Into each generation a little darkness falls

Posted: Monday, August 25, 2003

And so, it seems, into each generation, a massive power failure must fall.

The Blackout of '03 introduced millions of younger, plugged-in Americans to what life was like on the prairie. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration. But certainly, it was an echo of what it was like before cell phones, microwave ovens and PlayStation 2, all of which were useless when the power went out from Canada to Canarsie. ...

Indeed, the most encouraging aspect of the massive power failure that crippled the New York metropolitan area, along with much of the rest of the state and surrounding areas, is the calm manner in which most people reacted. It may be that having lived through major blackouts in 1965 and 1977 and the tragic terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, many New Yorkers have become not only survivors, but also adept ones. ...

Sure, they wondered why the power was out and weren't happy that it was. But no one panicked over rumors of terrorism. Rather, they rushed to buy water and ice and nonperishable food. They checked out candles and flashlights.

The younger ones watched and learned about power grids and patience. They rediscovered board games. (Some cheated and watched portable TVs.) And they cheered when the lights finally came back on, having become the newest members of that ever-larger club that can ask: ''Where were you when the lights went out in (fill in the blank)?''

The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.,

Aug. 16

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