24 September 2021

Published September 22, 2021 by rochellewisoff
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The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit.

PHOTO PROMPT© Liz Young

Genre: Historical Fiction
Word Count: 100

AT THE CRYSTAL PALACE IN 1854

“Don’t go, Elisha. Please.” Elizabeth grasped his arm. “Don’t make me a widow.”

            He caressed her cheek. “Have faith, Lizzie.”

Sweat beading on his forehead and sluicing between his shoulder blades, he stepped onto the platform.

            As it rose higher and higher, he gazed over the edge at the hushed crowd and questioned his own sanity.

He called out to the axe man. “Cut the rope.”

            A collective gasp erupted from the audience. Elisha Otis’ stomach somersaulted as the platform dropped, then halted. Thunderous applause exploded in his ears. His safety locking mechanism worked, and the modern elevator was born.

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72 comments on “24 September 2021

  • We take a great deal for granted, don’t we? I’ve been in hundreds of elevators in my 74 years, don’t remember EVER being stopped, stalled, or stuck. But someone had to experience it before it could be fixed. His poor wife. She must have expected the very worst news ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I can see why Elizabeth might be concerned. It takes genius, bravery, and a touch of insanity to accomplish great things. To paraphrase Seal, “We’re never going to progress unless we get a little crazy.”

    Interesting and enlightening as always, Rochelle.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Rochelle,

    Love these flashbacks in time that continue to be meaningful today. I confess I’m an uneasy elevator rider. I hold my breath until the doors open. But I’m glad Mr. Otis invented the safety lock for those times when I can’t take the stairs!

    Shalom,
    Dora

    Liked by 1 person

  • Well done Rochelle – wonderfully inventive build-up and “misdirection” too – because as some one else noted, it reads as if walking to the gallows! Great little tale of daring and determination. What a difference a “small thing” like a safety lock could make – who knew? Clearly he did – had a vision and a plan.

    Shalom

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Abe Vigrodah,

      Otis was always a favorite of mine, too. Now you know the truth behind the ups and downs for the elevator. Always happy to enlighten the unwashed masses. When you sober up, remember to leave the keys on the hook.

      Shalom,

      Betty (more than a little) Snarky White W(T)F

      Like

  • I love this one. It puts you in his place as he demos his device. I have ridden many Otis elevators in my life and, some were kind of scary. But then (come on-you knew this was coming) life certainly is filled with ups & downs. Good story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jan, I do remember riding in elevators with attendants. It was quite the experience, too. I’ve also had the fortune to ride an “antique” open air elevator a few times. I couldn’t get enough of it as a little girl when we’d go to COSI- Columbus, Ohio. I don’t know if it’s in the new location or not. Probably deemed to unsafe for modern kids.

      Like

  • Just imagine having to walk all these stairs in these skyscrapers. We’d all be super-fit. 😉
    I never even thought about who invented the elevator, just took it for granted. You managed once again to bring the forgotten/unnoticed story to life.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Hey Rochelle,

    I didn’t know. Once again, you’ve enlightened me. Thank you.

    I usually take the stairs when I’m alone, if I can find them. But what a wonderful device elevators/lifts are for so many of us.

    However, every building should have at least two. Because like people, they do wear out and malfunction. They can be a long time in rehab or repair.

    Wonderful story.

    Peace,

    Bill

    Liked by 1 person

  • What a gripping tale, had me hanging onto the handrail. One can only imagine how scary those first elevators were. I do remember riding one of the “antique” ones at the Children’s museum many decades ago. I’m sure there were safeguards that weren’t original to it… but the experience of an open air elevator even for one floor was still pretty impressive and impressionable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Bear,

      Elisha took a chance, didn’t he? The tension is something I imagined. History really tells very little about him or his personal life. The joys of writing historical fiction. 😉 I would still find an open air elevator frightening, even with the safeguards.
      Thank you for your comments and compliments. 😀

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s takes someone willing to take a risk for something to be done… Like the early pioneers in medicine who create the vaccines for polio, etc. There’s been a lot of talk lately about the time when the vacs came out for polio, small pox and how scary that was in comparison to how scary our current times are. This week, my friends, Memaw Charolotte and her little Grand daughter were found in their apartment having succumbed to Covid… Memaw refused the vaccine out of fear and her little one was too young for one. Sigh…

        Like

  • An entertaining and interesting story. Very well told as always! It’s good to be reminded of the great risks that were taken by those who created and developed these types of wonders for our benefit. Though I don’t like the cramped spaces of an elevator, I am thankful for them, because, much more, I don’t like climbing a lot of stairs. =)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Brenda,

      I don’t mind cramped spaces as much as hate heights. Long, tall escalators make me nervous. I don’t think I’d enjoy 80 flights of stairs, though. Thank you for your validating comment. So happy to see you back here.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • How bizarre that I notice this post the day after I watched the 2001 fantasy rom-com Kate and Leopold with Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman. That story credits the time-traveling English aristocrat character with working on an early prototype of the elevator (his butler’s name is Otis.). Who to believe?😊As usual you picked the scene at the height of tension (so to speak.)

    Like

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