Your Friend, James Rumford

by Stephanie Greene on November 6, 2012

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Authors and illustrators are as different from one another as the people they seek to bring alive in their books. This month, the talented and artistic James Rumford provides a glimpse not only into the life of Gutenberg, but into his own quirky attitudes, as well. His Dear Reader letter is one written as if to himself at 14 from his present age of 64.

I am supposed to answer a lot of questions for this blog about me, when I was a kid. I thought it would be fun to pretend that I had written this way back when I was in fourth grade, addressing it to me in the future.

Dear Future Me (to be opened when you’re 64),

If you waited until you were 64, you’ll probably need glasses to read this. Maybe I should have written this with larger letters??!!

Maybe you are married (yuck!) and have kids. Anyway, this is Rumpy. Remember? The kids used to call you that!

I’d say that things are going fine. I’m in the fourth grade at Buffum Elementary School in Long Beach. My teacher is Mr. Shim. He’s from Hawaii and he’s Chinese. We’re learning about China.

My brother Sydney goes to Buffum, too. He’s a year and a half older. He’s doesn’t like his teacher at all. Kids make fun of my brother a lot because he has big ears. Some kids are mean.

My best friend is Timmy McDuffie. His brother Tommy is my brother’s best friend. We do stuff together like pay dodge ball or baseball.

Timmy likes to draw like I do. We often make pictures together. This year for his birthday I gave him some special watercolor paints, real ones that artists use. My dad helped me pick them out because he draws and paints real well, too. I’d say that Timmy and I draw something just about everyday.

Timmy, Tommy, my brother and I also like to collect butterflies, and coins and stamps. My dad takes us to the Long Beach Stamp and Coin Club. We like seeing all of the neat stuff.

A few months ago, you probably remember, you had to have an operation on your stomach. (I hope you’re not wondering what that long scar is….you can’t be that old, can you?) Anyway, you were out of school for a few weeks. All of the kids sent you letters with funny pictures to help you get well.

Anyway, old Mr. Rumpy, or old Mr. Jimmy or whatever they’ll call you in the future, I just wanted to say hi.

From your friend from the past,


 Here I am now. (I do wear glasses, but I took them off for the photo. I’m holding them in my hands.)

People call me Jim nowadays. I am happily married—to Carol, going on forty-three years now. We live in Honolulu, Hawaii. We have one son, Jonathan, who was also once called Rumpy or Rumphy. He now lives in Los Angeles. He’s a dj and music composer.

From time to time I still see Mr. Shim. My brother Syd had his ears fixed when he had to have plastic surgery after being wounded in Viet Nam. No one would call him “big ears” anymore. He still goes to the Stamp and Coin Club in Long Beach. I have lost contact with Timmy McDuffie.

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