Gumbo and Gumba—The Caring Parents

Throughout his career in clay animation, Art Clokey has written just about all of his scripts. Highly educated in both the humanities and the sciences, Art has been able to rely upon his own imagination and creativity for most of his creative concepts. But he also has a sense of humor that is tickled by hidden meanings and double meanings of words. That is why he turned to his knowledge of Latin when he invented the characters who were to represent Gumby’s father and mother.

As you know, “gumbo” was the term used by Art Clokey’s father for the clay-laden muddy roads that characterized the rainy season in the Michigan farm country of his youth. Art worked it through all of its forms in Latin as a noun, to create “Gumbo,” the father, “Gumba,” the mother, and “Gumbino,” which is little Gumbo, or “Gumby” for short.

Gumbo and Gumba at the movies
Gumbo and Gumba with clay set
Gumbo and Gumba

Gumby’s mother and father are very proper, well mannered, and always ready to help their son, even save his life. Gumby fears the cold because it can stiffen him up so much he might break into bits. This was especially the case during his adventures on the moon. Gumbo, dressed in an overcoat, goes to the moon to rescue Gumby from freezing.

Gumba, of course, worries about her son as all moms do, but especially because Gumby is so good at achieving too much, too soon. In “Chicken Feed,” Gumby feeds his chicken Tillie a box of “radiated” chicken feed Tillie grows to enormous proportions and lays an egg so big it crushes his father’s new sports car. When Gumba sees him taking a ride on the giant chicken’s back she cries out, “SAVE MY SON!” Gumby is having a great time, so why should HE worry?