make a mess of my pots and pans.
How Would I Kill It?
Swiftly and with extreme prejudice. He's just a sailor boy, I said see ya later boy, and I'll get full mount and rain down hammerfists until there's nothing left but an empty suit and two little button eyes imprinted in my knuckles. What is dead can not truly die, but I can spend the rest of my life making sure it eats a knuckle sandwich 3 times a day.
Would I Fuck It?
Much like in anime, although it appears to be a child, it's actually a hundred year old spirit so it's ok and you're actually the weird one for saying it isn't. Never say never, but when I decide to assert my dominance over a doll, it had better have bangin' double D's and a permanent "my wife's boyfriend bought me a Switch" face instead of looking like a Nike factory worker.
Could I Fuck It?
Without question. All I have to do is create an elaborate ruse to sneak past the guards and I'm in. My only concern is that I hopefully don't end up in a Night at the Museum situation, but I'm confident that I can finish before Teddy Roosevelt stops me. I'm the only Rough Rider that Robert needs to worry about.
Absolute bozo tier, a Yamcha level spook. I could body him physically, mentally, and sexually. This centennial sailor scout wouldn't last a minute in the pit with me.
The apology letter is already in the mail.