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The Story Behind the Photograph - The Butterfat Gang

Yes, I refuse to use Kleenex until this mess is cleaned up.

This is the last known photograph of the notorious Butterfat Gang of Seven who terrorized the dairy industry in the mid 1930’s. Harlan Underln, standing, center, led the gang in raids on milk trucks and neighborhood Rubber Baby Buggy Ice Cream wagons throughout Iowa and County Cork

The Butterfat Gang of Seven, (actually there were five or so members, but none of them could count) all descended in some way from lineage of the infamous robber, Dennis Moore of the 17th century in England. Highwayman Moore was noted for lupin(e)s and doing something completely different.

The method of the Butterfat Gang was simple. They would stand in the road and stop dairy delivery trucks. Eight or nine of the gang members would circle the truck and stand lookout. Three or four other members would then insist the driver sell them what ever stock was carried on the truck. The driver would then be obligated to return to the dairy and restock for the morning deliveries. This certainly confounded dairy owners not to mention the trauma experienced by many cows.

Their last caper was said to be the carefully planned robbery of the 2:40 AM milk train. It went awry when most of the gang members overslept. No one knows how many actually showed up as none of them could actually count. The engineer refused to stop the train anyway.

Throughout their reign of confusion, none of the gang was ever caught. Actually no one ever looked for them either. They all lived well into their fifties and died overweight

Heppel Whitsig, (seated, with cigar) invented the combination creel and picnic basket and went on to a successful retirement in poverty. He never married. His twin brother, Wimpole, (also seated but no cigar) was either the youngest or the oldest in the gang, depending on which account of his birth was accurate. His mother could not seem to recall the event.

Fred (too tall) Herringbun was not on the Titanic when it tragically struck an iceberg. He married young and his wife dressed him funny.

Gable Snoot, seventh from left in this picture, worked briefly as a store window model for suspenders (or braces). He was spotted there by a Hollywood movie director who went into hiding and was never seen again.

The rest of the gang is pretty much unknown but perhaps someone will recognize a relative or a neighbor here.

These events rarely get a notation in history books although some say the gang activities accelerated the research leading to the invention of the milking machine.

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  • At Sunday, April 15, 2007 3:01:00 PM, Blogger jack rensimer said…

    I thought perhaps one of these could have been a great grandfather, he always smelled of milk, but I didn't recognize anyone in the photo...


  • At Sunday, April 15, 2007 3:07:00 PM, Blogger anyjazz said…

    Thanks for checking JR. I suppose they could be in disguise or pretending to be someone else.

  • At Monday, April 16, 2007 1:14:00 PM, Blogger MXI said…

    I was assured by my grade 9 teacher that the Butterfat Gang was purely fictional, but since you have obviously risked life and limb to obtain this photo,I must now assume she lied to me.

    Have you any information on the whereabouts of the man in the bowler hat, third from the right, as I am suspicious of a clerk at the 7-11.

  • At Monday, April 16, 2007 4:31:00 PM, Blogger anyjazz said…

    Ninth Grade! Did you have Miss Tanner or R. Eaton (Moth-Eaten) Gerber? What hour?

    It’s doubtful that the man in the bowler ever worked at a 7-11. The convenience store chain requires that all clerks must be able to count and speak English…wait a minute…Maybe he did.

    Do you know why Miss Tanner quit teaching mid-term and moved to Greece? I always liked her.

  • At Monday, April 16, 2007 9:14:00 PM, Blogger Hale McKay said…

    This was great! I'll have to check out some of your past posts. If this one was any indication, I'm in for a treat(s).

    Thanks for thevisit and comments at my place.

  • At Monday, April 16, 2007 9:18:00 PM, Blogger Hale McKay said…

    Oops! I meant thanks for the visit and comments at mine and Serena's place ( Verbical Tendencies.

    (Of course, you are more than welcome to check out my site also.)

  • At Tuesday, April 17, 2007 1:43:00 AM, Blogger MXI said…

    Miss Tanner had already left, I had the other one, the old lady with buck teeth, what was her name?

    I heard Miss Tanner left because of the "daffodil incident".

  • At Tuesday, April 17, 2007 10:42:00 AM, Blogger anyjazz said…

    Oh no. NOT Miss Tanner. Couldn’t be. No. When that daring daylight defacing of downtown Dayton’s Daffodil Diner occurred, leaving graffiti, grime and goo all over the café walls, windows and washroom, Miss Tanner was with me. Yes, now it can be told. I don’t know why Miss Tanner never gave them her alibi. She had kept me after school for my disgusting degree of deportment, to clean erasers and empty the pencil sharpener (possible innuendo) and so she was distinctly disconnected from the Daffodil doings. The actual culprit (Carlene Cox) was captured and incarcerated but not until Miss Tanner had capitulated and reconvened her life on the island of Corfu. The rabid Rapid City Reporter reporters wouldn’t let it rest until her reputation was wrested from her. What a waste.

    Actually it wasn’t me; it was my older, twin, half-step brother. We had different mothers and fathers. We were separated at birth and never actually met formally. I was in Twila (Bucky) Tucker’s classroom with about twelve other academic retardees retaking an arithmetic test.

    Wait a minute. I just realized something important. You’re younger than me.

  • At Tuesday, April 17, 2007 11:02:00 AM, Blogger MXI said…

    I may be younger, but I'm not as old as you.

  • At Tuesday, April 17, 2007 7:44:00 PM, Anonymous opie_jeanne said…

    It was your evil twin, Skippy.

  • At Wednesday, April 18, 2007 9:14:00 AM, Blogger anyjazz said…

    Skippy! Dang! I had forgotten his name! Actually I had a pet turtle named Skippy too. And a snail.


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