1911

Cartoon illustrating the Great Safe Prank of 1911

ACADEMICS

Preparatory Department Closed

For many years, the Preparatory Department of Pomona College—teaching high-school courses to college-bound students—had been the largest of the four instructional divisions of the College, and it had been deemed essential because there were so few students in the area who had the necessary preparation for college. However, in the early 1900sn a number of high local schools had been established, taking over those functions. Starting in 1909, the College catalog no longer listed information about the Preparatory Department. In June 1911, at the end of graduation exercises, the Preparatory Department was officially eliminated.

Connections to Asia

China, Korea and Japan were all represented in the freshman class of 1911, and President Blaisdell expressed the hope that Pomona would “reckon with an opportunity of influence not only upon California, but also upon the islands of the Pacific and the great races beyond.”

STUDENT LIFE

The Great Safe Prank

Sophomores Arthur “Toochey” Payne ’13 and George Merritt ’13 carried out perhaps the greatest prank in Pomona College history, making the heavy safe in the Dean’s Office disappear without a trace. The safe, which was found missing from a locked office following a College picnic, wasn’t discovered until weeks later, when a professor noticed a squeak in the floorboards where the safe had been. Removing a loose piece of linoleum, he found that the floorboards had been cut. Buried in the dirt beneath the floorboards was the missing safe. The culprits didn’t admit to the crime until long after they had graduated, and the story was chronicled in Frank Brackett’s volume of early Pomona history titled Granite and Sagebrush.

Freshman-Sophomore Rivalry

As explained in the 1912 Metate (which was published by the junior class in 1911), the rivalry between freshmen and sophomores at the beginning of the school year played out through a number of competitions and traditions, including the “Pole Rush,” a competition similar to capture-the-flag in which freshmen and sophomore men climbed a pole to get to the other team’s flag or defend their own. If freshmen won both the Pole Rush and the subsequent freshman-sophomore football game, they got to carry around canes for a few weeks. If the sophomores won, they got to punish the freshmen by making them wear something embarrassing and smacking them with paddles if they refused.

ATHLETICS

Conference Collapses

The Southern California Conference collapsed in 1911, when the University of Southern California, angered by the decision to declare its law school students ineligible, withdrew from membership.

ELSEWHERE

  • British physicist Ernest Rutherford deduced the existence of the atomic nucleus from scattering experiments.
  • The Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre.
  • Roald Amundsen's expedition reached the South Pole.