Kennedy the toad

Kennedy the toad

I was on my maiden voyage, freshly checked out as a Flight Engineer by TWA. It was to be my first trip without an Instructor. (I wanted to preflight the exterior while the inbound passengers were deplaning, thus allowing my newbie self extra time to get things arranged in the cockpit.) I noticed something hopping across the ramp. Much to my surprise it was a toad!

I'd long been a fan of things amphibian, having gotten stuck in that part of childhood. I'd even maintained a terrarium for the previous few years in my apartment. No more Mothers to tell me "You're not keeping THAT in the house!" I couldn't help but wonder how the toad came to be on our ramp. He was hundreds of yards away from anything that even remotely resembled his natural habitat. Yet there he was, ready become jet engine food. Or even worse, roadkill for a ramp vehicle! I knew I couldn't leave the poor little guy there.

I took the toad with me to the cockpit after I completed my exterior preflight. I got two styrofoam cups from a Flight Attendant and punched some air holes in them. I then placed a dampened cloth in one cup. TWA, in it's infinite wisdom, requires all Flight Engineers to carry electrical tape with them. I instantly saw why. I used the tape to hold the two cups together after carefully placing the toad inside them.

The toad flew with me to Florida and back, and then home to Vermont. He immeadiately found much safer housing in the terrarium I already had set up for other amphibians. I named him Kennedy after the airport where I found him. In the following years Kennedy shared his terrarium with many other frogs, toads, peepers, efts and salamanders. He outlived them all. He was certainly a hit with our children as they grew. you haven't seen fun until you've seen two year old twins arguing about who gets to give the toad a worm!

Last fall, at the ripe old age of ten, poor ol' Kennedy began to age rapidly. He stopped eating, then moving. The end came while I was on a trip. My children buried him in the front yard. My oldest daughter cried while her twin brother spoke a few kind words. He'll be sorely missed be everybody (except perhaps, my Wife) in my family.

He was a Fowler toad, by the way. Not to be confused with an American toad.

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Copyright 2005, Ian A. Duncan
Revised - - 11/26/2005