Meet "The Legend of the Putter Frog of Frogmore, S.C." author Randy Bazemore and illustrator Warner McGee at a book signing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at McIntosh Book Shoppe in Beaufort.
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Randy Bazemore never knew who took the frog statue that stood in front of the Frogmore post office, but the legend of its disappearance stayed with him even when he left his hometown of Beaufort.
"The Legend of the Putter Frog of Frogmore, S.C." is Bazemore's first children's book. The story of a young frog that finds golf glory is illustrated by Disney and Nickelodeon artist Warner McGee.
Bazemore discusses the inspiration behind the Putter Frog.
Question. What's the story behind Putter Frog?
Answer. There used to be a frog statue in front of the old Frogmore post office. Someone stole it, and since it was on federal property it became a federal crime. However, they didn't want to punish the people if it was returned. Well, they got it back -- with lipstick on its lips and a sign that said, "Frog went a courtin'."
I got into the Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School down in Pensacola (Fla.) in 1971. Those instructors were trained on Parris Island. First off, they punished me mercilessly for not joining the Marine Corps because I was from Beaufort. And then I went through 14 weeks of being punished for supposedly stealing that frog. When they'd punish you, they worked you until you dropped. Anyway, you just don't forget an experience like that.
Q. Just to be clear, you didn't steal that frog?
A. I probably never laid eyes on it.
Q. You just got all the blame?
A. Right. I got out of the Navy and came back here. ... Years later, I was at Pinehurst Golf Club (in North Carolina). I accidentally walked out on the putting green, and I saw the famous statue of the putter boy. For some reason, the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "We've got to have a Putter Frog of Frogmore." I thought about it for four years and sat down and wrote the story.
Q. Had you written much before?
A. I wrote a feature for The Beaufort Gazette a few years ago. A few other things. I was inspired to do this because my mother tried to write a novel. The first person who told her it didn't cut it, she gave up. I always thought that was unfortunate.
When I got to high school, I was on an all-star (sports) team. I was getting ready to go to the first practice and a friend of mine pulled up and said, "Let's go camping." I went camping. I basically quit the team. When I showed up to school -- this was between my eighth and ninth grade years -- my high school principal grabbed me behind the ear and took me around the building and whooped my behind.
"If you ever quit anything in high school you will never play any sports here," he said. I also remember those drill instructors. They wanted me to quit. I thought back to those guys in high school and what they told me about quitting. I still do that.
I heard from people who said this (book) wasn't any good. When people told me to quit writing, I never did.