Monday, November 9, 2015

Music Monday - The Night the Music Died

Today, much of the Northeast United States commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Blackout of November 9, 1965.

On the evening of November 9, 1965, I was 12 years old and in 8th grade.  I was walking home from a girl friend's house. I had spent the afternoon with her, pounding my "great American novel" out on her typewriter.  It was getting dark.

About 5:20 pm I entered my apartment house to find the lights dimming, flickering, and coming back on again.

What I did not know was that a chain reaction power failure had started several minutes before, up in Canada.  Like a wave, city after city went dark.  Now, in New York City, it was our turn.  By the time the chain reaction ended, some 30 million people were in the dark, dependent on a full moon for their light.

An elevator was waiting in the lobby of my apartment building; I made a split second decision not to take it and took the stairs to my 4th floor apartment instead.

A couple of minutes after entering it, my apartment went dark.  We were more fortunate than many - growing up Jewish, we had candles - plenty of them, in the house.  I had a battery powered radio and, listening to it, gradually realized it wasn't just our neighborhood.

You can experience it as if it was today, thanks to You Tube and this aircheck from WABC radio in New York City. 

800,000 people were stuck on the subways- my father was one of them.I was alone with my mother.  But it was not a party for me.

By the time our electricity was restored (around 6am the next morning), my life had changed forever. For me, it was one of the darkest nights of my life.

During the blackout, my mother, who had not been in the best of health, died.  It is something incredibly hard for me to write about.  The echoes of that night still resonate in me, and always will.

But, time does heal. I can face that night better now, through the filter of nostalgia, and writing this blog post is another part of the healing process.

If you enjoy nostalgia, watch the first few minutes of this WNBC news program covering the blackout.

Here is coverage from Canada.

If you are interested in hearing the songs mentioned in the aircheck from WABC radio, here they are:
 Everyone's Gone to the Moon - Jonathan King

Up the Lazy River by Si Zentner and his Orchestra

And one song from 1968 that incorporated the blackout into the lyrics - Massachusetts, by the Bee Gees.

Today is day 9 of NaBloPoMo. Use the link and find other blogs you may enjoy reading.


  1. Just reading about your mother's passing on that night, shocks me, Alana. I can't imagine how awful it must have been for the young girl you were. And to go through it alone. No wonder you it's hard for you to write about...
    I recall a black you had in the US several years later. It was so hard for us in India to understand how life could come to a standstill with a blackout. It's something that we still deal with on a regular basis.

  2. Oh.. Black out for whole NewYork city and Canada? might be a difficult time. Thank God, you didn't take the lift on that day Alana :-)

  3. Oh, Alana, I'm so sorry! What a traumatic memory. Bless you! A big hug to you as you face your memories on this anniversary. I was five at that time. I will have to ask my mother if we were affected in Pennsylvania. Thank you for including the youtube video. That butter commercial was funny!

  4. What a sad memory for you! :( I can imagine how deeply that must have affected you.
    We were living in Germany then and missed the whole thing, but did experience the blackout of 2003.

  5. Oh, how shocking and terrible that must have been for you. You are very brave to write about it and revisit the night it all happened.

  6. "Massachusetts"

    Feel I'm goin' back to Massachusetts,
    Something's telling me I must go home.
    And the lights all went out in Massachusetts
    The day I left her standing on her own.

    Tried to hitch a ride to San Francisco,
    Gotta do the things I wanna do.
    And the lights all went out in Massachusetts
    They brought me back to see my way with you.

    Talk about the life in Massachusetts,
    Speak about the people I have seen,
    And the lights all went out in Massachusetts
    And Massachusetts is one place I have seen.

    I will remember Massachusetts...

    Very apt for this particular day. I am longing to be with my family and due to work unable to, this song evoked so many emotions (coincidence though). lovely song. I googled the lyrics and just loved it.

  7. Wow. This was before my time (and I'm on the west coast), so I was not impacted by it. Did the blackout cause your mother's death? Yikes. What a nightmare.

  8. I remember the blackout, I was only 5 and my mother made it feel like some sort of camping out adventure. I can't begin to imagine how it felt for you.

  9. Oh dear! I can't imagine the traumatic experience you had at such an young age, Alana. Hugs!


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