What could be more adorable than a doll dressed in a sailor suit, clutching a stuffed dog of its own? A doll given to a young boy, who saw him as a best friend? A doll he had long conversations with. A doll he blamed whenever he got into trouble. A doll he moved into his childhood bedroom once he was married?
Robert Eugene Otto was gifted a life-sized Steiff doll by his grandfather. Gene christened his doll Robert and soon came to see him as his best friend. Gene would speak about Robert as if he was a real person. Whenever he would get in trouble, he would attempt to shift the blame to Robert. Giggling was heard that didn’t come from Gene. People walking on the street claimed to see a small form moving in the window of Gene’s room when he wasn’t in the house. Eventually, Gene inherited the house he grew up in. He ensconced Robert in their childhood bedroom. There he stayed until Gene’s death in 1974.
The house was purchased by Myrtle Reuter. She also inherited Robert. Visitors would hear the giggles and footsteps coming from Robert’s attic room. His facial expression changed, especially when anyone spoke ill of Gene. Myrtle claimed that he would move around the house, not content to be confined to one room.
Myrtle donated him in 1994 to the Key West Art and Historical Society. Robert resides there in a glass display case. He receives letters, mostly people asking him for forgiveness. You see, the rumor is that Robert curses people who take his picture without first asking permission or people who disrespect him. Cameras and other electronic devices malfunction around him for no apparent reasons.
Is Robert haunted? Does he have the power to curse? Or is he merely the focal point for many urban legends? I don’t know. But if you do go visit him at the museum, ask permission to take his picture before you do. Better safe than sorry.