Ancient Ax Rivalry Climaxed By Successful
Stanford Raid on Guards of Armored Car;
Highways Filled By Avenging Californians

The Daily Californian, 4 April 1930

Bank Official Disclaims All Responsibility

Pettigrove Denise Liability of American Trust in Stanford Ax Case

Stolen last night after a tear-bomb attack, the California ax today lies in a vault of the Stanford Board of Control building, say last minute reports from the farm.

A burly Stanfordite plunging through the line that surrounded the armored car — a short struggle with the custodian, who had the ax in his hands — a quick pass to the waiting arms of another colleague — two tear bombs skillfully aimed into the milling mob of freshmen — a gray sedan speeding away, and the Stanford ax is no longer in possession of California.

Separation of Guardians Gives Plotters Chance

Two photographers, stationed on top of another sedan which was backed into the curb beside the armored car were madly appealing to the crowd of freshmen to stand back that they might obtain a picture of the ax.

The separation of the guard gave the plotters their opportunity to attack Norman HONRER '31, new custodian, snatch the ax from him and get it to the waiting auto, while bewildered spectators scattered to avoid the penetrating fumes that pervaded the night air.

Stanford Man Allowed to Escape Angry Mob

Believing the man who made the first grab at HORNER had the blade in his possession, he was jostled into the bank, and the doors closed upon him. The handle of the ax which was plainly visible through the glass front of the bank led to the believe that the ax was safe. It was some minutes before the smarting crowd that surged outside learned that the blade was gone, which allowed the gray sedan ample time in which to remove their precious burden from the vicinity without suspicion.

Fear that the plotter who was in the bank might suffer at the hands of the frenzied mob which by this time had gathered at the bank, prevailed upon officials to allow him to evade by a side door unnoticed.

Eyewitness Tells Story of Confusion At Bank

Following is an eye witness account.

At the close of the rally the car, parked behind the stage, started for the first Berkeley branch of the American Trust company, Center street and Shattuck avenue.... In the car, back seat with the ax were HORNER and Charles M. YOUNG, guard furnished gratis by the bank. In front seat, just the driver, a rally committeeman, and a student.

As the armored car got under way Californians piled on the roof, sides, and hood of the car. As car started down hill from Greek Theatre more piled on — possibly Stanfordites now.

In rally, according to KINNEY, freshmen were directed to escort car to bank and afford protection. But the car went at a speed faster than the followers could maintain. Result: when car reached bank by driving up on sidewalk and stopping just before it was beside bank doors (Center street side) it stopped with only a handful or two of students on the car and a small number from autos that had followed armored car to bank.

Now the photographers (two standing on car backed up) asked to have everyone stop and pose for a picture. During the taking of the picture the ax was not taken by Californians out of the car.

Ax taken out of "vault" in back seat. HORNER had it in his hands and held pressed into his stomach. A group formed about car — fellows packed into few-foot space between car and bank building and in the space around the doorway — path left for HORNER to follow. As HORNER's feet touched the ground he was ready to dash into bank, hand ax to bank official, and have ax put in safety vault. According to HORNER, WYATT was a few feet ahead of him with back to bank entrance, and with his hands out as if to give assistance or possibly to accept the ax in case of trouble. At this time HORNER says he was grabbed around the neck and forced back into the car. Somebody or some persons grabbed the ax out of his hands after two unsuccessful tries. While this was occurring a probable Stanfordite, in the space between car and building, reached over the persons nearest to HORNER and made a grab for him. Then while the real stealer of the ax made a get-away the Californians present grabbed this probably Stanfordite and hauled him into bank. At the time the ax was stolen from hands of HORNER one or more tear bombs were hurled to the sidewalk and Californians were forced to retreat from car and run into street or into open door of bank. In the meantime the thieves made their escape in "a light colored Packard Eight Sedan" crowded with persons. Direction of flight unknown.

While lone Stanfordite was in bank, everyone rushed about determining if ax really was rushed into bank's vault.... It was a full three to five minutes before Californians knew for certain if ax was really stolen.

The American Trust Co. is not responsible for the loss of the ax, according to J.C. PETTYGROVE, vice-president. His account and explanation follows:

I was standing at the door of the bank, ready to admit the custodian of the ax. The ax never entered the building.

PETTYGROVE asserted that has a receipt for the ax given him by the custodian (probably WYATT).

This places all responsibility into the hands of the custodians. The armored car and driver with guard was merely a courtesy of the bank and not a responsibility. The only time a bank is responsible is at a time when the doors are properly locked and the burglar alarm is in working order.

Such responsibility means the paying of a blanket bond, he indicated.

No clues as to the possible location or route of those who succeeded in regaining the ax had been obtained at a late hour last night, although several students, including William L. HUDSON '30, editor of The Californian, John A. REYNOLDS '30, president of the A.S.U.C., immediately proceeded to the Stanford campus.

"We can do nothing in this matter," was the reply of the Berkeley police department when asked to watch all outlets from the city. "Technically it is a robbery, and a matter to be settled between the two Universities. Although the ax was originally stolen from Stanford, possession for three years outlaws any robbery charges that Stanford might hold against California."

"Enough has been said concerning the matter," was the brief remark of W.W. MONAHAN, graduate manager of the A.S.U.C.

Rumors that Herbert FLEISCHACKER had offered a reward for the capture of the ax remain unfounded.

©1930 The Daily Californian
Extremophiles Inc.