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Young author Jackson

The Cloudlanders
The Cloudlanders is a story I wrote at age ten. My previous "books" had been collected bits and pieces; this was a continuous novel, but picaresque--a series of adventures with the same characters. In it, my hero and heroine, with a guide bird named Talka (obviously a talker) get up into the clouds where they discover some are solid, and boast strange countries. When I ran out of what to tell about the situation the kids were in, I'd jump them to the next cloud-country. I was heavily influenced by the Oz books and Alice in Wonderland.

A visiting friend of my parents who edited the a weekly newspaper, saw the story in progress, admired my industry, and started to print it in the Galesburg (Illinois) Post. After a while the printed word caught up to my written copy, and I sweated under a deadline. One week there was a box on the front page, and within it the words, "Jackie Dougan! Authors mustn't let their publishers get ahead of them! Send in the next installment pronto!" It was too much pressure for me; I brought my kids down from the clouds shortly after. But they'd been up there four and a half months, and I was launched as a published author--one, however, who to this day rarely accepts a deadline on an unfinished manuscript.

Click a selection below to read the installments:
Installment 1-3 - Installment 4-6 - Installment 7-9 - Installment 10-12 - Installment 13-15 - Installment 16-18
Installment 19-21 - Installment 22-25 - More about the history of Cloudlanders

The Cloudlanders ©1938/39, Jacqueline Dougan Jackson

Galesburg Post
February 9, 1939

    “Oh!” groaned Talka leaning back on his perch, when Isabelle carried off the last empty plate. Every one had eaten all they could hold, and Turkey said that she had a funny feeling in her stomach, like the feeling you get before you have a stomach ache.
    “I'm so full,” he remarked, “That I don't believe I can fly!”
    “Me, too!" grunted Frenchy. “I mean I'm so full I can hardly walk!”
    “Well, I'm going to go to the night club in about an hour. If you want to, you can go out and look over the city. If you buy anything, charge it to me. Be sure to be back in an hour, though,” said their host.
    “Alright!” smiled Turkey , jumping up from the table. “Come on, Frenchy!”
    “I'm not going!” called Talka from the kitchen. “I guess I'll stay and help with dishes. Flopaletta always does, and I'd try anything once.”
    “Aright!” answered Frenchy, pulling on his sweater. “What time is it now, Turkey?”
    “ One thirty ,” she said briefly. “If we start back at two fifteen we would have plenty of time to get washed and fixed up for that night club we're going to.”
    “So long!” said Mr. Masters ushering them politely to the door. "Just go up five blocks, turn left, and there you are!”
    “Well, what are you waiting for, Christmas?” asked Talka perching on Mr. Masters shoulders, a dishtowel in his claw. 
    “No!” laughed Turkey . “I was just wondering if I could have a coat or sweater, or something to put on. It's rather chilly outside.”
    “Of course!” apologized Mr. Masters. “How stupid of me!” He opened the door of a clothes closet and handed her a red sweater and a little blue beret.
    “To go with your eyes!” he explained with a twinkle, as the children ran down the steps. “Its rather tight around the wrists, as our wrists are much smaller than yours.”
    “Oh, what a beautiful city!” breathed Turkey , when Mr. Masters had closed the front door. “I've never seen anything like it!”
    “Oh, yes you have," reminded Frenchy. "Remember Olympo? We visited it two years ago.”
    “You like it because it's an airplane center. But this is different kind of beauty. It's – it's – well, you wouldn't understand anyway.”
    “No, I probably wouldn't. It's very nice, and modern, and streamlined, but personally, I like Olympo better. I guess all boys like airplanes.”
    “Even the word ‘moon' has a sort of charm to it, and it sounds all silvery, like the stars shining down on the ripples of the Enchanted Lake.”
    “Oh, well, have your own way. I guess a woman's a woman, and can't be anything else, even if she tried.” He mimicked his fourteen-year old brother.
    “Frenchy Parker, you don't know the least thing about women. Anyway, I'm not a woman, I'm a young lady!”
    “Ah, ah, ah!” warned a gruff policeman. “Don't fight! It's against the rules of the city. I don't want to clap you in jail!”
    “The rules!” exclaimed Frenchy “Mr. Masters didn't tell us there were any rules we had to obey!”
    “My yes! There are fifteen rules on two golden tablets in the Public Library. That's why the dragon runs around the land.” Then the policeman walked away. Frenchy stared after him in disgust. “Now what do you think of that?! He knew were interested, and deliberately went away!”
    “Then let's ask someone else! There's a little boy across the street. We'll ask him!”
    “O.K.!” cried Frenchy, running across the street. Turkey followed quickly, dodging an old man on a bicycle.
    “Hey, you!” yelled Frenchy, seeing the boy was just going into a nearby house. “Come 'ere!”
    The boy answered him with a friendly smile. “What do you want?” he asked.
    “That officer over there was telling us about the city laws, and he left off just in the middle. We thought you might be able to tell us.”
    “Oh, sure! That's Officer Hoyl, the grumpiest cop in the city. Anyone could tell you about the laws. I thought everyone knew.”
    “We don't.” Turkey put in. “We're just new here. Please tell us about them.”
    “Ammmm!” the fellow cleared his throat. “About two hundred years ago, we had a wise king ruling over us, by the name of Francis Bishop. In other words, King Francis III. He was very kind and gentle and good to all the people. But there was a wicked magician who was envious of the king. So when the king died, the magician stole the two golden tablets on which the fifteen rules were written. He hid them in a huge rocky cave, with the sea pounding it on all sides. After the rules were stolen, the people soon forgot how to govern themselves, and the country was in a terrible condition. So finally a little group of men set out to find the tablets. After a long search they found the cave, and then spent another week searching every inch of the rocky ground for the entrance. Finally they found one, half hidden by the roots of trees, brush, and sand. They crawled through a small tunnel for a long way, on their stomachs, and finally bruised and bleeding, they rounded a curve and came upon the cave.

(Continued next week)

Galesburg Post
February 16, 1939

    “I wish I could have seen the cave! Gee, it was so high that when a baby bat, just born, fell from its nest, it was old enough to fly when it reached the bottom!
    "About three fourths of the bottom was a huge lake. The cave was terribly long as well as high. Why, when you shouted, it took two weeks for our echo to return! Did you ever hear the story of the Lost Moon Tribe?”
    “No, tell us about it!” cried Turkey eagerly.
    “Well, once there was a tribe of Moon people living on the shores of this lake. One day they all decided to walk around it, and they haven't come back yet! They probably haven't reached the other side yet. Well, to get on with the story. When the men came into this huge cavern, then knew it was useless to even look for the tablets, but after coming all that way, they decided that they couldn't go back. They built themselves a boat, and started to row out into the lake, hoping that they might possibly reach the other side. The water was very clear, and one man happened to look down, and what should he see but one of the golden tablets. He dove down and brought it to the surface. The men decided the other one couldn't be far off, so they hunted around till they found it. It was just pure luck, though, that they happened to row over those certain spots.”
    “Boy, I'll say it was!” said Frenchy.
    “And now the rules are here in town. The magician was so angry when he learned that the rules had been found, that he changed himself into a dragon, and he is still running around and around the boundries of Moon Land , not letting any one in or out. My, but you must have been smart to out-wit him!”
    “It was nothing!” said Turkey , blushing. “Talka was the one told us there even was a dragon, and he told us to run when the dragon sighted us.”
    “Where are you going?” asked the boy, walking along beside them.
    “We're going down town, to look around. Want to come along?”
    “O.K. Guess I will. Can you wait a minute? I'll go see if mother wants anything at the grocers.” He darted into a house, and returned in a few minutes, grinning broadly. “I have to get a loaf of bread and a pound of ham!” he announced. “And Mom gave me ten drops to spend as I like!”
    “Swell! Where will we go first?” Frenchy took out his jack-knife, and from sense of habit, began to carve his initials on the smooth bark of a comet tree. (A combination of an oak and elm tree, with red wood.)

(Continued next week)

Galesburg Post
February 23, 1939

    “Leg's go down Main Street . It has all the shops, and you said you wanted to look around the stores. Over across the street is the museum, where the rules are.”
    The shops were set back from the street and had grass growing around them. They were very clean, and had big windows on all sides, displaying the bright goods inside.
    “Let's go in that one!” Frenchy pointed to a large yellow one across the street.
    “Alright,” agreed the boy, “That's the biggest five and ten cent store in town."
    “Are there any cars in the city?” asked Turkey , as they crossed the street, “All I can see are bicycles.”
    “Oh, no!” The boy laughed. “They're too heavy. The stores aren't made of brick, either. That's too heavy. You see, if the buildings were brick, they would sink right down through the clubber, for clubber can't hold more than a few hundred pounds. As you see, the buildings are made of a sort of soft rock, called pumice stone. This cloud has an anchor, not many clouds do. So when we run out of material, we float over to a dead volcano and anchor about half way up. Then all the men, women and children that are able to, start to strip off the rock. The dragon sits and watches. Only when we are mining, does the dragon let us pass. He makes sure every Moonyite is back on the cloud before the anchor is lifted. He is really quite an amiable chap when he's in a good mood, but when he isn't --! Let me warn you, stay away from him! I've only been mining twice. But getting back to the subject, bicycles are the fastest, lightest, way of transportation.”
    The children had now arrived at the store.
    “I've got a lot of questions I want to ask you,” said Frenchy, sitting down on a yellow bench under a blue-green awning. “I've been wondering if the cloud freezes in winter.”

(Continued next week)