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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: April 6, 2001

Which blackout(s) did you experience?
1965 (Great Northeast 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?
I was 18 years old at the time. I lived with my sister and her husband and my three small nieces and nephew in the top floor apartment of a three unit building in Norwalk Connecticut. I had just arrived home from work, it was a cold day, my sister was in the middle of cooking dinner and we had a couple of friends over that were going to eat with us. the kids were sitting on the floor watching tv with our friends. We were still waiting for my brother-in-law to come home from work, he was running late that day. I changed clothes and washed up went in the kitchen to help my sister with dinner. all of the sudden the lights went out everything just stoped working,and it was already dark out. so, we moved around slowly and carefuly looking for candles and matches, we found a candle and lite it. we looked out our window to see if anyone else had the same problem. the first thing that came to our minds was that there was a blown fuse in the building or perhaps it was just our apartment without light. but we notices that the usual lite street in the front was dark completely. and as far as we could see there were no lights at all anywhere near. we made sure our doors were locked and we finished cooking with our candle lights. we sat around our table light up with only one candle to eat our dinner. my brother-in-law didn't showed up till almost 2 hours later. his experience was I am sure a little more dramatic. we didn't know until my brother-in-law got home that the black-out was all over the East Coast and not just our area like we had thought, then we got a bit worried. we couldn't sleep that night, we were fraighten we all cuddle up together in the living room until we got the power back. We did alot of talking and got to know each other a little better, we also realized we had very nice neighbor that cared, and we knew we were there for one another.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
in my opinion, there was just too much power being used and in some cases even missed used. on the other hand at that time I was too young to really give it so much importance. I was just happy that I was home with the only family I had. so, I felt protected and safe.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
I really don't have one. I live one day at a time. these things are bount to happen at one time or the other. we just have to be patient, and pray that we are not in the wrong place when it happens.

Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Neither was significant

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
I think that it gave people time to think and appreciate one another. it helps us not to take anything for granted and to always be prepared for anything, at any time.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
It just made me more awared that you just never know what can happen to anyone and that you can never be too careful and prepared for anything. I supposed I should had been more scared specially because we were right in the middle of a War. But the fact that I was young and the fact that I was surounded by loved ones didn't really scared me much. I feel more for those that were traped in elevators alone or by themselves somewhere in the dark. I am sure it had to be a fraighful experience for them.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I was a bit confuse. it was hard for me to believe that such a simple thing as it sounded it to be, could had cause such an almost world wide problem. It kind of gave me the goose pumps.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Well it was hard to compare at all after you found out that it affected the whole East Coast. normally is just a city or small area of your neighborhood that is affected. but knowing that everywhere you looked was black. you just can't compare.

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
I didn't really gave it that much thought.

If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
I was in Chicago at the time of the 1977 blackout.

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:
I did not experience that 1977 one. but it does not surprise me that it happen. I was surprise that it was so different in 1965, but thankful that it was.

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #135, The Blackout History Project, 6 April 2001, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/135/>.
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