In 1937-38 Bruce Eells and his Broadcasters Program Syndicate put together a pair of charming serials about an orphaned boy, Jerry Dugan.
At the beginning of Jerry of the Circus we learn that Jerry is all alone in the world except for his dog, Rags. Just before Jerry’s Dad passed away he writes a letter to Mr. Randall, owner of the Randall Brother’s Circus. He asks that if anything happens to him, he hopes that Mr. Randall will take in Jerry. He states in the letter that Jerry “has Circus in his blood.”
Jerry is quickly befriended by most of the circus performers and crew, especially Bumps the Clown. The knife-thrower, Lorenz, is the exception. He takes an immediate dislike to Jerry and especially Rags. Bumps comes to the rescue by making Rags a part of his act. Another good friend of Jerry’s is Decker, part of the knife throwing act and an animal trainer. We learn that Lorenz has some sort of hold over Decker involving bribery and blackmail. Part of Decker’s problem is a case of amnesia- when he recovers he realizes that he is a big game hunter and Jerry’s long lost uncle!
The radio circus is a good life, but really no place for a bright boy with great potential to grow up. Decker is about to go on a hunting expedition and has Mr. Randall legally made Jerry’s guardian. Together they decide that the best thing for Jerry is to enroll him in the Military Academy at Fair Oaks. Now they just have to convince Jerry!
Although he hates to leave his friends, Jerry soon realizes that Fair Oaks has a lot to offer, a football team, polo, tradition, and friends to be made his own age. And besides, the school is near the Circus’ Winter Quarters, so he will still see his circus friends. But some of the other students are jealous and less than understanding of Jerry’s background. His close friend and roommate Lee has problems of his own that Jerry may need to help with.
Jerry at Fair Oaks is a shorter serial, but it is a great story of a boy learning to be a fine young man.