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Way We Were: Taking it too far

Park City butcher was once victim of lively prank

Dalton Gackle
Park City Museum research coordinator
The interior of the Park City Meat Company, circa 1902-1905, which Joe Brandl owned and operated from 1899 to 1910. Presumably, Brandl is one of the men in this photograph.
The Park City Historical Society & Museum

Joe Brandl was a popular figure in Park City from the 1890s through 1910. A butcher for E.D. Sutton & Co. starting in 1891, Joe opened his own butcher shop — the Park City Meat Company – with James Rasband in 1899. Joe was also a member of the B.P.O.E (Elks Club) and was one of the town’s prominent baseball players. He ran the Park City Meat Co. shop until September 1910, when he sold his interest to Rasband. The Park Record speculated he would stay in town; however, Joe’s son and daughter-in-law lived in Idaho Falls. He and his wife moved to Idaho Falls in early 1911, where Joe opened a new shop.

From time to time, Joe would visit old friends in Park City and attend to business or see family in Salt Lake City. Such was the case in late January of 1914. Joe was in Salt Lake City “on a visit combining pleasure and business.” Around the time that Joe checked into his hotel, police had been notified of the theft of a “valuable overcoat.”

According to The Park Record, “in some unaccountable manner, Joe was suspicioned by the police.” These “owl-eyed minions of the law” staked out Joe’s room all night, but Joe ended up staying at a friend’s after exhausting himself with his business late into the evening. When he returned to his room in the morning he was swiftly arrested.



The Park Record reported that Joe thought the whole affair to be a joke at first, but he changed his mind as he and his belongings were “hustled into the patrol wagon.” Joe apparently realized he was “up against it” and phoned the Elks Club in Park City, hoping to reach one of his old friends so they could identify him and vouch for his character.

Al Zabrinski, Mike Daily and others who knew Joe were at the B.P.O.E. building, but rather than having concern for their friend, decided they could “get ‘one over’ on Joe.” A group went down to City Hall in Salt Lake City where “Joe appealed to them, but in return received only a blank stare, and then turning to the police his friends informed the officers that they were well acquainted with Joe Brandl, but the prisoner was not that person — but rather a rank imposter, etc., etc.”



Undoubtedly, Joe was upset. The Park Record noted “Joe’s feelings can be better imagined than described” as Joe “showered” swears and “pet names” on his fellow Elks, which had “no effect, and Joe was led to his cell.”

In a few minutes, Joe’s friends confessed their prank and he was released. Joe reportedly tried to get his friends back frequently for the remainder of his visit.

While the incident might have occurred, it is unclear if it was exaggerated. Brandl was good friends with Park Record Editor Sam Raddon, a fellow Elk who might have been part of the group who went down to pull the prank. Joe’s son had even worked as a “newsboy” at The Park Record under Raddon. Regardless, it makes for an interesting story, albeit a little too early for April Fool’s.

Learn more about Park City’s history at the Park City Museum, parkcityhistory.org, and their Hal Compton Research Library.


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