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September 1989

The other day a BFS colleague and I were taking a coffee break in the cafeteria (only here it’s a Kasino). At the table we chose somebody had left a magazine of the transport drivers union. Inside, there was a political cartoon showing a disgruntled frog at the foot of a ladder inside a glass jar. Standing outside the jar was a caricatured old man, wearing what I supposed to be a union button, who seemed to be making faces at the frog.

At first it looked to me as if the man was trying to scare the frog, perhaps to make him escape via the ladder; however, it also seemed to me that the frog could leap out if that was necessary since the jar was not that tall and the jar had no lid. Of course, with the events that were happening in East Germany at the time (this was before the wall was opened) I thought there might be some connection, although I couldn’t figure out who was the person who wanted the frog to escape.

It turned out there was no way in the world I could have figured out the real meaning. It requires knowing the German saying that "when the frog is up the ladder the weather will be good." So Igon Krenz [the East German leader, who recently was imprisoned for his role in the killing of those attempting to flee East Germany] (the symbol on the button turned out to that of the DDR) was pulling his lips into a smile—evidently it was an unnatural attitude—to make the frog happy enough to climb the ladder and improve the climate!

Later that week, I was talking to a meteorologist on the train who told me that, although he didn’t know if frogs climbed ladders, the type of humidity and pressure situation that allows bugs to fly high, rather than to stay near the ground, also causes good weather.

© Copyright 2000 Jack Ludwick - All Rights Reserved

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