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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: April 10, 2000

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 in Chicopee, Mass. (western Mass.), on Nov. 9, 1965. It was my sons birthday. We had a party for him, as I was taking some of his little friends home, the lights went out. One of the little girls was a daughter of a local wealthy manufacturer, when I walked into his house, he was siting there in the living room by candlelight. Later at the local general store and hang out for the local Polish crowd, the excitement and rumors were flying. The prevaling theory was that UFO's had taken the power out. We had a rash of UFO sightings in New England about this time. My family and I spent the rest of the evening driving around in the car, listening to the news of the blackout. We later retired for the night. I dont recall any big hardships to our family at the time. We had been through 13 days of no electricity in Florida in 1960, after a hurricane, that was a hardship.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
According to a final report at the time, a small relay in Buffalo, New York, failed, and took the whole grid out due to overloading. In recent years I've heard differant theories about what happened. But it seems to me, in the last 30 years, people like to re-write history in the United States. I believe very little today put out by the media.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Probably poor management of power companies.

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?
It shows our modern society is very fragile due to dependence on electricity. And each generation is getting more fragile.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
That depends on your enviroment. 13 days in Florida without electricity was a chore, but not life threating. 2 or 3 days in a northern climate in the dead of winter could mean death. Where I live today we have many blackouts throughout the year, we have to prepare always for the worst situation. Everyone should read the article in "Wired Magazine" about the blackout in Canada a couple years ago. Even for someone like me it sounded unreal and scary as hell.

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

If yes, please explain:
The general public should be more informed on what to do in case of a blackout. Emergency plans should always be in place and tested for a major blackout. Local governments should be more involed. The Country Club attitude of the ones in charge should be thrown out.

Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
Yes (please explain)

If yes, please explain:
It prompted me to prepare for Y2K.

How did the blackout(s) affect your daily reliance on electricity?
Became less reliant

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #54, The Blackout History Project, 10 April 2000, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/54/>.
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