What the Inspector Found

Apache County, Arizona, Court Administrator Sueanne Czarnyszka stands next to the door to an elevator mechanical room in the courthouse basement where historic documents were discovered. The note on the door reminds everyone that storage is not allowed in the room; photo by Trudy Balcom/The Independent.

A routine elevator inspection isn’t always routine — problems that need correcting may be uncovered, and, in a worst-case scenario, the elevator may be shut down for safety reasons. But, a recent inspection at the Apache County Courthouse in St. Johns, Arizona, was unusual for an entirely different reason: it turned up a treasure trove of old papers that document the county’s early history, the White Mountain Independent reports. While conducting his check of

This colorful 1918 plat map of Apache County includes the handwritten names of property owners and a legend of the county’s original wagon trails. The map was in use until 1937; photo by Trudy Balcom/The Independent.

an elevator at the courthouse, the inspector entered a mechanical room in which boxes had been inappropriately stored. He told Court Administrator Sueanne Czarnyszka that the boxes would have to be removed, so she had the boxes taken up to her office and began inspecting their contents. What she found was amazing: For one, a 1918 color plat map of the county that had handwritten names of landowners; but, there was also a variety of legal documents, including court proceedings and attorney records. Among notable items were documents relating to landowner and pardoned criminal Phin Clanton, whose brother, Billy, was killed in the famous “Gunfight at O.K. Corral.” Phin was later suspected in an apparent revenge ambush of lawman Virgil Earp, though he was never charged.

The priceless documents are to be sent to the state archives, but they provide a valuable reminder: you never know what will turn up during a routine elevator inspection.

The Dumbwaiter Restaurant

by Hanno van der Bijl


My wife and I recently ate at the Dumbwaiter Restaurant, a new restaurant in Mobile, Alabama. After a terrific meal at the bar (I highly recommend the “Alabama Benedict”), I walked towards the back of the restaurant. “Is this the dumbwaiter?” I asked the chef. “This is the dumbwaiter!” he replied.

IMG_5942The friendly chef opened the collapsible car gate, and went on to explain that it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair the dumbwaiter, so they’ve just been using it to store their beer and wine. Here’s to the day when this dumbwaiter will rise again. Cheers!



Curious George in the Big City

Reading to a toddler every evening will expose you to a wide range of children’s literature, some of which relates to the elevator industry at times. One of my son’s favorite books is a collection of Curious George’s “New Adventures” published by Houghton Mifflin Company Boston, A Treasury of Curious George. In this collection, Curious George in the Big City tells the story of how George gets lost in New York City during the holiday season, and how he is later reunited with his friend, the man with the yellow hat.

In the scene below, George is trying to get away from an angry department-store clerk who is trying to catch him, because he upset a display of gift boxes. Unfortunately, George could never serve as the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation’s mascot for obvious reasons.

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As George goes around the city trying to find the man with the yellow hat, he hears a tour guide telling a group of people that they were going “up.” Someone at the Empire State Building must have had a generous heart that day.

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George gets a breathtaking view of the city once he is on top of the building. It was a little bit of a shock the first time I read this story and saw the Twin Towers featured prominently in the city skyline. That’s because this book was published on August 27, 2001, days away from the 9/11 attacks.

2008 01010Curious George continues to look for his friend while riding a bus around the city. Finally, he sees the department store where the story began. The man had been there the whole time, looking for him. May we all have such luck in being found in the place we originally got lost.