The Rise and Fall of the World’s First Elevator


By Phil A. Buster, PhD in Contemporary History

It was a dark and stormy mid-morning. The winds were tussling up something fierce and the waves off shore towered way above me just like my wife after her growth spirt. Overhead, dark with the swarm of clouds, the sky was the color of 2% milk. This 2% was not your normal milk however. Oh, no. It was chocolate. But not like the kind of CM you have to mix yourself, this sky was 100% store bought.

And on this old Cuban day (yeah this happened in Cuba. Bet you didn’t see that coming you ethnocentrists. If you are in Cuba and reading this, this doesn’t really apply) tragedy was about to strike a Cuban dissident named Infidel Castro. This man’s dreams were about to come crashing down, as was he. He was blown off a building and fell to his death, spurring the need for a safer alternative method to stairs. He had been ascending Cuba’s tallest, and technically only staircase (this is set in the middle ages, bet all you time era centrists didn’t see that coming). Of course by middle ages I’m referring to the age of 40 something architect and suspected mafioso hit man Cameron Bunkerspool. He was and still is, legend has it, dead before the elevator was finished.

Cameron was a man of many talents, passions, and alibis. Among his passions, cheese took up most of his time (it was also used as an alibi four times). He graduated in the top 2% of his class at Dairy College (and you thought that dairy mood setting metaphor was just me talking out of my asdfg). His avant-garde approach to cheddar cheese brought him as many fans as it did enemies. His revolutionary ideas regarding brie caused a young Infidel Castro to take up arms against him (by this of course I mean he raised both hands during a civil discussion to participate. Ok…this one was a bit of a stretch¹).

Yet like expired chocolate milk, things would soon turn sour for him, when a cuBan was announced on all dairy products. Some suggest the reckless culinary cutting edge had done too much, too quickly with too many cheeses (to Bunkerspool’s credit, he left the prov alone). I’ve even heard rumors of famous chef Glen Grass sautéing an Intel i7 computer processor in a light balsamic reduction; this is particularly baffling given how expensive these are and the fact that they did not exist while this man was alive. But back to the elevator. What inspired Bunkerspool to begin construction on this elevator is unknown, oh wait no it’s not. In his diairy, a single cryptic sentence gave light to his own motive: “they told me to do it.” This raises a lot of questions, namely who is they, and why did he write so vaguely in his own diary? Did he think someone would find it? That’s not a good attitude to have with your diary.

Evidence suggests the mafia commissioned this cube shaped climbing apparatus. Head mobster Flannery O’Connor (yes, that Flannery O’Connor), worked haste (she went quickly but not that quickly) on the blueprints with Bunkerspool. She funneled in money from her funnel business, as well as from her novel sales (autobiography O’Connor O’er Yonder was a big hit). The design could raise and lower groups of people at the press of a button or several of them for those goofballs here reading (sorry, won’t happen again guys!).  I can be a bit of a rascal when I’m not on the job. So then Bunkerspool was called in to test the world’s first elevator. He had no trouble in getting it up. The problem was it stayed like that for hours. He sought help but it eventually exploded, which ultimately isn’t surprising given they worked on it for a day.

With the spoolster, as they called him (it was rare but they still have called him this on occasion),  out of the picture so was the first elevator. And so ends this story. I hope you learned something about not just Cuban history but world history as well. Thanks for having me.

¹And by stretch I mean he really got his arms up in the air, maybe he even grazed ceiling. I mean, probably not, but maybe. Castro was stretching them like there was no tomorrow, which was a good thing given he died later that day.


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