Excerpts from Interview with Alexander J. Bump (aka Bumpity) by Patrick Rosenkranz Summer 2001

PR: If you don't mind my asking, what are you exactly?

Bumpity: Well, actually speaking, I am a bump in the lawn of what was known as Bumpity Park. It's kind of hard to explain, but, see, there was this picnic, and they had the ping pong tables out and they had some elks, you know those people who join an outfit called the Elks? My tooth right here is an elk's tooth, because one of the elks dropped it. And there was kind of a ... you know what they call those fairy circles, with the mushrooms and stuff like that? Well, there I was in the middle of that and I didn't know what was going on. So the elk dropped his tooth, and it went into the grass and something happened and next thing I know I had a mouth. I could open it and close it but I couldn't see anything. A couple of the ping pong balls rolled off the table and fell right there, right over my mouth. And they had a couple of dirty spots on them. Next thing I know there I was, Bumpity. Somebody asked me one time how I move around, and it's hard to explain, but have you ever see a kitten get under a blanket and the bump kind of moves along with the kitten under it. That's the way I travel. I also have another name, which is Alexander J. Bump

PR: Can you tell me how you went from a bump on the lawn to a TV personality.

Bumpity: It was kind of difficult, because Channel Two was going to do a kid's show. They wanted it just for kids, up to maybe ten years, twelve years old, but they didn't want to have a, maybe a lot of kids remember, a Captain Kangaroo and Buffalo Bob and people like that. They didn't want to have a big adult there. They wanted to do something different and so the director talked to my friend Bob and he said, have you got any ideas, and Bob said, I think I do, and so he went home and the next morning there I was, in all my pristine fulgence. That means all there is and, boy, you can't hardly get more of this.

PR: You've got quite a vocabulary for a bump.

Bumpity: Fred and I read. We got a lot of television watching that we do. Course we've met a lot of people. We've met everybody. We've met people who collected Teddy Bears. And we met a young man who could play almost any musical instrument you could name, and play it so good you couldn't believe it, and he never studies music. He was one of hundreds and hundreds of really neat people. I should mention the librarians. The children's librarians would come, and every time they would read a story, and we would show the pictures. They said that every time they would do this, that for a week or two afterwards, you couldn't even find that book in the library, because the kids would come down and take it, because they wanted to read it themselves.

PR: What did you like about hosting a kid's television show?

Bumpity: Once in a while, they would bring us nice things to eat. I remember one lady brought in a whole bunch of oatmeal cookies and boy they were good. Old Fred, though, he got so full of oatmeal cookies that he had to lie down there in the worm hole and groan for about a week.

PR: Can you tell me about some of your favorite moments from the show?

Bumpity: We never had a script for any thing except our Christmas show. We didn't have very much time to do it, and anything that could go wrong went wrong. Stuff fell, the scenery fell, you name it, it went wrong, and we only had one shot at it, so we just had to keep going. So from that time on, whenever we did a Christmas show, we sort of wrote that in. Then there was one time when Fred was Super Worm and he was faster than a speeding pullet, because worms and chickens, you know. He could tunnel under tall buildings. He couldn't go over them, but he could tunnel under them. He came to earth from the planet, I forgot its name, in a garbage can. He was Super Worm, had a cape. That was a lot of fun.

PR: Could you tell me about the time we were at the circus?

Bumpity: The Barnum and Bailey Circus was down at the Coliseum. They said if I could get to the Coliseum, I could open the show. I would be honorary ringmaster. My friend Bob put me in a flower pot and down I went. Out we went into the middle and all the people were saying, there's Bumpity, there's Bumpity. Gosh, I was so proud and I was looking around at thousands of people up there, kids and stuff like that. They took us out in the middle of the big cage where they were going to do the lion and tiger act and it's got big metal bars and around it cages, and the cages are full of tigers and lions and they're all going ROAR! ROAR! and stuff like they do. The ringmaster held his microphone down and he said, go to it. I said something like, I'm Bumpity, and I'm here today as honorary ringmaster and I'm going to open the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Something like that. It was very dramatic. Everybody clapped and cheered and then we went back in. The clowns waved at me and then they went in.

PR: How did Fred the Worm get to be part of the cast?

Bumpity: He wasn't on right at first. He lived at the park. Maybe he heard us talking or something. Here's this big blue worm with a plaid bow tie on and he said his name was Fred, and I was the only one who could figure out what he was saying because he talks High Worm. Fred's got a very flexible mouth, so if I needed something, Fred would always get things. He could hold a hammer in his mouth. He's a very talented worm. And then, at practically the very last show we did, he finally said something, and it was amazing. He said something that everybody could understand. I asked him, I said, Gee Whiz, Fred how come now? And he told me that he'd been practicing and practicing so that he could get it right. So we went out with maybe not a bang but at least some words from Fred.

PR: What did he say?

Bumpity: I think he said something like goodbye, it's been fun, or something like that. He's got a kind of a funny high squeaky voice.

FRED: (noise)

Bumpity: He was reminding me about the time we built a motorcycle for him, a wormacycle, I guess you'd call it, and he got arrested. He really did. A cop caught him and Oh Boy! He didn't have to go to jail, though, because he was a nice cop. As a matter of fact, he was a really nice cop. Boy he looked fierce with his dark glasses and his helmet and his leather jacket. Then he took off his helmet and his glasses and there's this nice young blond guy there and he told us that Fred wasn't supposed to be riding a motorcycle. It didn't have fenders. It didn't have really good brakes and Fred wasn't wearing a helmet.

PR: I don't suppose he had a driver's license either.

Bumpity: No, he didn't. Then we fixed a bicycle up for him and that was the same problem that he didn't have a helmet. And we were able to teach a lot of kids about the fact that if you're going to ride things like that you gotta have a helmet, because if anything happened, your head is going to get banged on the street. So Fred learned a lot, and so did I.

PR: Could you ask Digger and Scottie to come out and talk to me?

Bumpity: OK. I'll go get them.

SCOTTY: I see we're back here in front of television again. Glad to meet you. My name's Scotty McThistle

DIGGER: Scotty's a thistle. He's a Scotch Thistle, only one that allowed in the park, as a matter of fact. My name is Digger, because that's what they call Australians, and Australia is what they call Down Under. Us moles live down under, as it were, which is a normal thing for us. The reason I got on the Bumpity Show and Bumpity Park was because I was digging a tunnel from Perth to Sidney and somehow I got a wrong turn someplace and I tunneled and I tunneled and I tunneled and next thing you know I came up in a place called Bumpity Park in the United States of America. Bumpity said it's all right to be in the park long as you cover up after yourself and don't leave those great big piles of dirt. So what we did is we made arrangements to put the dirt out by the curb and the gardeners thought they'd left it there, so they'd take it and put it in their truck and haul it away. So we've got quite a few tunnels around the park. It's a nice place, a nice place to retire.

PR: How did you come to join the Bumpity Show?

SCOTTY: I kind of blew in and grew up and looked around, and here's this bump looking at me and saying, who are you? I explained that I was a Scotch Thistle. Bumpity knew what a thistle was, and you know, we're rather prolific. We grow wherever we can and sometimes where we shouldn't. He said that I could stay but that I was to keep my clan away from it. They can grow other places. I decided I liked that, you know? Well, after all, I was getting free lodging. I didn't have to pay a cent, and that was kind of nice.

PR: I hear you have a funny sense of humor.

SCOTTY: I said one thing one time on the show. Old Bumpity was interviewing this wee lad who could play the fiddle. I asked him if he could play the bagpipes. Well, he didn't know what the bagpipes were. I couldna believe it. That's the national instrument of Scotland. He says, no, what are they like? Well, lad, I was trying to think of a way to describe it, but I tell you, it's hard to describe, so I said it's a little bit like playing a petrified octopus. Well, I tell you now, the cameramen almost fell on the floor. The director started laughing and the place went to a kind of great haw haw haw haw haw.

PR: What's it like working with Bumpity?

DIGGER: We're all buddies. We're mates. We all get along together, the four of us, you know, and of course all the friends who have been on, but there's Bumpity, there's Fred, there's me, Digger, and of course Scotty, too. It's really rather a small park. You get more than one thistle, and one mole, and one worm and one bump, and we'd have to expand.