'I don't think anyone's touched as many people as Frog'
EUGENE, Ore. - When students returned to class Monday, something wasn't right.
"It's empty," said Brandon Reimer, looking down the sidewalk on East 13th near the University of Oregon bookstore. "Something's missing."
For decades, "Frog" Miller has asked passersby a question that has made the street vendor an Eugene icon - if not a Northwest legend.
"Every time you walk by, he's always like 'Oh, have you seen the funniest joke books in the world?' said Emma Brenneman, "and you're like, 'Nooo'."
"Every day, you know, from 11 to 4, selling his recycled joke books," said Officer Randy Ellis, another campus fixture at the 13th Avenue police substation.
And the jokes inside those books?
"A lot of them are off color. Most of them are," said Louis Orsini at Blue Heron Bicycles. "The more transgressive, the better for Frog. He's an equal opportunity offender."
So whether you've lived in Eugene all your life or just arrived yesterday, Frog's sales pitch is something you can count on.
"I said to my daughter, who's the person who lives here, 'Who is that?'" said Babette Josephs, who is visiting from Pennsylvania, "and she says, 'What's wrong with you mom? That's Frog'."
What's been wrong this week has been Frog's health.
His housemates had to call an ambulance when he collapsed Sunday. He has been in a hospital ICU ever since, upgraded from critical to fair condition.
"I don't think anyone's touched as many people as Frog around here," said Zack Vishanoff, "and everyone's with him, I'm sure, and just get well soon: We love ya."
Thousands of people are hoping he'll be up and hopping in no time.
"I hope he gets out and gets better," Brenneman said. "We all miss him, I'm sure, especially at the U of O."
"Get well very soon," Reimer said.
"I wish you to get recovered very quickly," Josephs said. "You're part of the flavor of Eugene, Oregon."
"If he wasn't down on East 13th, it'd be like the Saturday Market going away,you know," Officer Ellis said. "You can't have that."