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Contributed by: Marjorie
Contributed on: July 13, 2005

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?
It was my sweet 16th Birthday. My Mom bought a Carvel Ice cream cake. It was very hot and humid and the cake started to melt real quick. We ended up sharing it will all the neighbors because we had no electricity. We lived in Yonkers, NY and my uncle was across the street in a tavern which all the money left on the table for the bartenders tip was stolen. It was a very memorable birthday, which I will never forget and either will all my friends that had been at my party that day.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Lightning struck north of the city. Also I believe there was alot of stress on the system because it was so hot and humid and everyone was running their ACs.

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?
It was the first blackout I had been through and of course it was my Birthday. I remember hearing reports of looting in the city.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
It made my birthday party excity and one in which I will never forget.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I think it was a shame that people to advantage of the blackout by looting and arson. But in my neighborhood of Yonkers on Mclean Ave. the neighbors got together and we talked to neighbors that we hadn't communicated with before. There was a feeling of togetherness.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Since it was the first that I remember and the longest., I would say this out does a normal power failure.

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
My husband worked for Con Edison, and I have no negative feelings towards the company.

If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
Only 4 years old for the 1965 blackout and have no memories of the event.

Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Yes (please explain)

If yes, please explain:
Because it was my birthday and because ever since then, big thunderstorms seem to occur on my Birthday.

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:
I believe the July 77' event did have more looting and arson from what I heard on the news reports. But at the same time in my area the sense of community cooperating with eachother was definitely there as well.

Cite as: Marjorie, Story #408, The Blackout History Project, 13 July 2005, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/408/>.
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