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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
March 2 , 1939

    “No, the cloud doesn't freeze in winter. It gets cold here, just like it does on earth, but the cloud just stays the same, except of course, the water turns to snow, like it does on every other cloud.”
    “Are there more cloud countrys like ‘Moonland' and ‘Cloudland'?”
    “Sure!” laughed the boy. “Didn't you know that? There are lots of 'em. But you didn't tell me you had been to Cloudland! How long did you stay?”
    “Oh, we stayed about a day,” put in Turkey .
    “Not a very long visit. I suppose you wanted to get home.”
    “Yes. Let's go in the store now.” Turkey tapped her foot impatiently.
    A steady stream of people kept entering and leaving the store. The children went in too, but found themselves in a very different kind of place than what they had expected. Instead of counters and salespeople, there were broad shelves on all the walls. There were no price tags on the goods, but the buyer would put as many drops of water into the large tank in the center of the floor, as he thought the thing he was purchasing was worth.
    “I'll go get the bread and ham, while you look around. Meet me in about ten minutes over by the water vat.” The boy ran out the door, leaving Turkey and Frenchy to do as they pleased.
    “Look over there!” cried Frenchy, running over to a nearby shelf. “Do you see what I see? Books! Come on, let's go look at them!”
    “Look, here's one called ‘Cloud Lands in the Skys.' I think I'll buy it. It will be fun to read when we get home.”
    “I wonder if there are any books about football or basketball,” mused Frenchy, flipping over the pages of a large seagreen volume.
    “This is a fine time to be talking bout foot-ball!" Turkey exclaimed. “You ought to get enough of that at home. Here, look at this one. It looks interesting. Why don't you buy it?”
    “I think I will. It's called ‘The History and Geography of Moonland in One Big Book, By Coarman & Blime.'”
    “There's that Boy over by the water-tank, waving to us. He hasn't told us his name. Let's ask him.”
    “Just call me Pat,” he answered to their inquiry. “Have you bought anything yet?”
    “Yes, we want to get these two books.” Turkey held them up.
    “Let's see," Pat weighed them carefully in his hands, “I'd say this book, ‘Cloudland in the Skys', is twenty three drops, and the other is twenty-six. Do you want them charged?”
    “Yes, Mr. Master told us to charge anything we bought, but we don't know how to charge,” explained Turkey .
    “Here, I'll show you.” He picked up a pencil hanging from a string. On a sheet of paper for this purpose, he wrote:
    Forty-nine drops charged to Mr. Masters for two books.

(Continued next week)

Galesburg Post
March 23 , 1939

    After Pat, the Moon City boy, had charged the books they had decided to get he said, “There are some pretty moonstones over on that shelf in back of you. Maybe Turkey would like one.”
    “I do want that one,” decided Turkey at length, pointing to a beautiful slightly-small white moonstone. “How much does it cost?”
    “I'd say it was worth about 145 drops,” said Pat. “Of course it may be more, and it may be less, but moonstones are quite expensive. How about buying a very little moonstone, and have it set in a ring. The jeweler is getting a big load of metal sent in from a far corner of Moonland, and so it will be quite cheap?
    “That will be fine,” agreed Turkey .
    Frenchy glanced at his watch. “We only have fifteen minutes. If we expect to get Turkey 's moonstone set in a ring, we'll have to hurry.”
    “First, we are going to stop at the drug store and get something to eat," decided Pat. “I'm hungry.”
    “Well, I've just eaten a little while ago. I'm not so hungry that I'm tightening my belt. But I could hold some more food,” Frenchy laughed.
    “I don't want much either,” declared Turkey . “Didn't I see a place called ‘Coronses'.”
    “Yes. That's right next to the jewelers. We will go there.”
    They went out of the store. Back and forth went Moonyites on bicycles. There were a few tricycles for the very little children.
    The drug store was just like the 5 and 10 cent store, only there was a long counter along one side.

(Continued next week)

 

Galesburg Post
March 30, 1939

    “What do you want?” asked Pat, sliding into a seat beside the counter at the drug store.
    “What is there?” inquired Turkey , gazing curiously at the shelves and shelves of oddly labeled bottles and cans. “What's that up there? On the third shelf. It's spelled K a r o s i a.”
    “Karosia! That's very good. Want some? It tastes like cinnamon and rhubarb and thick molasses.”
    “What are you going to take?” asked Frenchy doubtfully. He didn't want to take anything, and find he didn't like it. 
    “A horiso. They're good too. Haven't you ever tasted one?”
    “No, aren't there any chocolate sodas?”
    “Choco-what? What are they?
    Frenchy thought everyone knew what a chocolate soda was, and he didn't know just how to go about explaining one. “Well, er, a- it's- it's just good!” he stammered.
    “So is a horiso. Take one.”
    “I'm taking a karosia, or whatever you call them. I like rhubarb!” put in Turkey .
    “O.K.!” Pat jumped lightly over the counter and climbed swiftly up a little ladder, fastened to the shelves. He grabbed the three queerly named bottles, and leapt down and over the counter again.
    “My, you're a good jumper!” marveled Turkey , placing a straw in her opened bottle.
    “Oh, all our people are good athletes!” modestly replied Pat, jerking off his bottle cap, and lifting the bottle to his lips.
    “Say this IS good!” exclaimed Frenchy. “I didn't expect it to taste like this! Can I have a taste of yours, Turkey ?”
    “Use your own straw!” the girl advised. “I don't want a cold.”
    “I haven't a cold!” Frenchy cried indignantly, transferring his straw into Turkey 's bottle.
    “Stop!” she commanded, as he greedily guzzled one fourth of the remaining liquid. “You're drinking it all!”
    “You can have a taste of mine.”
    “But you only have a little left!” Turkey strongly objected.
    “Take it or leave it. You finish mine and I'll finish yours.”
    “I'm through!” Pat sprang up from the counter. “I'll get a package of gum with the four drops we have left.”
    Frenchy vigorously sucked the end of the straw, to get up the last remaining drops. “Let's go!” he said, finally leaving the straw all flattened out.

(Continued next week)