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Contributed by: Bill Chiarchiaro
Contributed on: November 9, 2015

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 a little over three and a half years old and living in Weston, CT at the time of the Great Northeast Blackout. It was the first power failure that I remember. I have two recollections of it. First, being with my family in the darkened living room, gathered around a fire in the fireplace. Second, I was somehow aware that the outage was widespread, affecting more than just our house. Yet, looking out our living room window, I could see electric lights on at the house across our road and across the Saugatuck River. It was the mansion of Nils Testor, founder of the Testor Corporation, maker of model airplane kits, glues, and paints. I asked my father why that house had lights. My father replied "He has a generator."

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
I believe the explanation of an improperly set transmission line protective relay tripping and leading to cascading overloads throughout the northeast grid.

Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
1965 only

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
The Great Northeast Blackout was the first I remember. And, see my response to I.6.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
As young as I was in 1965, I was already fascinated by science, technology, and engineering. When I asked my father why that other house had lights and was told "He has a generator," that instilled a desire to someday have a generator myself. In 2012, I finally acquired a whole-house standby generator. This evening (09 Nov 2015), in observance of the 50th anniversary of the Great Northeast Blackout, I powered my house from the generator for a ten minute test. It's nice when childhood dreams come true. :-)

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

Cite as: Bill Chiarchiaro, Story #2214, The Blackout History Project, 9 November 2015, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/2214/>.
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