Scott Hollifield: Monkey Action News Team back by semi-popular demand

Once again, the public demands more news about monkeys and I, as the theoretical cigar-chomping, hooch-swilling, skirt-chasing, cholesterol-lowering-medication-taking, underpaid and overworked 1930s-style bureau chief of the fictional yet highly respected Monkey Action News Team, will fling it with both hands.

One reader this week emailed a link to a story about the discovery of a mummified monkey in the air duct of a former Minneapolis department store. Another sent me the same the story, but this one came with a message: “Get Monkey Squad to investigate.”

While “Monkey Squad” sounds like the name of an entertaining movie about a group of plucky chimps secretly trained to operate behind enemy lines during World War II, the correct name of my group is the Monkey Action News Team and I summoned my culturally diverse squad -- Johnny, Rico, Lulu, Jaafar, Kichiro and Toots – to my office for a briefing.

“What is it, chief?” Johnny asked with a note of apprehension. “Is it more of those newspaper layoffs we’ve been hearing so much about?”

“ Shut your pie hole !” I bellowed, poking a finger hard into Johnny’s chest. “When I want to hear something ought of you, you snot-nose punk, I’ll beat it of you, see?”

“Say, chief, we thought it was clear from our last session with HR that you can’t threaten to beat Johnny,” said Toots. “Didn’t you learn anything from the management webinar?”

“You’re right, you’re right,” I said, genuinely sorry I had verbally abused and poked Johnny again. “It’s just that I get so worked up about these monkey stories. Monkey news is my life. It’s all I’ve ever known, see? Except for my family, you guys are the family I never had. I’ve watched young Johnny here mature from a snot-nose punk to slightly less of a snot-nose punk over the course of his career. I only want the best for all of you.”

Johnny seemed touched.

“Thanks, chief, it’s good to know you’re on our side when –“

“ Can it, Johnny ! We’ve got no time for sitting around holding hands and singing ‘Kumbaya.’ There’s monkey news out there – monkey news the public demands and we are going to give it to them. Now get out there and find out if someone discovered a mummified monkey in an old department store!”

Here’s what they came up with: Yes, someone discovered a mummified monkey in an old department store.

As many media organizations, including, reported, a worker renovating a 100-year-old department store in Minneapolis said he found the mummified remains of a monkey in an air duct earlier this month.

How it got there was open to speculation.

Several readers on a Facebook page discussing the story found ads from the ‘50s and ‘60s promising “hilarious monkeys” for sale in the store’s pet department, along with tropical fish and exotic birds, though none of the latter were found mummified in the air ducts during the latest renovation.

One man, the mayor of a nearby town, claimed his father stole a monkey from the store in the 1960s and, after it went nuts, he took it back and let it out on the escalator. In theory, that monkey could have made its way into the duct work and expired.

I think a question more important than how it got there is why did no one smell a dead monkey in the duct work of a department store at any time after the monkey’s demise?

Or, if they did, how was it explained away?

“Smell? No, madam, I don’t smell anything. Now, let me show you our selection of tropical fish and exotic birds. Unfortunately, we’ve discontinued our line of hilarious monkeys.”

We may never know the answer to these compelling questions. But, rest assured, the Monkey Action News Team won’t give up trying to find it, not even Johnny, that snot-nose punk.

Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, NC and a humor columnist. Contact him at

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily newsletter.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.