For most, summer brings bike rides along the river, relaxed barbecues with friends and little to no worries. For others, the stresses of putting off finding a place to live finally catch up and summer means a frantic search for housing. Joining their search this year is Frog, the notorious 13th Street icon.
That’s right: Frog, famed in Eugene for selling his crude-humored joke books, is house-hunting and has resorted to printing fliers, which he has distributed around town and the campus area. Frog, whose income from the books is supplemented by putting up posters for the WOW Hall once a week, is willing to live in an attic, basement or garage and pay $150 a month. “I have to find something in my price range, and it’s not that easy, you know,” Frog said.
Frog, whose real name is David Miller, currently lives with Becky Davis, who was his lawyer when he fought the city’s attempts to fine him for selling his books on the street, and her partner Alan Roberts.
About three years ago, Frog found himself without a place to live when a roommate in his house on 18th Street began neglecting to pass the rent money along to the landlord, he said. He came home to an eviction notice. He had nowhere to go.
“Becky and I let him stay with us,” Roberts said. “We get on but it’s time he got out.”
Because the living arrangement was only meant to be temporary, the couple has been encouraging Frog to find a new place for the past few years.
“We could use the extra room,” Roberts said of his two-bedroom house. “It has caused a bit of a strain in our relationship, and (with Frog gone) there would be a bit more privacy.”
Roberts cannot deny the bond that has been created between the two men over years of knowing one another and sharing a roof. “I’ve known Frog forever,” Roberts said. Raising his eyebrows and scratching his head, he added, “Since my days of walking down the street at the University back when Truman was president.”
Roberts knows Frog as more than the trademark vendor who can be recognized all over Eugene by the white beard that consumes his face, his less than grandma-friendly T-shirts and his raspy high-pitched voice yelling sales pitches such as, “Is school making you want to shit your pants?”
“The persona he puts on when he’s selling is very trivial — he’s quite the social activist,” Roberts said. Frog is interested in nuclear disarmament, environmental issues and is an avid sports fan, Roberts said. He challenged anyone to ask Frog a question that does not relate to his joke books.
“Frog does force me to come out of my shell,” Roberts said. “Through him, I have made a lot of friends.” Frog got Roberts involved in the Oregon Country Fair, which led him to meet people he wouldn’t have normally come into contact with. “For that, I am thankful.”
Roberts said he thinks University students would be the likeliest to take Frog in. “This could be a good opportunity for students to bring some extra cash in,” Roberts said. “Frog would do the same for students that he has done for me — get them to go out and try new things that you wouldn’t normally get into.”
When asked if he will remain in contact with Frog, Roberts laughed and replied, “I can’t see how it could be avoided. Frog has become part of the family — kind of the eccentric uncle.”
Roberts recalls Frog telling jokes to Becky and himself relentlessly. “He will tell one, and I will tell him it is lame, but it still makes it in,” he said with rolling eyes and a chuckle.
Although Roberts speaks kindly of Frog, he reiterated that it is best for both parties if he finds a new place to live. “A favor repeated becomes an obligation,” he said. “Frog needs a bit of shaking up in his life; he’s been in one spot for so long that he makes a lot of assumptions.”
Frog realizes that he has overstayed his welcome, and said he would not be surprised if he were kicked out by the end of the summer.
“I clean up after myself,” he said. “I’m a fairly decent cook. I’m quiet. I don’t mind joining in on parties.”
Roberts encouraged people to “look at Frog like they do any person they don’t know well. He’s a person with a mother and siblings. It’s too easy to look at him like a cartoon character.”