ornate line
Jack the Railroad Signalman Who Happened To Be a Baboon
signalmn.gifBoy are the kids in luck today. In this ridiculous screed you will get Monkey News, an Odd History Lesson and a full column. Can this even be possible, you must be asking yourself. It is. You may want to print this beauty out, run a bubble-bath, pour a preferred chilled tipple, light some gardenia-scented candles, and make an evening out of it.

I'm so excited.

Okay, here we go.

In South Africa in the late 1800's, a baboon named Jack worked as a signalman at a train yard.

I swear on the Good Book it's true. At least according to South African historians it's true.

Jack did much more than just work at the train yard. The little bugger also worked as a disabled persons assistant, ox driver, janitor, bodyguard and train yard security officer. Jack was true renaissance monkey.

sas_sar_uitenhage.JPG In the South African town of Uitenhage lived a man named James Wide. Known to locals as "Jumper Wide." Jumper earned the moniker due to his love of jumping from one railcar to another. A neat trick. Well, it was until Jumper lost his footing, missed a jump and fell in between two cars. Jumper lost his legs. Nearly his life. And who was there to pick up the slack? Jack. That's who.

Let's back up a bit. How did Jumper meet Jack? By chance some would say. By divine intervention I say. Jumper had made a little trolley to scoot around on like Eddie Murphy in Trading Places. While visiting the local market, Jumper saw an ox wagon being driven by a freaking baboon. Jack at the helm. Capably steering the yoked beasts through the busy market traffic. Whip in hand. (I may be making the whip bit up.) Jumper went over to inquire about the obviously talented monkey. Jack's owner felt compassion towards the crippled man and gave him the baboon to become a helper. A partnership was born. It was like the meeting of Siegfried and Roy. Except less gay and nobody got eaten by a tiger. Hmm, may need to rethink that analogy. It was like the meeting of Abbott and Costello. There, that's better.

Jumper began taking Jack to work with him at the train yard. There Jack helped out wherever he could. At the end of a long day, Jack was rewarded with a stiff shot of brandy. If the master didn't deliver the booze, the following day there was a very uncooperative monkey at the Uitenhage Train Station.

After some time, and I swear I am not making this up, it is said that Jack learned to change the signals at the train yard. He responded to the horn blasts from the engineers and changed the signals accordingly. Locals swear that Jack never made an error. In fact, Cape Town train officials, after hearing of the monkey bidness up the road, came to investigate. Skeptical, they agreed to test Jack's competence and the little guy passed with flying colors. After he aced the signal exam, Jack was officially given a government salary (bananas?) and was issued an employee number. Really.

There are tributes to Jack the Signalman, as he was known, at the Albany Museum in Grahamstown (they have Jack's skull) and the Uitenhage Railway Station.

God bless that hard working monkey.

Tut Baboon Thoth.jpg Ancient historians wrote that the Egyptians trained baboons to wait tables in early versions of restaurants. King Tut knew the value of a monkey. And gold. The Egyptians even worshiped the baboon god Babi. Babi is the "god of virility of the dead." Which is why he often portrayed with an erection. Stinker.

My point is this: if ancient cultures could train monkeys to wait tables and a hundred years ago a baboon ran a train station, why can't we harness this simian power today?

We're not giving the monkeys enough responsibly.

The monkeys can be doing more. Much more. I am currently lining up investors for a monkey diner in Greenwich Village. Well, so far I don't have any takers, but I'm looking. We'll call the joint King Louie's and there will be a monkey staff. Maybe not the cooks. There could be some, uh, "foreign" ingredients in the western omelets if you're picking up what I'm putting down. But the wait staff and the maitre de will be monkeys. That's right, our monkey coffee shop will have a maitre de. A classiest greasy spoon on the whole island of Manhattan. Monkey + tuxedo = classy. That's science.

Other jobs the monkeys could lend a hand include:

Wal-Mart Greeter
Ticket-Taker at movie theater
Handing out samples of Orange Julius at the food court
Writer for Two and a Half Men
Car wash chamois guy
Lawn care/greenskeeper
Percussionist in "world music" band. Especially the wood block

200px-Mandril.jpg Let the spirit of Jack the Signalman live on! Owners of small business's! I call upon you when staffing a position to move the monkey resumes to the top of the pile.

We can show the monkeys the we value their service. That we love them.

It's only going to cost you a few more bananas.

Share on Facebook StumbleUpon ToolbarStumble This    Submit to RedditReddit!


I can see it now, The Downs Syndrome Fast Food Employees Union of America take to the picket lines:

"Them primate scabs are taking our JEEERBS!"

BTW, it's nice to know the dead have virility. I hope Sam Kinison is having his way with Jerry Falwell for all of eternity.

said chad on September 15, 2008 11:03 PM.

So a baboon was the egyptian god of necrophilia?


also, i propose that a monkey can do ANY job at wal-mart. not just the door greeter. From Cart pusher to store manager, they are all monkey-level jobs.

said Sheriff Pablo on September 15, 2008 11:31 PM.

Man Pablo, did I miss a joke there. That is fantastic. One of the few times necrophilia can be funny.

Tip o' the cap from New York City, pally.

said Johnny Wright on September 15, 2008 11:37 PM.

Wow that's a big tip of the hat all the way to saginaw, MI

seriously wouldn't it be cool to go to a wal mart fully staffed by monkeys? If your card is rejected at the checkout line? BAM feces in the face.

said Sheriff Pablo on September 15, 2008 11:54 PM.

If wishing made it so...

said Johnny Wright on September 16, 2008 12:03 AM.

Monkeys and other animals work with disabled people now. I give our primate brothers a lot of credit, and respect. In many ways animals are more decent than humans.

BTW, in college, I had professors who said they could teach monkies to do what we were learning. One of them was an intro calc teacher. He wasn't entirely joking but I think that'd just be animal cruelty and I don't think anyone would abide by it.

said E on September 16, 2008 12:12 AM.

You got me on the necrophilia god, Pablo... And they say that the Japanese are perverts... The Egyptians started it earlier.

If Virgil could fly a plane, why couldn't Jack too? He drove ox wagons because it was the available vehicle at the time. A little more training and he could be operating cargo trains, and he would be more skilled to jump between the railcars.
I think that if Jack was still alive, he could fly a Boeing coast to coast. Maybe even intercontinental flights.

said Leonardo Carvalho on September 16, 2008 7:57 AM.

I think staffing a few Starbucks with monkeys would be awesome.
Not only can a guy get great cofee but he can watch Monkeys at work.
That's America.

said Dave on September 16, 2008 10:32 AM.


said Dave on September 16, 2008 10:34 AM.

I thought of that too.
I am just afraid that if you don't give the monkeys a good tip your coffee may be a little 'crappy'.

said Leonardo Carvalho on September 16, 2008 10:35 AM.

I see no reason that Jack couldn't pilot a 747 or become a barista. None.

said Johnny Wright on September 16, 2008 10:36 AM.

I think it is impossible to ruin a delicious Starbucks cofee.


said Dave on September 16, 2008 10:42 AM.

I thought I'd get a "Bloody Hell" out of Johnny for the Starbucks comment. I guess I'm off my game.

Great piece J-Dub.

said Dave on September 16, 2008 10:45 AM.

News flash!
Jack is still alive. Nowadays he is a Cub Master, and proudly wears bolo ties. Even having no sense of humour, being a baboon is not that funny any more, he reads humorous sites on the internet just to criticize the jokes.

said Leonardo Carvalho on September 16, 2008 10:48 AM.

According to the cartoons, baboons also are adept at kung-fu.

This column should have been the series finale for Tales of the Gold Monkey.

said Don't Swayze Bro on September 16, 2008 11:03 AM.

Jack's jokes would be more witty than the Cub Scout Master. Less puns I would wager.

No kidding Swayze, I watched Tales of the Golden Monkey as a kid. That dog had an eyepatch. Awesome.


said Johnny Wright on September 16, 2008 11:16 AM.

JW, i fall in love with you a little more each time you post about monkeys.

and then you go and throw in a King Louie reference and my heart just flutters.

I think a few fast food joints already have monkeys working the drive thru... they just push random buttons and put what ever they want in the bag.

said Angie on September 16, 2008 11:31 AM.

Angie, That is my standard strategy with the ladies: Write bollocks about monkeys and look smug.

I am pretty sure I saw a capuchin working at a Carl's Jr in Diamond Bar California. Pretty sure.

said Johnny Wright on September 16, 2008 11:37 AM.

I'm betting on that too, JW. Jack's sense of humour is more sharp than Scout Master's.

said Leonardo Carvalho on September 16, 2008 12:01 PM.

No JW you are mistaken. the monkey was in the hamburger at Carl's jr.

Could Jack save the world from terrorists in a dramatic, drawn out 24 episode day? His name IS Jack after all...

said Sheriff Pablo on September 16, 2008 12:23 PM.

Hand him a never-out-of-area cell phone with a never ending battery, never empty guns and a team who can find everything on their network. I think he can.

said Leonardo Carvalho on September 16, 2008 12:26 PM.

mmmm monkey burger

said Angie on September 16, 2008 12:30 PM.

Pablo, like Leo said, you give that baboon a cell phone, satellite coverage and a Sig Sauer 9mm and Jack the Signalman would stop the terrorists. Of that I am sure.

said Johnny Wright on September 16, 2008 12:40 PM.

This season on 24...Jack bauer throws feces in the face of terrorism...

you know, The more i look at the pictures, the more i wonder if Kiefer Sutherland isn't actually a well trained baboon.

said Sheriff Pablo on September 16, 2008 5:02 PM.

JW -

You really need to do a retrospective on ToGM. That show was outstanding.

I mean, not that I ever watched it religiously for the one season it was on the air, and wept when it was cancelled or anything.

I wonder if there's any chance that we could start a fan petition for CBS to shoot new episodes...

said Don't Swayze Bro on September 17, 2008 10:10 AM.

I'll put the idea on the notebook. We'll see.

Tales of the Golden Monkey does have a cult following. There has been rumors and reports of a DVD release, but nothing yet. Honestly, I don't know how the show holds up to what I remember as a kid. Maybe that could be a column. Re-watching the show now and comparing it to what I remember. Just need the episodes.



said Johnny Wright on September 17, 2008 10:26 AM.

They would make excellent security guards at clubs and be great for personal security for celebrities - slap the shit out of those intruding photographers.

said Baierman on September 18, 2008 10:40 AM.

Have any of you wiseacres heard of Just Nuisance the Naval dog of Simonstown? Try Googling Just Nuisance. This dog travelled the trains from Cape town to Simonstown naval base ensuring that drunken sailors got off at the right station.

said Lynette on September 21, 2008 6:50 AM.

Lynette I have made a note about Just Nuisance the Naval dog. That may become a future Odd History Lesson.

Thanks for reading.


said Johnny Wright on September 21, 2008 1:52 PM.
pop culture
blog on the
maybe not.

rss feed Breakfast Links Feed

Recent Comments

What we can learn from Donna "Treasure Bombshell" Simpson?
Dear Treasure Bombshell If you don’t’ love yourself think of your daughter. W

What we can learn from Donna "Treasure Bombshell" Simpson?
Dear Treasure Bombshell If you don’t’ love yourself think of your daughter. W

Where the Streets have Sexual Names
Lets not leave out Climax, Saskatchewan :)

Where are they now? Serial Killers
another true fact on Jeffry Dahlmer, sick puppy he is ..one book at library sai

Where Are They Now - The Griswold Kids
dana hill passed away now

Where Are They Now - The Griswold Kids
dana hill passed away now

Comments Feed

Special Features

Archives by Writer

New to YesButNoButYes?