During a random conversation last week, Point Publisher and rabid postcard collector Susan Lyons was telling me about a postcard she had seen in a newsletter from one of her hobby sites that shared a photo of “The Famous Coleman Frog” of Frederictown, New Brunswick.
The frog, you see, weighed 42 pounds and was the pet of a man not-surprisingly named Coleman.
“You have my undivided attention,” I replied.
Laughing, she promised to send me a link to the story, and I allowed the idea of a 42-pound frog to take residence in my mind — pushing out unnecessary information like my Social Security number and what time I needed to feed my daughter. Later that day, I received the email I had been waiting for, and it was directions to a story on postcardhistory.net.
The author, Ray Hahn, had heard a story about the postcard from some of his friends and had decided to do a little research. Hahn shared that information/legend, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to think about life the same way. Courtesy of Hahn, let’s dive into this story about an innkeeper, a ridiculously-huge frog and an explosive end to their story.
Fred Coleman, per the story, decided to do a little fishing off the shore of Killarney Lake in the spring of 1885. He was apparently looking for a little quiet and, hopefully, some luck in catching that night’s dinner when a 7-pound frog jumped in his rowboat and began to “ribbit.”
I am no frogalite. Frog enthusiast? Frogateer? Froggyist? Whatever it’s called, I’m admittedly not an expert on frogs. It seemed to me that a frog that weighed 7 pounds would/should be a headline-stealer unto itself. I had to stop Hahn’s story for a minute and do a little research of my own at this point.
What I found is something called conraua goliath — or “goliath frog,” per the San Diego Zoo’s website. The call the goliath “the largest frog in the world,” and explain that they have been known to grow to be as large as 7.2 pounds — “as big as some house cats!”
Not my house cat, mind you. My daughter’s beloved “Bubbles” is starting to look like William “The Refrigerator” Perry, and I’m pretty sure if we took her in for a sample, the vet would say her blood type is “Gravy.” How big is she, you might ask? Well, she is so big that...
But I digress.
Goliath frogs are massive, and that frog that reportedly jumped into Mr. Coleman’s boat that day was allegedly their equal. That, alone, would make for an interesting story. However, as the hosts pitching plastic storage containers and multi-use window shatterers on the infomercials like to say... But, wait — there’s more!
See, Coleman took a shine to his new frog friend and gave it a piece of cheese he had with him. The frog apparently loved it, and Coleman took it home to show it off to his friends. He then fed him a constant menu of “baked beans, Junebugs, buttermilk toddies and whey laced with whiskey.” Which, coincidentally enough, matched my menu during a large chunk of quarantine.
And, like yours truly, the frog grew. And grew. And grew — eventually (allegedly) tipping the scales at 42 pounds. The frog and Coleman remained friends for eight years until, well, something jarring happened.
According to the story, someone was taking a shortcut in their fishing efforts and threw a stick of dynamite in Killarney Lake. Long story short, Coleman’s frog went the way of one Wile E. Coyote so many times before him and bore the brunt of the TNT.
Coleman discovered the remains, had his amphibious buddy taxidermied and proudly displayed him in the lobby of his “Barker House” lodge.
So, there you have it. The story of “Coleman’s Frog.”