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Jim Kershner’s This day in history » On the Web:

From our archives, 100 years ago

Spokane was hyperventilating over what we’ll call “The Mystery of the Peppered Piano.”

A Russian “pianiste,” recently arrived in Spokane as a piano teacher, was about to give her local premiere concert for Spokane’s elegant Mendelssohn Club. Just before Anna Viera Paberewskin took the stage, a janitor discovered that some “ungallant and apparently jealous person” had sprinkled red-hot cayenne pepper all over the piano.

The cayenne pepper was in “sufficient quantities to throw scores of people into a frenzy of violent sneezing.”

When Miss Paberewskin was informed of the dastardly deed, she “suffered a severe nervous shock.” It was unclear whether she would be able to perform. She was convinced that someone had deliberately tried to spoil her local debut.

Yet she finally rallied sufficiently to go onstage and perform. The piano had been de-peppered, except for spots between the wires. Her subsequent “brilliant performance was all the more gratifying to her friends.”

The identity of the rogue pepper-spreader was unknown.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1948: President Harry S. Truman sent a 10-point civil rights program to Congress, where the proposals ran into fierce opposition from Southern lawmakers.

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