Saturday, July 12, 2008

The 1977 Blackout in Brooklyn


I remember exactly where I was that day when the lights went out in Brooklyn. I was on the down escalator at the "EJ Korvettes" on Bay Parkway, down by the water. It's where the Toys R Us is now. Bobby Brennan, Pete Liria and I just stepped on the moving steel stairs.
We were about halfway down and all of a sudden “stop”, we all almost fell down forward too. All the lights in the store went out, while the battery powered emergency lights suddenly kicked on.

Not knowing any better, everyone in the store just left and walked to the parking lot to find their cars. And that’s when we knew something was really wrong, because it wasn’t just Korvettes that was dark. No, it was the rest of Brooklyn including Coney Island.
I clearly remember looking over towards the Parachute Jump and just seeing dark silhouettes of the entire place. Let me tell you, that was something I will never forget.

So we all piled into Bobby’s Plymouth and slowly made our way up Bay Parkway towards Kensington. All the traffic lights were out, so it took us well over an hour to get home. Just a slow crawl through every intersection, hoping no one would broadside you.

Now the block was quite quiet when we got home.
A lot of folks with flashlights walking up and down East 4th street that night. I remember we all just sat on my porch and listened to my mom’s transistor radio while shining flashlights up towards the apartment house across the street. We were probably out that night till early in the morning, listening for any informaton on when the power would be back on.

No, as far as I remember everything in Brooklyn was quite calm the first night. It wasn’t until the second night of the blackout that we heard about the cars pulling down storefront gates with long steel chains along Flatbush Avenue. It was just a lot of fire trucks and police cars racing down Church towards Flatbush that night, along with the smell of smoke in the air from far away fires.

And Kensington was quite peaceful during the whole blackout, and the East 4th street Block Association kicked into full gear.
Heck, I was even one of the “security guards” along with the rest of the boys who patrolled the block late at night with a “Louisville Slugger”. Just to make sure whatever was going on down by Flatbush was not coming here.

And nothing ever happened, no the closest we got to a riot was hearing the sirens of the fire trucks and police cars going East on Church Avenue. No, nothing more.

And Kensington along with Windsor
Terrace stood tall during those three
days in July back in 1977.

And we just read about the
riots in the Daily News.

And Hell, I never did get to buy
That “Boston” 8-track that night.

Because the cash registers
didn’t work without electric.

Ron Lopez
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2 comments:

Dan C. said...

I was living on Webster Avenue during the 1977 blackout. Our end of Kensington near 18th Avenue was quiet too. The next morning we all learned that all hell had broken loose in a lot of other neighborhoods.

I think the '77 blackout signalled the end of the "old Brooklyn" that our parents generation knew.

Cousin Pete said...

You forgot Neil O'Callaghan - he was with us in Korvette's and had just purchased an Eveready flashlight package that came complete with batteries - he ripped open the package, popped in the batteries and we had light to get to the car...like you said, in retrospect it never occurred to us that we could have walked out with anything in the store - we all just left "in an orderly fashion" and left all the merchandise alone!