Once, in an ancient circus a dear
mother elephant gave birth to her one and only offspring, a son.
She loved him as a good mother should, cared for and protected
As the boy elephant grew, things about him came to light. He was
intelligent, curious, obedient and as all elephants should,
remembered everything. One thing stood out; he had very long
ears. In fact, as he grew, his ears grew twice as fast. Soon,
they drug the ground when he walked and came underfoot, causing
him to step on them and trip. When he tried to run and play,
he'd fall, roll in the dirt and tumble like a weed.
Then the greatest of insults: the other circus animals laughed
and ridiculed him. They called him "Dumbo". After a time, mostly
all the mother's son could do was hide shyly behind her and weep
in shame. Even his mother felt the disgrace and became
As a last resort, Mother Elephant hired a coach for her son. The
coach was called "Timothy the Mouse". He wore a red top hat, a
gold chain around his tiny neck and waved a baton in the air
when he gave orders. Up onto the head of Dumbo he sprang to get
to work and solve this problem. But, this was no run-of-the-mill
coaching challenge. Dumbo was mired in negative self image. He
told Timothy he, the coach, was the worst of his tormentors
teasing him with false promise of success despite his birth
Timothy persisted. "You are not who you think you are. You are a
flying elephant, the star of the circus, the only such elephant
alive. Come on. I'll prove it to you. Climb with me to the top
of the tallest circus tent pole, jump and you will fly." Both
Dumbo and his mother thought this was over the line for Timothy
to taunt Dumbo with his disability and Mother Elephant fired
Timothy the Mouse on the spot.
"I have one last secret plan", Timothy said. "One more try and
I'll leave you alone in your misery. Just a minute and I'll be
right back. I have to get my secret weapon."
Soon he returned with a large black feather. "Here, Dumbo. Hold
this magic feather in your trunk when you jump and it will make
you fly. You'll be the star of the show, rich and famous. To
prove my belief in you, I'm gonna sit on top your head when you
jump. If you crash, I'll crash. We'll both be circus toast!"
Dumbo had no better plan. Neither did his mother. Secretly, both
thought Dumbo might be better off dead. So, Dumbo made the climb
with Timothy to the top of the tent. He held the magic feather
tightly in his trunk, closed his tearful eyes and when Timothy
counted to "Three", he jumped. "Wheeee," yelled Timothy.
"This is really fun!" Dumbo opened one eye a squint and looked
out. Only, he had to look down to see anything. Sure enough, his
ears were wings and he was flying high above the circus sawdust
To shorten the telling of this hugely successful story, Dumbo
became the hit of the circus. People thronged to see the
amazing, flying elephant. He was no longer sad. His mother was
no longer embarrassed. But, that is not where this story ends.
One afternoon, as he always did, Dumbo jumped to the drum roll
far below him and the crowd held their breath while Timothy sat
smiling in his usual spot on Dumbo's head. But Dumbo had become
a bit careless. He forgot to hold the magic feather tightly and
it blew from his trunk. Down they plunged, the proud little
coach and the mighty flying elephant, the only one in the world.
Timothy knew what to do. He leaned forward and yelled into
Dumbo's ear. "Dumbo, that feather was not magic. It came from
the old crow that sits outside on top the circus tent. I used it
to help you believe in yourself. You're the one who's been doing
the magic flying all along. You have yourself and you no longer
need that old feather, or me, for that matter."
Again, Dumbo had no better plan. So he stretched out his ears
and turned them into splendid wings just before he and his coach
would have crashed into the ground. "Wow!," said Timothy the
Mouse. "That was close. But you did it, Dumbo. You've turned
your best into success." And they celebrated for the rest of the
great liberties from a story titled "Dumbo the Flying Elephant"
by Disney, 1941: Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl, 1939.