Note: since we moved to Southern California, we don’t hear much about news from Vallejo, except in moments like this. We learned of the transition of Mr. Goodie Goudeau yesterday, and in honor, we’re bring back a piece we wrote for our old blog, Sweet Home Vallejo, (which is no longer active online) The following is from February 2010 written by co-owner, Charles L. Chatmon.
Recently, I sold copies of my book The Voices of South Central at the McCree-Goudeau Gallery in the Vallejo art district. I had a chance to sit down and listen to the experiences of Mr. Cleven ‘Goodie’ Goudeau. What I learned about this gentlemen I hope and pray our young people continue to emulate as he quietly recounted his journey from cartoonist to greeting card designer and producer of his own company, to the gallery he shares with his wife Jeanette. If you lived back in the 1960’s and 70’s, you may remember reading one of Mr. Goudeau’s greeting cards, very distinguishable from the Hallmarks or other brand name greeting cards in stores.
As I listened to Mr. Goudeau’s accounts of one Bay area newspaper refusing to hire him based on his skin color, to his first attempts of creating his cards without experience in the field and yet wound up a success because he fulfilled a need, to his travels around the world and the accolades he accomplished over time. I had a feeling of awe listening to him and another gentleman near Goodie’s age share stories about their challenges of racial prejudice, discrimination, and indifference.
The conservative phrase when it comes to people such as Goodie is to ‘raise yourself by your bootstraps’. For Goodie and those like him who overcome the odds and achieved a level of success, I appreciate all they’ve done and as I listened, I knew that with all our elders faced back then, I should have nothing, nothing to complain about. Our generation compared to those past, should pay attention and realize the struggle…will always be a struggle but never to give up regardless.
What we in this generation and those in the future must learn is to realize we do have the power to change our course in life, to manufacture products and services based on need rather than wanting things for ourselves. Goodie had no experience, no background in designing greeting cards, but he tried and from those few efforts built a line my older relatives recognize. We shouldn’t have to be pigeonholed into music or sports. That’s society’s game plan. What we can do is create more inventors, doctors, lawyers…even presidents. But this you have read before.
I salute men like Goodie for used his talents to create something positive for our elders and generations down the line. Reading his cards I was reminded that Black is Beautiful and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s about pride; it’s about feeling good for one another when the world condemns you for who and what you are. It’s those messages we need to constantly keep on our minds and on our children’s minds. Let the world insist we create entertainers and athletes and nothing else. Then, let’s push ahead and defy those same voices by daring to dream, daring to live, daring to make a difference one for another.
Just like Goodie.
Charles L. Chatmon