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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: September 10, 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?
I was 6 years old and playing in the living room with a wooden, oval shaped paddle ball toy that was popular at the time. I decided to see how high I could hit the rubber ball and started to hit it at the ceiling, not far from the lighting fixture. All of a sudden, the light blinked and two seconds later all of the lights were out. At first, I thought that I hit the lighting fixture, but than soon realized it wasn't that. We saw that there were no exterior lights and soon learned that no one had electricity. I remember that my sister and I had Halloween candy left over and we were searching through our trick or treat bags with a flashlightfor a snack later on that evening. I seem too recall that the telephone was operable and my mother began phoning friends and family to discuss the blackout.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Back than I had no conception of why it would happen. I think that it had to be an unusally large surge of energy caused by...something.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
I'm open to learning more about it and hearing various theories.

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

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
It was the only time that I can remember that there was absolutely no electric power. Everyone was calm and pleasant where I was . People seemed to help one another.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
Just an interesting memory.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
As a child, I didn't think much about it afterward.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
It was quite a long period of time to be without electricity.

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
None.

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?
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:
Yes, definitely ! I lived on the West Coast in 1977 and I remember thinking that I was glad I wasn't in New York for that black out because of the potential crime.

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #26, The Blackout History Project, 10 September 1999, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/26/>.
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