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June 15, 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?
in 1965 I was 5 years old and was watching the Three Stooges with my brother. At first the TV picture went out and I remember calling out to my mother. Then all of a sudden the house went dark. We turned on a portable radio and learned that it was the whole city.
A few hours later we got a call from one of my aunts. She was on the subway on her way home when the power went out. She had to be rescued and made her way to the New Yorker hotel where as fate would have it, she met her sister, my other aunt who had a similar experience. My father volunteered to drive to the city and rescue them. I dont really remember much else.
In 1977, I was 17. I was riding on the Belt Parkway in a car being driven by my cousin. We were listening to the AM radio and the record they were playing started to slow down. The DJ thought that the record was warped and put on another. Then we started to see the lights on the parkway flicker and go out. We made it home but it was crazy in Brookly without the traffic lights. When I got home one of my friends came by and said that his brother was being hels hostage by an angry mob at Carvel where he worked. We grabbed bats and ran over there. The gang told us that they didnt care about the workers but that they wanted the safe (and off course the ice cream because it was hot out) So we said sure, take whatever you want . I took a flying saucer myself. You know they carried the safe out of there. The real joke was that it was empty!
Later in the night when my dad heard about the looting, he took his shotgun and he, my brother and I went to his store in East NY Brooklyn where we sat in the car all night (With the a/c on) My dad swore he would have shot anyone who touched his store - thanfully no one did.
After the power came back I went to my summer job in the parks department. It was there that I heard stories about all of the looting that went on. One poor guy could only manage to steal food storage containers and got the nickname. The Tupperware Thief. All the guys that had stolen good stuff like wathces, jewelry and clothing made fun of him for the rest of the summer.
Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
1965 Russian Experiments with Electromagnetic Radiation
1977 - Con Ed couldnt handle the power demand (see 1999)
What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
They are inevitable. Peak demand strains the system. Hot weather is usually to blame with all of the airconditioners
Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
Both were significant
Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
You could see the change in the culture of NYC in those 12 yearsIn 65 strangers helped one another, restaurants and hotels opened thir doors to stranded and hungry peopleIn 1977 people used it as an excuse to loot and rob and take advantange of the situation. Nobody really helped anyone else
How did the blackout(s) affect you?
I thought it was fun in 1965, but in 1977, I was scared. See my story above
What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
The full scope of the activity in 1977 made me worried about future widescale blackouts in NY
How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
Isolated power failures are an inconvenience and not really a newsworthy event. A large scale blackout is a watershed event that defines the time and the place
What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
None in 65Negative in 77 and still to this day after the stuff they pulled last year in the Bronx and Brooklyn
If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
See my answer to 1.5a1965 fun1977 frightening
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 agree with the statement from my own personal experience.I really fear what would happen now in 2000
Story #96, The Blackout History Project, 15 June 2000, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/96/>.
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