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November 29, 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 16 at the time, living in Brooklyn and I remember it was 9 or 9:30 in that evening. I was in the basement working on one of my model airplanes. My parents were in the kitchen, my brother and sister were in the livingroom watching TV, and my eldest sister was out on a date (there were six of us in my family). When the lights went out I opened the door in my hobby room in the basement to hear my parents yelling about the lights - so I knew it wasn't just our house. We soon relized it was a citywide blackout from radio reports. I thought to myself: Cool! I took my bike out to ride around the area. The bike I had was one of those 1970's banana seat bikes with the long handle bars, but mine had a headlight on the front. I rode around the nearby streets with my headlight on and smoking a cigarette (gave up the filthy habit years later). This was around the Windsor Terrace area in Brooklyn. I couldn't find any of my friends and decided to go home. There was no looting or mayhem in my area, but I do remember some people yelling Moped as I rode by with my headlight on. I remember my mother worrying about my father because of his health. The next day there was still no electricity but it was totally uneventful. There was the four of us at home. My eldest sister spent the night and the next day with the parents of her boyfriend in Park Slope. My father left that morning to check on the store he owned.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
A lighting storm in Westchester and an aging and stressed power grid.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Infrastructure's got to be maintained.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Neither was significant
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
The News reports I've heard the days following the '77 Blackout really didn't surprise me. At the time I knew parts of New York City where really rotten anyway.
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 was naive and stupid back then - completely ignorant of human nature. I didn't realized the full extent and lows people would stoop to when society collapses and breaks down. Civilization and organized society can be so fragile and transeint.
Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
How did the blackout(s) affect your daily reliance on electricity?
No effect / same reliance
Story #2165, The Blackout History Project, 29 November 2008, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/2165/>.
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