Quest for Clarity

Making sense of life, the Universe and Myself.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Woodstock rambling

I went into Woodstock this evening to see this movie.
It was made by David McDonald. I really liked it as it gave a good view into the history and character (and characters!) of this delightful town.

I went partly because I was hoping to find out about some concerts I used to go to back in the late '60's. Perhaps it was these concerts but I am still not sure. I don't remember any buildings...I asked David McDonald and he suggested I might have been to the "sound outs"(.sound outs" of the mid-1960s, a series of deliberately low-key concerts by Woodstock rockers-in-residence like Jimi Hendrix and the Band on a farm along Glasco Turnpike that, McDonald believes, served as the inspiration for the 1969 festival.)...hmm..

Oh well.

I grew up in Peekskill, and as a teenager, used to go with older friends up to Woodstock to hang out and go hiking.
I remember going down into one gorge where there were waterfalls. One time this girl named Margo took off her clothes and some guy remarked how Margo liked to parade her funky body around. I thought he was rude and that Margo was lovely.
There was a great second hand store on Tinker Street and a restaurant called the Elephant, (that had super hamburgers on sesame seed buns) up the other way near where the Colony Cafe is.

Woodstock was and is basically a small town in the mountains. So, in 1969,when they were advertising the "Woodstock Music and Art Fair"my expectations were much more intimate and esoteric than what actually happened.
My parents said I could use the VW bus if I took my kid sisters with me, which was fine. My friend Geraldine came too. The parents packed the car full of food, blankets, first-aid supplies, etc.
We headed out, over the Bear Mountain extension, over the bridge etc.
As we headed up the Quickway I began to realize things were unusual. The traffic became extraordinarily thick for that part of the world.
By the time we got on the road to White Lake , which was hilly and winding, it was pretty well a traffic jam. Bad for the VW clutch.
When we got into the town it became clear that parking would be a major issue. Lo, off to the left was a lovely churchyard shaded with spruce trees (?) and no one was parked there. So I pulled in, the doors opened and my little sisters lit outa there so fast...!
Yeesh. Being the oldest, the responsible one, and the one with the keys to the VW I figured I 'd better stick around in case one of them came back or something.
So I never did see the music, but I had a great time anyway. Each morning I made a pot of coffee and brought a cup to the policeman directing traffic on the street. I walked around, talked to people, did a lot of mescaline, hooked up with a nice guy from Connecticut, swam in a nearby pond, invited people into "my" churchyard ( it never did fill up..wonder why?) for meals.

So that's my Woodstock story. Boring I guess, but I enjoyed it.

On the way back, Geraldine drove. I was laying on the floor in back. We were headed down the Quickway when suddenly I heard strange noise. I told Gerry to slow down- good thing she did. The entire wheel on the drivers side fell off and we skidded to a stop on the brake cylinder. Ruined it. We came to a stop beside a very steep drop-off. Waited until a policeman called a tow-truck for us.
We had to spend three days in the junkyard near the garage waiting for the spare cylinder to arrive. That was fun. We each had our own Nash Rambler with reclining seats to sleep in, if I recall correctly. ( I probably don't.) ( Oh well. I guess I will get other versions of this in the comments ,which is fine.)


  • At Monday, February 27, 2006 at 1:12:00 PM EST, Anonymous B said…

    My Woodstock story. In 1969, I was 27 and the mother of a 3 year old. My husband and I had lived in New Paltz for a couple of years and now where living outside of Warwick, NY.
    Harvey, my other half, Harvey had developed a leather craft business. He decided to apply for a booth at Woodstock. His plan to sell leather dye cut Peace Symbols, and suede headbands stamped with woodblock designs from India. We had become involved with a Gurdjieff commuinty(not commune) where we practed the idea of the "Work" in the midst of party time drugs of the late 60's our community was drug free. We were asked to come to the property to set up the booths 2 days before the concert started. We arrived with easy parking and acces. The place was a hubbub of setting everything up. We were given many Indian Mirror Clothes, from the producers for decorating the booths. All the vendors got them. I still have one tucked away. Only non where stamped Woodstock 60' so you will just have to belive me. We had taken a cross county trip with our Gurdjieff group a few months before the concert. WE caravaned in 25 cars with 95 peolple cross conty camping out every night. Driving from 300 to 500 miles a day, making special stops in towns where we had affiliate groups. Santa fe was one of those places. It wsa the time of the Hog Farm, and other communal groupos. some of them had established themselves in the Taos, and Santa Fe areas. WE met a number of peolpe involved, who a few months later showed up at Woodstock, in a tent city set up by the HOg Farm. They gave away free yougart and food, and water. The water was being dsipensed from a large tankard truck,like the ones thatfill swimming pools. It was way before the bottle water craze. The frist night for me was a nightmare, of lights and sound all night long. I had visited the Hog farm and all interesting , whatevers that had set themselves upp. I was tired and had a 3 year old to care for as well. Comfortable sleep has always been important to me, Ihave the worst sleeping habits. My daughter who was 3 had still not started to sleep throught the night, the results of being a consienious breastfeeding mother. So I decided that if I could, I would find a way to go home. Amazingly enough, a professor from NP who Iknew happend to come to our booth. I asked him if he was going back, the concert had not officailly started. Amazingly enough, he was. He offered me a ride. I had forgotten that he was half maniac. He was in his late 40's at the time. A math professor, who If ound out was making LSD. He was at the site with his young and beautiful blonde girlfriend Arty, And so I took my daughter and followed them to their car. The booths wher in the woods surrounding the open field where the concert stage was. The soundsl of " What comes up , must come down, Wheel of Fortune, spinning round. Reapeating it self on the sound system over and over. We walked along the edge of the field, it was filling up with a sea of people, it was qutie an awesome site. Something I will never forget. We finally reached his car,a convertible, hopefully a beautiful ride home on a lovely sunny day. However, Mr. Professor, was a bit of a speed maniac. So, there I was in the back seat of a convertible clutching my daughter, praying I would get home alive. As we came down 17 it was another amazing site. A traffic jam from White Lake to Harriman exit. Car after car, it was awesome. I fianlly arrived at my very humble abode, and was very glad to see it , outhouse and all. Once the weather changed and the rain came, Iwas so glad that I chose to leave. Havey retuned in a monetary victory state. He had grossed $2000 that weekend, selling his Peace symbols and Head Bands. He aslo retuned with all the Mirror Clothes that lined our booth. His big story from the weekend, was, "it was raining and the mud had gotten really bad,he saw a woman on crutches making her wasy down the hill, she was screaming, but he could not hear what she was saying, so of course he went to help her, as he got closer, he started to hear her cry, Acid, Acid, Acid for sale. :-)
    One of Harvey's headbands can been seen in the film, and also somewhere, ther is a cameo of my baby sister who was there and is now passed away.
    Taht is my Woodstock Story.

    Taht is my Woodstock story

  • At Monday, February 27, 2006 at 1:20:00 PM EST, Blogger jean said…

    Great story, Betty! What a life we old gals have led!


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