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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: January 11, 2002

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 freshman at SUNY Geneseo. Lights went out as we were going down the dorm stairs to dinner. One of the girls said, "Oh no. It's milking time and we have 250 cows." I was fascinated by what people perceived as the most important consideration. For me it was the fact that my mother worked in a drug store. I learned later that they locked themselves in but were reluctant to close in case someone really needed medicine.

In the dining hall there were 3 or 4 candles set around the room. We got our food by candle light which was probably an improvement. Then we found a table, but going to get milk from the milk machine and refinding your table in the dark was difficult.

Speculation was rampant, most of us immediately suspecting nuclear war. When that seemed not to be the case, we were even more upset because of the uncertainty. We lit candles in the dorm and hung out together, waiting.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Massive grid failure.

Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
1965 only

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
It had never happened before and indicated a massive system failure. We feared an attack by Russia most and in the aftermath of the Kennedy assasination two years before an attack by Russia seemed the most logicl explanation. Therefore it was significant in that it was one more 'failure' of the government which would later be added to by the 'failure' in Vietnam, the 'failure' to prosecute Nixon, the other failures and disasters of the decade from 65 to 75 which formed so much of the Boomers crucial political/pyschological experiences.

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

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #155, The Blackout History Project, 11 January 2002, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/155/>.
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