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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I believe in nature. I am very skeptical about the idea that stone age people died at 30. Were they only 30, or just so healthy they had the skeleton of a young person?

We have examples of societies where people live natural lives and survive to very old age. I do not think we really have the facts on longevity and health. A lot of it is confused and mixed up with medical mythology.

By the way Amba you look great. Yes, some older women look awful, but I think that's mostly life style.

I am not disagreeing with your entire post. It's true that nature can be very cruel, from our perspective. Some people I love would not be alive now if not for medical technology.

But we should not get carried away with admiration for our unnatural society. A lot of it is very bad. The medical drugs being pushed on everyone are often very bad. AIDS drugs are probably very bad. Be skeptical when wishful thinking and big money are involved.

I think cancer is caused by pollution, not by nature. Most of us are not kept alive by medical science. We are surviving in spite of it, and in spite of all the unnatural chemicals and radiation.

The people I know who were saved by medicine were saved by surgical technology -- our civilization has developed great technology -- not by medical science. Our medical science is non-holistic and lacking in wisdom (well that might change thanks to the shocking disappointments of the Human Genome Project -- holistic biology seems to be on the horizon, at last).


Realpc - "Surgical Technology" - Yes! .... I can personally attest!



Aging is natural.
Death is natural.
Deformities, natural too.
Menopause -- yup.

You weren't worshipping nature. You were living amidst the comforts man made -- nothing wrong with that -- worshipping good health or youth. True nature can be very ugly, painful, and deadly. If you see this young, you can appreciate some manmade things and stay away from others, simply preferring nature as we know her through the years and not the unknown effects of manmade things. If you had truly lived naturally and not in the city surround by other people but not so much other living things, you probably wouldn't have had youth around for so long as to miss it. Those cracks, wrinkles, skin spots, and tragedies now being confronted in age were simply accepted as a part of life, encountered much younger then.

ps. In the 10 years since you wrote this, people are understanding more what it is to age, and there's a general acceptance that 50 need not be all that bad. Really, foster parent if you're still feeling left out not reproducing. That's a myth to think only reproduction advances us and is the only possible contribution in nature. Simply not true and your argument seems to rely so much on it.

Michael Reynolds

You people are bumming me out, man. 50 need to be all that bad? Actually 50's been great for me. Even 52 is working pretty well. I'm in better shape than I was at 40, marginally smarter, no poorer. Somehow I doubt the improvement trend will continue, but frankly I'm amazed to find myself still alive at this age. It's all gravy from here on in.


I'm finding 60 and beyond a lot easier to take than early 50s. Could be a m/f difference. (Not the expletive. Boy/girl.) I had a really hard time letting go of youth, maybe because I really only began to enjoy it in my early 40s (which nowadays, I would argue, is still part of youth).


I agree with Michael Reynolds again. I am over 50 and my life is better and keeps improving. Sure I know that can't go on forever.

Life was not great when I was young so now doesn't seem so bad. I'm healthier now, and certainly not as poor.

I'm still competing in the job market so I find the stereotypes threatening and unfair. I don't think you have to be young to be smart and good at technology.


I just turned 55 a couple of weeks ago. I don't spend too much time on how old I am getting because there isn't a damn thing I can do about it. We all knew it was coming. I'm thankful I still feel good and still able to do the work I love. I figure that is worth something.


Gorgeously written. I'm rounding the bend on 50 and am fascinated by these posts. I've recently been treated to a whole new range of aches and pains that have baffled and panicked me and I'm trying to get to know my aging body better: what I can expect more of in the future and what I can stave off. But living in L.A. where so many people go to extraordinary freak-show lengths to simulate the appearance of youth, I want to scream "STOP!"


Many of the reactions to these essays have been "Come on, it's not so bad." True, when you're in good health and shape, it's not so bad. But it is a major, confounding change (this is not only true for women, is it?), and I've wondered whether all the good things people are saying about being 50 only reflect their experience, or also come out of the American "Positive Thinking" tradition, the taboo on admitting everything isn't predominantly rosy.

I myself, when I wrote these essays, was trying to find the silver lining, but I felt I also had to face up to the loss and dismay.


The "death of youth" essay is really the main one, and I haven't posted it yet.


Have you heard this one amba?

Two ships were once seen near land. One of them was leaving the harbor, and the other was coming into it. Everyone was cheering the outgoing ship, but the incoming ship was scarcely noticed. A wise man standing nearby explained the people's reaction. "Rejoice not," he said, "over the ship that is setting out to sea, for you know not what desiny awaits it, what storms it may encounter, what dangers lurk before it. Rejoice rather ver the ship that has reached port safely and brought back all its passengers in peace."

It is the way of the world, that when a human being is born, all rejoice; but when he dies, all sorrow. It should be the other way around. No one can tell what troubles await the developing child on its journey through life. But when a man has lived well and dies in peace, all should rejoice, for he has completed his journey successfully, and he is departing from this world with the imperishable crown. ~MIDRASH

So what's a few more minor aches and pains in the morning compared to the imperishable crown? Though you may be onto something with that NormanVincentPeale positive thinking thing...

Ronni Bennett

Nicely done, amba. But I feel quite differently about nature, youth, getting old.

I reveled in my youthful body to the extent that I hardly thought about it. It did what I asked and that was that. Nowadays, at 66, my body is slower, my stamina wanes earlier in the day and dear god, my brain is useless for anything except practiced, mundane tasks after 3PM or 4PM.

These things don't bother me and I've adapted without much fuss. To the extent that I may be aging typically, I like tracking how my body, my mind, beliefs and attitudes change with the passage of time. To remain at one age is to be almost dead, I think; to be like a bug trapped in amber.

Perhaps it is aging's more reflective sensibility, of which youth knows little, but I am amazed these days at how much joy there is in watching the cat's intensity at his bath, in the exuberance of spring here in Maine which comes nearly a month later than it did when I lived in New York City, tending young plants to bring them to a healthy adulthood in summer, and in watching the seagulls' soar (although I curse them when they crap on my car).

These sound like such small pleasures when I write them down, but they are as important now as whatever it was that excited me when I was 20, 30 and 40.


I don't feel that way now, Ronni. I felt that way at the point when I was really giving up youth -- late 40s to early 50s.

Also, of course, everybody's story is unique. I didn't really feel attractive or confident before 40, so I guess I hadn't quite had my fill of enjoying being young. (I doubt that anyone enjoys being really young, that's torture, but 40 was wonderful.)


Anyway, I didn't mean to stop at "me, me, me" but to thank you for so beautifully delineating what is to look forward to: some of the same peace and absorption there was before sex kicked in, but with so much added poignance and perspective.


ThinkItThrough: thank you very much for that story.


I recently had an experience that demonstrated both the good and the bad about being 52. I realized I've been carrying around too much baggage. I don't mean emotional baggage...I mean actual baggage!

I've been carrying a heavy backpack and a big tote bag every day of my adult life, especially, but not limited to, the days where I leave my house at 8:30 AM and don't make it home until after 8:30 PM.

Lately, I've been getting pains in my knees that have made jumping off the bus into an exercise in agony. In fact, what am I still doing jumping off a bus at all? What am I, a paratrooper?

I had to admit it was time to pare down. The thought made me panicky. What if I need something?

Then I answered myself, "Oh, bullshit. You know what you need."

So that's the upside to 50: You know what you need.


You can tell she was in stand-up. "What am I, a paratrooper?"


Maybe the ideal age is different for everyone. Some people reach their height in their teens, others in their 20s, 30s, etc. Some may reach it after 50 or 60.

From what I've heard, the typical happiest age is around 40. But it wasn't very happy for me because of an arduous career change.

I don't think I reached my happiest age yet, so I still have something to look forward to.

Physical problems are of course more likely as you get older. But the usual explanation -- that our bodies gradually wear out -- is not necessarily correct. I think it's because we've been practicing our bad habits longer.

I think I have some good advice, which is very hard to follow -- be conscious of your bad habits because they are going to make your life miserable eventually. As you become conscious of them, you will have some ability to change them.

Of course, yes, the body wears out no matter what you do. But those bad habits will make it happen much, much faster. Your MD won't tell you anything about this, because he/she did not learn it in school. Chiropractors do, though.

If your posture is even slightly off, certain muscles will become chronically tense and others will become weak. This affects nerve functioning, which disrupts the circulation of life energy. Life energy keeps us alive and makes us feel great, and the health of every organ depends on it.

Too bad MDs deny life energy exists.


When I first turned 50 I was ecstatic. It was such a happy momentous occasion for me. I felt like YES! I'm here and I'm worthwhile!! Now that I'm looking at 51 I have really begun to mourn my youthful beauty, body, etc. The freedom I had as a single woman. The many adventures I had, the sexual and romantic, the trips, the partying, all the many laughs with the many wonderful friends I've had over these many years. I feel so sad about not being that girl anymore. I look at photographs of myself at 30 and think damn! Why didn't I appreciate myself more?! I was so beautiful, so thin, so young. Sigh ... ageing has its benefits it's true. Nothing like knowing yourself and not putting up with B.S. anymore. But the weight gain, the loss of youth and beauty is hard to say goodbye to. But say good by I must. Perhaps it is only hormones fueling this poingnant wistfulness - whatever the case, youth was wonderful (though I didn't feel that way at the time). Well, no going back. It is better than being dead and at least I have a lot of wonderful memories to look back on and to share with others.


I am 23 years old, and I agree with every word you have to say here. I just realized when I woke up this morning that Nature is trying to kill us all. After all, were it not for the unnatural Agricultural Revolution of 6000 BC, we would never have formed civilization as we know it. Because we'd be extinct. Because we'd have had no food when the herds left us.


Kudos to you, William, for resisting nature's flattery!


I'd prefer reincarnation to your "heaven and hell" god. That way, I'd have YOUTH again someday, not the cold stiffness of a medieval "afterlife" to look forward to.
Give me "Nature" any day..!


Although Yeats wasn't talking about literal heaven and hell, but about the consoling permanence of art, I would prefer reincarnation too.

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