In homage to the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock, I’m re-running this post from my dear friend, Wendy, who attended this spectacular music event.
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Last month, I noticed that my friend, Wendy Raven, had posted on Facebook that she had experienced Woodstock first-hand. Being that some of you may remember the time period and that, to some of you, this is a historic occasion passed down through the generations, I thought it would be interesting to visit the Summer of 1969 from the perspective of someone who was there. So, I invited Wendy to share her remembrances of that weekend of music.
I Basically Had to Be Dragged to Woodstock – by Wendy Raven
I well remember the day my friend came to me wondering if I wanted to go to the music festival at Woodstock. While I was certainly a Hippie, I also didn’t like being around tons of people and even back then preferred to be deep in the forest alone rather than partying with others of my kind! So it did take some convincing for me to agree. Reluctantly.
We set out, 4 of us, in two different cars. I drove my Volkswagen Beetle and our other friends took their 56 Cadillac…..a very cool ride! The friend I drove with in my car was told by her very right- wing father he would disown her if she went. My father tried hard to discourage me from such a venture but he never had any control over me before that, so it was fruitless on his behalf. (I think my mother was envious!)
We made the trip as far as the NY toll and my VW decided to expire right there in the toll booth after I paid! NOT an auspicious beginning clearly! So I left it there, extremely reluctantly, and joined the others in the Caddy. Which was a cooler ride to show up in clearly, though it was hard to stop thinking about my VW back there at the toll house! I don’t remember much of the ride but I sure do remember our arrival. We never got close. Like thousands of others we were halted outside the concert grounds and had to trudge a very long way to get there, but it was quite amazing. People living on the road came out and dragged hoses for us for water, they set up lemonade stands, they offered us food….here we were converging by the thousands on a sleepy neighborhood where I bet nothing more than a passing excitable skunk shook up the monotony! It seemed like it was miles later that we got there. Now I should also mention we decided we would get in free (we had done it for a Creedance Clearwater concert, a Jimi Hendrix concert, so why not?)….and so did thousands of others…the Peoples Free Woodstock Concert! So many climbed fences, in fact the promoters, came on the loud speaker and announced it was now a free concert! Yee hawww!
Finding a place to put up our tents proved frustrating, and we ended up quite far from the actual site. As the concert started getting close to performance time, we hiked the long way to it, past thousands of others…and I will never forget the sight of 3 naked people in a boat, paddling around the one body of water available for 500,000 people — the water was the color of coffee with a ton of milk! No getting clean with that water!
We found a spot to sit near the stage, over to the right of it, and about 40 or 50 people to get past to find the bathrooms (lawdy, was that awful to endure: the walk, the waiting, the portapotty smells, the endless “excuse me’s” trying to get out of the throngs of humans to even GET to the bathrooms). And not long after that it began to rain….and it barely ever stopped raining…it was pretty miserable frankly. But once the performers came on, it was all ok….one after another of the most amazing musicians of the 60’s…people I had been listening to for soooo long, and there they were…right up there in front of us…it was indescribable…500,000 people feeling pure joy….solidarity….accord….no fighting, no fussing, no bitching, no selfies, no cell phones being constantly monitored….just fun…love….music….and mud! Lots of mud…and no way to get clean….
Around the concert area were all these booths set up — food, weed, clothing. As a small town girl, I was floored to see signs such as “ACAPULCO GOLD GET IT HERE”, “COLUMBIAN GET IT HERE” and on and on…boldly set-up booths selling weed! People dancing everywhere…children, teens, elderly…all together and many naked! AND NO POLICE! No police presence at all….
By the morning of the third day, we were exhausted from little sleep, wet, dirty and grumpy. So it was time to depart. Seeing the mess as we left was a stark reminder of how people can really mess up the planet. Too many did not clean up their messes, and that kind of pissed me off, frankly — all these so called “aware” hippies and too many acting like spoiled kids. But that was the downside of this event…there is always a downside. There was one more: it cost me 50 dollars a day for the “impoundment” of my VW, then a return trip to pick it up and tow it home. So in the end, I paid for that concert many times over. But it was worth every single dollar. Never in the course of history here in the States have we EVER seen such a peaceful event. So so many people gathered together in love and solidarity…no police, no need for them because we were a different breed…we were hippies…long live hippies!