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September 1, 1999
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?
At the time of the great Northeastern blackout,I was a boarding student at Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Massachusetts.I recall the great excitement that having the lights go out created. After all, the prospect of not having to study that evening was a delicious thought for us "prisioners of education" (John Steinbeck, I think) and the darkness would provide just the cover needed for all sorts of pranks and mischief.
Candles were found to provide light during dinner, and the plotting began in wispered earnest.Imagine our dismay, when our lights returned in less than a half hour. We were robbed, robbed!The local power plant came back too guickly!
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
I believe that too many had faith in a system that deserved not that faith.
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
General lack of maintenance. Management, staff and investors, who all look to the bottom line while transmission lines fall apart.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Neither was significant
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
Where I was the power was back almost immediatly.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I felt robbed of the great adventure of it all. My experience had not risen to the level experienced by others
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Hurricane caused power problems have been far worse
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
Hoped that it taught them a lesson.Assumed that they would move forward to preclude similar incidents.
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:
Let's face it , November is a lot colder than July. The thoughts of survival lead to cooperation. No common enemy called cold to battle in July..... every man for himself...
Story #23, The Blackout History Project, 1 September 1999, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/23/>.
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