45 Years Ago Today When The Power Went Out!

By the time the back was off the set the lights had dimmed and then – poof – they were gone.

Oops! After publishing this entry Ed Stannard of the New Haven Register noticed it was a day off. Damn you smart print guys!

All the facts are correct except the blackout was Tuesday November 9, 1965, not the 10th. My apologies for the error and gratitude to Ed.

I have changed the entry to correct the error.

I remember exactly where I was 45 years ago yesterday. I was 15 years old in 1965 and in the living room of our tiny apartment in Queens watching TV. It was a Tuesday, but for some reason my father was home.

All of a sudden for no apparent reason the TV picture began to shrink. I called my father over. Voltage regulator we guessed.

We then did what any 1960s father and son would have done–we pulled off the back of the set to check the tubes&#185.

By the time we’d exposed the TV’s innards the lights had dimmed and then – poof – they were gone.

An improperly set circuit breaker at a power station near Niagara Falls took down much of the Northeast! We didn’t know it at the time but nearly all of New York City, New York State and New England had gone dark!

This part of the world was thrust into chaos, yet order was maintained. In fact the biggest takeaway from the blackout was how nice everyone was! There was little crime and lots of helping hands. However, in that pre-cell, pre-Internet era there was plenty of confusion.

Here’s an aircheck from WABC-AM’s Dan Ingram as the power slowly drifted away. He had no idea then his voice would be the most vivid memory of the onset of the Great Northeast Power Blackout!

Addendum: After posting this I got a nice message on Facebook from Ilene Treitler Chalupski who was just Ilene Treitler when she was my next door neighbor in 1965 (She apartment 5D. We apartment 5E).

My father came home and YELLED at us because when he walked in and we were playing with the Horizontal and Vertical controls (Outer Limits stuff!) and he told us NEVER to touch those knobs. Then when he couldn’t make the tv picture stop rolling, he knocked on your parents’ door Geoff, i clearly remember it, and when your mother opened the door, your father had the television away from the wall and was trying to make the picture stop rolling, and within a few seconds the place went black!

&#185 – There were tube testers nearly everywhere including the local drugstore.

8 thoughts on “45 Years Ago Today When The Power Went Out!”

  1. My mom was buying her 1st new car–a 4 door ’66 dodge dart and we couldn’t go pick it up because of the blackout. I was a bit disappointed, but then, also decided I couldn’t do my giant pile of homework. (The car ultimately became mine several years later!) Enjoyed the Dan Ingram flashback! ahh, the 60s….

  2. I was walking with my father on Queens Boulevard, facing Manhattan, when we noticed the lights on the Empire State Building flicker and then go out. Second later, all the lights in the city and our neighborhood in Queens were out. Our first thought was that we were under some kind of nuclear attack. But I also recall that we weren’t particularly frightened. We must have done something to find out what was going on and to contact my mother and sister – but obviously we didn’t have cell phones or instant access to the news of moment on Internet. Imagine how utterly lost and frustrating we’d feel now to have to get to a land line and a radio or television to find out what was going on!

  3. I was 13, and hanging around out front of our house on West Shepard Ave in Hamden. Not quite dark, late twilight and almost time for supper. I noticed the street lights which had only just come on were now dimming oddly. They went to about half brightness and stayed that way for what I recall as almost a full minute, though it could have been less. Then off. The neighborhood was dark and getting darker as twilight was ending. I went inside and we got a transistor radio going and tuned to WELI. That station was the only game in town with full back up generation and a fully staffed news department. They never missed a beat. It was some time before anyone knew the full extent of the damage done, probably about 7pm it was commonly known this was big ! I remember that the Register was able to print the morning Journal-Courier because the plant was in the small area within New Haven to keep generation going, because a sharp cookie in master control at UI’s English Station saw the system collapsing and severed that generating station from the Grid keeping downtown New Haven lite. I may be all wet about the morning paper, but that’s how I remember it 🙂 by the way, English Station was instrumental in regaining control over the grid later in recovery, or what we would term now, rebooting the system. Because they needed electricity to get the electricity back on !! LOL

  4. Forgot to mention, the moon was rising in the east (very orange and if I recall properly, almost full) at the very moment the street lights went orange. Geoff, you can probably check on that fairly easily since we know the date and time 🙂 It was all very eerie.

  5. I was 13 years old, and the thing I remember the most about that blackout was the way the lights dimmed slowly. I was home alone, on Myrtle Beach in Milford, and the inside lights just faded out, and I ran into the street, and saw the streetlight fading away. It was so scary I will never forget it.

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