Secrecy and Perfect Timing Brings Success to Card Band; Each Car, Each Man, Has Definite Duty And Destination; Miller Throws Bomb

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The first authentic and authorized story of the axe return to Stanford by the twenty-one Sequoia stalwarts is printed in this morning's edition of the Daily. It was written especially for the Daily and compiled in collaboration by the twenty-one heroes at a meeting held Saturday night.)

Determined to recover the Stanford axe sooner or later, a small group of Sequoia men were organized by Don Kropp four years ago.

Unsuccessful attempts by this aggregation during the last three years were organized and enthusiastic ones, but each was frustrated by some development arising during the course of the action.

In 1927, Moroni Jameson actually carried the axe into the Berkeley bank, but so completely surrounded was he by California men that escape with the cherished trophy was impossible.

Fate would have it in 1928 that the axe custodian, after having been tackled by Stanford attackers, should fall on top the traditional implement. It was this lucky tumble which saved the axe once again for Cal. Delay in wresting the weapon from its guardian gave time for nearby frosh to surge forward and protect the cherished weapon.

Participants in the 1928 struggle were Moroni Jameson, Seth McKenna, Phil Duncan, Ross Fields, Obie Banks, George Brummel, Joe Bridges, Nordi Nordheim, Bob Loofbourrow, Jim Purcell, Johnny O'Sullivan, and Don Kropp.

Last year's efforts came to naught when several of the Stanford men were recognized. Plans were postponed until 1930. Little did the Sequoia band realize that the new decade would bring about the realization of their plans for the return of the axe to Stanford.

Secrecy has been strictly maintained by the band of twenty-one. Organized by Kropp, the determined few adopted a policy of continued silence concerning their plans. They deemed it vitally necessary that little be known of their actions if the hallowed agada was ever to be returned to the Farm.

Last Tuesday a secret meeting of the twenty-one was called by Kropp. Ringleaders were chosen, plans were outlined, and a line of action formulated.

The group planned to recapture the axe on the steps of the American Trust Company bank at Berkeley after its return by armored car from the rally in the Greek Theater. Men were to be stationed between the bank door and the armored car to prevent entrance into the bank. To effect a quick getaway it was deemed essential to have a speedy automobile close by and ready for instant use. The camera ruse was the solution.

Thursday morning the plot was thoroughly familiarized to the twenty-one before they departed for Berkeley.

At 4:30 Thursday afternoon three cars slipped quietly away from the Stanford Mausoleum -- the final meeting place of the plotters -- and headed for Berkeley, for Cal, and for the axe.

Each car had a definite destination and a function.

Eric Hill's car went directly to Alston Way, east of Shattuck Avenue. There the occupants immediately joined the California frosh in their march to the bank to get the axe.

Berry Liken's machine was driven directly to South Berkeley, parked, and its occupants hastened to the Greek Theatre.

Kropp and James Trimmingham drove directly to Oakland, rented a Buick roadster from the Hertz drive-yourself service. Kropp parked his car two blocks from the bank and then joined Trimmingham in the rented car.

The whole situation was minutely surveyed. Care was taken to avoid bank environs so that suspicion would be averted.

During the rally at the Greek Theatre the members of the twenty-one band present cautiously edged their way to the heart of the bowl so they could be near the axe at the cessation of the affair.

Ten minutes before the rally closed, five Stanford men secretly left the Greek Theatre. They were the fake cameramen -- Ray Walsh and Warren Gage, the driver of the rented car -- Jim Trimmingham and Art Miller and Don Kropp. They drove to the bank and backed the car onto the sidewalk, and rigged up a camera in the rumble seat.

Miller and Kropp rode back to Sather Gate to await the departure of the armored car. When it was seen to leave, the two men "tore back" to the bank.

Plans Complete

Miller, who played the role of bombist, concealed the "pineapple" under his coat and planted himself at the entrance of the bank. Kropp parked his car at the rear of the camera car in such a way that he could follow closely behind and ward off other cars that might threaten to overtake the machine racing away with the recaptured axe. After placing his car in position, Kropp, general supervisor of the plan, joined the cameramen to ascertain that everything was ready for action.

The Stanford men moved nervously in their positions as they impatiently awaited the armored car. It was not long before a black, steel-covered Studebaker hove into sight. It carried the axe, Norm Horner, an armed guard, and a driver. Stanford me hanging on the car wore Howard Avery, Eric Hill, Loofbourow, and Jerry Bettman. All the remaining twenty-one took positions around the armored car and near the bank door. To allow ample time for these maneuvers the fake cameramen were loudly demanding "Let's have a good shot at the axe!"

Freshmen Pose

Freshman guards, pleased at the chance for photographic publicity, eagerly fell for the ruse. They politely drew back to "have their picture taken." Contrary to popular belief, Horner did NOT yield to the camera ruse. He remained with the armored car. An overloaded shot of flashlight powder was discharged with a blinding flash and a whitish puff, just as Norm Horner, axe custodian, stepped from the car.

Scarcely had Horner touched the sidewalk than Howard Avery dropped from the top of the car onto the body of the unsuspecting custodian, wrenched the axe from Horner and passed the implement through several hands to Loofbourow. Hill and Bettman the closed in on Horner simultaneously in an effort to quell the furiously battling Californian.

Loofbourow, meanwhile, tucked the treasured axe beneath his sweater and calmy walked through an opening made for him in the crowd by Stanford men. Few suspected that under Bob's brown sweater lay hidden that precious trophy which California had zealously guarded for thirty-one years. He slowly walked to the camera car, got in, and away went the machine, driven by Trimmingham.

Just as the camera car whirled away, Miller dropped a tear bomb directly in front of the bank. The crowd scattered as odiferous fumes began to penetrate the air. Avery, the original attacker of Horner, was swept into the bank by a pushing, clamoring mob of vengeful Californians. They thought he had the axe. Undaunted by numbers, Hill and Bettman rushed to the aid of the confederate. Luckily, the fumes of the tear gas crept into the bank, filling the air with the sickening odor. The three Stanfordites escaped through the crowd.

During the bombing confusion the armored car was thoroughly ransacked by Kropp and Miller to make sure that no hoax had been imposed upon the Stanford raiders.

Exits Blocked

Ferrino and his men, having completely blocked every avenue of exit from the vicinity, materially delayed word of the axe theft from being spread through Berkeley.

Stanford men, mixed together with Californians, raised their voices in protest against the axe theft from "those --------- guys from Stanford."

Sure that the axe was in Stanford's possession, the Cardinals raised the cry, "Let's go up to the Campenile and organize a pursuit party!" The idea spread contagiously. "Campenile!" shouted the mob, and up to the familiar spot of the Berkeley campus as a thousand Californians rushed.

Ruse Successful

This second ruse delayed immediate pursuit of the car which was racing toward the upper bay regions as fast as six sturdy cylinders could carry it.

Contrary to reports, no Stanford students were held as hostages by the Californians.

Fifty minutes after the first uproar, the historical Stanford Axe was safe in the hands of a jubilant mob of Cardinals. It had been speeded from Berkeley to Oakland to Milpitas across the Alviso cutoff to Mayfield and then through the main entrance to campus.

The four in the car were Trimmingham, driver, Loofbourow, Walsh, and Gage.


Howard Avery, '31
Gerald Bettman, '31
Glennford Brunson, '31
John Coons, '30
Wllliam Eberwine, '31
Louis Gerrino, '31
Warren Gage, '30
Robert Gordon, '31
Eric Hill, '29
Abe Jensen, '31
Donald Kropp, '29
Matt Lehmann, '31
George B. Likens, '31
Robert Loofbourow, '29
Arthur L. Miller, '31
Henry Powell, '29
Edward Soares, '30
Gordon Snodgrass, '30
Robson Taylor, '32
James Trimingham, '29
Raymond Walsh, '30

These intrepid Cardinals were responsible for the recovery of the Stanford Axe, stolen by the University of California on April 5, 1899 and regained by Stanford on April 3, 1930.

Web Historian's note: The date of the 1899 theft is known to be April 15, not the 5th as printed here in the Daily.


Student Body Gathers At "Libe" Steps to Honor "The Committee"

Swain, Evans, Steinbeck, Loofbourow Heard

"Give 'em the Axe," famous Stanford yell rang out with its original meaning for the first time in 30 years when 2000 Cardinals rallied before the Library Friday morning to celebrate the return of the historic weapon. Paul Speegle, yell leader, opened the rally with the "Axe Yell," and then proceeded to introduce 21 heroes who captured the axe at a rally on the Berkeley campus Thursday night.

Each of the 21 was introduced in his turn, and each received an individual ovation. Robert Loofbourow, one of the ringleaders in the capture, made a short speech, expressing the joy he and his fellows felt at having succeeded in bringing the axe back to Stanford.

"I find myself at strained relations with myself this morning." began Dr. Robert E. Swain, Acting President of the University, when introduced by Speegle. "I have had previous personal connections with the Stanford Axe, having been a member of the famous rally in San Francisco in 1899 and witnessed the disturbance leading to the California capture. Naturally, I feel greatly elated at seeing the Axe now returned to this campus.

"California and Stanford are at present on the most friendly terms in their history. Yes, even after last night the two universities are on friendly terms. In fact, Stanford finds herself at peace with the world this morning," Dr. Swain concluded.

Donald Evans, '22, and former student body president, was present at the rally and spoke briefly. "There is a certain something in the yells this morning, and these guys put it there," he said, indicating the 21 rescuers on the Library steps "They have won the gratitude of every Stanford alumnus from the White House to San Quentin.

"Previously, regardless of victory or defeat, California has had the satisfaction of possessing the Stanford Axe," Evans continued. "Now what will Cal have for solace after their losses to Stanford? We have demonstrated definitely the triumph of brain over brawn. But let us pause in our jubilance to think a moment of poor Mr. Horner, who finds himself the holder of the obsolete title of 'Custodian of the Axe."