My Memories of Lois Lenske and Art Covey
By
Joan Anderson Kirchner

Lois Lenski Covey and Arthur Covey are known world-wide for their art and published works. Arthur Covey (1877 - 1960) as a muralist, art teacher, and artist, and his wife Lois Lenski (1893 - 1974) as an artist and writer of children's books. They resided in Harwinton on Harmony Hill Road from 1929 to 1964 on the property they named "Greenacres" which they purchased from my great-grandparents estate. You can read her autobiography or peruse the many internet sites about Arthur Covey and Lois Lenski, but these are my memories of them.

In her autobiography, "Journey into Childhood" (1972) Lois Lenski talks about how she became a writer, when she had planned to be an artist. But I remember her as a friend to a little girl (me) who spent summer days visiting in the little red studio where she wrote many of her books.

The Covey's spent winters in Florida (after enduring several of our New England winters) and summers in Harwinton. As spring drew closer, I would watch for signs of activity at the Covey residence. My mother was always telling me not to bother the Covey's and let them get settled, but I couldn't wait to visit the studio. Soon after they would arrive, Mrs. Covey would invite me to the studio. She always welcomed children from the neighborhood to come and paint, and in her autobiography there is a picture of murals that we all painted and she hung up in her studio. But, I think I was there more than the others. Mrs. Covey always greeted me as I welcomed them back from Florida.

We walked down the path to the studio and she would reach up on the rafter above the doorframe for the key to unlock the door. I loved the smell of the paint and turpentine. She kept her paints and brushes in jars in a little room that was a few steps down from the main room in her studio. Here I could find all the bright colors of paint, as well as the thick brushes and black paint used to outline our pictures. One day Mrs. Covey began teaching me to write poetry. She showed me how to make a little book to take home and write my poems in.

In the summer, sometimes her great-niece, Marilyn would come to visit from Ohio. Then Mrs. Covey would call me to come and play with her. We would catch frogs in the lily pond in the garden and run around enjoying the sunny days. There was two cherry trees planted on their front lawn close to the road. We made a game of riding our bikes under the trees and standing up to see if we could "pick" a few of the cherries. Of course, those were the sweetest ones. And then, there were the blueberries. Mrs. Covey wrote a book "Blueberry Corners” inspired by a large patch of high-bush blueberries in the forest. The way I could find them was to look for the tallest pine tree, and they would be near-by. My mother told me that when she was a girl living next door to what was her grandparents home, she went back into the forest to pick those very same blueberries. While she picked, the bush was moving and she thought it was one of the other neighborhood children picking berries, too. When she went around the bush, there was a bear enjoying the berries. She said she took off in one direction and the bear took off in another direction!

I rarely saw Mr. Covey. He seemed shy and quiet, and spent most of his time in his studio in the back of the garage. When I did see him, he would smile and say "HI." He seemed somewhat shy or unused to being around children.

As I got older, I saw little of Mrs. Covey. She was traveling to different parts of the country researching books. When I had my first baby, Mrs. Covey gave me two of her books. "Ice Cream is Good" and "My Friend the Cow" and I read them constantly to my son. I almost think I could recite them word for word today. When the Town of Harwinton built the new public library and the T.A. Hungerford Library became a museum, I donated the books to the Lois Lenski collection.