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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
April 6 , 1939

    Suddenly Frenchy glanced at his watch. “Gee,” he cried “we've only got three or four minutes to get back to Mr. Masters house! We'll have to hurry!”
    “But I want my moonstone set in a ring,” Turkey objected.
    “We promised Mr. Masters; we have to be on time!”
    Pat spoke up. “Listen here, I've got a plan. Give me the moonstone, Turkey , and I'll run over to the jewelers, and get you your ring. After it's fixed I'll take it over to Mr. Masters' house and leave it with his maid. Then, you can have your ring when you get back from the night-club!”
    “Great!” said Frenchy and grabbing Turkey's hand pulled her down the street as fast as he could.
    Stopping at a corner to let a young Moonyite on a bicycle pass safely by, Turkey exclaimed, “Stop pulling me, Frenchy! I'm no dog!”
    Frenchy relaxed his hold and trotted quickly down the few remaining blocks. He threw open the door of Mr. Master's house and dropped down on the steps, panting “One half minute early!”
    Mr. Masters looked at the mantle clock, and grinned broadly as Turkey, even more tired, arrived a few seconds later.
    “I knew you would be here on time! Well, get your breath, and then you may get dressed. Isabelle searched around until she found some suitable clothes for you, and she loosened the wrists. Frenchy's room is the first room on the right at the top of the stairs, and Turkey 's is right across the hall.” He stood up. “I'll hunt up Talka and see if he wants to go along.”
    Fifteen minutes later the children lined up for inspection in front of Mr. Masters.
    “My, you look fine!” he approved, noting Frenchy's scrubbed face and Turkey 's brushed hair. “Let's go!” He opened the door, and stepped outside, Talka following, squawking as usual. Turkey and Frenchy ending the procession and Frenchy poking Turkey with a long stick.
    “Follow me!” Mr. Masters directed, turning up a brightly lighted street. The night club was two blocks away, and was filled with people. He swung open the large turning doors.
    “Well, here we are!”
    The children sat down on some softly padded benches and looked around in wonder.
    “Gee, of all the people!” Frenchy exclaimed.
    “Do you want anything to eat?” Mr. Master asked, as Talka pecked up a poppy seed from the clean floor.
    “Sure, sure!” croaked Talka. “What can I have? Poppy seeds?”
    “I can get you poppy seed rolls.”
    “That will do very well. Oh, waiter! Five poppy seed rolls, with lots of seed!” Talka ordered, perching on a tumbler on a small table.
    For the next hour, the children watched strange lantern slides and moving pictures of horrible, yet funny monsters, closeups of the moon's craters, and Mars' canals. There was an old fortune teller who predicted that Turkey would become queen of Colania, whatever country that was. They sat at queer tables, watched queer dances and ate strange foods.
    “That's Conto, the dancing master, over there leading that dance. We will go over and talk to him. The dance is almost over.”

(Continued next week)

 

Galesburg Post
April 13, 1939

     Turkey and Frenchy soon found out that the dancing master was a very fine fellow.
    “Is it hard to do those funny dances?” asked Turkey .
    “No, not at all!” he answered, “It just takes practice! Look!” He kicked up his heels, and stretched his legs so that they were one straight line from his left foot to his right.
    “Now, that takes practice” he explained. “I worked for almost two years in order to do that perfectly!”
    But he was suddenly interrupted by a loud rumbling noise from below. People began throwing up their chairs and jumping up.
    “Run!” yelled one man.
    “Cloudquake!” yelled another. “Run, run!”
    But before Frenchy had a chance to follow their advice, a heavy kettle which was fastened to the ceiling by a hook clattered down, and landed on top of him.
    The kettle was large, but he was more startled and afraid than hurt. He had a ringing in his ears for several minutes.
    There were not any cracks for him to dig his fingernails into, and the pot was far too heavy for him to lift. The rumbling noise continued, and Frenchy could hear people running frantically around. The floor was wobbling terribly and the air was getting hot and stuffy.
    The pot was just big enough so that he could sit up straight with his feet tucked under him. In about half an hour, the noised ceased suddenly. All was still. Frenchy yelled with all his might, but no one heard him. After what seemed like hours to Frenchy, he heard the sound of hammering and sawing. He guessed that the little people were repairing the damage caused by the quake.
    “Why didn't they hang up the pot?” he wondered. “What if it was too heavy for them? What if he'd never get out? No, he would get out, because if it was so heavy they never would have gotten it to the night club in the first place.”
    Finally he fell asleep.
    Meanwhile, when the quake had started, Mr. Masters had grabbed the fat talking-bird in one hand and Turkey in the other, and hustled them out of the building.
    “But where is Frenchy?” Turkey asked peering among the scattered people.
    “He's not here!” Mr. Masters looked worried as he darted into the tottering building. “He's not in there!” he reported, returning a few minutes later. “Maybe he is on the other side! Some people went out the back door!”
    “When is this cloud quake going to stop?” wailed Turkey , when Mr. Masters returned from the opposite side of the building.
    “It ought to stop any minute now.” The worried look had not left his face.
    There came an extra loud roar from below, and the cloud stopped jolting around.
    “Ah, it's over, and here comes the repair crew!” a man nearby remarked in relief. “Come on, fellows, get to work!”
    Every man or boy able dashed to the repair wagon and grabbed hammers, nails, saws and other needed tools. Talka helped the best he could by carrying nails to the workers in his claws. Within half an hour the night-club was built up again and only needed a new coat of paint and the inside swept out.
    A few remaining men were dusting furniture and setting up tables that had been knocked over. The repair wagon and most of the men and boys had moved on to help build up the rest of the houses and stores.
    “Hey!” yelled Mr. Masters as the men were leaving, “that big pot needs to be hung back on its hook again. Or shall we wait till tomorrow?”
    “Might as well do it now.” The men returned.
    “Altogether now – heave!”
    The heavy pot was lifted high in the air, and it was lucky that the men did not drop it again, so great was their surprise.
    The kettle was hung safely on its hook, and all the men dropped on their knees.
    “He's fainted!” said one.
    “No, he's only asleep!”
    The expression that had been on Mr. Master's face for the last hour and a half was gone now.
    “Frenchy!” he explained, shaking the boy to wake him. “How in the world did you get under the kettle?”
    Frenchy stood up.

(Continued next week)

 

Galesburg Post
April 19 , 1939

    Frenchy stood up and rubbed his eyes.
    “The kettle fell down on top of me and I went to sleep 'cause there was nothing else to do. What time is it, and how long have I been under that pot? Has the earthquake stopped entirely?”
    “It's exactly four-thirty, you have been under the pot more than an hour and half, the earthquake is over, and the repair crew is building up the houses again. Does that answer your questions, young man?”
    Frenchy nodded, and said, “Let's go outside. I'm hot.”
    “I should think you should be!” Mr. Masters laughed. “Come on. I'll hire a bicycle to take us home. Turkey has already gone.”
    After a hot bowl of soup at Mr. Master's house, all Frenchy's sleepiness deserted him, and he went outside with Turkey before bedtime, to watch the repair crew build up the houses.
    “Gee, look how quickly the crew builds up the houses! They don't spend more than twenty minutes on each house.”
    “That's why they are so easily knocked down!” Turkey grinned. “but I can't figure why Mr. Master's house didn't break in some part!”
    “It did! Did you notice that that picture of a Moonyite with the pink coat, on the dining room wall was broken?”
    “Oh, I didn't mean that! I suppose his house is fastened so firmly to the ‘Moon Pole' that it couldn't be shaken down. The pole is very strong, so of course the house wouldn't break! I certainly hope there aren't any more cloud-quakes!”
    “So do I! But look, the crew has built up all the houses around here, and are moving on! Let's go ask Mr. Masters if we can follow it!”
    “Oh, no you don't! You're comin' wif me!” Isabelle opened the door just in time to hear Frenchy's remark. “You's comin' wif me! The very idea Chasin' around at night! You's comin' to bed. Step lively, now, get right up to bed!”
    “Please, Isabelle, let us stay up until eight thirty ! Please?” Turkey pleaded.
    “It's eight o'clock right now, an' if I know chillun you won't be in bed and asleep till nine!”
    Frenchy laughed. Throwing out his arms dramatically he said “Oh have mercy on your poor captives! Do not throw us in the great prison! Let us return to our own country! Oh, please, Isabelle, let us stay up a littler longer! Just till eight-fifteen?”
    "No siree, young man, you would have been in bed at six, if Mr. Masters had let me have my way! He said if yo' didn't beg me out of it I could put you to bed at eight! An' that's jus' what I'm goin' to do! Come along, now, an' don't put up no fight!”
    The children were hustled up to bed, amid their pleas.
    No, no, talkin'!” Isabelle warned as she started down the stairs.
    All was quiet, and when Mr. Masters came upstairs at nine o'clock to turn off the big lamp, or moon, the children were fast asleep or seemed to be.

(Continued next week)