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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: May 25, 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 a corporate chauffeur for Marine Midland Bank, located at 140 Broadway, N.Y.C. The bank had some important paper work that had to be TYPED. NO power – NO electric typewriters. After a frantic telephone search, a manual typewriter was located out in a Long Island bank branch office. With the bank secretary aboard I drove out to the branch, no traffic signals or lights made for an INTERESTING trip. We took over four hours for the round trip, and the paper work was typed in time. With all our modern technology “out of service” we luckily had the old-fashioned means to get the job done.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Poor planning by Con Ed Electric and overuse by the public.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
The utilities NOT planning for heat waves and increases in power demands.

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?
I survived BOTH and was not surprised at either. Danger to patients in hospitals and the elderly.

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
Just meant more overtime and more miles on the road.

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
Confirmed my first thoughts about a lack of planning and failure of average citizen to cut back on unneeded use.

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
The icy blackout on Long Island lasted much longer and made live more difficult.

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
It remained the same, greed came BEFORE service and preparation.

If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
I was a city detective in 1965 and crime was LOWER than normal in the blackout. The 1977 blackout caused me much more tension and stress as I had to drive many mores miles during it.

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

If yes, please explain:
Yes, all things taken for granted can be taken away very easily.

Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?

How did the blackout(s) affect your daily reliance on electricity?
Other (please specify)

If other, please specify:
I promised myself to cut back if asked to in the future.

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, the period of “I’m not responsible” and get what you can by any means had arrived.

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #84, The Blackout History Project, 25 May 2000, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/84/>.
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