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Column: A frog by any other name lives deep in the heart of...
6/25/2012 9:56:00 PM
By Jerry Jackson
A few columns back I mentioned some unusual town names in Texas, including Frognot. Now, it pains me to admit this, but I've never been able to distinguish between a frog and a toad, and the dictionary isn't a lot of help. So I consulted the Holy Bible, thinking that I had once heard the admonition to "frog not that ye be not frogged." Research, though, confirmed that it's "JUDGE not that ye be not judged" scripturally. Silly me.
The subject is muddied somewhat by the existence of Texas Christian University's athletic team mascot, which is a "horned frog." But there were scads of those spiky critters running around when I was growing up in Lubbock, and I - and all my young friends - always called them "horny toads," followed by winks and snickers. Last time I noticed, though, those fierce-looking but gentle little guys had become increasingly scarce back where I grew up. I have no idea why so many of them are becoming more few and far between, but I seriously doubt that it stems from celibacy. More likely, it can possibly be attributed to a diet of diseased insects leading to impotency.
Anyway, horny toads are ugly enough to be cute. And they possess a peculiar talent. You see, when you hold them upside down and rub their tummies for a while they tend to get mesmerized before tiring of it all and spitting "tobacco juice" at you. I never experienced this personally, but my boyhood friends swore by it.
Getting back to Frognot, though, I heard from Prescott's Ben and Joycelyn Schmid, who were nice enough to clarify the origin of the name. Here's how they tell it:
"Noticed you mentioned 'Frognot' in your article today. When we were in Texas and folks asked where we resided, we always said just a couple of miles west of Frognot. For years the only thing at Frognot was a filling station and small store run by a 90-year-old woman who pumped gas for you. We forgot her name, but she was a sweetheart. When she died, though, it was all torn down.
"There was signage telling you when you were in the city limits of Frognot. But unfortunately the signs were always stolen. The county or state apparently just got tired of replacing them.
"Now, back in the day, children caught and brought frogs to school. The teacher was unhappy about the frog situation, though, and ended up informing parents and children that frogs should NOT be brought to school. Thus: Frognot!"
Being unaware of Frognot's location, I contacted the Schmids, and they replied that they once "lived outside of the town of Blue Ridge, Texas, which is north of Farmersville, east of McKinney and southeast of Sherman. We BELIEVE it is southwest of Bug Tussle, but not sure." Well, that's THAT.
Incidentally, the "Schmidology analogy" differs somewhat from Wikipedia's version of Frognot lore, but the premise is pretty much the same. And frankly, I'm getting tired of trying to figure how whether the aforementioned little creature is a frog or a toad. But deep in my gizzard, I suspect it's a lizard.
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