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forum / interviews / Gail Ruggio [nee Schwall]
11 August 1999

Interviewed by John Summers


Q– So, basically what I’m interested in is what is your most vivid memory of the blackout? And which blackout...

A– Well, it was the blackout of 1965.

Q– Okay.

A– November 9th. Around 5:00 at night; cause I’ll never forget it. We were--like I said in the thing–we were sitting shiva. My mother just passed away. And we were sitting at my sister’s house. And the lights–you know, flickered, flickered. And then went out! [inaudible]

Q– Where were you living at the time?

A– It was in Valley Stream. Long Island. Where are you calling from?

Q– I’m actually calling from Larchmont, New York, at the minute.

A– Okay, well this was in Valley Stream. And we were sitting shiva. And, like I say, the lights were flickering, flickering. And they it went out. And of course we didn’t know what it was all about. And then when we finally found out–about 20 minutes later, half an hour later, because we didn’t have any radio to find out. One of the neighbors told us that it was practically the whole East Coast; that, you know, the blackout. And my sister, with her warped sense of humor, says "Well, everybody’s in mourning now. Our mother died, and everyone’s mourning with us." Which was, you know, hard to swallow; but, you know, it just gave a little joke to the moment. It lightened up the moment.

Q– That’s interesting.

A– And I remember sitting in the dark.

Q– For how long?

A– Oh, I don’t remember. I really don’t remember how long it was. I know we slept there, and, it was quite–I don’t remember. You’re talking about 34, 35 years ago.I really can’t remember how long it was. But I do remember sitting–and of course at that point we started to laugh because we’re falling over each other looking for candles, and, you know–because it was in November and it was very dark out. Of course, the houses are dark at that time of night. And at that point we just survived.

Q– So, it wasn’t a terrible experience for you.

A– It was terrible, but yet it uplifted the moment.

Q– That’s interesting

A– Yeah, I mean it wasn’t bad. And there were no robberies or anything like that on the block. You know, it was a quiet residential area. It wasn’t that people were looting or rioting. I have no bad memories of the night. Not at all.

[Blackout home] 

jts{27 June 2000}