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July 6, 2013
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 five years old and watching a Godzilla movie on tv. My mother was fixing dinner and our old black & white console started acting weird. I called my mother & she moved the rabbit ears around until the picture cleared up briefly. When problems happened again, I called her again & she did the same thing. As she started to return to the kitchen, the lights flickered then nothing. She thought we had blown a fuse until she looked out the window & realized the entire block was dark. It took a few minutes & some chaos & confusion before we were told that the problem went beyond our block. My mother got a flashlight and searched for more batteries. She was concerned about my father driving home without any street lights. He made it home & as a little kid, I remember being cold, wrapped in a blanket until my mother finally told us to go to bed.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
I always heard that the blackout was an act of God, caused by a lightning strike.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
I think that there is great demand from the city which has millions of people have great energy demands, but Con Ed has known about this for some time and they don't seem to have any plan to deal with this and every summer we run into our annual brown/black out problems.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Both were significant
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
The hours when we thrown into darkness were very stressful. It disrupted our lives and we had no idea what was going on or when it would be fixed.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
I was very young in 1965 so it was more uncomfortable than scary.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
It had no affect on me.
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
It's just a more intense experience but like I said every summer we seem to be forced to deal with blackouts and brown outs and Con Ed has no solution to prevent it and their response to handling it after it happens is usually inadequate.
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
I really don't respect Con Ed. Their prices keep rising and the service doesn't.
If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
In 1965 the city was calmer and more willing to work together and in 1977 the city basically lost its mind and went crazy. Many people used the opportunity to act badly and it left a really bad taste in my mouth.
Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
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:
In 1965 I was five but from what I remember this is accurate. I was 17 in 1977 and it was a very different scene. I watched people carrying on and acting crazy from my front porch, so these were two different outcomes of a similar event. I also think it's reflective of how the society in general changed.
Story #2205, The Blackout History Project, 6 July 2013, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/2205/>.
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