KF: Did you do anything in particular to instill curiosity in your sons?

BF: This is really interesting. Time has passed, and people are putting their kids in more and more activities, at least in Palo Alto, [California]. I didn't do that. Maybe that's why there was such mischief going on. They had time on their hands to play games. James made up all sort of games when Tom was a little baby. He would make up games where they were riding in the car to a cookie store. He would pile all the toys into Tom's little seat that went back and forth then lay down underneath and let Tom see his face every time he went by. As they grew up, they played sports because I felt like they better be running around, but they didn't do that many activities, so they were at home playing games a lot.

James didn't get into theater until he was a senior in high school. When they got to high school, all the boys seemed to self-select the activities they wanted to do. James seemed like he wanted to be an artist. Tom knew since he was a little boy that he wanted to be an artist or a sculptor. Dave took until he was in college. He was writing a lot of poetry in high school and even getting it published. They self-selected in high school so I didn't have to push anything on them. I just kept a lot of materials around the house. One little girl used to come over to the house. I still see her, and she said, "Wow, you had so many art materials around and so many building materials." She still remembers that.

KF: Books?

BF: Yes, a lot of books. They always made me read books to them over and over again. One of James’s favorites was The Rainbow Goblins. I got lots of ideas for my books from what they would say and do.

I also let them have a junk box. If they picked up something off the sidewalk, they could put them there. Honestly I still pick things up from the sidewalk. There are interesting things! They each had a junk box, and they could put anything in there that seems like it could be tossable, but meant something to them. That was very, very cool. They felt good about that. Tom now makes sculptures out of found objects.


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