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The Sacco-Vanzetti Case and the Grim Forces Behind It


them were positive they had not seen him among the bandits.

Wade had been standing eighty paces away when the shooting began, according to his testimony. This is a full two hundred feet, and his original "identification" was astonishing under the circumstances. He was the only actual witness of the shooting the prosecution attempted to use.

Miss Splaine and Miss Devlin had seen only the aftermath of the tragedy from their post in the second-story windows of the Slater and Morrill office building across the railroad tracks. They had seen the bandit-car escaping, 100 or more more feet away. They said it was a covered car, but that they saw a mean leaning out of the car. This man, they said, never turned his face towards them and they caught only an oblique view of his features as he leaned out with face turned down. His eyes were on a level with the first floor.

Onlookers' Statements Conflict

The vagueness of their recollection was brought out in their testimony when Miss Devlin stated that the man moved from side to side of the car, while Miss Splain said that he stood in one place. Miss Devlin described that bandit as a "tall, well built man" (Page 47, preliminary record.) Sacco is decidedly short.

Despite the failure of the police to produce any tangible evidence against Sacco, Judge Avery bound him over for the grand jury on a charge of murder. Weeks later, Vanzetti was indicted secretly for the South Braintree crime. He was never accorded a preliminary hearing of this charge.

Gunmen Attack Pay Truck

The Bridgewater holdup occurred at 7.35 A.M. on the morning of December 24, 1919. It was an armed attack on three occupants of the L.Q. White Shoe Company's pay-truck. This truck had obtained the weekly allotment of money for White's said to be $33,000, at a bank in the public square, and was on its way to the shoe factory.

Its route lay northward on Broad street, along which a trolley track runs. One block north of the public square, Hale street, a narrow lane, cuts into Broad street from the east, and ends there. One block farther north there are railroad tracks and a depot, the latter being set back considerably from Broad street to the east, so that it cannot be seen from the crime-zone.

No One Injured in Gun Battle

As the pay-truck approached Hale street, two men on foot began firing at the three on board -- a paymaster, a special officer, and a chauffeur. The fire was returned. One bandit had a revolver, and the other a shot-gun. Later Vanzetti was declared to be the shot-gun man. More detail of the shooting is given further on in this narrative. The truck escaped around a trolley car.

No one was injured, nor was any bullet marks afterward found. The bandits jumped into an automobile which waited with engine running in Hale street, and fled.

But at that hour Vanzetti was actually 28 miles away -- in Plymouth, where he was well known as a fish-seller. December 24th stand out always on the Italian calendar. Among the Catholics it is a fast day, and fish is the logical food. But the feasting spirit of the Christmas-tide is in the air, and the fish of ordinary days is not rich enough, so the Italians turn to eels. And those who are not Catholic eat eels also, because they are a fine food. Eels and chestnuts are twin-traditions associated with that particular day.

Vanzetti had taken orders in advance from numerous families for eels. On the evening of December

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