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Contributed by: John McCullough
Contributed on: February 1, 2008

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?
Left job at N.W. Ayer ad agency just as office lights (36th floor Time/Life bldg) flickered and went out. Walked to the elevator bank where others had gathered (and where people were trapped who were caught in ascent or descent).
Took the crowded stairway down with others fortunate like myself not to be in an elevator. Got down to street, saw that buses were running as were cabs and private cars. No stoplights functioning and witnessed the politest evening in New York City history I would venture. Met my wife who worked at another ad agency uptown, caught east bound bus at 57th and Ave. of Americas, transferred to uptown bus on 1st Ave. stopped at hardware store (75th and York) bought their last box of candles.....watched civilians directing traffic in this most memorable of nights in NYC.
John McCullough
Retired MadMan ( a real one, not a TV version)
Easton, PA (my native state)

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Figured it had something to do with mechanical problem since A.C's not whirring all over town.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Could they happen in Hollywood from now on please, God?

Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
1977 only

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
Was my tenth year in NYC, a depression kid used to oil lamps when electric company shut our power off for non payment back then and must say I though...."serves you right, power guys."

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
Mixed emotions. Saw wonderful examples of human conduct at its' best. To my recollection, no one was raped, one accidental death in an elevator shaft, no robberies, (they were busy directing traffic, I think) Hope the city handles the big one this well. (you think the big one is not planned for us?)
allah be praised

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
Oh, how fragile is our world! Listen to those jet planes up there......don't count on them being there always.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Never experienced one on on this level......I do remember looking up and seeing stars.....something impossible except in blackouts on this scale. It was wonderful, gave me pause to reflect on my ancestors at Stonehenge and how wise they were for not discovering oil, etc.

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
Won't put down big corporations. Depression kid, remember?
Hating them is spawned by professors who drive to their tenured jobs in the universities in cars that use arab oil.

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

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

If yes, please explain:
Caught me off guard I must admit. Reinforced my suspicions that we should not trust anything or anyone except whatever spiritual entity we entertain. Perhaps the Bedouins have the right outlook on life.

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

If yes, please explain:
I could not use my computer. (kidding, kidding)

How did the blackout(s) affect your daily reliance on electricity?
Other (please specify)

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, rings true. Can only assume that the 1965 bad guys were as bewildered as us good guys but probably vowed that should such an opportunity present itself again.....wow.
"Let's go get a TV!" "Maybe a woman!"

Cite as: John McCullough, Story #2155, The Blackout History Project, 1 February 2008, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/2155/>.
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