of Lois Lenske and Art Covey
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 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
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.