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Max Rosenzweig
Blackout "Survivor"
5 August 1999

Interviewed by John Summers


A-I really never--rarely had any trouble. In fact, in the big blackout I was on my way home on a bus, and...

Q-In 65?

A-Yeah, 65. I was only a few blocks from home when the lights went out, and so there was no problem. And I got home all right, without difficulty.

Q-What was that night like, without power?

A-It was what?

Q-What was that night like? How did you–was it an odd night to experience without power?

A-Well, yeah. All the lights went out. I mean, that were powered by electricity (inaudible)

Q-How long did it take before your lights were back on?

A-In 65?

Q-Uh huh.

A-The electricity didn’t come on till the next day.

Q-What about in 77, then?

A-In 77–I really don’t remember any more. That was less of a problem

Q-Less of a problem, for you–in your area

A-Yeah, in either case; for anybody, it was less of a blackout. The first one, in 65, as Mae said, was the whole Eastern seaboard. As I recall, that was–I think it was a Tuesday; it was the week after election day.

Q-Yes, it was in early November.

A-Someone remarked it would really been a disaster if it would’ve occurred a week earlier. Because of the mayoralty election. And it was a big turn out; it would’ve knocked out the whole system–all the voting booths as well as all the voting and everything.

Q-Do you recall any of the stories that were going around about the 65 blackout?–who caused it? There were stories about the Russians and bombs...

A-No, no, I don’t recall that there was anything like that. I mean, you knew immediately that there was some problem with the power for the whole section of the country. But I don’t recall any rumors of any kind about that–at least not where we were.

Q-Do you remember how you found out the extent of the blackout in 65?

A-The extent?

Q-Was it the radio?

A-Well, I don’t think we could get any radio–because there was no electricity. (Inaudible). Most likely, we had a transistor radio, but I really don’t recall. We didn’t learn the full extent of it till the next day.

Q-How would you describe your general reaction to the blackout? Was it just–was it utter shock? Or, not a very strong reaction?

A-It was a shock, because we couldn’t get to work.

Q-You hadn’t been led to believe that something like this could happen, on such a scale?

A-Never; never heard of anything like that before.

Q-And would you be surprised if there was another blackout that covered the whole Northeast?

A-Well, if it happened once it could happen again. So it wouldn’t be a surprise.


A-One interesting anecdote–not much, a side comment. My mother-in-law was living with us at that time in Bayside, and both Robin, who you spoke to, and Roy, whom you know, were 7 or 8. They were in their teens, I guess. So, my grandmother , not knowing the extent of the blackout–not my grandmother, Mae’s mother, the kids grandmother–she asked Roy to go down the street to the corner to see if the lights were on, down the street.

Q-And did he?

A-No, no it was silly. I mean, you could see that all the lights were out every place. But she thought it was localized.

Q-Oh, I see. Well, that’s probably what she had been led to expect.

A-Yeah, that’s your first reaction to these things. [inaudible]

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jts{27 June 2000}