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  • Jennifer Marks

Darkness falls

The lights flickered, then went out.

Like millions of other unwitting participants in the great blackout of 2003 that hit the Northeastern United States late last week, the New York-based staff of Home Textiles Today suddenly found itself out on the street, trying to find a way home.

Figuring out how to finish the paper would come later.

When it came to the luck of the draw, HTT got the short end of the stick. Our office building was in one of the last areas of the city restored to power the following evening — humming to life nearly 28 hours after the blackout began.

Which is why your issue was somewhat tardy in arriving this week.

Business editor Don Hogsett won the blackout's Eager Beaver award. Awaking last Friday morning to find his own electricity working, he assumed the whole city was back on the juice — and walked two hours to the office, only to discover it was still "lights out" there.

Subscribers to HTT Extra — our daily e-newsletter — might have noticed that their e-mail delivery didn't arrive until very late on the evening of Aug. 15. That in itself was a small miracle, one pulled off by Miami-based product editor Cecile Corral, who triangulated with production editor Clark Aycock, working from his home in Brooklyn, and New Jersey-based contributing editor Brent Felgner. As they say, it takes a village.

Clark was one of two good Samaritans in our group. On the fateful day of the blackout, he hoofed it across the Manhattan Bridge with retail editor Andrea Lillo, picked up his car and drove her the rest of the way home through horrendous gridlock.

Our other step-saver was art director Dana Lyons, whose husband Kenny managed to blast across the Hudson River before New York-bound access to the city was shut down. They ferried fellow staff members to Westchester County before crossing back over the river to Rockland County. They finally made it home around 11 p.m.

Every group has its iron horse, and at HTT, it was our newest staff member, product editor Michele SanFilippo. She was officially "the last one home," bunking with relatives in Westchester County for the first 24 hours of the blackout. She didn't make it back to Long Island until Friday night. Michele was sick when the blackout began and sicker still Saturday morning when she returned to work to finish her stories for this week's issue.

At this writing, it's 11:30 on Saturday morning. The printer has told us that if we wrap up by 2 p.m., this issue will go into the mail stream on Monday morning. We think we've got a good shot at making it. But if your paper doesn't arrive until later in the week, please forgive us. We're dancing as fast as we can!

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