LOOKING BACK: Brown County’s Cracker Jack connection

As some of you may not have known, the Cracker Jack toy creator, C. Carey Cloud, was a resident of Brown County. Only recently there was a fire up on Town Hill just south of Nashville that almost completely destroyed an old log cabin.

That cabin was formerly the Carey Cloud studio. He had spent over 30 years in that old cabin creating Cracker Jack toys and beautiful paintings, his first love. C. Carey Cloud’s book, “Cloud Nine,” tells of his life and his lifelong career.

In 1937, he was doing artwork through an advertising department for the Cracker Jack Company. They had been importing the toys that go in the Cracker Jack boxes from Japan for over 30 years and had wished to end the practice. When Cloud walked into their offices, he was the solution to their problem.

At first, he didn’t see any future in making Cracker Jack toys, but as the fellow in charge remarked, “The guy who is importing the toys is driving a Cadillac.” That clinched it for him. That was the beginning of 25 years of a great career.

His first toy design was a little tin animal that bobbed its head.

He not only had to design the toys, but soon realized the money was in the production end of the job. He had to teach himself how to do this from scratch.

Cloud had been to Brown County before this and had a home here at one time. This home he had lost during the Great Depression. He had never forgotten the beautiful hills of Brown County, though. He had always planned to retire here and devote his retirement years to painting full-time.

In 1947, he had been looking for a better place for his studio in Chicago when he decided, why not go back to Brown County? After meeting with the officials at the Cracker Jack Company, they told him they didn’t care where he lived as long as he kept sending them the toys.

After his last visit here he bought the high hill south of Nashville consisting of 195 acres. The place had a beautiful chalet-type house with a 100-year-old caretaker’s log cabin. This cabin he used for over 30 years to create the Cracker Jack toys and spend time doing what he loved, painting.

While Cloud is no longer with us, he has left a legacy among the hills and residents of Brown County.

The Brown County Historical Society this month is highlighting a collection of Cracker Jack toys that have been put on display downstairs in the History Center.

Along with this is a display on C. Carey Cloud’s lithographs and information on his life.

His book, “Cloud Nine,” also is available for purchase in the gift shop.

— Rhonda Dunn, Brown County Historical Society