Dakota Datebook

A Monkey in the Cookies

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

On this day in 1963, it was reported that a monkey had come to Fargo. A ring-tailed monkey named Charlie.

Irvin Knutson, a semi driver for Midwest Motor Express, had arrived at the Red Owl warehouse in Fargo with 2,800 cases of cookies, which he’d picked up on Wednesday at the Banner Biscuit Company in Carrolton, Missouri.

It wasn’t until Friday morning that Knutson unlocked and opened the back doors of his truck. On top of the cases inside sat a monkey, but it somehow didn’t register. Knutson told Chet Gebert of the Fargo Forum that he said to himself, “Chee, that’s a lot of cookies,” and then got into the truck to back it up to the loading dock. It wasn’t until the truck was moving that he said to himself, “Son-of-a-gun! That was a monkey!”

Soon, the warehouse employees were gathered around Knutson trying to get a look at Charlie, but the monkey had hidden between some cases up in front. Every so often, he would peek out to see what all the ruckus was about, but he wouldn’t come out far enough to get caught. The only thing to do was unload the truck.

By 3:15 that afternoon, Victor Klassen, the forklift operator, was down to the last cases when the monkey finally darted out. Klassen was ready. With a quick swish, he caught Charlie with his fish landing net.

Charlie screeched, but he wasn’t harmed. He was dehydrated and hungry – despite traveling three days with nothing but cookies, he hadn’t eaten any of them.

Someone put Charlie inside a wooden fruit crate and gave him some water. He took a couple sips, but he wouldn’t eat the banana they tried to give him. He was too scared. Charlie was taken to the truck terminal office, where it was decided he should be taken to the Valley Veterinary Clinic. There, he was fed and allowed to relax.

Meanwhile, Midwest terminal manager Nels Roswick got in touch with the Banner Biscuit Company in Missouri. Boswick told the Forum, “We asked them if anyone was missing a monkey. They said they didn’t known of any lost monkey, and then they called us back and asked if we were drinking up here.”

The Carrollton police and sheriff’s department were contacted, and sure enough, there was an ad in the local paper’s Lost and Found section. A monkey named Charlie was missing.

About an hour later, Mrs. Betty Boothe called from her home in Missouri and described Charlie, saying he was a family pet she’d gotten three months earlier. Her description of the monkey fit, so Boswick agreed to send Charlie back to Boothe and her daughter just as soon as he was fit to travel. He would be shipped express.

Mrs. Boothe was baffled about how Charlie had gotten into the truck. But she was glad he was okay and would soon be coming back home.

It was never reported whether or not Charlie got a cookie when it was all over.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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