It Would be absurd to say that what the capital needs most is a great monumental statue to the American Toad.
Surely the subway has higher priority. But in the little interval during which we all wrangle where the subway should go if anywhere, somebody might take on the toad memorial, considering we already have statues of horses, cranes, gulls, eagles, etc., both with and without generals on top of them and olive branches in their feet.
I did not know until I read it in Robert Shosteck's interesting new habitat surveys for the Montgomery County Planning Board, that "frogs and toads were the first animals to develop the ability to produce sounds by means of vocal cords."
Think of it. Before Sutherland, before Melba, before Sappho, the American Toad was singing in the American wilderness.
I have always liked toads very much, and would not willingly live any place I could not have few outdoors in the lily pool, but it would never occur to me to suggest that merely because toads interest me, there should be a memorial somewhere.
But if they were, as Shosteck says, the first of this poor world's singers (and still the most enchanting) and if Washington is serious about becoming a supreme center of the arts, then in a city of statues we should have one of a toad, primeval songster.
Thinking where to put it, the Kennedy Center seems the best place. Nobody at present can remember which of its entrances is the Hall of States and which is th e Hall of Nations. Toad Hall would be easier to remember the neither one of them.
Besides, what do States and what do Nations have to do with music? Back to basics, that is always sound procedure. A toad with a music rack, or a harp, or Apollo on his back - an artist could think of something.
This year the toads sang only once, in April, then cold set in again. How could they sing spring's song in a boreal land?
On Sunday last I saw no toads nad no toad eggs at Great Falls, but on Wednesday I saw two excellent specimens (of the American Toad) embracing in shallow water and said thank God indeed, for the music will now start any minute.
Shosteck, speaking of amphibians, says, "Only the toad wanders some distance from its birthplace," and that did it. Hardly anybody in town was born here, so the Toad Memorial would kill two birds with one stone - singers and wanderers both. Amazing nobody has thought of it before.