Jun 18, 1923:
Checker Cab Produces First Taxi at Kalamazoo Factory
~~"On June 18, 1923, the first Checker Cab rolls off the line at the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Morris Markin, founder of Checker Cab, was born in Smolensk, Russia, and began working when he was only 12 years old. At 19, he immigrated to the United States and moved to Chicago, where two uncles lived. After opening his own tailor's shop, Markin also began running a fleet of cabs and an auto body shop, the Markin Auto Body Corporation, in Joliet, Illinois. In 1921, after loaning $15,000 to help a friend's struggling car manufacturing business, the Commonwealth Motor Company, Markin absorbed Commonwealth into his own enterprise and completely halted the production of regular passenger cars in favor of taxis. The result was the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, which took its name from a Chicago cab company that had hired Commonwealth to produce its vehicles.
By the end of 1922, Checker was producing more than 100 units per month in Joliet, and some 600 of the company's cabs were on the streets of New York City. Markin went looking for a bigger factory and settled on Kalamazoo, where the company took over buildings previously used by the Handley-Knight Company and Dort Body Plant car manufacturers. The first shipment of a Checker from Kalamazoo on June 18, 1923 stood out as a major landmark in the history of the company, which by then employed some 700 people.
During the Great Depression, Markin briefly sold Checker, but he bought it back in 1936 and began diversifying his business by making auto parts for other car companies. After converting its factories to produce war materiel during World War II, Checker entered the passenger car market in the late 1950s, with models dubbed the Superba and the Marathon. In its peak production year of 1962, Checker rolled out some 8,173 cars; the great majority of those were taxis. Over the course of the 1970s, however, as economic conditions led taxi companies to convert smaller, more fuel-efficient standard passenger cars into cabs, the 4,000-pound gas-guzzling Checker came to seem more and more outdated. Markin had died in 1970, and in April 1982 his son David announced that Checker would halt production of its famous cab that summer. Though the company still owns the Yellow and Checker cab fleets in Chicago and continued to make parts for other auto manufacturers, including General Motors, the last Checker Cab rolled off the line in Kalamazoo on July 12, 1982. "
Jun 18, 1972:
Mysterious Crash At Heathrow
~~"On this day in 1972, a Trident jetliner crashes after takeoff from Heathrow Airport in London, killing 118 people. The official cause of this accident remains unknown, but it may have happened simply because the plane was carrying too much weight.
As the summer of 1972 approached, there were serious problems facing the air-travel industry. Pilots were threatening to strike any day due to lack of security. Hijackings were becoming more common and pilots were feeling particularly vulnerable since they most often bore the brunt of the violence.
However, on June 18 at Heathrow Airport outside of London, all appeared to be running smoothly. The BEA morning flight to Brussels was full and weather conditions were perfect. The Trident 1 jet took off with no incident but, just after its wheels retracted, it began falling from the sky. The plane split on impact and an intense fireball from the plane's fuel supply erupted, scattering the fuselage and passengers. Only two of the 118 passengers and crew members on board were pulled from the wreckage alive; both died just hours later.
All efforts to explain the crash were fruitless. The investigators' best guess was that the jet simply was carrying too much weight or that the weight was improperly distributed and the plane could not handle the stress."
Jun 18, 1984:
A Radio Host Is Gunned Down For His Controversial Views
~~"Talk radio icon Alan Berg, the self-described "man you love to hate," is gunned down and killed instantly in the driveway of his home in Denver, Colorado, on this day in 1984. The 50-year-old host, whose show on the station KOA gained a strong following in the early 1980s, stirred up controvesy with his outspoken personality, abrasive approach and liberal views. He had already been the target of a steady stream of death threats.
One of the suspects in Berg's murder, Bruce Pierceóleader of a neo-Nazi organization called the Orderówas arrested nearly a year later in Georgia, driving a van that contained machine guns, grenades, dynamite, and a crossbow. His right-wing extremist group had been linked to many armored-car robberies in the West.
David Lane and Richard Scutari, Pierce's alleged accomplices, were caught a short time later. Authorities believed that Robert Matthews, the founder of the Order, was also involved, but he had died in a fire caused by a shootout with FBI agents near Seattle, Washington, in December 1984.
After Pierce, Lane, and Scutari were charged with violating Berg's civil rights, a jury concluded that Pierce had been responsible for shooting Berg, while Lane had driven the getaway car. Scutari was acquitted.
Alan Berg's story provided the loose inspiration for Oliver Stone and Eric Bogosian's 1988 film "Talk Radio." In the years since his murder, radio talk hosts have been known to be even more abrasive and controversial than Berg."