Retirement Routine
This Week in Elder News – 15 August 2009

Groovy, Man – Woodstock's 40th Anniversary

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


And I recall quite clearly that many were certain that Woodstock was just the tip of the iceberg & that our country was headed for a wave of anarchy that would "do us in." Many at that time believed that sex, drugs & rock 'n roll would lead to the demise of mom & apple pie. Interesting isn't it to look at the bigger picture of whats happened these past 40 years. I try to remember those times in order to temper my thoughts about our country's current woes. It isn't easy! Dee

My then husband and our 9 mos old daughter were visiting relatives in Montreal. My cousin wanted to go, we dropped him off at Woodstock on our way home. For a brief moment, we thought about staying, intrigued but thought better of it since we had our baby with us...who knew? I could have met you then!

Another blogger, who I regularly read, also talked of being there. She said she went with her brothers and was 16 probably in full flower of experiencing being hippies. I was in full flower of motherhood that summer and barely gave what was obviously a culturally important event a second thought. Oregon had a small version that our governor Tom McCall, avery far thinking governor, put together later to take the heat off some of what was happening politically. I didn't make it either.

I especially liked how your memory had changed what you saw while there. I think we all do that and it's difficult sometimes to separate what we have heard and visualized so many times from what we really did experience.

Oh, I so loved all the films and reports, and longed to have gone.

Ahem LOL I was there, lack of memory of all goings on due to mmmmmmmmmm everything ever mentioned taking place at concert :-)) Absolute blast.........saw Richie Havens 3 yrs ago at a small one man show.. he still had the "pipes"(voice)....contrary to most reports, I did not fry my brain, am still alive and fully functional :-))))

Regarding the romantic memory of hearing Ritchie Havens singing "Here Comes the Sun" Saturday morning combined with all that time spent helping out in the medical tent, I would suspect the brown acid (laughing...I'm LAUGHING! Hope you are too! :-D) What a strange cultural event for an entire generation to hang our headband on, when you think about it. Most everything else was riots, protests or assassinations, it seems.

I remember the mainsteam media getting it all wrong back in those days: Woodstock was supposedly a disaster but Altamont was a success. Gimme shelter.

Or is my memory another example of a Richie Havens moment?! . . .

Actually, there was a "Roots of Woodstock" concert in the town of Woodstock. I am here at my brother's(about 40 minutes from the town) so that my brother could go to rendezvous with and hear his old buddies in the Blues Magoos. It was just a token celebration of the original event.

I was 29 years old, pregnant and the mother of a 6 year old during the original "three days that changed the world." I missed the whole experience.

Great post Ronni - and how funny that the memory you've had all these years is at least partly a fictionalised account!

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