"The Monon Bell officially returned to Crawfordsville for the first time in ten years after a stunning 16-6 victory. Ecstatic fans, many of them wearing sombreros and ponchos, swarmed onto the playing field to congratulate the team that had just won the most important game of the season."
The Great Bell Heist of 1965
The picture, taken by Shanks' accomplice, Ray Santos, is the photo from what is probably the most humiliating scam a Little Giant "team" ever put over on a DePauw administration and student body. It's a story that's been told many times over since that fall day in 1965, but it's a tale that begs repeating. And no publication about Wabash teams could be complete without it. Here's the version told in the 1966 Wabash:
Prior to the Wabash-DePauw football clash this year, the Monon Bell, symbol of the ancient rivalry, had remained at DePauw for 10 straight years, except for a brief period in 1959, when it was borrowed by Wabash students. Since that year, it had been hidden, making borrowing it again somewhat difficult. Ten years, however, is a long time.
So on an afternoon in early November, Jim Shanks, a Wabash sophomore, appeared in the DePauw president's office claiming to be from the United States Information Service in Mexico City and encouraging the university to admit Mexican students. [Accompanying Shanks was Raymond Santos '69, who claimed to be Shanks' Cuban-born driver.]
The idea of recruiting immediately appealed to DePauw President Kerstetter and he agreed to give two full-tuition scholarships to interested Mexican students and to allow Shanks to take pictures of various things on campus, including, incidentally, the Monon Bell, for distribution in Mexico.
Only the dean of the college, who led Shanks to the Bell's hiding place on the second floor of a quonset hut near the football field, was somewhat reluctant. "I don't know whether I should show this to you or not," he said with a laugh. "The last time I showed it to someone, they stole it."
That night a group of Wabash students made a quiet visit to the hut and 15 minutes later the Bell was in the back of a car on its way to Crawfordsville. The dawn of the morning and of truth arrived about the same time in sleepy Greencastle and disgruntled university officials phoned the Wabash dean's office.
Even though it mysteriously appeared at a night time rally in front of the Chapel along with Jim Shanks (by then a legendary hero), almost a full week passed before the Wabash administration miraculously discovered the Bell. With diplomacy in the forefront on the day before the game, a chuckling Dean Moore returned it to DePauw for its last few hours of residency there.
The Monon Bell officially returned to Crawfordsville for the first time in 10 years after a stunning 16-6 victory. Ecstatic fans, many of them wearing sombreros and ponchos, swarmed onto the playing field to congratulate the team that had just won the most important game of the season.
Editor's Note: This fall,
a team of Wabash men once again engineered a successful heist of the Monon
Bell. For details check out The Bachelor website at: http://bachelor. wabash.edu/