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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Nobody else I know can write or think like this; can come up with truths like this, make you say, "Oh, shit," and then gut the truth like a fish, and make you say "Oh, shit," all over again.

There's something to be said for being you. And for writing at 3AM!


Exactly what David said.

3AM metaphor mixing does not get more exquisitely insightful.


Though I suspect most people would think their marriage is "special" requiring out of the ordinary adaptive skills that made them stronger, less neurotic than if they'd faced things alone...

You're looking in at other people's marraiges; they're looking out of a specific one like you. Lots of women think their husband is a hero, physically strong, or has overcome great circumstances. Like yours, most women see the strong in their men droop, see them humbled in their age. The bigger ones more so, as the smaller ones tend to be more limber and sometimes can better adapt to change and circumstance.

You're right to make the distinction between unmarried singles, and those divorced though who still carry many of the benefits afforted to those coupled. They're not really single; they're divorced. They've still got that connection, though severed ... not alone really once you've been married. Some advantages stick.

It's like breaking out independently, fording your own streams, controlling your own destiny.... while piloting a borrowed truck from that ever-popular character, :Friend-with-a-Truck. People put up with that for a bit, but it tends to get old after a while. Truck owners know what I'm saying. And when you're still leaning on others, you don't get the full experience meaning the pains of being truly alone in life, and the rewards that can come only if you truly make the sacrifice and pay the price. Riding on the shoulders of others, no matter how strong they seem today, pays off in pecuniary ways, and in benefits careerwise and administrative in the same way your father's career can pull strings that others have to wait in line for. Still, I maintain that if you're being helped along and just crossing the finish line alone, the rewards you enjoy will be less than the man who truly ran his own race the whole way. From the outside one might not see it, but from the inside that person and all other others sharing that place receive just compensation. We're all unique in our own ways afterall, but should acknowledge that many others have trod similar paths.


"...did anybody bother to think about the children brought into these oddly configured unions?"

I've often wondered: Strictly from a legal standpoint, without children in the equation, would there be any need for marriage at all? Simply form a business partnership contract (with buyout options, etc.) that is legally enforceable. With no-fault divorce, isn't that essentially what we have now only with children's best interests being sacrificed because, for one thing, children are not a marital asset/obligation whom courts are adequately equipped to divide fairly? Hell, courts don't seem to be adequately equipped to divide anything fairly but that's probably a whole nother topic.

Peter Hoh

Meade, I've wondered that too, but the culture treats the words as special. I'll have to paraphrase the best line I heard in this debate. Something to the effect that when they were in another city, her husband fell ill. At the hospital, stating that she was his wife was all that was needed to proceed. She did not have to fumble through a purse to pull out a contract. Did not have to make her case that she had the right to make medical decisions for him when he was unable to do so himself, etc.

Peter Hoh

"How can I stay married to you without giving up my life?" I vaguely recall that this is a book title, but I'm not able to find it with a quick search. At any rate, it's a great question, and one that some married couples work out.

Wish I had time to write a meditation on that, but I've got to get to work.


You do give it up, but then you get it back changed. It's one of the ways life looks very different in retrospect than in prospect.

Where did I just read this:

"Marriage is a sort of friendship recognized by the police."
Robert Louis Stevenson

I can't quite figure out what ThinkItThrough is saying . . . seems to me that one thing she's saying is that the divorced get the best of both worlds, and that's cheating!


I can't quite figure out what ThinkItThrough is saying

Spend a little time with it. Things that come easy are one thing, but there are others.

I was actually complimenting you on making the distinction between divorced single people, and unmarried single people.

A more straightforward comment: It's very easy to romanticize the "single" road at 3am when your own cares are on your mind. It's also very easy to romanticize one's own strong husband and the path you've chosen in living your marraige. It is what it is. Why "debate" thinking you must come out as the winner?

Interesting revelation about your "cheating" comment and divorce. Not my thoughts, but I do tend to make that distinction between divorced singles, or singles with children/previous family relationships and "singles". The former being part of a larger family still, but not a part of it. Still, not truly a "single" in the family way, because those family ties remain.


Yes, exactly, it is what it is. I could've just said that to myself (I often do) and not written the post. I am aware of two points of view, the romantic-modern and the romantic-victorian, one of which romanticizes "self authenticity" and the other, "self-sacrifice." Those culturally instilled points of view sometimes fight within me, and I answer them both, "It is what it is."

Just guessing, TITN, that you are one of those go-it-alone singles, a way of life you subtly romanticize.


Actually, you're wrong again amba. But then, it isn't about me.

michael Reynolds

Ya know, if my marriage was really a novel I was writing there'd be more sex scenes.

I know. An obvious joke. Someone had to do it.

Kevin Fleming

To marry and stay is to take the path less traveled by, and that makes all the difference.

The petty cruelty that is an aging man, who loses parts like an old pick-up, who veers from frail to almost normal in a single morning, who only sometimes fully recognizes you. As in Aurelius: Not long and we'll be ashes and bones, and a lingering name. And a name is just a sound, an echo.

We bear these burdens because we should and we are better for it, but maybe in ways we little understand. To say, "And I'm still here" is no mean accomplishment,; it is everything. It requires the maximum a person can give to another, short of her life, and maybe even that.

I could have lived alone, and missed all that came before the trial. And missed the trial. But what would I then have?


Marriage is one long conversation, chequered by disputes.

The disputes are valueless; they but ingrain the difference;
The heroic heart of woman prompting her at once to nail her colours to the mast.
But the intervals, almost unconsciously, and with no desire to shine,
the whole material of life is turned over and over,
ideas are struck out and shared,
the two persons more and more adapt their notions one to suit the other,
and in process of time, without sound of trumpet,
they conduct each other into new worlds of thought.

--Robert Louis Stevenson


"She did not have to fumble through a purse to pull out a contract. Did not have to make her case that she had the right to make medical decisions for him when he was unable to do so himself, etc."

But, Peter, that lack of fumbling wasn't because they were married; it was because the hospital believed she had the legal right to make those decisions. They could have been divorced but still friends for all the hospital knew.

Ruth Anne

Those artists had marriage a la mode? Kinky! [And cold, too!]

Catholics call marriage a 'vocation'. Vocations are the station in life where one is able to achieve the most holiness. For most, their vocation is marriage; for others it is the religious ordered life [priests, friars, brothers, nuns, sisters..] and for others, it is the single life. If one is living one's vocation [discerned through prayer, counsel, or simply knowing], one is working God's plan. If one is not living one's vocation, it is the source of struggle and often suffering [just ask the priests now who were married or on the brink of marriage before they finally answered God's call in their lives.]

I entered marriage with the 'botched idealism' any newlywed might have. But my man and I desired to be married in the eyes of the Church, which conferred upon our union the status of Sacrament: an outward sign of an inward grace. The marital union thereby becomes holy; its offspring a blessing; its joining is indissoluble because God has joined it. So thinking of my man as the partner on my heaven-bound journey [and the means of my sanctification many, many, many times], I also get to see Christ in him. When divorce is not an option, it is interesting to see how things work. Speaking only for myself, through my marital vocation, I have become a better, more loving, more self-donating person than I once was. But I still have a long way to go. With God's grace, my husband will continue to be with me along the way.


reader: I've read that before, but it's beautifully placed here.

I will seem to contradict myself (both what I've said about God and about marriage), but I sometimes think that to be married for a long time is to get to really see another person the way God does, exactly as they are, different from you, different from what you imagined or ever could imagine.


Ruth Anne: I also considered divorce not an option (even before I was married: do you know we lived together for 21 years, from 1972 to 1993, and then finally got legally married? By which time we'd passed the "Go" of common law three times?) because I did not feel you (I) could leave someone who had already lost his entire family, unless the provocation was far more extreme and unrelieved than it ever was. (When it was extreme, it was only briefly.)

The result was that I made a commitment of rather church-like indissolubility without the church, but I got to experience the benefits of not being able to leave even when I felt like it. It isn't always fun or romantic or a rush, but it's pretty amazing. And it can get you to places you'd never get to by your own choice.

On the other hand, there are places you can get to by your own choice -- including all the wrong choices, trial and error -- that you may never reach in lifelong marriage. One of my sisters, age 56, just got married for the third time, and it seems sublimely right; it is hard to imagine her still married to her first husband (a good guy, just a poor fit for her). I suppose I had a little bit of that trial and error before I met J, but they weren't marriages, just relationships. The church would be against that, that practice loving, or loving more than once. I don't regret that.

Ruth Anne

Amba: I did do a lot of frog-kissing before Prince Charming appeared. Actually, I believe it's a lot simpler to get forgiveness for fornication [in a Confessional] than to get an annulment [in a canon tribunal]. Go figure. Also: for the church to recognize it as a real marriage, it has to be knowingly, freely and unconditionally entered into. No shot-gun weddings. No priest I know would perform such a sham.

I cannot believe that I've been married 3 years longer than you and J. That just blows me away. Why, you're practically newlyweds!


I love your thoughts, and in the absence of any real life experience, I'm gonna put on my annoyingly earnest english major cap and recommend my favorite book on this, The Portrait of a Lady. It's all about the romantic illusions of marriage falling away before an acceptance of suffering and self-sacrifice. At least I thought so; in any case, maybe read it (or read it again) if you're in the mood!


Thank you. I never have, and now I will.

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