On the afternoon I visited the Westerly Armory to interview a local author, the iconic drill room in the huge armory was filled with young professionals conversing and sharing ideas during a leadership meeting. On a table near the entrance to the event was a display with brightly colored books, game pieces, and maps of Rhode Island. The author of these creative gamebooks was buzzing around talking with people, dressed in her green armory attire proudly worn as she came over to greet me.
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Roberta Mudge Humble, creator of Rhody Books and Games explains she has had “a busy wild day, up at 5 a.m.” Her morning started with giving a tour of the Westerly Armory, helping to set up for the leadership meeting, interviewing me to talk about her books, and finally, before it gets dark, feeding her 250 wild mallard ducks. But if anyone can juggle all this and more its Roberta. She exudes positive energy and a proud passion for “promoting Rhode Island as the state with the deepest national history and the state’s historic armories as memorials to our national freedom.”
Her passion is promoting the Westerly Armory, of which she is the president of the Westerly Armory Restoration, Inc. a nonprofit organization. Since she came on board with the armory in 1992, Roberta has nothing but love for the majestic and formidable building and her passion for its proud history shines through.
“This Armory was built in 1901 to replace the one that burned down,” Roberta said, adding that her Rhode Island games and book help support the armory which costs $75,000 plus per year and doesn’t include restoration or repairs if needed. “People don’t realize armories are the largest memorials to our veterans and communities.”
A life-long resident of Rhode Island and Westerly native, with a true love for Ocean State history and educating others is what motivated her to create a number of Rhode Island trivia games and books. Her latest Rhody book creation is titled “Rhode Map,” which she finished last year and according to Roberta was a challenge to create because it features small puzzles with different colors for the map puzzle pieces. Why did she use different colors?
Her inspiration for creating these self-published gamebooks comes from looking at other games, she says, and also visiting the local Salvation Army in Warwick for ideas on military genre and history.
“I want them all to be different,” Roberta said. “People do like them, it makes them proud of the state and realizes what we have here.”
Another little piece of Rhode Island trivia she weaves into her books: There are over 19,000 property sites on the register of historic places in this state, according to Roberta.
Her trivia games, all with a Rhode Island focus, challenge a player’s knowledge of our small state’s geography, history, roads, traditions, and people.
“These games make people happy,” explains Roberta. “The games inform them of what we have here in this state.”
Her books “Rhode Test,” “Rhode Map,” “I am Rhode Island,” and “Rhode Island for the Native & Naïve” are all trivia games she created over the past few years.
If you like card games, there is “Rhode Block,” which Roberta describes as “a unique card game which is easy to play but hard to win.” Even if you are a native, her “Secret Rhode Island” card game features 58 places that many Rhode Islanders might not know about. Another popular book she wrote, “The Right to Crow: A Look at Rhode Island’s First, Bests & Uniques” highlights the states bragging rights on the unique aspects of many of our cities and towns.
Her creation of the trivia books and games, which she has enjoyed doing for the past few years, seemed like a natural transition into retirement. Roberta was a former professor of English at the Community College of Rhode Island for 47 years. Her previous writing expertise included work with the United States Military as a writer and numerous published college textbooks.
Before we ended the interview Roberta handed me a wallet-sized card highlighting interesting facts about Rhode Island, just in case I wanted to get a leg up on the trivia games. She then said a cheerful goodbye before she headed out the door to feed her beloved ducks.
Roberta is working on another Rhody game book for group fun, stay tuned. To check out all of Rhody Books and Games, visit westerlyarmory.com