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Contributed by: Karen
Contributed on: February 10, 2013

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 wasn't living in Brooklyn during the 1977 blackout. I arrived in the city the following morning on a red-eye flight. I landed at JFK and as usual planned to take a cab to my grandparent's house in East New York. One by one the drivers refused and I assumed the usual - but thought it odd so many did. How could I have known? I was 16, had been flying all night and it never occurred to me to watch the news the night before. Who knows if the story was even on? When I finally found a driver who said he would make the trek to B'klyn, he said "you don't know what happened, do you?" I said "no," and after hearing him rant a string of obscenities, he told me about the fires and looting of the night before. As we got closer (leaving the expressway onto Linden Blvd) his cursing became louder and he punched the steering wheel with his fist as he dodged debris. I started to cry. Linden Blvd looked like a bomb had gone off! By the time I made it "home" we were both crying! My Papa was so happy I had made it (not knowing how I would) he shook the drivers hand and thanked him profusely for bringing me. If you remember this, you know some parts of Brooklyn never recovered. Many business owners vowed never to open again. They never did! Please understand the gravity...These were people who knew my grandparents for 40+ years. They knew me, they knew my mother, they remembered my parents wedding! These people were (like) our extended family. The kind that tell you you're mother became a beautiful lady but she had a bad temper as a kid and tried to push another kid's head down the sewer. You can't get these stories just anywhere - only from people with whom you share history. Understand too I'm not delusional, attempting to paint the picture of a eutopian neighborhood. I'm also quite aware that by 1977 the city had become increasingly unsafe and with that I had explicit instructions about where not to go, with whom I should and should not speak, and those I could rely upon for help. Rising crime, a serial killer (he was a "son" alright) and the blackout tipped it all over the edge!

Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Neither was significant

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
The looting took away our neighborhood. It never recovered during my grandparent's lifetime.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
The actions of the public were heartwrenching.

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

Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
No

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

How did the blackout(s) affect your daily reliance on electricity?
Became less reliant

Cite as: Karen, Story #2203, The Blackout History Project, 10 February 2013, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/2203/>.
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