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Thursday, 10 June 2010

Remembering Woodstock

By D. Sugar

I remember Woodstock - with tears, shame and guilt!

What started out as an ordinary Saturday in the life of an ordinary middle class, middle-aged Brooklyn lady wound up as sad testimony to the communication gap between parents and their offspring in the 60s.

It seemed routine enough, Saturday:the weekly poker game, neighbors, my house tonight, food shop, supermarket, cold cuts, some cheeses, cole slaw, potato salad, bagels, rolls, coffee and oh yes, all out of bottled water - replace.

No big deal, ordinary. Shopping completed, home again, clean house. The doorbell's ringing surprised me; the visitor surprised me even more. It was my daughter, the flower child.

Background: brilliant, always angry (don't ask me why), did the whole anti-establishment bit, left home at 16, hitch-hiked to Berkeley with her cadre of pseudo-intelligent potheads, member of S.D.S. (Students For A Democratic Society), hung around Bob Fass at Radio WBAI when that station was in its infancy, member of the "Milkmen” and lived communally with all the other privileged Yuppies and Hippies, who were going kick their parents in the ass for working tirelessly to provide them with material things, when half the world was starving! Peace and Love, what did I know about it.

She followed me into the kitchen, and for a while watched me set up for the game that night, made some clever, sarcastic remarks about my plebeian poker cronies, then casually mentioned that she and her friends were going upstate to a rock concert that night. And then she attacked the refrigerator.

She took out every container and foil wrapped package and started to load a plastic bag she had evidently brought for that purpose. The hair on the back of my neck stood up - I saw red! This was a girl who accused me of initiating a power struggle every time I asked her to make her bed or pick something up from the floor. This was overkill!

No! you can't take any of this stuff! I need it for my company tonight. You and the other elitist expatriates say you don't need us or want us. What happened? A trip upstate?Provide for yourselves. You won't get contaminated if you go into a middle class supermarket. They don't discriminate. They'll take your money!

Needless to say, she left in a huff (as she had done countless other times) and I cooled my frustration (as I had done countless other times).

Darkness came, the players came. All relaxed, anticipating a pleasant night of poker and food. All except me. I was uneasy, wondering if she had reached her destination safely, knowing full well that she would never give me the satisfaction of a phone call (even though I had told her to call me collect.

Suddenly the insipid radio music stopped! News flash - bulletin from a cock-a-mamie place upstate called Bethel. The Woodstock Concert!

The Woodstock Concert - without warning - a disaster - a catastrophe! Driving, torrential rains, drenching not crowds, but hordes, swarms of young people sitting in a sea of mud and gook literally trying to crawl into each other to escape the fury of the downpour! This from the radio.

Terse reports of total chaos! No shelter, no bathroom facilities, no food, no drinking water. No drinking water? No food? I gagged on my sandwich and started to cry. My kid was stuck in a humongous ditch in some God-forsaken hick town with no bathroom to use and hungry and thirsty just because I wouldn't let her raid my overstuffed fridge!

I never hated myself as much before or since. Needless to say, I stayed up all that night pacing between the phone and the radio.

She came back the next day very dirty, very tired, very subdued by the experience. She told me that she had been helped by some of the townspeople who had put her on a New York bound bus. And then my rebel child kissed me and wiped away my tears.

This then was my Woodstock.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I posted abut Woodstock last year...but from the "kids" side. But I was a "goody two shoes" preppy teen, not a hippie.


Wow! A powerful story. Woodstock came a bit too early for my rebel daughter, but there were other dangerous experiences in the 70's that she managed to find--and survive. All's well that ends well--I'm very proud of her, this loving grandmother of five.

What a powerful story! It brings us so many emotions from so many points of view. Thank you for saying it so well.

My heart is breaking and yet, you end your story on an upbeat note. I admire the way you stuck up for yourself--very difficult with the children we love. Now we need another story about your daughter TODAY.

Yes! What could be more interesting than to read the rest of the story of your daughter's life?

I really enjoyed your story and remember that concert very well; always happy that I was too old to attend and my kids were too young.....

Mean old man here.
I STILL want to kick their collective asses. Good story and I'd like a sequel also.

Yes, yes. A sequel.
Amazing how we always feel guilty about creating boundaries with our children and saying "ok, that's it, no more". We even feel guilty while we allow them to experience the life lessons they need in order to grow into good people.
As my dad used to say "this hurts me more than it does you".

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