Zip Code scares and Zap: A power outage! #AtoZChallenge

Z is for Zip Code scares and Zap: A power outage! Last of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix.

So much of a teenager’s life is in the hands of adults — and that was certainly true for me, my classmates and the kids on my block in the early 1960s.

Even where we lived was up to our parents — and that resulted in some Zip Code scares for many of us during Junior High.

Getting ahead in corporate jobs often required parents, mostly dads back then, to accept transfers to faraway places. So you might bid a classmate goodbye at the end of the school year — then return in the fall to find her gone, through no fault of her own.

https://localhistory.boulderlibrary.org/islandora/object/islandora%3A33893
Part of the IBM complex in Boulder, Colorado (1965-70). Getting ahead in corporate jobs often required parents, mostly dads back then, to accept transfers to faraway places. This resulted in zip code scares for many of us during Junior High. Photo: Boulder Library

“Where’s Sue?” you’d ask.

“Oh, she moved to Boulder, Colorado,” would be the reply.

Boulder was the location of a big IBM complex that many local dads transferred to — and quite a few of my classmates had pen pals there due to these surprise Zip Code changes.

My 1964 Zip Code scare

I arrived in Endwell in 1957 as a result of my dad’s General Electric transfer.

So I was familiar with the discomfort of being the “new kid” in second grade and having to adjust to an unfamiliar town, neighborhood and school.

I was definitely not eager to repeat the experience as a teen — yet according to my diary, a Zip Code change nearly happened when I was 14.

April 18, 1964. We might have to move to Utica! I hope not!

April 19, 1964. We might have to move to Phoenix, Arizona! Ugh! If Dad switches to IBM we can stay here! He wants to stay here, so he may switch! I HOPE SO!! I DON’T WANNA MOVE TO ARIZONA!!!!

Phoenix, Arizona (c. 1965). My Zip Code scare happened in 1964, when my dad was considering moving us to Phoenix, Arizona. I did not want to go — and was relieved when the move did not take place. Photo: Pinterest

In the end, neither move took place and my family remained in Endwell until my freshman year of college — when, alas, my siblings had to suffer the dislocation of moving to Syracuse, N.Y., during grade school and high school.

Zap: A power outage!

As my early teens drew to a close in 1965, a major event dropped the curtain on this phase of my life — and ushered me into my later teens and High School.

That event was the Northeast Power Outage of 1965. The video below shows how it looked in New York City — and we experienced it in Endwell, too.

At 15, I was talking on the phone in our dining room when the lights went out — and I remember looking across the Susquehanna River toward Vestal, which was normally dotted with house lights, to see only inky darkness.

The power outage was unexpected and massive — triggered by some electrical glitch in New York City, then zap New York State and beyond went dark.

Press & Sun Bulletin, Nov. 10, 1965.

And with that, my early teens drew to a close. When the lights came up, daily life resumed — and a couple of months later I turned 16.

Happily, I had survived Junior High and my early teens, and I was headed to High School — where new and different experiences awaited on the road to adulthood.

Congratulations to my fellow A to Z Challenge bloggers and many thanks for joining me on this year’s journey! Please leave a comment, then stop back on May 3 for “Recap and Reflection on Endwell: My Early Teen Years.”

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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37 thoughts on “Zip Code scares and Zap: A power outage! #AtoZChallenge”

  1. I can empathize with your story, as my dad was an officer in the ultimate corporation, the US Army. I learned what the word “transfer”meant at an early age. Military life for a family didn’t offer many options and often forced a very abrupt change. Over twelve grades, I went to ten different schools. Only later did I understand the value of living in different places. I hated moving and having to fit into a new school or neighborhood.

    I’ve enjoyed your A-Z series and liked the way you presented little time capsules of events and fads. It was neat to be reminded of things we often forget were influencing us at the time.

  2. Kudos to you for making it to Z.

    I dreaded moving. When I was growing up we moved once from one end of town to the other, about a mile. None of the kids wanted to move to the towns around us. My mother didn’t either and I think she had more clout than we did.

    If you have to change schools, a move to a new city or new state can mean about the same thing socially for a teen.

    1. Thanks, Susan! Yes, moving was a scary option for a teen. I breathed a sigh of relief when my dad’s possible relocations were postponed until I finished high school.

  3. We moved several times when I was growing up, which I think is why I like to stay put now. Our February power outage in Texas was dreadful and I wish our legislature was spending more time on fixing the power situation than the regressive laws they are focused on. We’ll see how we do this summer. I’ve enjoyed these posts about your youth.

    1. Thanks, Kathy. I felt so bad for you all in Texas. I have lived through a bad power outage here in NYC — but to go through one during the Covid pandemic? What a nightmare!

  4. Living in Calif,, I could only hear & read about the great Northeast power outage. I remember 9 months later there was quite a surge in new babies born in the area. 🙂 Calif. is having fun with power outages now. So far PG&E has treated us to power outages in March, April, & May. Getting a little tire of it, but at least we have a generator to keep things going when we lose power.

    1. You have my sympathies. I found the 1965 power outage fascinating as a teen — but it was my parents who had to worry about the spoiled food and other repercussions.

  5. Hi Molly:

    Congratulations on another wonderful series–A to Z–so interesting! While I didn’t read each entry, I did read most of them and really enjoyed them.

    I came across a reference you might be interested in for further family research–Ronald Schwatz, The Electric Workers at GE and Westinghouse, 1923–1960, U. of Il Press…

    Enjoy a bit of a respite and we’ll meet you back again on your family trail.

  6. Just hopped in at the very end but will try to start at A in the next month. We didn’t move after I was 6 until I left to go to Teachers College. My dad died when I was 10 and my mum contemplated moving to get a job but stayed with my father’s business and ran it very successfully. I was glad to get away to a city at 17 after living in the country.

    1. That’s the same span that my family stayed put during my childhood. Glad your mom was able to make a success of the family business so you were able to stay in the same town until college.

  7. Switzerland is such a small country that there usually were no domestic company-wide transfers, and I’d say the percentage of people working internationally and moving abroad was small. Most people literally lived and worked in the same town back then.
    Later, with globalization and M&As, things started to change.
    I’m sure you were glad to be able to stay put and graduate with your friends. On the other hand you’d have made new friends in Arizona or wherever – but you didn’t know that yet.

    Power outages must be scary. Good thing the light came back on, thus enabling you to turn 16 😉

    Congrats on completing A-Z 2021! It was a lot of fun following you around and learning about your youth!

    See you at the reflection post!

  8. Great post, and one that resonates with me. For a variety of reasons I moved 11 times and changed school systems 6 times before I left for college. I think one of the main reasons I got interested in my family history early on was the need to overcome all that uprooting!

    And I remember the blackout. I was in 3rd grade, living outside of Boston.

    1. Wow! I am so glad I only had to move once. Interesting that you remembered that power outage. I’ve been in others since, but there is something about the first one that makes it memorable.

    1. I think it was the first big power outage in the area, so not surprised your husband remembers it. Glad you were able to stay in the same zip code un-interrupted.

  9. Moving far away from friends is not fun. Congratulations on completing the challenge! They were great posts, thanks for sharing your story, mixed with your country history.

  10. Thank you , Molly, for a lively set of posts in this A-Z challenge – you showed me quite a different teenage experience to my own. I went to three High Schools as my father was moved with his job, and the first time at the age of 13 I hated the change and it took me a long time to settle – the second time I was older and coped better.

  11. My father lost his job in 1963 after they wanted to transfer him to Chicago but he actually said no – he wanted to be with his family and I remained in New York City. I remember the 1965 blackout very well. My Dad was one of those commuters who was stuck on a subway underground and waited hours in a phone queue to call home. Congratulations on surviving another A to Z Chllenge.

    1. Thanks, Alana. Once again our lives parallel one another’s — but you in NYC and me in the Binghamton area before we switched places.

  12. Power cuts were a common phenomenon in India in my growing up years and happens even now in some parts …. sometimes a scheduled maintenance from the electricity board …. that’s when people would leave the television and come to the doorstep to get some fresh air and the whole neighborhood would engage in friendly chit chat and so it would be fun actually.
    Have had a great time travelling with you through your memories and thanks for frequently visiting my blog as well.

    1. Thanks so much! I know what you mean about people becoming social during power outages. Make you realize how dependent we are on electricity these days. Congrats on completing the challenge and thanks for your visits/comments.

  13. Be glad you dodged Utica. It was a real pit in the 60s, 70s, 80s…
    My mom and extended family live just outside the city. As a bored and morose teen, the only thing I liked in Utica was the library.

    I don’t remember the ’65 blackout. I was in NYC during 1977’s.

    Great A-Z work!

    1. Thanks, Anne. Based on your Utica review, now I am even more relieved we didn’t move there. I also lived in NYC when the 1977 outage — and all subsequent ones — happened. But the 1965 outage was my first, and amazed me as a teen. Agree with you about the Utica library — I have done family history research there and it’s an amazing place.

  14. I’m glad you didn’t have to change zip codes during your growing up years. Our oldest three children had to move to new cities and schools twice. It was not particularly fun for them, but I think they adapted quite well in spite of it all. Thanks for a lovely peek into your early teen years!

    1. Thanks, Marcy! My sisters ended up having to move twice as well, and it was not easy for them. I am grateful that my move happened after first grade when I had the resilience of youth.

  15. Great Z post Molly. Thanks so much for your great A to Z series. I’ve loved popping in each day. Your memories are incredible and have often made my mind wander back to my teens.

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