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Eileen H. Kramer
April 18, 2003
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 three years old when the black out hit. My family
had just moved from Flushing, Queens to Hartsdale, New York in Westchester County. We were in a big red house on a suburban street that was part of a neighborhood of streets that went on forever.
I found all of this fascinating and a little strange. I was sick when we moved. I had a sore throat. The black out ties in with my being sick and the big new house that was much larger than the two bedroom apartment.
I remember my parents talking about black outs and brown outs and my father cursing Con Edison.
After the blackout I became afraid of the dark and had to sleep with my door open and the hall light coming in.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
I have no idea. Blackouts just happened.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
I was too young to have a general opinion at the time.
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?
It was tied in with the big and somewhat scarey move to Westchester from the city.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
I think it made me fearful of the dark. My parents didn't really trust the power company anyway.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I don't remember hearing any news at all. The transistor radio must have been on somewhere but I just don't remember.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
The normal power failures here in Georgia where I live now bother me a lot more, especially if I'm on the computer, and a black out scares me a lot less than a gas leak.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
My parents had a pretty low opinion of Con Ed to start with. They were known for being rip off artists. As an adult, I've never paid a Con Ed bill because I lived upstate and then in Georgia.
If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
I did not experience the 1977 blackout so I can't compare.
Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Yes (please explain)
If yes, please explain:
I became afraid to sleep in the dark. I decided that everything in the new house in Westchester was just not right and that it was a bad and scarey time.
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 was NOT in New York City during the 1977 blackout and only heard about everything second hand after the power had been restored. I had been camping out in Arnot Forest (near Ithaca, New York and had absolutely no access to the news for five days.) I was too young to give much assistance to any one in 1965 and I don't remember my parents being helpful at all.
Eileen H. Kramer,
Story #199, The Blackout History Project, 18 April 2003, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/199/>.
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