Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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Richard Lawrence Cohen

Okay, I'm not the best person to start this off (because of reason #7 in my Ten Things About Me a couple of days ago) but I see an American Southwest desert rather than a sandy Middle East desert. Cactus, ocalillo, agave, lizards, lots of surprisingly abundant plant and animal life adapted to low rainfall. The cube is big and gray, about two storeys high, perhaps deposited there by extraterrestrials, and the ladder goes up one side to the top, with rungs at standard climbing intervals. The horse is a white mare, saddled and bridled, her mane blowing in the approaching storm wind, waiting beside the cube for me to ride away after I explore the cube. The storm is a thunderstorm: lightning, wind, the blessed seasonal arrival of rain in the desert. The flowers are wildflowers and cactus blooms of many kinds and colors -- white, yellow, purple, red -- growing all over the landscape.

Based on past experience with psychological tests, this is going to tell me what sex I am and it's going to say I'm female.


The desert: a blue sky meets a sandy horizon with undulating dunes and camels walking across to the right in the distance.

The cube: is colorful, small, about the size of a cubic shoe-box, lying in the sand before it becomes covered up by the next sandstorm. I am observing the desert horizon from a distance so the cube is up on that horizon in between one of the dunes and before sight of the camels.

The ladder: made of thick, hemp, rope with about forty rungs or so is lying draped across one of the dunes to the right of the cube.

The horse: black and sleek, with mane flying in the wind, gallops wildly from the left of the horizon towards the undulating dunes, the cube, ladder and camels wandering off to the right. No bridle, no saddle.

The storm: is coming. It begins to rise in front of the horizon slowly. It is a sandstorm and will surely cover up the cube and ladder. The horse and camels will appear as wandering, galloping, sauntering shadows in a mist of blowing sand.

The flowers: yellow roses, more than a dozen lay strewn as if they were dropped in a hurry, next to the cube. They will be covered by the sand as the storm begins to rise.

Agent 61

The desert: flowers, moisture meeting heat, intense heat, hot said and dirt, gently undulating hills, sky -- big sky, clouds as intereting as the plant life, hidden animals, silence

The cube: black, shiny obsidian, reflective surface, 1'x1'x1', in the sand near a creosote bush, fairly close to me -- maybe 5 feet away, sitting on a face (one of its own faces, that is)

Ladder: about 10 feet away from the cube, made of wood weathered gray with age, the kind you prop up against a wall except it isn't propped up against anything but air, has about 8 rungs

Horse: chestnut brown, galloping through the landscape with no saddle

Storm: a fierce thunderstorm, with big dark thunderheads, lightening, thunder, but far from me, contained in the distance, has no effect on the cube, ladder, horse, or me; it's magnificent

Flowers: many, all around everywhere, on cactuses mainly, yellow, red, orange, white

Cody Saunders

The desert was one of those nameless deserts not located any particular place, although I'm thinking somewhere between Earth and the simulation of Earth.

The cube was itself made of the same sand as that of the desert, and it was enormous, and wherever I turned my head, the cube was there again, like a hall of mirrors.

The ladder was the kind you'd find on the back of a basic motor boat and was placed very high up on the side of the cube, seemingly out of reach, but somehow still useful.

The horse was standing on top of the cube, shitting and stomping around and wearing bridle, complete tack setup, and saddle with plenty of silver conchos and feathers as well as blinders--although parts of the decoration were flittering in and out of the situation.

The storm was approaching and threatened to destroy the cube.

However, its earlier rains gave birth to the flowers, which enshrined the wall of the cube with vines and protected it from the winds.

After reading the key I thought maybe I had cheated.



It's desert as in Egypt, fine-textured, pale-coloured sand, with no vegetation at all, no features, it's beauty in its total emptiness (logical, as this is the only desert I've visited).

The cube is huge and red, set down in the middle distance and very dominant.

The ladder's up against the cube, tall and thin with many, many rungs.

The horse is elegant,nervy, nearly white. Halted alongside the cube it paws the ground, almost unseating its rider - for, yes it is saddled, bridled and mounted.

The storm is right above the cube, purple-black sky, raging thunder and lightning. A Spring storm, such as we've been having lately - as violent as they are quickly over.

The flowers are forget-me-nots - big bright clusters growing all across the foreground.

It's intriguingly accurate. As regards the cube, wince-inducingly so.


Forgot to mention that my really big and centrally placed cube was, worryingly, of inflatable plastic. I'm fascinated, though, and I think I'll be ordering a copy of your book.



It's a cube made of frosted, semi-transparent material about 6ft square, sitting on the sand in the middle distance.

The ladder is to the right of the cube, made of alluminium and lying flat on the ground. It has around ten rungs.

The horse is half left further away than the cube. It is white, without bridle and standing proudly its head in the air and mane flowing in the wind.

The storm is further away and further left than the horse. It is a dark cloud rolling over the dessert but still far away.

The flowers are scattered everywhere around the cube. ladder and horse. There are loads of them and they are many, many colours and small - like pansies


That was amazing – the images were so clear, and I smiled when I saw the key because then everything fell into place.

I let my imagination run, so I’m afraid the notes are rather long…

I see dunes around me; the sun is low enough to cast shadows and there is a dramatic contrast between the sides facing the sun, off to the right, and the side away from the sun which is almost dark. The ridges at the tops of the dunes form a sharp divide between light and dark. An insect scurries across the surface just in front of me, scattering grains of sand which tumble down the slope. Away to the left, a cliff rises up, deep red in the low sunlight; the rocks are old, worn, gnarled. Ahead, in the distance are low hills, shimmering in the heat haze. Although low, the sun burns white; away from the sun the sky is a hard blue, but around the sun it glares white.

The cube is black, about 3 feet on one side, very hard, smooth but not over-shiny. The edges and corners are very slightly radiused – only a few millimeters, but enough that the edges aren’t razor-sharp. It floats in the air 20 yards away, a couple of feet off the ground, turning slowly anticlockwise about a vertical axis, catching the glare of the sun as it does so.

Lying on the ground is a ladder, as if thrown down, abandoned. It is maybe 10 feet long, with about 10 rungs, and is 10 to 12 feet away from the cube, on the right, slightly behind it and pointing away from the cube. It is made of aluminium and is very light.

The horse comes in from the right at a canter, coming from behind into my field of view, slows to a halt and snorts. It is a light tawny brown with a long pale yellow mane and tail which it flicks from side to side. It doesn’t stand still but moves restlessly on the spot. It has no saddle or bridle.

A storm is visible over the hills in the distance. It’s a sandstorm – powerful winds, but no rain. The sun is blotted out though and the sky is dark. Perhaps that’s why the horse was restless. But the storm remains in the distance and doesn’t disturb cube or ladder.

Flowers are seen first at the foot of the rocky cliff; they are white, small, low growing with startlingly green foliage, growing in loose clusters. There are some too in front of the cube, almost below it. More spring up, some growing up through the ladder. The storm fades; the white flower contrast with the still dark sky.


Looking back through my notes, to try and write my own interpretation, I saw I missed out a line in the transcription above which, having seen the key, could be significant. The horse had a garland of flowers about it's neck...


Very interesting exercise.
My visualization:
The desert is Arizona-like; orange mountains, blue sky, intense colors, beige sand and sandstone streaked orange, green, blue...

The cube is shiny black, out of place, smooth, largish 4 foot above ground, close by sitting in the sand, slightly buried, but perfectly square/level.. the actual size is larger.

The ladder is leaning against the cube, old weathered wood, with 4 rungs.

The horse is white, coming towards me at a gallop; no saddle or bridle.. free and mane flowing.

The storm is on the horizon, distant, purple, angry clouds, covering up the northwestern part of the sky; can't tell yet if it is coming this way or leaving... if it heads this way, we will all be drenched and possibly in danger from flooding, lightning, trouble...

The flowers are all around... orange, yellow and purple, sprouting up from the sand, scattered loosely about where I am standing; in the distance they are waves of color in dense patches separated by patches of sand...


I've never seen a real desert, I think of photos of Arizona that I've seen: more rocky than sandy, and a surprising amount of living things. I'm standing on the side of a mesa, or near the flat top of a low and shallowly sloped hill, but am looking uphill across the mesa rather than out at the view (which is behind me). The weather is very comfortable, neither too hot nor too sunny; there are a few scraps of cloud, and a slight breeze is rising.

The cube is made of roughly sawn wooden boards, weathered to a raspy grey tone; but not splintery, if you ran your fingertips over the grain it would feen quite smooth.. It's about twice my height, and rests comfortably on the ground. (The sun must be behind me, because it appears to cast no shadow.) It is relatively close to me, only a few dozen metres away.

The ladder is made of the same weathered wood, it was well made with quite thin rungs. It lies on the ground, near and to the left of the cube. It is clear that it's there in order to get onto the top ("roof") of the cube.

The horse is medium brown overall, and is cropping idly at bits of desert greenery. It has a patterned blanket over its back to keep the sun off, but no bridle or other stuff. It is near the cube, on the opposite side to the ladder. The horse is not tethered, but it is content to be there and is not going to wander off.

The storm is hardly worthy of the name. There will be a fair amount of dust blown about at first, then some pretty heavy rain, but it will be over quickly and no harm will be done to anything or anyone. In the visualisation, I am looking forward to the rainfall.

The flowers are growing wild all around, they are part of my image of Arizona being full of life. They are very colourful, but also very small and delicate and could easily be overlooked; however neither the horse nor I have overlooked them.

Very interesting exercise! I sound like I must spend hours in Zen meditation; or perhaps I ought to...


Amba, what does it mean if someone says their cube is made of ice?


This will sound goofy, but -- is the ice melting or not?! We found the following to be rather consistent patterns:

People with unmelting ice cubes seem to have a great deal of sangfroid (which means "cold blood" in French). The ones I've known are strategic "players" and pride themselves on keeping their cool under fire. Think Karl Rove.

If the ice is melting a little to moderately, the person is a cool cat but not impervious. They're responsive, you can touch their heart. Life gets to them. Also, some people have an ice cube and the horse is licking it. They are nurturers who provide sustenance and refreshment to their loved one(s), possibly by staying calm.

If the ice cube melts away completely, the person may be one who goes to pieces under stress (or who's under great stress right now).


VERY interesting! Whether the ice was melting or not was not mentioned by this person, but I will ask.

I do know that when this person was younger he/she used to say "I don't need anyone else, I can get by on my own". I thought that was a cold, un-feeling attitude. Since then, the person realizes that was not true. BUt he/she remains somewhat aloof from others.


I saw an Arizona desert scene, but I had an unusual cube: 10' square, made of foam, with blue vinyl cover, sort of like the foam rectangle a pole vaulter lands on.

My desert had those Arizona mini plateaus which go up about 6-10 stories high, and my ladder was a rope ladder going to the top of one of the plateaus.

I had a wild paint horse running free out of some distant mountains, on a course taking it close by the cube and the mountains, yet between them. The horse stopped and sheltered near the cube as the violent storm passed over without doing damage, leaving water running through a wide flat gulley of bluebonnets, indian paintbrushes, and unnamed yellow flowers.

Amba, if you read this, have you run across a foam-center cube? Does it mean I am welcoming and not dangerous? Or without courage? Or without the discipline to tackle hard things?

The cube is very interesting.


Thanks, amba. I finally found time to do this and it was fun!

The desert has lots of sparkling sand with undertones of purple and gold, large cacti that house lizards and birds.

It's a simple adobe cube, large enough to be a home for a small family.

The ladder is on the side of the cube and is made out of gold. There are 8 rungs up to the roof.

The horse is white and ready to ride, decorated with festive colors.

There's a storm, purple and dark slowly coming across the horizon. the horse wants to run in the storm but it is waiting for the inhabitants of the cube to come out. It's not a bad storm though but a good storm, one that rains flowers and treats, like a pinata explosion.

There are red, orange and purple flowers on the cacti, clustered and blooming. The horse is also decorated with the same flowers woven into its mane, tail and bridle.


desert: Antarctica, with wolves running across the background

Cube: black, dull surface. medium size, bisecting the horizon, a few inches off the ground

ladder: made of wood, and flaming. leaning against the cube, the upper quarter resting against the middle of the cube. a few, but very supportive looking rungs.

Horse: lying down below the cube, black with a white mane and tail. bare back

storm: a snow storm, covering the landscape in white. the snow doesn't seem to thouch the cube horse or ladder

flowers: frozen Queen of the Night tulips, spread in a circle around the horse. there are only about five or six

Charlie (Colorado)


Desert: the Sand Dunes in Colorado, only bigger.

Cube: transparent (diamond?) 10 inches on a side, sitting squarely in the sand.

Ladder: wooden, many rungs, goes stright up with no visible support.

Horse: Bay Arabian gelding, empty dark leather saddle with silver conchos. He's standing, but impatiently; he wants to go.

Storm: Sandstorm in the distance afgainst the dark blue sky.

Flowers: Small, purple blue, scattered.


I got a plain desert with a sun my cube was white and had black lines and it was 3D. I was sitting on top of the cube and my cube was sitting on the ground. The latter was on the ground laying next to the cube and it was not very long. The horse was big, strong, and brown without a sadle. The horse was standing up next to the cube and I was patting it. The storm did not effect anything in the picture it was in the backround. There were all different colored flowers but only infront of my cube.


vast expansive calm desert plain with small rippling effect that meets with a light blue clear sky on the horizon and the sun above but slightly behind me.

maybe 10 to 15 feet away is the cube 1"x1"x1" or slightly larger, solid brass with ribbon/strapping which is integral to the cube itself and divides each face of the cube into 4 equal quadrants. It's like it is machined but all the edges are softened or almost weathered. The cube sits level on top of the sand, maybe ever so slightly the into the sand for stability

the ladder is a standard household aluminum stepladder that is fully open and secured with brace set and paint shelf ready open to the left. It is situated squarely over the cube, triangular facing me.

the horse is looking directly at me. It is white, proud and strong and waiting to the left of the ladder.It is not a large horse, but just large enough for me, maybe like a mustang

the storm is way off in the distance to the right. I am just able to see the dark storm clouds and some lightening ... almost pleasing to see with absolutely no effect on me, the cube or anything close by.

The flowers are daffodils, mostly yellow and gently tied in a bouquet of maybe a dozen. They are laying on the shelf of the ladder in modest slight bloom that will keep them beautiful for at least a few days


The Desert: the desert stretched as far as the eye could see, endless meeting with the grey horizon. the sand formed into widespread dunes with no wind to blow them.
The Cube: the cube is a perfect cube in dimension. it is translucent and yet glossy so as to see your reflection. it hovers high over a regression in a sand dune as if it plopped down and left a wake or a ripple, or crater in the sand below it. the light seems to radiate from the center of the object instead of the sun.
The Ladder: the ladder is placed leaning just at the bottom of the cube, barely reaching the edge as to hold on for fear of falling to the ground. i cant place a number to how many rungs there are, but its not a small or big amount. the ladder is a solid dark brown color with a broken rung at the second step from the ground.
The Horse: the horse is a steady muscular horse, light brown in color, almost tan, with a lighter color mane and tail. it is laying in the sand just under and off to the side of the cube. it seems peaceful. it has no saddle or bridle on.
The Storm: the storm is the sky, taking all in its ominous glory. they are dark thunder clouds with stretch as far as the eye can see in every direction besides the slight horizon line. the cube is mirroring the sky turning itself into a reflection of the dark clouds. the faint light from the center still is visable.
The Flowers: the flowers are spread sparingly across a small patch beneath the cube. the horse is laying in the patch of flowers like it were its bed or a peice of its distant home. the flowers are small and many colors of baby blues and whites and pinks and yellows.


The desert: undulating deep red sand. Rippling effect. Dramatic yet silent - as before a storm. Not hot.
Cube: very close standing before me. About a metre high. Made somehow of translucent bluish liquid and ripples if there is a wind.
Horse: Grey mustang. Wild. Sometimes prancing, sometimes pausing with curiousity.Close to the cube. Dark passionate eyes and wild mane.
The storm: Dark, dark clouds approaching - a great storm ahead. A few rain drops fall on the cube rippling its surface but not affecting the cube. The horse is restless anyway.
The flowers are growing beneath the path of the storm - the rain revealing a carpet of brightly coloured desert flowers that slowly grow towards the cube. All imaginable colours - intense blues.


(ladder): grey weather worn wood but solid ladder with 7 rungs.


The dessert is just a plain of sand that goes on forever in every direction. If your view is a square piece of the dessert, there is a lone tall cactus in the bottom right section with a single rose on the very top. There is a beautiful oasis that exudes a calming feeling in the top left section, with a few trees and grass around a small body of water. The cube hovers over the center of the water and is a the size of one of the trees. The cube is made of glass and is transparent, but gives off a feeling of mystery, that it might be a trick mirror and is hiding something inside.The ladder is directly under the cube and goes from the top of the water to the bottom of the cube, connecting both but being held in place by nothing, just floating like the cube. I can't see the whole horse, only its black hooves, brown legs, and flowing black mane; it is running toward the cube but is moving in slow motion. The storm is in the top right section of the desert, it is a sandstorm, it isn't moving but it feels like it could go in any direction at any time. The horse is running toward the cube from between the sandstorm and the cactus.

nicholas souris

My desert is empty, only sand as far as the eye can see. My cube was small. It fit into my hand and I am holding it up to the bright sun. I guess it was made from solid wood or solid plastic and it may have been red. My radio of cube to the desert is 1 to a million, as deserts are huge. I envisioned the ladder next to me, but I no longer had the cube. It was a utility ladder made from alluminum - straight (vice in an A shape) and standing alone (how, I have no idea)straight up and down. The horse was large and light brown. no saddle or anything, perhaps a wild stallion. The storm is all around me pouring down on me and my cube and making the sky dark grey. The flowers are a field of daisies stretching far, maybe half of what I can see in the desert is flowers. There are so many of them.

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