The following is an original story, published by Stanley Ainsworth in 1946 as part of Galloping Sounds, a little book featuring several stories loaded with specific phonemes for articulation practice. This story is loaded with "l" sounds.


Leaping Lena felt just awful. For a long time, she had been left to rust in the vacant lot, and she really enjoyed having people drive her all over town, leaping and bumping and growling noisily. Leaping Lena was a car - one of those old cars that young fellows like to buy and paint up with all sorts of funny sayings. In fact, that is where she got her name; the last fellow who had owned her had printed Leaping Lena in big yellow letters all over one side. For a time, she was very happy. Nearly all the college boys rode in her as they hurried from one place to another. Leaping Lena was often so loaded that her springs groaned and her fenders rattled, but Leaping Lena loved to be in the middle of so much excitement. Finally, however, she became a little too old to go places without breaking down or blowing out a tire. So, at the end of the last summer, she had been left in the vacant lot. All winter she was left there. The air leaked out of her old tires and the wheels settled into the dirt. A lot of her funny slogans that had made so many people laugh could no longer be read, all except the bright yellow letters of her name - Leaping Lena.

Now, Lena was getting restless. The snow had melted. Trees were loaded with leaves and blossoms, and birds filled the air with cheerful music. Lena wanted to go places again, but the fellow who owned her had left for the army. No one else seemed interested, so Lena stayed in the vacant lot. It looked as if she would never go places again. No longer would people look at her and laugh as she leaped down the street, filled with fellows and girls.

As the days grew warmer, Leaping Lena felt worse and worse. She felt like crying, but that would not help anything. Finally, she said to herself, "I'll just have to learn to live here in the vacant lot and like it, but I do wish someone would at least come to play with me."

Lena had hardly said this when she heard a small boy yell, "Hey, fellows, look at the funny old car!"

"Sure," laughed another boy, "that is my cousin Lew's old car. He used to call her Leaping Lena. See, there is her name in yellow letters."

The little band of boys came into the vacant lot to look her over.

"Let's play we are driving somewhere," said Larry.

This idea pleased them all, so they scrambled in from all sides. Soon, the old car was loaded. At first, each wanted to drive, but after much hauling, pulling, and yelling, they let Larry drive. All the other boys began to pretend they were motors - and soon the noise was so loud, Lena wanted to plug her ears. Certainly her engine had never sounded like that!

"Look, fellows, there is a big bump ahead. Let's hit it hard," shouted Larry.

All at the same time, the boys leaped into the air and came down with a loud thump! Lena's springs groaned and her fenders rattled. The boys liked bumping so much that they did it all the time, laughing noisily and gleefully as they pretended to sail along in rusty old Leaping Lena. This was fun! "Why, it is almost as good as really going places," she thought to herself.

"I like this," yelled one boy. "I know what - let's make this our club house instead of that old shack in the alley. Then, we will have a traveling club!"

The boys all liked this idea. They played for a long time. The next day, they came and played some more. Before long, they moved in their club things and played around the old car nearly all the time. Of course, they could not really travel, but they liked to pretend. Lena liked it, too! She looked forward to the times when the boys could play. Her fenders rattled and the springs squeaked as the boys climbed and tumbled all over her. They laughed long and loud as they jumped so hard that Lena felt as if she was really leaping over the roads. At last, Lena was happy again!

added January 1, 2007 with permission of Sue Ainsworth Jennings, daughter of Stanley Ainsworth