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Contributed by: Jennifer Sulawske(Doty)
Contributed on: February 2, 2008

Which blackout(s) did you experience?
1977 (New York City 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 only 7 yrs old and visiting with my grandmother who lived in New York City across from Central Park. I remember that her apartment was on the 15th or 16th floor and it was very dark even in the day. I also remember that I could not get cooled off..it was very hot that summer. We decided to go outside and I recall her telling me "not to let go of her hand!!" It is very dangerous out there and she was afraid I would be taken but...it was too hot to stay in her apartment. When we got to the front door it was very hectic and I never saw so many people so fast set up booths and start selling items like flashlights and hand fans. I did get one remeberable item but in my youth lost it. It was a t-shirt that was black and said "I survived the 1977 New York Blackout" I wish I would have kept it because it would be worth a lot. I beleive my grandmother protected me from the criminals because I don't remember too much about that, just that it was very hot and for a 7yr old little girl that was enough.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Don't really know, I was too young and just worried about being able to go to the YMCA the next day.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Too much wasteful usage and carelessness of people.

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

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
I felt I was a true piece of history and it always made me think about how much we are spoiled as modern humans to the luxuries that we take for granted.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I didn't hear the full story until I was older and then I realized I was very lucky to not had been hurt. I felt that I got to experience a part of history that most all of my friends never would have. I lived in Indiana with my parents at the time but was on a summer vacation with Grandmama.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Most all my local power outages are very brief 1-3 hrs. This was much longer and a bit more scary because it was in New York and not a small town in Indiana.

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
none-too young

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

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

If yes, please explain:
I thought(even as a young child) about how people were very creative in ways to continue making money and use a negative event to gain income, but others just stole it.
I went home that summer and stood on a popular corner of town and made $25 and a skate board by yelling "sea shells for sale from New York City" I probably would not have done this if I did not experience the vendors out on the streets that day the lights went out.

Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?

If yes, please explain:
not that I remember

How did the blackout(s) affect your daily reliance on electricity?
No effect / same reliance

Cite as: Jennifer Sulawske(Doty), Story #2156, The Blackout History Project, 2 February 2008, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/2156/>.
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