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On This Day In History...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

(This is odd)
Oct 15, 2004:
"Funeral coaches" Exempted From Car-Seat Law

~~"On this day in 2004, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rules that hearse manufacturers no longer have to install anchors for child-safety seats in their vehicles. In 1999, to prevent parents from incorrectly installing the seats using only their cars' seat belts, the agency had required all carmakers to put the standardized anchors on every passenger seat in every vehicle they built. Though it seemed rather odd, most hearse-builders complied with the rule and many thousands of their vehicles incorporated baby-seat latches on their front and back passenger seats.

However, the year after the agency issued the rule, one of the largest "funeral coach" manufacturers in the United States petitioned for an exemption. "Since a funeral coach is a single-purpose vehicle, transporting body and casket," the petition said, "children do not ride in the front seat." In fact, typically that seat is empty—after all, most people do try to avoid riding in hearses. On October 15, the agency agreed: All funeral coaches (now officially defined as "a vehicle that contains only one row of occupant seats, is designed exclusively for transporting a body and casket and that is equipped with features to secure a casket in place during the operation of the vehicle") were permanently exempt from all child-safety provisions. According to this formulation, those rare hearses that do have rear seats are not technically funeral coaches; therefore; they are subject to the same child-restraint rules as every other carmaker."


Oct 15, 1948:
A Murderous Husband Is Executed

~~"Arthur Eggers, who was convicted of killing his wife, Dorothy, because of her alleged promiscuity, is executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin Prison. He probably would have gotten away with the crime had the investigators not received a few lucky breaks.

In January 1946, hikers came across a woman's body, wrapped in a blanket, in a very remote area of the San Bernardino Mountains in California. The head and hands had been chopped off—making identification very difficult—but the body had only been lying there for less than a day, so there was still hope.

When investigators noticed that Dorothy Eggers had been reported missing by her husband around the time that the corpse was found, they decided to follow through on the lead, despite the fact that the initial report described her as being thinner and taller than the unidentified body. Upon talking with her doctors, detectives discovered that Eggers had been treated for a bunion on her foot, which matched the one on the body.

Although investigators knew the identity of the body and had good reason to be suspicious of Arthur Eggers, they had no evidence to connect him to the crime. But when Eggers happened to sell his car to a police officer, the cop noticed that there were spots of dried blood in the trunk, and, in 1946, Eggers was arrested. A subsequent search turned up pieces of his wife's flesh, a gun and a handsaw in Eggers' home. Pieces of tissue, bone and fat were found on the gun."


Oct 15, 1930:
Duke Ellington Records His First Big Hit, "Mood Indigo"

~~"The legendary composer and bandleader Duke Ellington was so famous for his poise and charm that it should be no surprise that he had a pithy story at the ready whenever he was asked about one of his most famous and enduring works, "Mood Indigo." Of the song he and his orchestra recorded for the very first time on this day in 1930, Ellington was fond of saying, "Well, I wrote that in 15 minutes while I was waiting for my mother to finish cooking dinner." As neatly as that version fit with his well-tended reputation for effortless sophistication, the true account of the song's development reflects the gifts for collaboration and adaptation that were always critical elements of Ellington's genius.

The genesis of "Mood Indigo" was a visit to New York City in 1930 by a New Orleans jazzman named Lorenzo Tio, Jr. Duke Ellington's clarinetist, Barney Bigard, was a former student of Tio's, and on Tio's visit to New York, he shared with Bigard a number of melodies he'd written, including one called "Dreamy Blues" that had served as the theme song for his group back home, Armand Piron's New Orleans Orchestra. "I asked him if I could borrow it," Bigard later wrote in his autobiography. "I took it home and kept fooling around with it...and got something together that mostly was my own but partly Tio's." Bigard's variation on "Dreamy Blues" would soon become the clarinet solo on "Mood Indigo," thanks to Duke Ellington's penchant for involving his band members in his composition process.

Indeed, the lyricist Ervin Drake would later refer to Ellington's orchestra as a kind of "musical kibbutz"—an environment in which all ideas were welcomed and collaboration was the rule rather than the exception. Taking Bigard and Tio's melody and composing a song of his own on top of it, Ellington created "Mood Indigo." It wasn't the elegance of the composition alone, however, that made the song Ellington's first big hit. It was the completely unexpected voicing of the horns in Ellington's original arrangement of the song. The clarinet, trumpet and trombone were generally arranged, in that order, from highest pitch to lowest in jazz music. But Ellington turned the typical structure upside down on "Mood Indigo," using the clarinet near the bottom of its register and the muted trombone near the top of its—an arrangement that also produced interesting overtones with the electronic microphones of the day.

With lyrics added by Mitchell Parish in 1931 (but credited to Ellington's manager Irving Mills), "Mood Indigo" became a vocal-jazz standard as well as an instrumental one, recorded memorably by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone among many others."
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