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Remembering Woodstock

Boomers Share Their Memories

The music. The mud. The missed opportunity. Here are some of your memories of Woodstock:

Spontaneous Fun

Forty years ago my girlfriend and I were living the hippie life in Atlanta. I was 19 and she was 17. We went to the Atlanta Pop Festival in July 1969, which is where we heard the Woodstock festival announced. We looked at one another and said, “Let’s go!” So in August we drove up to New York state in the VW bus we were living in at the time. We arrived at the festival site before the traffic jams set in and easily found a place to park and camp.

Before long the area began to fill up with more VW buses, vans, trucks, motorcycles and cars, and tents and sleeping bags. Hippies and other music lovers from all over the country were pouring in. What brought so many of us together from so many places creating that one remarkable event is anyone’s guess. I remember hearing a rumor that Bob Dylan might be there, since he was living in Woodstock at the time. The festival was not actually in Woodstock but in Bethel, not too far from it.

I remember Richie Havens opening the show and I thought, “This is going to be incredible!” I remember waking up in our bus early Monday morning to Jimi Hendrix playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” as only he could play it. We rushed down to the stage to catch the performance. I remember the thick black storm clouds rolling in, drenching us with heavy rains, and the oats and raisins that were scooped up in paper cups out of large barrels by volunteers and handed out to hungry hippies.

I remember one incident when two fellows were arguing. Some of us gathered in a circle around them and began chanting “Peace, peace, peace!” until they calmed down and shook hands. Other than that we saw no trouble. We all looked after one another, enjoyed the music together, shared our food and dreamt of a free and peaceful world. A half a million people gathered for three days of peace and music, creating a legend that still lives on. I am so grateful that I was a part of that.

Jerry Brunner, Atlanta

Glory in the Mud

I don’t have any pictures left of that great weekend; however, the greatest memory I have is after the rain and sliding down a piece of the pasture in the mud, then jumping in the lake to wash off. Not having to worry about whether I was being a good boy or not was another great memory. Those were the days.

Bob Howell, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Blame it On the Rain

I was a governess on Park Avenue in New York when my boss’s brother rode into town on a motorcycle. He spent the night before he headed out to Woodstock. He asked me to go and I said yes. The next morning it was raining and I was afraid to ride the motorcycle in the rain, so I didn’t go. He said he whizzed by all the cars in line and when he got to the gate they let him in for free. Bummer. I have never let the rain stop me from doing anything since that day.

Barbara D. Westbrook, Corpus Christi, Texas

Finding Santana

For me Woodstock meant discovering Santana, a band led by guitarist Carlos Santana, and the hit, “Soul Sacrifice.” At 14, the screaming guitar, the Afro-Latin drums and congas, and the head-busting chords from the organ gave me a new appreciation of music and what was possible when you mixed genres. It was new to my ears. Just awesome, and I’m still a Santana fan—40 years later.

Mike Tucker, Springfield, Va.

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