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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There could be any number of reasons. A dramatic increase could result from the rate having been low before. Middle age was supposedly the best time in the average person's life -- your kids had left home, you had more money and career success. So maybe middle age suicide was low, at least for men.

Now we have age discrimination and layoffs and constantly changing technology, so middle aged men might feel a little wounded.

We don't know if the increase was mostly for men or for women, or which economic classes. Women are judged mainly by appearance so getting older is harder for them. Men are, or used to be, more respected when they look older.

It could also be physical health -- maybe environmental toxins and unhealthy lifestyles are causing more sickness. Not feeling well physically, not having energy, can cause depression.

I don't think it's vanity. I can't imagine anyone committing suicide because they don't feel pretty. But anything is possible. We really can't tell from the simple data.

Michael Reynolds

My first thought was that people are having kids later in life. If I kill myself it'll be the kids, not aging.


Adolescent kids plus hormonal shifts - rather difficult to take even on sunny days.


Now that you bring up the subject, what do you think of the movie Harold & Maude? It's always been one of my favorites.


Believe it or not, I never saw it.


I'm sorry for saying it, but your remarks seem ugly and petty.

I have several friends in that age range who have been dealing with this issue, and one who, sadly, acted on it. It sure as hell hasn't been because they weren't the center of attention or sex obsessed.


Well, Ron, since I described my pwn remarks as "glib and mean," obviously I agree with you. I'm just a self-hating baby boomer.

To try to put the same point in a less mean way, we were a generation that was very center stage, that had in many cases a very intense, hope- and urgency-filled youth, and that had a very romantic view of the world. The world has changed in ways we did not want or anticipate, and some of our most impassioned crusades and adventures may have played an unintended part in changing it: it is mercilessly youth-oriented, and it is decidedly unromantic. One aspect not often remarked on is that there are simply twice as many people in the world now (more, actually), and that makes the world much more brutally competitive and leaves less time or tolerance for reflection. It's hard to adapt, maybe hardest for some of the most sincere. Some of the rest of us have adapted by learning how to be glib and mean.


I should add that the funny thing about generalizations is that it's hard to find anything but exceptions. You know, like "baby boomers are terrible parents . . . except for the ones I know." Maybe it would be best simply to stop making them.


"I'm sorry for saying it, but your remarks seem ugly and petty."

I'm sorry for your loss, Ron.

But I doubt that Amba is describing your friends or people who are simply unable to face the prognosis of a painful terminal illness.

What seems to distinguish many baby boomer suicides is that they are essentially just one more lifestyle choice, the boomer thinking only of himself, to hell with everyone else who must clean up the messes left behind.


Depressed people tend to be self-obsessed (if in a negative way). It is a cause-effect puzzle.


I once ran across a story (a true story, as I vaguely recall) where the sargent is yelling at his troops just before they charge: "Come on, you apes! You want to live forever?" My reaction at the time was: good thing I was never in that situation, because I would have had to answer: "Yes!" (Well, I couldn't LIE, could I?)

And even as my hair turns grey, I still have the same attitude. I guess it's just one more way that I'm out of step with the rest of the baby boomers....


It just seems odd to me to see people portraying suicide as 'a lifestyle choice' because of the age group of the person doing it.

Should I ask members of The Greatest Generation (what a humble self-description there!) to fall on One More Grenade to save Social Security for Us All? 'Thanks for Normandy Granddad, can you inspect your old M1 rifle one last time?'

As for the rest,the generalizations came so thick and fast...well, I don't know how an intelligent response is possible! Are we more or less vain today than, say, 1920? 1950? 1980? I have no idea, and I doubt anyone does either.

Let's just agree to lack of appeal to both 'mean' and 'glib' for flappers, bobby soxers, greasers, hippies, yuppies, and Gen X's alike!

Donna B.

1/10th of a percent in 25 years is an alarming increase?


Let's see:

1. I'm glad I'm not the idiot I was when I was 25. I'm a completely different idiot now;

2. I've always had a middle-aged personality. Now I've finally grown into it; and

3. Nobody looked at me when I was young! Why do you think I became a comedian?

Nope. Nature ain't gonna take me without a fight, by cracky.


Amba, I agree with you on many counts in your excellent post. Many in our boomer generation were the products of parents who returned frm WWII and were determined to give their children every advantage they had missed growing up in the depression. WWII was a cataclysm that made them even more protective and focused on a better life for their progeny.

We (many of us) grew up being told we could accomplish anything, that the world was a whole new place. As a result, we felt invulnerable, powerful, able to change the world. And sure enough: the influence of our generation on a whole range of affairs from foreign to educational policy in the 60's and 70's only augmented that sense of power.

Many of us took advantage of these messages and took leaps in our professional lives that in previous more cautious generations would have been most unusual. I acted on these messages and founded two companies that were very successful. In the early 80's, this was still rather unusual for a woman, but it's all part of what I assimilated when I was growing up.

Now, in our sixties, for many this power and influence is waning: unthinkable, considering our conditioning from birth. This requires a profound rethinking of many things.

Can't account for the suicides, though. Even with a cancer diagnosis that certainly for me cancels out any expectation of a golden old age, there's a lot of joy in my days. The rush that came from power and influence has been replaced by other, more abiding, far more satisfying pursuits and encounters.

paul a'barge

Suicide being a mortal sin and all, I guess the Bardos are going to be very crowded with all those folks having to confront themselves and the go back to the beginning and start over again.



The secret of avoiding suicide is to let something else die instead of you -- usually the thing you've been insisting you couldn't, wouldn't live without.

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