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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It's very true, and very sad. I still live in the same area where I was born, having stubbornly resisted the mania to more around.

Most of my family left decades ago, and I have also lost friends the same way. I probably became less enthusiastic about getting close to anyone, knowing they could leave at any time.

Email and the internet are not the same.

And, as you know so well amba, it is so hard to deal with sickness in isolation. Whenever my mother gets sick I feel so alone, even though I have siblings.

And there are no bad meanies we can blame for this sad state. I'm sure the Democrats would love to blame the Republicans for this, along with everything else.

The idea that family doesn't matter, that relatives are annoying, can be blamed more on liberalism than on conservatism, I think. The show ''All in the Family" illustrates this pretty well -- the young smart college student forced to live with his ignorant religious father-in-law.

michael Reynolds

I don't think politics has much to do with it. Economics, maybe. Extended families and wide circles of friends used to make economic sense They don't anymore. It's no longer a question of holding onto a family farm or a small family business. We are economically atomized, free agents selling our services in a free market. Grandma doesn't really serve an economic purpose anymore.

We sentimentalize the "good old days," but a lot of what we want to see as loving family ties or strong bonds of friendship was economic self-interest. When the economics change, so do the relationships.

I have a very close-knit nuclear family, but only distant relationships with anyone outside that bubble. I'm very happy with things that way, but if I had a farm or a pawnshop or a smithy to manage I'd probably have to overcome my minimalist preferences and add relationships.


Yes Michael that is true, it's mostly economics, and we could not go back if we wanted to.

However I do think the liberal worldview has helped to devalue family connectedness. The place I was born is one of the best places on earth for anyone seeking worldly success. I would not have stayed if it meant I could not choose a career I wanted. But the relatives of my generation couldn't wait to leave, and I think it was to prove their independence from the past, a liberal impulse.

I can't entirely blame liberalism, but I do think the "All in the Family" syndrome is definitely part of it.

We are not a conservative culture, so it's kind of a semantic mix-up that we have so much political conservatisim.

But anyway, our rejection of the past, of genetic tribalism and family connectedness, is probably a big reason for Muslim radicalism -- they don't necessarily want to become like us. Our lifestyle is at odds with nature and human nature.


Michael: this reminds me of what I regard as the truest thing Karl Marx ever said: "The conditions of existence determine consciousness."

He was a better diagnostician than prescriber.



I think the trend you pinpoint is a combination of what we call "liberal" and "conservative." It's radical individualism. Psychotherapy midcentury fed into it, with the notion that it was normal to achieve "autonomy." (People in Europe live with their parents till married, and live near them afterwards. This is considered normal.) While conservatism has the aspect that honors tradition and family, it also has the Western lone-ranger ideal of the stranger who rides into town, rides out again when his work is done, and doesn't need anybody. Liberal individualism has more to do with self-gratification, conservative individualism with achievement and independence, but they can both be atomizing.


I agree with your definitions amba; our individualism comes from both left and right. The American tradition, from the beginning, was to leave the past behind, to create a life from scratch.


Beautifully put, amba.


"Grandma doesn't really serve an economic purpose anymore."

If she can really cook, she does. Maybe the obesity and mental/medical problems in America are due to the fact that we don't eat "real" foods, with minerals and nutrients, so much anymore. I like choice as much as the next person, but in undervaluing grandma's contributions, we've cut a link. Sure you can try recipes on your own, but maybe what's been passed down in the family has nourished its members for a reason, as our bodies can have different nutritional needs depending on genetics.

Sissy Willis

Eve Cassidy sings like and angel, and you write like an angel:

"I was almost dizzy from the suddenness of having the burden of physical effort lifted from me and being plunged into a moon river of exquisite music I could actually pay attention to."

In my mind I'm holding your head in my hands and telling you how precious you are.


And I'm resting there, panting like a dog after the terrible struggle to get my husband up the 4 flghts of steps, with patient hired help that he dementedly resents . . . Kind Sissy.

And Karen . . . I haven't answered you lately but I am appreciating you daily.

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