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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: July 27, 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 12 years old when the Great Northeast Blackout happened. I remember it was either during the autumn season or very close to that season and I was watching television when the blackout began. It was so eerie as the lights at first didn't just go out,... the lights as well as the television screen simply began to grow dim. It was very slow at first and then it suddenly brightened back up. Then the lights began to ever so slowly dim more and more until the lightbulbs had just a faint glimmer of a glow left to them; similar to an ember of a burning cigarette ash. The tv had a pinpoint of a light left on the television screen or 'tube' as we once termed it. Then, ... it was dark. I went to the 2nd floor of our home which was located in Hamden Connecticut where I lived at the time, and looked out towards New Haven Connecticut. We lived on a hill in our town and could see as far as Long Island on clear days. I remember feeling the enormity of this darkness when there was nothing to be seen. Just endless blackness. I knew, as young as I was then, this was something big. I never remembered any blackout before this event or to this day when the lights went out in so eerie a way as that faint slow motion losing the lights glow of those lightbulbs and television. I thought it was the end of the world or some type of cold war attack being imminent.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
I have no idea. I was just too young.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
human error

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

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
A black out of this enormity (all the way to Canada and south to NYC was huge at that time)and it left you feeling small and helpless. It was just too big a blackout to have been 'normal' somehow then in feeling.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
see above

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
It made me question "what REALLY happened here and why"

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
no... not even close

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
none.. again due to my age

If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
only experienced the 1965 Blackout

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

If yes, please explain:
It was just too big and too weird the way it happened. I felt something 'more' was behind the event....

Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
No

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 can only identify with the 1965 blackout. It was just so much larger than the following blackout and affected from the Canadian border to south of NYC. It was too eerie the way the lights went out in 'slow motion' and affected a never-before-heard-of enormous area of the country.... It felt like there was something 'more' to the event than a mere blackout. Some of us wondered if there was something wrong such as an eminent attack from the Soviet Union or along those lines. It was just the entire aura surrounding the way the event happened it just made you stop and think..

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #208, The Blackout History Project, 27 July 2003, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/208/>.
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