I am astounded to discover that my personal section of this website lacks a page dedicated to Frogger Rogger. Frogger has been my boon comrade since I was 19 years old. Frogger was a gift from Leslie Schneider. He’s about 30 cm long, stuffed with foam rubber. The material is a garish cloth that could only have been sold in the 60s; believe it or not, I still have a supply of the material should the need for skin grafts arise (again). But it’s perfect for a frog.
I took a shine to Frogger and took him everywhere I went. He was an extension of my ball that I had eight years earlier. I took him to bed with me each night. It’s amazing that, in the 44 years I have had him, I have never lost him. Well, there was the time I left him on board an airplane, and the time I left him at a hotel, but in both cases I quickly recovered him.
Frogger had many escapades. I made him a lavender parachute when I was an undergraduate. I arranged a paradrop with my friends. They took him to the roof of a six-story dorm and I waited below. I was pacing back and forth nervously, occasionally shouting up at them as they tied him into the parachute harness. A coed came up on her bicycle and asked what I was doing. I explained that we were about to drop my frog off the roof. She excoriated me for my cruelty, but I interrupted her, explaining that he had a parachute. Just then the guys on the roof yelled “Geronimo!” and Frogger came floating down, causing the coed to scream.
At the same dorm we came up with another scheme: the “Frogger the Bomb” game. There were twelve of us; we distributed ourselves along the stairwell, one person at each landing. The guy at the top would carefully aim Frogger and drop him down the center gap between the stairs. With good aim, he should have made it all the way down to the basement, but Frogger’s aerodynamics always prevented that. Your score was how many floors Frogger fell before hitting. When done, the top guy ran all the way down the stairs and everybody else moved one flight of stairs upwards.
I used to wear a flight suit while driving my motorcycle, so somebody made a matching flight suit for Frogger. Here he is in it:
As you can see, Frogger got a lot of wear and tear during his early years. I had to patch him up twice; now he’s in perfect condition. I made a poster featuring Frogger; here’s a photo of it today, 40 years after I made it
While I was in grad school, we grad students were required to attend the weekly colloquia, in which dull professors from distant universities came to bore us with their dull research. The University of Missouri couldn’t attract top-name researchers, so we had to settle for third-string guys. We grad students resented this waste of our time, but it was required, so we showed up and tried to make the best of it. One day, there seemed to be some sort of delay, and the host professor seemed to be stalling things. My suspicions aroused, I saw a photographer at the top of the lecture hall setting up a camera. This struck me as an ideal opportunity for a little mischief, so I perched Frogger on my shoulder facing the camera.
A month or so later, I received an angry call to report to the office of one of the professors. He had a freshly-opened box on his desk, and I could see it was full of the new departmental brochures, used to attract grad students and present the department in its best light. Right there on the back cover of the brochure was this photo, with Frogger taking up as much visual space as our guest lecturer. He slapped the brochure down on the desk and demanded to know what he was going to do with 1,000 freshly printed brochures with this photo on them. It took a herculean effort on my part to suppress a wicked grin. “Gosh, I didn’t realize what was going on then”, I pled. He grumbled and I high-tailed it out of there.
Frogger has been all over the world with me; I’ve taken a few representative photos:
Taking a dive at Half Dome, Yosemite, California
at the controls of an Air Force jet
Just after I took this shot, I was approached by a guard, who told me that it was illegal to take photographs like this and she might have to confiscate my camera. I was genuinely confused and asked what made my photograph illegal. She said it was insulting to the heritage of the Greek people. I didn’t argue, I just asked her if it was OK to take pictures of dogs at the Parthenon. She said it was. “But not frogs?” I asked. “What about cats? Is it legal to take pictures of cats?” Yes, it was, she replied. “But not frogs?” I asked. At this point she said “Don’t take any more pictures like that!” and stomped off.