once upon a time on the island of long…

It had just been delivered.

The brand new, hot off the delivery truck: CHERRY CONSOLE ZENITH COLOR TELEVISION. it was not just a TV, it was an altar. Where my mother (and when he came home from work, my father) would sit and watch in awe.
I was forbidden to turn it on. Forbidden. She wanted my father to bless the TV first. It was brand new. That’s what she said, BRAND. NEW. My mother told me that if I played with the TV – if I even touched the TV – she would punish me for three to four years, or more. She meant business. Our black and white television was being sent to the television graveyard. My mother was ecstatic. Phone calls were made to all of her sisters from Brooklyn to Evansville, Indiana: “Gert. GOR.GEOUS.” “Sylvia, GOR.GEOUS.”  “Pauline, GOR.GEOUS.”

She was delighted, ecstatic, and if not the first, close to being the first on our block to have a BRAND NEW color television. My mother thrived on this kind of shit. That goes under the Na-NA-na-NA-na umbrella.

She went upstairs to freshen up; lipstick, perfume, a fresh tease of the hair and a spritz of hairspray, so that when my father came home, both she and the TV looked sparkly and sexy, and gorgeous.

I did the forbidden.
Good goddess… yes.

I did.

I turned the TV on and off, on and off, ON… watching the zig zag’s of color meshing and blending together… when all of a sudden, at a little after 5 pm, the entire TV blew – picture tube and all – along with all the lights in our house, and after my mother’s major nut-dance and carrying on, “look what you did, look what you did. LOOK WHAT YOU DID! GOD IS GOING TO PUNISH YOU!” It became throughly apparent that the entire neighborhood was now without electricity.

Pitch Black. For as far as the eye could see, BLACKNESS.

And of course, my mother continued to blame me for causing this catastrophic holy mess. “You. You did this. You. You made this entire town go dark. You? See what you did?”

Phone lines were criss-crossing and everything was in complete turmoil.

My father managed to get through to her from Penn Station (the LIRR) from one of the phone booths, where a long line of men stood waiting to call their wives to let them know that it looked pretty damn iffy making it home for dinner, let alone the evening. All train service had been cancelled. My father must have said something like: “Geez, I can’t leave the city, Bea, no trains are running, all tracks are shut down.” Because she said: “You know what, I don’t give a shit if you have to walk home, you get home. YOUR DAUGHTER DID THIS, SHE CAUSED THIS FUCKING BLACKOUT.” I’m pretty sure my dad didn’t believe that I caused the blackout, but my mother was so thoroughly convinced that it was because I had played with the TV AGAINST HER WISHES. And even though the phones were jammed up for hours and hours – she managed to get through to a few near and dear, and not only rail on about me, but made false promises that yes, I would help with the ‘blackout’ cleanup.

Needless to say, everyone and I mean everyone, was told it was my fault. The girl from Long Island who had the mystical powers to magically knock down the electrical line, all because I wanted to see the magic of color TV. And I remember thinking while I was banished to my room for an indefinite amount of time after the initial crocodile tears and huge fears and massive guilt and tremendous worry came and went – if for only a few minutes –  and , “WOW! I must be really powerful, a whole entire blackout.” I did. I really truly believed I had magical power. My mother would have told you otherwise.

And, no, I didn’t feel like “a princess,” but I did feel every bit the super-girl.

And then of course other culprits started surfacing, the little boy who licked a frozen poll in Connecticut and while his tongue got frozen stuck – POUFFFF – all the lights went out, and the little girl who stepped on the crack and instead of breaking her back, the town went completely black, and the paperboy who tossed a newspaper from his bike and as soon as it hit the front door, all lights went out.

Tons of stories. Tons of folks thought they had caused the great black out of 1965. Each one I bet feeling just a hint of possibility that they had “superpowers.”

And of course, a day later the truth came out: a major grid – transformer – blew in (I think) the Niagara Falls area. Leaving thousands upon thousands – THOUSANDS  – of folks without electricity. The whole eastern seaboard. Black. Had nothing to do with fidgeting with the TV knob. Or stepping on a crack, or licking a wet pole. Nothing. But…

It was years later when another blackout occurred and a story began surfacing that it was caused by a little boy who was walking along the sidewalk banging the telephone poles with a little wand, when all went black.

I wonder if he felt – on that day – for a mere few moments that he too was a super-boy with superpowers.

And really, the moral of this blog: even though none of us caused major electrical grid blackouts, we are all, each one of us, super-girls & boys.

we are.

Category: Uncategorized 11 comments »

11 Responses to “once upon a time on the island of long…”

  1. Madge Woods

    You crack me up. Loved this.

  2. Hollye Dexter

    I love this story!
    But I still do believe that you have superpowers. And I do think there’s enough “energy” in a complicated mother/daughter relationship to blow out the entire grid.

  3. Beverlee Peters

    I love waking up & having my morning coffee to your stories Amy! I truly treasure it! You make me laugh & smile. And you make me a little less “crabby” on those you know what days…. Great story!!!

  4. kristine

    The current that runs through you has enough power to ignite women all across the country…If I had been your mother I would have bought you a cape and a crown and shouted from the roof top that “MY GIRL IS MAGIC”.

  5. paula

    You are not alone in your amazing powers.

    When my middle child was just learning to talk, he stood on the arm of the sofa and reached for the light switch. “On,” he said proudly, and flipped the switch up. “Off!” And all the power went out in the house and the neighbourhood.

  6. Kathleen

    LOL only you Amy!!

    I was sent to my room because I refused to go into the basement to get some potatoes. I just knew it would be so dark down there and I think it was the first time I said ‘no’.

    And ‘My Magic’ is I have learned to say no since……

  7. Amy Wise

    Super powers indeed! Each and every one of us. <3 Love you bunches super powers and all! A.

  8. Jane

    Too funny, Amy! But I have to ask, what possessed you to turn on that TV when it was FORBIDDEN!!!! That is SO something my daughter (now grown) would have done. LOL.

  9. Debra DeAngelo

    LOVE IT! On so many levels.

    1) I remember getting our first color TV, and at the first opportunity, I too a little glass dog with a sharp broken leg and scratched the entire “wooden look” top. First day.

    2) I had a Christmas party a couple years back when I was all perfectly ready for the party, plugged in the Christmas tree and the whole house went black. I called the electrician, and eventually we realized that the entire block was black. I asked him, “Did I do that?” And he paused, and said it would be a lot of fun to say that I did, but no.

    3) That said… I have an uncanny ability to short-circuit electrical things (particularly cars). It happens much to frequently for it to be merely bad (or good?) luck.

    4) I am a super powerful child! 😀

  10. Hannah Kozak

    I loved this story. From describing the tv as an altar to the way your mother described the tv as GOR.GEOUS. I love that you were a rule breaker back then and had the guts to turn the altar on. You were a super girl then with powers. You are a super woman now. As Hollye said there is enough energy in the mother/daughter relationship to blow out the entire grid. I agree. The mother daughter relationship is enough to make us live in fear with a fundamental insecurity of not being good enough or it makes us want to fly to the moon, to prove her otherwise. Fly Amy!

  11. Donald Sanders

    Ya, that happened to me one time.

Leave a Reply


Back to top