It was Thursday afternoon before the Big Game of 1921, and students were preparing for that night's bonfire rally. The sophomores prowled the campus, guarding against a retaliatory invasion by Cal students, who had awakened that morning to find their big "C" mysteriously painted red.

We frosh were supposed to gather wood and help construct the 50-foot-high structure that would produce the tallest bonfire in Stanford history. I shirked my duty, but the sophomores caught up with several of us delinquents and ordered us to climb to the top of the completed structure, to where they lifted cans of gasoline by ropes and pulleys. As the cans arrived, we poured the fluid down, soaking the wooden tower in anticipation of an impressive blaze that night.

Then, to our horror, we noticed a small plane carrying some Berkeley boys whose mission, we soon learned, was to ignite the bonfire well before the ceremony. Flying low, they came right for us and dropped a homemade firebomb. The bomb missed the structure by at least 50 feet and burst into flames on the ground, harming no one. The rally went off as planned.

On Saturday, the Bears met the Indians in the just-completed Stanford Stadium. And yes, Cal won, 42-7, but their incendiary prank had gone down in flames.


-- Clu Carey, '25