Children’s Librarian Jean Whipple McNutt

The following is an email received in the Spring of 2001. Jean wrote us after noticing a picture of Bumpity hanging in the Hollywood Branch Library in Portland, Oregon, that read “Have you seen this Bump?” Like many others who saw and responded to our signs, she spoke with affection and praise for the show and Bob Griggs. Jean appears in the Bumpity Returns video for the resurrection and the reuniting of Bumpity with his fans.

     Thank you for asking for Bumpity memories! It is one of my life's highlights!

     I was on 39 times, from 1973 until l985, when I retired. It was wonderful fun working with Bumpity, Fred Worm and Bob Griggs, their alter-ego. Bob was always very kind, especially to new people. He was especially kind to me the session when I goofed up badly! You see, at the very beginning, the whole show was done in one sitting--the librarian would come on reading to real children in a small ring in front of us. And we had to talk with the children for about seven minutes extemporaneously! Then we read the story, showing the pictures to the kids in front of us. Then the singers or Wildlife Safari animals, or whatever the second half of the program was, would come on and be taped with the kids. Gail Shonkwiler was the first librarian to do it--she was rather a help to Bob because she really helped set the pattern for the show--she had had considerable TV experience. She did the first five or so shows, then it was time for her vacation, and I became the second children's librarian to do the show this way. I did three, and there was a third person who was involved in this format (Can't remember the name) and then they went to the later format. (No children--it was way too difficult!--and it became easier to tape four stories all at once--two different librarians, and then another night, do the second quarter hour talent.)

     They at one time had Bumpity appear from behind a rock, with the librarian sitting on the other end of the rock! Not too successful! Then we sat on a park bench, and later we got to sit in Jim Bosley's tall "director's" chair right up next to the puppet stage. That was the best of all!

     Some of us hams really loved doing the show, but almost all the children's librarians took their turn because--when we did our school visiting--we were instant celebrities! The buzz went all over the classroom--She's on television! One little boy once looked me solemnly in the eye and asked, "Were you scared?" I assured him that aside from a few tummy butterflies, it was an easy and fun experience. I hope he had his chance to appear on TV as he grew up.

     Gail Shonkwiler left Multnomah County Library for Ft. Vancouver library children's work in the late 1970's, and neither I or Mrs. Betty (Allen) Braden, our department head, know where she is now.

     The time I goofed was when I absolutely ran out of things to say to the kids in front of me, and I had to call Bumpity back into the picture before he was ready. He was very nice to me, and saw me leave the KATU studio with lowered head after the taping and ran after me to say not to get discouraged and it never came across on the show as a problem because the viewer didn't know what the plan was. (That was actually Bob Griggs--not Bumpity)

     Old people are naturally loquacious, but this message is way too long.

Thanks for doing this,
Jean W. McNutt