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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: June 8, 2001

Which blackout(s) did you experience?

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?
The black out of 1965 happened about a week before my eight birthday. I was watching T.V. Dudley Doo Right on channel 11 When the screen started to fade. My grandfather came into the room and asked what is happening to the T.V. So we switched channels I believe channel 2 was still opreating but soon that went white. Then the telivision went black along with all the lights.

Being that my Grandfather was superintendant of the apartment building we lived in people soon began knocking on the door asking what happened to the lights.

He was as clueless and everybody else. But then one of the tenants had a transitor radio. And was able to tell what was going on.

It was kind of scary for me. Until I heard my father's voice. "HEY WHO TURNED OUT THE LIGHTS" And looking in the direction of the voice. Seeing a cigarette floating in the darkness. My last impressions were yes it was scary and my grandmother fretting about the 'broken TV" didn't help. But hearing my fathers voice and seing that cigarette lighting up the darkness. Was the best sight and sound this child could ever see and hear.

Now for the blackout of 1977. My boyfriend (now Husband) were out on a date. We were visiting friends in East Flatbush. So by moped we traveled from Brighton Beach. When we arrived it was starting to get dark. We were talking when one of the people walking down the block decided it was fun to hit the lamppost with a bat. The light went out and then almost instantaneously all the lights went out.

"Oh S---" My boyfreind and I say simultaneously.

We say good buy to our friends and Travel up Church Avenue to Coney Island Ave. Over the bridge to Neptune avenue and home. Thanks to the wonderful people who directed traffic we got home safe.

Eventhough it was dark. Between the clouds we were able to see more stars then we saw in our life.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
In 1965 I'm not really sure. It was almost as if someone pulled the switch.

In 1977 I was lightneing.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Mostly rough weather. wind and lightning

Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Both were significant

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
Significant in how the times of the years they occured. In November the weather was cool and people stayed indoors with the lamps and candles. In July the weather was hot and hot weather maked people crazy there fore we had the riots.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
The blackouts affected me by seeing human nature in a new way.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
In 1965 is was "so that is what happened" in 1977 it was "don't mess with mother nature"

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Normal power failures the power comes back within an hour or so.

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
I was young enough in both cases not to have any opinion of Con Ed.

If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
1965 - cool weather. near christmas people helped one another more. It seemed to me like a party atmosphere. This is the lemons let's make lemonade 1977 - hot weather, grumpy dispositions, nobody in party mood.

Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Yes (please explain)

If yes, please explain:
Many people said. This is a sign of the times. The end is near.

Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
Yes (please explain)

If yes, please explain:
In 1965 we had many elderly living on the top floors of the apartment buildings. We feared that one would come out and fall and greak somethng

How did the blackout(s) affect your daily reliance on electricity?
Became less reliant

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:
That is exactly how that happened. It was as though human nature had deterioted in less then a decade.

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #141, The Blackout History Project, 8 June 2001, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/141/>.
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