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November 16, 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 a Senior in High School at the time, in Albany, NY. I was waiting on the corner of Ontario St and Central Aveneu for the #20 bus to take me to my parents' farm in Colonie. I was looking across the street to a used car lot. I noticed that the light on a string began to flicker, then dim, then go out. I looked around, and all the lights were out. The bus pulled up and I got on. I notices that all the way home, a distance of maybe 7 miles, the lights were out. I walked into our farm house, and said "Guess what! All the lights are out between here and Albany!" Then they told me about the blackout.
I got a phone call that night from my girlfriend. She was a year ahead of me, and was a Freshman in a college in NJ. To make a long story short, she dropped me during the conversation.
IN 77, I was by myself in my appartment in Staten Island. My girlfriend was out cheating on me (see a theme here?)
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
A poorly engineered system
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
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?
Both ended a relationship with a lover who was very important to my life
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I thought "Holy Shit!" I was sure it was the UFOs.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
The same, only bigger
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
The first one was provided by Niagra Mohawk.
If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
The first one was fun. The second was was a riot. I could see Brooklyn burning from the roof.
Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Yes (please explain)
If yes, please explain:
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. Vietnam and the general disintegration of capitalism. Were you in NYC in 77? Things were falling apart.
Story #153, The Blackout History Project, 16 November 2001, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/153/>.
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