March 28, 1927
A classroom of children from the Thornton Avenue School learned a little something about the value of a dollar this afternoon when they witnessed a hold-up outside the Merchants Trust and Savings Bank at 25th and Central.
Harry Harris, the bank messenger for City Dye Works (3000 Central Ave.), was accosted at gunpoint by two bandits and relieved of the $3000 deposit he was about to make for his employer. When guns were brandished, the children "set up a din of screams and wails that would do justice to the most powerful siren." However, their cries did nothing to dissuade Harris’s attackers. After being robbed, Harris commandeered a civilian vehicle and followed the getaway car four blocks east on 25th before losing the bandits.
The school group had been taking a class trip to the bank to make their monthly deposits as part of the Los Angeles Banks School Savings Association’s "school thrift plan." While similar programs existed elsewhere in the country, the Los Angeles plan differed slightly, in that it sought to give the children more face time with their local bankers. Students were given home safes, passbooks, and made their own deposits.
Perhaps as a result of this hands-on approach, Los Angeles schoolchildren had the largest average savings accounts in the country. In 1927, 184 elementary and junior high schools in Los Angeles participated in the program, and students had close to 1 million dollars socked away in Los Angeles banks.