Cloud Reigns Over Crackerjack World
By Eileen Hatfield
The Bloomington Tribune
Sunday, July 16, 1967
NASHVILLE - Is there a child in this country who hasn't eagerly torn open a box of Cracker Jack, breathlessly seeking the omnipresent prize?
Probably not. And for those toys millions of youngsters can thank C. Carey Cloud, a Nashville artist who for years designed the tiny gadgets.
Climb Cloudcrest Hill beneath the spreading tees and dip into the hollow where Cloud's log studio overlooks the valley.
THEN BROWSE in the little museum which brings back childhood memories of Crackerjack.
Here are displayed not only wee plastic animals, funny faces and whistles, but the original carefully handcarved wooden models.
Behind each of the playthings are hours of tedious labor.
A diagram is drawn, a model four times as large as the proposed toy is carved, and the dies are made. After this preliminary work, tools and models for making the doodads are sent to manufacturers.
CLOUD GOT into the Crakerjack business in 1937. He was doing free lance work for Campfire Marshmallow advertising when he was approached on the premium work.
The company wanted to get away from a line of Japanese toys, so Cloud took over, designing, handling production and receiving not only a percentage but a sales commission. Forty million of the Cloud Creations were sold in one year.
Cloud has created cardboard figures and games, minute movies, action toys and miniatures for collections. He has spent endless hours contriving movable toys and has gotten ideas from such diversified sources, as the Encyclopedia of Paper and an exotic dancer in a nightclub.
HE EVEN invented the first plastic, reed whistle with a tone agreeable to the ears of both tots and their parents—a feat for which he will long be blessed.
Branching out, he originated the pop-up book, illustrating 20 of them in the 1930s, and designed toys and games for radio's Superman. He also made patterns for Post Cereal premiums, such as black plastic trivets.
In 1948, Cloud was living on the Lake Shore of Chicago and Brown County was still far away in his plans. The city stifled him, though, and he yearned for the country, more specifically his native Indiana.
WIEN THE building in which his office was located was sold out from under him, he decided that since he had planned to go to Nashville eventually to paint, it might as well be then.
So he approached the Crackerjack Company and discovered the officials didn't care where he just so he kept sending in his work.
This simplified things and Cloud, who proudly proclaims himself "a hick at heart" happily moved into the hills.
He began tapering off his premium work in 1948, devoting most of his time to painting. He has experimented in almost every medium, but is now concentrating on what he terms "in-depth realism," similar to the French "trompel'oeil" or "fool the eye."
HE CREATES such an illusion in his painting of an old building that it seems a mere touch will result in a splinter.
Bloomingtonians may view these works at a month-long show which started yesterday, in the North Lounge of the Memorial Union Building.
They will see homely scenes with a feeling of another dimension, meticulous attention paid to a hollyhock, a rusty nail, a shadow.
Cloud not only paints, he draws. "Many artists learn to paint", he says, "They get the impression but they don't draw. I have the knowledge and the ability for drawing, so why waste it?"
FOR ALL his artistry, Cloud is self-taught. After taking a $25 correspondence course in art, he began haunting the offices of the Cleveland Press for a job as a cartoonist. He was so persistent he was finally told that if be were going to hang around he might as well go to work.
After draining the cartoonist job dry of challenge, Cloud went elsewhere. He has been an illustrator for Red Book magazine and several other publications in Chicago, and his last salaried position was as art director for a calendar company.
His interest in art goes back to his childhood, but until recently he was completely unaware of how engrossed in the subject he had been as a boy.'
EARLY THIS month he exhibited seven of his paintings in the Warren Ind., area where he was born and as the crowd filed past somebody asked him, "Did you ever gel out of grade school? All you ever did was draw!"
What lies ahead for C. Carey Cloud? He will of course, continue to paint his nostalgic pictures and experiment with new art techniques.
He will also probably come up with new toy ideas now and then, for this artists has a fertile mind with an elfin twist. Just right for designing playthings.