The Big Blackout of 1965 in New York City

I wrote this story when I was only 14 years old.

Tuesday, November 9, 1965 was the night New York, among other places, had a blackout.  Of course, it was a serious thing but most of the kids didn’t think so.  Everyone who wasn’t caught in a train or elevator or some such think like that, had fun.  Most people thought the dimming lights and darkness was in their immediate area because things like that, blown fuses, etc., are always happening.  In our house, fuses blow all the time.  It was for that reason that my mother bought a real kerosene lamp and stocked up on candles.  In other words, no one in their home were alarmed at first.  We just lit the lamp and finished supper.  We could hear neighbors in the hall and upstairs so we thought our main fuse had gone.  It all seemed simple enough.  After lighting a few candles, we waited, thinking the superintendent would fix it soon.  Someone chanced to look out the window and saw the hospital across the street was dark. Now this was something.  It was then we knew something more was wrong.  We had a lamp that ran on batteries just for this purpose too.  I went out in our lobby, after fumbling around for my shoes in the dark.  It was pitch black.  If I hadn’t known there were three steps there I might have gone tumbling onto the hard floor.  There was a weird, science-fiction feel about the air.  You kind of waited for some strange space creature to grab you suddenly.  Well, my brother was going to the store to see what had happened there.  I was not to be left behind.  I had shorts on because I hadn’t planned on going out and since my dear brother was too impatient, I couldn’t change but put on a ski jacket.  Needless to say I was quite cold outside.  Strangely enough, it was brighter outside than in the lobby even though there were no lights save headlights.  The moon was full and in all its glory.  For the first time in ages, you could actually see stars.  Anyway, we went over to Jackson Heights which also was in darkness.  Other people were scurrying about with flashlights and such.  Associated ( al local store) had mobs fighting their way to the Hannakah (sic) candles which sold out of everyplace immediately.  We got to Singer’s and it was dark and the door was locked.  We, being privileged characters, were let in. Customers were cozily sipping coffee by candlelight.  It was all very atmospheric. Someone had a transistor which we were listening to, which was about all one could do.  I just wandered from place to place.  Here we found out what had happened and how far it had been, from Canada to Pennsylvania.  Some parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island were not affected.  I tried to call home but couldn’t get anything.  We were there quite a few hours although it seemed like minutes.  Anyway, when I got home there was nothing to do but sit around and listen to the latest from WNEW radio.  Imagine how many kids didn’t do their homework because of this.  I had two tests the next day.  (They were postponed, however, so it was all right if no one studied). On Broadway, there were people directing the traffic.  They say the people of New York co-operated very well and crime was less than normal which is amazing.  Subways were really fouled up and many kids didn’t get to school.  Many parents never got home either.  Well, there really isn’t much else to say about what happened to me so I guess that’s all, folks.

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