Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…

Chang’s Elephants…


In January of this year, I had a unique experience of setting up an art show in my community library. Along one wall were the paintings of my father and in a glass case would be my collages and handmade books. This was a large case with four shelves. The bottom shelf was quite low and my work that needs to be standing up really could not be viewed well from that vantage point. At the last moment I decided to open some old sketchbooks of my father’s to lay flat on the shelf and they could be seen perfectly. In fact there was quite a lot of comment at the artists’ reception about the uniqueness of the sketchbooks. When I took down the show and took everything home I realized that the sketchbooks I had there were just the tip of the iceberg. So I cleaned out a cabinet and gathered all that I have together and went through them. My stack of notebooks also included a mock-up of a children’s book my father must have put together in the early 50’s. It was called “Bobby Goes To The Circus”. I thought there was a story line there and I wanted to share the wealth of sketches with Chang’s descendents.

In March, I got to visit Portland where they had a baby elephant born last November. On a lovely day with my niece, Katura, I was able to shoot video at the zoo and I enlisted her to record a soundtrack narration for me.

The Bobby in the title of the story is my big brother Bob. There is a sketch of him from the back discussing the anatomy of elephants. There are two pictures of me (young, thin, and with long hair) from 1974. They were taken by my father (always in black and white and printed 8″x10″) and are from the first year I was married and the first year I lived in Redlands, California. My parents came out to visit and since there was a small circus on a vacant lot just outside of town we took Jed, Bob’s son at around one years old, to see his first elephant. Jed’s son, Jesse, is the narrator of the story. Katura, Bob’s daughter and Jed’s sister, who is an artist in her own right contributed some sketches of our day at the zoo and helped to get a recording of Jesse reading the story. Jesse has an impressive, expressive reading style and is a premier blooper comedian. I do believe he has a career ahead of him as a voice-over artist.

I had to shoot through glass to get video of Baby Lily, so I apologize for stray reflections, but we were so lucky to see her momma perform for a little kibble dessert. Only one chance to get that shot! You should know that being a baby elephant is some kind of hard work and sometimes you just have to plop down wherever you are. Some of the pages of the sketchbooks have yellowed with age but they are a treasure I wanted to collect to share with you. Any relatives wishing a copy on CD to store in trunks in their attics…just let me know.

The lights have dimmed, the spots have come up. The ringmaster has come into the tent. Children of all ages…have some fun!

Author: loisreynoldsmead


6 thoughts on “Chang’s Elephants…

  1. I had not realized that you had been an artist, Lois. What a lovely complement to your having been an art teacher. Chang and your mother are, I am certain, greatly proud of you.


  2. Loved watching this! I believe my grandpa was a relative of Chang’s. I believe Lois, Chang’s mother was his aunt. My family has many copies of Chang’s work!

    • Hi, Kelly, Thank you for the comment! Which uncle was your grandpa? Do you still live in S. Livonia? I remember a couple of visits to the “family farm” meeting uncles and relatives. I hope you will keep in contact!

  3. Hi Lois, Wilmot was my gramp. He lived in Hornell, NY. I believe the family farm was Don and Helen’s. I live in Northern, VA now. Was Lois Turner your grandmother?

    • Hi Kelly, I remember the name Wilmot. Also, Cliff and George, was there a Lloyd, also?…so I believe that Lois was the oldest sibling and when my father’s mother died (I think in the 1918 flu epidemic) he was two and his brother Frank was two weeks. Their father was still alive but moved to Rochester to find work but the boys stayed on the farm and were raised by Lois and her younger sister Ethel. (As kids we always knew them as “Auntie Hi and Amy”, who knows how that started). Early thirties they all moved to So. Calif. (Altadena to be exact). Lois and Ethel were always part of our lives growing up (I was named after Lois…never knew anyone else with the same name.) and they lived long wonderful lives…canning, quilting, running a small library at the church. Lois died at 97 and Ethel at around 87. They did fill the roll of grandmothers in our lives.

  4. George was my grandpa’s father so Lois was his sister. I found a writing on Lois from her 96th birthday celebration. She was one of 8 children. Ruth died of the flu in 1915 and Lois took in the 2 boys, Chang and Frank. I also found one of her books, Room 85 from when she was in the hospital.

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