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December 20, 2006
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 a 15 year old babysitter in Huntington, LI, NY on that night. I was watching MOTHRA with a couple of semi-tiny kids - probably 7 and 6 years old or something - when suddenly, everything just went black. I thought... oh, great, these kids are gonna freak out. They did not, but we spent a couple of hours having fun trying to comport ourselves without electricity - eating, etc. And after I went home, my brother (14) and I climbed up onto the roof of our house at 7 Sweet Hollow Road, Huntington, to watch the world. I remember him marveling, "Do you see all those headlights? How are they doing that..." and then he immediately said, ".... please never tell anyone I said that!!!" All you could see anywhere were the car lights. It was really quite quiet and beautiful, from a young person's perspective, on Long Island.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
We're just human and our systems are not perfect.
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
It was just so unusual.
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
It was actually just fun to be IN on a gigantic natural disaster where nobody got hurt. It was one of those bonding experiences.
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
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 - I feel that humanity has moved in a more jaded, savvy direction, and is worse off for it. But I believe there are plenty of great people still around - most everyone, in fact. But the low lifes had a chance to see looting work for other people, so they were less hesitant to do it with the passage of time.
Story #763, The Blackout History Project, 20 December 2006, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/763/>.
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