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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: May 13, 2000

Which blackout(s) did you experience?

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 15 in 1965. My brother and I were in the house. We lived on 72nd St. near 21st Ave. I don't remember the time, about 5 PM, all of a sudden, the lights slowly went very dim, almost out, then came back on like nothing happened. About 10 minutes later, the phone rang. It was my Dad who worked in NYC. He asked if we had any lights. I laughed and told him what had happened. Then he said the lights in all of NYC were out! He was in the elevator, just got to the lobby floor, the doors opened and the lights went out! He missed by nano-seconds of being stuck in the elevator!!! Needless to say, he walked back up to his office on the 6th floor, and his desk was his bed that evening!

The reason we, in the Bensonhurst area had lights, was because we were powered by Staten Island, which was NOT affected by the blackout!

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
I had heard that something happened at Con Edison, a transformer blew.

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 shocking only because it was the first time the whole city was involved.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
It did not really affect me personally. We had power. My ex-husband was stuck on a train in a tunnel. It took 2 hours to get out of that train. Then, he had to walk home because the cabs were too full when he tried to get one. The cabbies made out like bandits!

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I was 15, I did not really care.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Truthfully, they are the same. A power failure is a power failure. When it gets fixed, you have power again!

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
To this day, I still have no opinion of Con Ed.

If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
Because my circumstances were different between those two times, I viewed them differently. In 1965, I was a 15 year old high school student. In 1977, I was married and the mother of a 3 year old. 1977 was in the summer. Once the power went off, so did the fans! My sleeping daughter woke up,and complained it was hot. It was nighttime, so we took her outside where it was much cooler, and we just talked with her until she fell asleep again.

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:
Yes it does. That is how I remember it.

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #71, The Blackout History Project, 13 May 2000, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/71/>.
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