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January 29, 2001
Which blackout(s) did you experience?
1977 (New York City Blackout)
In your own words, tell the story of your experience in the blackout(s). Try to recall specific events and the people, places, and things involved; also include more general reactions, images adn last impressions?
My dad, my girlfriend, and I were visiting my aunt,(my dad's sister)in Bayville, on Long Island. If I recall, the day was Wednesday, July 13th. We had just returned from dinner and we were walking on the beach when it began to rain. I can remember seeing lightning in the distance. My girlfriend and I were going to drive to Suffern, where her family was from. I wanted to start out early to try and beat the rush hour traffic so when we woke up at 4:30 am the next day, we didn't have any electricity. We got under way and it wasn't too bad. Traffic lights were out, as we expected. We got on the Grand Central Parkway and I remember looking for the exit that would take us to the Tappan Zee Bridge. Well, we saw it as we went cruising by it. I exited the parkway on highway 25, which took us to Queens, I think. I remember asking a cabbie how to get to the Tappan Zee. Yeah, right. We were from Milwaukee, so I never experienced talking to anyone who couldn't understand what I asking. Of course, I couldn't understand him either! My dad had let me take his new 1977 Cutlass Supreme, so that added to the excitement. Eventually, we found our way out of there and headed upstate. We got to Suffern just as the sun was rising and I remember how it made the dew on the grass and the trees glisten. I'll never forget that sight. I also remember passing the Ceba-Geigy plant and thinking it was a catchy name. You got to keep in mind I was 19, but the events of that trip make me happy and sad all at the same time.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
I thought it was because a sub station was hit by lightning.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Mechanical failure, for one.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
It was significant to me only because it marked the events that surrounded me that night.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
See above story.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I was 19 at the time, so it didn't have the impact it would have on me today. Remember when you were a teenager. Your priorities were skewed a little different then, than now.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Longer lasting, and more wide-spread.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
I only experienced the Blackout of 1977.
Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
How did the blackout(s) affect your daily reliance on electricity?
No effect / same reliance
This is how the story goes: In November of 1965 the lights went out in New York and crime rates temporarily dropped; there were widespread reports of extraordinary cooperation and trust between strangers caught together in the power failure. In July of 1977, little more than a decade later, the lights went out again in New York. This time, a devastating wave of looting and arson broke out. Does this story ring true to you? Explain why or why not:
Yes, because I was on Long Island and I remember hearing about the problems in the city.
Story #131, The Blackout History Project, 29 January 2001, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/131/>.
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