Monday, August 14, 2023

It Was 20 Years Ago Today

Two Major Historical Events That Shall Never Be Forgotten: And these two major historical events that (Abq Jew says) shall never be forgotten are -

1. Sgt Pepper Taught the Band to Play

Alright. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles' eighth studio album - was actually released on May 26, 1967. That was not 20 years ago today. That was, in fact, 56 years, 2 months, and 20 days ago. But everyone remembers the opening line -

Sgt Pepper

It was 20 years ago today
Sgt Pepper taught the band to play

Referring, one must presume, to May 26, 1947 - twenty years before the album's release; and 76 years, 2 months, and 20 days ago.

Musicians and music-lovers worldwide, we recall, snapped to attention. But the Jewniverse did not. Instead, our minds and hearts were focused on the seemingly interminable lead-up to what became known as

Six Day War

The Six-Day War

As Abq Jew reported in May 2017 (see Yosemite to Jerusalem), leading up to that war's 50th anniversary:

On May 16, Egypt moved its army into the Sinai
and demanded that UN peacekeepers withdraw.
On May 18, UN Secretary General U Thant acceded to the Egyptian demand.
On May 22, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.
On May 26, President Johnson warned Israel not to attack first.
On Monday May 29, the United States observed Memorial Day. 


Abq Jew and his parents z"l spent the entire Memorial Day Weekend at Yosemite National Park, doing what Jews all over the world were doing - watching, waiting, worrying.

Abq Jew Digresses

But Abq Jew digresses.
Here's the real topic of this day's blog post:

2. The Great Blackout of 2003

You don't remember that, do you? Why would you - unless you were living in or traveling to the Northeast on that fateful day? Wikipedia reminds us -

2003 Blackout

The Northeast blackout of 2003 was a widespread power outage throughout parts of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States, and most parts of the Canadian province of Ontario on Thursday, August 14, 2003, beginning just after 4:10 p.m. EDT.

Most places restored power by midnight (within 7 hours), some as early as 6 p.m. on August 14 (within 2 hours), while the New York City Subway resumed limited services around 8 p.m. Full power was restored to New York City and parts of Toronto on August 16.

At the time, it was the world's second most widespread blackout in history, after the 1999 Southern Brazil blackout. The outage, which was much more widespread than the Northeast blackout of 1965, affected an estimated 55 million people, including 10 million people in southern and central Ontario and 45 million people in eight U.S. states.

Since we're talking blackouts, Abq Jew must also tell you (he must! he must!) about the New York City blackout of July 13-14, 1977. Of which Wikipedia, along with Abq Jew, recalls -

Blackout 1977

The New York City blackout of 1977 was an electricity blackout that affected most of New York City on July 13–14, 1977. 

The only unaffected neighborhoods in the city were in southern Queens (including neighborhoods of the Rockaways), which were part of the Long Island Lighting Company system, as well as the Pratt Institute campus in Brooklyn, and a few other large apartment and commercial complexes that operated their own power generators.

Unlike other blackouts that affected the region, namely the Northeast blackouts of 1965 and 2003, the 1977 blackout was confined to New York City and its immediate surrounding areas. The 1977 blackout also resulted in citywide looting and other criminal activity, including arson, unlike the 1965 and 2003 blackouts.

Stewart House

Abq Jew remembers the 1977 NYC blackout because of his youthfully exuberant escapade to rescue his mother-in-law, Great Grand Mama, of blessed memory. 

Who at that time lived in a 1-bedroom co-op apartment on the 19th floor of the Stewart House, 70 East 10th Street, "one of Greenwich Village''s most sought after co-op apartment buildings in downtown NYC."

Yes, Abq Jew, with only his trusty high-powered flashlight to guide him, intrepidly climbed up the 18 [double] flights of stairs (there was no 13th floor!) and brought Great Grand Mama down to safety (no electricity = no water!) and then to Mr & Mrs Abq Jew's 1-bedroom rental on East 18th Street.

211 East 18th Street

To Abq Jew, today's 20-year anniversary of The Great Blackout brings back fond memories of his youthfully exuberant escapade to rescue his son, Dov Yellin the Film Editor, from the Wilds of Weehawken, to which he had escaped from Manhattan.

The lights were out in Weehawken. It was going to be dark along the entire route from our home in Livingston. Abq Jew wasn't sure he had enough gas in the car for the trip - and without electricity, gas stations couldn't pump gas.


To make things even more interesting: cell service was intermittent at best; Dov could not describe, in brief phone calls, where he was (seemed to be a Hess gas station; JFK Blvd?); Abq Jew had never driven in Weehawken-by-the-River; and he had no GPS.

Abq Jew also had no map, and couldn't have read it anyway while driving in the dark.

Robert Velthuizen

Thank G*d for Abq Jew's
dear friend Robert Velthuizen! 

Robert actually worked in Weehawken, had gas in his car, and knew several ways (just in case) to get to the Hess station on JFK Blvd.

And he has always had way more than his share of joie de vivre, i.e. youthful exuberance.

It took a little time (no traffic lights; New Jersey drivers) - but Robert and I found Dov in the dark and brought him safely home.

That was the most youthful exuberance Abq Jew had displayed since he broke his collarbone scoring the go-ahead run at his company softball game on August 31, 1989.

But that's a story for another time and another blog post ....

Those were the days

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