Wintry weather and fun football

Ned Luce
Posted 11/7/17

Fall weather is evolving into winter, and I suspect you may agree with me that this fall has been the prettiest in years. One of my simple pleasures in the fall is driving up or down Swansonville …

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Wintry weather and fun football


Fall weather is evolving into winter, and I suspect you may agree with me that this fall has been the prettiest in years. One of my simple pleasures in the fall is driving up or down Swansonville Road and watching the fallen leaves swirl up behind me.

Unfortunately, the dampness of late fall and the upcoming winter have stolen that fun from me. OK, you are warned, the weather report is over and the rest of this column is about football and the success being enjoyed by the teams I like to follow.

The University of Washington Huskies football team is 8-2 and looks to be in a prime position to win the PAC 12 North Division. Washington State Cougars join them at 8-2, so the upcoming Apple Cup game in Seattle on Nov. 25 looks to be a real contest of good teams. The Seahawks continue to try to recover from their missteps and have a 5-3 record. Frankly, though, the NFL team to watch is my old friends the Kansas City Chiefs. They are 6-3, they beat last year’s NFL champs, the New England Patriots, and they are flat out fun!

Then, there is the 124th version of the legendary battle in west-central Indiana between Wabash College and DePauw University this weekend. The prize is the 300-pound Monon Bell, a 1932 remnant from a steam locomotive on the Monon Railroad. As Matthew Ingle is quoted as saying in Sports Illustrated in November 1993, “It is every DePauw student’s obligation to study hard, to be honest and forthright, and try to steal the Monon Bell.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Ingle’s efforts to meet the third obligation landed him in the county hoosegow, facing the consequences of his actions before making good on the $4,000 bail. He and his friends had in fact stolen the Monon Bell from the athletics center at Wabash, only to be observed in the act by the local police. Upon his return to DePauw after the heist, Ingle had a message from his father to contact the police.

Monon Bell history is riddled with both successes and failures in the adventures that students from both schools have experienced in retrieving the bell from the other. Wabash is a men’s college and as such, may lack the civilizing impact of women, a position my DePauw graduate wife, BJ, fully embraces. This leads to the generally accepted notion that Wabash students are more creative in their schemes to rescue the bell from the more stilted confines of DePauw.

For example, in 1965, a Wabash student, impersonating a Mexican dignitary, interviewed the president of DePauw. During the conversation, the student was able to extract the location of the bell, and late that evening, four students escorted the bell back to Wabash for safekeeping until the football game that weekend. The sight of all the Wabash students wearing sombreros at the game is permanently etched in my mind.

A less successful attempt took place a couple of weeks ago. Three Wabash men hid behind the bleachers in the DePauw Athletic Center, emerging six hours later in the middle of the night wearing coveralls and one Trump and two Obama masks. (Security cameras!) They calmly removed the bolts securing the bell and lifted it off the display stand.

Uh-oh, removing the bell released the pressure-sensitive switch alerting the local authorities, who then met them and the “getaway” car driver at the front door. Hey, you can’t win every battle in a war like this. Results of the game will be in next week’s column or in the small print in the results listing in Sunday’s paper.

Port Ludlow’s Ned Luce thanks John Garrity and his article “And Down the Road” in the Nov. 22, 1993 issue of Sports Illustrated. Connect with Ned at


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