African American Actor Lester Jones and the Chicken Made of Rags

Tribute to Lester Jones

African American Actor Lester Jones, as the Duck in the Chicken Made of Rags, 1974 in San Francicso, CA

African American Actor Lester Jones, as the Duck in the Chicken Made of Rags, 1974 in San Francicso, CA

It is a joy to remember Lester Jones, lifting my spirits a little higher. In 1974 Lester, then 24 years old and a marvelous African American actor, performed in our musical children’s play “The Chicken Made of Rags” first produced by the JulianTheater in San Francisco. Lester played the “Duck” in that historic multi-cultural production that toured the city’s schools and parks. My brother, Philip Serrano, wrote the marvelous songs and played the music and I wrote the script with Judith Binder. It was based on an old Caribbean family story our uncle used to tell my brother and me at bedtime. Here is a song from the play.

Lester suited the role of the joyous Duck, a balloon seller in the park. “Balloons, I sell balloons. That’s how I spend my afternoons.  Take a journey to the stars and moon. Buy my balloons.” The Duck is the supportive friend of the heroic little Chicken Made of Rags with her bag full of dreams. Together they set off on a romping journey through San Francisco. His friends say that, when Lester spoke of his 30-year acting career, he often mentioned the pleasures of performing in the “Chicken Made of Rags.” Lester traveled with many theater companies around the United States and other countries.

Chicken Lester Ballons

Lester Jones as the balloon selling Duck in the Julian Theater performance at Precita Park, 1974, San Francisco, CA

Although the play has been produced in other times and places, it is Lester’s interpretation of the Duck that Philip and I still reminisce about and appreciate. It is a great gift to see your work brought to life with the gusto, artistic skill and loving charisma of Lester Jones.

His memorial will be held on July 16 at 6 PM the African American Art & Culture Complex, 762 Fulton Street, between Laguna and Webster Streets in San Francisco, Calif., in the Buriel Clay Theater. Lester Charles Jones, formerly of Little Rock, Ark. transitioned May 11, 2013 in San Francisco, CA VA Hospital. Refreshments upstairs at 8 PM to 9 PM.

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About Nina Serrano

Nina is a well-known, international prize-winning inspirational author and poet. With a focus on Latino history and culture, she is also a playwright, filmmaker, KPFA talk show host, a former Alameda County Arts Commissioner, and a co-founder of the San Francisco Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Oakland Magazine’s “best local poet” in 2010, she is a former director of the San Francisco Poetry in the Schools program and the Bay Area’s Storytellers in the Schools program. A Latina activist for social justice, women’s rights, and the arts, Nina Serrano at 84 remains vitally engaged in inspiring change and exploring her abundant creativity. For more information go to or contact her publisher at For more detailed information about Nina see About Nina on her website.


African American Actor Lester Jones and the Chicken Made of Rags — 2 Comments

  1. Nina, this is the saddest thing. I loved Lester. We used to chat at piano events at community Music Center. I’ll pass this news on to our mutual piano teacher, Shirley. What time is the July16 memorial? Your blog doesn’t say.

  2. Beryl, Your message just arrived today. I enjoyed meeting your piano teacher Shirley and Lester’s other fellow music students. What was so wonderful about Lester Jones and the memorial was that it was so joyous and friendly. His life was something to celebrate!.

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