By FRED PETRUCELLI
SPECIAL TO THE LOG CABIN
New Yorker cartoons they’re not — and Milton Davis is the first to admit it.
But what the irrepressible Davis has that the national magazine does not is a connection to Toad Suck Tidbits and its commentaries and critiques. These are the out-croppings of the man who in his day was called the “Mayor of Toad Suck Square” that richly viewed piece of real estate in the heart of the city of Conway.
This might have been the location that Davis mined for his seemingly inexhaustible supply of little homilies and observations that engender a laugh or at worst a chuckle. It could be said that they are an extension of his unimpeded fertile imagination.
In Davis’ native stockade, the Toad Suck Tidbits are well known and appreciated, given the fact that the local news media sees their reader appeal. The Log Cabin Democrat carries them as staples on its editorial pages.
“Jesse said that it’s too bad that all the great minds that know how to run the country are being wasted; they’re all down at the coffee shop arguing.”
“After a bad day at work, Lizzie told Hubert: ‘Cheer up. You may be low man on the totem pole at work, but you’re second in command here.’”
Got the idea?
Davis, a stock broker for Edward Jones before retiring recently, has worked strenuously trying to find a strong state-wide literary voice for his Toad Suck Tidbits, always polishing and rewriting his material.
“You may not be, but I’m proud of my work,” he laughs at the juxtaposition of the sentence which may actually work for one of his cartoons.
For decades, he has been surrounded by his “works of art”, doodling as a way of to occupy himself when his working day was done.
Despite his penchant for a joke or snappy saying, Davis has been working hard at his craft, being harshly critical of his output. But little by little, his cartoons have been emerging and approaching his image of them.
He keeps a notebook filled with lists of words and phrases that would, he believes, touch the funny bone. He sweeps across occupations, personality types, news of the day, etc, anything his facile mind jumps at.
He feels his material is ready for a wider distribution now that he has struggled to mold the product.
“Why should lucky Conway be the only place these cartoons are enjoyed,” he said straight-faced before he quickly reverted to type and laughed heartily at his comment.
He is at work now syndicating his cartoons, giving the more than 150 weekly and daily newspapers in the state a taste of his satire and humor. He hopes to arouse the hard-working editors to the merits of what some call his “fillers.”
His promotion of the Toad Suck Tidbits hinges on a concept featuring a postcard that he is freely distributing to potential subscribers. The card pictures a couple of characters languishing around a pole at Toad Suck square delivering less than world-shaking thoughts that are always humorous in their telling.
He is banking on the theory that providing a chuckle or two to busy people could be a simple diversion in their lives. He might have hit on something here.
“I feel good about doing them,” says this man who has outlived any need to pretend to false modesty.
One could surmise that Davis was born with a pen in his hands. Not true, of course. He remembers an event of some years ago when he sat in a room of young executives learning the ins and outs of the stock brokerage business. He doodled away only half listening. One of his fellow conferees took his drawing and posted it on a bulletin board for all the world to see.
It won so many plaudits that Davis wondered if he might be in the wrong business. He wasn’t. He went on to emerge as one of Edward Jones stellar managers.
But an inclination to art would not fade and he found himself tied inescapably to it. Now he is giving it full throttle in his retirement days cogitating and drawing in his new hide-a-way in the Toad Suck building almost atop Toad Suck Square.
He has bared himself through the offerings of a new website toadsucktidbits.com. It contains much of Milton Davis but does not reveal elements of his nature — his rewarding business acumen and his eleemosynary side which has been considerable but little known.