Posted by: glue | June 1, 2008


The summer before we moved from Mandan to Miles City, so I was some months into year four of life.  Our house was in what was then a new development in the hills.  From our back door the prairie rolled away for miles.  One morning I went out the back door, descending the concrete blocks substituting for steps, and found myself face to face with two schoos (schmoon).  They stood motionless, both grinning widely, in the most friendly manner possible.  I wanted to rush  back into the house to tell Mom, to have her come to see the schmoos, but I worried that if I moved they would be scared off.  We stood fixed in this impasse for what seemed a long time, until I decided I had to take the chance.  When I finally persuaded Mom to come meet the Schmoos, they were gone.


Dogpatch Memories


  1. I am collecting the few surviving memories of my preschool years, having in mind their importance for composing an image of wide scope. One rule is to document some of the cultural associations with the elements of a memorial scene. Al Capp was one of my father’s favorites, along with Walt Kelly (Pogo). Dad would read the comics to me, so I knew a Schmoo when I saw one. A connection I see with my career interests is my work with the EmerAgency, the new consultancy, whose purpose is to improve the world. The Schmoo may be a caveat I should keep in mind.

    “Ironically, the lovable and selfless Shmoos ultimately brought misery to humankind because people with a limitless supply of self-sacrificing Shmoos stopped working and society broke down. Seen at first as a boon to humankind, they were ultimately hunted down and exterminated to preserve the status quo.”

  2. “Schmoo” as in “schmooze” which consultants need to do in order to maintain their network of associations which lead to further work?

    Where is the quote from?

  3. Shmoos no doubt ended up as self-serving and somewhat deluded beings who imagined they were a tad betterer than the rest of the human race – a sad but more realistic fate indeed, for us all. JanW.

  4. The online urban dictionary says “When you don’t know the words to a song, the word schmoo is used to replace the words that are not known.” There is something song-like in shmooing. In Internet Invention I recounted a memory from the same period, when I heard a voice calling “help” on a winter day. I recounted this story in the context of making a point, relative to an attempt to identify with the Sioux shaman, Black Elk, contrasting oral and literate experience. I could have made the same point with my Shmoomory. The Shmoo in my early life experience would have been the equivalent of Black Elk’s encounter with the King bird when he was five years old. It was an early sign of his coming vocation as shaman (medicine man). Pre-school children are primarily oral people. Once they start school, shamanism is no longer an option.
    I suppose the phallic shape of schmoon deserves notice.

  5. I believe that Al Capp understood the concept of “the welfare state” that we have created. The Shmoos, and the dangers of “Shmoonkind” showed that it isn’t a healthy system (lose of doing for yourself). Capp, unlike so many of the poorly connected new comic strip creators and journalists these days, had a great understanding of “hoomanity” and what works and doesn’t work longterm.

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