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Contributed by: Robert Kulow
Contributed on: November 25, 2005

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, I was an engineering student at Stevens Tech in Hoboken, NJ. The day of the blackout, my roommate and I had gone to Flushing, NY to pick up two 1,000 foot rolls of coaxial cable for our college radio station.

The plan was that we would get the reels of cable at Allen Electronics on Main Street in Flushing, put a broomstick through them and carry them back on the subway and PATH tubes to Hoboken.

Hearing of our plan, the owner of the shop said to wait until after closing time and he'd drive us back.

Shortly afterwards, we heard a loud bang. One of the store's employees joked, "Watch for flying manhole covers."

Right after that, the lights went out. My roommate and I were pressed into service selling every flashlight and battery in stock (at regular prices, not jacked up!).

When all the lights and batteries were sold, the owner closed up shop, took us to a local Kosher deli for supper, and drove us back to the campus.

It wasn't until later that we realized what we had been in the middle of. Had the shop owner not offered to drive us, we would have been stuck in the subway, carrying two reels of cable weighing about 50 pounds each.

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?
Didn't know the extent until later.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
See above story. After we got back to the college campus, which did have power as that part of NJ was not affected, we turned on a radio and started to hear the extent.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
It was a bit frightening how much we depended on a fragile system.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Much more sobering. Electricity was always there. The thought that it could just *stop* taught me always to keep a flashlight handy. I still do.

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
Perhaps better training for employees?

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?
Became less reliant

Cite as: Robert Kulow, Story #490, The Blackout History Project, 25 November 2005, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/490/>.
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