Unreliable Ropes

Collection 13 in our Hall of Humor

by William C. Sturgeon

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If sinking the plunger was a bugaboo with the hydraulic elevator installation, the traction elevator had its own cross to bear — periodic hoist-rope replacement. Cartoonists could easily concoct all manner of improbable situations concerning these reliable elevator supports. Even though an exceedingly high safety factor was designed into hoist ropes (one of the five or six ropes can support the car and occupants) and frequent inspections made, the cartoonist saw only the inconceivable when hoist ropes became his subject! How else could it be? Continue reading

Captions Seeking Substance

Collection Seven in our Hall of Humor

by William C. Sturgeon

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Although the industry’s own cartoonists seldom ran dry, ELEVATOR WORLD’s regulars eventually graduated to other time-consuming pursuits — sometimes moving on to the fields of commercial and fine art. Fortunately, a few lay cartoonists from outside the industry were interested in polishing their skills on the drawing board but expressed ignorance concerning the peculiarities of the vertical transportation field. ELEVATOR WORLD’s graphic artist, Jim Lee, was one who sought a change of pace but lacked a feel for the job site. The solution — the editor provided lay cartoonists with situations and cut-lines, stimulating companion graphics. ELEVATOR WORLD periodically published suggested captions, challenging readers to respond with appropriate renderings. When “Archeologist in Egypt, in sight of the Pyramids, unearths a piece of modern elevator gear” brought several renderings, readers were able to enjoy differing graphic styles. This method was “putting the cart before the horse” but, as this collection indicates, the responses were satisfactory, providing viewers the opportunity to compare the graphic responses. Jim Lee, whose cartoons were essentially capsules of fine art, eventually moved on to become Creative Director of an advertising agency.

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Working with the Tools

Collection Four in Elevator World’s Hall of Humor

by William C. Sturgeon

ch4-16aDuring my first visit to Vienna, a reference to Syd Chivers’ pair of field men convinced me that graphic humor, like music, mathematics or fine art, represents a global language, often penetrating the barriers erected by linguistic misunderstandings. Host Count von Weidstruck, the owner of Sowitch, a regional elevator manufacturer, invited interpreter Franz Lichtenegger and myself to dinner in the village of Grinsing. Franz, busy trying to bridge the chasm between a non-German-speaking editor and a non-English-speaking host, stopped at one point, shook his head and said, “I don’t understand. He says something about ‘Where is Little Joe.”‘ The Count was frustrated with our continued lack of comprehension and finally dug into his briefcase, pulled out a copy of ELEVATOR WORLD and flipped to a cartoon depicting Syd Chivers’ veteran elevator constructor and his bumbling pint-sized helper, Little Joe. He said, through Franz, “Every elevator company has a Little Joe and understands in a flash the situation depicted.” Although reading very little English, the Sowitch managing director was an avid follower of Syd Chivers’ mechanic and the awkward, mistake-prone helper, Little Joe. No doubt, when Syd Chivers moved into the fine art field many others, worldwide, missed his characters.

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