Bamboozled: This time, a cranky escalator cooperates

We reported the frustration of Robert Latzer, 82, and his wife Julia, 80, and their troubles with the escalator at Platform 222 at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.BB branding

When the Chatham couple go to Manhattan for a little culture, they often find the escalator turned off. They then have to climb 48 steps to the platform, which is tough for this health-challenged couple.

A Port Authority spokeswoman said there is a house phone near the escalator that passengers can use to report problems. She also said the escalator is just fine, but it’s sometimes shut accidentally when a passenger hits the emergency button.

That made it sound like a once-in-awhile occurrence.

Not so, said several readers, who shared similar experiences with that escalator.

“My wife and I had tickets to seven Broadway shows between October and December 2009,” wrote reader Stuart Grayson. “We also must use 222, and on six occasions the escalator was not in service.”

“Each and every time we have gone the escalator is not working,” said reader Pat Griffith.

So when the Lazters recently said they were heading in to see the New York Philharmonic, we decided to join them by the escalator in question.

22310It was working just fine.

“I was delighted,” Robert Lazter said. “That meant we didn’t have to chug up 48 stairs with hips paining and heart pounding.”

But, he said, the only help-phone he could find was on the top of the platform, not down below where it would be needed if the escalator wasn’t working. Where is that help line?

We’re glad the escalator worked for the Lazters. Hope the rest of you weary travelers have the same experience.


Remember Deborah Cogill, the amateur genealogist who was researching her ancestors’ burial sites? When she approached Hollywood Memorial Park and Cemetery in Union to get plot and lot numbers of relatives who were buried there, she learned it would cost her.

The charge would be $70 for the first person and $45 for each additional person, all because the cemetery’s records were not computerized, but kept in old, fragile record books.

Bamboozled received an e-mail from Robbie Barnes of Fairfax, Va. As a member of the Fairfax Genealogical Society, she and her counterparts surveyed all the gravestones in her county, publishing an indexed five-volume series so relatives could easily find their loved ones’ resting places. Hollywood should consider doing the same, she said.

“The ideal solution would be a volunteer project, Hollywood allowing a group of trained volunteers to come in and create an online index to the records,” Barnes suggested.

Volunteers at Newark’s Woodland Cemetery are on their way to that kind of success.

Mary Lish, an amateur genealogist who lives in Nutley, said she tried for 20 years to get information about her relatives who were buried at Woodland. She finally realized the trouble was that the records were not computerized, but in caretaker logbooks dating to 1855.


For 12 years, Lish and another volunteer, John Sass, have created a database of the more than 84,000 people who were buried at Woodlawn, originally called the West Newark Cemetery. Along the way, Lish found her great-great grandfather and seven other relatives.

They’re still working to enter additional information that was kept on index cards dating to 1895.

Eventually, their database will be available online, but for now, Lish answers requests for information via e-mail at

Lish said if cemeteries such as Hollywood would allow trained volunteers to computerize old record books, they’d save a ton of money.

“It would certainly keep the cemetery from taking up their employees’ time when they have to spend weeks and weeks looking up the records,” Lish said.

Deborah Cogill loves the idea and hopes cemeteries such as Hollywood consider a volunteer force.

And finally last week, Cogill heard back from Hollywood about her relatives: The cemetery was able to find her Uncle Donald listed in its old record books, but not the other relatives. We’ll let you know if she learns anything more.

Thanks, Hollywood, for helping this consumer without charge.


Arlene Robins belongs to a birthday club with her friends. Whenever it’s time to celebrate someone’s birthday, the six women go out to lunch and treat the birthday girl.

When it was Robins’ birthday in November, she chose Panico’s Restaurant in New Brunswick, after seeing an enticing ad in The Star-Ledger. The ad boasted a $14.95 lunch menu, and it also said, “Bring your own bottle of vintage wine with no corking fee.”

So the women went to lunch, and they brought a bottle of wine.

“We placed our bottle of wine on the table, and the maitre d’ told us bringing our own wine was not acceptable on the $14.95 lunch,” she said. “In spite of us producing the ad, he insisted that only applied to their regular menu.”

The women didn’t make a stink. They put away their wine, ordered a $25 bottle off the wine list and went on with their lunch. But Robins said she felt Bamboozled.

She wrote a letter to the restaurant, complaining about what she called a “bait-and-switch” tactic. No one responded, so she contacted Bamboozled.

We called manager Jose Salano, who said the special lunch price cannot be combined with other offers.

But the ad didn’t say that.

“It’s a mistake. It should say clearly in the ad that it is not combined with other offers,” he said, offering to buy the women a bottle of wine if they return to Panico’s.

It took a few weeks, but Panico’s did change the wording on the ad. Thanks to Panico’s for offering to do the right thing.