Online and off, the media is awash in reminiscences of the Woodstock festival 40 years ago this weekend. The irony that a planned reunion concert was canceled for lack of interest warms Crabby Old Lady's contrarian heart. Sequels almost never come off well.
Crabby and her husband drove up from New York City with friends on that Friday afternoon. Not the sort to find sleeping on hard ground among thousands of stoned-out hippies a pleasurable experience, they stayed with a friend's mother who lived in a rural area a couple of miles from the concert grounds at Max Yasgur's farm. As everyone knows, a shower and real beds were an even better choice than anyone then anticipated.
Crabby spent most of the next two days in the medical tent helping out with minor injuries and overdoses. And here is how memory plays tricks: Crabby Old Lady has recalled through the years that she sat on the hill above the stage early Saturday morning as Richie Havens opened the festival by greeting the day with Here Comes the Sun. She has remembered it that way for these 40 years.
Wikipedia, which has a detailed schedule of performers – who played when and what – tells it differently. Richie Havens did open the festival, but it was on Friday evening, nowhere in his set was that Beatles tune and Crabby could not have been there.
On Friday evening, she was at the home of her friend's mother who had prepared such a huge and beautiful feast for her young guests that they needed to walk it off after dinner. So the group of Crabby and her five companions meandered along the winding, two-lane, country road shortly before dusk.
Remember the era: the men were dressed in their patched jeans and tie-dyed shirts; the women in long - probably India-style – skirts and flimsy blouses. The guys' hair was longer than the women's and they mostly wore beards – well, for certain Crabby's husband had one and it is likely the other men did too.
As they rounded a bend, they saw coming toward them on the other side of the road, a group of Hasidic Jews in their long, black coats, black hats and payuses on their way to shul. Each in its own way, but perhaps from similar conviction, both groups thumbing their noses at conventional style.
The Hasids eyed Crabby's group. She and her friends (all secular Jews) eyed them and later laughed about the incident, wondering if other people would be confused about who were the “freaks” (in the hippie vernacular of the era).
Fortunately for Crabby Old Lady, but not for this blog post, she avoided most of the festival's chaos, rain and mud, and had a clean bed each night. No exciting stories and she was glad to leave early. The Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden two years later was much more fun. Crabby likes her concerts indoors or, at least, not wet.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz: The Dinner Party